Chivalry in Edmund Burke's Reflections on the Revolution in France

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Chivalry in Edmund Burke's Reflections on the Revolution in France ...But the age of chivalry is gone... Amidst a wealth of metaphors and apocalyptic maxims, this line is perhaps the most memorable from Edmund Burke's Reflections on the Revolution in France. He masterfully employs the concept of chivalry to express his anti-revolutionary sentiment, and he dramatically connects it to images of land, sex, birth and money to express the widespread disorder that accompanies a loss of chivalry. Nowhere is this idea more explicit than in the following passage: ...–But the age of chivalry is gone. —That of sophisters, oeconomists, and calculators, has succeeded and the glory of Europe is extinguished for ever. Never, never more,…show more content…
What it does imply is that the glory and bond of Europe as a conglomerate in which England and France are leaders may have been severed. Furthermore, it is unlikely that Burke believes either of the aforementioned statements. Subsequent lines in the essay like, "...we still bear the stamp of our forefathers" and "We have not (as I conceive) lost the generosity and dignity of the fourteenth century..." suggest that English society still clings to its heritage and manners to some extent (18). Additionally, one cannot overlook the prophetic nature of Burke's claims; he predicts what will happen if chivalry is lost. He and the reader both recognize that chivalry survives at least in the minds of men and sometimes even in the practice of men (like Burke who acts chivalrous by defending chivalry), but also because Burke's motivation for writing his essay would be significantly diminished if the revivification of chivalry were an impossibility. Similarly, if he truly believed that the glory of Europe were gone forever and the ties permanently severed, it is less likely that he would choose a Frenchman as the recipient of his philosophical letter. To comprehend Burke's argument based on chivalry, one must ascertain the meaning that chivalry holds for him. The language of the passage at hand unveils terms such as "loyalty," "dignified obedience" and "proud
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