April 23, 2013

The Nine Worthies



In the Late Middle Ages, at a time when the crusades were over and Europe was ravaged by pestilence and the Black Death, eyes turned their eyes to the valiant princes of the past for direction.

The Nine Worthies were therefore considered to be:

I. The Good Pagans:
a) Hector – The greatest fighter in the Trojan War. He was courageous and “peace-loving, thoughtful and bold, and a good son, husband and father.”  A truly noble figure.  He died at the hands of Achilles.
b) Alexander the Great – a prince of Macedonia in ancient times who was tutored by Aristotle then became the ruler of one of the largest empires of the time, spanning from Greece to India.  Known for having cut the Gordian Knot.
c) Julius Caesar – the first Roman Emperor (or more like “dictator in perpetuity”) who defeated Gaul and expanded the power of Rome to Germany and Great Britain. He was assassinated by Marcus Junius Brutus at the tender age of fifty-five.

II. The Good Jews:
a) Joshua – Became the leader of the Israelites after Moses’s death, for whom he spied in Canaan.  Once Moses dead, he lead his people to the conquest of that land which he later apportioned into tribes.
b) David – Second King of Israel and an ancestor of Jesus according to the Christian Bible, considered to be a (mostly) righteous king, a warrior, poet and musician, among other things.
c) Judas Maccabeus – One of the greatest warriors in Jewish history.  The son of a priest, he and his brothers started a revolt against the Seleucid ruler who had forbidden to practice the Jewish religion, using guerrilla warfare to defeat the superior Seleucid army.  His death inspired the Jews to not give up and, after a few more years of battle, they were able to achieve their independence.

III. The Good Christians:
a) King Arthur – According to legend, Arthur defended the Britons against the invading Saxons.  Myths depict him as having been guided early on by a wily Merlin, and leading his people to victory in many battles with the help of the Knights of the Round Table and his trustworthy sword Excalibur (gifted to him by the Lady of the Lake).  At his death, his body was buried in the mysterious Isle of Avalon.
b) Charlemagne – King of the Franks and later first Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire after the collapse of Rome.   He defended Christianity and spread its teachings with victorious battles throughout Europe.  He also encouraged art, religion and culture (he is known notably for creating schools).
c) Godfroi de Bouillon – A Medieval Frankish knight who lead the First Crusade into capturing Jerusalem and became its first Christin ruler (he apparently refused to be called a King).

Anyone who aspired to be a truly chivalrous person needed to study and emulate their lives.

Sources:

The World of King Arthur
Wikipedia (Hector, Alexander the GreatJulius Caesar, Joshua, David, Judas Maccabeus, King Arthur, Charlemagne, Godfroi de Bouillon)

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