Chivalry simply means in its primitive sense; service on horseback. It is derived from the French word cheval, a word in itself derived from the Latin, and is of the same origin therefore as our more modern words cavalier and cavalry. The word knight is derived from the Saxon for a servant, and gradually became applied to the immediate attendants of a feudal lord.
The title "Sir" which is prefixed to the Christian names of all knights, is said to be derived from Kyr, the abbreviation of the Greek word signifying Lord; though others affirm that it came through the Latin senior. Whichever may be the correct derivation, and it may well be that neither is, the fact remains that the title, whatever its original significance, has always been held in great honor, and is of high antiquity. (excerpts by S. F. ANNETT)
"When the Christ appeared the Gnosis became known as the "Mysteries of Jesus." These mysteries were a new and skillfully blended system of the older individualized forms related in terms which could be understood by the coming development of the Social Mind for Europe and the Americas... It was to the religious Mysteries of Osiris and Isis, the Magi, the Buddhic, the Eleusian, the Adonis, Mithraism and the Cult of the Great Mother that the Prince of Princes went for His inspiration and the basis of His own Mysteries...we can only present to you the knowledge of the Way to the Door. It is you and you alone who must open the Door, with a pure body, pure emotions, a controlled mind and an Illuminated Soul, without these qualifications you will never pass through the mortal trials, the waters of the emotions, the fire of the mind and the airy conditions of the Soul." (excerpt from Spiritual Nobility by Richard duc de Palatine)
You may well ask, what has this to do with Spiritual Nobility? The above will be shown to be the key to the understanding of the esoteric implications of Titles and Nobility. When the period of the Crusades began and many Knights came into contact with the various Gnostic streams of the Levant and were initiated into the Hidden Schools, they formed what is known as the "Chivalric Orders" to be used as a vehicle for the perpetuation of their Wisdom gained in those Schools.
The Chivalric Orders are yet another link in the chain of the Wisdom Religion, from these Orders spring the Orders of the Quest: Albigenses, the Guilds, Knights Templar, Troubadours, Holy Grail... When the period of the Crusades began and many Knights came into contact with the various Gnostic streams of the Levant and were initiated into the Hidden Schools, they formed what is known as the "Chivalric Orders" to be used as a vehicle for the perpetuation of their Wisdom gained in those Schools.
Many occult and metaphysical writers have ignored these orders and have considered them of no importance to the Wisdom tradition but these were dual in their functions, they were formed to help the sick and needy and conformed to the Catholic Faith and secondly, they embodied yet another aspect which was unsuspected by the Church authorities, they had a secret system of initiations or stages of progress in their mysteries, the names of their degrees were: Sovereign Prince or Grand Master; Knight Grand Cross or Prince; Knight Commander or Duke; Knight or Count; Knight Banneret or Baron and then Squire.
These titles were designations given to the candidates according to the stage he had reached in the Chivalric Mysteries, but when the rulers of the nations of Europe desired to honor those who had fought for the ruler in time of war, they usurped the ancient rights of the Orders and began to confer these titles upon secular men, thus degenerating the once holy titles into purely secular titles of rank and social standing, we all know the results of the secularization of the spiritual titles..." (Richard Duc de Palatine, Spiritual Nobility).
The knight swore to accomplish the duties of his station, to speak the truth, to maintain right, to protect and champion the distressed, to practice courtesy, to fulfill obligations of duty, and to vindicate honor; a lofty standard, and of as essential value now as in the days of old. The order might be conferred by any man who was himself a knight, and many an esquire who had conducted himself valiantly in battle was knighted then and there by the superior whom he had till then served.
Knights are of two classes. The first are those admitted into the general fraternity of honor; the second, those who in addition to this are enrolled in some special companionship or Order. Amongst the most honorable Orders of knighthood...are the following: the Order of the Golden Fleece of Spain, founded in the year 1429...The ancient Orders of France; the order of St. Michael, instituted in 1469 by Louis XI. The Order of the Saint Esprit was the most distinguished order of chivalry in France. (excerpts from "The History, Principles, and Practice of Heraldry" by F.E. Hulme)
The thirteen principles of Chivalry within the Order of the Grail are thus: