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  • Neil: Hello and welcome to 6 Minute English. I'm Neil.

  • Alice: And I'm Alice. My chair feels uncomfortable today. How does yours feel?

  • Neil: Um... mine is fine... very comfortable, thank you.

  • Alice: Well, it would be nice if you offered to give me your chair, Neil.

  • Neil: What? No chance. Well, I would be uncomfortable then, wouldn't I?

  • Alice: You should give me your seat, Neil.

  • Neil: Should I? Well, now might be a good time to mention that chivalry

  • is the subject of today's show.

  • Alice: Chivalry these days means polite behaviour usually by men towards women.

  • Neil: Though in the past it referred to a code of behaviour followed by knights in the Middle Ages.

  • It was all about honour and courage in battle

  • and only later on about being polite to the ladies.

  • Well, we aren't living in the Middle Ages any more, are we?

  • Alice: No comment. Let's go for our traditional question.

  • I have a literary one for you today:

  • Who wrote the novel Don Quixote, about a 50-year old man travelling Spain

  • in search of knightly adventures in rusty armour and a cardboard helmet?

  • Was it... a) Miguel de Cervantes b) Leo Tolstoy

  • Or c) William Shakespeare?

  • Neil: I think...

  • I'm going to get it right today, Alice. I'm going to say a) Miguel de Cervantes.

  • Alice: Well, we'll find out later on in the show if you were right or not.

  • But first, do you think chivalry is dead, Neil?

  • Neil: No, not at all. These traditions are alive and kicking in Poland at any rate.

  • If something is alive and kicking it means it's active.

  • The BBC reporter Adam Easton saw it with his own eyes and is going to describe it for us.

  • Adam Easton: Medieval knights' tournaments or battle re-enactments are popular across Europe.

  • But there's something about dressing up as a knight

  • that particularly appeals to people here in Poland.

  • In the summer there's events every weekend

  • and here in Malbork Northern Poland

  • home to Europe's largest medieval castle there's one of the biggest of the season.

  • There's archery, crossbow, jousting, other horse skills,

  • and more than a hundred thousand people come to watch these tournaments.

  • Alice: The BBC reporter Adam Easton. By the way, what's a re-enactment, Neil?

  • Neil: It's where you perform the actions of a past event.

  • And in Malbork in Poland they stage battle re-enactments every weekend apparently...

  • at least in the summer months!

  • Alice: Mmm... it doesn't sound like my cup of tea.

  • And that means it doesn't sound like something I would enjoy doing... how about you, Neil?

  • Neil: Well, I'm not sure about the archery, crossbow and jousting.

  • It all sounds like too much hard work.

  • But I'd definitely enjoy the dressing up.

  • Alice: Excellent! Well, jousting is where two people fight on horseback using a lance

  • or long pole... to try to knock the other person off their horse,

  • especially as part of a tournament or sporting event.

  • So with the dressing up, Neil, I'm curious.

  • I can't imagine you as a knight in shining armour, to be honest...

  • Neil: Come on, Alice. I'd look very appealing to any damsel in distress.

  • A damsel in distress is a young unmarried woman in need of help.

  • Alice: OK. You might make a very fetching or attractive knight, Neil.

  • But you should get used to actually helping the ladies ... maybe offering me your seat.

  • I'm still sitting uncomfortably here.

  • Neil: Come on, Alice, a knight needs to sit comfortably too.

  • We've always been the ones with battles to fight!

  • Alice: But at some point in the history of chivalry ...

  • prowess or skill on the battlefield became combined with a set of conventions ...

  • or rules governing other aspects of behaviour.

  • This included a knight's moral and religious duties and how to conduct their love affairs.

  • Professor Laura Ashe at Oxford University explains.

  • Laura Ashe: The really strange thing is the idea that love should somehow make you a better knight.

  • I mean, this is what is suddenly claimed in the late 12th century

  • and it makes very little sense, you know,

  • if you imagine a footballer telling his teammates that being in love makes him a better footballer.

  • Neil: That was Professor Laura Ashe.

  • And I agree with her.

  • What has being a great footballer or a great warrior got to do with love?

  • Alice: Well, courtly love was a social code governing behaviour between aristocratic men and women

  • that developed at the same time and amongst the same people

  • as chivalry and the two became intertwined ... or hard to separate from then on.

  • Neil: And aristocrats are people of high social rank.

  • OK Alice, I think it's time you told us the answer to today's quiz question.

  • Alice: Good idea. OK. I asked:

  • Who wrote the novel Don Quixote, about a 50-year old man travelling Spain

  • in search of knightly adventures in rusty armour and a cardboard helmet?

  • Was it... a) Miguel de Cervantes, b) LeonTolstoy or c) William Shakespeare?

  • Neil: And I said a) Miguel de Cervantes.

  • Alice: And you were right! Well done!

  • Don Quixote was written by Miguel de Cervantes and published in 1605.

  • It's a comic novel which describes what happens to an elderly knight who,

  • his head muddled by reading too many romances,

  • sets out on his old horse with his companion Sancho Panza, to seek adventure.

  • Neil: Very interesting, Alice. Now can we hear the words we learned today?

  • Alice: Sure, they are:

  • chivalry

  • alive and kicking

  • re-enactment

  • my cup of tea

  • jousting

  • lance

  • tournament

  • fetching

  • damsel in distress

  • prowess

  • conventions

  • courtly love

  • intertwined

  • aristocrats

  • Neil: Well, that's the end of today's 6 Minute English. Please join us again soon.

  • And... by the way, Alice, would you like my chair? It's very comfortable...

  • Alice: Oh, thank you ... now that the programme is over, Neil!

  • Neil: Better late than never.

  • Both: Bye.

Neil: Hello and welcome to 6 Minute English. I'm Neil.

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B2 UK alice chivalry knight neil neil miguel poland

BBC 6 Minute English April 28, 2016 - Is chivalry dead?

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    Adam Huang posted on 2016/05/08
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