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Traveling knights bring Code of Chivalry to Sellwood

by: David F. Ashton Sword fight in Sellwood Community Center!

In a most unusual presentation at the Sellwood Community Center on August 18th, families experienced a presentation by the 'Knights of Veritas'.

From the Latin, 'veritas' can be translated as the concept 'truth with justice', said the Moses Lake, Washington based educational organization's executive director, Eric Slyter.

'We specialize in doing school shows, programs in libraries, and other appropriate venues,' Slyter said. 'We talk about the facts concerning medieval knights, swords and armor, and medieval life and chivalry.'

While he's enjoyed his continuing exploration of medieval times since 1993, Slyter added, 'It wasn't fun to be alive then; there were a lot of downsides. When people ask me if I would've liked to have lived back then, my answer is emphatically, 'no'. But, there are many things we can learn from the people of that day.'

Being a knight meant one was a professional soldier, Slyter explained. 'There were other soldiers, commoners, mercenaries - but they didn't carry the title or nobility of the knight. Being a knight was an accomplishment; they were probably wealthy, or had the capacity to become so. The knight probably lived a more comfortable lifestyle than commoners, even though they were quite likely to die a horrible death at the end of a sword, or by a crossbow bolt. It was the profession of fighting, after all.'

There was a social responsibility in being a knight, Slyter said. 'There actually was a code of conduct expected to be observed between and among them. That code of conduct is the Code of Chivalry - it still has great value today.'

What he enjoys most about his presentations, Slyter mused, isn't the swordplay. 'It's the surprised look on adults' faces when we shatter myths - like swords weighing 20 pounds, or that knights were not able to get up when they fell down because their armor was so heavy.'

Adults have had these myths, and other myths about knighthood, ingrained in them from childhood, he said. 'It's also really fun when small children are able to outguess adults about the correct answers to questions we ask. Sometimes a five-year-old child will make an observation that will go right over the adults' heads.'

About 50 kids and adults watched with rapt attention as Slyter and his fellow knight crossed swords, while dressed in armor - and dispelled one myth after another.

'What we hope people will take home with them is a new understanding that knights weren't crude and sluggish warriors who had no art to the way they fought - and we hope they'll remember some of the nine virtues spelled out in the Knight's Code of Conduct.'

You can print out a copy of the 'Knight's Code of Conduct', and learn more about the Knights of Veritas, by visiting their Internet website: www.knightsofveritas.org .