The Broad-Stone of Honour

"The Broad Stone of Honour, or Rules for the Gentlemen of England", is a book written by Kenelm Henry Digby and published first in 1822 by F. C. & J. Rivington of London. Then the work was subdivided into it constituent parts and published as "Godefridus" (1829), "Tancredus" (1828), "Morus" (1826) and "Orlandus" (1829). Later it was revised and republished as "The Broad Stone of Honour: Or, the True Sense and Practice of Chivalry" (1844 to 1948).

Now almost unknown, Digby's The Broad Stone of Honour (named after his favourite castle, Ehrenbreitstein) was an attempt to describe the true meaning of chivalry and to revive it in modern life. In "Godefridus" he defined it thus: "Chivalry is only a name for that general spirit or state of mind which disposes men to heroic actions, and keeps them conversant with all that is beautiful and sublime in the intellectual and moral world."

The "Broad-Stone" is plentifully supplied with examples from medieval literature, even the most obscure accounts. [Mark Girouard, "The Return to Camelot", ISBN 0-300-02390-1, p 63] Even his admirers often found his appreciation of the Middle Ages excessive, in that he refused to see any fault in them. [Mark Girouard, "The Return to Camelot", ISBN 0-300-02390-1, p 61] Still, the work was deeply influential, in its attack on Utilitarism and its devotion to rational thinking over the heart [Mark Girouard, "The Return to Camelot", ISBN 0-300-02390-1, p 62] , his lack of interest in intelluctual ability [Mark Girouard, "The Return to Camelot", ISBN 0-300-02390-1, p 64] , and his disdain for making money [Mark Girouard, "The Return to Camelot", ISBN 0-300-02390-1, p 66] all had serious impact on the Victorian notion of a proper gentleman.

Digby concluded that the whole concept of gallantry or chivalry is to be found in the Eight Beatitudes; significantly the eight-pointed crosses used by the Knights of Malta and other such orders are believed to have alluded to the very same idea. The book was so influential in its day that ideas such as the Boy Scout movement can be traced back to it [cite web | title=The Origins of the Boy Scouts | last=Forster | first=Rev. Michael | work=Scout History Association | url=http://www.netpages.free-online.co.uk/sha/origins.htm | date=1999 | accessdate=2007-05-16 ] , [cite book | title=The Return to Camelot | last=Girouard | first=Mark | authorlink=Mark Girouard | publisher=Yale University Press | location=London | edition= | date=1981 | id= pp 56, 255 & 256 - "Quoted in "Forster"] .

Footnotes

* Holland,Bernard - "Memoir of Kenelm Digby" first published 1919; paperback, Fisher Press, 1992 ISBN 1 874037 05 1


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