Stitching the Standard

 

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Stitching the Standard by Edmund Blair Leighton

This is one of my top favorite paintings. The lady of the castle perches on the battlements finishing the standard that her knight husband’s squire will bear before him into battle. She is a woman skilled in the accomplishments of needlework, personal presentment, raising children, handing on the Faith, and keeping hearth for her people. But up here on the castle wall, she also commands view of the surrounding countryside. Should a messenger arrive at the fief she will be there to greet him. Should an enemy mass she will help her husband prepare the garrison and command the defenses. Should the town be struck by fire or pestilence she will rise up and assist them. Should a mob break out she will go down to address them. Should capture or another woe befall her husband’s troops she is versed enough in regional politics and customs to negotiate the best outcome for his safe return. And that is exactly what she must be prepared to do. She is the lady of her lord, the queen of their lands, the heart of their castle. As the keeper of her knight’s heart, she is also his most able partner. Because of her upbringing and her presence at his side, when he rides away to war, he will have no qualms about leaving her in charge of their kingdom. No matter how large or small their holdings, he knows she is prepared with the skill and insight of a wise ruler to lead after his own heart until he returns. And when he returns she will sit at his side with valuable contributions while he rules.

Regardless of what dark legends say about the Middle Ages, the truth about Medieval Europe is that the majority of women were raised with just such an ideal in mind. Peasant wives worked alongside their husbands on their fiefs. Craftswomen had their own guilds same as the craftsmen. Of course, the peasant women did not haul stones from the fields; they helped plant them. Of course, the craftswomen did not quarry stone and mold windows for cathedrals and palaces like the men; they made beautiful pottery and jewelry and woven tapestries and embroidered cloths for the cathedrals and palaces instead. Just as there were valets, pages, and squires to aid the stewards, there were also maids and ladies-in-waiting and cooks. Each had a crucial place in the medieval round of life. As for the ladies, princesses, and queens…

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Knight In Shining Armor: Man or Myth?

The Knight in Shining Armor. It’s a rather big issue today in our culture of fairy tale heroes, hot actors, and saintly lovers. Many girls have a specific Wish List for their future Prince Charming—perhaps tall, dark haired, with a dimple in his left cheek. Or cute, humorous, manly, and with a winning grin. Or all of that put together. You name your type. Catholic girls want all that and the strong-in-his-Faith, morally upright, chaste man.

(So, guys, if you can’t be all that then go home, be depressed, and eat chocolate…Oh, wait, you don’t eat chocolate when you’re down, do you? I forget, that’s usually a girl thing.)

I’m sure many guys feel that way though; I’ve heard many of them complain about the “I deserve somebody perfect” attitude that creeps in everywhere with the ladies.
Recently I asked one of my guy friends, “So what do you think about the whole knight in shining armor idea?”

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