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CAUSES OF THE DECLINE OF CHIVALRY

This chapter explores some of the more prominent and direct causes of its decline. The decadence and extinction of the outward form of chivalry may be dated from the beginning of the fifteenth century. Spain, the country where chivalry insisted upon punctilious etiquette and affected the most fastidious manner, furnished a grand opportunity for the genius of Cervantes who flourished in the sixteenth century-to hold up to ridicule the wild doings and the extravagant fancies of knight-errantry. The exhibition of the sublime and the ridiculous was perhaps never more happily shown than in this celebrated romance of Cervantes. It no doubt turned the laugh against the olden chivalry and its performances, and helped to hasten the downfall of an institution which had already reached its last stage of decay. The complimentary title of knight was made common and not confined to the military profession.