"Servants of the Enemy look fairer and feel fouler"Lest any fall under the illusion that the goal of chivalry is a nostalgic backward sigh or, worse, a peripheral movement unworthy of true Christian vocational aspirations, Rodney Stark reminds us that no less a figure than St. Bernard of Clairvaux - theologian, head of the Cistercian order, and one-time most powerful man in Europe - helped to found the Order of the Poor Knights of Christ and the Temple of Solomon: the Knights Templars.
So much slander slops in politically correct circles regarding the Crusades that even well-meaning Catholic souls spout the poppycock spun by the likes of Voltaire, Hume, Diderot, Fuller, von Mosheim, Barraclough, Gibbon, and, more recently, Mayer and K. Armstrong.
So it is well to read Stark's excellent introduction, God’s Battalions. And, as one who peruses the titles of books on sale at the bookshop of a near-by Cistercian abbey, Bernard of Clairvoux is still the object of great study and admiration even today. Stark writes:
The Christian faith in general and the Catholic Church in particular is if nothing else (and it is a great deal More) historical. Legend in this case grew from fact. So, in the spirit of St. Bernard, let us not gainsay, gentle reader, the noble and ennobling vocation of Marian chivalry. Even in these present dark ages of neo-paganism, worship of Mammon, and shoddy thinking.
Bernard was born into the nobility and raised to be a knight, but at age twenty he entered the Church. His knightly background was clearly reflected in the military structure he created for the Cistercians. Bernard also was an early and compelling advocate of chivalry, and many have suggested that he served as the model for the legendary Sir Galahad.