Saturday, November 17, 2007


The term paladin comes from the Latin, palatinus (palace guard). The word entered Twentieth Century popular American culture via the TV western, "Have Gun Will Travel", in which the main character was known simply as Paladin. Few realized that this "knight without armor in a savage land" was named after a legendary group of Christian knights in the early Medieval period.

Charles the Great (Carolus Magnus or Charlemagne) was king of the Franks and grandson of Charles Martel (Charles the Hammer). The Hammer stopped a group of Islamic terrorists at the battle of Tours in A.D. 732. (Of course, as the media & our government tell us, it is only a tiny minority of Muslims who comprise the body of Islamic terrorists because they do not understand that Islam is a religion of peace. Mohammed died in A.D. 632 after gaining control of Arabia by force of arms. Then a tiny minority of his followers, who misunderstood his peaceful religion thundered across Christian North Africa, demanding conversions at the point of the sword. Within a century this comparative handful of terrorists had conquered Spain and were on the verge of overtaking Western Europe, except -- in God's providence -- for Charles the Hammer.)

Charlemagne's select knights were known as the paladins. As much or more than tales of Arthur's Knights of the Round Table, stories of the paladins, shaped the mindset of the Age of Chivalry. The most notable was The Song of Roland. Over time, mythic embellishments wove themselves into the story and took over altogether.

Of course, troubadours read the religion of the High Middle Ages back into this story set in the context of the era of the Old Catholic Church. Still, it makes good inspirational reading for the Christian Martialist. There is even child's edition called Stories of Roland. It's the kind of thing I wouldn't mind reading to my grandsons (with appropriate explanations of the fact that some pre-reformation Christians were untaught and did things they shouldn't).

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