The Nine Worthies
The Nine Worthies are nine figures from history/scripture/mythology who were set up in the Middle Ages as archetypal heroes who personified the ideas of chivalry and virtue. All nine were deemed “Princes,” each being leaders in some form or another. In French, they are Les Neuf Preux, meaning “Nine Valiants,” which gives a more particular idea of the sort of virtue and all-around goodness they were meant to embody. The idea of setting up the Nine Worthies was that the study of each of them would form a good education for aspiring princes regarding their chivalry and radness.
The Worthies were first described in 1312 CE by Jacques de Longuyon in his Voeux du Paon. The idea was that good ol’ fashioned Christian virtue predated the coming of Christ, and was present in Pagan and Jewish societies as well. I bet you’re just dying to know who the Worthies were, huh? I don’t blame you. Let’s get to it. They were divided into a triad of triads, as follows.
Hector, the champion of Troy, who fell honourably to the mighty Achilles.
Alexander the Great, who conquered much of the Mediterranean and Persia, spreading the wisdom of the Greeks, as the medieval scholars saw it.
Julius Caesar, who was the progenitor of Rome’s Empire, that would become the bed of Christendom.
Old Testament Jews:
Joshua, who became the leader of the Israelites after Moses, and led the conquest of the holy land, Canaan.
David, the anointed king of the Hebrew people, who slew Goliath and whose line was forever chosen by God (Yahweh) to lead his people.
Judas Maccabeus, who led the revolt against the Seleucid empire, and restored the Jewish faith to the Temple at Jerusalem.
King Arthur, who in Christian myth was the idyllic king in pursuit of honour, justice, and the holy grail.
Charlemagne, the King of the Franks who turned his kingdom into an empire that would encompass most of western Europe and be the protector of Catholic Rome for centuries.
Godfrey of Bouillon, a medieval Frankish knight who was a leader of the First Crusade, and became the first ruler of the (short-lived) Christian Kingdom of Jerusalem.