Many of you might have wondered why I use the term Caballero and not just use the term Gentleman? You’re probably thinking it’s because Caballero simply gentleman in Spanish and Spanish is my native tongue? You might even think it’s because I want to show off my bilingualism or to try to establish a broader market.
The quick and simple answer is…. no, so brace yourself. A quick history lesson is coming faster than winter.
Gentleman was originally a British rank for a man who was above a Yeoman, a free man or peasant who owned land, and an Esquire, the lowest rank in the process to becoming a knight. As knighthood faded with the medieval age, gentleman became the general term for all nobility, and later for any man who demonstrated proper behavior, like that of a noble. Even though Knights, and later Cavaliers, were Gentlemen not all Gentlemen were Knights and not all Gentlemen followed the military aspect of Chivalry. The proper translation to Spanish of the word Gentleman is gentilhombre, not Caballero.
So, what IS Caballero?
Caballerosidad, or “Chivalry” in English, refer to the code cavalrymen within an army. Caballero, when talking about medieval time, was the Spanish term for knights. Owning a horse was expensive, so if you were in the cavalry, you were probably rich. Even though the knights of old phased out, the chivalric code continued due to the close ties that the Church and State maintained in Spain. The constant wars Spain maintained, from the Reconquista of Iberia to the Conquistadors in America, guaranteed that the warrior traditions of the Caballero endured far past the time when the Knightly traditions died out in the rest of Europe. The proper translation of the Caballero is not Gentleman, but actually Cavalier.
As the social importance of nobility died out and the world change, so did the definition of noble behavior. A brand new world came about out of the old, the land of the mongrel, the land of the Self-Empowered. Being a Gentleman was no longer determined by birthright but by personal choice. You chose to educate yourself. You chose to become a better human being. It was no longer forced upon you, but instead you worked for it every day. We set our own rules, and our own expectations, in a new world without previous limits or expectations. The slave could end up rich, and the rich could end up slaves. You paid for your actions, fought for all you had, and build a society that is still evolving to this day.
Some Gentlemen, especially those with a military or a martial background, keep the warrior aspect of Chivalry and Gallantry alive, but not all Gentlemen keep the warrior aspects as part of their personal Ethos. The Caballero traditions tend to include the fact that part of what it means to be a Gentleman IS that warrior path.
Unfortunately we see a slow and tragic decline of this attitude, as a result from rebelling to the old ways. Maybe it was the inclusion of capitalist ideals or a communist social order, or simply a result of the general homogeneous globalization, the change is evident. We have youth rebelling against the established traditions, be them good or bad, under the blind idea that anything old is wrong and anything new is right. Change is change. It is neither good nor bad. The same can be said about stagnation.
We should not simply throw away the ideal of being a gentleman, but rather evolve it to match the changing times. We must embrace the social and cultural diversity while keeping the virtues and principals taught to us by tradition, never losing lose the Warrior’s determination. And that is why Being Caballero came about.