The word Knight is a term to refer to a warrior or nobleman in former times or, in these days to refer to a person who has been given royal recognition. The roots of the word knight are connected to the Old English cniht, meaning boy, or German knecht, meaning servant. During the Middle Ages, the term knight referred to a mounted and armoured soldier. Originally, knights were warriors on horse-back, but the title became increasingly connected to nobility and social status, most likely because of the cost of equipping oneself in the cavalry. Knighthood eventually became a formal title bestowed on those noblemen trained for active war duty.
In theory, knighthood could be bestowed on a man by any knight, but it was generally considered honourable to be dubbed knight by the hand of a monarch. By about the late 13th century, partly in conjunction with the focus on courtly behavior, a code of conduct and uniformity of dress for knights began to evolve. Knights were eligible to wear a white belt and golden spurs as signs of their status. Also, knights were also often required to swear allegiance to a liege lord.
A knight was to follow a strict set of rules of conduct. These were the knightly virtues. However, original knights had few of these qualities because the church deemed knights too bloodthirsty and unruly. The church then intervened and began stressing the importance of virtues until the church became an integrated part of knighthood and chivalry. The virtues included:
- Mercy (Towards the poor and oppressed. They were supposed to be harsh with evil-doers.)
- Fear of God
- Utmost graciousness and courtesy to ladies
When in Wales last summer, I visited Chepstow Castle, the oldest surviving post-Roman stone fortification in Britain, where I found a replica of a knight on horseback prepared to do battle. The knight carried a sword and shield with the image of the Welsh dragon on it. And it was made of straw!
Imagine hoards of Norman warriors coming on horseback across those fields ready to cross the River Wye and scale the cliffs to conquer the castle and its environs!
Now, those of you who read my posts probably know by now that I love history, especially anything to do with my ancestry (English, Welsh, Scottish). However, one of my daughters and her husband have gone one step further and are members of the Society for Creative Anachronism. This is an international organization dedicated to researching and re-creating the arts and skills of pre-17th-century Europe. It consists of 20 kingdoms with over 30,000 members residing in countries around the world. Members, dressed in clothing of the Middle Ages and Renaissance, attend events which feature tournaments, royal courts, feasts, dancing, and various classes & workshops.
In fact, my son-in-law is becoming quite the artisan by creating leather armour not only for himself, but also for other members. He makes every kind of armour that can be made from leather for from the neck down as well as purses, pouches, belts, and accessories. He has also given classes in making armour of all kinds and participates in the actual "battles" after many hours of practise. He has worked his way to becoming a "Lord," which is the first of a slew of titles. Currently, he is known as Lord Ewen Mac Dughglas of Lions Gate. My daughter is Lady Eva de Lille, but not because of her association with her husband. She attained the title of "Lady" through her own achievements by volunteering for behind the scenes and helping to organize events. She finds hundreds of small ways to help others at all the practises and events she attends plus she and her husband run a kitchen and do the cooking and serving at events.
Here are a couple of really quick You-Tube videos SIL said I could show of a couple of practises. He is in the red outfit in the first one. Apparently, if you get hit in the leg, you must kneel, if you get hit in the arm, you have to forego using it, and if you get hit in the head or body, you're dead!
Hope you enjoyed this post. I know I learned a lot more about knights and my daughter's and son-in-law's association with the Society for Creative Anachronism just by writing it.