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    Posted: 18-Apr-2009 at 09:25
Hi, I'm new here and I eager to learn the European History, especially the Knight thing. For your insight, I'm from Asia and my English is bad. So if there is some typo or false grammar, please don't hard to me.

My question is about the Knight.

What is the Knight exactly? What is the different between Knight and Japanese Samurai? Are every nobles in the Medieval Time can be considered as Knight? Why in the Knight Hospitality, their job is to tend the Crusader wound? Are they just a form of an elite cavalry unit? how's their lifestyle?

Thanks


Edited by Brainsucker - 18-Apr-2009 at 09:26
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote gcle2003 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18-Apr-2009 at 09:50
'Knight' is used in a variety of ways, so the question is difficult to answer. Strictly in English it refers to any member of the gentry who has been admitted to the nobility as a servant of the crown (or one of the crown's vassals), but since nobles are usually referred to by their highest rank, 'knight' becomes a designation for the lowest order of the nobility, even though, technically, an Earl, say, would usually also be a knight.
 
In most countries of Europe in the middle ages the noble class fought on horseback so the translation of 'knight' into other languages usually refers to riders of horses (Ritter, chevalier, etc). Most English knights of the time did the same, but the concept is a bit broader in England, which is maybe why the title is still officially used there.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Knights Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18-Apr-2009 at 10:08
Originally posted by Brainsucker Brainsucker wrote:

Why in the Knight Hospitality, their job is to tend the Crusader wound? Are they just a form of an elite cavalry unit? how's their lifestyle?


Hi Brainsucker, and welcome to All Empires. Smile

The primary role of the Knights Hospitaller was to serve as a medical service to both the crusading soldiers, their accompanying families, and to pilgrims. They established hospitals and clinics throughout the Eastern Mediterranean and the Holy Land, of the highest quality and most advanced technology known at that time.

As crusades became more frequent and the Hospitaller order grew in size and influence, they continued their role as doctors and attendants to the sick. However, they also assumed responsibility of protecting pilgrims on their journeys to sacred sites. Many were recruited or hired in Crusading armies, as elite forces. Not all were elite cavalry though - many were foot soldiers. The Hospitallers, in due time, also established a strong naval fleet.

Their lifestyle was guided in part by the values and responsibilities of the order. Eventually, the order developed two branches - one for specifically tending to the physically and mentally sick, the other for primarily military service. The orders instilled values like poverty, chastity and contempt against the infidel. Thus, many knights of the order would reside in humble dwellings, and exercise strong piety and religious conviction.

I hope this answers your question and gives you a good overview about the Hospitallers. If you need any clarification, just let us know.

Regards,

- Knights -

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Brainsucker Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18-Apr-2009 at 10:18
Oh, thank you. the information is indeed useful.

BTW, I have still a lot of question about the Knight.

1. glce2003 said that Knight is designated as the lowest order of the nobility. So there are another higher order of the nobility?
2. Reading glce2003, that mean Knight is not solely a military unit? They can be civilian who has a noble blood in them?
3. In a military campaign, should Knight serves as a commander or can be a common soldier as well?
4. In a game that I have played, I see that there is a unit of knight the designated as a cavalry battalion. Is it historically correct or just for the game purpose? If correct, how the organization of this army worked?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Brainsucker Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18-Apr-2009 at 12:16
oh NOOOOOO, I write in the wrong section of forum. So please Moderator move my thread to the right seciton.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote es_bih Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18-Apr-2009 at 12:36
Moved to Medieval History

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Knights Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18-Apr-2009 at 15:05
Originally posted by Brainsucker Brainsucker wrote:

Oh, thank you. the information is indeed useful.

BTW, I have still a lot of question about the Knight.

1. glce2003 said that Knight is designated as the lowest order of the nobility. So there are another higher order of the nobility?
2. Reading glce2003, that mean Knight is not solely a military unit? They can be civilian who has a noble blood in them?
3. In a military campaign, should Knight serves as a commander or can be a common soldier as well?
4. In a game that I have played, I see that there is a unit of knight the designated as a cavalry battalion. Is it historically correct or just for the game purpose? If correct, how the organization of this army worked?


I'll let Gcle2003 address those questions posed to him, and I will try to answer the last two for you.

I should note that I am referring to Western European, Medieval Knights - what people typically think of when the word 'Knight' is mentioned.

Knights were not typically given command of military campaigns. However, they could often serve as subordinates and lieutenants in battle, commanding a designated number of troops. Most Knights were purely soldiers in a battle unit, though.

Which game are you referring to? Knights in video games are typically depicted as cavalry - this is because this is how they are perceived by people. More often than not though, Knights were unable to afford a horse (let alone a horse with full armour), and so were usually footsoldiers/infantrymen. You will see infantry Knights in games like Medieval Total War.

Any more questions, just fire away!

Regards,

- Knights -

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Reginmund Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18-Apr-2009 at 16:17
A knight was a member of the medieval European warrior aristocracy, who typically fought on horseback equipped with heavy armour and a lance in addition to any secondary weapons. On the battlefield the knights were primarily shock troops whose main attack was a direct charge in dense formations with couched lances (lance suspended under the arm for added force of impact). As the idea of knighthood developed throughout the middle ages knights were increasingly expected to adhere to an idealised code of conduct most commonly known as chivalry.

This is a general description of what a knight was, similar to what you'll find in most textbooks. If you look at different periods and regions however you'll find a lot of variety in what it meant to be a knight, what equipment they used and their role on the battlefield.

I'd also like to address some of the points made in this thread.

A knight could fight on foot, of course, but it lies in the very concept of the knight to fight on horseback. The word "knight" simply means "servant", but if you look at the words used in other languages; ritter, ridder, chevalier, caballero and so forth, they all have the connotation of a rider/horseman.

Knights could command campaigns, they could function as officers or just part of a cavalry regiment, because anyone of noble birth could be a knight. Barons were knights, dukes were knights, so were kings and emperors. Emperor Maximilian I is often referred to as the last knight. Basically any secular nobleman could be a knight, sometimes even high-ranking clergymen such as bishops acted as knights.

The religious orders of monk-knights like the Templars and the Hospitallers were initially founded to protect pilgrims to the Holy Land, but soon became military powers in their own right in the crusades against Muslims, pagans and even Greek-Orthodox Christians. Similar orders popped up all over Europe. Later on you find the chivalric orders, these were imitations of the religious orders but with a secular base, usually formed around a monarch.

If you have some knowledge of the samurai it's a good starting point for understanding the knights, as there are many parallels.


Edited by Reginmund - 18-Apr-2009 at 16:19
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote gcle2003 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18-Apr-2009 at 19:25
Originally posted by Brainsucker Brainsucker wrote:

Oh, thank you. the information is indeed useful.

BTW, I have still a lot of question about the Knight.

1. glce2003 said that Knight is designated as the lowest order of the nobility. So there are another higher order of the nobility?
I'm not sure I got that use of 'nobility' quite right. It would have been better to say that the simple knight was the highest order of society beneath the nobility, ranking above the landowning gentry in general, and of course above the non-landowning classes. 
 
The nobility is then easily distinguishable from the rest of the landowning class in that it has inherited titles and status: working from the bottom up, baron, viscount, earl, marquis, duke. Knighthood is neither inherited nor bequeathed. It still isn't terribly clear since a baron or whatever could well be, and usually was in the middle ages, designated ('dubbed') knight before inheriting or acquiriing the higher title: you didn't stop being a knight if you became a baron or something higher. (In the same way, a Duke of somewhere can also be Earl of somewhere else and Baron somewhere else again.)
Quote
2. Reading glce2003, that mean Knight is not solely a military unit? They can be civilian who has a noble blood in them?
It certainly is not necessarily a military title. And a knight doesn't necessarily have to have been born noble. Anyone could and can be made a knight at the discretion of the monarch, or, in earlier times, the major vassals of the state (or even on some occasions, simply by another knight).
 
You can think of a knight as the equivalent of a commissioned officer in a modern army or navy, plus a knight can be, if you like, a 'commissioned' civil servant. (In early English the word that became 'knight' meant a servant.)
Quote
3. In a military campaign, should Knight serves as a commander or can be a common soldier as well?
4. In a game that I have played, I see that there is a unit of knight the designated as a cavalry battalion. Is it historically correct or just for the game purpose? If correct, how the organization of this army worked?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote gcle2003 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18-Apr-2009 at 20:03
Originally posted by Reginmund Reginmund wrote:

A knight was a member of the medieval European warrior aristocracy,
Medieval European knights were members of the medieval European aristicracy, true. Othe knights, no.
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who typically fought on horseback equipped with heavy armour and a lance in addition to any secondary weapons. On the battlefield the knights were primarily shock troops whose main attack was a direct charge in dense formations with couched lances (lance suspended under the arm for added force of impact). As the idea of knighthood developed throughout the middle ages knights were increasingly expected to adhere to an idealised code of conduct most commonly known as chivalry.

This is a general description of what a knight was, similar to what you'll find in most textbooks. If you look at different periods and regions however you'll find a lot of variety in what it meant to be a knight, what equipment they used and their role on the battlefield.
Or off it.
 
Arthur's chronicler Sir Thomas Malory was a 15th century knight but as far as I know was never on a battlefield, though I gather he did fight his way out of jail a couple of times. Sir Thomas More was another servant of the state who never fought anywhere (neither did his also knighted father).
Quote

I'd also like to address some of the points made in this thread.

A knight could fight on foot, of course, but it lies in the very concept of the knight to fight on horseback. The word "knight" simply means "servant", but if you look at the words used in other languages; ritter, ridder, chevalier, caballero and so forth, they all have the connotation of a rider/horseman.

Knights could command campaigns, they could function as officers or just part of a cavalry regiment, because anyone of noble birth could be a knight.
Henry VIII's adviser Sir Thomas Cromwell was also a knight. His father kept an alehouse.
Quote
Barons were knights, dukes were knights, so were kings and emperors. Emperor Maximilian I is often referred to as the last knight. Basically any secular nobleman could be a knight, sometimes even high-ranking clergymen such as bishops acted as knights.
Anybody could be a knight, if they merited it. Still can.  
Quote
The religious orders of monk-knights like the Templars and the Hospitallers were initially founded to protect pilgrims to the Holy Land, but soon became military powers in their own right in the crusades against Muslims, pagans and even Greek-Orthodox Christians. Similar orders popped up all over Europe. Later on you find the chivalric orders, these were imitations of the religious orders but with a secular base, usually formed around a monarch.

If you have some knowledge of the samurai it's a good starting point for understanding the knights, as there are many parallels.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Reginmund Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18-Apr-2009 at 22:44
What constitutes a knight has varied a great deal between periods and regions, so much that two people could give equally accurate descriptions of knighthood and still tell quite different stories. Another parallel to the samurai, right there. That's why I find it hard to give Brainsucker the kind of short, comprehensive answer he might be looking for. Any attempt at doing so will inevitably leave a lot of holes open, like the ones gcle2003 just adressed.

Knights are not easily defined as a species. To understand one needs to think of knigthood more as a diverse, multilayered historical phenomenon. Of course that doesn't help at all for one with no previous knowledge. Personally I would recommend first studying the history of the societies in which knights existed. To see them in their proper context will establish a frame of reference that is necessary to get to grips with the phenomenon.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Omar al Hashim Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 19-Apr-2009 at 02:41
It should be pointed out that people are still Knighted, although there are no requirements for a modern Knight to do anything (such as fight) for the state.

Sir Elton John is a famous Knight for example. So is anyone else who carries the title Sir. It's still very common for subjects of the British Empire to be Knighted after exceptional service to their field.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Brainsucker Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 19-Apr-2009 at 03:39
oh these answer are so enlighted me, thank you.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote gcle2003 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 19-Apr-2009 at 14:22
Originally posted by Omar al Hashim Omar al Hashim wrote:

It should be pointed out that people are still Knighted, although there are no requirements for a modern Knight to do anything (such as fight) for the state.

Sir Elton John is a famous Knight for example. So is anyone else who carries the title Sir. It's still very common for subjects of the British Empire to be Knighted after exceptional service to their field.
 
The keyword there is 'service'. What varies over time periods is what is considered 'service' - at one time it was certainly more than anything military service, but knighthood was always a recognition either of the individual having carried out important service, or at least having sworn an oath to.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote edgewaters Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 03-May-2009 at 03:39
Originally posted by Brainsucker Brainsucker wrote:

What is the Knight exactly? What is the different between Knight and Japanese Samurai? Are every nobles in the Medieval Time can be considered as Knight?

Nobility and knighthood were different things altogether - it was possible (and in the early medieval period, common) to be one but not the other. By the late medieval era, the distinction began to fade, as the two classes merged. But even then they were seperate institutions that happened to hold many of the same members.

It was possible to be a noble, but not a knight. Likewise it was possible to be a knight, but not a noble.

Knighthood was membership in a military organization - one of the Orders (either a secular one, like the Order of the Garter, or a religious one, like the Knights Hospitillar). It was earned or achieved by invitation. The first Orders were religious, and mirrored the monastic orders - the members had to take vows like vows of poverty, chastity, etc depending on the Order. These Orders were mili Christe, "soldiers of Christ". Many of them were full monastic Orders in the Catholic Church (eg Teutonics or Hospitillars), just like the Cistercan or Rosicrucian or Dominican monks. Later on, secular Orders began to be founded by various kings that mimicked the style and conventions of the religious orders - such as the Order of the Garter. These were often known as "sovereign" Orders, because they were not subject to religious authority. Instead of religious vows, they had vows of chivalry which loosely resembled some of the vows used by the religious orders.

Nobility, on the other hand, was a hereditary title that was passed down from the father to his first-born son. With it went land and a feudal contract known as "fealty". A noble was a vassal, and was required to support his liege lord with money or arms (usually an option of one or the other) and in return, he got a demesne, a piece of land. He was allowed, by the authority of his liege, to tax the inhabitants. 

Being a knight entailed no such feudal contract. The knight was subject to the command of his superiors in the Order he was part of. If he had a liege lord, it was because he was a noble, not because he was a knight. Some Orders were headed by persons who were also liege lords, but the institutions were still separate. 

There's a really good explanation of the difference and the changes the two institutions underwent through the medieval era here: http://www.heraldica.org/topics/orders/knights.htm

Quote Why in the Knight Hospitality, their job is to tend the Crusader wound? Are they just a form of an elite cavalry unit?

The Hospitallars were one of the religious orders of knights. Being a member of one of these orders didn't necessarily mean you were a soldier. They were, first and foremost, monastic organizations. For instance, many of them had convents attached: there were nuns who were Knights Hospitallar or Knights of St. John. These Orders themselves had a military purpose (sometimes mainly as hospitals or charities), but not all the individuals were necessarily soldiers. Some Orders were first and foremost about combat, others fulfilled a different role altogether, just like today where you have military staff units like Signal Corps or Dental Corps. Members were still knights, just like members of a Dental Corps are commissioned officers with ranks (Captain, etc).

Of course, there's a bit of trouble here with the word "knight"."Knight" originally just meant a servant. Bodyguards like the huscarls eventually came to be known by the same term. The equivalent for "knight" in other languages like French or German just meant "horseman" and could apply to any horseman (eg in German it is "ritter" or rider, originally any rider of any sort). In time, it came to mean a certain class and was associated with the warriors of the Crusades. So, not only the class but also the term itself changed alot down through the ages. Go back far enough and a "knight" - a "cnihf", that is - would've been used to refer to the peasant boy washing dishes and shovelling the muck from a toilet. 



Edited by edgewaters - 03-May-2009 at 04:30
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote gcle2003 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 03-May-2009 at 12:39
It wasn't necessary to belong to an order to be a knight, at any time (though when they did what you say is correct, and I agree about the distinction between being a noble and being a knight).
 
Even today there is a difference between being, say, a Knight of the Garter (KG) or a Knight Commander of the Bath (KCB) and simply being a 'knight bachelor' as the term goes. Kinght Bachelor doesn't mean a member of the order of bachelors, it simply means not belonging to any order. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Knight_Bachelor
 
I think the wikipedia reference however is wrong when it says the knight bachelor is an English rank (of course the actual title is English). Knighthood preceded the origin of the orders in western Europe generally. 'Chevalier bachelier' exists (or at least did) as a title in France, for instance.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote edgewaters Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 03-May-2009 at 17:11

That's true. A Knights Banneret didn't have to belong to an order either. These were fairly late developments though, I think. A Knights Banneret was often made on the field of battle, sort of like being deputized by the king.

As to whether knighthood preceded the orders or not, I guess it all depends on what you mean by the word "knight". If you mean anything having to do with a code of chivalry or honorific titles, then that pretty much started with the religious orders. Mounted warriors prior to this did not necessarily have any sort of code and there wasn't any formal institution of honorifics exclusive to them. In essence, they were just a cavalry class with certain characteristics resembling later feudal institutions (of both knighthood and nobility - Charlemagne's horsemen got land, and the Saxon cnihf was a vassal who provided arms to his liege). 

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote gcle2003 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 03-May-2009 at 19:29
The concept of the chivalric code is present in the Song of Roland and also appears in Wace. It's true that Roland (c. 1090) dates from approximately the same time as the foundation of the Knights Hospitaller (1099 at the earliest) but it is pretty evident that even if the poemn were a bit later, it would have taken more than a year or so for a religious designation to gain sufficiently wide dissemination to be included in secular poetry. Especially a secular poem that had nothing to do with the Crusades, and is written about the past.
 
Moreover in both the French and English (Norman) traditions, the ceremony of dubbing (adoubement) didn't involve any connection with orders, though admittedly it had religious rites associated with it. (But remember that in Malory knights don't have to be Christian, even the good ones. Sir Palomides and his brothers are knights before any of them convert to Christianity, which they only do late in life.)
 
(A few quotes from Roland:
III
Blancandrin was a heathen wise,
Knightly and valiant of enterprise,
Sage in counsel his lord to aid;
LX
Roland, when thus the choice he saw,
Spake, full knightly, by knightly law:
"Sir Stepsire, well may I hold thee dear,
That thou hast named me to guard the rear;..."
XXXVI
His mantle of fur, that was round him twined,
With silk of Alexandria lined,
Down at Blancandrin's feet he cast,
But still he held by his good sword fast,
Grasping the hilt by its golden ball.
"A noble knight," say the heathens all.
 
The French original has 'chevaler' (sic) for 'knight'.


Edited by gcle2003 - 03-May-2009 at 19:41
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote edgewaters Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 03-May-2009 at 22:20

True, but the Song of Roland is very much a product of its time, the 1090s - a period when a slew of religious orders were being founded and kings and nobles were all jumping on the crusader bandwagon, eager to legitimize themselves through participation. Things weren't entirely secular in this environment, particularly where the warrior classes were concerned. After a century or two of being stigmatized by a pacifist church and movements like Pax Dei, the warrior classes were quite eager to be associated with the cross of a new, more militant church. The religious orders reflect this development, as does the Song of Roland.

The Song of Roland bears very, very little resemblance to the period it purports to depict.



Edited by edgewaters - 03-May-2009 at 22:58
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote gcle2003 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04-May-2009 at 12:05
The first of the orders nevertheless dates from after Roland. Your first paragraph merely indicates that the knights were eager to be recognised by the Church and some of them formed themselves into orders with specific vows. I wouldn't quibble with that.
 
I agree that Roland is not an accurate description of Carolingian reality. My point about it being about the past is that it must have been convincing to its readers/hearers as a description of the past - i.e. it must have been reasonably close in its attitudes to the society they knew in youth, which means it must, as a picture, date back to around mid-century.
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