Army Rumour Service

Register a free account today to become a member! Once signed in, you'll be able to participate on this site by adding your own topics and posts, as well as connect with other members through your own private inbox!

Chivalry and Knights

Joker62

ADC
Book Reviewer
What was the requirement for being a Knight again... wasn't it something like Annual income of over £40? Time to buy a sword everyone!
And provide a retinue of men-at-arms.
Basically , a Middle Ages version of the Bloods and Crips, but only non inclusive?
 
I was always under the impression that Knights (of ye olde) were chivalrous warriors and expert horsemen who protected the weak and poor, they were trained from a young age and were pretty cool individuals.
Without wishing to appear like Dennis (see below).



Where did this notion come from that knights protected the weak and poor? Is that a 19th century confection or did it arise earlier?

Surely the knights were pretty brutal warriors, often for hire to the highest bidder, who killed and destroyed whatever their paymasters told them to, or as often as not just helped themselves to whatever they fancied?

Are they not akin to the Samurai of Japan, painted in romantic colours today as some form of elite super heroes but a bit of a parasitic pain in the arse to any farmer who would like to keep the crop he raised for himself and keep the roof over his head and his daughters' virtues intact, if that was alright with the great noble horsemen?

I can't help thinking that the knights of Europe were no different from the cartel leaders in Mexico or warlords in Africa today, getting very rich out of inflicting great horrors on ordinary people while occasionally dispensing a bit of largesse to their own pet peasants.

My understanding of the reason for calling the First Crusade was that Pope Urban wanted somewhere to send all the bloody awful knights and noble warriors running around western Europe feuding among themselves and slaughtering and despoiling the countryside.

[Dennis mode/off]
 
Not all Knights kept to the code, some were quite murderous apparently.

However, here is one of many sites that mention looking after the poor.

Knights and Chivalry
Yeah, I know they had a knightly code, but it seems to me it was a bit of a self-justifying code that they made up among themselves to paint themselves in a better light, for their own self-esteem, after all no one wants to think of themselves as just a bunch of murdering thugs. A bit like the Krays looking after their mum or giving a turkey at Christmas to the poor of the East End, while behaving as thugs and enriching themselves.

We see the same thing among any group of self-serving people, the mafia, the Argentine officer class, the Ku Klux Klan, they will all paint themselves as honourable men, icons of virtue, defending their community, protecting the weak and handing down condign punishment on those who break the code, but it is meaningless because it doesn't actually apply to anything outside their own brotherhood.

What perhaps I am asking is whether there is actually any historical evidence that knights as a class ever defended the poor and vulnerable, and who did they protect them from exactly, given that the biggest exploiters of the poor and weak were fellow members of the higher feudal order?

(I know, I really am sounding like Dennis now, but he did have a point after all)
 
I don’t remember reading anywhere that Bruce knighted Wallace, and am sure there’s no record of who knighted him. Makes a good story though. Personally, I wonder if Moray was the strategist at Stirling Bridge and Wallace got the full credit when Moray died of wounds.
Wallace was an outsider, and the son of a laird a step up from a commoner back then. Remember too, he didn't have the clout or the training that Moray had. Yet he rose through the ranks to become a knight of the realm, and the guardian of Scotland at one time. You don't do that by leading a combined force and basking on the shirt tails of Moray. Knighthoods were not dished out like they are now, to luvvies, sportsmen and other 'heroes.' Scotland was fighting for survival, it couldn't afford the luxury of hangers on.
Although they probably knew/fought together, Bruce and Wallace had different aims. Bruce had one eye on the Crown, whereas Wallace was fighting on behalf of Toom Tabard, a prisoner of Edward. Wallace was executed in 1305, a year before Bruce was crowned. I don't think it's to much of a stretch for Wallace to be knighted by Bruce. He'd been campaigning successfully, against the English before meeting up with Moray. With TT captive, Bruce was high enough up the pecking order to knight Wallace.
Then we come to a certain Edward Plantagenet, Longshanks, the Hammer of the Scots, one helluva warrior King. During all the kerfuffle between us, Edward forgave many former foes. No such hand was extended to Wallace. After 30 pieces of silver had changed hands Wallace was whipped down to London, tried and executed for treason. Do you really think Edward would persecute a nobody for years, unless he, not actually feared him, but realised the danger of letting him live?
 

Ravers

LE
Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
Being knighted has always been about making money.

Make money - get knighted it’s as simple as that.

In the days of yore you made money by owning land and having tenants, now you make money by being good at business, sport, music, acting etc.

The wife’s ancestors were all knights. It wasn’t through chivalrous acts or prowess on the battlefield, it was because they had a lot of land and raised a few regiments of tenant farmers every time the French needed a kicking.

They were knighted because they were the wealthiest people in town and the peasants needed someone to follow.
 

Spartak1st

Old-Salt
Wallace was an outsider, and the son of a laird a step up from a commoner back then. Remember too, he didn't have the clout or the training that Moray had. Yet he rose through the ranks to become a knight of the realm, and the guardian of Scotland at one time. You don't do that by leading a combined force and basking on the shirt tails of Moray. Knighthoods were not dished out like they are now, to luvvies, sportsmen and other 'heroes.' Scotland was fighting for survival, it couldn't afford the luxury of hangers on.
Although they probably knew/fought together, Bruce and Wallace had different aims. Bruce had one eye on the Crown, whereas Wallace was fighting on behalf of Toom Tabard, a prisoner of Edward. Wallace was executed in 1305, a year before Bruce was crowned. I don't think it's to much of a stretch for Wallace to be knighted by Bruce. He'd been campaigning successfully, against the English before meeting up with Moray. With TT captive, Bruce was high enough up the pecking order to knight Wallace.
Then we come to a certain Edward Plantagenet, Longshanks, the Hammer of the Scots, one helluva warrior King. During all the kerfuffle between us, Edward forgave many former foes. No such hand was extended to Wallace. After 30 pieces of silver had changed hands Wallace was whipped down to London, tried and executed for treason. Do you really think Edward would persecute a nobody for years, unless he, not actually feared him, but realised the danger of letting him live?
Let your hard-on for Wallace go down for a minute and put your Nigel Tranter back on the shelf. There is no proof Bruce knighted Wallace. The Chronicle Rishanger just says de illa natione praecipuus. If you want to believe it was Bruce fine. The sources are scarce, open to interpretation and full of gaps. We just have stepping stones of sometimes questionable ‘evidence’. Don’t forget there was a Bruce propaganda machine in play here too which needs to be taken into account.

Edward I didn’t necessarily fear Wallace’s military ability. BTW begire I continue, nowhere did I put down Wallace’s assumed ability to lead, motivate and keep an army together in the field over an extended period, or for that matter gain the confidence of the remnants of the Scottish establishment. In your place I would have instead challenged my interpretation of Chronicon de Lanercost & Chronicle of Walter of Guisborough.

Re execution, Edward etc. Wallace was the surviving leader of a force that beat an English army in the field. The battle of Courtrai in 1302 had seen the cream of French chivalry beaten by Flemish militiamen and sent shock waves through Europe. This was followed by Mons-en-Pevele in 1304. Like Stirling Bridge, these were challenges to the perceived order and needed a clear statement made as to who was still in charge and what would happen if anyone tried to challenge that. Wallace was the figurehead of a rebellion. Unlike the rest of the Scottish establishment who were prepared to play turncoat at drop of a Scottish penny, it appears he was defiant, stood his ground and did not submit. I’ve read that Edward felt particularly “betrayed” by Wallace, but have never followed this up tbh. Based on what I have read, I believe therefore that Edward probably very pragmatically, wanted to put an end to what Wallace represented.

That’s my interpretation, you have your own, which I’m fine with, so let’s agree to disagree.

[Minor edits]
 
Last edited:

Spartak1st

Old-Salt
This thread reminded me that there’s a good German documentary series (subtitles) available on Youtube about Knighthood and the rise of the Knight. It’s a refreshing Eurocentric view of the period. Link below.

Men of Iron 1 of 3
 

Helm

MIA
Moderator
Book Reviewer
Re-enactment I think (what good is a sword if you can't twat things with it?).
Did see these chaps, but the prices make me think, hmmmm. As someone whose an archer, I figured I might as well get a sword to go with my bow, so nothing fancy. I think something along these lines would be about right. I'm sure there's an Oakeshott number for it.



That's the story (no idea if it's an accurate story mind) about Agincourt. Lots of Grumpy pissed off heavily armoured Frenchmen slopping and sliding through the mud towards you. So the bloody peasants grabbed their mallets used to drive the stakes into the ground and went knight tipping. When the knight has been sent sprawling with several wallops of the mallets one of them inserts dagger and twists.
If you're serious about using one I suggest these, they aren't cheap, but there's a reason
 
If you're serious about using one I suggest these, they aren't cheap, but there's a reason

Yeah about what I figured. Bit steep for an impulse buy though... Although what does it mean by 'Light sword play' those are much more like it price wise.
 

Helm

MIA
Moderator
Book Reviewer
Yeah about what I figured. Bit steep for an impulse buy though... Although what does it mean by 'Light sword play' those are much more like it price wise.
means tippy tappy sparring rather than heavier contact, cheap swords have a nasty habit of breaking/splintering if used enthusiastically, with all the fun that entails. If you want something that just looks nice and is wearable look at the LARP stuff. Can't help with what's good etc there.
 
means tippy tappy sparring rather than heavier contact, cheap swords have a nasty habit of breaking/splintering if used enthusiastically, with all the fun that entails. If you want something that just looks nice and is wearable look at the LARP stuff. Can't help with what's good etc there.

This shop does nice swords, you can even visit the castle next door and walt as a knight to your hearts content
 
means tippy tappy sparring rather than heavier contact, cheap swords have a nasty habit of breaking/splintering if used enthusiastically, with all the fun that entails. If you want something that just looks nice and is wearable look at the LARP stuff. Can't help with what's good etc there.

Thanks,

I found their classification page.

Had a mooch about and this looks about right:
 
Let your hard-on for Wallace go down for a minute and put your Nigel Tranter back on the shelf. There is no proof Bruce knighted Wallace....
..That’s my interpretation, you have your own, which I’m fine with, so let’s agree to disagree.
Although Wallace is a hero to most Scots, myself included, I don't have a hard on for him. I hope I'm not protested too much. ;) It's said the pen is mightier than the sword. What's not said is it's usually the pens of the victorious swordsmen doing the writing. Equally it depends on what message you want to put across.
At the risk of having a fatwa against me, I equally had a 'hard on' for Longshanks. He was a formidable king/leader/warrior, and from the English perspective was doing the best for his country, and himself of course. Rather than agree to disagree, I'm happy, in the fulness of time, to have a look for your sources and read another aspect of what I found an interesting period of history.

ETA Your post deserves an informative too. Just my weird sense of humour at getting a semi over Wallace. Now I am protesting too much.
 

Dwarf

LE
It was the papal legate who said it. During the Albigensian crusade against the heretic Cathars in southern France. I can’t remember why they were heretics, maybe they believed in giving women the vote or something crazy.
30,000 slaughtered if memory serves but it’s been many years since I was in that part of the world
Actually you aren't that far off the mark. The Cathars subscribed to a form of Christianity that was closer to the original and different to the mish-mash that is Catholicism. They didn't have churches as such, believed in re-incarnation, and the adepts were known as Perfects who gave up worldly goods and went around teaching, healing, and generally behaving as Catholic Priests should rather than they did. Women were regarded more equally and Perfects could be both men and women.

The Catholic Church called the bloodiest Crusade against them in part because of doctrine, in part because they didn't acknowledge the Primacy of Rome.

As to derring-do, in the seige of Montsegur, a fortified town* and the last major redoubt of the Cathars the Crusaders were making no headway. So on the night of Christmas Eve, the one day when all of Christendom was supposed to be at peace a commando team of knights scaled the right face of the mountain, slit the throats of the guards who obviously weren't expecting it. They then established a fire-base for seige engines which inevitably meant the end of the defence.

Languedoc was also where the Troubadors originated from singing their songs of chivalry, an attempt to shame nobles into behaving better, a fairly futile task in many cases.

*Not the castle we see today, a later addition.


Montsegur as it then was, recreation.
1614016550892.png



1614016622950.png


I've been there and the cliff face is not something I would like to face at night, or any time really, it might even cause THEM to think hard.

Montsegur today.
1614016799161.png
 

Attachments

  • 1614016775097.png
    1614016775097.png
    119.9 KB · Views: 6

Spartak1st

Old-Salt
Although Wallace is a hero to most Scots, myself included, I don't have a hard on for him. I hope I'm not protested too much. ;) It's said the pen is mightier than the sword. What's not said is it's usually the pens of the victorious swordsmen doing the writing. Equally it depends on what message you want to put across.
At the risk of having a fatwa against me, I equally had a 'hard on' for Longshanks. He was a formidable king/leader/warrior, and from the English perspective was doing the best for his country, and himself of course. Rather than agree to disagree, I'm happy, in the fulness of time, to have a look for your sources and read another aspect of what I found an interesting period of history.
Thanks for taking my response so well. Real gent! My mate who’s Welsh might take out a fatwa against you. I think Longshanks was a product of his time and you have to respect his military and administrative capability.
 
Top