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Chivalry and Knights

Dwarf

LE
Charlemagne is reputed to be the first to have a vision of a united Europe, I believe.
Not really, Charlemagne harked back to the old Roman Empire as his model, and his style of kingship was constant expansion to increase his lands. The crux of how he saw them came on his death when his lands were divided more or less equally between his three sons who almost immediately began fighting each other. Had he a true vision of a united Europe he would not have divided up his lands that way. His concept was Medieval Frankish, not an Empire of continuation like the Romans.
 

Bardeyai

Old-Salt
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]
Where did the notion come from?
The short answer is you need to read up on Eleanor of Aquitaine, mother of Richard the Lionheart, whose court in Aquitaine is credited in popularising notions of Chivalry in the Plantagenet domains.
The long answer involves a centuries long effort by the Catholic Church to mitigate the wholesale slaughter of the day. This includes trying to ban fighting on the sabbath or holy days; not using terror weapons like crossbows on Christians (fill your boots on Muslims) and not slaughtering non-combatants, which leads on to knights actually protecting The Simple since they are needed to grow the crops and prevent famines.
You may want to argue that all these policies were part of the church’s campaign to be recognised as suzerain over Christendom, and over Christian monarchs, by interfering in what was the rightful business of Kings and spoiling their fun. Plenty of Kings made that argument.
 
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.
Real gent!!? After that post I'm wondering if your Welsh mate wears a rather unknitted wooly coat, has four legs and your footwear of choice is wellies.
 
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]
The ideals of chivalry arose from a combination of tradition, Christian morality, and romantic literature. The powerful were not supposed to abuse the weak, although the lower classes were also expected to know their place in society as well.

While European knights are sometimes today compared with the Japanese samurai class, their respective codes of behaviour were different. European society was influenced by Christian ideals of morality, while Japanese social norms were quite a bit different.

As to whether everyone in those days behaved according to law, custom, and moral codes, you could ask the same question about people today.
 

Spartak1st

Old-Salt
Real gent!!? After that post I'm wondering if your Welsh mate wears a rather unknitted wooly coat, has four legs and your footwear of choice is wellies.
My mistake, I thought you were being genuine so was responding to your humour in your post re fatwa and providing an opportunity to discuss a historical period of mutual interest. But now you’ve rumbled I shag your missus...
 
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.
In England every man was theoretically obligated to fight on behalf of his king. This was a custom and obligation which originated in early Anglo-Saxon society.

Each man was expected to equip himself according to his means. So the more money you had the more expensive the equipment you were expected to provide for yourself out of your own pocket. The very wealthy were expected to equip additional soldiers and bring them along with them.

You could be called out for service without compensation a certain number of days per year. After that the king was required to pay you for your time. Continuing wars, particularly those in France, required a more professional army that could be available for full time service and was well equipped to a more uniform standard. The "national service" army was gradually transformed into more of a professional army, with the bulk of it being infantry who were doing it for the pay and a share of the loot. A soldier was still expected to provide his own kit, but better equipped soldiers could get roles which came with better pay. An archer got about the same standard pay as a tradesman, and he got a share of loot if there was any.

The nobility were still expected to turn up for a war with a well equipped retinue whether the noble was a professional or not. It was part of the price of being a noble.

At the top end of the army with the best equipment were the "men at arms". We often call them "knights" today, but most of them weren't because they hadn't been formally knighted. They may have had all the armour, horse, and other kit, but if they hadn't been knighted they weren't strictly speaking knights.

People who had been knighted though were expected to buy loads of top end kit to equip themselves and be trained in how to use it. So, there wasn't a lot of point in knighting someone who wasn't rich, because the whole point was for the king to be able to have the most expensive part of his army pay for themselves out of their own pocket in return for receiving honours.

If we were going to do things the same way these days then in return for receiving a knighthood you could be expected to buy yourself a tank, command it, pay for the rest of the crew, spend your weekends training in it, and go off to war in it when called up for service. A baron might be expected to provide a troop of tanks, a count a squadron, etc. This plan is going to be in the next defence review, so remember that you heard it here first.
 
On the basis of this thread I went looking for a repo sword. Any advice from anyone?
Depending upon what you plan on doing with the sword I would suggest going to some re-enactor events or medieval fairs where you might be able to actually see and touch some reproduction swords instead of relying on photos and descriptions.

There is a huge range of price/quality trade-offs to make, and if you haven't seen any up close it's hard to say just what trade off you may wish to make. Generally the cheaper swords tend to be overweight (especially towards the tip) and have poor fit and finish. Most repro swords are made in India and have a huge range of quality, even from the same company.

If you plan on getting involved in any re-enactment events, then the first thing you are going to need to do is to find a re-enactment troop and find out what sort of kit is acceptable to them. Some may have health and safety requirements that will affect your choices.

Even if you don't plan on doing any re-enactment, then you still need to decide what you want to do with it. The cheapest ones are just meant for hanging on your wall. If you start waving a really cheap one about your back yard the blade may fly off and skewer your neighbour's cat. If you bang the blade against something it may break and have fragments fly about.

If you want to use it to cut water bottles and pool noodles (people do this as a hobby), then you'll need an actual sharp sword that is made out of good steel and properly heat treated.

If you want to get into actual historical fencing, then you'll need a purpose designed training sword so you don't kill anyone. There's no point in buying anything until you join a fencing club and they can advise you.
 

Ravers

LE
Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
The idea behind maces was a bit more complex than that. Armour got to the point where you were not going to be slashing your opponent. So enter the mace and war hammer. These imparted a large degree of kinetic energy to the target. This would not be to do damage as such, more to knock him over. While the 1970's idea's about knights being helpless when knocked over are bollocks (Albeit it would be a bit cumbersome to regain your feet), getting taken off your horse in the middle of a melee is likely to be pretty fatal as you get several tons of agitated horses using you a trampoline. Or failing that while you are working on getting up you're much easier to hit somewhere you'll feel it. Hence why a lot of war hammers have a spike on the reverse of the head.


On the basis of this thread I went looking for a repo sword. Any advice from anyone?
Repro swords (and armour) are about as tacky as a Vegas wedding with a priest dressed as Elvis.

Save your money for something real.

Check your local auction house. Stuff often comes up.

I have a few old swords strategically hanging on walls and above fireplaces etc.

My best one by far is an 18th century basket hilted back sword that was saved from someone who was about to chuck it in a skip.

It’s worth between 2 and 3 grand.

Also got a French Trafalgar era naval cutlass.
 
Hence the development of very narrow stabbing daggers which could be used by peasants against knights knocked to the ground,
Used between the various armour plates and would penetrate the chainmail worn underneath,
Knights (or more properly "men at arms") in the mid to late middle ages would carry a long pointed dagger called a "rondel dagger" on the side opposite their sword. They were used in very close-in fighting, which could come to what amounted to wrestling until one or the other could get the point of his dagger in.

Here's a modern reproduction example. The blades came in a wide variety of shapes, but were generally long and pointy. They would be used for getting into gaps in armour. The hilts came a variety of forms, but always had a disk at the guard and often another at the pommel. The disk guard is believed to have been intended to allow the dagger to be more readily drawn while wearing gauntlets, and to assist in applying maximum force for piercing mail and padding in the gaps.
DSCN4538_1024x1024.JPG


Common people would carry what was typically known as a "bollock dagger". The blades were essentially the same as with rondel daggers. The difference is the hilt, which had two round protrusions at the "guard", and flared out at the pommel. It was often worn in centre at the front, where it would look like an erect penis with a pair of bollocks. That was the sort of sense of humour they had in those days.
DSCN4521_480x480.JPG


People would often go about armed in normal life in those days, so it was not unusual for someone to be wearing his rondel or bollock dagger while going about his daily business. For a common soldier such as an archer, he would bring his bollock dagger with him when he went to war.
 
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Repro swords (and armour) are about as tacky as a Vegas wedding with a priest dressed as Elvis.

Save your money for something real.

Check your local auction house. Stuff often comes up.

I have a few old swords strategically hanging on walls and above fireplaces etc.

My best one by far is an 18th century basket hilted back sword that was saved from someone who was about to chuck it in a skip.

It’s worth between 2 and 3 grand.

Also got a French Trafalgar era naval cutlass.
It depends on what you want, what you can afford, and what you want it for.

The older it is, the more expensive it is. If Listy wants something genuine which is medieval and in good shape, then I don't think that he'll save enough money in his lifetime to be able to buy it.

If he wants something mid to late 19th century to hang on his wall, then a genuine one carefully bought is a good choice.

If he wants something to bang against other swords while doing re-enactment, then I expect that other collectors would have his guts for garters if he did that with a genuine antique.

If he wants a "pirate sword" to wave about as part of the cast of a production of the Pirates of Penzance, then Health and Safety might have something to say if he shows up with a genuine sharp RN cutlass.

It's hard to tell him what he wants if you're not sure why he wants it, and if he's not entirely sure why he wants it.

The best thing for him to do is to make friends with people who have the same interest in swords that he does, have a look at what they have, and make up his mind whether that's what he really wants.
 

TamH70

MIA
Repro swords (and armour) are about as tacky as a Vegas wedding with a priest dressed as Elvis.

Save your money for something real.

Check your local auction house. Stuff often comes up.

I have a few old swords strategically hanging on walls and above fireplaces etc.

My best one by far is an 18th century basket hilted back sword that was saved from someone who was about to chuck it in a skip.

It’s worth between 2 and 3 grand.

Also got a French Trafalgar era naval cutlass.
Did Great-Great-Great-Great Grandpoppy Ravers nick that off of one of those horrid fFrenchies that had just killed the bold Horatio?
 

Ravers

LE
Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
Did Great-Great-Great-Great Grandpoppy Ravers nick that off of one of those horrid fFrenchies that had just killed the bold Horatio?

No. My ancestors were mostly German.

An arrser who came to stay at my house gave it to me.

It’s probably been well skiffed.

I’m not overly bothered.
 
My mistake, I thought you were being genuine so was responding to your humour in your post re fatwa and providing an opportunity to discuss a historical period of mutual interest. But now you’ve rumbled I shag your missus...
I'll have you know, my wife is not Welsh, doesn't wear a wooly coat, so you've been shagging someone else's missus.
 
Repro swords (and armour) are about as tacky as a Vegas wedding with a priest dressed as Elvis.

Save your money for something real.

Check your local auction house. Stuff often comes up.

I have a few old swords strategically hanging on walls and above fireplaces etc.

My best one by far is an 18th century basket hilted back sword that was saved from someone who was about to chuck it in a skip.

It’s worth between 2 and 3 grand.

Also got a French Trafalgar era naval cutlass.

A sword does look nice hanging on the wall...

iaito 006a.jpg


iaito 003a.jpg


I find practising the various suburi and iaido exercises in the back garden quite relaxing...

...especially in the spring when the cherry tree is in blossom. It appeals to my inner samurai... :)

the-last-samurai-the-last-samurai-24585071-852-480.jpg
 

NSP

LE
Oh FFS, Jean D'Arc was a century after Jacques De Molay was put to the torch. You're now going into tinfoil conspiracy territory.
Talking of conspiracies, the French like to blame us for burning their heroine but in actuality, although she was indeed burned on the side of the lines held by English occupation forces, she was arrested, tried and sentenced to incineration by the French church. Her crime? Wearing trousers whilst being in possession of a vagina.
 
Where did the notion come from?
The short answer is you need to read up on Eleanor of Aquitaine, mother of Richard the Lionheart, whose court in Aquitaine is credited in popularising notions of Chivalry in the Plantagenet domains.
The long answer involves a centuries long effort by the Catholic Church to mitigate the wholesale slaughter of the day. This includes trying to ban fighting on the sabbath or holy days; not using terror weapons like crossbows on Christians (fill your boots on Muslims) and not slaughtering non-combatants, which leads on to knights actually protecting The Simple since they are needed to grow the crops and prevent famines.
You may want to argue that all these policies were part of the church’s campaign to be recognised as suzerain over Christendom, and over Christian monarchs, by interfering in what was the rightful business of Kings and spoiling their fun. Plenty of Kings made that argument.
The ideals of chivalry arose from a combination of tradition, Christian morality, and romantic literature. The powerful were not supposed to abuse the weak, although the lower classes were also expected to know their place in society as well.

While European knights are sometimes today compared with the Japanese samurai class, their respective codes of behaviour were different. European society was influenced by Christian ideals of morality, while Japanese social norms were quite a bit different.

As to whether everyone in those days behaved according to law, custom, and moral codes, you could ask the same question about people today.
Thank you, so there is no doubt there was a knightly/chivalric code there, in the sense that there were rules that they were supposed to abide by, although for the most part they seem to be rules about how they behave among themselves and other members of their class (and presumably their families and womenfolk), but little hard evidence that anyone paid much more than lip service to them.

What there isn't, and which presumably there would be a lot of if it really was the case, is any evidence that the knights as a class ever actually protected the weak and the poor (other than perhaps the serfs and peasants that belonged to his feudal lord).

What there is however, as pointed out above, is plenty of evidence that the knights were very effective stormtroopers when it came to the slaughter of anyone who their masters, either spiritual or temporal, decided needed to have manners put on them.

Surely the finest examples of knightly enterprise, and certainly the ones most extensively documented, are the crusades, and throughout the accounts of the crusades there is one litany of brutal slaughter of the weak and vulnerable after another, often the slaughter of Christians as much as infidels (the same thing went on with the Muslims too let it be said, the idea of knightly Saracens is a bit of a myth too I think).

Urban called on the Frankish knights to take up the crusade because

"this land which you inhabit, shut in on all sides by the seas and surrounded by the mountain peaks, is too narrow for your large population; nor does it abound in wealth; and it furnishes scarcely food enough for its cultivators. Hence it is that you murder one another, that you wage war, and that frequently you perish by mutual wounds. Let therefore hatred depart from among you, let your quarrels end, let wars cease"

In the First Crusade from Antioch to Jerusalem the crusaders happily slaughtered men, women and children, Christian, Muslim and Jew, (in Antioch the crusaders indulged in cannibalism, hardly a sign of knightly virtue). In Jerusalem the crusader chroniclers happily recorded how the knights waded in blood up to their ankles of civilians of all faiths.

In the Fourth Crusade it got worse, the knights allowed themselves to be used as mercenaries by the leader of Venice to destroy his commercial rivals in Constantinople, the capital of Eastern Christianity. The crusader knights obliged and besieged and sacked this heartland of the ancient Christian faith and massacred its inhabitants, robbing churches, murdering priests and raping nuns. All a hard day's work of rapine and pillage for Europe's supposedly knightly noble classes.

TLDR: In short when it comes to the actual historical record, rather than the romanticised poetry and ballads of later years, all the evidence points to Europe's knights being a bunch of murdering thugs, robbers and rapists, rather than protectors of the weak and poor that was later claimed for them.
 
For clarity.
Talking of conspiracies, the French like to blame us for burning their heroine but in actuality, although she was indeed burned on the side of the lines held by English occupation forces
Under the laws of war, Joan was technically a prisoner of Jean de Luxembourg, commander of the Burgundian forces who made the capture.
she was arrested,
The king’s council, on behalf of King Henry VI, bought Joan from her Burgundian captors in November. They moved Joan to Rouen, the capital of English Normandy. On January 3, 1431, young King Henry (or, more accurately, his key advisors.) issued an edict charging Joan with a long list religious crimes and ordering officers to deliver her to the bishop of Beauvais. She would be tried by Church authorities, but still held prisoner each night in the royal castle.
tried and sentenced to incineration by the French church.
At eight o’clock on the morning of February 21, 1431 executor Jean Massieu led Joan into the royal fortress. There she would meet Bishop Pierre Cauchon and 42 clerics.


'Pierre Cauchon (1371 – 18 December 1442) was Bishop of Beauvais from 1420 to 1432. A strong partisan of English interests in France during the latter years of the Hundred Years' War, his role in arranging the execution of Joan of Arc led most subsequent observers to condemn his extension of secular politics into an ecclesiastical trial. The Catholic Church overturned his verdict in 1456.

'Cauchon had always allied with the opposition to Charles VII. Shortly after the coronation, the French army threatened Cauchon's diocese. He went to Rouen, seat of the English government in France.

'The English regent, the Duke of Bedford, was anxious to preserve the claim of his nephew and charge Henry VI of England, grandson of Charles VI and nephew of Charles VII, to the throne of France, as per the Treaty of Troyes. Cauchon escorted Henry from London to Rouen as part of a clerical delegation. Shortly after he returned, he learned that Joan of Arc had been taken captive near Compiègne. The Burgundians held her at the keep of Beaulieu near Saint-Quentin.

'Cauchon played a leading role in negotiations to gain Joan of Arc from the Burgundians for the English. He was well paid for his efforts. Cauchon claimed jurisdiction to try her case because Compiègne was in his diocese of Beauvais.'

 
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