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Michael Kelly





Joined: 22 Sep 2015

Posts: 56

PostPosted: Sat 16 Apr, 2016 1:27 am    Post subject: Of Knights and...?         Reply with quote

Ok, I have a couple questions and I'm not quite sure how to word this so bare with me...

I understand that the 'knight' is a western European idea. But where did this idea end? I know that there were equivalents in other regions of Europe, but what where the geographical limits of the European 'knight'? And what were the differences between the knight found in western Europe and his equivalent in say the Roman [Byzantium] empire?
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Dan Howard




Location: Maitland, NSW, Australia
Joined: 08 Dec 2004

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PostPosted: Sat 16 Apr, 2016 4:38 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

You can't answer this question without defining what a "knight" is.
There is no consensus on how to define "knight" so you can pick any definition you want.
Therefore the question can be answered anyway you want depending on which definition of "knight" you choose.

Author: Bronze Age Military Equipment, Pen and Sword Books
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Pieter B.





Joined: 16 Feb 2014
Reading list: 10 books

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PostPosted: Sat 16 Apr, 2016 9:09 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Dan Howard wrote:
You can't answer this question without defining what a "knight" is.
There is no consensus on how to define "knight" so you can pick any definition you want.
Therefore the question can be answered anyway you want depending on which definition of "knight" you choose.



Sean Connory of course Wink
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Michael Kelly





Joined: 22 Sep 2015

Posts: 56

PostPosted: Sat 16 Apr, 2016 9:18 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Dan Howard wrote:
You can't answer this question without defining what a "knight" is.
There is no consensus on how to define "knight" so you can pick any definition you want.
Therefore the question can be answered anyway you want depending on which definition of "knight" you choose.


What do you mean? Someone with a knighthood in medieval Europe...
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Pieter B.





Joined: 16 Feb 2014
Reading list: 10 books

Posts: 577

PostPosted: Sat 16 Apr, 2016 11:01 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Michael Kelly wrote:
Dan Howard wrote:
You can't answer this question without defining what a "knight" is.
There is no consensus on how to define "knight" so you can pick any definition you want.
Therefore the question can be answered anyway you want depending on which definition of "knight" you choose.


What do you mean? Someone with a knighthood in medieval Europe...


Well to answer your question it did not end in Medieval Europe at all, see Sean Connery.

That said Knight is a single word that has a lots of different meanings over a wide span of time. It's a bit like the word (e)squire which can mean anything from a fourteen year old boy training to be a soldier or a 21st century person who is a lawyer.

Try to define your concept of what is a Knight a bit more as in do you mean the military function, social standing, wealth etc etc.
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Pedro Paulo Gaião




Location: Rio de Janeiro, Brasil
Joined: 14 Mar 2015

Posts: 258

PostPosted: Sat 16 Apr, 2016 2:59 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I consider it the elite warrior who received land to be able to play his warhorse and equipment (knight's fee). Of course, I consider such "knight" the natural evolution of "Miles", the Frankish horsemen created by Charles Martell after the Battle of Poitiers: the Miles would received a piece of land, so he could be abe to pay his horse and sword, hitherto unconventional equipment for the mass of the Carolingian army.

Over time, of course, the fighting style became more original than the muslim horsemen. As the Franco-Norman style was exported to other realms, they would adopt this warrior class in their own military and courtly society. There are exceptions, of course: the Anglo-Saxon England, for example. But over time even the most distant realms as Portugal (by french and castillian influence), Scotland (by anglo-norman influence) and Hungary (by german influence) had their knightly class.

But keep in mind that despite the knight was elite fighter, not every elite fighter is a knight, like housecarls. I consider knighthood all social and military institution adopted by kingdoms via influences from neighboring societies (which got these from franco-normans). I do not consider the Clibanarii or other Byzantine military elites as knights, but not so sure about the Irish, the Welsh or the Swiss, for example. However, it is true that Western knights served as mercenaries in the Byzantine Empire. Some - especially in Paleologan period - received pronoias and become quasi-feudal; the latinikoi included both mercenaries and those who received luch lands
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Craig Peters




PostPosted: Sat 16 Apr, 2016 6:19 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Michael Kelly wrote:
Dan Howard wrote:
You can't answer this question without defining what a "knight" is.
There is no consensus on how to define "knight" so you can pick any definition you want.
Therefore the question can be answered anyway you want depending on which definition of "knight" you choose.


What do you mean? Someone with a knighthood in medieval Europe...


Do you mean someone who has formally undergone the ritual of being knighted?

Dan has a point; although knighthood might seem to be cut and dried, it's not so clear as to how to precisely define a knight.

For example, would you consider a mounted man-at-arms dressed in the latest military equipment of the 14th century to be a knight? Technically, he does not hold the title. And what about a man in the 14th century who indeed holds the title of knight, but who has never fought in his life and does not train for war?

These and other examples like them mean that some sort of definition is required, how ever inadequate it may be.
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Michael Kelly





Joined: 22 Sep 2015

Posts: 56

PostPosted: Sat 16 Apr, 2016 6:19 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Pieter B. wrote:
Michael Kelly wrote:
Dan Howard wrote:
You can't answer this question without defining what a "knight" is.
There is no consensus on how to define "knight" so you can pick any definition you want.
Therefore the question can be answered anyway you want depending on which definition of "knight" you choose.


What do you mean? Someone with a knighthood in medieval Europe...


Well to answer your question it did not end in Medieval Europe at all, see Sean Connery.

That said Knight is a single word that has a lots of different meanings over a wide span of time. It's a bit like the word (e)squire which can mean anything from a fourteen year old boy training to be a soldier or a 21st century person who is a lawyer.

Try to define your concept of what is a Knight a bit more as in do you mean the military function, social standing, wealth etc etc.


The military function... Why does it feel like some are being purposely obtuse?
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Pedro Paulo Gaião




Location: Rio de Janeiro, Brasil
Joined: 14 Mar 2015

Posts: 258

PostPosted: Sat 16 Apr, 2016 6:58 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Craig Peters wrote:
Michael Kelly wrote:
Dan Howard wrote:
You can't answer this question without defining what a "knight" is.
There is no consensus on how to define "knight" so you can pick any definition you want.
Therefore the question can be answered anyway you want depending on which definition of "knight" you choose.


What do you mean? Someone with a knighthood in medieval Europe...


Do you mean someone who has formally undergone the ritual of being knighted?

Dan has a point; although knighthood might seem to be cut and dried, it's not so clear as to how to precisely define a knight.

For example, would you consider a mounted man-at-arms dressed in the latest military equipment of the 14th century to be a knight? Technically, he does not hold the title. And what about a man in the 14th century who indeed holds the title of knight, but who has never fought in his life and does not train for war?

These and other examples like them mean that some sort of definition is required, how ever inadequate it may be.


It is important to mention that. They had knights and men-at-arms; usually the man-of-arms used to be poorer and less well equipped than the knight, although it is not always the case. Necessarily every knight could be called a man-at- arms (depending on period), but not every man of arms could be a knight. To give you an idea, sergeants and squires were also men-at-arms. Kings in the hundred years' war also had the custom of knighting men-at-arms in the knightly class to increase moral.

As a knighthood granted the privilege of a nobleman, it was also habit that certain public officials and diplomats receive the title merely for his word was taken as true and important. I think Sir Thomas More, as an example, only won the title by virtue of his service in court

I've been reading that King Manuel I of Portugal came to distribute knighthood's titles between his loyal nobles (although there was no need for most of them) to increase the morale of the troops before the Battle of Aljubarrota. It is even mentioned that they had been given a pair of gold spurs (knightly status), which may indicate that the use of gold and silver spurs was a relatively common practice in Western Europe, not limited to a French and English practice.
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Lafayette C Curtis




Location: Indonesia
Joined: 29 Nov 2006
Reading list: 7 books

Posts: 2,689

PostPosted: Mon 18 Apr, 2016 12:58 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Michael Kelly wrote:
Pieter B. wrote:
Michael Kelly wrote:
Dan Howard wrote:
You can't answer this question without defining what a "knight" is.
There is no consensus on how to define "knight" so you can pick any definition you want.
Therefore the question can be answered anyway you want depending on which definition of "knight" you choose.


What do you mean? Someone with a knighthood in medieval Europe...


Well to answer your question it did not end in Medieval Europe at all, see Sean Connery.

That said Knight is a single word that has a lots of different meanings over a wide span of time. It's a bit like the word (e)squire which can mean anything from a fourteen year old boy training to be a soldier or a 21st century person who is a lawyer.

Try to define your concept of what is a Knight a bit more as in do you mean the military function, social standing, wealth etc etc.


The military function... Why does it feel like some are being purposely obtuse?


They're not being purposely obtuse. As I see it, they're actually helping to educate you about the fact that there is no universally applicable definition of "knight" throughout the breadth (and timeframe) of medieval Europe.

Even if we restrict ourselves to the military side, there are still many possible definitions of "knight." Do you mean warriors who actually had the title of knight -- a rather small minority in most places and eras? Or do you mean the popular image of warriors in complete armour by the standards of the era, riding horses and charging in close formation -- something historians prefer to call "mounted men-at-arms" these days? Or something else entirely?

For the sake of the discussion, we can focus on the ones found on the edges of medieval Europe -- but then we tend to get fuzzy transitional areas rather than clearly demarcated boundaries. Iberian "knights" up to the mid-14th century or so (you know, the Spanish and Portuguese Iberia, not the Caucasian one) wore mail, rode large horses, and carried lances just like their contemporaries in England and France, but they were as likely to utilise skirmishing tactics similar to the Arabic karr wa farr paradigm as to charge like their cousins further north. Many were still able to use their lances as javelins well into the 14th century while French and English lances had already become impractical for throwing by the mid-12th century or so.

On the eastern end of things, let's take the Balkans. The Serbian vlastela nobility in the 14th and 15th centuries went to war with roughly the same equipment as contemporary Western and Central European men-at-arms, which is not surprising since many of them also had lands and titles in Hungary. But the system/structure of nobility they used in Serbia itself was Eastern Roman (Byzantine) rather than Western or Central European, and the Serbians were known to have occasionally fought for/with the Ottoman Turks against other Christian Europeans. What do we make of that?

To take a more far-fetched example, medieval Armenia and Georgia were Christian kingdoms that had heavy mail-clad cavalry renowned for their ability to charge like Western European knights. But the social organisation of their nobility and gentry was obviously very different from Western Europe, and many of these Caucasian "knights" carried bows in addition to their lances -- an obvious sign of Central Asian influence. Do these people count as "knights?"

And we haven't even begun to look into things like the Latin states in the Outremer during the Crusades.
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