What did it take to become a knight?

Commander

Historum Emeritas
Jun 2006
1,362
Jacksonville, FL
#1
What were some of the qualifications to become a knight? Were people born into knighthood, or did you simply have to display your worthiness on the battlefield?
 

Nick

Historum Emeritas
Jul 2006
6,111
UK
#2
Most knights were of aristocratic origins. Although sometimes a commoner could be knighted by the king for bravery in battle.
 
Jul 2006
195
Edinburgh, Scotland
#5
Those aspects might be the complications of where your allegiance lies. In the Ten Commandments of Chivlary, the first commandment is to put the church above all else.

If there was corruption in the church you would have to defend them if asked directly.

Also there were complication with the rules of Chivalry that heavily fused with Feudalism. If you lived on the land of your lord and he went to war with the crown, you would have to choose who to serve.

One more point is that there have been historical accounts that knights have been in knighted under more than one crown. A knight could have born andl lived in England. Although if he went to France and did a heroic deed and received a knighthood he could be a knight of both countries. Now say that England and France went to war (which happened often) the knight would be caught between two different allegiances. He could make deals with both crowns to say that he would work for him a little while, and France a while as well. Although I must point out that few Kings were as lenient as this, most especially if this was a knight of strength and military spirit, so that kind of division did not happen often.

I hope this gives sufficent accounts of the complications that might arise with the partaking of the coat of Chivalry and the journey to become a knight.
 
Jun 2007
240
#7
Kinghthood was granted by king of a defined European country through a document called Charter. This document, normally was written in ox's skin paper testified that a normal person would be recognised as a knight. This title would be transformed through generations, no matter how rich you are. It is essential to judge that by granting a knight, a king also accepts to grant a specific land within his kingdom.

The concept of knighthood is also different basically from Western and Eastern Europe. In Kievan Rus, a king granted for a knight with lands and slaves, but that knight is still under the control of the king. This means that the knight is responsible to pay tribute, to join force if the king requires and moreover, if he is not a good ruler of his domain, resulting in number of disputes, riots, he may get himself into dismission and even execution. By this way, Vladimir I could reinforce his newborn kingdom and confirm his power. In fact, the key of knighthood lies on Prince, who were his sons. After his death, they would recieve their own regions and became independent from each other.

In Western, a knight was generally more powerful. This is why there is a document that we now know as Magna Carta. In fact, knights played an extremely important role in forming Early and High as well as Late Medieval Feudalism in France, England and Holy Roman Empire. They became less powerful with the Crusaders, which help Western kingdoms to centralise the royal power.
 
Jun 2007
17
Leeds, Yorkshire, England
#8
What is important is which era you are talking about with reference to Knights. The idealised vision of a Knight as some kind of high social standing to aspire to was, in England, quite late around the time of Edward III. Under the early Norman Kings, a knight's fee could be very little and by the early 12th century distraint of knighthood was in place, the compulsory knighting of landholding men to aid the crown in war and soon afterwards payments were being allowed in place of military service which the King would use to hire mercenaries. This was a feature of Henry III's reign and points towards the fact that landholders were often forced into early knighthood against their wishes in essentially a development of early feudal military dues
 
Jun 2007
240
#9
As I said, Early, High and late Medieval. The real change of European military structure was generally carried out under the ear of Sun King Louis XIV
 
May 2007
1,755
Australia
#10
I seem to recall reading that if lad was born of noble family he went and trained under a Lord that was already a knight, as a squire to become a knight. Once he was trained well he was then granted his kinghtship by the King. This was around the time of King John I think. Does that sound right?