Saturday, April 12, 2014
Today is the eleventh day of the A to Z April Challenge, where bloggers post on a letter of the alphabet every day except Sunday. To visit the main web page in this blog hop, just click HERE.
I've chosen Fantasy as my theme this month and today is about Knighthood.
Knights were frequently organized into orders of knighthood, many of which were fraternal of military associations of armed, armored and mounted expert soldiers fervently dedicated to God or some other noble cause. Just as such organizations can evoke colorful and powerful images of their role in history, so too can they be used to evoke powerful images in works of fantasy.
In the Early Medieval period any well-equipped horseman could be described as a 'knight,' or miles in Latin. In the course of the 12th century knighthood became a social rank with a distinction being made between 'milites gregarii' (non-noble cavalrymen) and milites nobiles (true knights). As the term 'knight' became increasingly confined to denoting a social rank, the military role of fully armoured cavalryman gained a separate term, 'man-at-arms'. Although any Medieval knight going to war would automatically serve as a man-at-arms, not all men-at-arms were knights.
The ideal of chivalry as the ethos of the Christian warrior, and the transmutation of the term knight from the meaning "servant, soldier", and of chevalier "mounted soldier", to refer to a member of this ideal class, is significantly influenced by the Crusades, on one hand inspired by the military orders of monastic warriors, as seen retrospectively from the point of view of the beginning Late Middle Ages, and on the other hand influenced by Islamic (Saracen) ideals.
I imagine that being a knight was a difficult life for any person who chose to serve in this capacity. Would you want to be a knight?