The Unknown Truth of Knighthood

It's More Involved Than You Thought

Being a knight is a highly romanticized idea. But the process is much more than having a king tap you on the shoulder with a sword. Much of what we know today about how squires  are knighted comes from the Book of the Order of Chivalry, written by Ramon Llull–a thirteenth-century knight.

Such a ceremony and honor was celebrated with a feast and gift-giving

Much as in today’s military, medieval soldiers could receive battlefield promotions but this was not the traditional way things were done. Typically, the process of becoming a knight was lengthy. To enter the Order of Chivalry, Llull explains that the squire would first spend the night in prayer before attending a ceremony.

In the morning, the squire would attend mass and there vow to “bind himself to the Order of Chivalry and submission to honoring and upholding it with all his might”. Then the priest would deliver an extremely long sermon about the fourteen articles that the Holy Church was founded, the ten commandments, the seven sacraments of the Catholic faith, and details on how to reconcile his faith with what was required on the battlefield.

At this point, a person of virtuous character (priest or baron) would knight the squire by resting a sword upon the shoulder while kneeling at the altar and “lifting his bodily and spiritual eyes and hands unto God”.

To signify charity [the knight] must kiss the squire and give him a hard slap so that he will remember what he is promising and the great burden he must carry and the great honor he is taking through the Order of Chivalry.

Following the slap, the man is henceforth a knight. The ceremony is then followed by the knight parading himself on his horse before all onlookers. Such a ceremony and honor was only then celebrated with a feast and gift-giving.

 

Knightly virtue is highly romanticized but if you want a peak at something a little darker, take a look at The Taking and Tangled.

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