Becoming a Knight

So you want to be a Knight?

Being a knight of course, if we learned nothing else from the movie A Knight’s Tale, is what every boy in Europe wanted to be.  The idea of the Knight in Shining armor (again we will cover this at a later date) held sway in the thoughts and minds of the people of Europe.  The want to become a knight held sway in the minds of the people and especially those non-knighted members of the various armies around Europe.  There were a few ways that you could become a knight.

By Birth
This, of course, was the easiest.  Inside the nobility it was accepted that you would, if it was your want eventually be knighted.  This was not always the case but it certainly was the way that the ranks of the knight swelled.  Now, that being said, a lot of these knighthoods had nothing to do with combat and horsemanship.  These people were dubbed due to their birth.  Some of them would in fact take to the saddle and the life of the knight, of the warrior side of nobility became their life but it was not the norm.  The fact that they were a knight simply changed the honorific before their name.

By Promotion
Soldiers and other warriors could get dubbed a knight for acts of valor.  This was not nearly as regular an occurrence as the movies would like it to be but it did happen.  You could be dubbed by the King or Queen of course but you could also be dubbed b a liege lord or a warlord during combat.  The main reason for this  type of battlefield promotion was in cases where a person needed to be of higher rank to lead.  The best way to get people to follow one of their own was to knight the person that you wanted to lead.  This increased the number of knights on the battlefield and of course made this person the person in charge of all of his warrior brethren.  This is also where the myth of being able to move your faimly line up a notch in the social pecking order comes from.

Knightly Orders – Monastic and Chivalric
This was by far the easiest way to become a knight if you were not a person of status.  Joining  a knightly order was an easy way to get away from things and see the world.  The knightly orders, both monastic (like the Templars) and Chivalric (The order of Saint George) were founded during the times of the Crusades.  During this time, joining a knightly order was like joining the ministry.  You devoted yourself to the order and whatever their purposes were.  Think joining the military and a huge religion all at one time.  You would live in their quarters, forsake family and friends and basically only attend to the business of the order.