Knightly Orders

Monastic or Otherwise

So, over the past couple of days we have covered the knight that was born into it or made a knight due to a battlefield-promotion.  And we have seen how the laws of the land dictated the change in the status of people and the devleopment of a standing army when it came to the knight due to the common law of England.  So let us turn our attention to those knights that joined knightly orders to become knights and how that affected their lives.  There were two basic types of knightly orders:  Monastic Orders and Chivalric Orders.

Monastic Orders

These were the first kind sof knights. The monastic orders were started during the time of the first Crusade.  In fact this may be the first time that the term knight is apply to a mounted warrior. The knights that formed these orders during the Crusades had as their goal the defense of pilgrims making the journey to the Holy Land.  And while this seems a noble goal, the main way that they defended these pilgrims was by waging war on the Islamic people that had been calling this area home for centuries. Here are a few of the Monastic Orders:

Knights Hospitaller – Founded in 1099, these were the first knights.  They were attached to a hospital in the Muristan district in Jerusalem – hence the name.  They were to defend the pilgrims coming tot he holy Land.  Their purview was then expanded to include the defense of the entire Holy Land.  As this order grew they gained in power and along with the Templars they were one of the most powerful monastic orders in the world.  They still had an arm that dealt with the sick and wounded but the military side, the knights were the true power.  Due tot hepower they had and influence they had they were under special consideration from the pope.  In fat this order, like many of the Monastic orders did not answer to anyone other then the Pope himself.

Knights Templar – Read the full article on the Knights Templar here.

Teutonic Knights – Almost the reverse of the Templars and Hospitallers, the Teutonic Knights were mainly involved with the establishing of hospitals and getting the people on pilgrimage to the Holy Land.  Their military arm, while full of wonderfully competent knights was often augmented by mercenaries and volunteers.  This group was of German descent and they are still around in modern times as a purely Catholic organization made up of priests and nuns.

Chivalric Orders

These orders were created by the monarchies of Europe to replicate the monastic orders that started in the Crusades.  It is these organizations in the late Medieval period that established the ideas of Chivalry that controlled the thoughts and actions of not only the members of these societies but also of the people that respected and hated these orders.

Order of St George – This is supposedly the oldest secular chivalric order in Europe.  The Order of St George claims the date of its creation as St George’s Day on April 23, 1326.  This was a true chivalric order.  They had the tenants of chivalry as their main statutes and they were the type of society that tried to hold themselves tothe highe4st standards.  They are also one of the groups that started the tournaments and therefore should be thanked for the ideas of full contact jousting that we have today.

In truth I will do justice to this fraternal society

Order of the Dragon – Founded in Hungary in the 15th century, this group was started by Sigismund the king of Hungary.  He had just slaughtered lotsof people and to commemorate the time in the history of his country he started the Order of the Dragon.  If you are thinking you have heard of this order you might have, on of the inductees was Vlad II – Vlad the Impaler – Dracula.  Here is part of the prologue to their statutes:

in company with the prelates, barons, and magnates of our kingdom, whom we invite to participate with us in this party, by reason of the sign and effigy of our pure inclination and intention to crush the pernicious deeds of the same perfidious Enemy, and of the followers of the ancient Dragon, and of the pagan knights, schismatics, and other nations of the Orthodox faith, and those envious of the Cross of Christ, and of our kingdoms, and of his holy and saving religion of faith, under the banner of the triumphant Cross of Christ