Who are knights and what is the function of orderly Knighthood?
Knights and noble Ladies are selected after demonstrating the depth of their faith, the complexity and purity of its ideal, and the grandeur of its art. They lived by the “Obiter dictum…” if needs must, to lay down your life ”. They were “hired men of
arms” who swore allegiance to a monarch or lord, soldiers whose high morals, military ritual, and rigid code of behavior became legendary and exemplified the sense of honor and duty known as “Chivalry”.
Becoming a knight was not a widely attainable goal in the medieval era. Only the sons of a knight were eligible for the ranks of
knighthood. Those who were destined to become knights were singled out: in boyhood, these future warriors were sent off to a castle
as pages, later becoming squires. Commonly around the age of 20, knights would be admitted to their rank in a ceremony called either "dubbing" (from the French adoubement ), or the "Accolade."
Although these strong young men had proved their eligibility, their social status would be permanently controlled. They were expected to obey the code of chivalry at all times, and no failure was accepted.
Although knights were men of war, they traditionally behaved in a courteous and civil way.
Knights trained in hunting, fighting, and riding. They were also trained to practice courteous, honorable behavior, which was considered extremely important. Chivalry (derived from the
French word "chevalier", implying skills to handle a horse) was the main principle guiding a knight’s life style. The code of chivalry dealt with three main areas: the military, social life, and religion.
The military side of life was very important to knighthood. Along with the fighting elements of war, there were many customs and rules to be followed as well. A way of demonstrating military chivalry was to own expensive, heavy weaponry. Weapons
were not the only crucial instruments for a knight: horses were also extremely important, and each knight often owned several horses for distinct purposes. One of the greatest signs of chivalry was the flying of colored banners, to display power and to distinguish knights in battle and in tournaments. Warriors were not only required to own all these belongings to prove their allegiance; they were expected to act with military courtesy as well. In combat, when nobles and knights were taken prisoner, their lives were spared and were often held for ransom in somewhat comfortable surroundings. This same code of conduct did not apply to non-knights (archers, peasants,
foot soldiers, etc.) who were often slaughtered after capture. They were viewed during battle as mere impediments to knights getting at knights of opposing forces to fight them.
Chivalry and religion were mutually influenced. The early Crusades helped to clarify the moral code of chivalry as it related to religion. As a result, Christian armies began to devote their efforts to sacred purposes. As time passed, clergy instituted
religious vows which required knights to use their weapons chiefly for the protection of the weak and defenseless, especially women and orphans, and of churches.
In Europe, a lady-in-waiting was often a noblewoman from a family highly thought of in good society, but who was of lower rank than the woman on whom she attended. Although she may or may not have received compensation for the service she rendered, she was considered more of a companion than a servant to her mistress.
'Lady-in-waiting' is often a generic term for women whose relative rank, title and official functions varied, although such distinctions were also often honorary. A royal woman may or may not be free to select her ladies, and even when she has such freedom her choices have historically been constrained by the sovereign, her parents,
her husband or the sovereign's ministers as, for example, in the so-called Bedchamber crisis.
The duties of ladies-in-waiting varied from court to court, but functions historically discharged by ladies-in-waiting included: proficiency in the etiquette, languages, and dances prevalent
at court; secretarial tasks; reading to and writing correspondence on behalf of her mistress; embroidery, painting, horseback riding, music making (vocal and/or instrumental) and
participation in other queenly pastimes; wardrobe care; supervision of servants; keeping her mistress abreast of activities and personages at court, and discreetly relaying messages upon
command. Ladies-in–waiting were companions of the Lady of the manor.
Ladies-in–waiting were companions of the Lady of the manor. It was a duty of a noble Lady to receive guests courteously and arrange for their accommodations. They were expected to spin wool and perform other household skills.
Historically, the Lady took responsibility of the castle when their husbands were away or when the castle was under siege. They murdered no one, nor wounded, nor harmed,
nor betrayed men. They did not pursue, nor seize anyone nor any thing. They did not set houses on fire, nor disinherit men, nor poison, nor steal gold or silver. They did not cheat men
of their lands, nor make false contracts, nor destroy Kingdoms, Duchies, Empires. Nor did they wage war and kill and plunder.
A noble-born boy, 7 years of age and who was to become a Knight was sent away to a nobleman’s household to be a page. He learned a variety of skills and to become proficient in horsemanship. They were trained to serve a knight, to attend
noble ladies and to learn the art of courtly manners and good behaviors. At 14, he was apprenticed to a Knight whom he served as a Squire. The word Squire comes from the French word “ecuyer”, which meant “shield-bearer”. He was
taught how to handle weapons and how to look after his master’s armor and horses. He followed his knight went into battle, helped the knight to put on his armor and assisted him if he was hurt or unhorsed. He learned how to shoot
a bow and to carve meat for food. Successful squires were knighted when they were around 21 years old.
The “accolade” is a ceremony to confer knighthood that may take many forms, including, for example, the tapping of the flat side of a sword on the shoulders of a candidate or an embrace about the neck. In the Middle Ages a part of the ceremony of
investiture was known as “the Vigil” . During the Middle Ages, a squire on the night before his knighting ceremony was expected to take a cleansing bath, fast, make confession, and then hold an all-night vigil of prayer to God in the chapel, readying himself for his life as a knight. He would dress in white, which was the symbol for purity.
A squire finally became a knight at a ceremony of dubbing. This was originally a blow to the neck with the hand. By the 13th century the blow was replaced by a tap with the sword.
Often the squire’s master, or even the King, performed the dubbing. The "knight-elect" knelt in front of the monarch on a knighting-stool when the ceremony is performed. First, the monarch lays the flat side of the sword's blade onto the accolade's
right shoulder. He then raises the sword gently just up over the apprentice's head and places it then on his left shoulder. The new knight then stands up after being promoted and the King or Queen presents him with the insignia of
the order to which he has been appointed. The knight's sword and spurs were then fastened on, and a celebration might follow.
By the 17thcentury, warfare was becoming more and more the job of full-time soldiers and mercenaries. Knights occasionally fought as officers, usually of cavalry. The medieval fighting man is now only a memory. No longer was knighthood granted exclusively to sons of lords and knights. It has become an honor, a title is
given to persons the monarch or lord thinks deserves recognition. This idea still continues in many places, but the knight of old was not forgotten. His image survives and still lives as simplicity and charity in the quality of our modern men and women of today. These are the goals of our Order.
Knights of the medieval era were charged to Protect the weak, defenseless, helpless, and fight for the general welfare of all. These few guidelines were the main duties of a medieval knight, but they were very
hard to accomplish fully. Rarely could even the best of knights achieve these goals. Knights trained in hunting, fighting, and riding. They were also trained to practice courteous, honorable behavior, which was considered extremely important.