How to tell who is a Knight.

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lidimy
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How to tell who is a Knight.

Postby lidimy » Tue May 01, 2007 4:26 pm

A lot seems to be said on here along the lines of 'you can't wear that, you're not a knight' and such like that. I didn't even know there was a distinction between what a knight wore and what the other people wore.

So how do you tell who is a knight and who isn't? Is it a simple difference or rather complicated? How much does it change between 1100 & 1500? and what do you call the fighting people who aren't knights? How would one go about becoming a knight?

Thanks :D

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Wayland2002

Postby Wayland2002 » Tue May 01, 2007 4:49 pm

It's easy to tell knights in re-enactment, they're the one in plate refusing to walk in ranks with everyone else.

People fighting in armour that aren't knights are men at arms.



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Postby lidimy » Tue May 01, 2007 5:21 pm

Well, 10/10 for brevity..... lol!


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Postby GinaB » Tue May 01, 2007 5:53 pm

It's easy to tell knights in re-enactment, they're the one in plate refusing to walk in ranks with everyone else.


and looking quite yummy usually too.... :wink:

Really, its not just about knights and who can and can't wear what. If everyone were to get really serious, they'd have to not only figure out their station, but also their income. That way, they can refer to sumptuary legislation regarding what they can and can't wear, or own.

Its generally agreed that much of the legislation was brought in because it wasn't easy to distinguise between the 'classes'. This is probably particularly true as merchants became richer. There's little evidence of prosecutions being brought as a resuly of the acts - yet the fact that they continued to be made hints at the fact that they were being flouted.

There's a short article here, referring to WOTRF period.



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Postby lidimy » Tue May 01, 2007 6:06 pm

Thanks :)

The article is very interesting, but not exactly what I was looking for. I was more angling towards armour rather than normal wear.


Lidi :)


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Postby Dave B » Tue May 01, 2007 6:15 pm

kniggits have a bloke following them around tapping two coconut shells together.

More seriously, IMHO there is not a definite distinction between the armour of knights and men-at-arms. there was not formal and consistent rank structure in england at least.

Generally speaking by late medieval periods your better class of knight could be almost completely enclosed in plate armour.

your common or garden man-at-arms would have less plate armour, and of a less showy sort, perhaps a breastplate with a mail skirt and a decent helm.

However the better class of man-at-arms might have quite a bit of armour (maybe arms and legs, but not the fiddly bits like sabatons? and the lesser knight might be less that completely equiped so it's not hard and fast.

Gross oversimplificaiton of course.


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Postby lidimy » Tue May 01, 2007 6:57 pm

Well that would make sense, if that really is all there is to it. I started to wonder about it after reading someone's website (can't remember whose) that had a table of weapons and armour, with three columns for different ranks, and then weapons and kit in rows with little tick boxes that stated what could be worn by each group. If you get my drift :?

Are they usually mounted?

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Postby lidimy » Tue May 01, 2007 7:00 pm

I thought it may have been Tournee:

http://www.tournee.org/Events/Lanark/guides.pdf


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Postby Dave B » Tue May 01, 2007 7:14 pm

And an excellent table it is too - it gives a bit of guidance to get people in the right ball park. however I think it does recognize that these things are a continuum - which is presumably why it says things like 'reccomended' and 'discouraged' not 'always' and 'never'

Anyway, you could ask Paul Murphy of moderator fame - I think he wrote it. perhaps he just likes lists! :)


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Postby lidimy » Tue May 01, 2007 7:28 pm

Perhaps he shall be along soon :D

So, within groups, how do you decide who is to be a knight and who remains a man at arms? Is there some training procedure, or is it more a matter of 'you have the better kit so off you go'?

Or is it compulsory for knights in training to attend knights school or something?

Lidi :)


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Postby Zachos » Tue May 01, 2007 9:00 pm

It depends on group and what you want to do etc. My group leader always portrays a Knight, while I don't really mind what I do. Some people prefer being men at arms.

It also depends on period of course, with the huge development of armour during this time its very hard to explain it all in just one forum post.

Another confusion to add in is that men at arms are soldiers, while knights are noblemen and elite soldiers. Therefore knights are men at arms while men at arms are not necessarily knights.

Just a few thoughts, I'd add more but I'm tired and need to do the washing up.

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Postby lidimy » Tue May 01, 2007 9:05 pm

Ah, so Knights are men with titles? Whereas M at A are just those men employed by the Lord (knight?) they serve/work under?

L :)


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Postby Zachos » Tue May 01, 2007 9:10 pm

Thats it.


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Postby guthrie » Tue May 01, 2007 9:11 pm

Broadly speaking, yes. As far as I am aware, in the historical context, one way to tell a knight would be that he had his own coat of arms. He was armigerous. Of course not every person owing knights service was, just to confuse things. (Or so I think, it is a while since I read up on heraldry)

As for re-enactment groups, some operate grading systems, lthough I'm not personally keen on them. Others, you become a knight by saving up and buying the kit. What we do nowadays has far too many shiny tinny people, and not enough scruffy billmen or archers with some simple padding. THis is because many people like armour.



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Postby lidimy » Tue May 01, 2007 9:12 pm

I thought that the M a A wore the coat of arms too.... or is that something different?


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Postby PaulMurphy » Tue May 01, 2007 9:17 pm

Dave B wrote:Anyway, you could ask Paul Murphy of moderator fame - I think he wrote it. perhaps he just likes lists!


Hey, cut me some slack - I'm an IT manager, so everything has its logical place, and lists are the foundation of the universe.... :wink: The Lanark guide was a collaboration with Lady Cecily, but I take responsibility for the tables.

On the question of what makes a knight, this is of course a very complex subject, given that the term "knight" pre-dates the Norman Conquest, and persists today. Originally, and in its main medieval form, it designates someone as part of the nobility, and could be awarded to people in recognition of services rendered, or as part of a land grant.

Throughout the medieval period, the knightly class were expected to perform military service in person, and to bring a retinue with them. Since they wanted to survive the experience, they trained from youth and also ensured that they had the best equipment available, which in its turn required them to have an income which could support such expenses. Essentially, this means land and tenants - which also helps to provide the retinue.

Knighthood was earned, rather than being automatic - being the son of an Earl didn't make you a knight until someone of sufficient rank decided that you had done enough to deserve it. At that point, the knight had literally earned his spurs - knighthood goes hand in hand with horses. It is also common for those of knightly class to be referred to as "belted", especially in Scotland, meaning that they are permitted to wear a sword belt. The sword is also generally a sign of knighthood, being such a specialist weapon that it needed intensive and prolonged training to become effective with it.

With the growth of the merchant class, and the increased demands on the nobility for military service, it became the case that those who had the land and wealth to qualify for knighthood tried to avoid gaining that rank, since the burden on them in terms of risk, financial outlay and time away from their estates became disproportionate. As a result, laws were passed requiring those who held the land or had the required level of wealth to assume knightly status and perform the service. At the same time, sumptuary laws regulated the outward display of this wealth, ensuring that the merchants couldn't upstage the nobility in their displays of wealth.

As for military equipment, it varied enormously - some knights were effectively very poor, while others were among the great magnates of state, and so the level of equipment would match their social standing and disposable wealth. From about 1340 onwards, it is also the case that a professional military class becomes possible, and as these people rely on their equipment to keep them alive, they spare little expense in getting the best available, and so they may reach a similar level to the nobility, except perhaps that their weapon choices are more limited.

In terms of event kit guides, the picture is much clearer, though still blurred around the edges - the Lanark guide was targeting a 10 year period, which is a very tight timeline. As a result, we can say with some degree of accuracy what the various classes should be wearing, and what items need to be worn in combination. However, no-one could write a single kit guide which covered 1290 to 1350, as the rate of change of armour and weapons (let alone clothing) during this time was phenomenal. If I had to describe this period, I'd probably do it in 4 separate guides - 1290-1310, 1310-1325, 1325-1340, and 1340-1350. Even then, there is considerable crossover, but items which were the height of knightly fashion in 1310 would be seen as the stuff to hand on to underlings in 1320, so this is definitely one period where one set of kit cannot cover everything.

Paul.


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Postby PaulMurphy » Tue May 01, 2007 9:25 pm

Oh, and the other two questions:

- most groups work on the principle that if you have the kit and are prepared to wear it, you can be a knight, but don't expect them to treat you any differently outside of the public arena. Some groups try to do it with a full rank system, where new members start as squires and have to work their way up to knighthood by cleaning and polishing, fetching and carrying for several years. Surprisingly, they don't tend to be groups who recruit many people...

- training is something which is varied. There is indeed the "Knights School" run by Ross O'Hennessy twice a year at Cosmeston, but this is a fairly specialised setup which gets people from a specific era and/or background. Other groups start from scratch and work it out for themselves, or migrate to the period from other societies, or come from a western martial arts background. None can claim to be perfect, but the aim of all of the approaches is to make it look right. The major requirement is to teach weapon control, accuracy, presentation, and of course to maintain an adequate level of fitness to move in 90 pounds of kit on a baking hot summer's day...

Paul.


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Postby Cat » Tue May 01, 2007 9:44 pm

Nah. 'seasy. The knight is the bloke on the horse behind the lines shouting at the people on the ground. 8)


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Postby lidimy » Tue May 01, 2007 10:11 pm

OK so trying to summarise, if I was a MoP watching a battle and trying to pick out the knights from the others, I would look for:

- those on horseback
- those with 'modern' looking equipment for the time
- those with more plate (all relative I guess)
- those who have body guards
- those with swords
- those with clear heraldry
- those who are yelling orders to the others....

Does that sound about right?
Thanks for sharing all your knowledge :D

Lidi :)


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Postby Zachos » Tue May 01, 2007 10:18 pm

Pretty much right, but its more those who wear INDIVIDUAL heraldry, as MaA quite often wear their lords colours.


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Postby lidimy » Tue May 01, 2007 10:44 pm

Now you've confused me again. :P What's the difference between the 2?


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Postby guthrie » Tue May 01, 2007 10:54 pm

As far as your average MoP goes, not a lot. On the battlefield, it can be rather important. For example, in earlier periods, the knight would have his arms on his shield, and aillettes, and on his surcoat. His followers who were'nt full blwon knights, I'm not too sure about.

Later on, he would have had his standard bearer with his arms etc on a standard, and he would likely have been wearing a big t-shirt with his arms on it. His followers might have made do with a bend, a length of cloth over a shoulder and tied at the opposite waist, done up in their lords colours.

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Postby Wayland2002 » Tue May 01, 2007 11:41 pm

lidimy wrote:OK so trying to summarise, if I was a MoP watching a battle and trying to pick out the knights from the others, I would look for:

- those on horseback



- those with swords
- those with clear heraldry
- those who are yelling orders to the others....

Does that sound about right?
Thanks for sharing all your knowledge :D

Lidi :)


Those aren't necessarily true though, knights frequently fought on foot with pole weapons, heraldry doesn't always seem to have been displayed on the person.
Personally ( so therefore it maybe wrong) I think it would be undignified for a knight to be "yelling orders". A knight would probably pass orders down a chain of command until captains etc did the actual yelling.



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Postby Tuppence » Tue May 01, 2007 11:54 pm

during the periods that we cover there are several ways to spot a knight.

for the early bit (roughly 11th - 12th century) - a knight will have better, more defensive armour - a full hauberk (knee length full sleeved mail shirt), and he'll generally be armed to the teeth.

as somebody who watches from the sidelines or water carries, you quickly get used to identifying people by their hosen, cos it's the only bit you can see (unles they're wearing leg armour, which is just unhelpful :D )

the lessers may have armour, but usually won't be as fully covered by it. also, it's unlikely that the lower ranks would have swords, as said.

for the later periods we cover (13th & early 14th) it starts to get easier.

generally the knight will be the one with the fancy heraldic surcote (linen if down on his luck, silk if a tart :twisted: ). he might be wearing his colours in other ways, like a band of twisted silk around his helmet in his colours, or a pennant (small flag).
he'll have even more armour, to the point where you can literally only identify him by his heraldry - everything else is completely covered in metal.
again - he will almost certainly be armed to the teeth, (some of our lot regularly take to the field with three or even four weapons.

oh - and if you see conquest and see someone with a mace, he's a knight.

in history knights were made exactly as they are now - either by birth or by being knighted by the monarch (though no nice sword on shoulder thing - you get whacked in the face with a gauntlet).

doesn't have to be on horse to be a knight, and usually with our lot they're at the front, cos they're the most experienced. :D

Some groups try to do it with a full rank system, where new members start as squires and have to work their way up to knighthood by cleaning and polishing, fetching and carrying for several years. Surprisingly, they don't tend to be groups who recruit many people...


can't think who you mean *whistles*

somebody tried to make someone in conquest a squire once - you can imagine the response :shock: I think concise would be a good word to use...
and I have them doing the washing up & shelling peas and stuff quite regularly off the field :D

generally to be a knight in conquest, you have to pass the safety tests with all the weapons you'll be using (cos they're different to the lower ranks), and have saved up to buy the kit (it ain't cheap, and it has to be consistent). and it also helps if you can shout a bit...

there is a 'knight's test'*, that some do (to prove to themselves that they can). that consists of ten minutes semi contact fighting, and five minutes no holds barred full contact. through the whole thing you get a certain amount of time 'time-outs' and you're opponents are tag teaming. if you make it, you get your silk knights girdle (like a belt), and clouted in the face during a knighting ceremony.

*doesn't happen often, and by no means a requirement, or of any real meaning.


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Postby Lady Cecily » Wed May 02, 2007 7:04 am

Wayland2002 wrote:
lidimy wrote:OK so trying to summarise, if I was a MoP watching a battle and trying to pick out the knights from the others, I would look for:

- those on horseback



- those with swords
- those with clear heraldry
- those who are yelling orders to the others....

Does that sound about right?
Thanks for sharing all your knowledge :D

Lidi :)


Those aren't necessarily true though, knights frequently fought on foot with pole weapons, heraldry doesn't always seem to have been displayed on the person.
Personally ( so therefore it maybe wrong) I think it would be undignified for a knight to be "yelling orders". A knight would probably pass orders down a chain of command until captains etc did the actual yelling.


Earlier period knights probably should be on horseback - but as most of us are now non riding city folk we don't have nearly enough horse combats.

As for identification I know that in tournaments teams would wear their own heraldry on surcoats and the their team captains on their ailettes. Not sure if this extented to warfare though.


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Postby Nigel » Wed May 02, 2007 10:31 am

Wayland2002 wrote:It's easy to tell knights in re-enactment, they're the one in plate refusing to walk in ranks with everyone else.

People fighting in armour that aren't knights are men at arms.


yers given the majority of the conquest heavies hold this rank its like herding cats hence the cattle prod


There’s a country in Europe where they treat their ex soldiers with pride no waits for medical treatment after injuries received during service, no amensia from the government. Cant for the life of me recall where it is but I know exactly where it is not.

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Postby Colin MacDonald » Wed May 02, 2007 11:23 am

Knight
-noun
1. Chap in a tabard who only takes hits from swords.



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Postby Nigel » Wed May 02, 2007 11:31 am

Ok hows this all members of the knightly class were aristocrats but all aristocrats were not necessarily knights

It was an expensive business

1066 - mid 12th century think Classic Norman knight

Then helmets and shields start changing the surcote arrives and armour extends to cover feet legs and hands.

Most knights at this time fought on foot sort of like a heavy crust to the infantry behind them looka t batle of the standard for evidence of this.

Not much changes for a while except helmets grow face plates the coat of plates arrives worn under the surcote and shields grow smaller.Probably due to better body armour.

We are now in the mid 13th century


There’s a country in Europe where they treat their ex soldiers with pride no waits for medical treatment after injuries received during service, no amensia from the government. Cant for the life of me recall where it is but I know exactly where it is not.

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Postby the real lord duvet » Wed May 02, 2007 12:19 pm

wayland

you missed out those not covered in sh**

but then again arn't they kings?



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Postby lidimy » Wed May 02, 2007 12:25 pm

- those on horseback
- those with 'modern' looking equipment for the time
- those with more plate (all relative I guess)
- those who have body guards
- those with swords
- those with clear heraldry
- those who are yelling orders to the others....


Should rather be:
-those on horseback, but not necessarily
- those with modern looking equipment?
- those with more plate, though that's only relative!
- those who have body guards, though they might be at the front anyway :?
- those who have swords, though not necessarily!
- those with clear heraldy, though it might not actually be clear
- those who might, or might not be yelling orders.


Aaah!

Lidi :D


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