How to tell who is a Knight.

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Ayliffe's Steve
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Post by Ayliffe's Steve »

lidimy,

Several groups will allow you to play any role that you want if you have the kit to pull it off.

The thing which catches the eye of more experienced people is the complete set of kit and whether it matches.

For example if all of your kit is low level serf peasant kit then if would be a little odd for you to have brand spanking new shiny pauldrons (shoulder guards) and no other armour.

This is where you might hear the phrase you would not have that as you are not a knight. Imagine today a tramp having an shining white clean £1000 shirt when everything else he has is filthy.

The same might be true the other way around. If you are kitted out in plate and have scruffy soft kit it would be a like rich businessman wearing a thousand pounds designer suit and scruffy 20 year trainers with holes in them whilst going to an importand meeting.

If I have misunderstood your question - sorry!
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Post by Chris, yclept John Barber »

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 '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....



Horses aren't a guide: in the eras when it was worth going into battle mounted, a knight would be accompanied by two or three men-at-arms to protect his back (the combined three or four men sometimes confusingly described as 'a spear').

After the 100 Years War demonstrated the effectiveness of the cavalry against longbow archers, knights hardly ever fought mounted. (There are some exceptions: Richard III's attack at Bosworth leaps to mind, but mostly the knights were down there in the mud with everyone else.)

'Modern looking equipment' could be a knight, or could be a man at arms (MAA) equipped by a rich lord - if your men have good kit, that not only flaunts your wealth, but it's a good way to recruit good fighters. Or it could mean he's survived another battlefield and plundered a knight's corpse. And of course the average MOP may not know which style of kit is 'modern' for that battle.

Those with more plate, or with swords - as above. All plate shows is that he's a man-at-arms. And swords become obsolescent by the C15th anyway: the weapon of choice for most knights is a short polearm, usually a poleaxe.

Bodyguards? Close fighting comrades? Hard to tell the difference.

Yelling orders? A good MAA is an experienced fighter, and will shout instructions when he sees something of concern.

So the only thing left is the clear heraldry. Although re-enactors may claim to be a knight and then take the field without a livery surcote/coat/etc, in the medieval era that wouldn't have happened. Displaying your rank was essential in the confusion of the battlefield. There is a tale of one French knight (I think it was at Crecy) who had been forbidden to take the field because the whole of his family were there - if his brothers and him all died, the family would be wiped out. His father took away his surcote, and rode off to the battle. The knight didn't go onto the field with naked armour: he took the colours off one of the trumpets, and tied that around himself. When captured, he identified himself and offered ransom, but the English soldiers didn't believe him because they could see that his 'coat of arms' was a trumpet hanger. He died.

Quick sideline: it is reputed that sometimes a small number of good fighting knights went onto the field in the Royal surcote, so that if the King was killed it wouldn't destroy morale: they could claim it was one of the 'body doubles' and keep the Army together. According to rumour, one 'King of France' was killed at Poitiers and two captured - luckily for the French, the real one was amongst the captives. But that still means that the knights are in smart heraldry!

The way to tell a knight's heraldry from his retainers is that only the knights would wear heraldry covering the whole of their torso. Big and brash. Their retainers wear liveries: coats (sometimes a sash) usually in the background colour of the knight's coat of arms, but with the device, or a small part of it, or a household badge, on the left breast. A knight in the service of a greater lord might wear his own cote of arms, with a sash over it showing his lord's colours.

In re-enactment societies, the number of knights and qualifications vary. For example, Knights In Battle do a C13th tournament show, in which everyone who has passed their weapon test is a knight. It's all about single combat between the knights. Those who haven't yet passed their tests are our squires. But when we do a C15th show, we usually only have a captain who is a MAA. We don't have enough people to be a knight's retinue (our turnout for shows usually averages 15-20 members).

For medieval murder mysteries, we sometimes have one or two rival knights (one of whom may be dead before it starts, but his tent & costume remain). In order to give them enough posh kit to carry off the rank we pool tents, costume and equipment freely, to make sure that they look convincing.

Who gets the rank is decided by how well you can play the part: no-one who is quiet or indecisive can be a convincing knight, however good their kit. So, like all other roles in the group, people naturally fall into their positions, regardless of how long they have been with us.

Hope that helps,
Last edited by Chris, yclept John Barber on Wed May 02, 2007 4:19 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Post by Colin Middleton »

I'd go with the principle that if they look posher than you, be respectful to them. The whole things built on layers or rank with huge blurry boundries bewteen them.

Looking at the 15th C, The Earl of Warwick had almost as much power as the king (though there should be Dukes in between), the Dukes of Burgundy were able to challenge the King of France. Knights could be more wealthy than barrons and merchants could have more cash than kinghts. It's all a big mess. Then to confuse things more, there are the gentleman and esquires, both gentry (like a knight), but of lower status than a knight. Heraldry isn't a guide as esquires and gentlemen may be entitled to coat armour, while a knight retained by a lord may wear his livery coat to show his allegience, rather than his own coat armour. The I beleive that mear Yeomen when fighting for Dukes and such may be equiped with full plate harness.

Perhaps more important than how do you spot a knight is why do you want to?

If they're in full harness, they may as well be a knight, so treat them like one. If they look posh, treat them as being posh. Let the courts sort out the details.

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Post by Zachos »

If someone can pick you up and throw you, then be respectful. Thats my rule.
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Post by craig1459 »

Would an experienced and accomplished sergeant or captain have more standing in an army than a provincial knight with only a few men?
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Post by Tuppence »

- those with modern looking equipment?


I'd have to add a 'but not necessarily' to that as well.

You could be of noble birth, and be a knight, but stil be relatively poor if you were the second third or later son. Remember primo geniture - it all went to the first born - the rest got their armour. So if somebody wasn't that good (but obv good enough to stay alive) he could be relatively poorly equipped.


So the only thing left is the clear heraldry. Although re-enactors may claim to be a knight and then take the field without a livery surcote/coat/etc, in the medieval era that wouldn't have happened.


except during a good portion of the bit of which I was speaking, during which time heraldry either didn't exist, or was in its infancy, and during which time it certainly wasn't used to identify people on the battlefield.
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Post by Chris, yclept John Barber »

Tuppence wrote:
So the only thing left is the clear heraldry. Although re-enactors may claim to be a knight and then take the field without a livery surcote/coat/etc, in the medieval era that wouldn't have happened.


except during a good portion of the bit of which I was speaking, during which time heraldry either didn't exist, or was in its infancy, and during which time it certainly wasn't used to identify people on the battlefield.


Agreed: I should have made that explicit. Clear heraldry was the distinguishing factor only after it became widespread: probably the late 12th or early 13th century. :oops:
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Post by Zachos »

Its worth saying that at the beginning of the period in question the difference between the nobility and the commoners than at the end. Towards the end there were a lot less commoners for a start, due to black death, allowing those who survived to charge higher prices, and bringing them closer to the nobility in terms of monetry value. There was also a lot of money to be made on the battlefield and so its very likely a good man at arms would have more than enough money for a full harness, and a nice one at that.

Why do you want to know particularly?
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Post by Cat »

Zachos wrote:If someone can pick you up and throw you, then be respectful. Thats my rule.


That would make Bucket a knight. Please don't tell him, he's insufferble as it is. See Fed Training photos on here, Bucket is the big one in jeans scoring a goal with the smaller guy. He also used one of the Conyers as a shield prior to this.
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Post by guthrie »

Zachos wrote:If someone can pick you up and throw you, then be respectful. Thats my rule.

Don't you mean "If someone can order a dozen men to pick me up and throw me around, then be respectful"?

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Post by lidimy »

Right... so there isn't actually a way to tell who is a Knight and who isn't....?

Why do I want to know?

I was just interested, that's all.

I assume that a knight is addressed as Sir__________?

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Re: How to tell who is a Knight.

Post by WorkMonkey »

lidimy wrote: How would one go about becoming a knight?



YOU can't be a Knight 'cus you're a girlllllllllllllllllll
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Post by lidimy »

Lady then :roll:
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Post by guthrie »

lidimy wrote:Right... so there isn't actually a way to tell who is a Knight and who isn't....?

Why do I want to know?

I was just interested, that's all.

I assume that a knight is addressed as Sir__________?

Lidi :)

There are plenty of ways, it's just it is like trying to explain the difference between several different kinds of modern music to someone from the 1400's. It is rather context related.

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Re: How to tell who is a Knight.

Post by Zachos »

WorkMonkey wrote:
lidimy wrote: How would one go about becoming a knight?



YOU can't be a Knight 'cus you're a girlllllllllllllllllll


You can't go on the battlefield either, lidi, cos women don't fight.
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Post by lidimy »

Righto.....
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Post by Malvoisin »

Of course you can be a knight Lidimy... you just need the right gear...
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Post by lidimy »

Lol - I know I can. And I know they are just winding me up.

NOT very chivalrous.

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Post by PaulMurphy »

In these enlightened times, woman can and do fight as knights in re-enactment events - there are problems to be overcome before they can do it convincingly, but the kit for some periods makes it easier, such as that for the early C14th.

Ignore the teenage testosterone, and give it a go if you are interested.
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Post by Wayland2002 »

lidimy wrote:NOT very chivalrous.

Lidi :)


Thats why one's a man at arms and the other is Saxon "arrow fodder".

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Post by lidimy »

PaulMurphy wrote:In these enlightened times, woman can and do fight as knights in re-enactment events - there are problems to be overcome before they can do it convincingly, but the kit for some periods makes it easier, such as that for the early C14th.

Ignore the teenage testosterone, and give it a go if you are interested.


That's alright, I'm not *that* interested in fighting! But I wouldn't mind being an archer one day. I don't think my arms are strong enough though! But I am starting archery in September hopefully. Wootles. (And seeing as I have 'fodder' for my arrows... >:) )

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Post by Zachos »

WM isn't gonna be too pleased with being called a teenager.

I myself can still be called such for another year. Well, 5 months.


Anyway, I don't see why I have to be chivalrous until I have my full harness.
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Post by tonw »

Chivalry is more guidelines than what you would call actual codes
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Post by Wayland2002 »

Zachos wrote:Anyway, I don't see why I have to be chivalrous until I have my full harness.


You're supposed to be twating the opposition when you're in harness not chatting up women.........................thats what soft kits for :roll:

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Post by Zachos »

Wayland2002 wrote:You're supposed to be twating the opposition when you're in harness not chatting up women.........................thats what soft kits for :roll:


How can one be a knight in shining armour without full harness?
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Post by the real lord duvet »

you could be a horse in full harness?
or into BDSM?

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Post by Zachos »

I suppose. One would hope to have a full harness when parachuting as well.
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Post by guthrie »

Zachos wrote:Anyway, I don't see why I have to be chivalrous until I have my full harness.

But you have to get the practise in. Us older people shall watch over you and give helpful hints, and perhaps the odd thrashing to drive things home.

Wayland2002

Post by Wayland2002 »

Zachos wrote:
Wayland2002 wrote:You're supposed to be twating the opposition when you're in harness not chatting up women.........................thats what soft kits for :roll:


How can one be a knight in shining armour without full harness?


Do you have a squire to keep it shining? Or will you be allowing it to "weather" a little?


PS. it's not the armour that makes a knight, it only protects him.

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Post by Tuppence »

lidimy wrote:
How would one go about becoming a knight?




YOU can't be a Knight 'cus you're a girlllllllllllllllllll


reminds me of one of nige's favourite commentary lines.

when one of the female knights in conquest (we have a few) - won :oops: a fight, or to put it more accurately, kicked a bloke all over the field :twisted: , he'd announce to the crowd that she was the winner, and then let on that she was a girl!


There are plenty of ways, it's just it is like trying to explain the difference between several different kinds of modern music to someone from the 1400's. It is rather context related.


yeah - it's just something you pick up from experience. it's also a bit like trying to explain how to tell the difference between cotton & linen to sombody who'd never felt cotton or linen, if you see what I mean.

How can one be a knight in shining armour without full harness?


shiny mail shirt?
Last edited by Tuppence on Thu May 03, 2007 12:04 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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