Ideal event

Robert G. Ferrell rferrell at
Wed Jul 12 16:33:45 PDT 1995

>Phelim Uhtred Gervas, "Pug" <pug at> wrote:
>> <Pulls out his handy dandy electronic webster that is only 32 years out
>> of date to find the following of relevance>
>Of course, a modern dictionary isn't necessarily the best source for a
>definition of a medieval word, much less a shorter dictionary and a
>word that has a long historical development.  The French equivalent,
>"chevalier", literally means "horseman".  (I wish I could find a
>reference quickly, but I dimly recall later kings issuing "distraints
>of knighthood", where the sole criteron was that the person had enough
>landed wealth to be a knight.)
>> 1c: a member of an order or society
>is overbroad: a Benedictine is hardly a knight.  8-)
>If we're going to quote dictionaries, I'll reply with the OED (1st
>ed).  It seems a bit more detailed.  The change from "servant" to a
>specific service also happened in "vassal", and from "man" to a
>service in "baron".
>"1. A boy, youth, lad.  [c893-971]
>2. A boy or lad employed as an attendant or servant; hence, by
>extension, a male servant or attendant of any age.  [c950-c1250]
>3.  With genitive, or poss. pron.: A military servant or follower (of
>a king or some other specified superior); later, one devoted to the
>service of a lady as her attendant, or her champion in war or the
>tournament; hence also fig., and even applied to a woman (quot. 1599).
>[citations c1100-1859.  The 1599 citation is from Much Ado About
>Nothing v.iii.13.]
>4.  Name of an order or rank.
>a.  In the Middle Ages: Originally (as in 3), A military servant of
>the king or other person of rank; a feudal tenant holding land from a
>superior on condition of serving in the field as a mounted and
>well-armed man.
>In the fully-developed feudal system: One raised to honourable
>military rank by the king or other qualified person, the distinction
>being usually conferred only upon one of noble birth who had served a
>regular apprenticeship (as page and squire) to the profession of arms,
>and this being a regular step in this even for those of the highest
>b.  In modern times (from the 16th c): One upon whom a certain rank,
>vregarded as corresponding to that of the mediaeval knight, is
>conferred by the sovereign in recognition of personal merit, or as a
>reward for services rendered to the crown or country. ...
>In point of rank the mediaeval knight was inferior to earl and baron
>... The characteristic qualities expected in a knight, as bravery,
>courtesy, and chivalrous conduct [a tautology -- DdL], are frequently
>alluded to, and the name (esp. with adjs., as "a good knight") often
>implied these qualities as well as the mere rank. ...
>5b.  freq. transl. L. miles, a common soldier. [citations c1200 to
>For "fighter": "One who fights; occas. a fighting man, a warrior."
>[c1300-1883]  Also in period, "A pugnacious person: a brawler"
>"Soldier", as "One who serves in an army for pay; one who takes part
>in military service or warfare; spec. one of the ordinary rank and
>file; a private." [c1300-1869]  A 13.. citation mentions soldiers on
>"destrers" (horses, I would think).
>"Warrior", "One whose occupation is warfare; a fighting man, whether
>soldier, sailor, ...; in eulogistic sense, a valiant or an experience
>man of war" [1297-1902]
>So I think I was in error on a few points.
>- Knighthood in earlier times implied a knight's fee as well.
>- It was associated with the knightly virtues early.  (Then again,
>  priests were supposed to be good, too ...)
>- But: knighthood could also refer to common soldiers.
>> This clearly shows that the SCA's usage of the word Knight is just fine
>When did simple knights ever outrank barons in the Middle Ages?
>Ansteorra is rather unusual in that territorial barons outrank
>It also appears from the above that the SCA model -- only the king can
>make a knight, there's no knight's fee, it's for merit or service
>irrespective of birth or profession -- is an Elizabethan anachronistic
>I'll concede that "fighter" is more appropriate to the SCA usage
>... but this may be an indication that we're doing something that's
>not period: did anyone other than knights (or in early days with their
>military retainers) ever enter tournaments?
>I'd like to see more on the subject, preferably by someone who has
>Duby's book on knighthood and similar works.
>Daniel de Lincoln
>			     Tim McDaniel
>			     tmcd at
>Sometimes mcdaniel at, sometimes tmcdanie at
>Was tccg at, was mcdaniel at, was mcdaniel at, ...
In my time and place, Knight (and we Saxons invented the word) just means a
member of the King's retinue.  Since it is difficult to follow a West Saxon
King around without fighting for your life on occasion, ipso facto, knights
are fighters.  There are two types of people: alive and dead.  All this rank
stuff sounds like lawyer and clerk talk to me.  


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