Order of Knighthood

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Order of Knighthood
Awarded by Royal and Nobles Houses
TypeDynastic Order
Military Order
Baronial Order
Confraternal Order
Established1075-Present Day
CountryKingdom's, Principalities, Dukedoms, and other Sovereign States
EligibilityPersons of High Moral Character
Awarded forDistinguished Merits
StatusActive Everywhere in the World
Grand MasterMonarch's, Princes, Noblemen
Last inductionCurrently Constituted

An Order of Knighthood, also called a Chivalric Order, Order of Chivalry, or Equestrian Order, is an order, confraternity or society of Knights and Dames typically founded during or inspired by the original Catholic military orders of the Crusades (1099–1291), paired with medieval concepts of ideals of chivalry. [1]

Title of Knight or Dame

Modern Danish Knights.
HRH Crown Princess Mary of Denmark, a modern Danish Dame.

Historically, in Europe, knighthood was conferred upon mounted warriors.[2] During the High Middle Ages, Knighthood was considered a class of lower nobility which still exists to this day. In some Kingdoms, such as the Kingdom of Rwanda, some Royal Orders of Knighthood confer nobility upon the grantee while most are for the life of the person, some are still hereditary. By the Late Middle Ages, the rank had become associated with the ideals of chivalry, a code of conduct for the perfect courtly Christian warrior. Often, a Knight was a vassal who served as an elite fighter, a bodyguard or a mercenary for a lord, with payment in the form of land holdings.[4] The lords trusted the knights, who were skilled in battle on horseback. Knighthood in the Middle Ages was closely linked with horsemanship (and especially the joust) from its origins in the 12th century until its final flowering as a fashion among the high nobility in the Duchy of Burgundy in the 15th century. This linkage is reflected in the etymology of chivalry, cavalier and related terms. The special prestige accorded to mounted warriors in Christendom finds a parallel in the furusiyya in the Muslim world, and the Greek hippeis (ἱππεῖς) and Roman eques of classical antiquity.

Medieval Knighthoods

The concept of a professional Knight essentially tarted during the first crusades to the holy land in 1099 A.D..[3] THe first Military Order of Knighthood can be credited to the The Order of Saint James of Altopascio in 1075 preceding the Crusades by 24 years. During the 15th century, orders of chivalry, or dynastic orders of knighthood, began to be created in a more courtly fashion that could be created ad hoc.[4][5] These orders would often retain the notion of being a society or association of individuals, however, some of them were ultimately purely honorific, consisting of nothing but the badge. In fact, the badges themselves often came to be known informally as orders. These institutions in turn gave rise to the modern-day orders of merit of states.

This notion that an Order of Chivalry has to be headed by a Royal Fons Honorum seems to selectively ignore history and be an entirely modern concept entirely. For example, a Confraternal Order is one with a presidency attached to a nobleman - any rank of nobleman; and there is no Royal Fons Honorum. Confraternal Orders of Knighthood have existed since the 14th century thus technically a group of knights are within their right as legitimately ordained knights in forming an Order of Chivalry for whatever reason they desire. Two such orders were Ordre de la Pomme d'Or, founded by 14 knights in Auvergne in 1394 and the Alliance et Compagnie du Levrier, founded by 44 knights in the Barrois in 1416. This process has happened multiple times throughout history where Knights or Nobility create their own Orders of Knighthood.

Modern Knighthood

Orders of Knighthood in the 21st century are more for show than actual military service or accomplishments. Most orders created since the late 17th century are no longer societies and fellowships of Knights who follow a common mission, but are established by monarchs or governments with the specific purpose of bestowing honours on deserving individuals. There is no standing Army with these Orders like those of the medieval world. The vast majority of people in these modern incarnations of Knighthood have no military training, no leadership capabilities and lack the rigorous training and mentality to be any type of real leader in any real capacity unless bestowed upon actual military officials. Some legitimate Knights and Dames still don armor in the form of IOTV's and Plate Carriers in the Military's of the world with their swords replaced with automatic rifles.


  1. Scaff, L. A., & McCoy, R. C. (1989). The rites of knighthood: the literature and politics of Elizabethan chivalry (Vol. 7). Univ of California Press.
  2. Gies, F. (1984). The knight in history (p. 141). Harper & Row.
  3. James, G. P. R. (1836). The history of chivalry (No. 20). Harper & Brothers, no. 82 Cliff-Street.
  4. Bumke, J. (1982). The Concept of Knighthood in the Middle Ages (Vol. 2). Ams Pr Incorporated.
  5. Rodríguez-Velasco, J. D. (2016). Order and Chivalry: Knighthood and Citizenship in Late Medieval Castile. University of Pennsylvania Press.