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Knights and peerages

Poster: WzrdKing@aol.com

Good Gentles,
  The problem with my statement that knights making knights was treasonable,
is, as so many have pointed out, that the order and very definition of
knighthood changed so profoundly throughout what we describe as period. I was
remembering a story from the 1280's where a group of three knights needed a
fourth to make a leagle quorum, and grabbed the nearest peasant and crudely
dubbed him with the words, "Be thou a knight." They were punsished for
attempting fraud. 
   Perhaps a short history of knighthood would be in order. (maybe not but
what the hell.) Apparently the original knighting ceremony was merely the
delivery of arms to a young warrior. This is mentioned in Beowulf, and
Tacitus in his GERMANIA describes the delivery of arms as a public right of
passage marking a young man's acheivement of his majority. In fact the word
dub comes from "adouber" which simply meant to equip a man with arms. By the
12th century this seems still to have been largely true, although it also
marked a young man's entry into a military group or war band. It is at this
point that the concept of doing homage or swearing fealty became the point of
a young man's dubbing. But this also introduces the complexity of hereditary
right to knighthood, and is furthur confused by the fact that the bloodline
of the lord to whom you swore fealty also determined a knight's status. Thus
to recieve knighthood from a lord of consequence bequeathed to those he
dubbed a measure of that lord's dignity  and honor. At this same time, still
12th century, knighthood began to be percieved as an order with proscriptions
which were larger than the fealties sworn to a particular lord. This is the
time when the  "laws" of chivalry, (while never consistant) began to be
hammered out. Most of these ceremonies took place at court events or
coronations. Later, men were knighted when they were on pilgrimages to the
holy land, and by the end of the 13th century on, you can read of mass
dubbings on the eve of battle. (This makes knowledgeable Solveigs story of
the mass knighting at the first SCA event seem very period.) Oddly, it was
also in the late 13th century when the idea that only those who had knights
in their ancestry could be knighted. To get around this, grants and patents
of nobility wre devised so that someone of non noble birth could become
enobled and there after, knighted. These patents usually included a grant of
arms. By the late middle ages a new concept was introduced, that nobility
owed more to individual virtue than to lineage, so that men could be knighted
for simply dmonstrating the knightly virtues. And knighthood could be
bestowed as an accolade for valor on the field of battle. They could, and
often were bestowed on a man because of an accumulation of wealth. Later on
these patents, and knighthoods could be bought and sold.
   My by now belabored point in reciting all of this, is that practically
anything we do to confer knighthood would be correct in some part of the
period. My suggestion is, that instead of narrowly limiting the ways in which
SCA knighthood can be achieved, we open the concept to allow myrid forms of
aquiring knighthood, and with that myrid degrees of knighthood. Knights of
royal orders, knights by right of arms, knights by royal priviledge, and
knights who are dubbed for their virtue alone. I think that not only would
this makes things more period, but in my mind at least, it would make the
whole thing a lot more fun. And it would also solve the problem of a scarcity
of knights and an overabundance of nobles.
     In reading this over, I find that what I have written is much less
coherent than i had hoped, but it's almost 4am now, and I'm afraid that's the
best i can offer.
       Yours in service,
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