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3 Greatest Knights in Xendom (fwd)

Poster: clevin@ripco.com (Craig Levin)

> Poster: EoganOg@aol.com
> I was reading a book on King Robert the Bruce and the author made a passing
> reference to King Robert as being called one of the three greatest knights in
> Christendom.  This got me wondering.....  who were the other two?  I figure
> one of them to be William Marshall, but are there any guesses as to the third?

The "canonical" list of the 9 Peers of Chivalry seems to have
settled down by the end of the Middle Ages to:

3 "knights" from pagan antiquity (Alexander of Macedonia, Gaius
Julius Caesar, and Hector of Troy), 3 "knights" from the Old
Testament (Joshua, David, and Judah the Maccabee), and 3
"knights" of Christian birth (Arthur, Charlemagne, and Godfrey of
Bouillon, Advocate of the Holy Sepulchre). Of the nine, only
Godfrey, sometimes but incorrectly referred to as king of
Jerusalem or of Outremer, lived anywhere near the time when
chivalry as a cultural institution existed. Medieval people after
the 12th century tended to assume that chivalry was as old as
human civilization (see Ramon Lull's Book of the Order of
Chivalry) and figured that if someone was known in the past as a
great fighter, he must have been a knight, with all that
appertains to one (including coats of arms-I've written a couple
of webpages on the coats of arms that heralds gave to some of Arthur's

Maurice Keen, in Chivalry, doesn't discuss any replacement of
Godfrey with other people, but does discuss the custom of naming
a knight, usually one's patron, as the 10th peer. The Bruce has
been nominated for this place, but he's hardly the only nominee.
Jehanne d'Arc, Bertrand du Guesclin, and Sir John Hawkwood (!)
have all been nominated, too. Since Mlle. D'Arc is the only one
who has been canonized, my guess is that she's got the best

However, again, from Keen's Chivalry, it appears that in addition
to the 9 Peers, it was not unusual for heralds and other folks
like Froissart who formed a sort of literary fringe for the late
mediaeval aristocracy to name someone to be among the <pick small
# here> finest knights in <Christendom or region of choice>. I
wouldn't put it past them to actually be honest in that, aside
from the bias of patronage. The heralds and the rest travelled a
lot, were expert witnesses at battles and tournaments, and were
expected to recognize the arms of knights from all over. They
probably were capable of making comparisons on a scale of that
magnitude, if they were in the top of their profession.

> And knights reading this message are not allowed to nominante themselves ;-)

No, but if you hire a penniless herald, he'll be more than happy
to write you into the epic of your choice and demand that you be
put on the list! :)

In Service,

Dom Pedro de Alcazar (Will write sagas for food)
Barony of Storvik, Atlantia
Storvik Pursuivant
Argent, a tower purpure between 3 bunches of grapes proper
Craig Levin
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