Nursery Rhymes

Knighthood Ceremony

Medieval life and Times

Knighthood Ceremony
The Public ceremony of Knighthood followed a deeply religious ceremony with blessings from the Church to go forward and protect the church by the use of arms. The entry into Knighthood was highly ritualised which started with a Night Vigil in the Chapel of a Castle or a Church. The Church sanctified wars fought on behalf of the Church which were called Crusades.

Every Crusader had to swear "to defend to his uttermost the weak, the orphan, the widow and the oppressed; he should be courteous, and women should receive his especial care".

Knighthood Ceremony - Preparation
The Knighthood Ceremony was highly ritualised which started with a Night Vigil in the Chapel of the Castle. During his last night as a Squire he prepared for the vigil by ritual bathing - the body needed to be thoroughly cleansed as a symbol of purification

Knighthood Ceremony - Clothing

  • The Knight wore a white vesture to symbolise purity covered by a red robe which symbolised nobility
  • His shoes and hose were black which symbolised death

Knighthood Ceremony - The Ritual

  • A sword and shield was placed on the altar
  • The Knight knelt or stood at the Chapel altar, in silent prayer, for ten hours

Knighthood Ceremony - The Accolade
Knighthood was conferred in the adoubement ceremony, or the accolade.

  • In the morning he was joined by others to hear Mass and a lengthy sermon on the duties of a knight
  • A sponsor took possession of the sword and shield which had been blessed by the priest
  • The sword and shield was passed to the lord who was to conduct the knighthood ceremony
  • The Knight was presented to the lord by two sponsors in a Public ceremony
  • The Knight took his vows and swore an oath of allegiance to the lord

Knighthood Ceremony - The Vows and Oath of Knighthood
The Oath of Knighthood was an expression of such sincerity that it was backed up by the threat of divine retribution should the uttering prove false. Anyone who broke the Oath Knighthood would be seen as to have committed a crime against God which would lead to eternal damnation. The Knight swore an oath of allegiance to the lord and swore the following vows and oaths:

  • Never traffic with traitors
  • Never give evil counsel to a lady, whether married or not; he must treat her with great respect and defend her against all
  • To observe fasts and abstinences, and every day hear Mass and make an offering in Church

Knighthood Ceremony - The Dubbing

  • This final part of the Knighthood ceremony would have been conducted by a local knight, or by a greater noble, or even the king
    • the monarch eventually acquired the exclusive right to confer knighthoods known as Fount of honour
  • The lord presented the sword & shield and 'Dubbed' the squire who was pronounced a Knight when the lord would say, "I dub thee Sir Knight." .
  • 'Dubbing' was a blow struck with the flat of the hand or the side of the sword and was regarded as an essential act of the knighting ceremony
  • The actual dubbing of the new knight used in granting the accolade of knighthood was called the Colée
  • The sponsors then put spurs on the knight and his sword was girded on
  • At the end of the Knighthood ceremony a Knight could claim the title "Sir".
  • A Knight was recognised by Middle Ages society as a man who possessed great combat skills and who adhered to the Code of Chivalry

The Knights Shield displayed an heraldic blazon which identified the Knight. The Shield and Spurs were symbols of Knighthood. A disgraced Knight had his spurs hacked off and his shield was hung upside down as a sign of dishonor.

Knighthood Ceremony - The Celebrations

  • Music and a Fanfare would accompany and celebrate the Knighthood
  • The celebrations would continue with a feast attended by fellow knights, nobles and sometimes royalty
  • The women and ladies of the court or manor would join the feasts which were accompanied by music and dancing
  • A tournament was often arranged for the following day allowing the new Knight and his fellows to demonstrate their knightly skills
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