Throughout my semester of studies on knighthood, I have noticed two major swings in its goal.Atfirst the knight existed only as a vassal, a mounted warrior for fighting.Then as thefirst crusade came around in 1095 it turned the knights attentions to their new quest in Jerusalem.As many joined the ranks of such sects as the knights of the temple, their job became increasingly religious and their status became one of the church.
The second transformation comes with the appearance of court life.As the knights became more entangled in the ways of court life, the code of morals known as chivalry becomes more refined and available to fewer people.At the same time, with the appearance of the knight in the court came a more elite and aristocratic type of knight.This being said, the chivalry of the 12th and 13th centuries can be explained as a culmination of the elitist ideals of knighthood along with the social pressures of the courts and the times.
To best be able to describe the evolution of the 13th century knight we mustfirst understand its roots, its origins.The origins of knighthood has always been the feudalistic society of the 8th century.The Frankish Kingdom at this time was one of peasants.The few rich land owners became magnets for young men looking to make something of themselves, and in the spirit of feudalism bands of men formed together to form forces tobe reckoned with.
Feudalism is a form of society were a person?s loyalty is not towards the abstract notion of ?state,? but to a lord to which they have chosen to be indebted.This lord- vassal relationship is the basis to the idea of loyalty which is the foundation of all knighthood.The social status of the knight at this point in history is quite low, they are the paid labor, the hired muscle. The lord must now equip his new knight with all that is needed to fight, a sword, a shield, armor, a horse, a helmet, as well as food rations.