Knight

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Ser Loras Tyrell, a famous knight known as the Knight of Flowers - by Michael Komarck ©

A knight is a member of a warrior tradition that is heavily interwoven in the feudal culture of the Seven Kingdoms and the Faith of the Seven. Knights occupy a social standing between that of lords and smallfolk. Contrary to the nobility, this rank is not hereditary and it is possible for the baseborn to become knights. Knights are referred to with the title "Ser".

Contents

History

Knighthood has its roots in Andal culture and was brought to Westeros during the Andal Invasion. The military success of the Andals' mounted knights and their steel armament proved vital to the Andals' conquest of Westeros. The influence of the Andals on the culture of Westeros has made knights the backbone of warfare in the Seven Kingdoms. However, knighthood holds less cultural significance in areas of Westeros that are less assimilated to Andal culture, such as the North and the Iron Islands.

Practices

Knights are supposed to be brave, courageous, honorable, and true to their word. They should be loyal to their feudal overlord, and are tasked with defending their faith. In practice, most knights fall short of sustaining such high and noble ideals. Many do not try particularly hard, and instead seek knighthood mainly for the prestige and opportunities.

To a degree, that is understandable and perhaps unavoidable; for bastards and smallfolk, knighthood is one of the few paths for improving their social standing and monetary prospects that does not involve seriously restrictive vows such as celibacy or abstaining from marrying, having children or owning lands of their own. Knighthood by itself brings few advantages and significant expenses and risks, but it opens the doors for significant opportunities as well.

In reality, skill at arms is the most important aspect of knighthood. Knights are expected to fight whenever there is a need for them. They traditionally fight as heavy cavalry, wearing plate armor and fighting from horseback with lance, sword and shield. Some knights choose to fight with other weapons such as axes, hammers, and spears as well. They own at least one horse, and typically own two: a fierce warhorse and a milder horse for daily riding. According to Ser Jaime Lannister three hundred dragons is a fair ransom for a knight.[1]

Knights display a coat-of-arms on their shield and surcoat to identify themselves. They generally wear their family arms. Those who do not have family arms, or do not wish to use them, can create their own. These personal arms often portray the manner in which the man achieved knighthood or have some other personal significance. Many knights wear large crests on their helms that embellish the theme of their arms. Wealthy knights often seek to further distinguish themselves by wearing ornate weapons and armor. Lacquered or jeweled armor and capes of exotic materials are some ways that knights can flaunt their status.

Becoming a knight

A knight of House Florent - by Tomasz Jedruszek. © Fantasy Flight Games

The traditional process to becoming a knight has three stages.

We tend to think of squires as teenaged boys, knights in training, but that is only part of the truth. Historically, there were many men who spent their entire lives as squires, and never became knights.It was quite common to have thirty- and forty-year-old squires, even some in their fifties. Such men perhaps did not have the wealth to become knights (knights had to pay for their own equipment), or perhaps did not have the inclination. They were the medieval counterparts of the career army sergeant who has no desire to be promoted to lieutenant. Let alone general.[2]

Knighting Ceremony

A man being knighted – by Jason Engle. © Fantasy Flight Games

The ceremony to create a knight can be simple or complex, however, it always involves the man kneeling before a knight and being tapped on the shoulders with a sword. Ceremonies usually have religious overtones involving the Faith of the Seven. When knighted, men are often charged in the name of the Seven to be just and honorable. More elaborate knighthood ceremonies involve the prospective knight sitting a night's vigil at a sept, before the figure of the Warrior. He may lay his sword before or upon the figure, and his armour is piled at its base. It is followed by walking barefoot from the sept to the knighting place to prove his humble heart.[3] He wear a shift of undyed wool to receive his knighthood, which is marked by the putting on of the swordbelt after dubbing.[4] Newly-knighted men are also sometimes anointed with seven oils by a septon.[5] It is considered a great honor for the recipient when individuals of high status or fame perform the ceremony.

Part of the knighting ceremony starts with the person's name and House (if he has one), then: {{Quote|a touch on the right shoulder with the blade. "In the name of the Warrior I charge you to be brave."
The sword moves from right shoulder to left. "In the name of the Father I charge you to be just."
Right shoulder. "In the name of the Mother I charge you to defend the young and innocent."
The left. "In the name of the Maid I charge you to protect all women....[5]

Types of knights

Knights of House Qorgyle leading the charge – by Tomasz Jedruszek. © Fantasy Flight Games

Quotes

I am a knight. I shall die a knight.[9]
- Barristan Selmy to Joffrey Baratheon's court


Catelyn: Knights die in battle.

Brienne: As ladies die in childbed. No one sings songs about them.[10]

Catelyn Tully and Brienne of Tarth


What do you think a knight is for, girl? You think it’s all taking favors from ladies and looking fine in gold plate? Knights are for killing.[11]
- Sandor Clegane to Sansa Stark on the eve of the Battle of the Blackwater


I have seen a hundred tournaments and more wars than I would wish, and however strong or fast or skilled a knight may be, there are others who can match him.[12]
- Arstan Whitebeard to Jorah Mormont


Any knight can make a knight, and every man you see before you has felt a sword upon his shoulder.[13]
- Beric Dondarrion to Sandor Clegane


Sandor: Might be you are knights after all. You lie like knights, maybe you murder like knights.

Beric: Say what you mean, Clegane.
Sandor: A knight's a sword with a horse. The rest, the vows and the sacred oils and the lady’s favors, they’re silk ribbons tied round the sword. Maybe the sword’s prettier with ribbons hanging off it, but it will kill you just as dead.

- Sandor Clegane to Beric Dondarrion and the brotherhood without banners


Some knights are dark and full of terrors. War makes monsters of us all.[14]
- Thoros of Myr to Brienne of Tarth


In my Seven Kingdoms, knights go on quests to prove themselves worthy of the maiden that they love. They seek for magic swords, for chests of gold, for crowns stolen from a dragon's hoard. [15]
- Daenerys Targaryen to Hizdahr zo Loraq


Knights defend the weak and protect the innocent, they say. And I am the fairest maid in all Volantis.[16]
- The widow of the waterfront, being scornful


Night work is not knight's work.[17]
- Barbrey Dustin to Aenys Frey


Without honor, a knight is no more than a common killer. It is better to die with honor than to live without it.[18]
- Ser Barristan Selmy to his squires

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