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Tuesday, 17 November 2015


The feudal knight of northern Europe, wearing armor of chain mail on a sturdy horse was the fighting machine of the Middle Ages.

During the reign of King Richard I in the late twelfth century race meetings became a favorite pastime of knights. It is known that one Whitsuntide, knights held a contest (the first formal race for a money prize) over a three-mile (4.80 km) course for a purse of £40 in "ready gold."

The Order of Knights Templars was founded by the French Knight Hugh of Payes in 1192 to provide protection for Christian pilgrims travelling to Jerusalem. They were given a residence near the Temple of Solomon.

Knights during the Feudal Period mostly wore chain mail until the Middle Ages were almost over. The suits of full body armor such as one sees in museums were usually created very much later than they are portrayed in films. Even then, full body armour was prohibitively expensive. Much of the armor was for ceremonial use only, reserved for a king or other high ranking personage, and never actually worn in combat.

The gauntlet was a metal glove worn by knights that was thrown down to anyone who had offended them as a sign that they were to fight to the death. The recipient picked it up to accept the challenge - thus the phrase "Throw down the gauntlet."

Knights in the Middle Ages did not carry cash - they would wear rings to stamp bills which people took to their castle to get paid.

Depictions of knights fighting snails were common in medieval texts. And no one really knows why.

The French knight Pierre Terrail, generally known as the Chevalier de Bayard, single-handedly defended a bridge against 200 Spaniards during the December 29, 1503 Battle of Garigliano. The exploit brought Terrail such renown that Pope Julius II tried unsuccessfully to entice him into his service.

Chevalier de Bayard at the bridge of Garigliano

The era of the knights ended in the sixteenth century as national armies replaced feudal armies.

When the Knight's Templar was dissolved the Portugal branch just changed its name to the Order of Christ – and is still around today.

Source Europress Family Encyclopedia 1999.

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