Medieval Knights *Feudalism

Knights and Feudalism

Medieval Knights and feudalism were two elements of medieval life that were closely intertwined.

There were two aspects of this relationship between medieval knights and feudalism. Knights either served the feudal lords as their loyal servants or could themselves be the lords of a castle and estate.

The latter case became increasingly common during the late medieval times when the king granted lands to the knights for their services and bravery on the battlefield. The land was granted to a knight during a special ceremony known as Commendation Ceremony.

Knights’ Duties Under Feudalism

Under medieval feudalism, a knight who had pledged allegiance to a certain lord was expected to fight for that lord when required. This rendering of military services was called The Feudal Levy and was an important part of the relationship between medieval knights and feudalism.

Sometimes, assisting the feudal lord in making important decisions was also among the duties of a medieval knight.

Feudal system

Feudal System *Knights

Knights Rank *Feudal System

The rank of a medieval knight under feudalism was often that of a vassal. A vassal was someone who was granted land and in turn, owed allegiance to the lord for that land. The First vassals began to emerge after the Norman Conquest of England when William the Conqueror granted lands to his loyal servants, soldiers, and nobles.

The size of the land granted to a vassal could be anywhere between 1200 and 1800 acres and consisted of farmlands, pastures, mills, and a church.

Who did Knights Work for in the Feudal System?

Medieval knights and feudalism had a special relationship that was well defined. Knights often worked for a high-ranking lord who may have granted them lands. These lords in turn would work for the King or a higher ranking noble and were responsible for providing their military services during battles.

Mens Medieval Clothing

Medieval Vassal in Homage Ceremony

In certain cases, when the land was directly granted by the king to the knights, the knights worked for the king and were responsible for assisting him during battles. In this latter case, the knights would become part of the nobility.

Medieval Nobility and Medieval Nobles

How Were Knights Rewarded?

The most common way to reward a medieval knight was by granting him land. This helped him by improving his social status and climbing the hierarchy of status to become a noble.

Image of a Medieval Vassal or Lord in Medieval Times

Medieval Lord

Thus medieval knights and feudalism went hand in hand and in certain cases, a medieval knight could become the feudal lord himself. The most successful knights were able to increase their landholdings gradually and could keep their own soldiers.

Manor House of a Lord

Manor House of a Lord

Medieval Knights’ Punishment

Just like the special relationship between medieval knights and feudalism, the punishment of medieval knights was also special and different from that of commoners. During the late medieval times, the bankruptcy of the medieval economy turned many knights into bandits, and thus they were punished accordingly.

The White Tower of London

Medieval Castles Tower of London White tower London has a history of Be-headings

The most common form of punishment for such knights was death by hanging, although their bodies were not left to rot, unlike common bandits. Sometimes knights changed their allegiance and betrayed their masters, if they were caught, they were charged with treason and beheaded.

Knights & Feudalism Summary

Medieval knights and feudalism complemented each other during medieval times and it was hard for medieval feudalism to exist without the knights.

The system was implemented in England by William the Conqueror and managed to survive for several centuries. After the late middle ages, the crisis of the economy and various other factors resulted in the end of this relationship between medieval knights and feudalism.

King William The Conqueror Medieval KIngs