Medieval Knights and feudalism were two elements of medieval life which 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. Land was granted to a knight during a special ceremony known as Commendation Ceremony.
Medieval 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.
Medieval Knights rank in the Feudal System
The rank of a medieval knight under feudalism was 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 farm lands, pastures, mills, and a church.
This diagram shows the connection between medieval Knights and Lords in the Feudal system
Who did Medieval Knights work for in the Feudal System
Medieval knights and feudalism had a special relationship which was well defined. The knights usually worked for the lords who had granted them the lands. The lords in turn would work for the king and were responsible in providing their services during battles. In certain cases, when the land was directly granted by the king to the knights, the knights worked for the king and were responsible in assisting him during battles. In this latter case, the knights would become part of the nobility.
Medieval Knights rewards in the Feudal System
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. 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 land holdings gradually and could keep their own soldiers.
Medieval Knights Punishment in the Feudal System
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 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 of treason and beheaded.
Summary – Medieval Knights & The Feudal system
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 economy and various other factors resulted in the end of this relationship between medieval knights and feudalism.