It was medieval France where the concept of knightly chivalry truly blossomed first in medieval Europe. And it was from France that the medieval knightly culture travelled to other regions such as England.
Medieval France was home to a number of renowned and notable knights who excelled not only in battlefield valour but also in literary excellence, romantic legends, and other activities.
Bertrand du Guesclin was a 14th-century French knight who proved his excellence in many battles and conflicts.
He first rose to fame and prominence when he defended Rennes against the attack of the English and was then tasked by the French King Charles V to help secure French influence in Navarre.
Guesclin successfully accomplished this. He would later serve French interests in Spain as well. Guesclin was captured twice by the English and ransomed by Charles V both times.
During the later part of his life, Guesclin played a key role in recapturing English-controlled regions in France and proved a decisive character in securing French control of the continental territories in the long run.
Geoffroi de Charny was another 14th-century French knight who was known as the embodiment of knightly ideals.
He was considered one of the most valorous knights on the battlefield and was a true nobleman when away from the battlefield.
During the French-English wars, he participated in many battles and was captured twice. In both instances, his English captors allowed him to go free and raise his own ransom, being assured of his honesty indeed.
He also wrote down a number of books on the ideals of knighthood and his book “Book of Chivalry” is one of the most well-known knightly treatises of the medieval period. He later died on the battlefield while carrying the French banner to the last.
Jacques de Molay was a French knight who joined the ranks of the Knights Templar during the concluding days of the Crusades in the 13th century.
He participated in a number of battles and was known for his piety and integrity. Molay is most famously known as the final Grand Master of the Knights Templar.
He displayed remarkable skill as an administrator and established the Order along firmed lines so that within a few decades, the Order had become one of the most efficient economic institutions in medieval Europe.
He was later accused by Philip IV of heresy and other charges as the King sought to eliminate the influence of the Templars. He was sentenced to death on Philip’s orders and was burned at the stake in the early 14th century.
Godfrey of Bouillon was a French knight who was one of the most passionate participants in the First Crusade.
Although he wasn’t a very powerful French nobleman, Godfrey decided to sell all his lands when Pope Urban II issued a call for the Crusade to liberate the Holy Land from Muslims.
After selling his lands, Godfrey was able to furnish an army that was 40,000 strong according to some estimates.
He then marched with the other Crusade leaders and was one of the most prominent persons who helped capture Jerusalem from Muslim control in 1099.
He was later proclaimed the ruler of Jerusalem and extended his control over many neighbouring areas through diplomacy and military might.