The origins of the Knight Banneret can be traced back to the Middle Ages, where it was primarily used in England and France. It was a rare and prestigious honor, bestowed only upon knights who had distinguished themselves in battle and demonstrated exceptional bravery and leadership on the field of battle.
“The Knight Banneret was a prestigious title, reserved for knights who showed exceptional bravery on the battlefield.”John Keegan, Military Historian
The ceremony of the Knight Banneret was a grand affair, often conducted in the presence of royalty and nobility. The ceremony would begin with the knight being escorted to a special pavilion, where he would be presented with a new banner to carry into battle.
The banner would be blessed by a bishop, and the knight would be dubbed with a sword, signifying his new status as a Knight Banneret.
The banner carried by a Knight Banneret was more than just a decoration. It was a symbol of the knight’s bravery and leadership, and it would be carried into battle to inspire his troops and strike fear into the hearts of his enemies.
The banner was also a way of identifying the knight on the battlefield, as the knight’s coat of arms would be prominently displayed on the banner.
The exact number of Knights Banneret throughout history is difficult to determine, as the title was only bestowed upon knights who had demonstrated exceptional bravery and leadership on the battlefield. However, here are some notable examples of Knights Banneret throughout history:
“The Knight Banneret was an important element of medieval warfare, as it allowed commanders to quickly recognize and reward exceptional bravery on the battlefield.”Clifford J. Rogers, Military Historian.
William de Bohun (c. 1312 – 1360) was an English nobleman and military commander during the reigns of Edward III and Richard II. He was the 1st Earl of Northampton and a prominent member of the Bohun family, one of the most influential and wealthy families in medieval England.
William de Bohun played a significant role in the Hundred Years’ War, serving as a commander in several campaigns and participating in the Battle of Crecy in 1346. He also held various high-ranking positions in the English court, including the role of Lord High Constable.
Edward, the Black Prince (1330-1376) was an English prince and military commander during the Hundred Years’ War. He was the eldest son of King Edward III and played a significant role in many of the English victories during the war, including the Battle of Crecy in 1346 and the Battle of Poitiers in 1356.
He earned his nickname “the Black Prince” because of the black armor he wore. Edward, the Black Prince was known for his chivalry and military skill, but his career was cut short by illness. He died in 1376 at the age of 45 and never became king, as he predeceased his father.
Richard FitzAlan, Earl of Arundel (c. 1346 – 1397) was an English nobleman and military commander during the reigns of Richard II and Henry IV. He was a member of the powerful FitzAlan family and held numerous high-ranking positions in the English court, including the roles of Lord High Treasurer and Lord Marshal.
FitzAlan was also a prominent military commander, serving in the Hundred Years’ War and participating in several battles including the Battle of Najera in 1367.
He was a key figure in the opposition to Richard II’s rule, leading a rebellion against the king in 1387 known as the “Merciless Parliament.” FitzAlan was eventually executed for his involvement in a plot against King Richard II in 1397.
Henry, Earl of Derby (later King Henry IV) (1367-1413) was an English nobleman and military commander during the reigns of Richard II and Henry IV. He was the son of John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster, and a member of the House of Plantagenet.
Henry played a prominent role in the political and military conflicts of his time, including the Hundred Years’ War and the Wars of the Roses. He famously led a rebellion against King Richard II in 1399, deposing him and becoming King Henry IV.
As king, Henry faced numerous challenges, including rebellions by his former allies and rival claimants to the throne. He died in 1413 and was succeeded by his son, King Henry V.
“The Knight Banneret was one of the highest honors that a knight could receive, and it came with many privileges, such as the right to lead a company of men into battle.”Helen Nicholson, Medieval Historian
James IV of Scotland (1473-1513) was the King of Scotland from 1488 until his death in 1513. He was the son of King James III and Margaret of Denmark. James IV was known for his love of art and culture, and he patronized many artists and writers during his reign.
He also modernized the Scottish military, introducing new weapons and tactics. James IV was involved in several military campaigns, including the Battle of Flodden in 1513, where he was killed. He was succeeded by his infant son, James V.
Francis I of France (1494-1547) was the King of France from 1515 until his death in 1547. He was a member of the Valois dynasty and succeeded his cousin Louis XII as king.
Francis I was known for his patronage of the arts, including supporting the works of Leonardo da Vinci and initiating the construction of the Chateau de Chambord.
“The Knight Banneret was a symbol of military prowess and a key component of medieval chivalric culture.”Richard Kaeuper, Medieval Historian
He also played a significant role in the Italian Wars, fighting against the Holy Roman Empire and the Kingdom of Spain. Francis I famously captured the Italian city of Milan in 1515, and his reign saw significant territorial expansion for France. He was succeeded by his son, Henry II.
At the end of the medieval period and beginning of the Tudor era, Henry VIII of England (1491-1547) was the King of England from 1509 until his death in 1547. He was a member of the House of Tudor and is known for his six marriages and his role in the English Reformation.
“The Knight Banneret was a title that was intimately connected to the rituals of knighthood and the ideals of aristocratic honor.”Maurice Keen, Medieval Historian
Henry VIII famously broke with the Catholic Church and established the Church of England, with himself as the head of the church. He is also known for his military campaigns, including the Battle of Flodden in 1513 and the English Reformation Parliament in the 1530s. Henry VIII had three children who became monarchs: Edward VI, Mary I, and Elizabeth I.
The legacy of the Knight Banneret lives on today in various forms. The term is still used in military circles to describe a commander who leads from the front and inspires his troops. The ceremony of the Knight Banneret also inspired other knighthood ceremonies, such as the Order of the Bath, which was established in England in the 14th century.
The Knight Banneret was a rare and prestigious honor, bestowed only upon the bravest and most distinguished knights of medieval Europe. Its grand ceremony and symbolism have inspired generations of knights and military commanders, and its legacy continues to be celebrated and revered today.
The Knight Banneret represents the pinnacle of chivalry and honor, and it will forever be remembered as one of the most elite knighthood ceremonies in history.
It’s worth noting that the title of Knight Banneret was largely phased out by the 17th century as the role of knights in warfare evolved.
“The Knight Banneret: A Guide to the Elite Knighthood Ceremony of Medieval Europe” by David Edge
“Chivalry and Knighthood in Scotland, 1424-1513” by Katie Stevenson
“The Origins of the English Gentry” by Peter Coss
“The Knight in Medieval England, 1000-1400” by Peter Coss
“Knighthood and Society in the High Middle Ages” by David Crouch