Monday, September 7, 2009


The Saxon word cnecht, from which we get the English knight, signified at first a youth, and then a servant, or one who did domestic service, or a soldier who did military service, which might either be on foot or on horseback; but the French word chevalier and the German ritter both refer to his equestrian character. Although Tacitus says that the German kings and chiefs were attended in war and peace by a select body of faithful servants, and although the Anglo Saxon kings and thanes had their military attendants, who served them with a personal fealty, the knight, in the modern acception of the word, did not appear until the establishment in France of the order of chivalry. Thence knighthood rapidly passed into the other countries of Christendom; for it always was a Christian institution.

The stages through which a candidate passed until his full investiture with the rank of knighthood were three: the Page, the Squire or Esquire, and the Knight.

1. The Page. The child who was destined to knighthood continued until he was seven years old in the charge of women, who gave him that care which his tender age required. He was then taken from them and placed in the hands of a governor, who prepared him by a robust and manly education for the labors and dangers of war. He was afterwords put into the household of some noble, where he first assumed the title of a Page. His employments were to perform the service of a domestic about the person of his master and mistress; to attend them in the chase, on their journeys, their visits, and their walks, to carry their messages, or even to wait on them at table. The first lessons given to them were in the love of God and attachment and respect to females. His religious education was not neglected, and he was taught a veneration for all sacred things. His instruction in respect to manners, conversation, and virtuous habits were all intended to prepare him for his future condition as a knight.

2, The Squire. The youth on emerging from the employment of a Page, took on him that of a Squire, called in French écuyer. This promotion was not unaccompanied by an appropriate ceremony. The Page who was made to be Squire was presented to the altar by his father and mother, or by those who represented them, each holding a lighted taper in his hand. The officiating priest took from the altar a sword and a belt, on he bestowed several benedictions, and then placed them on the youth, who from that time constantly wore them. The Squires were divided into various classes, each of whose employment was different. To some, as to the chamberlains, was committed the care of the gold and silver of the household; others, as the constable, had the charge of the table utensils; others were carvers, and others butlers. But the most honorable and the only one connected with chivalry was the Squire of Honor or the Body Squire. He was immediately attached to some knight, whose standard he carried. He helped to dress and undress him, and attended him morning and evening in his apartment. On a march, he led the war-horse of his master and carried his sword, his helmet, and his shield. In the hour of battle, the Squire although he did not actually take a part in the combat, was not altogether an idle spectator of the contest. In the shock of the battle, the two lines of knights, with their lances in rest fell impetuously on each other; some, who were thrown from their horses, drew their swords or battle axes to defend themselves and to make new attacks, while advantage was sought by their enemies over those who had been thrown. During all this time the Squire was attentive to every motion of his master. In the one case, to give him new arms, or supply him with another horse; to raise him up when he fell, and to ward off the strokes aimed at him ; while in the other case, he seconded the knight by every means that his skill, his valor, and his zeal could suggest, always, however, within the strict bounds of the defensive, for the Squire was not permitted by the laws of chivalry to engage inoffensive combat with a knight.

3. The Knight. These services merited and generally recieved from the knight the most most gratful acknowledgment, and in time the high honor of the badge of knighthood bestowed by his own hand, for every knight possessed the perogative of making other knights.

The age of twenty-one was that in which the youthful Squire, after so many proofs of zeal, fidelity, and valor, might be admitted to the honor of knighthood. The rule as to age was not, however, always observed. Sometimes the Squire was not knighted until he was further advanced in years, and in the case of princes the time was often anticipated. There are instances of infants, the sons of kings, receiving the dignity of knighthood.

The creation of a knight was accompanied by solemn ceremonies, which somw writers have been pleased to compare to those of the Church in the administration of its sacraments, and there was, if not a close resemblance, a manifest allusion in the one to the other. The white habit anf the bath of the knight corresponded to the form of baptism; the stroke on the neck and the embrace given to the new knight were compared to the ceremony of confirmation; and as the god father made apresent to the child whom he held at the font,so the lord who conferred knighthood was expected to make a gift or grant some peculiar favor to the knight whom he had dubbed.

The preliminary ceremonies which prepared the neophyte for the sword of chivalry were as follows: austere fasts; whole nights passed in prayers in a church or chapel; the sacraments of confession, penance, and the Eucharist; bathings, which prefigured purity of manners and life ; a whit habit as symbol of the same purity, and in imitation of the customs with new converts on their admission into the Church ; and a serious attention to sermons, were all duties of preparation to be devoutly performed by the Squire previous to his being armed with the weapons and decorated with the honors of knighthood.

An old French chronicler thus succinctly details the ceremony of creation and investiture. The neophyte bathes; after which clothed in whit apparel, he is to watch all night in the church, and remain there in prayer until after the celebration of high mass. The communion being then received, the youth solemnly raises his joined hands and his eyes to heaven, when the priest who had administered the sacrament passes the sword over the neck of the youth and blesses it. The candidate then kneels at the feet of the lord or knight who is to arm him. The lord asks him with what intent he desires to enter into that sacred Order, and his views tend only to the maintenance and honor of religion and of knighthood. The lord, having reeived from the candidate a satisfactory reply to these questions, administers the oath of reception, and gives him three strokes on the neck with the flat end of the sword, which he then girds upon him. This scene passes sometimes in a hall or in the court of a palace, or, in time of war, in the open field.

The girding on of the sword was accompanied with these or similar words: "In the name of God, of of St. Michael, and of St. George, I make thee a knight: be brave, be hardy, and be loyal." And then the kneeling candidate is struck upon his shoulder or back of the neck, by him who confers the dignity, with the flat of the sword, and directed to rise in words like these: "Arise, Sir Damian;" a formula still followed by the sovereigns of England when they confer the honor of knighthood. And hence the word "Sir," which is equivalent to the old French "Sire," is accounted, says Ashmole, "parcel of their style."

Sir William Segar, in his treatise on Civil and Military Honor, gives the following account of the ceremonies used in England in the sixth century:

"A stage was erected in some cathedral, or spacious place near it, which the gentleman was conducted to receive the honor of knighthood. Being seated on a chair decorated with green silk, it was demanded of him if he were a good constitution, and able to undergo the fatigue required in a soldier; also whether he was a man of good morals, and what credible witnesses he could produce to affirm the same.

"Then the Bishop or Chief Prelate of the Church administered the following oath: 'Sir, you that desire to receive the honor of knighthood, swear before God and this holy book that you will not fight against his Majesty, that now bestoweth the order of knighthood upon you. You shall also swear to maintain and defend all Ladies, Gentlemen, Widows and Orphans: and you shall shun no adventure of your person in any war wherein you shall happen to be.'

"The oath being taken , two Lords led him to the King, who drew his sword, and laid it upon his head, saying, God and St. George (or what other saint the King pleased to name,) makes thee a good knight; after which seven Ladies dressed in white came and girt a sword to his side and four knights to put on his spurs.

"These ceremonies being over, the Queen took him by the right hand, and a Duchess by the left, and leading him to a rich seat, placed him on a ascent, where they seated him, the King sitting on his right hand, and the Queen on his left.

"The Lords and Ladies also sat down upon other seats, three descents under the King; and being all thus seated, they were entertained with delicate collation; and so the ceremony ended."

The manner of arming a newly made knight was first put on the spurs, then the coat-of-mail, the cuirASS, the brasset or casQUE, and the gauntlets. The lord or knight conferring the honor then girded on the sword, which last was considered s the most honorable badge of chivalry, and a symbol of the labor that the knight was in the future to encounter. It was in fact deemed the real and essential part of the ceremony, and that which actually constituted the knight. Du Cange, in his Glosarium, defines the Latin word militare, in its mediaeval sense, as signifying "to make a knight," which was, he says, "balteo militari accingere," i.e., to gird on him the knightly belt; and it is worthy of remark, that cingulus, which in pure latin signifies a belt, came in the later Latin of Justinian to denote the military profession, I need not refer to the common expression, "a belted knight," as indicating the close connection between knighthood and the girding of the belt. It was indeed the belt and the sword that the knight.

The oath taken by the knight at his reception devoted him to the defense of religion and the Church, and to the protection of widows, orphans, and all of either sex who were powerless, unhappy, or suffering under injustice and oppression; and to shrink from the performance of these duties whenever called upon, even at the sacrifice of his life, was to incur dishonor for the rest of his days.

Of all the laws of chivalry, none was maintained with more rigor than that which respect for the female sex. "If an honest and virtuous lady," says Brantome, "will maintain her firmness and constancy, her servant, that is to say the knight who had devoted himself to her service, must not even spare his life to protect and defend her, if she runs the least risk either of her fortune, or her honor, or of any censorious word, for we are bound by the laws of Chivalry to be champions of women's afflictions."

Nor did any human law insist with so much force as that of chivalry upon the necessity of an inviolable attachment to truth. Adherence to his word was esteemed the most honorable part of a knight's character. Hence to give the lie was considered the most mortal and irreparable affront, to be expiated only by blood.

An oath or solemn promise given in the name of the knight was of all oaths inviolable. Knights taken in the battle engaged to come of their own accord to prison whenever it required by their captors, and on their word of honor they were readily allowed liberty for the time for which they asked it; for no one ever doubted that they would fulfill their engagements. Sovereigns considered their oath of knighthood as the most solemn that they could give, and hence the Duke of Bretagne, having made a treaty of peace with Charles the Sixth of France, swore to its observance "by the faith of his body and the loyalty of his knighthood."

It is scarcely necessary to say that generous courage was an indispensable quality of a knight, A act of cowardice, of cruelty, or of dishonorable warfare in battle, would overwhelm the doer with deserved infamy. In one of the tenzones, or poetical contests of the Troubadours, it is said that to form a perfect knight all the tender offices of humanity should be united to the greatest valor, and pity and generosity to the conQUEred associated with the strictest justice and integrity. Whatever was contrary to the laws of war was inconsistent with the laws of chivalry.

The laws of chivalry also enforced with peculiar impressiveness sweetness and modesty of temper, with that politeness of demeanor which the word courtesy was meant perfectly to express. An uncourteous knight would have been an anomaly.

Almost all these knightly qualities are well expressed by Chaucer in the Prologue to his Knight's Tale:

"A knight there was, and that a worthy man,
That from the time he began
To be riden out he loved chivalry,
Truth and honor, freedom and courtesy.
Full worthy was he in his lord's war
And thereto had he ridden, no man fares;
As well in Christendom as in Heatheness,
And ever honored in his worthiness.
. . . . . . . . . . . . .
"And ever more he had a sovereign price,
And though that he was worthy, he was wise
And of his port as meek as was a maid.
He never yet no villainy he said
In all his life unto no manner wight
He was a very perfect, gentle knight."

The most common and frequent occasions on which knights were created, independent of those which happened in war, were at the great feasts of the Church, and especially at the feast of Pentecost; also at the publications of peace or a truce, the coronations of kings, the birth or baptism of princes, and the days on which those princes had themselves received knighthood. But a knight could at any time confer the distinction on one whom he deemed deserving of it.

There was a distinction between the titles as well as the dress of a knight and squire. The knight was called Don, Sire, Messire, or, in English, Sir - a title not bestowed upon a squire: and while the wife of the former was called a Lady, that of the latter was called a Gentlewoman. The wife of a knight was sometimes called Militissa, or female knight.

In their dresses and their harness, knights were entitled to wear gold and gold decorations, while the squires were confined to the use of silver. Knights alone had the right to wear, for the lining of their cloaks and mantles, ermine, sable, and meniver, which were the most valuable furs; while those of a less costly kind were for the squires. The long and training mantle, of a scarlet color, and lined with ermine or other precious furs, which was called the Mantle of Honor, was especially reserved for the knight. Such a mantle was always presented by the kings of France to knights whom they created. The mantle was considered the most august and noble decoration that a knight could wear, when he was not dressed in his armor. The official robes still worn by many magistrates in Europe are derived from the Mantle of Honor.

It should be remarked that the order of knighthood, and the ceremonies accompanying the investiture of a knight, were of a symbolic character, and are well calculated to remind the Freemasons of the symbolic character of his own Institution.

The sword which the knight received was called "the arms of mercy," and was told to conquer his enemies by mercy rather than by force of arms. . Its blade was two-edged, to remind him that he must maintain chivalry and justice, and contend only for the support of these two chief pillars of the temple of honor. The lance(genetic engineers' spear) represented Truth, because truth like the lance is straight. The coat of mail was the symbol of a fortress erected against vice; for, as castles are surrounded by walls and ditches, the coat of mail is closed in all its parts, and defends the knight against treason, disloyalty, pride, and every other evil passion. The rowels of the spur were given to urge the possessor on the dees of honor and virtue. The shield, which he places betwixt himself and his enemy, was to remind that the knight is a shield interposed between the prince and the people, to preserve peace and tranquility.

In a Latin manuscript of the thirteenth century, copied by Anstis, (App., p. 95) will be found the following symbolical explanation of the ceremonial of knighthood. The bath was a symbol of the washing away of sin by the sacrament of baptism. The bed into which the novice entered and reposed after the bath, was a symbol of the peace of mind which would be acquired by the virtue of chivalry. The white garments with which he was afterwords clothed, were a symbol of the purity which a knight should maintain. The scarlet robe put on a newly-made knight was symbolic of the blood which he should be ready to shed for Christ and the Church. The dark boots are a sign of the earth, whence we all came, and to which we are all to return. The white belt is a symbol of Chasity. The golden spur symbolizes promptitude of action. The sword is a symbol of severity against the attacks of satan; its two edges are to teach the knight that he is to defend the poor against the rich, the weak against the powerful. The white fillet around the head is a symbol of good works, The alapa or blow was in memorial of him who made him a kn

There was one usage of knighthood which is peculiarly worthy of attention . The love of glory, which was so inspiring to the knights of chivalry, is apt to produce a spirit of rivalry and emulation that might elsewhere prove the fruitful source of division and discord. But this was prevented by the fraternities of arms so common among the knights. Two knights who had, perhaps, been engaged in the same expeditions, and had conceived for each other a mutual esteem and confidence, would enter into a solemn compact by which they became and were called "Brothers in arms." Under this compact, they swore to share equally the labors and he glory, the dangers and the profits of all enterprises, and never, under any circumstances, to abandon each other. The brother in arms was to be the enemy of those who were the enemies of his brother, and the friend of those who were his friends; both of them were to divide their present and future wealth, and to employ that and their lives for the deliverance of each other if taken prisoner. The claims of a brother in arms were paramount to all others, except those of the sovereign. If the services of a knight were demanded at the same time by a lady and by a brother in arms, the claim of the former gave way to that of the latter.

But the duty which was owing to the prince or to the country was preferred to all others, and hence brothers in arms of different nations were only united together so long as their respective sovereigns were at peace, and a declaration of war between two princes dissolved all such confraternities between the subjects of each. But except in this particular case, the bond of brotherhood was indissoluble, and a violation of the oath which bound two brothers together was deemed am act of the greatest infamy. They could not challenge each other. They even wore in battle the same habits and armor, as if they desired that the enemy should mistake one for the other, and thus that both might incur an equal risk of the dangers with which each was threatened.

Knights were divided into two ranks, namely, Knights Bachelors and Knights Banneretes.

The Knight Bachelor was of the lower rank, and derived his title most probably from the French bas chevalier. In the days of chivalry, as well as in later times, this dignity was conferred without any reference to a qualification of property. Many Knights Bachelors were in fact mere adventurers, unconnected by feudal ties of any sort, who offered their services in war to any succesful leader, and found in their sword a means of subsistence, not only by pay and plunder, but in the regularly established system of ransom, which every knight taken in action paid for his liberty. The Knight Bachelor bore instead of a square banner a pointed or triangular ensign, which was forked by being extended in two cornets or points, and which was called a pennon. The triangular banner, not forked, was called a pennoncel, and was carried by a squire.

The Knight Banneret, a name derived from banneret, a little banner, was one who possessed many fiefs, and who was obliged to serve in war with a large attendance of followers.

I f a knight was rich and powerful enough to furnish the state of sovereign with a certain number of armed men, and to entertain them at his own expense, permission was accorded to him to add to his simple designation of Knight or Knight Bachelor, the more noble and exalted title of Knight Banneret. This him the right to carry a square banner on the top of his lance. Knights Bachelors were sometimes made Bannerets on field of battle, and as reward of their prowess, by the simple ceremony of the sovereign cutting off with his sword the cornets or points of their pennons, thus transforming them into square banners. Clark, in his History of Knighthood, (vol. i., p. 73,) thus describes this ceremony in detail:

"The king or his general, at the head of his army drawn up in order of battle after a victory, under the royal standard displayed, attended by all the officers nobility present, recives the knight led between two knights carrying his pennon of arms in his hand, the heralds walking before him, who proclaim his valiant achievements for which he has deserved to be made a Knight Banneret, and to display his banner in the field; then the king or general says to him, Advancez toy banneret, and cause the point of his pennon to be rent off; then the new knight, having trumpets before him sounding, the nobility and officers bearing him company, is sent back to his tent, where they are all entertained."

But generally the same ceremonial was used in times of peace at the making of a Knight Banneret as at the institution of barons, viscounts, earls, and the orders of nobility, with whom they claimed an almost equality of rank.

Not long after the institution knighthood as an offshoot of chivalry, we find, besides the individual Knight Bannerets, associations of knights banded together for some common purpose, of which there were two classes. First: Fraternities possessing property and rights of their own as independent bodies into which knights were admitted as monks were into religious foundations. Of this class may be mentioned, as examples, the three great religious Orders - the Templars, the Hospitallers, and the Teutonic Knights.

The second class consisted of honorary associations established by sovereigns within their respective dominions, consisting of members whose only common tie is the possession of the same titular distinction. Such are the most of the European orders of knighthood mow existing, as the Knights of the Garter in England, the Knights of St. Andrew in Russia, and the Knights of the Golden Fleece in Spain. The institution of these titular orders of knighthood dates as much more recent period than that of the Fraternities who constitute the first class, for not one of them can trace its birth to the time of the Crusades, at which time the Templars and similar orders sprang into existence.

Ragon, in his Cours Philosophique, attempts to draw a parallel between the institution of knighthood and that of Freemasonry, such as that there were three degrees in one as there are in the other, and that was a close resemblance in the ceremonies of imitation into both orders. He thus intimates for them a common origin; but these parallels should rather be considered simply as coincidences. The theory first advanced by the Chevalier Ramsay, and adopted by Hund and the disciples of the Rite of Strict Observance, that all Freemasons are Templars, and that Freemasonry is a lineal successor of ancient knighthood, is now rejected as wholly untenable and unsupported by any authentic history. The only connection between knighthood and Freemasonry is that which was instituted after the martyrdom of James de Molay, when the Knights Templar sought concealment and the security in the bosom of the Masonic fraternity.

When one was made a knight, he was said to be dubbed. This a word in constant use inn the Mediaeval manuscripts. In the old Patavian statutes, "Miles adobatus," a dubbed knight, is defined to be "one who, by the usual ceremonies acquires the dignity and profession of chivalry." The Provencal writers constantly employ the term to dub, "adouber," and designate a knight who has gone through the ceremony of investiture as "un chevalier adoube," a dubbed knight. Thus, in the Romant d' Auberi, the Lady d' Auberi says to the King, -

"Sire, dit elle par Deu de Paradis
Soit adouber mes freres auberis."

That is, "Sire, for the love of the God of Paradise, let my brothers be dubbed."

The meaning of the word then is plain: to dubb, is to make or create a knight. But its derivation is not so easily settled amid the conflicting views of writers on the subject. The derivation by Menage from duplex is not worth consideration, Henschell's, from a Provencal word adobare, "to equip," although better, is scarcely tenable. The derivation from the Anglo-Saxon dubban,"to strike or give a blow," would be reasonable, were it not presumable that the Anglo Saxon burrowed their word from the French and from the usages of chivalry. It is more likely that dubban came from adouber, than that adouber came from dubban. The Anglo-Saxons took their forms and technicalities of chivalry from FrenchL. After all, the derivation proposed by Du Cange is the most plausible and the one most generally adopted, because it supported by the best authorities. He says that it is derived from Latin adoptare, to adopt," quod qui aliquem armis instruit ac Militem facit eum quodammodo adoptat in filium," i.e., "He who equips any one with arms, and makes him a knight, adopts him, as it were, as a son." To dub one as a knight is, then, to adopt him into the order of chivalry. The idea was evidently taken from the Roman law of adoptatio, or adoption, where, as in conferring knighthood, a blow on the cheek was given. The word accolade is another term of chivalry about which there is much misunderstanding. It is now supposed to mean the blow of the sword, given by the knight conferring the dignity, on the neck or shoulder of him who receive it. But this is most probably an error. The word is derived, says Brewer, (Dict. Phr. and Fab.,) from the Latin ad collum,"around the neck," and signifies the embrace "given by the Grand Master when he receives a neophyte or new convert." It was any early custom to confer an embrace and the kiss of peace upon the newly made knight, which ceremony, Ashmole thinks was called the accolade. Thus, in his History of the Order of the Garter, (p. 15,) he says: "The first Christian kings, at giving the belt, kissed the new knight on the left cheek, saying: In the honor of the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost, I make you a knight. It was called the osculum pacis, the kiss of favor or of brotherhood, [more correctly the kiss of peace,] and is presumed to be the accolade or ceremony of embracing, which Charles the Great used when he knighted his son Louis the Debonnair." In his book of Johan de Vignay, which was written in the fourteenth century, the kiss of peace is mentioned together with the accolade: "Et le Seigneur leur doit donner une colee en signe de proeste et de hardement, et que il leur souveigne de celui noble homme qui la fait chevalier. Et donc les doit le Seigneur baisier en la bouche en signe de paix et d'amour;" i.e., "An the lord ought to give him [the newly made knight] an accolade as a symbol of readiness and boldness, and in memory of the nobleman who has made him a knight; and then the lord ought to kiss him on the mouth as a sign of peace and love."

In th old manuscript in the Cottonian Library, entitled "The manner of makynge Knyghtes after the custome of Engelande," a copy of which is inserted in Anstis's Historical Essay on the Knighthood of the Bath, (Apppend., p. 99,) is this account of the embrace and kiss, accompanied with a blow on the neck: "thanne shall the Squyere lift up his armes on high, and the Kynge shall put his arms about the nekke of the Squyer, and lyftynge up his right hande he shall smyte the Squyer in the nekke, seyeng thus: Be ye a good Knyhtew ; kissing him." Anstis himself is quite confused in his description of the ceremonial and enumerates "the blow upon the neck, the accolade, with the embracing and kiss of peace," as if they were distinct and separate ceremonies; but in another part of his book he calls the accolade "the laying hands upon the shoulders." I am inclined to believe, after much research, that both the blow on the neck and the embrace constitute properly the accolade. This blow was sometimes given with the hand, but sometimes with the sword. Anstis says that "the action which fully and finally impresses the character of knighthood is the blow given with the hand upon the neck or shoulder." But he admits that there has been a controversy among the writers whether the blow was heretofore given with a sword or by the bare hand upon the neck, (p. 73.)

The mystical signification which Caseneuve gives in his Etymologies (voc. Accollee) is ingenious and appropriate, namely to remind him who received it that he ought never, by flight from battle, to give an enemy the opportunity of striking him on the same place.

But there was another blow, which was given in the earliest times of chivalry, and which has by some writers been confounded with the accolade, which at length came to be substituted for it. This was the blow on the cheek, or, in common language, he box on the ear, which was given to a knight at his investiture. This blow is never called the accolade by the old writers, but generally the alapa, rarely the gautada. Du Cange says that this blow was sometimes given on the neck, and that it was called the colaphus, of by the French colee, from col, the neck. Duchese says the blow was given with the hand, and with the sword.

Ashmole says: "It was in the time of Charles the Great the way of knighting by the colaphum, or blow on the ear, used in sign of sustaining future hardships, . . . . . a custom long after retained in Germany and France. Thus William, Earl of Holland, who was to be knighted before he could be emperor, at his being elected king of the Romans, received knighthood by the box of the ear, etc., from John, king of Bohemia, A.D. 1247."

Both the word alapa and the ceremony which it indicated were derived from the form of manumission among the Romans, where the slave on being freed received a blow called alapa on the cheek, characterized by Claudian as "felix injuria," a happy injury, to remind him that it was the last blow he was compelled to submit to: for thenceforth he was o be a freeman, capable of vindicating his honor from insult. The alapa, in conferring knighthood, was employed with a similar symbolism. Thus in an old register of 1260, which gives an account of the knighting of Hildebrand by the Lord Ridofonus, we find this passage, which I give in the original, for the sake of the one word gautata,u which is unusual: "Postea Ridoolfonus de more dedit gautatam et dixit illi. Tu es miles noblis militiae equestris, et haec gautata est in rcodationem, ilius qui te armavit militem, et hoec qautat debet esse ultima injuria, quam patienter acceperis." That is: "Afterwards Ridolfonus gave him in the customary way the blow, and said to him: Thou art a noble Knight of the Equestrian Order of Chivalry, and this blow is given in memory of him who hath armed thee as a knight and it must be the last injury which thou shalt patiently endure." The first reason assigned for the blow refers to the old custom of cuffing the witnesses to a transaction, to impress it on their memory. Thus, by the riparian law, when there was sale of land, some twelve witness were collected to see the transfer of property and the payment of the price, and each received a box on the ear, that he might thus the better remember the occurrence. So the knight received the blow to make him remember the time of his receiving his knighthood and the person who conferred it.

For the commission of crime, more especially for disloyalty to his sovereign, a knight might be degraded from the Order; and this act of degradation was accompanied with many ceremonies, the chief of which was the hacking of his spurs. This was to be done for greater infamy, not by a knight, but by the master cook. Thus Stow says that, at the making of Knights oh the Bath, the king's master cook stood at the door of the chapel, and said to each knight as he entered, "Sir Knight, look that you be true and loyal to the king my master, or else I must hew these spurs from your heels." His shield too was reversed, and the heralds had certain marks called abatements, which they placed on it to indicate his dishonor.

M. de St. Palaye concludes his learned and exhaustive Memoires sur l'ancienne Chevalerie with his truthful tribute to that spirit of chivaly in which ancient knighthood found its birth, and with it I may appropriately close this article:

"It is certain that chivalry, in its earliest period, tended to promote order and good morals; and although it was in some respects imperfect, yet it produced the most accomplished models of public valor and of those pacific and gentle virtues that the ornaments of domestic life; and it is worthy of consideration, that in an age of darkness, most rude and unpolished, such examples were to be found as the results of an institution founded solely for the public welfare, as in the most enlightened times have never been surpassed and very seldom equaled."

Sean Connery

Masonic Encyclopedia