Knight seems to be a no brainer for the letter “K” given my medieval series and the emphasis romance has on knights. Indeed, the knight arose during the medieval period, around 1000 CE as part of the medieval social order when there emerged three classes of people: those who worked, those who prayed, and those who fought.
After the fall of the Roman Empire, Europe was “dominated by an aristocracy descended from a mixture of old Roman families and Romanized Germanic tribes.” These men became rulers of their own land holds, usually a castle and a certain amount of land. These lords depended on the strength of their retainers, arms-bearing men who swore fealty them and lived within their households. This is the beginning of the knightly social class who became defined as warriors on horseback.
In return for their service, the lord would usually give the knight a small parcel of land or fief, with authority over the peasants who worked the land. This authority led to the knight’s elevation into the ranks of the nobility.
Knights as the warrior class adopted a set of idealized behaviors known as chivalry to be followed both on and off the battlefield. These behaviors included being a ferocious fighter, a devout Christian concerned with the well-being of the weak and helpless, a charmer who loved to dance and flirt with ladies, and a man who would allow no stain on his honor.
Although there was no standard of chivalry to which the knight was held, there did arise, in literature, a standard of sorts where the treatment of noble women were concerned. A knight was expected to honor and serve his lady, whoever he might choose her to be. She could be the lady of the castle where he received his training or a lady who he esteemed from afar but never met or a lady he was destined to marry. Whatever their relationship, the knight was bound to do whatever the lady bid him do. Many stories of King Arthur and the Round Table, especially those with Lancelot as the central figure, illustrate this idea of devotion to the lady although often the lady is portrayed as mocking or disdainful.
One of my favorite movies dealing with knights is A Knight’s Tale. Even though it is filled with anachronisms, the jousting and fighting sequences are very well done as well as its portrayal of courtly love between Will and Jocelyn. (Just disregard the music, the dancing, and the Audrey Hepburn-esque heroine’s clothing. LOL) It is also very fitting and funny that Will chooses to call himself Ulrich von Liechtenstein, a famous real-life knight-poet who lived in the 13th century (about 150 years before the time the movie is set). If you haven’t seen it, you really should. It’s a great knight’s entertainment. 🙂
Do you have a particular favorite movie or romance novel that deals with knights?
If you’re interested in medieval romance with knights, check out my medieval serial novel, Time Enough To Love. Book 1, Betrothal and Book 2, Betrayal are available at Amazon.