greatest knights of all time

Chivalry’s Elite: The Greatest Knights in History

Knights have long captured the imagination of people around the world, from their gallant deeds in battle to their unwavering courage and loyalty. Throughout history, there have been countless knights who have left a lasting impact on society, earning their place as legends in the annals of time. In this article, we will explore the greatest knights of all time, delving into their stories and examining their legacies.

Key Takeaways:

  • We will explore the historical context of knights during the Middle Ages and their role in society.
  • We will delve into the mythical world of King Arthur and his legendary knights.
  • We will focus on the knights who participated in the Crusades.
  • We will highlight some of the most renowned knights in European history, showcasing their code of chivalry and their impact on their respective regions.
  • We will explore the portrayal of knights in art and literature during the Renaissance period.
  • We will discuss the different knightly orders that emerged throughout history.
  • We will delve into the training and discipline required to become a knight, as well as the code of conduct they were expected to adhere to.
  • We will shed light on the often-overlooked presence of female knights throughout history.
  • We will explore the concept of modern knighthood.
  • We will summarize the enduring legacy of the greatest knights in history and their impact on our collective imagination.

The Age of Chivalry

The Middle Ages saw the rise of the knightly class, an aristocratic group of warriors who followed a strict code of chivalry. Knights were highly skilled in combat and trained from a young age to use weapons such as swords, shields, and lances.

In addition to fighting, knights were expected to uphold a strict moral code that emphasized virtues such as courage, loyalty, and honor. This code of chivalry dictated how knights should behave towards others, including women and those of a lower social class.

Medieval knights played a crucial role in society, serving as protectors of their lord’s lands and people. They were also involved in tournaments and jousts, which were popular forms of entertainment.

However, not all knights were noble or chivalrous. Some used their position of power to engage in acts of violence or to gain land and wealth at the expense of others.

Despite their flaws and inconsistencies, knights of the Middle Ages remain a fascinating and iconic symbol of an era marked by valor, chivalry, and honor.

Legendary Knights of Arthurian Lore

One of the most enduring and captivating myths in Western culture is that of King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table. The romanticized tales of chivalry, loyalty, and adventure have captured the imaginations of people for centuries, inspiring countless works of literature, art, and cinema. At the heart of these stories are some of the most famous and celebrated knights in history.

Chief among them is Sir Lancelot, the brave and handsome knight who falls in love with Queen Guinevere and becomes embroiled in a tragic love triangle. He is known for his peerless skill in combat, his unwavering devotion to Arthur, and his tragic flaw that ultimately leads to his downfall.

Another legendary figure is Sir Gawain, who is often depicted as the epitome of chivalry and honor. He faces a number of difficult trials and temptations throughout his adventures, but always remains true to his code of conduct and emerges victorious in the end.

Other notable Arthurian knights include Sir Percival, who embarks on a quest for the Holy Grail, Sir Galahad, who achieves the Grail and ascends to heaven, and Sir Kay, a trusted confidant of Arthur and one of his most skilled warriors.

While the historical basis for the Arthurian legends is disputed, the tales have had a profound impact on popular culture and continue to inspire new generations of readers and viewers. From the medieval romances to modern retellings, the Knights of the Round Table remain iconic figures of courage, loyalty, and adventure.

The Crusading Knights

The Crusades were a series of religious wars fought between the 11th and 13th centuries. The knights who participated in these conflicts, known as crusader knights, were motivated by a desire to reclaim the Holy Land from Muslim control. They were hailed as heroes in their day, admired for their courage and devotion to their cause.

Among the most famous of these crusader knights were the Knights Templar, a military order established in the 12th century. The Templars were known for their formidable skill in battle and their commitment to protecting Christian pilgrims traveling to Jerusalem. Their order became one of the most powerful and wealthy in Europe, and they played a significant role in the battles of the Crusades.

Key Facts:
Founding: 1119 CE
Leadership: Grand Master
Headquarters: Jerusalem (originally), then various locations in Europe
Legacy: The Templars inspired legends and myths, and their story continues to captivate popular imagination.

The Knights Hospitaller were another prominent order of crusader knights, established in the 11th century. Originally founded as a hospital to care for poor and sick pilgrims to the Holy Land, the Hospitallers eventually became a military order, known for their bravery and humanitarian efforts.

“We do not serve for the sake of earthly reward, but to win the glorious reward of eternal life.” – The Rule of the Knights Hospitaller

While the Crusades themselves were ultimately unsuccessful in their goal of reclaiming Jerusalem for Christianity, the crusader knights left a lasting legacy of valor and dedication. Their exploits were celebrated in epic tales of chivalry and romance, and their symbols and traditions continue to endure in popular culture today.

The Noble Knights of Europe

The knights of Europe were renowned for their chivalry, courage, and their unwavering commitment to honor. These noble warriors were often the sons of lords or aristocrats and were trained from a young age in the art of combat, horseback riding, and other skills essential for knighthood.

As the Middle Ages came to a close, knights began to play an increasingly important role in European society. They served as protectors of the realm, defending their lord’s estates against invaders, and also served as diplomats, negotiating treaties and ensuring peace.

The Knights of the Holy Roman Empire

Knight Region Notable Accomplishments
Albert von Prankh Holy Roman Empire Defended the city of Vienna against Ottoman forces during the Siege of Vienna in 1683.
Godfrey of Bouillon Kingdom of Jerusalem Led the First Crusade and became the first ruler of the Kingdom of Jerusalem.
William Marshal England Considered one of the greatest knights in English history, he served as a regent for King Henry III and helped negotiate the Magna Carta.

The Knights of France

The French knights were known for their sophistication and their chivalric code. They played a significant role in the Hundred Years’ War, defending France against English invaders.

  • Geoffroi de Charny: He wrote several books on knighthood, including “The Book of Chivalry,” which outlined the virtues of chivalry and the responsibilities of a knight.
  • Bertrand du Guesclin: A skilled warrior, he served as a military commander during the Hundred Years’ War and played a key role in driving the English out of France.
  • Joan of Arc: While not a knight herself, Joan of Arc inspired the French army with her leadership and bravery, helping to secure several key victories during the Hundred Years’ War.

The Knights of Spain

The Spanish knights were renowned for their valor, and many of them became famous throughout Europe during the Middle Ages and Renaissance periods.

“Better to die on one’s feet than to live on one’s knees.” – El Cid

  • El Cid: A legendary knight who fought for both Christian and Muslim rulers in Spain, he played a significant role in the Reconquista, the Christian reconquest of the Iberian Peninsula.
  • Diego de la Vega: Known as Zorro, he was a fictional character who fought for justice and against tyranny in Spanish California during the 19th century. His story has become a part of popular culture around the world.

The legacy of the noble knights of Europe lives on to this day, inspiring us with their bravery and their unwavering commitment to honor and chivalry.

Knights of the Renaissance

The Renaissance period brought about a renewed interest in classical art, literature, and philosophy, and knights were not exempt from this cultural phenomenon. The portrayal of knights in art and literature during this time reflected the changing attitudes towards chivalry and knighthood.

One of the most famous depictions of knights during the Renaissance is Leonardo da Vinci’s mural, “The Last Supper,” in which the apostles are depicted in knightly armor. This blending of religious imagery with knighthood highlights the high regard in which knights were held during this period.

Another significant work of art during the Renaissance that featured knights was Edmund Spencer’s epic poem, “The Faerie Queene.” The poem is a fantastical allegory that follows the adventures of several knights, each representing a particular virtue, such as Holiness, Temperance, and Chastity. The poem was not only a celebration of chivalry but also a commentary on the political and social issues of the time.

Knights also played a prominent role in the literature of the period. Miguel de Cervantes’ “Don Quixote” is a satirical work that pokes fun at the romanticized ideals of chivalry. The protagonist, Don Quixote, is a delusional man who imagines himself as a knight and goes on absurd quests to prove his valor and honor.

Knights in Art and Literature

The portrayal of knights in art and literature during the Renaissance reflected the changing attitudes towards chivalry and knighthood. While some works celebrated the ideals of knighthood, others were critical of its romanticized image.

Works that celebrated knighthood Works that criticized knighthood
– Leonardo da Vinci’s “The Last Supper”
– Edmund Spencer’s “The Faerie Queene”
– Miguel de Cervantes’ “Don Quixote”

Despite the varying portrayals of knights in art and literature during the Renaissance, their cultural significance endured. The legacy of the chivalric code and the ideals of knighthood remained influential in European society for centuries to come.

The Knightly Orders

Throughout history, various knightly orders emerged, each with its own unique history and contribution to the world. These orders were established to serve a particular purpose, often related to the protection of people and their beliefs.

One of the most well-known knightly orders was the Knights Templar, formed in the 12th century to protect Christian pilgrims on their way to the Holy Land. The order grew in power and wealth, but was eventually dissolved by the Pope in the 14th century.

Another prominent order was the Knights Hospitaller, also known as the Order of St. John. This order was founded in Jerusalem in the 11th century and focused on providing medical care to sick and injured pilgrims. The Knights Hospitaller continued to serve this purpose for centuries, and eventually evolved into the modern-day St. John Ambulance service.

Other knightly orders included the Teutonic Knights, originally formed to care for sick German pilgrims in the Holy Land, and the Order of the Garter, which served as a prestigious chivalric order for the English monarch and nobility.

The Code of Chivalry

Regardless of the specific purpose of each order, they all shared a common code of chivalry, emphasizing virtues such as honor, courage, and loyalty. Knights were expected to be skilled warriors, but also to uphold a moral standard, protecting the weak and treating others with respect and kindness.

The ideals of chivalry became influential in European culture, inspiring literature and art for centuries to come. Even as the role of knights evolved and declined, their legacy continued to inspire people to strive for the values of honor and bravery.

Knightly Etiquette and Training

Becoming a knight was no easy feat. Knights were expected to embody a strict code of conduct known as the chivalric code, which demanded courage, loyalty, and honor above all else. This code was instilled in knights from a young age through rigorous training and discipline.

Training to become a knight began at the age of 7 when boys were sent to live with a lord to learn the skills required of a knight. They were trained in combat with weapons such as swords, lances, and bows, and were taught how to care for and ride horses. Education in reading, writing, and arithmetic was also a part of their training, as knights were expected to be educated and well-rounded individuals.

Along with physical training, knights were also taught the importance of moral and ethical behavior. The chivalric code emphasized the importance of virtues such as piety, humility, and compassion, and knights were held to a high standard of conduct both on and off the battlefield.

The training and discipline required to become a knight were not for the faint of heart. It was a lifelong pursuit that demanded unwavering dedication and commitment to the ideals of chivalry. But for those who succeeded, it was an honor and a privilege to be counted among the elite of chivalry’s ranks.

Female Knights: Breaking Barriers

The image of a knight often conjures up images of a brave, strong man, charging into battle on horseback. However, throughout history, there were also women who donned armor and took up the mantle of knighthood. These women were often overlooked or dismissed, but their accomplishments were no less impressive.

One such woman was Joan of Arc, a French peasant who led the French army to victory against the English during the Hundred Years’ War. Despite facing ridicule and skepticism from her male counterparts, she persevered and became a symbol of French nationalism.

Another notable woman in knighthood was Eleanor of Aquitaine, who became Queen of France and England and played a key role in the Second Crusade. She was known for her intelligence, political savvy, and leadership skills.

Even in the modern era, women have continued to break down barriers in the world of knighthood. In 1958, Queen Elizabeth II created the Women’s Royal Army Corps, which allowed women to officially serve in the British Army. Today, there are female knights who have been recognized for their contributions to their countries.

Despite the challenges and prejudices they faced, female knights serve as an inspiration to all those who seek to challenge the status quo and break down barriers. Their legacy is a reminder that courage, honor, and skill are not limited by gender.

Modern Knights: Guardians of Tradition

While the knightly order may seem like a relic of the past, there are still individuals and organizations that embody the ideals of chivalry in the present day. These modern knights may not don suits of armor, but they are dedicated to upholding the traditions of their predecessors while adapting to the needs of contemporary society.

One example of a modern knightly order is the Order of St. George, founded in 1326 and later revived in 1988. This organization honors the legacy of the knights who served the Habsburg Empire, while also participating in charitable work and promoting cultural heritage.

Another modern knighthood organization is the Order of the Golden Fleece, founded in 1430 and still active today. This chivalric order recognizes individuals who have made significant contributions to European culture and society, honoring their achievements with its prestigious accolades.

Outside of traditional orders, there are also individuals who have been knighted for their outstanding contributions to society. In 2002, Queen Elizabeth II knighted Sir Elton John for his services to music and charitable causes. Similarly, in 2018, actor Mark Rylance was knighted for his contributions to theater and the arts.

These modern knights may not wield swords or joust in tournaments, but they continue to carry on the legacy of chivalry in their own ways. Whether through charitable work, cultural preservation, or outstanding achievement, they exemplify the values and virtues of knighthood in the 21st century.


Throughout history, there have been numerous knights who have captured our imagination and admiration with their courage, honor, and devotion to the chivalric code. From the medieval knights of the Middle Ages to the modern guardians of tradition, these knights have left an indelible mark on our collective consciousness.

The greatest knights of all time were champions of justice, defenders of the weak, and protectors of their realm. They were skilled warriors, renowned for their swordsmanship and horsemanship, but also possessed a moral compass that guided their actions both on and off the battlefield. Their legends and feats continue to inspire us, reminding us of the power of courage, loyalty, and selflessness.

As we celebrate the legacy of these great knights, we are reminded that their impact extends beyond their time. Their stories and ideals continue to influence our culture, inspiring us to strive for excellence and to uphold the tenets of chivalry.

In conclusion, the greatest knights of all time were not only exceptional warriors but also exemplars of the chivalric code. Their legacy continues to inspire us and remind us of the ideals we should strive towards. May their stories continue to be told and celebrated for generations to come.


Q: What is the article about?

A: The article is about the greatest knights in history, celebrating their accomplishments and exploring their impact on society.

Q: What is the historical context of knights during the Middle Ages?

A: Knights played a significant role in medieval society, often serving as warriors, protectors, and members of the nobility.

Q: Who were the legendary knights of Arthurian lore?

A: The legendary knights of Arthurian lore include the Knights of the Round Table, who embarked on quests and displayed great bravery.

Q: What was the role of knights during the Crusades?

A: Knights participated in the Crusades, fighting to reclaim the Holy Land and defending Christian interests in the Middle East.

Q: Who were some of the most renowned knights in European history?

A: European history is filled with noble knights, such as Joan of Arc, El Cid, and William Marshal, who left a lasting impact on their regions.

Q: How were knights portrayed during the Renaissance?

A: Knights were often depicted in art and literature during the Renaissance, representing ideals of chivalry and courtly love.

Q: What are some notable knightly orders throughout history?

A: Knightly orders such as the Knights Hospitaller and the Knights Templar emerged throughout history, playing important roles in religious and military endeavors.

Q: What was the training and etiquette required to become a knight?

A: Becoming a knight required rigorous training in combat, horsemanship, and adherence to a code of chivalry that emphasized honor, loyalty, and respect.

Q: Were there female knights in history?

A: Yes, there were female knights throughout history who defied traditional gender roles and made significant contributions to knighthood.

Q: Is knighthood still relevant in modern times?

A: While knighthood as it was known in the past may no longer exist, there are individuals and organizations today that continue to uphold the ideals of chivalry and honor.

Q: What is the conclusion of the article?

A: The article concludes by emphasizing the enduring legacy of the greatest knights in history and their lasting impact on our collective imagination.