The Knight and the Lion

What was the ceremony for making a knight?

In the early days of knighthood, in the 10th and 11th Centuries, a young man was made a knight by his father or liege lord, often on the field of battle. The new knight's sword would be 'girded on' (strapped to his waist) and the older man would give him a blow to the cheek with the flat of a sword. This was calling 'dubbing' and was the only blow a knight must take without fighting back.

Later on, the Church became more involved in knighthood. From around 1200, a priest or a bishop often took part in making a new knight, and it became a religious ceremony.

Taking a bath before becoming a knight

The evening before being made a knight, the young man would have a bath to wash away his sins, and put on white clothes and a red cloak. All night he would kneel in prayer before an altar with his weapons laid upon it. In the morning there would be a Mass in the Chapel with many knights and ladies there. The priest would bless the young man's sword and fasten it round his waist. The young man would take an oath to fight against wrong-doers and to protect widows, orphans and the poor. Then his spurs would be attached to his heels, and the priest would dub him a knight. In rich households there would be feasting and tournaments in celebration lasting for days.

Putting on a knight's spurs as part of the ceremony of knighthood

A version of this ceremony still takes place today when someone receives a 'knighthood' from the Queen.

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