The Making of a Knight
Jean of Tours
"When [Geoffrey of Anjou] entered the inner chamber of the king's hall [at Rouen], surrounded by his knights and those of the king and a crowd of people, the king went to meet him, affectionately embracing and kissing him, and, taking him by the hand, led him to a seat All that day was spent in joyful celebration. At the first dawn of the next day, a bath was prepared, according to the custom for novice knights After bathing, Geoffrey donned a linen under-garment, a tunic of cloth of gold, a purple robe, silk stockings, and shoes ornamented with golden lions; his attendants, who were being initiated into knighthood with him, also put on gold and purple. [Geoffrey], with his train of nobles, left the chamber to appear in public. Horses and arms were brought and distributed. A Spanish horse of wonderful beauty was provided for Geoffrey, swifter than the flight of birds. He was then armed with a corselet of double-woven mail which no lance or javelin could pierce, and shod with iron boots of the same double mesh; golden spurs were girded on; a shield with golden lions was hung around his neck; a helmet was placed on his head gleaming with many precious stones, and which no sword could pierce or mar; a spear of ash tipped with iron was provided; and finally from the royal treasury was brought an ancient sword Thus our novice knight was armed, the future flower of knighthood, who despite his armor leapt with marvelous agility on his horse. What more can be said? That day, dedicated to the honor of the newly made knights, was spent entirely in warlike games and exercises. For seven whole days the celebration in honor of the new knights continued."
ceremony would usually take place outside with a fanfare of musicians adding
to the festive atmosphere. Fathers, and in this case, father in-laws would be
involved as a gesture of passing the tradition along to the next generation.
Most significant was the sword itself which would have been blessed by a priest
the previous night.
Most interesting was the colée, which usually, though not necessarily was administered by the father. As described by Gies, "far from being a gentle symbolic blow, the colée was an open-handed whack that often knocked its recipient, prepared though he was, off his feet." A contemporary Spanish writer Lull wrote that the colée was a not so subtle reminder to the new knight to remember his oath now administered. I kind of think of it as: HEY now that I have your attention!
But for all the "flower of chivalry," reality was often far different in the "noble" conduct of the knighted. Often short of money, and never enough fiefs to go around, most knights became nothing more than hired mercenaries for battles. Payment for serving was a freedom to plunder the hell out of the losers. Below is Roger of Wendovers description of how William Marshal allowed his men to "go to town" after defeating Prince Louis of France.
From the Flower of History
Roger of Wendover
"The whole city was plundered to the last farthing, and then they proceeded to rob all the churches throughout the city, breaking open all the chests and cupboards with hatchets and hammers, and seizing gold and silver, cloth of all colors, women's ornaments, gold rings, goblets, and precious stones. When at last they had carried off all kinds of merchandise so that nothing remained untouched in any corner of the houses, they all returned to their own lords rich men. When the peace of King Henry had been proclaimed throughout the city by all, they feasted and drank and made merry."