The legends of the ancient Orders of Knights are among some of the most compelling tales of the ages.
Famous Orders Of Knights
Among the most famous myths and legends of knightly orders are the iconic knights of The Crusades. These valiant horsemen were charged with the protection of pilgrims and their possessions as they journeyed to the Holy Land during the 11th, 12th and 13th centuries.
The most famous of the many Orders of Knights that emerged during the Middle Ages is that of the Knights Templar, or to use its full name: Poor Fellow-Soldiers of Christ and of the Temple of Solomon, or the Order of Solomon’s Temple.
This legendary Order of Knights became renowned across the world during the height of their activities, though the public image of this particular order did experience some negativity when some of the Knights Templar deviated from their Christian ethos and their holy mission.
Yet, the enduring legend of this Holy Order of Knights is one of valiant and chivalrous knights on horseback – the stereotypical image of a knight in shining armour, clad in steel and chain mail. These were the typical uniforms for many of the Orders of Knights during the Middle Ages.
The legend of the Knights Templar was revived in modern times by the bestselling book and film, The Da Vinci Code, in which the order of the Knights Templar played a key role in the intriguing plot line that dated back to the earliest times of Christianity and the legend of the Holy Grail.
Knights – Myths & Legends
Another legendary Order of Knights is the Knights of The Round Table. The much-loved tales of King Arthur and his band of valiant warriors have entertained people all over the world for centuries.
Stories of Tristan, Lancelot and Galahad have captured the imagination of the masses ever since they first emerged in British folklore in the Middle Ages.
Yet many of these legendary knights are more mythical than historical. Given the many centuries since these stories first emerged, it’s become almost impossible to know for sure which of the tales of the heroic Knights of The Round Table are based on fact rather than fiction.
It’s likely that the tales of myth and legend that survived over the ages were originally based on real knights and existing orders, though as with any work of fiction, there’s likely also an element of imagination and artistic licence.
Since the allure of chivalrous knights and their leading ladies has such an enduring charm and fascination, many people still wonder about the history of knighthoods, as well as present-day knights and the future of chivalric orders.
It’s tempting to wonder, do Orders of Knights still exist? Who are the modern-day recipients of knighthoods? And what is the future for this captivating realm of noble titles?
Do Orders Of Knights Still Exist?
While some of the most iconic Orders of Knights have not survived to the present day in their original form, some do still exist in the modern world.
For example, the legendary Knights Templar may belong to centuries past but some of the tenets of their ideology have endured to modern times via a range of splinter groups and Masonic orders.
The modern-day Freemasons, for example, adhere to some of the principles of the ancient Knights Templar, even incorporating aspects such as rituals and secret groups. Some also claim a historical connection to the medieval Orders of Knights that have been dissolved or dismantled over the centuries.
Modern Day Knighthoods
Perhaps the most famous example of a contemporary Order of Knights is the Order of the British Empire which is known the world over as the chivalric order that awards modern-day knighthoods (and the female equivalent of damehoods) to a wide range of people who excel in their chosen field.
This system of honours is the source of the famous New Year’s Honours List that is released every year to reveal which individuals have been recognised for their life’s work or their contribution to society in some way.
While these popular modern knighthoods may seem a world away from the ancient cavalrymen commissioned to protect pilgrims in the Middle East, there’s still a strong theme of altruism that connects both the ancient and modern Orders of Knights.
The contemporary awards of knighthoods and damehoods are highly prized because they are solely granted in recognition of significant achievements that benefit the needs of the whole. This theme of humanitarianism is an echo of the Christian values that were at the core of many medieval Orders of Knights and their sworn missions to protect the weak and maintain social order.
The Future Of Knighthoods
The myths and legends of knights have endured for many centuries, and if popular culture is any guide, their appeal in contemporary society is as strong as the ancient times when ordinary people would gather to hear tales of brave knights and their adventures, or the writers of the ages would pen captivating tales of these fascinating heroes on horseback.
While modern-day knighthoods are a different type of accolade to the mythical figures so popular during the Middle Ages, it’s clear that the title of knight still has enduring appeal in the modern world.
Some may hold the 21st-century knights and dames in high esteem due to their honours and awards as a result of significant achievement or outstanding altruism. Whereas others may enjoy the title of knight and its connotations of nobility and aristocracy – the result of centuries of association with the elite social orders of the ages.
Whatever the future for knighthoods and the modern-day Orders of Knights, there’s little doubt that this historic and captivating noble title still holds a great deal of interest, appeal, fascination and aspiration.
While legacies of the ancient Orders of Knights may play a quieter role in today’s world, the mythical magic of the knights of the ages lives on in the contemporary knighthoods and modern culture – a trend that looks likely to continue for generations to come.