The Knights of the Crown: The Monarchical Orders of Knighthood in Later Medieval Europe 1325-1520

Orders of lay knights – the most famous of which are those of the Garter and the Golden Fleece – were founded at some time between 1325 and 1470 in almost every kingdom of Western Christendom, and played an important part in the l…

Orders of lay knights – the most famous of which are those of the Garter and the Golden Fleece – were founded at some time between 1325 and 1470 in almost every kingdom of Western Christendom, and played an important part in the life of the court. Jonathan Boulton defines the `monarchical’ orders as those with corporate statues which attached the presidential office to the crown of the princely founder, or made it hereditary in his house. Modelled either directly or indirectly on the fictional society of the Round Table, they incorporated varying numbers of elements borrowed from the older religious orders of knighthood and from contemporary institutions. This study explores the nature and history of thirteen orders, and reveals them as not only an ingenious supplement to (or replacement for) the feudo-vassalic ties that still bound the leading members of the nobility to their sovereign, but also as the most important institutional embodiments of the secular ideals of chivalry that were at the heart of the international court culture of the age. JONATHAN BOULTON teaches at the University of Notre Dame.

Subreality

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