at this picture. What do you see? Not as in the metal, nor the armor,
but beyond that. Do you seen the blood of thousands of warriors who died
in defense of their cause? The valor of shining knights marching to their
doom? The hearts of romantics who cast off all hope of acquiring a mate
after rejected by their first true love?
Few people see this, and it
is to be expected. After what the legacy of the paladins has degenerated
to in modern life, the sacred office of paladinhood is not as respected
nor feared as it was in times long past. A suit of armor such as the gothic
full plate mail pictured here would force most peasants and lower gentry
onto their knees in a show of respect to its bearer. Not today, however.
A nod in recognition of great deeds once done is all that a great warrior
gets from scholars today. They sacrificed their lives for a great cause,
and they are due their respect. This page is a tribute to the legacy of
the paladin. In this section, I hope to teach, enlighten, and maybe bestow
upon you a semblance of recognition of those who gave their lives for
this most noble cause.
The Paladin - Where did it come from?
After the conquest of England
in 1066 at the Battle of Hastings, the ruler of England, William
the Conqueror, brought about the
monarchial system in order to expand his empire while
simultaneously maintaining full command
without peer. In order to do this, he brought with him a
number of French peasants known as
the cniht. The cniht were crude in mannerism and
appearance, but were given respect
to their ornate and powerful armors, and excellent skill with
horsemanship, an ability held in
regard. At the advent of the feudal system, the need for skilled
soldiers to protect the sovereign
lands that the king leased to his lords grew, the cniht were
considered ideal for this position
and were granted estates, properties, farmland, and peasant
labor as pay. This elevated the status
of the knights to upper-class gentry.
The knights' social status reached its peak when, in the 11th century,
the church gave its official
sanction to the knights and declared
that the order of knighthood was a sacred office, and made
the ordainment of new knights into
a holy ritual. This, done out of a need to promote order in a
time of despair and chaos, bestowed
upon the knights new responsibilities, formally defined in
the code of chivalry: a set of principles
based on religious ideals. While still the lowest of the
upper classes, the knight now epitomized
the highest standards of moral behavior and was
admired by peasants and royalty alike.
The Paladin - What is it?
The Paladin originated far prior
to the advent of the knight, though this may seem
contradictory. In the 8th century
AD, the militant-ruler Charlemagne created the Twelve
Paladins of Charlemagne, a group
of twelve powerful soldiers who commanded Charlemagne's
troops and protected him from bodily
harm. The most famous, a paladin named Roland, was
immortalized in the Song of Roland,
a poem depicting his epic death while holding off enemy
forces to allow Charlemagne more
time to retaliate.
However, the knightly orders that held themselves to what we now call
the Chivalric Code
began during the Crusades, in the
11th century AD. The first order of Paladins were formed
when knights stormed into Italy en
route to the Holy Land. Having already fought battles with
indigenous peoples, a small number
of warriors and pilgrims stayed behind to have their
wounds tended by a monk named Gerard.
Gerard had formed hospitals and shrines in order to
tend these men, and in thanks for
Gerard's healing, they formed the Knights Hospitaler,
comprised of monks and knights who
healed their wounded as well as fought. Another
Paladinic order was formed when a
group of 8 badly wounded warriors took refuge in the
castle of King Baldwin I, ruler of
Jerusalem. Having stationed them in the Jewish Temple, they
formed a knightly order known as
the Knights Templar.
Being the most famous and powerful, the Knights Templar are looked upon
as the first
Paladinic order, as we envision it
in our minds. They fought for duty and deity, maintaining their
devotion without coercion or expectation
of reward, idealizing righteousness in their behavior.
Through their endeavors, the 20,000
Knights Templar gained substantial amounts of money
from their sponsors. However, in
1307, King Philip the Fair accused the Knights Templar of
heresy and tortured many of their
high officials, forcing them to confess to false crimes. Using
this as a evidence, Philip disbanded
the Knights Templar and seized their wealth to add to his
Code of Chivalry
Though almost completely without
practical application today, the Code of Chivalry (along with
its counterparts around the world)
was the single source that defined the expected daily
behavior of knights.
The Rules of Courtly Love
Via the revival of chivalry in
the mid-Renaissance and Enlightenment periods, the rules of
courtly love were created in order
to bring chivalry into everyday life as well as the battlefield.
Courtly love is the bond that forms
between two people outside of marriage, where the bond of
love is based on emotion, and not
the bonds of duty and obligation that marriage bestows.
Paladins in the past
Personally venerating the office
of paladinhood, I have decided to compile a list of all of the
paladins that were and are, both
in reality and in fiction. Of course, this list is by no means
complete, so if you notice any inconsistencies
or would like to add a name, please email me.
Why is he/she a paladin?
||Though too involved in keeping the peace in Camelot
(leading to the scheduled execution of his wife), Arthur was chosen
by Merlin (who wielded divine power) to wield Excalibur, and in that
right could be considered a paladin, though there is still some doubt.
||I know, he committed adultery with Guinevere, but it
was in the name of true love, and courtly love is one of the most
sacred things of all. He did vow to protect King Arthur, and held
to that vow until he left with Guinevere.
||Vowed to protect King Arthur, was unparalleled in combat,
and retrieved the Holy Grail in order to please his Church. What needs
to be said?
||One of the 12 Peers of Charlemagne, Roland is already
mentioned earlier on. Read his song if you need a reason as to why
he's on this list.
||Fought against insurmountable odds in order to free
his true love, among other things.
||Fought for Church and country in order to liberate that
which she held to dear. Though there is no actual reference of her
following the rules of chivalry, she did end up giving her life to
strengthen her cause; an act that cannot go unnoticed.
||An ardent Christian, Richard I led a crusade to reclaim
the Holy Land from the Ottoman Turks. He shows them no mercy and does
not hesitate to send in the Knights Templar and the Knights Hospitaler
when faced by the enemy. He showed great care to his troops in the
siege of Jerusalem and proved himself righteous.
||A powerful fighter and a zealous follower of Islam,
Saladin tried to merge all of the cultures that he encountered into
a great empire. He brought good to his people and showed great devotion
to his cause. He answered only to Allah and his conscience, thus making
him an ideal candidate for paladinhood.