Knights in Shining Armor – What Did They Do?

The knights in shining armor is commonly used to refer to the medieval knights who had special place in the society, and had the obligation of saving women in distress in a courteous and gallant manner. The phrase is associated with the works of those Victorian painters and novelists enthralled by the chivalrous ideal of an imagined Camelot court, but armor used to be worn by the knights, and the one put on by the high nobility and the royalty was well polished and was in fact shining and gleaming.

One of the popular references of “knights in shining armor” could be dated to the 18th century based on Henry Pye’s poem, and many of the ones in the 19th century had citations describing imaginary knights on horses, rescuing the defenseless women. The medieval knight was a fighter, wooing ladies, but without seducing them deliberately, behaving honorably and using his sword to save the day. At the same time, any hero with similar behavior was also referred to as a knight in shining armor.

The Medieval Knight

Certain things were peculiar to the good medieval knights – they were honor, self-control, chivalry, and chastity in some cases. Given to delivering the face of the woman from false accusations or rescuing her when in distress, the knight was respected and was frequently a victim of the Dulcinea Effect – which was the strange compulsion of the heroes quest for, to champion, and in some cases die for the women whom he met some minutes earlier.

These were the popular people regarded as knights in shining armor in those days:

  1. Saint George – this was the soldier in the Guard of Diocletian, and a Roman soldier from Syria Palaestina. Due to his good reputation, he is still regarded as one of the highly respected saints in the Anglican, Catholic (Eastern and Western Rites), Eastern Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox churches.
  2. Sir Bedivere – This knight had two children, Amren and Eneuawc, and according to Welsh legend, was associated with King Arthur.
  3. Sir Geraint – Live before or during the reign of King Arthur.
  4. Sir Lamorak – He had a complicated family, and was involved in a blood feud with the family of Lot, and some historians believe that he had romance with Morgause, Lot’s widow.
  5. Sir Mordred – Generally known as the illegitimate son of King Arthur through Morgause, the the half sister of the king. Being a traitor, waged war against his father, fighting him at the Battle of Camlann.
  6. Sir Sagramore – This knight was very popular, being the son of the king of Hungary.
  7. Sir Lancelot – He is believed to have had a dubious loyalty to the King, and the was involved in searching for the Holy Grail.
  8. Sir Griflet – He was the cousin to Sir Lucan and Sir Bedivere, and the son of Do (sometimes Don). He was also one of the first allies of King Arthur.
  9. King Pellinore – This king was enchanted by Merlin in order for King Arthur to be protected.
  10. Sir Gareth – Before becoming a knight, he worked as a kitchen boy at the palace, and was looked down upon by Kay.
  11. Sir Kay – This was the adopted brother of King Arthur.
  12.  Gawain – It is believed that Gawain was courteous, formidable and as well a brash warrior, with complete loyalty to the king and the family of the king. To many young knights, he was a friend, a defender of the poor, and a defender of women, making him to be given the title of “the Maidens’ Knight”. He was a great healer through his knowledge of herbs, and believed to have had at least three children – Gingalain, Lovell and Florence.

According to early writings, he was the perfect or the ideal knight, against whom others knights were compared. However, he lost that ranking when he was involved with French romances, making other heroes like Lancelot, Perceval, Galahad and Tristan to have an upper hand over him. French writers regarded him as a womanizer and an anti-hero; a treacherous and ruthless knight, especially during the period of the Prose Tristan and Merlin Continuation.

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