Secular Knight Ranks
As established by a noble or secular organization.
Page - A young boy serving as an attendant to a knight, noble, or royalty for seven years, from the ages of seven to fourteen. In addition to serving as a personal attendant, the page would be instructed in cleanliness, courtesy, dancing, manners, playing a musical instrument (typically a lute), reading, religion, and singing.
Squire - At age fourteen, a page could graduate to become a squire, and by age twenty-one, perhaps a knight himself. As an apprentice man-at-arms the squire would serve as the knight’s personal servant, taking care of his masters armor, equipment and horse, and he was expected to follow his master into battle, attending to him if he fell in battle. In exchange for these services, the knight trained the squire in the use of arms, tactics, and the code of chivalry.
Esquire - Gentry who rank socially above a gentleman but below a knight, such as the eldest sons of knights.
Man-at-Arms - Man-at-arms (also known as armsman) is a term for a professional soldier serving in a knight’s or lord’s retinue who were trained in the use of arms and well equipped, but not knighted.
Serjeant - The next "step up" from the man-at-arms is the serjeant, a man of lesser rank and wealth to a knight, but with comparable equipment and training.
Knight - A professional fighting man, who was expected to be self-sufficient from the proceeds of the fief, to support his family, arm himself, stable a war horse, pay his own taxes and duties, and keep up his appearance of gentility as a member of the noble (fighting) class.Accolade (dubbing)
The accolade, more commonly known as "dubbing," is the ceremony where knighthood is granted. There are some variations in the ceremony, depending on the royal or clerical traditions. In a royal ceremony the prospective knight would kneel before the monarch on a knighting-stool, the monarch would then bestow an indication of knighthood upon the knight-to-be. This indication originally took the form of a forceful box to the ear, but later evolved into being stricken on both shoulders with the palm of the hand. Later this indication developed into a gentle stroke with the flat of a sword blade on both shoulders (and later still to an embrace about the neck). After the indication of knighthood, the newly knighted candidate would rise to receive the insignia of the order into which he had been appointed from the king or queen. In addition, the new knight was presented with a gold chain or gold spurs as a sign of his status, and would have his sword buclked on him with a white belt. Knights who swore allegiance to a liege lord would also be provided with a fief or equivalent amount of money in order to support themselves in service of their lord. Other knights would be sworn into an order of chivalry, which maintained their support. While clerical ceremonies were generally similar to the initiation ceremony of royalty, the candidate usually prefaced the accolade by taking a purifying bath, standing a vigil all night in a church, and being blessed by the priest performing the ceremony.
Knight-Errant - Not all knights took service with a lord or order of chivlary. "Errant," meaning wandering or roving, indicates how the knight-errant would typically wander the land in search of adventures to prove himself as a knight, such as in a pas d’Armes.
Knight Bachelor - Knight Bachelor refers to a man who has been knighted by the monarch but not as a member of one of the organized orders of chivalry.
Knight Banneret - A knight who leads a company of troops during time of war under his own banner (which was square-shaped, in contrast to the tapering standard or the pennon flown by the lower-ranking knights) and is eligible to bear supporters in heraldry.
Knight Lieutenant - A man who has been knighted and is the junior-most member of a chivalric order.
Knight Commander - Senior to Knight Lieutenant, but junior to Knight Grand Commander. Insignia include a breast star, a badge, and a ribbon.
Knight Grand Commander - Senior to Knight Commander, but junior to Knight Grand Commander
Knight Grand Cross - A senior grade of the orders of chivalry. Knights (or Dames) Grand Cross are entitled to wear a ceremonial uniform, which may include a mantle, a hat, and a gold collar. Other insignia include a breast star, a badge, and a ribbon.
Knight Marshal - The highest knightly rank.
For females, the term "Dame" is used instead of Knight.
Military-Monastic Knight Ranks
As established by a church or religion. The three types given below are based on the type of regional headquarters each order uses.
TYPE I: Preceptory
Novice - Novitiate, alt. noviciate, is the period of training and preparation that a novice (or prospective) monastic or member of a religious order undergoes prior to taking vows in order to discern whether they are called to the religious life.
Gentleman Valet/Squire - See Squire, above.
Sergeant(-Brother) - Low-born (as opposed to nobly-born knights) members of the order. They were either equipped as light cavalry with a single horse, or served in other ways such as administering the property of the order or performing menial tasks and trades.
Confrater/Confrere - The term used for knights within a preceptory.
Chaplain(-Brother) - Ordained priests who saw to the order’s spiritual needs.
Preceptor - A Preceptor was historically in charge of a Preceptory, the headquarters of certain orders of monastic Knights, such as the Knights Hospitaller and Knights Templar, within a given geographical area. The Preceptor had supreme control of his brethren and only answerable to the Grand Master of his particular order.
Grand Preceptor - A senior preceptor in charge of the preceptories within a certain geographical area.
Master of the Order - Head of the order within a particular country.
Grand Master - The title of the supreme head of various orders of knighthood, including military orders, various religious orders, and some sectarian orders.
TYPE II: Commandery
Novice - As above.
Armiger/Armor-Bearer - An armiger is a person entitled to use a coat of arms. Such a person is said to be armigerous. Originally an armiger was an Armour-Bearer, attendant upon a Knight, but bearing his own unique armorial device.
Knight of Devotion, Grace & Devotion, Magistral Grace (3rd Rank) - Knights without noble proofs, may make the Promise of Obedience and may, at the discretion of the Grand Master and Sovereign Council, enter the novitiate to become professed Knights of Justice.
Knight of Obedience (2nd Rank) - Unlike those professed chaplains and knights who take vows of chastity, poverty and obedience these Knights and Dames, make a promise of obedience. The rank is often instituted as a result of wars where not enough professed knights required for the Order to strengthen its religious and spiritual character. The Knights and Dames in Obedience make a promise to live as perfect clergy. The Knights wear a scapular over their choir dress.
Knight of Justice (1st Rank) - Monastic knights practicing the triple vow of poverty, chastity and obedience, although seldom living in monastic community.
Commander - A Commander was historically in charge of a Commandery, the headquarters of certain orders of monastic Knights, such as the Order of Knights of St. John of Jerusalem, Order of Malta, or Order of Teutonic Knights, within a given geographical area.
Grand Treasurer - Minister of Finance who directs the administration of the finances and property of the Order.
Grand Hospitaller - Responsibilities include the offices of Minister for Humanitarian Action and Minister for International Cooperation. He coordinates the Order’s humanitarian and charitable activities.
Grand Chancellor - The office includes those of the Ministry of the Interior and Ministry of Foreign Affairs, is the head of the executive branch. He is responsible for the Diplomatic Missions of the Order and relations with the national Associations
Grand Commander - The chief religious officer of the Order and serves as "Interim Lieutenant" during a vacancy in the office of Grand Master.
Grand-Master - As above.
TYPE III: Priory
Man-at-arms-Brethren - Light cavalry of the order. As Man-at-arms above.
Knight-Brethren - Heavy cavalry of the order. As Knight above.
Circa (Circator) - Officers assigned to make the rounds of the monastery to see whether anything was amiss and whether the brethren were intent on the work allotted to them respectively. He had no authority to correct or punish the brethren, but was to report to the grand prior whatever he found amiss or contrary to the rules.
Subprior - Assistant to the prior, abbot, or master general.
Prior - A Prior was historically in charge of a Priory, the headquarters of certain orders of monastic Knights, such as the Order of Saint Lazarus and the Order of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Knights of Saint Mary), within a given geographical area.
Grand Prior (Prior Major/Greater Prior) - Senior prior who assists the Master General, functioning as a second in command.
Master General - The superior of certain monastic orders of chivalry, equivalent to a Grand Master.
ALTERNATIVES TO THE WORD "KNIGHT"
Ritter (German), Chevalier (French), Caballero (Spanish), Cavlaiere (Italian), Eques (Latin), Ridder (Scandinavian/Norse), Hippotis (Greek), Rytir (Czech), Rytier (Slovak), Aatelinen/Ritari (Finnish), Rycerz (Polish), Rytsar (Russian), Bogatyr (Kievan Rus), Vitez (Slovene/Croat/Serb)
RELATED TERMS FOR "KNIGHT"
Samurai (Japanese), Xia (Chinese), Kshatriya (Indian), Mamluk (Abbasid)