November 1, 2022, by ahzsa
A Hard Day’s Knight: Matt Hefferan’s new monograph
It was common in medieval Europe for kings to retain a number of household knights in their personal service. Doing so provided them with a small group of loyal servants who could perform a variety of valuable functions at the king’s command. In my recent book, I focus on the household knights of one of late-medieval England’s longest-reigning and most successful monarchs, Edward III, to ask three fundamental questions of this often under-studies and under-appreciated group: who was chosen to serve as a household knight? What did they do? And how were they rewarded for their time in service? In answer to these questions, my research found that these hardened soldiers, of whom there were usually about 30 at any one time, were often recruited from a select group of families with a track-record of royal service, or else because they were distinguished warriors. Similarly, I found that these knights permeated almost all aspects of a medieval monarch’s reign: they assisted in the raising and equipping of royal armies; they offered leadership for these armies once on campaign; they acted as trusted councillors and administrators at the centre of government; and they maintained the king’s authority and landed interests throughout his kingdom. Studying this group thus took me to the heart of key question about the ways in which wars were fought and kingdoms ruled in late medieval Europe and enabled me to provide a more nuanced picture of late medieval kingship than was previously possible.
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