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20 Responses

  1. Steve at |

    A well-written list, and very interesting!

    Reply
  2. Dan at |

    Richard the Lionheart died in battle due to an arrow from an average peasant… he did NOT die a captive…

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    1. Xavier at |

      A child nonetheless! Also, he was extremely reckless and not at all that honorable.

      Reply
  3. Tom at |

    Great list!

    Reply
  4. Diablo135 at |

    I have to say, this article wasa extremely well written…a nice change of pace on the Internet. I ran across it while suring. Very interesting.

    I thought the Lionheart died from a crossbow wound too?

    Dr. Ostryzniuk, if you read this, can you clear that up?

    Reply
    1. Dan at |

      I’m not the man you requested, but it is WELL hystorically documented he died from a (arrow/crossbow?) to the chest while surveying a besiged fort. He was well known to “lead from the front” and frequently surveyed the front of sieges to moralize his men. On his death beath, he pardoned the peasant who shot him from execution, who was later killed anyway. This is all easily googled and documented. I really enjoyed this article, but the bewilderingly innaccurate information for Richard has forced me to now question all I read on these awesome sites lol

      Reply
  5. Libra at |

    You omitted the greatest knight of all–Jean Parisot de la Valette who in 15 65 as Grand Master of the Kingts Hospitaller sucessfully fought off the Turkish siege of Malta against a force of almost 50,000 with about 6,000, many of whom were civilians. Valletta the capital of Malta is named for him. Valette was 70 years at the time.

    Reply
    1. merl at |

      They do that all of the time. He could have filled out the list with actual people instead of tossing in fictional ones.

      Reply
  6. Steven M. Forgette at |

    In my opinion, one of the greatest Knights who ever lived was ‘The Chevalier Bayard, (Pierre Turrail). He did not make your list. He was a real Knight and was considered to be one of the last ‘True Knights.’ If you do just a little bit of reaearch on his life, I think that you will find it as fascinating as I did. As far as I am concerned, he ranks right up there with ‘ Sir William Marshal.’

    Reply
  7. Steven M. Forgette at |

    Just a little correction and some information. The Chevalier Bayard name was Pierre Terail. He was born in 1476 and was killed in battle in 1524. He fought in many battles and was considered to be among the most ‘Truly Chivalrous’ of Knights. He was so well renowned that the King of France, request that he receive his own Knighthood from this most gallant Knight. He was known as ‘The Knight without Fear and above Reproach.’ However, he himself preferred the more humble title of simply, Le bon Chevalier or ‘The Good Knight.’

    Reply
  8. Nigel at |

    Your information on Richard the Lionheart is wayyyyyy off.
    He was king when he left on the crusade
    He was captured and ransomed for an astronomical fortune by Leopold
    He returned to England as King. But died not long after, as others pointed out after being shot by a crossbow bolt during the siege of a relatively minor castle in Northern France (most of which was occupied by the English at the time).

    This is all very common knowledge.

    I’m baffled where you go the idea he went on crusade due to fear or his father or the dying in captivity part!

    Reply
    1. merl at |

      A minor castle with a lot of loot.

      Reply
  9. Jacco at |

    Godfrey of Bouillon is Belgian, not French. Just saying

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    1. Alice at |

      he is Belgian. I got marked down on my essay because I wrote he was French.

      Reply
  10. merl at |

    Instead of mentioning fictional characters, you could have filled out this list with at least two of the Sires DeCoucy, Enguerrand the III and Raoul the I

    Reply
  11. Jay at |

    Zawisza Czarny z Garbowa (Zawisza the Black of Garbów, also known as the Black Knight; c. 1379 in Stary Garbów, Poland – 1428 in Golubac, Serbian Despotate), Sulima Coat of Arms, was a Polish knight and nobleman. He served as a soldier and diplomat under the Polish king W?adys?aw II and Hungarian-Bohemian king Sigismund of Luxembourg. During his life, he was regarded as a model of knightly virtues and was renowned for winning multiple tournaments. His nickname is due to his black hair and his custom-made, black armor, which is kept at the Jasna Góra Monastery.

    Reply
  12. Baba at |

    No Robert the Bruce? Surely he should be on that list.

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  13. Thormod Morrisson at |

    I find it hard to believe that Robert the Bruce is not in this list, as he was recognised even by his enemies as ‘the foremost knight in Christendom.’

    Reply
  14. Aras at |

    greatest knight is Zawisza Czarny

    Reply
  15. Geoffrey Tobin at |

    There are many contenders for this title, but I humbly submit Count Alan Rufus (c. 1040-1093), a male-line descendant of the famous Counts of Vannes in Brittany.

    Alan’s feats include orchestrating the feints and cavalry charges that won the day at Hastings, and saving the prone William the Conqueror’s life from Harold’s brother Gyrth (for which he was awarded 28 manors that had been Gyrth’s, the same number that the King took for himself). The Conqueror’s chaplain William of Poitiers didn’t mention this, because (1) he was in Normandy at the time, (2) his purpose was to inflate the king’s ego, and (3) he hated Bretons.

    In every rebellion that wracked Norman England, Alan loyally supported the King and won many victories against the English, his fellow Bretons and Normans alike.

    At the commencement of the Siege of Sainte Suzanne in about 1083 during the campaign to reconquer Maine, King William became distracted by important matters elsewhere and left Alan with orders to continue the siege with some 200 troops of the royal household against 300 defenders in the impregnable castle. Alan’s men were beset by ambitious knights from all over France (“from Aquitaine to Burgundy”) who rushed to Sainte Suzanne to prove their mettle. Disgracefully, King William left his most loyal soldiers to fend for themselves in this impossible situation for three (3) years!

    After many of William’s best knights had perished, the siege was resolved diplomatically. Alan returned to England, where he was one of the prime movers behind the Domesday survey – his name appears prominently on every surviving document to do with it – except Exeter Domesday where Alan was likely a Commissioner. The Great Domesday Book was written by a scribe employed by William de St-Calais, the Bishop of Durham, who was one of Alan’s tenants.

    Alan firmly excluded Normans from his lands in northern England, and before William’s last expedition against France, he brought the King up to York to apologise in person for the harm the Normans had done in 1068, 1069, 1070 and 1080.

    After William II succeeded to the throne of England, Alan persuaded him to bring the royal court to York to witness the foundation of St Mary’s Abbey, which he had devised as a gesture of goodwill to the English and a statement of Norman remorse. Bishop Odo of Bayeux, the most rapacious of Normans, reacted by leading most of the Norman barons, including all of the strongest and richest ones, in a nationwide revolt to depose the King in favour of his brother Robert “Curthose”, Duke of Normandy. They ravaged the royal estates and soon had the King bottled up near London. Alan responded by sweeping through the eastern counties, defeating baron after baron until he reached the king. He then advised the king to call on the English to rise up, in return for better laws and reduced, fairer taxes (similar to the ones that Alan had already instituted on his own lands). William II was not popular with the Bishops, but Alan was, so the English church also answered the call. After a series of hard battles and sieges, and the capture of a fleet from Normandy, the rebels were all defeated, and Alan emerged as the most powerful man in England. Despite the obvious advantages in taking all the rebels’ lands, Alan urged clemency and the reinstatement of all except Bishop Odo, whose death sentence was commuted to exile for life.

    St-Calais had abandoned the royal army in its bleakest hour, to defend his own lands, so when the dust settled Alan was sent up to arrest him. At court, however, Alan, true to his other vocation as an eminent lawyer, defended the St-Calais’s right to a fair trial and warned William II not to intimidate witnesses, otherwise “I would believe myself obliged to cease all service to the King”. After months of deliberation, William II finally agreed to Alan escorting St-Calais to Southampton to take ship for exile in Normandy. This was a clever idea, because St-Calais contended with Bishop Odo for influence, thus confounding Duke Robert’s plans.

    St-Calais did so well that William II invaded Normandy in 1091 and restored him to his previous titles and lands. For Alan excelled at diplomacy as well as military tactics and strategy.

    Alan founded the great medieval port of Boston in Lincolnshire, from which Boston in Massachusetts was founded.

    Alan died on 4 August 1093, perhaps in the London conflagration of that summer. The Roman road from London to York, Ermine Street – ermine being the symbol of Brittany – is named literally in his honour: the vast collection of estates collectively known as the Honour of Brittany. His Breton name was “Alan ar-Rouz”, so he is remembered in the motto of the Dukes of Richmond, “I flourish in the rose”, and also in the coat-of-arms of the University of Cambridge which bears a cross of ermine . It’s from Cambridge that Harvard University was founded.

    Several of the other contenders for “greatest knight” owe Alan a great debt. For example William Marshal was trained and knighted by William de Tancarville, a grandson of Count Stephen, who was Alan’s youngest brother and heir to his estates.

    Reply

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