Knighthood

The accolade: a touch on a person’s shoulders with a sword at the bestowing of knighthood.

The accolade is also known as dubbing or adoubement, and is the ceremony in which a squire, or any other worthy candidate, becomes a knight. Becoming a knight use to be a simple process, however, as it became more Christianized it became more of a ceremony.

This ceremony was very important and had a lot of symbolic significance. It focused on three important aspects of knighthood: religion, allegiance to the King, and the code of chivalry. And it often lasted three days. It was usually held during an important time, like at a great feast during the holidays or at the wedding of nobles.

The ceremony begins the night before, when the knight-to-be goes off by himself and spends the night praying and fasting. Sometimes the the subject will go to a house a prayer and stay at the altar while others pray over him. He wears a white tunic to symbolize purity and a red cloak to symbolize royalty. On the morning of the ceremony he bathes to symbolize a new purity.

The tap on the shoulder with the sword is accepted to be the point at which the title is awarded.

During the ceremony, the knight kneels at the altar, where the sword and shield are placed. He then hears a sermon on the duties of a knight. His sponsor, often another knight or lord, would give gifts such as spurs, a shield, a sword, and sometimes armor. Each of these gifts had symbolic significance. His sponsor would take up the sword and shield and hand them over to the lord conducting the ceremony. The knight would take his vow and swear his oath of allegiance. The oath of knighthood was thought to be very sacred, and breaking it had divine consequences, such as eternal damnation. Lastly, the lord, or even the king, would announce the subject a knight. He would use the sword and tap the flat side on the shoulders of the knight. This essential part of the knighthood ceremony is called the Colée. After this the knight would have the title “Sir”

After the knight was named a knight, there would be much celebration. There would be music, dancing, and a feast with the king and other knights. On the day after the ceremony there would often be a tournament for the new knight and his peers to show off their combat skills and abilities with weapons.

Sources:

Alchin, Linda. “Knighthood Ceremony.” Medieval Life and times. Siteseen, 2014. Web.

“About The Ceremony of Knighthood.” Knight Medieval. Kalif Publishing, 2014. Web.