Famous Medieval Knights
There are many famous medieval knights. Here I give you a look at some of them. Some of them you will have heard of and others are less well known yet rather famous at least in their time. I have also expanded this to take a look at some very famous knights that never actually existed! Yes, there are a few knights that are famous but are only characters in books or stories. Some of these figures in history went on to become kings.
Richard the Lionheart (1157-1199)
He was the favored son of Eleanor of Aquitane and a central figure in the third crusades. He was the Duke and Lord of many various lands such as Normandy and eventually became King of England. The military battles of the third crusades are his largest claim to fame yet he never achieved his goal of recapturing Jerusalem. He is also well known for some other things including the fact that he became to be known as the first King who was also a knight. And he spent much time and resources building fortresses and castles throughout his lands.
William Wallace (Died 1305)
He is the figure now made very famous by the movie Braveheart. He was a Scottish knight and landowner who was a leading figure in the Scottish Wars for Independence. There are three notable occurrences in his life which are remembered. The first of which is that he was eventually captured and executed in a very brutal manner. He is also remembered for his famous victory in the battle of Stirling Bridge at which his forces were vastly outnumbered. And he is also remembered for his loss a year later at the Battle of Falkirk.
He was an Emperor and King who brought most of Western and Central Europe under his reign by a variety of means including military conquest. But he is not famous for just this. He was also a main force in something called the Carolingian Renaissance which changed much of Europe by bringing about a new monetary system, educational reform and a renaissance of the arts including military arts and the art of siege. He is often considered to be the father of what is now modern Europe.
Joan of Arc (1412-1431)
She was captured and executed by burning at the stake at the age of 19. She is also a national heroine in France and has been canonized a saint.
She asserted that she had visions from God directing her to free her homeland from the English. And she started out as a missionary but quickly became a military leader who lead French troops in decisive and aggressive military battles the first of which was the lifting of the siege of Orleans in only 9 days.
King Arthur (5th-6th Century?)
There is a lot of debate as to whether King Arthur actually existed. Some evidence says yes. If he truly existed it was believed to be somewhere in the 5th or early 6th century. Some evidence points to him being a soldier while other evidence points to him being a King. The first viable written evidence of his existence showed up in the 9th century in a book called "Historia Brittonum" (History Of The Britons (Historia Brittonum) ) where he was purported to have won 12 military battles. The legend of King Arthur peaked and waned over the centuries and made another strong appearance in Sir Thomas Malory's Le Morte d'Arthur which was first published in 1485. This book has been reprinted many times over the centuries but a strong and lasting fascination with Arthur took hold with another reprinting of Le Morte d'Arthur in 1816. This was part of a very strong Gothic revival. Since then the legend has firmly taken hold and only grown. Whether or not King Arthur really existed is still up for debate but his legend does live on. He is one of the most famous medieval person ever to have lived (or not!).
William the Conqueror (1028-1087)
His Normans were the last foreign force to conquer what is now Great Britain. He was King (William I) He began this conquest with the famous battle of Hastings in 1066 and in subsequent battles mostly to repress revolts and uprisings. His reign and influence had much impact on England. He brought about a lot of reform including adoption and English as the official language and adoptions of church reform. He instituted a wide plan for building castles and fortressess all over England to fortify his military strength and to control revolts and rebellions. The most famous of these buildings is the Tower of London.
More Knights that are not quite as famous as those above yet still worth a look.
Famous Knights who really didn't exist! (Fictional Knights)
You have probably heard of most of these knights but you might not know that they aren't real!
Don Quixote - This is a pretty easy one. He was a character in a pair of books by Cervantes. The books were written in 1605 and 1615. His story is that of a misguided knight who sets off on adventures that go wrong. There is a lot of irony in the stories and in the man. He thinks of himself a a gallant and brave knight yet he wears old armor and rides a skinny horse.
One of the most famous things about him is the act of fighting windmills which he believes to be terrible creatures.
Sir Lancelot - It is probably true that of all the knights I have listed here on this page Sir Lancelot is the most famous. Yet, he didn't exist except as in stories of King Arthur. He is the leading knight of the round table and he personifies bravery and chivalry. Yet he is also famous for his love affair with King Arthur's wife Guinevere.
Sir Galahad - He is another knight of Arthur's round table and he is considered to be the most pure - He is renowned for his gallantry and his purity and is often considered to be the embodiment of Jesus. He is one of three who realized the goal of obtaining the Holy Grail.
The most comprehensive book on knights and knighthood available.
The word "knight" conjures up images of gallant men in gleaming armor astride noble steeds, searching for foes to fight and fair maidens to rescue. In Knights the reality of knighthood is detailed, warts and all. This handsome reference tells the true story of these mounted warriors, who evolved from simple soldiers on horseback to defenders of the faith during the Crusades.
I have lots of interesting articles about knights, their weapons and their organizations right here: Articles about Knights