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Grading of German knights

Page history last edited by PBworks 13 years ago

Grading of German knights


In the East Frankish, Medieval German, and other lists, some German knights are graded as Inferior. In the former case this is done on a regional basis, in the latter on type of recruitment: "Clerical or mercenary knights, ministeriales or sariants" are Regular Inferior Knights.


However the oppositon between lay lords with good free knights and clerical lords with inferior unfree ministeriales is false. Clerics had ministeriales because they generally had fewer free vassals, but they did have free vassals, and lay lords had many, many ministeriales in their service. In fact, in the late 11th-mid 13th century, ministeriales were the norm for German knighthood. Even the majority of burghers in towns (or at least a good share) were of ministerial origin.


Ministeriales were, in law, unfree; but they were called Miles like the free men, and there is no distinction drawn whatsoever in the quality of their performance, nor is there any reason that they necessarily be regular (except possibly Imperial ministeriales in the Hohenstaufen period, when they proved capable of defeating superior numbers of Italian knights. It is not therefore clear why they should be rated as "Inferior".


In the published lists some German knights are double-based, to represent deep wedge formations, from the 13th century. However there seems to be no reliable evidence for such wedges before the 15th century.

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