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During the Medieval era professionally trained soldiers who were of noble birth were what we call today Knights. This name comes from ancient Rome where the minor nobles held a similar title and fought in a similar manner.
There were several names for a group of knights depending upon the size of the group. A small group of knights would be called a lance fournie or equipped lance. While a lance of knights was a small group, a large group of knights would be called an order of knights.
The name of the group of knights depended upon how large the group was. Below is an outline of how these groups differed and how they were led.
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Without further ado, here is what a group of medieval knights was called.
A Small Group of Knights Was Called A Lance Fournie or “Equiped Lance”
A small group of knights was called a lance. This lance was the modern equivalent of a military unit.
Each Lance of knights in medieval Europe consisted of four types of members. First, was the knights themselves. Second, were lighter less Nobile cavalry called Men-at-Arms. Third, was a mixture of lower class infantry units consisting of infantry, archers, and pikes. Fourth, was the young service members who cared for the military equipment and horses.
As such each medieval lance of knights would be a self contained small army. Often a knight would field a lance from his fief’s when summoned by a lord or monarch.
As the medieval era progressed the size of these lances became larger. By the end of the medieval era in the 16th century a lance could come to resemble an entire army in size.
Multiple lance’s would be stacked together by a monarch or lord to create the medieval army. Each band of knights would come from a certain town or village. This town/village would also provide the 3 other types of service members who would help the knights while in the field.
As such, a small group of knights is called a lance. The size of this group could be one knight and his accompanying retinue or as large as a hundred knights and several hundred supporters.
However, this size was nothing compared to a large group of knights; an order of knights.
A Large Group of Knights Was Called An Order
Unlike a small group of knights called a lance a large group of knights was called an order.
An order of knights was all knights who belonged to a certain group of knights. This group of knights would often be banded together by a similar mission or by a monarch’s direct order.
The largest military order of knights during the medieval era was the Knights Templar which existed from 1119-1312. At its peak the knights’ templar had around 20,000 members with about 2,000 of those being fully fledged noble knights.
To give you an idea of just how massive a knights military order could be. The largest battle of knights in medieval Europe took place on the 15th of July with the Battle of Grunwald where 270 knights fought. The Knights Templar had over 2,000 knights in their order.
Each order of knights had a grandmaster who controlled the order. This grandmaster was given the title often by a monarch or by the pope themselves. Once given a royal order to build their order, knights would go around recruiting other noble lords to build up their ability to field a lance.
As such, a large group of knights would be called a military order of knights. This order was led by a grandmaster who would recruit and direct his knights to build up their individual lances before going into the field.
Do Any Medieval Groups Of Knights Exist Today?
Each of these military orders of knights have transitioned to providing support for people worldwide. The Knights Hospitaller for example employees over 42,000 doctors and nurses to help cure and treat sick people in over 112 states/nations.
It is still possible to join these military orders to this day. Often it requires having an invitation from a current member or having obtained considerable merit during the application’s lifetime.
However, the modern order of knights have long ago shed their military role. Instead they have transitioned to providing support.
There you have it, an entire article going over what a group of medieval knights was called.
Medieval knights remain a fascinating subject of study. Prospective graduate students of history will find substantial material on potential research subjects within the concept of medieval knights.
Here at The History Ace I strive to publish the best history articles on the internet. If you enjoyed this article then consider subscribing to the free newsletter and sharing around.
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