Knights and knighthood in Tudor England
By Harry Leonard
PhD Dissertation, Queen Mary, University of London, 1970
Introduction: Studies of groups within Tudor society have multiplied in recent years. The aristocracy has received monumental coverage from the pens of Professor Stone and Miss Helen Miller, the yeomen have found their historian in Miss Mildred Campbell, and. since H.H. Tawney, the gentry have attracted the attention of historians too numerous to cite. The Tudor knightage has not received similar attention, possibly because it has been thought unworthy of it. Such an attitude would spring naturally from the assumption, made by E.P. Cheyney that for practical purposes there was no difference between the gentleman and the knight. This assumption has received support from Drs. Ferguson and Caspari who outline the decline of the knightly ideal in contemporary literature and its replacement by that of the renaissance gentleman. Yet knights continued to be made and the excessive granting of knighthood at the end of the century caused a stir which suggests that the honour retained (or had regained), considerable social and political significance. This thesis is an attempt to determine the nature of that significance, and the degree to which it changed throughout the period, by examining the considerations which led, to the dubbing of a gentleman, the nature of the knighting ceremonies, and the role of the knight in Tudor society.