Weird History
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Facts About Medieval Knights We Just Learned That Made Us Say 'Really?'

Updated September 7, 2021 8.6k votes 1.7k voters 317.8k views13 items

List RulesVote up the facts about medieval knights you wish you'd known centuries ago.

Knights were dedicated soldiers in the Middle Ages known for their clunky full-body armor and chivalrous attitude. A lot of the information that's currently out there about knights, though, may be a little misleading. Were their suits of armor outrageously heavy? Were women ever allowed to carry on the duties knights had? Who were the Knights Templar?

The answers may be surprising; we wish we'd known about these medieval knights facts ages ago.

  • 9

    Military Salutes May Have Started Because Of Knights

    From a former Redditor:

    TIL that saluting in the military originated from medieval knights lifting up their visors with their right hand as a way to show the other person a sign of peace.

    Context: Although tracing the origin of saluting others is difficult to trace, some information indicates the tradition began in medieval times with knights. The idea behind the tradition is that as knights attempted to identify themselves, they lifted their visors, which resembles today's salute. 

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  • 10

    Some Knights Were Held For Ransom

    From Redditor u/sirabai:

    TIL In medieval times, it was a common practice [o]n the battlefield to NOT kill warriors who wore particularly strong armor. Such warriors were captured instead... then a ransom was demanded, because only "well off" warriors wore such good armor.

    Context: Armor, though popular among more than just knights, was often an indication of wealth. While in battle, if a suit of armor was seen as highly valuable, opponents were known to merely capture the knight rather than attempt to slay him. They would then hold the knight for ransom because they believed that if his gear was so nice, he was probably highly regarded back home, and the armor would therefore bring in a healthy sum.

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  • 11

    Art Showing Medieval Knights Fighting Snails Was Common

    From a Redditor:

    TIL Many medieval texts contain graphical commentary such as drawings of heroic knights fighting giant snails. Many have lost their cultural context, and historians can only speculate as to their original meaning.

    Context: Many drawings through multiple centuries feature knights in full armor fighting snails, which is truly puzzling. Some of the potential backstories include social oppression or the inevitability of death. Ultimately, there's little if any text explaining why there are so many depictions of this seemingly silly battle. 

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  • 12

    Korean Flower Knights Were Inspired By Women

    From a former Redditor:

    TIL of Korea's unique knighthood system. Originally an order of female warriors called Wonhwa, or Flower Girls, they were reformed into an all-male order after the assassination of... [their leaders]. They kept the name... called Hwarang, or Flower Knights.

    Context: The Hwarang, founded in the sixth century, grew out of a female order known as the Wonhwa. The "original" Flowers were led by two powerful women who were eventually slain. In the Wonhwa's wake, the Hwarang was founded, but admitted only men. It was essentially a military organization that also had religious and educational purposes. 

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