Kastelburg is a medieval castle ruine overlooking Waldkich. The tradition of knighthood and historical warriors fighting in their amour is stil kept alive during medival festivals in Waldkirch.

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     In former times, a knight was a warrior who followed a nobleman or a nobleman who followed a king. Initially nobility descended from chivalry in the feudal stage of the development of a society in Elztal. Originally, knights were mounted warriors who swore allegiance to their sovereign and promised to fight for him in exchange for allocation of land.

     In the modern era, in countries where the nobility was the dominant class, the bourgeoisie gradually grew in power; a rich city merchant was more influential than a minor countryside nobleman.

     The old nobility of military origin became increasingly irritated by this newer noblesse. The nobility of a person might be either inherited or earned. Nobility in its most general sense is hereditary, i.e., male descendants of nobles are nobles, unless stripped of the privilege.

     Nobles typically commanded resources, such as food, money, or labor, from common members or nobles of lower rank of their societies, and could exercise religious or political power over them. Also, nobles typically, but not necessarily were entitled to land property, which was reflected in the title. For example, the title Herzog von Baden tells about property. However all the above is not obligatory; quite often nobility was associated only with social respect and certain social privileges.

     Although the roots of the word knight are connected to the Old English "cniht", meaning boy, or German "Knecht", servant, the ideas of knighthood are argued by many to be tied to the Romans. While a knight was the servant of The Crown and of God he was also very often a wealthy junior nobleman.

     During the middle ages, the term knight referred to a mounted and armoured soldier. Originally, knights were warriors on horse-back, but the title became increasingly connected to nobility and social status.

Knights 5

     Knighthood eventually became a formal title bestowed on those noblemen trained for active war duty. At the beginning of the knight's history, horsed soldiers were not so important in war; instead, foot soldiers were the main fighting force.

     Later, as invaders kept attacking the lands, the knight became more and more important in obtaining victory. Invading armies had cavalry, and foot soldiers found it increasingly difficult to maneuver against their superior forces; as a result, knights were needed in battle, and the knights were born.

     Knighthood was closely connected with the feudal system, a social organisation in which protection of the common people became the skill of a selected group. Instead of having them to pay in cash, they were paid in land. The knights were economically supported by peasants who worked to produce food. Sometimes these knights were the nobles themselves and sometimes men they hired. In times of war or national disorder the monarch would typically call all the knights together to do their fighting.

     As time went by, rulers started to prefer permanent armies because they could be used for longer periods of time, were more professional and were generally more loyal. This move from knights to standing armies had two important outcomes: the regular payment to monarchs by noblemen i.e., giving money instead of actually going to fight as a knight which can be regarded as modern form of taxation, and a decrease in military discipline in knights, who became more interested in their country estates including arts and sports.


     Originally, it was generally considered prestigious to be dubbed knight by the sword of a royal; monarchs had the exclusive right to confer knighthoods. By about the late 13th century, a code of conduct and uniformity of dress for knights began to evolve. Knights were eligible to wear a white belt and golden spurs as signs of their status. Moreover, knights were also required to swear allegiance.

     A knight was to follow a strict set of rules of conduct. The ideals of knighthood were the Knightly Virtues; the code to which they were nominally sworn was that of chivalry. These codes were largely propagated by the Church - the original knights were little more than unruly warriors. The Church promoted the ideals of chivalry, with arguable success, in an attempt to transform them into warriors for Christianity, the protectors of society. A knight often fought with a shield and a sword.

     Changes in military tactics, such as the successful use of the longbow and later use of gunpowder and guns made knight obsolete. In times of peace throughout the later Middle Ages and as late as the end of the 16th century, the role of the knight was to participate in tournaments that bore little resemblance to the bloody warfare in which the typical knight had once participated. Early tournaments were actually very similar to war. They originally included many participants battling each other at once in a chaotic mock war, though they later evolved to the popular, one-on-one fights.

     The Virtues of a Knight included the following: Being Beautiful in Spirit, Charity, Chivalry, Courage, Courtesy, Determination, Selflessness, Endurance, Faithfulness, Forgiveness, Friendliness, Happiness, Helpfulness, High Spirit, Honour, Hopefulness, Humility, Justice, Kindness, Loyalty, Mercy, Morality, Nobility, Obediency, Patience, Perseverance, Prudence, Self-Control, Sincerity, Sympathy, Truthfulness, and Wisdom.

     Chivalry was a code propagated by the Church. The Church intended to make the mounted soldiers of the Middle Ages into Christian knights who would protect society and Church interest. The word comes from the Latin "horse" to distinguish the aristocratic knight on horseback from the infantry walking with his pike. In war, the chivalrous knight was brave in battle, loyal to King and Church, and willing to sacrifice himself. Towards his fellow Christians, the knight was to be merciful, humble, and courteous. Towards ladies above all, the knight was to be gracious and gentle. The idealised relationship between knight and lady can still be found in literature, theatre, and fairytails nowadays.


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