A knight () is a person granted an honorary title of ''knighthood'' by a monarch or other political leader for service to the Monarch or country, especially in a military capacity. Historically, in Europe, knighthood has been conferred upon mounted warriors.〔Clark, p. 1.〕 During the High Middle Ages, knighthood was considered a class of lower nobility. By the Late Middle Ages, the rank had become associated with the ideals of chivalry, a code of conduct for the perfect courtly Christian warrior. Often, a knight was a vassal who served as a fighter for a lord, with payment in the form of land holdings. The lords trusted the knights, who were skilled in battle on horseback. Since the early modern period, the title of ''knight'' is purely honorific, usually bestowed by a monarch, as in the British honours system, often for non-military service to the country. The modern female equivalent is Dame.
Historically, the ideals of chivalry were popularized in medieval literature, especially the Matter of Britain and Matter of France, the former based on Geoffrey of Monmouth's ''Historia Regum Britanniae'' ("History of the Kings of Britain"), written in the 1130s.
Sir Thomas Malory's ''Le Morte d'Arthur'' ("The Death of Arthur"), written in 1485, was important in defining the ideal of chivalry which is essential to the modern concept of the knight as an elite warrior sworn to uphold the values of faith, loyalty, courage, and honour. Furthermore, Geoffroi de Charny's "Book of Chivalry" expounded upon the importance of Christian faith in every area of a Knights life. During the Renaissance, the genre of chivalric romance became popular in literature, growing ever more idealistic and eventually giving rise to a new form of realism in literature popularised by Miguel de Cervantes' ''Don Quixote''. This novel explored the ideals of knighthood and their incongruity with the reality of Cervantes' world. In the late medieval period, new methods of warfare began to render classical knights in armour obsolete, but the titles remained in many nations.
Some orders of knighthood, such as the Knights Templar, have become the subject of legend; others have disappeared into obscurity. Today, a number of orders of knighthood continue to exist in several countries, such as the English Order of the Garter, the Swedish Royal Order of the Seraphim, and the Royal Norwegian Order of St. Olav. Each of these orders has its own criteria for eligibility, but knighthood is generally granted by a head of state to selected persons to recognise some meritorious achievement.
Knighthood in the Middle Ages was closely linked with horsemanship (and especially the joust) from its origins in the 12th century until its final flowering as a fashion among the high nobility in the Duchy of Burgundy in the 15th century. This linkage is reflected in the etymology of ''chivalry'', ''cavalier'' and related terms (see Etymology section below). The special prestige given to mounted warriors finds a parallel in the ''furusiyya'' in the Muslim world, and the Greek ''hippeus'' (ιππεύς) and the Roman ''eques'' of Classical Antiquity.
The word ''knight'', from Old English ''cniht'' ("boy" or "servant"),〔(【引用サイトリンク】title=Knight )〕 is a cognate of the German word ''Knecht'' ("servant, bondsman").〔(【引用サイトリンク】title=Knecht )〕 This meaning, of unknown origin, is common among West Germanic languages (cf: Old Frisian ''kniucht'', Dutch ''knecht'', Danish ''knægt'', Swedish ''knekt'', Norwegian ''knekt'', Middle High German ''kneht'', all meaning "boy, youth, lad", as well as German ''Knecht'' "servant, bondsman, vassal").〔
Anglo-Saxon ''cniht'' had no particular connection to horsemanship, referring to any servant.
A ''rādcniht'' (meaning "riding-servant") was a servant delivering messages or patrolling coastlines on horseback.
Old English ''cnihthād'' ("knighthood") had the meaning of adolescence (''i.e.'' the period between childhood and manhood) by 1300.〔
A narrowing of the generic meaning "servant" to "military follower of a king or other superior" is visible by 1100.
The specific military sense of a ''knight'' being a mounted warrior in the heavy cavalry emerges only in the Hundred Years' War. The verb "to knight" (i.e. to make someone a knight) appears around 1300, and from the same time, the word "knighthood" shifted from "adolescence" to "rank or dignity of a knight".
An Equestrian (Latin, from ''eques'' "horseman", from ''equus'' "horse") was a member of the second highest social class in the Roman Republic and early Roman Empire. This class is often translated as "knight"; the medieval knight, however, was called ''miles'' in Latin, (which in classical Latin meant "soldier", normally infantry).〔D'A. J. D. Boulton, "Classic Knighthood as Nobiliary Dignity", in: Stephen Church, Ruth Harvey (ed.), Medieval knighthood V: papers from the sixth Strawberry Hill Conference 1994, Boydell & Brewer, 1995, pp. 41-100.〕〔Frank Anthony Carl Mantello, A. G. Rigg, Medieval Latin: an introduction and bibliographical guide, UA Press, 1996, p. 448.〕〔Charlton Thomas Lewis, An elementary Latin dictionary, Harper & Brothers, 1899, p. 505.〕 Both Greek ''hippos'' and Latin ''equus'' are derived from the Proto-Indo-European word root ''ekwo-'' meaning "horse".
In the later Roman Empire the classical Latin word for horse, ''equus,'' was replaced in common parlance by vulgar Latin ''caballus'', sometimes thought to derive from Gaulish ''caballos''.〔Xavier Delamarre, entry on ''caballos,'' in ''Dictionnaire de la langue gauloise'' (Éditions Errance, 2003), p. 96. The entry on ''cabullus'' in the ''Oxford Latin Dictionary'' (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1982, 1985 reprinting), p. 246, does not give a probable origin, and merely compare Old Bulgarian ''kobyla'' and Old Russian ''komońb.〕 From ''caballus'' arose terms in the various Romance languages cognate to the (French-derived) English ''cavalier:'' Italian ''cavaliere'', Spanish ''caballero'', French ''chevalier'' (hence chivalry), Portuguese ''cavaleiro'', Romanian ''cavaler''. The Germanic languages feature terms cognate to the English ''rider:'' German ''Ritter'', and Dutch and Scandinavian ''ridder''. These words are cognates derived from Germanic ''rīdan'' "to ride", derived from the Proto-Indo-European root ''reidh-''.
抄文引用元・出典: フリー百科事典『 ウィキペディア（Wikipedia）』