Knights Banneret

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'The Good' James Douglas was created a Knight Banneret on the field of battle, at Bannockburn. This article is based on the English system, but is presumably relevant in Scotland.

A Knight Banneret was a Knight Bachelor who had distinguished himself in battle and became entitled to bear a small square banner rather than a swallow-tailed pennon. He commanded a body of officers and men, i.e. knights, esquires and soldiers, whom he raised to serve under his banner, but who were paid by the Crown. However, some wealthy knights, (as in the case of a distinguished soldier, Sir Thomas Tryvet, prior to the battle of Troyes in France in 1380) claimed the dignity of Banneret, saying that they had sufficient revenue to maintain that estate by their own means.

Bannerets were part of the army from possibly the time of King Henry III, but certainly the time of King Edward I.

The procedure for becoming a Knight Banneret seems to have been that, on being advanced to that honour, the Knight Bachelor would, whilst in the field, be escorted by two senior knights to the King or his Lieutenant. With him came the Heralds carrying a swallow-tailed flag called a pennon, with his arms painted on it. The Heralds would announce to the King or Lieutenant (usually a General) that the knight concerned had shown himself valiant in the field of battle and deserved to be advanced to the degree of Knight Banneret. The King or General then ordered the points of his pennon to be cut off. He now had a smaller banner or Banneret. The new Knight Banneret then received his fees; however, if he was previously a Knight Bachelor he had to pay the Heralds their attendance fees.

Knights Banneret were created only in the field of battle and it could happen that if they were unable to support this dignitary a grant of money was made. This appears to have varied between £200 and £500 a year, depending on their income. The wages of Knights Banneret were the same as those of Barons and double those of Knights Bachelor, i.e. in war a Baron or Banneret received 4s. a day, a knight 2s. and an Esquire 1s. The wife of a Banneret was called a Banneress.

The creation of a Knight was in the past always accompanied with ceremonies involving vigils, bathing, investiture, the receiving of the accolade and the taking of vows. These ancient ceremonies are echoed today, in the Annual Service of Dedi­cation held in the Chapel of the Imperial Society, where newly created Knights Bachelor (together with earlier created knights and their guests) are invited to attend and encouraged to make their vows.

The last creation of a Knight Banneret was by King Charles I, at the Battle of Edgehill in October 1642, in recognition of the rescue of the Royal Standard.



Sources for this article include:

• Imperial Society of Knights Bachelor

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Last modified: Thursday, 16 January 2020