7 Medieval Knights Who Inspired Fear in Their Enemies

History tells us stories of many brave and valiant knights who fought tournaments and battles. Some of those knights were… less chivalrous than others. Here is a list of seven knights who believed to have inspired fear in the hearts of their enemies.

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Alexander Nevsky

Battle on the Ice.

Battle on the Ice. Source – Wikimedia

This Russian prince might have been royalty but he was far from a pampered aristocrat. In fact, he is considered one of the best Russian warriors of the medieval times. In 1240, he inspired fear in the hearts of the Swedes in the Neva battle – hence the name Nevsky. Only a couple of years later, his army destroyed a legion of Teutonic Knights on a frozen lake. This battle became known as “Battle on the Ice”.

Nevsky’s military skills weren’t the only notable thing about him, however. He was also an amazing politician. Which was exactly what Russia (or back then, Rus’) needed during the Mongol Invasion. Of course, living with the Mongols since the age of 8 might have had something to do with Nevsky’s diplomatic skills. His close alliance with the Golden Horde has certainly helped Russia in the long run.

Edward “The Black Prince” Woodstock

The Black Prince

The Black Prince. Source: Wikimedia

Some say that this Prince of Wales’ nickname was earned by his brutal treatment of the French. Others claim that he was known as “The Black Prince” solely because of his choice of armor colors. Whatever you choose to believe, Edward “The Black Prince” of Woodstock was a knight to be feared. His most notable victories include the Crecy Campaign of the Hundred Years’ War in 1346, and the Battle of Poitiers in 1356. The sack of the town of Limoges in 1370 that saw a massacre of circa 3,000 people is said to be the Black Prince’s most vicious and cruel victory.

Richard the Lionheart

Richard I and Saladin

Richard I and Saladin. Depiction. Source: Wikimedia

Richard I of England was best known in his home country by reputation of his deeds abroad. Since most of his life was spent in France, he was far more notorious for his military skills than for his governing abilities. His bravery at battlefields such as the Occupation of Sicily and the battle against Saladin in the Holy Land is what earned him the nickname by which he’s best known today across the world.

Of course, today it’s very difficult to believe that a man who’s kept around 3,000 Muslims prisoner and has allegedly ordered all Jews to be killed could be considered “brave” or “chivalrous” today. History does like to whitewash, however, as we all know…

William Wallace

William Wallace Stained Glass Depiction

William Wallace Stained Glass Depiction. Source: Wikimedia

I’m sorry to disappoint fans of “Braveheart”, but Mel Gibson’s portrayal of this medieval knight is far from historically accurate. This Scottish hero was a key figure of the Scottish Independence Wars. His rebellious streak began when he killed the English High Sheriff of Lanark in 1297. The same year, Wallace’s army, despite being outnumbered, has destroyed the English at the Battle of Stirling Bridge through clever combination of strategy, natural terrain and manpower. The battle was followed by several successful raids on the North of England led by Wallace. Unfortunately, Wallace’s life ended in 1305 when the King of England ordered him to be hung, drawn and quartered.

The Arthurian Knights

These knights might have been somewhat fictional but their tales are most certainly based on true stories.

The White Knight (Sir Lancelot)

Lancelot at the Chapel of the Holy Grail by the Pre-Raphaelite painter Edward Burne-Jones

Lancelot at the Chapel of the Holy Grail by the Pre-Raphaelite painter Edward Burne-Jones. Source: Wikimedia

We all know the story of Sir Lancelot and Guinevere. But what many forget is that before his betrayal, Lancelot was a favorite of King Arthur and was known as The White Knight. One legend has him defeating twenty guards that guarded the castle of The Copper Knight. In another, The White Knight defeats the unbeatable Galehaut who’s waged a war against King Arthur. This battle was followed by a lifelong friendship of Lancelot and Galehaut. And one can’t forget the tale of the Holy Grail involving Lancelot’s son and another knight, Sir Percival.

The Green Knight

Gawain and the Green Knight

Gawain and the Green Knight. Source: Wikimedia

While it’s unlikely that he had green skin, as the legends tell us, it’s very possible that the stories were based on a real knight. He is a figure that has appeared in many legends throughout the years. These include the story of his encounter with Sir Gawain (Sir Gawain and the Green Knight), and the fan favorite “Le Morte d’Arthur”. In some stories he has green skin. In others, he wears green clothes. We don’t really know if he was based on one single person, but it’s unlikely. Some believe him to be an interpretation of Christ. Others think he’s a figure of Celtic mythology. Whoever the real Green Knight was, or were, there’s little doubt as to their bravery, chivalry and loyalty.

The Black Knight (Sir Morien)

Sir Morien.

Sir Morien. Source: Pinterest.

This Arthurian motif might sound sinister, but it is anything but. Some stories refer to Lancelot’s disguise as “The Black Knight”, but the common consensus is that the Black Knight was Sir Morien who was the son of a Moorish princess. He was one of the few who could hold his own against Lancelot. Though he only appears in few stories, all of them tell tales of his exceptional bravery and physical strength.

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