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Milites: Knights Or Simply Mounted Warriors?

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Chapter Summary

Two closely related themes arise from an examination of the use of the term milites by the early crusading authors; did these historians understand the miles to be a member of a certain social rank? Was that rank one of nobility? Or did they employ the term simply to indicate a person performing a particular function, a soldier? Secondly, the sources reflect a major concern among the milites of the First Crusade for their horses. All the historians comment on the loss of horses during periods of hardship during the First Crusade and many state that because of this there were milites who became pedites. This warrants close examination. Were they reporting a loss of social status or a change in military function? Milites in the early crusading histories were mostly members of the social class of knights; membership of this class, however, was not firmly fixed.

Keywords:First Crusade; knights; Milites; social rank

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