Becoming a Knight Meant Being Slapped in the Face

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Back during medieveil times being a knight was the shit. You got free land, serfs to tend it and all the buxom wench booty you could handle. But one, lesser known aspect of becoming a knight is that to attain this lofty position, you had to take an iron-plated backhand to the jaw.

Now most people reading this are likely familiar with the more modern kind of knighting where a sword is ceremoniously tapped on an individual’s shoulders, preferably by a comely maiden.

That's the stuff.
That’s the stuff.

Over in the UK this is still how modern knights of the realm are recognised as such, but have you ever wondered why exactly being tapped on the shoulder with a sword is enough to recognise someone as a knight? Well back in the days when actual knights riding around in full plate armor was a thing, a squire (basically a trainee knight) couldn’t become a fully fledged knight until they’d had a sword buckled against their armor. Because this wasn’t exactly a reliable promotional strategy it was decided that the hit could be given symbolically whenever a squire did something sufficiently badass enough to make the other knights share side glances and nod slowly in union.

Thanks to this change squires in medieval times could become a knight without risking their life in battle, they did however still have to confront, the slap.

THE SLAP
Pictured: The slap.

That’s a GIF from a modern recreation of knighting ceremony and save for the all the digital cameras and iPhones it’s pretty fucking accurate. Essentially before becoming a knight proper, a squire was expected to stand and take a single, unguarded slap to the face from their lord, or another knight in the event of an on the spot promotion. The idea was that this slap would be the last hit a knight would ever accept unanswered, as part of being a knight was that you were honor bound to accept any challenge. Such was the cost of one day maybe having your life dramatized for a Hammerfall album cover.

HAMMERFALL

Now unlike the tap with a sword, the slap could be as hard or as light as the person giving it wanted it to be. Or in other words, how hard a prospective knight would be pimp-slapped largely depending on how much of a dick the person promoting them felt like being. Given the legendarily dickish reputation of knights and lords from that time period and you can imagine that a lot of knights spent their first day on the job recovering from a eye socket shattering iron-plated slap to the temple.