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In 1348, King Edward III founded a charity for impoverished men-at-arms, who came to be known as the Alms Knights (or Poor Knights). These knights were destitute because their families ransomed them in foreign wars, and their sovereign didn’t see fit to leave them as beggars. He also wanted them to commit to praying for the souls of him and his descendants, setting up a chapel for this very purpose (all part of the Chantry Craze in the 14th century) In 1833, their name was changed by William IV to the Military Knights of Windsor.

The order has continued to this day, unbroken for nearly seven hundred years. Over the centuries, there have been about six hundred and fifty such knights. Their backgrounds and careers have been very varied: one was a freed slave, another had to bind Casanova over to keep the peace. Most have had a military background (three have held the Victoria Cross) – but there have been astrologers, crusaders, mad baronets, politicians, artists,and con artists. Men-At-Alms tells their stories, set against the history of their times.


Today’s guest is Simon Durnford, one of the Military Knights of Windsor and author of Men-At-Alms: Six Centuries of The Military Knights of Windsor.” He discusses what it means to be part of a medieval institution and how the group has evolved over the centuries.


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"A Modern-Day Knight Discusses What Knightly Service Means in 2022 (Essentially, Less Crusading and More Volunteering)" History on the Net
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