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A while ago I curiously looked up this question and found out that people did not say "I dub thee..." or "Arise..." to him who was being made a knight, but instead used a Latin phrase which I forget. It translated to something like "knight advance in God's name" – something like that. I really want to remember now, but I cannot find any website anywhere that says anything like that again.

What was the phrase?

I've asked before at English.SE, but I was directed to ask it here, so I hope this works and I will very much appreciate an answer.

  • 7
    Arise, Sir Loin of Beef! – Tyler Durden Dec 15 '15 at 11:05
  • There are different orders of chivalry so there's no universal form of words. – TheMathemagician Dec 15 '15 at 18:04
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    What did English people say? Knighthoods are still conferred. – David Richerby Dec 15 '15 at 21:31
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    @DavidRicherby Which English? Saxons, Normans, Romans etc. If you realise the history of when these practices started to take place, it was never in English. – JamesRyan Dec 16 '15 at 12:41
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    @DavidRicherby they don't say the same thing now though! – JamesRyan Dec 16 '15 at 16:40
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According to the British Monarchy website:

The first and simplest method of knighting was that used on battlefields, when the candidate knelt before the Royal commander of the army and was 'stricken with the sword upon his back and shoulder' with some words such as 'Advances Chevalier au nom de Dieu'. (The action of touching the sword on the recipient's shoulder is known as dubbing.)

So the reason you could not find the phrase in Latin is because it was in French.

Edit, MerilP notes that in French it should actually be 'Avancez Chevalier au nom de Dieu' and 'Soyez preux, hardi, et loyal'.

  • I haven't found any mention of the modern wording, they may have kept the French version as a nod to tradition or, since the ceremony is considerably shortened these days, it might have been skipped altogether. – Steve Bird Dec 15 '15 at 8:30
  • The final three paragraphs of that page seem to suggest that the Queen does not say anything, and just lays a sword blade on the kneeling knight's right and then left shoulder. – Henry Dec 15 '15 at 8:56
  • Yes, that is exactly it! I appreciate that very much. I thought I remembered copying it and pasting it into Google Translate it detecting that the language was Latin. But I am a very forgetful person so it very well may have been French. – wariya Dec 15 '15 at 21:53
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    @Rathony the church was latin, the norman aristocracy spoke french – JamesRyan Dec 16 '15 at 12:42
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    "Advances Chevalier" is not proper French as spoken in France; it English "Legal French". – fdb Dec 18 '15 at 0:04
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If it was really Latin that you saw, then it might have been:

Surge aut sis eques in nomine Dei 1
Stand up as a knight, in the name of God.

This is how William Camden described the ancient ceremony in his Britannia. There are variations, such as substituting vel for aut. I'd be a bit surprised if the site you originally found actually used Latin, though.


Since you expected to find the answer in English ("I dub thee"), I suppose the question is focused on England. In that case, as @SteveBird's rightly points out, the traditional words are in French, not Latin. Complementing his answer, the classical formula is for the sovereign to lay a naked blade on the candidate's left shoulder and pronounce:

Sois chevalier, au nom de Dieu 2
(Be thou a knight in the name of God)

Followed by the command to rise:

Avancez chevalier 2
(Arise, knight)


The use of French has long since died out in English governance. In later times, it appears the monarch simply pronounce:

Rise up, Sir (name) 3


This part is possibly slightly profane. Mouseover to show.

Jake Cade: Rise up, Sir Dick Butcher

- William Shakespeare, 3 Henry VI (certain versions).


Sources:

[1] Jacob, Giles, and Thomas Edlyne Tomlins. The Law-Dictionary: Explaining the Rise, Progress, and Present State, of the English Law. A. Strahan, Law Printer to the King's Most Excellent Majesty, 1809.
[2] Burke, John Bernard. The Knightage of Great Britain and Ireland. London: Edward Churton, 1841.
[3] Cox, Thomas, and William Camden. Magna Britannia et Hibernia, Antiqua & Nova Or, A New Survey of Great Britain. Savoy: Nutt and Morphew, 1720.

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The famous English antiquary, Elias Ashmole, wrote:

The first Christian Kings and Princes (saith in Favin) at the giving of the Cingulum militare, kissed the new Knight on the left cheek, and used these words, In the honor of the Father, of the Son; and of the Holy Ghost, I make you a Knight. And this was called Osculum pacis, the kiss of Favour or Brotherhood.

He is citing Andre Favin who wrote the book Theatre d'Honneur et de Chevalerie, an early and well-known tome on chivalry in the 16th century.

Of course, what might be said at various times and places would be completely different and the ceremony could range from being perfunctory or elaborate. As a general rule, a knighting pronouncement had three parts, the admonition (warnings and advice), the blessing and the bestowal (the actual title(s) and rank conferred announced).

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