Archive for the ‘ Miscellanea ’ Category

There’s Nothing Like a Dame.

So after I wrote my piece on Ringo getting knighted by the Queen, my lifelong friend, Vickie, asked me to proffer some information on ways Her Majesty honors the gals over in Merrie Olde England.

Even though there were a few back in the day, and sexism aside, there are no female Knights per se.

But  there are plenty of ways QE II lets the ladies know they are appreciated.

The biggest is the OBE, or Order of the British Empire.

Once they’ve received the award, they are referred to as Dame.

Not in the way Dean Martin used the word, in this case, it’s an honor.

Dame is an honorific title which is actually the feminine form of knighthood.  They don’t say damehood all that much, as that sounds a bit odd, but Dames they are, and the official website of the British Monarchy uses the term damehood.

Chivalric orders accepting women are ancient, not as old as those for men, but they do go all the way back to 1381 when John V, Duke of Brittany created the Order of the Ermine.

Female knights did exist in many places before John V came UP with his order, and like the guys, they had their own colors and their own coat of arms.

Some even participated in tournaments.  It was all very “title 9.”

But, patriarchal societies ruled the day and it was beyond anyone’s imagination for women to take part in battles or command soldiers.

Of course, there was Joan d’ Arc, but we all know how that ended!

And there were a few others who actually wore armor and were members of official orders, but technically they weren’t knights.

Duchess Gaita of Lombardy rode into battle with her husband; a mercenary named Robert Guiscard, and was a knight in her own right.  She was a Lombard Princess and a raging anti-Semite, so let’s just not waste any time on her!

Another was Petronilla de Grandmesnil, a Countess who wore chain mail, carried a sword, and participated in the rebellion against Henry II of England.

At the onset of male Knighthood in Britain, his wire was called “Dame,” somewhere in the 1600s, that changed to “Lady.”

The Brits made a lot of changes in 1917, they not only changed the name of the Royal Family from Saxe-Coburg and Gotha when the German Gotha VI planes started bombing London during The Great War to Windsor; they added the term “Dame” as the official equivalent of knight when they created the Order of the British Empire.

Since then, they were not necessarily fighting women, but like the knights of today, they added value to the Empire – such as it is.

Although it is considered a great honor, some have turned it down, Vanessa Redgrave and Geraldine McEwan, both British thespians.

There are plenty, of course, who did not.

Here are a few:

Julie Andrews, Joan Colins, Olivia de Haviland, Judi Dench,  Wendy Hiller, Angelina Jolie, Angela Lansbury, Helen Mirren, Diana Rigg, Margaret Routherford, and of course, my favorites, Maggie Smith and Elizabeth Taylor.

Dame Maggie and Dame Judi

Dame Julie and Dame Elizabeth

Just to be sure, it is not just a list of beautiful actresses; one of the 2018 recipients is Dame Cathy Warwick, a midwife.

And like the boys, it’s all about what the ladies have done to make the Empire shine a tad more.

That’s Sir Ringo!

Twenty-one years after Paul McCartney was knighted by Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, his band mate and drummer, Ringo Starr, will be dubbed Sir Richard Starkey on the Queen’s official birthday in June of 2018.

Starr is one of a list of celebrated Brits chosen for knighthood and other honors bestowed upon the masses by the monarch.

Sir Paul took to twitter last week to congratulate his “best drummer and best pal.”

The honors list, released last week included Barry Gibb and Hugh Laurie as knighthood recipients.

The process in modern times starts with nominations from the public which are reviewed by a special committee.  Then the list lands on the Prime Minister’s desk before they are sent to the Queen.

Knighthood today honors those who have contributed to the United Kingdom’s success, honor, and heritage.  It’s a pretty big deal!

The idea of knighthood goes back to Roman times when there was a group of noble mounted warriors, which over time developed into to a class of military men.  There were knights in Germanic ruled Europe as well as France.  The French turned it into an art form as such.  When Frankish ruler Charles Martel defeated the Umayyad (the ISIS of his day) he did it with a mounted infantry populated by elite combat warriors who rode into battle but dismounted to fight.

Literature and Hollywood have painted a picture in the public’s mind of the medieval knight, armor clad and on horseback sweeping in to free the fettered female of yore.

Sometime in the 12th century, knighthood became a social rank.  There were two types; non noble cavalrymen and noble cavalrymen, and in those two categories there were levels.

There were the Knights of the Crusades, Knights Templar, paladin, Teutonic Knights; the list is endless.

The knights of the middle ages gave us chivalry with all its rules and regulations.

The 15th century brought the decline of knighthood.  Sure, sure there were still knights, but the idea of a liege servant to a ruler was replaced by the reality of paid, standing armies made UP of professional military men who were more easily and better trained as well as easier to mobilize.

And of course, the invention of high powered firearms made armor obsolete.

But the title didn’t go away, it actually gained more meaning.  In Britain, a Knight was someone whose behavior brought pride and glory to the empire.

It was and is a big deal, a great honor, an honor bestowed upon the aristocracy as well as a commoner who’d done the nation proud.

In the United Kingdom knighthoods area awarded for achievement in art, entertainment, political or governmental, diplomatic, military, business achievements, and humanitarian reasons.

So, Congratulations, Sir Ringo, it’s long overdue.

 

 

 

 

 

OH, and Happy Birthday to Carrie Ann Inaba. Someone’s hitting the big 5-0 today!

Happy New Year!

We’ll be fine…

Looking Back…

…it wasn’t all bad.