The beginnings of knighthood do not indeed lie in England, but in the lands of the Western Franks. All that pre-Norman England has given later knighthood is the modern vernacular name for it, from the Old English cniht. So it is only appropriate that we should go to French historians for an explanation of the appearance of knighthood. Over the past century, the French have been industrious in framing, rejecting and re-erecting theories to explain the knight, to a degree that shames the English historical establishment. Since the Second World War a distinguished generation of French historians (Génicot, Fossier and Duby), and their pupils have exhaustively considered the question of the development of the knight. The knight and his status in society has long been for the French-and continues to be-the key development in the ‘enlargement’ or the ‘transformation’ of the twelfth-century aristocracy.