In a way, yes, a woman can be knighted. What do we mean by that? A woman cannot become a knight. However, she MAY become a women’s equivalent of a knight: a Dame.
It is the same honor bestowed as that of a man being awarded a knighthood. The name is the only thing different about it.
Let’s dive a little deeper into women and “knighthood.”
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If she were to be called “Sir,” it would be incorrect. Traditionally, women are never addressed as “Sir.”
Women can never become knights. However, as we mentioned, there is a female equivalent referred to as damehood.
So, the alternative is for a woman to be addressed as “Dame.”
Primarily throughout Great Britain, Australia, and New Zealand. Additionally, many Christian chivalric orders recognize knights and Dames.
There are several levels of damehood, and they are as follows:
- Dame Commander
- Dame Grand Cross of the Order of Saint John
- Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre
- Most Honourable Order of the Bath
- The Most Distinguished Order of Saint Michael
- The Most Distinguished Order of Saint George
- The Royal Victorian Order
- The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire
Back in 1381, the Order of the Ermine was founded by John V, the Duke of Brittany.
It was the first order ever known to officially accept women and give them the title of Dame. It must be noted that this was quite the change historically.
Actually, yes! Prior to the events we just described, females were widely accepted as knights.
In fact, there were female knights in existence for centuries before things changed.
When a woman bore a coat of arms and displayed colorful banners, it meant she was a knight.
Born in the year 1378, a woman named Joane Agnes Hotot participated in tournaments and wore traditional knighthood regalia.
But perhaps the most famous example of all was Joan of Arc.
Although it was rare for women to compete in male-dominated tournaments, Joan of Arc did so very gallantly.
There was also the Duchess Gaita of Lombardy who fought in battles while wearing a full suit of armor.
In years past it was known as a title of respect bestowed upon the wife or the widow of either a knight or a baron.
Today it can still mean that, but it can also be given to a woman who has achieved greatness over her lifetime.
Yes, either a woman or her male equivalent (a knight) can be presented with their title for making significant contributions to their country.
The achievements can be on a national or international level and must have inspired many people along the way.
Probably, yes. Although there have been many over the centuries, this is just a partial list containing present-day entries. They include:
- Emma Thompson
- Kate Winslet
- Kiera Knightley
- Catherine Zeta-Jones
- Naomie Harris
- Helena Bonham Carter
- Elizabeth Taylor
- Judi Dench
- Helen Mirren
- Julie Andrews
- Maggie Smith
There are a few, and it can get a little confusing at times. We hope to alleviate some of that confusion with this list.
Please note: a Dame ranks higher than a lady in whatever country the title is given to her. Most often it is presented by a person of royalty such as a King or a Queen.
It is a prefix attached before the woman’s first name and surname. Here are some other ways the word “dame” has been used to describe a woman:
- At one time it was used for describing an older woman
- A woman who kept a school for young children (became obsolete after public grade schools were created)
- A way to address ladies of all ranks
- Short for the word “madame”
- A French word meaning “my lady”
- Once used for a young maiden, this now is only prevalent in literature
- Short for the French term “mademoiselle”
- As a synonym for the English word “miss”
- An American slang term for any woman of any age.
- In its original intent, to denote a woman of grand stature in society
No, they do not. The spouse of a knight can be made a Dame. However, it does not work in reverse. There is no title given to the husband or life partner of a Dame.
Who knows what the future holds? It is possible this could be changed down the line.
The term “lady” is bestowed upon a woman as a courtesy. She is either the wife of a knight or a baron or a nobleman’s daughter.
A Dame is a distinguished honor that a woman earns. It is equal to a male knight. Of the two, a Dame is considered a higher rank than a lady.
Not really. They are never given an official courtesy title. If they were being addressed at a function, they would be introduced as Dame Mary and Mr. John Smith.
As discussed before, yes! Women could absolutely become knights in Medieval times.
Back then, although it was not as common as for a man, there were such things as female knights. Fast-forward to today and that has radically changed.
No, and any statements to the contrary are false. There are a significant number of American citizens who are either Dames or knights.
In actuality, anybody in the world is potentially a candidate for this illustrious title.
The privilege of being presented with a damehood or knighthood depends on personal achievements rather than the location of the candidate.
Noted Americans include movie mogul Steven Spielberg and Microsoft founder Bill Gates along with his ex-wife, Melinda.
Absolutely not. If you see something on the Internet that says otherwise, it is a scam.
These titles can only be presented to a person by a ranking member of a royal family. They also are not given out in exchange for money.
The title has to be earned for something noble or heroic. Take a look at all the recipients from the past and today.
Have you noticed how influential they have been on society? That is how someone becomes a knight or a Dame.
There are still several orders of knights in existence that originated in medieval times.
For instance, the Teutonic Knights and the Knights Hospitallers remain active today.
The thing is, you probably would not recognize them because they are not wearing suits of armor. Nor are they participating in jousting contests.
These days, we learn about nights and Dames when the Queen or other royal family members recognize a person for their incredible contributions to society.
They would more likely be wearing formal clothing in lieu of suits of armor, but they are around.