Knight Essay

Contest entries must be submitted as PDF files attached to emails.  The essay must have four parts: 1) title page, 2) essay pages, 3) bibliography or works cited, and 4) applicant's biography. The title page, bibliography, and applicant's biography must be listed on separate pages and no reference to the applicant's name or information can be part of the essay pages or bibliography. Please follow these rules exactly. Essays that do not conform to the rules may be immediately disqualified.

1) Title Page – The title page must include the following:

•    Title of the Essay
•    Applicant’s name, grade, address, phone number & email
•    Applicant’s high school’s name, address & phone number
•    Statement on how applicant learned about the contest (if from the Internet, include the URL of the website)

2) Essay Pages – The essay must:

•    Minimum of 800 and a maximum of 1,200 words (excluding title page, footnotes, bibliography, page and biography)
•    First page must include the title
•    No applicant information is on the essay pages
•    12-point Times New Roman font and double-spaced
•    Use 8 ½” by 11” paper with 1” margins on all sides
•    Essay pages are numbered sequentially, starting with “1”
•    No graphics, special covers or bindings are allowed

3) Bibliography pages – The bibliography must:

•    Citations in the essay and references in the bibliography must be in accordance with a widely used, publicly available citation system  (Examples include the Chicago Manual of Style, the MLA Manual of Style, & the MHRA Style Guide)
•    The bibliography must specify the system used
•    No applicant information is in the bibliography
•    Minimum of 5 references, 3 of which must be published works (encyclopedias or internet sources are acceptable but not considered part of the 3 published works)

4) Biography page - The biography must:

•    Limited to one page.
•    Includes academic awards and achievements, school activities, community activities and plans for college.

Essays which meet the criteria above will be accepted and judged equally on the following criteria:
•    Historical accuracy
•    Clarity of thought
•    Organization and proven topic
•    Grammar and spelling
•    Documentation

Awards at the chapter and state level may vary. Please contact the specific chairmen for more information. Awards at the national level are as follows:

First place:

    $5,000; a medal and recognition certificate; up to $500 toward travel expenses and one-night hotel stay for the winner and a chaperone at the annual SAR Congress.

Second Place:

    $2,500 and a recognition certificate

Third Place:

    $1,000 and a recognition certificate

The winning essay of the national contest will be submitted for publication in the SAR Magazine. Participants in this contest agree that their essay may be published in the SAR Magazine and on the SAR Knight Essay Contest webpage. Winning essay participants, on all levels, may be required to supply a tax identification number in order to receive their award. By entering this contest, all participants agree that if their essay is chosen as the national winning essay, it will be the property of the National Society of the Sons of the American Revolution (SAR). All participants further agree that the national winning essay may not be submitted to any other contest or used for any other purpose without the express permission of the national SAR Knight Essay Contest Chairman.

Applicants in the Knight Essay Contest agree that the interpretation of the rules and decisions of the National Chairman and its judges must govern without reservation and that decisions of the judges and/or the National Chairman are final and not subject to review.

Questions regarding specific rules may be directed to the national SAR Knight Essay Chairman:
    Mr. James M. Lindley        Email:

From the ninth to the early eleventh centuries, invasions of the Magyars from the east, Muslims from the south, and Vikings from the north struck western Europe. This unrest ultimately spurred greater unity in England and Germany, but in northern France centralized authority broke down and the region split into smaller and smaller political units. By the ninth century, many knights and nobles held estates (fiefs) granted by greater lords in return for military and other service. This feudal system (from the medieval Latin feodum or feudum, fee or fief) enabled a cash-poor but land-rich lord to support a military force. But this was not the only way that land was held, knights maintained, and loyalty to a lord retained. Lands could be held unconditionally, landless knights could be sheltered in noble households, and loyalties could be maintained through kinship, friendship, or wages.

Mounted armored warriors, or knights (from the Old English cniht, boy or servant), were the dominant forces of medieval armies. The twelfth-century Byzantine princess Anna Komnena wrote that the impact of a group of charging French knights “might rupture the walls of Babylon.” At first, most knights were of humble origins, some of them not even possessing land, but by the later twelfth century knights were considered members of the nobility and followed a system of courteous knightly behavior called chivalry (from cheval, the French word for horse). During and after the fourteenth century, weapons that were particularly effective against horsemen appeared on the battlefield, such as the longbow, pike, halberd, and cannon. Yet despite the knights’ gradual loss of military importance, the system by which noble families were identified, called heraldry, continued to flourish and became more complex. The magnificence of their war games—called tournaments—also increased, as did the number of new knightly orders, such as the Order of the Garter.

Michael Norris
Department of Education, The Metropolitan Museum of Art

October 2001

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