Date of Award

Spring 2016

Project Type


Program or Major


Degree Name

Master of Arts

First Advisor

David S Bachrach

Second Advisor

Ethel Wolper

Third Advisor

Susan Curry


There has long been a debate among medieval scholars over the precise definition of knighthood and how the Latin term "miles," often translated as “knight,” relates to the knight’s identity in the Middle Ages prior to the reign of King Henry II of England (1154-1189). This project offers a systematic analysis of the term miles in the twelfth-century text, the "Historia Ecclesiastica," by Orderic Vitalis. I examine the ways in which the historian refers to "milites," including their varying socio-economic backgrounds, their involvement in the military households of socially prominent men, and their military equipment, among other issues. This paper argues that Orderic’s usage of the term "miles" indicates that he believed the "milites" were professional soldiers and that “knight” is an inappropriate translation of the term "miles."