The literature of knighthood focuses, for the most part, on the medieval aspects of the institution - the familiar themes of chivalry, the tournament, etc. - or on its later, romantic revival. Dr Herman shifts attention to early modern times, a period that writers on knighthood usually describe as anachronistic, all pomp and little consequence. This book examines four orders of knighthood established by French Kings from 1469 to 1715, from "the establishment of the Ordre de Saint-Michel, the first royal order to survive its founder, until the end of Louis X1V's reign". From the activities of these orders and the roles expected of them by kings and nobles, emerges a sense of vitality overlooked by historians like Huizinga, Boulton, or Vale. Herman finds this post-medieval blooming anything but decadent, rather another stage in a process of development extending from the medieval knight-errant to the sworn servant of an absolute monarch.