Summary: A "Casemate Short History" (the name of the series) of knights, predominantly British.
My Thoughts: It was fun to revisit this topic with a specific focus and a timeline.
I had never thought about when knights came to be. Obviously it was a gradual process, and obviously during the Middle Ages. Other than that, I would never have put a date on it. The authors choose the Battle of Hastings in 1066 as the moment of arrival.
That, I suppose, is certainly up for interpretation and debate. The ending of the era, on the other hand, is more obvious. If we consider armor and heraldry and specific modes of combat to define the knight's era, then it's when those things go away or become outdated that we can consider the age over. When warfare moved from swords and pikes and lances to artillery and firearms, armor became less useful. When wars were fought on grander scales with massive armies that required drilling and uniformity, the individual knight, with his ego and desire to do things his own way, became less useful. The authors do a great job of outlining this change.
They also seem to have fun tracing the history of the knight in combat, and this book becomes primarily a military history, mostly of British kings and their wars (the Crusades, the Hundred Years' War, the Wars of the Roses). They do profile a few knights from other countries and dabble in the literary works that have shaped our view of the knight through time, like Ivanhoe and the tales of King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table. But, for the most part, it's a story of Richard the Lionheart, Edward Longshanks, Henry V and the others in the English line.
The subtitle is "Chivalry and Violence," and it delivers.