Skip to main content

distraint of knighthood

distraint of knighthood. The post-Conquest military obligations attached to knighthood were not necessarily welcome and increasingly avoided. In theory landowners of a certain status were required to present themselves at coronations to be knighted. Henry III began campaigns to oblige freeholders with estates worth £20 p.a. to take up knighthoods, issuing writs of distraint. At this stage, the motive was primarily military but later monarchs were more interested in the revenue they could raise by allowing subjects to compound or pay fines. By Tudor times the estate value had been raised to £40 p.a., but distraints were little used. Charles I, in his search for extra-parliamentary revenue, ordered the records of the Tower to be inspected to discover devices, and from 1630 began distraining, allowing the victims to compound at less than the cost of a fine. Considerable revenue was raised and even more considerable animosity. When the Long Parliament met, John Selden in 1641 carried an Act declaring distraints unlawful and Charles was obliged to give his assent. At the Restoration knight service was abolished.

J. A. Cannon

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"distraint of knighthood." The Oxford Companion to British History. . 2 Feb. 2019 <>.

"distraint of knighthood." The Oxford Companion to British History. . (February 2, 2019).

"distraint of knighthood." The Oxford Companion to British History. . Retrieved February 02, 2019 from

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

The Chicago Manual of Style

American Psychological Association

  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.