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The black knight is a literary stock character who masks their identity and that of their liege by not displaying heraldry. Black knights are usually portrayed as villainous figures who use this anonymity for misdeeds. They are often contrasted with the knight-errant (white knight). The character appeared in Arthurian literature and has been adapted and adopted by various authors, in cinema and popular culture. The character is sometimes associated with death or darkness.


Historical significanceEdit

  • Edward of Woodstock, Prince of Wales, Duke of Cornwall, Prince of Aquitaine. The eldest son of King Edward III, father to King Richard II of England, was an exceptional military leader popularly known as the "Black Prince".
  • James Stewart, the Black Knight of Lorn, a descendant of Robert I of Scotland, lived in the late 14th and early 15th centuries.
  • Knights Hospitaller, distinguished by their black mantles.
  • Zawisza the Black of Garbów also known as "the Black Knight" or "First knight of Europe", was a Polish knight and nobleman. He served as a soldier and diplomat under the Polish king Władysław II Jagiello and Hungarian-Bohemian king Sigismund of Luxembourg. During his life, he was regarded as a model of knightly virtues and was renowned for winning multiple tournaments in Europe. His nickname is due to his black hair and his custom-made, black armor, which is kept at the Jasna Góra Monastery. In 1410 he took part in the Battle of Grunwald against the Teutonic Order. In 1412 he participated in the conference between Sigismund, and Tvrtko II of Bosnia at Buda, where he won the tournament held there, with 1500 knights present. In 1416 he participated in a tournament in Perpignan in which he defeated the well-known knight/king John II of Aragon. In 1428, Zawisza, with his retinue as a commander of light horse banner of 500 horsemen, joined the forces of Sigismund in the king's war against the Ottoman Turks. During that disastrous campaign he fought the Turks at the Siege of Golubac on the Danube in modern-day Serbia. Sigismund's army was defeated by the Turkish forces. They had to retreat across the Danube, with only a few boats to ferry the troops over to safety. Zawisza's banner was guarding the retreating army. Being a man of importance, he was personally sent for by king Sigismund. He allegedly refused to retreat, disheartened by the king's apparent cowardice. He was either killed in combat or executed in Turkish captivity.[1][2][3][4][5]


Composer Edward Elgar composed a cantata titled The Black Knight.


  • Le Morte d'Arthur by Thomas Malory: "There sat a knight all armed in black harness, and his name was the Knight of the Black Laund. Then the damosel, when she saw that knight, she bade him flee down that valley, for his horse was not saddled. Gramercy, said Beaumains, for always ye would have me a coward. With that the Black Knight, when she came nigh him, spake and said, Damosel, have ye brought this knight of King Arthur to be your champion? Nay, fair knight, said she, this is but a kitchen knave that was fed in King Arthur's kitchen for alms. Why cometh he, said the knight, in such array? it is shame that he beareth you company. "
  • Idylls of the King by Alfred Lord Tennyson
  • Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott: Richard the Lionhearted poses as an unknown black knight to avoid detection while in England, fighting alongside Ivanhoe in a tournament and helping the assault on Front-de-Boeuf's castle.
  • Raymond Chandler in his first novel, The Big Sleep (1939), lets his private eye Philip Marlowe describe and comment on "a knight in dark armour rescuing a lady who was tied to a tree and didn't have any clothes on but some very long and convenient hair."
  • The Book of the Duchess by Geoffrey Chaucer[6]
  • Die Jungfrau von Orleans (The Maid of Orleans) by Friedrich Schiller (1801). The Black Knight appears as a wraith to warn Johanna (Joan of Arc) to cease her campaign to liberate France. Schiller himself offered the interpretation that it represented the ghost of Sir John Talbot
  • The GrailQuest series of adventure gamebooks by J. H. Brennan features a character known as the Black Knight in the first three books. In the first two, however, the character turns out to be King Pellinore. In the third book, the real Black Knight is the final enemy the reader must defeat in order to complete the adventure.
  • Marvel Comics has different characters that went by the name Black Knight.

Video gamesEdit

  • In the popular MMORPG RuneScape, the Black Knights are central antagonists in a number of quest lines and were the most powerful hostile NPCs in the game when it was first released.
  • The popular Williams pinball franchise “Black Knight” utilizes this character as its antagonist.


  • The Black Knights are the United States Military Academy at West Point's mascots in a number of sports teams.[7]
  • The Black Knight is a moniker given to golfer Gary Player in the 1960s by the media for his penchant for black attire on and off the golf course and for his courteous demeanor. The Black Knight logo identifies all the companies of the Gary Player Group.[citation needed]


In business, a white knight is a friendly investor or savior, while a black knight functions as a destroyer. Typically, a black knight will enter a business or company as an influential person such as a major investor or as a member of the board of directors and will dismantle a profitable or asset-rich business to enrich themselves, which typically leaves the previously profitable company in a weaker financial position.[citation needed]

Such black knights achieve their aims by:

  • siphoning out cash through high personal expenses, salaries and bonuses
  • selling off profitable parts of the business to a private company related to the black knight
  • buying unprofitable businesses / assets previously owned by the black knight
  • selling assets at below market value to persons related to the black knight
  • buying assets at inflated prices

Occasionally, the term black knight describes an investor who acquires a firm in opposition to the will of its management, as in a hostile takeover. The label may not be accurate if the ultimate intention of the acquirer is unknown. It could be for commercial reasons (rather than personal reasons), such as merging the entity with another entity owned by the acquirer to promote synergy.[citation needed]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Beata Możejko; Sobiesław Szybkowski; Błażej Śliwiński (2003). Zawisza Czarny z Garbowa herbu Sulima. Wydawn. WiM. ISBN 978-83-918873-4-9.
  2. ^ Klubówna, Anna (1974). Zawisza Czarny w historii i legendzie. Ludowa Spółdzielnia Wydawnicza.
  3. ^ Beliniak, Katarzyna (2007). Zawisza Czarny - człowiek legenda. De Agostini Polska. ISBN 978-83-248-0627-0.
  4. ^ Stefan M. Kuczyński (1983). Zawisza Czarny: powieść historyczna. Śląsk. ISBN 978-83-216-0317-9.
  5. ^ Kozielewski, Ignacy (1928). Zawisza Czarny. Dobra Prasa. Zawisza the Black of Garbów[citation needed][verification needed]
  6. ^ Lambdin, Laura C. (2000). Encyclopedia of medieval literature. ISBN 0-313-30054-2. The black knight condemns Fortune, who introduced him to the perfect woman, and allowed him ...
  7. ^ "Army West Point unveils new brand identity, logo for athletic teams '=''='url='=''='publisher=national collegiate athletic association". Missing or empty |url= (help); |access-date= requires |url= (help)