Originally, knights were monastic orders of warriors whose job was to protect pilgrims during their journeys to holy lands. After the Crusades, the accumulated wealth and fortune of knights turned them into a lower order of nobility, often vassals to a lord who were paid with land holdings and titles.
Knights during the medieval period were expected to maintain their equipment and serve as heavy cavalry for their lords in exchange for estates and the income those lands generated. Knights were expected to follow the chivalric code, which prescribed honorable behavior in battle and strict rules about courtship. Beginning during the Renaissance, the shift to humanism drew emphasis away from these strict codes of conduct, and knighthood eventually became a system of honorific titles rather than sworn service.