Everyone loves knights, but what do /his/torians think about their predecessors, the Cataphracts?
>Knights: traditionally bondsman and low ranking nobles, peasants could not become one. However they were military units but not traditional soldiers in any sense.
>Cataphracts: traditionally bondsman and low ranking nobles, peasants could not become one. However they were military units and actual professional soldiers, grouped in formations based off equipment, experience, and function.
They are similar.
Modern knights do descend from cataphracts who form the basis of heavily armored mounted calvarymen.
>A knight was not that.
A knight WAS a low level noble employed by lords as professional soldiers. That's literally what a Knight was. A cataphract was just the professional soldier part without the noble title.
Before knights became nobles (before the year 1000) knights originally came from the peasants. A lord would pick a strong looking peasant from his manor and train him to be a soldier. These soldiers became pretty arrogant though. Thats when the church came up with knightly codes and stuff, so they won't missbehave.
Barding was definitely a thing for medieval knights, especially later. Generally at least padded armor, like a gambeson for your horse. It provided excellent protection against arrows, bolts, and incidental attacks on your horse that could see you getting dehorsed.