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From The Collaborative International Dictionary of English v.0.48:
Knighthood \Knight"hood\, n. [Knight + hood: cf. AS. chihth[=a]d youth.] 1. The character, dignity, or condition of a knight, or of knights as a class; hence, chivalry. "O shame to knighthood." --Shak. [1913 Webster] If you needs must write, write Caesar's praise; You 'll gain at least a knighthood, or the bays. --Pope. [1913 Webster] 2. The whole body of knights. [1913 Webster] The knighthood nowadays are nothing like the knighthood of old time. --Chapman. [1913 Webster] Note: "When the order of knighthood was conferred with full solemnity in the leisure of a court or court or city, imposing preliminary ceremonies were required of the candidate. He prepared himself by prayer and fasting, watched his arms at night in a chapel, and was then admitted with the performance of religious rites. Knighthood was conferred by the accolade, which, from the derivation of the name, would appear to have been originally an embrace; but afterward consisted, as it still does, in a blow of the flat of a sword on the back of the kneeling candidate." --Brande & C. [1913 Webster]