BANNERET (Fr. banneret, from bannière, banner, elliptical for seigneur or chevalier banneret, Med. Lat. banneretus), in feudalism, the name given to those nobles who had the right to lead their vassals to battle under their own banner. Ultimately bannerets obtained a place in the feudal hierarchy between barons and knights bachelors, which has given rise to the idea that they are the origin of King James I.'s order of baronets. Selden, indeed, points out that "the old stories" often have baronetti for bannereti, and he points out that in France the title had become hereditary; but he himself is careful to say (p. 680) that banneret "hath no relation to this later title." The title of knight banneret, with the right to display the private banner, came to be granted for distinguished service in the field. "No knight banneret," says Selden, of the English custom, "can be created but in the field, and that, when either the king is present, or at least his royal standard is displayed. But the creation is almost the self-same with that in the old French ceremonies by the solemn delivery of a banner charged with the arms of him that is to be created, and the cutting of the end of the pennon or streamer to make it a square or into the shape of a banner in case that he which is to be created had in the field his arms on a streamer before the creation." The creation of bannerets is traceable, according to Selden, to the time of Edward I. "Under these bannerets," he adds, "divers knights bachelors and esquires usually served; and according to the number of them, the bannerets received wages." The last authentic instance of the creation of a knight banneret was that of John Smith, created banneret at the battle of Edgehill by Charles I. for rescuing the royal standard from the enemy.
See Selden, Titles of Honor (3rd ed., London, 1672), p. 656; Du Cange, Glossarium (Niort, 1883), s.v. "Bannereti."
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)