The word paladin was first used in Ancient Rome for a chamberlain of the Emperor, and also for the imperial palace guard, called the Scholae Palatinae by Constantine. In the early Middle Ages, the meaning changed and the word was used for one of the highest officials of the Catholic Church in the pope's service and also for one of the big nobles of the Holy Roman Empire, who was then named Count Palatine. The word paladin was also used in 19th century Hungary and in the German Empire and United Kingdom during the early 20th century.
In medieval literature, the paladins or Twelve Peers were known in the Matter of France as the retainers of Charlemagne. Because of the way that this word was used in books, paladin was then known to be a knight with honor.
Ancient Rome [change]
The paladins of the imperial guard were named after the Scholae Palatinae.
In the beginning, the word paladin was applied to the Chamberlains and to some soldiers guarding the palace of the Roman emperor. In Constantine's time, the word was also used for the best infantry of the army, the Praetorian Guard, that might guard the Roman Emperor during wars.
Holy Roman Empire [change]
After the Middle Ages, the word palatine was put onto many different people of power across Europe. The most important of these was the comes palatinus, the count palatine, who in Merovingian and Carolingian times, was an official of the lords' household and court of law.
During the 800s, Carolingean rule came to an end and the title of Holy Roman emperor with it. About a century later, the title was made alive again by Otto I, though the new empire was now centered in Germany rather than France. The term palatine is found again under Charles IV, but they were less powerful than the previous palatines.
Modern usage [change]
In the early days of England, the word palatinate, or county palatine, was also used in counties of lords who could use powers normally used by the crown.
In Britain and Germany, paladin was an official rank and was a very good title for one in the service of the emperors. It was a Knight with additional honours, they were allowed to use powers normally used by the crown.
Present day [change]
The word "paladin" is still used to describe a good, heroic person, or a defender of a good cause.
Some role playing games now use paladins as a character class that you can choose when starting a new game.