Knights Of The Bath, a military order in Great Britain. This order is supposed to have originated at the time of the first crusade, but first distinctly mentioned in the reign of Henry IV. Froissart says that, at the coronation of that king in the tower of London in 1399, 46 esquires were made knights, and were called knights of the bath, because they had watched and bathed during the night preceding, and that they wore on the occasion long coats trimmed with white fur, and had white laces hung about their shoulders. From that time it was usual for English kings to create knights of the bath at the coronation of themselves or their queens, the birth or marriage of princes or princesses, on the eve of starting upon foreign military expeditions, and after gaining a battle or taking a town. At the coronation of Charles II. 68 knights of the bath were made, but the order was then neglected and discontinued, till in 1725 George I. revived it by letters patent. He gave a book of statutes for its government, by which it was decreed that the order should consist of the sovereign, a grand master, and 36 companions.
Its badge, of pure gold, was to be a sceptre of three united imperial crowns, from which grew the rose, the thistle, and the shamrock, and around which was inscribed the ancient motto, Tria juncta in uno. It was to be hung by a red ribbon from the collar obliquely over the right shoulder. The collar should contain 30 ounces troy weight of gold, and be a complicated arrangement of nine crowns and eight roses, thistles, and shamrocks, the latter being enamelled in their proper colors and attached to the crowns by gold knots enamelled white. A silver star also, made to resemble the badge, and with a glory or rays proceeding from its centre, should adorn the left shoulder of the knight, being embroidered upon the left side of his mantle. The apparel of a knight of the bath was ordered to be a red surcoat, lined and edged with white and encircled by a white girdle, a crimson mantle lined with white and fastened about the neck with a cordon of white silk, a white silk hat surmounted by plumes of white feathers, white boots, red stockings and breeches, and a sword in a white leather scabbard. In 1815 the number of the knights of the bath was enlarged.
Three denominations and ranks were then ordained in the order: the first, consisting of knights grand crosses, to be conferred only upon officers who had reached the rank of major general in the army or rear admiral in the navy, excepting that 12 of the number might be appointed for eminent civil services. The grand crosses were distinguished by wearing over their badge and star a wreath of laurel winding about an escrol, on which was inscribed Ich dien. The second class, consisting of knights commanders, take precedence of all knights bachelors in the kingdom, and no one is eligible to this dignity till he has reached the rank of major general in the army or rear admiral in the navy, and no one is eligible as a grand cross till he has first been a commander. The third class, consisting of knights companions, takes precedence of all esquires in the kingdom, and no officer is admissible to this dignity who has not received a medal in reward for valor, or been especially mentioned as of signal merit in the despatches of his superior officer.