The Papal Knights are an order of knights under the direct command of The Pope, numbering some 3,000 strong. They consist of at least four factions, dressed in armor and white hooded robes, and equipped with large-caliber rifles fitted with silver halberds and bayonets. They gather under the command of Archbishop Enrico Maxwell in order to partake in the Ninth Crusade to purge England of Millennium's forces, however Maxwell instead decided to use the knights as an attempt to wipe out England entirely of its Protestant population and as an act of revenge against society. After engaging in a dual attack on both the civilians of London and the Letzte Battalion, the Papal Knights were annihilated by Alucard.
Instead of their traditional set of weapons they wield extremely long barreled semi-auto rifles, most likely heavily modified Russian PTRS-41 anti-tank rifles. These powerful rifles fire 14.5mm rounds, and have been equipped with halberd heads on their ends. Knights are also shown with shields long enough to protect their entire body. Troops mounted on helicopters as gun crews were also equipped with Galil or HK 21 assault rifles, M60 machine guns, and M134 miniguns. The knights appeared to be well-funded as well, being able to afford numerous helicopters and a few airplanes, like UH-1 Hueys, CH-47 Chinooks, Little Birds, and even AH-64 Apache gunships.
Enrico Maxwell was appointed as Archbishop and was given orders by the pope to command the 9th crusade to England to eliminate Millennium's forces. Equipped with anti-vampire weaponry, they eventually join Alucard and the Hellsing Organization in mobilizing England by sending in hundreds of helicopters and gunships. Their mission was to aid Hellsing and Alucard in destroying Millennium; however, Maxwell let his power and fanaticism go to his head. Turning on Hellsing, Maxwell commanded the Knights to attack and destroy everyone, soldiers and civilians alike, in an effort to kill all protestants in England and force a massive Catholic conversion.
By the time Alucard returned to London, the Papal Knights had dealt significant damage to Millennium's two remaining zeppelins, including the Major's Deus ex Machina flagship. They had also inflicted severe casualties on the vampire army - combined with the loss of Zorin Blitz's attack group at the hands of Seras Victoria, Pip Bernadotte, and the Wild Geese mercenaries, Millennium's thousand-strong army had been reduced to 572 soldiers. However, the Papal Knights deployed on the ground suffered some significant losses of their own against the Letzte Battalion.
When Alucard released his ultimate Control Art Restriction (Level Zero), the Papal Knights joined the Last Battalion in futilely attacking the vampire before he could unleash his full power. Despite being armed with weapons meant to be effective against unholy monsters, as well as heavy air support from their gunships, they were overrun and utterly destroyed by Alucard's massive army of familiars, with several Papal Knights being impaled by the spears of the elite Wallachian horsemen. Meanwhile, most of the gunships were shot down via Tublacain Alhambra's playing cards and Rip van Winkle's magic bullets- both these vampires had been absorbed by Alucard and resurrected as his familiars.
Thirty years into the future, the Papal Knights still had not recovered from their losses at the battle of London - their new leaders claimed that they would have to wait for centuries before even considering the possibility of a Tenth Crusade.
There are at least four branches of the Papal Knights and all of their members attended the battle of London.
- The Knights of the Sagely Brethren represent the Knight Order of the Sword of Courland. They consist of 340 members total.
- The Knights of the Order of Calatrava La Nueva consist of 118 members total.
- The Knights of the Military Order of Santo Stefano di Toscana (St. Stephen of Tuscany) consist of 257 members.
- The Knights of the Order of Malta consist of 2,457 members.
- All together they equal a total force of 3,172 fighting men.
- Each Head of an Order of the Papal Knights had a unique mask. The Malta faction is easily the largest of the four Orders to join Maxwell in the battle.
- All of the Orders of the Papal Knights were more or less based upon real-life organizations, at least in name. For example: The Order of Saint Stephen; under the command of Pope Pius IV.
- In Hellsing: Ultimate OVA VIII, the Major comments that the Vatican's forces consist of 2,975 men. That means that of the 3,172 Papal Knights that joined the battle, 197 were killed by Millennium forces before Alucard's arrival.
- The robes and hoods (capirote) that these knights wear are reminiscent of those worn by Catholic Spanish penitents during the traditional procession in Holy Week through the towns. The purpose is to conceal the identity of the wearer, through the mask and tapered hood, making the estimation of their height difficult. The capirote is also worn by lesser known brotherhoods such as Nazarenos, particularly; priests. However, it is better known as the attire of the American Ku Klux Klan. This is ironic, as the Ku Klux Klan holds great animosity towards the Catholic Church.
- ↑ Volume 6, Chapter 42