Table of Contents
- Knights in the Middle Ages were very popular because they were warriors and protected people.
- Knights were part of society’s elite.
- There were fewer knights as the Middle Ages went on until they disappeared completely.
Life in the Middle Ages
Most people in the Middle Ages led difficult lives.
In the early Middle Ages, most people in Europe worked on the land. These people were called serfs. Serfs grew food and tended livestock who fed them or animals that fed other people.
Whether rich or poor, everyone in the Middle Ages learned how to use weapons. They needed to fight wars with other countries and control violence with their neighbours.
There were different types of soldiers. Some used an axe, and a long spear called a pike. Other soldiers could shoot arrows or use crossbows. Some soldiers might wear chainmail, which is metal armour. But most soldiers wore padded coats and carried daggers.
What is a Knight?
Knights, on the other hand, were the most outstanding soldiers.
Medieval Knights were soldiers who fought on horseback and occasionally on foot for their lord. To be a knight, you’d need resources to pay for horses and armour.
To join the order of knighthood, a man had to be taught. Because becoming a knight was extremely pricey, these horsemen were generally the sons of wealthy and well-known individuals in society.
Being a knight was one method to become rich. A knight might receive money or land as payment for his services if he fought in successful battles and campaigns.
A king may also bestow a knight with a title as a token of his appreciation. Having a title meant that you were an important figure in society.
Knights also earned money through pillaging and ransoming certain individuals.
Knights were in charge of some of the most important battles in the Middle Ages.
Knights were also priests, soldiers, and historians to tell stories about themselves. They helped create the excellent reputation knights still have today.
Training to Become a Knight
A novice had to complete several phases to become a knight.
A page was a young boy who worked for a noble at seven to ten. He served as a squire from the age of fourteen to twenty-one. After that, he became a knight at the age of twenty-one, after being tested and found suitable.
When a young boy was seven years old, he left his family and lived at the castle of a great lord. He would serve adults and ladies there for 7 years.
A page delivered post ran errands and attended to table. The ladies of the court may have taught him etiquette and how to sing and play the harp.
Some pages were taught to read and write (literacy was not important to becoming a good knight).
Much of the page’s time was spent outdoors. The page would box, wrestle, hunt, and ride with his friends outside.
The children were taught to feed and groom horses, and they practised with toy swords and shields. At times, the tiny swords were blunt on one end, but they were occasionally made of wood, preventing them from inflicting any harm.
Squires supervised the page’s outdoor training. Squires are the ones who train the pages. They show little pity for their young charges.
A 14-year-old page became a squire. A squire was a knight-in-training.
He was now in charge of accompanying his lord everywhere – to hunt, fish, and go on other journeys. He also went to tournaments and even battles with him.
He was in charge of caring for horses and armour. A squire gave the horses their daily exercise and groomed them. He kept his lord’s armour polished.
A squire was trained to use weapons. They used a dummy called the quintain. It has a club, which would hit them if they missed the target.
The squire was like a servant to the lord. They helped the lord with everything, even getting up in the morning.
The squire helped his lord get dressed and combed his hair. He made the bed for him at night, too. And when the lord couldn’t sleep, he would drive out the dogs and cats so that he could sleep.
He also had some jobs inside the house, one of which was to serve his master at mealtime.
He had to serve the dishes correctly and carve the meat well. The squire did his carving with a sword. The swan was lifted. The deer was broken. The duck was unbraced. The hen got despoiled. The peacock was disfigured.
A Ceremony of Knighthood
Medieval knights would have a knighting ceremony. They needed to fast the day before, which means they could not eat anything all day.
Candidates had to take a bath and then be put to bed. In those times, people didn’t often take baths. The bath was supposed to wash away their sins.
Next, people kept watching all night without sleeping over their weapons that had been laid on an altar. They kneeled for a long time and sometimes wore full armour.
In the morning, their sword and knightly spurs would be put on.
Finally, upon kneeling, knights would be lightly tapped on the neck. They are now a knight as a result of this.
The blow received the name “accolade,” Today, we refer to any recognition as an “accolade.” Queen Elizabeth II still makes knights by striking them with a sword.
What did Medieval Knights Wear?
A hauberk was the first form of body armour worn by medieval knights. It was worn as a mail shirt. Helmets were initially small, but they grew larger as time passed.
A glove made of cloth, leather, chain mail, or plate was a gauntlet.
The plate armour was used in the past by the Greeks and Romans. But it didn’t come back until the 13th century. The fanciest plate armour covered a knight’s entire body and had joints in the elbows and knees.
Greaves was a type of leg protection. Half-greaves protect only the lower leg. These might be constructed from cloth, leather, or metal again.
Metal plating was used on the horses and was known as barding.
Knights also had parade armour. It was not like standard armour designed for fighting but for looking good. It was meant to impress the ladies and other knights.
The Medieval Knights Code of Chivalry
The oaths and promises in the Middle Ages were based on the ideas in the Code of Chivalry. These sacred oaths of combat were combined with the views of chivalry and strict rules.
The principles of a Knights Code of Chivalry were popularised in the works of Knights’ writers. Middle Ages troubadours and minstrels recited these ballads. They had to memorise poems about the courage and chivalric code followed by Medieval knights.
The Duke of Burgundy described the chivalric virtues of knighthood. His choice for what a knight should be a person who embodied faith, charity, and justice with sagacity or wisdom. He also needed temperance to keep himself from doing anything wrong while being diligent.
The Chivalric Code of the Knights is also mentioned in the Song of Roland. It commands you to fear God and maintain His Church, as well as serve your liege lord. A knight must defend the weak and defenceless and assist widows and orphans.
A knight was required to adhere to chivalry and glory, despise monetary gain, and fight for the benefit of everyone. He must always tell the truth.
El Cid Campeador
Rodrigo Díaz, also known as El Cid, was a hero in the Spanish Reconquista. He led Christian forces to victory over Muslim rulers in Spain. However, his story is more complicated than that.
Díaz was born into an aristocratic family in Spain. He became a military leader for two kings in Castile.
Later, he was fighting for Spain and other countries because he was a mercenary. He made lots of money and became famous while doing this job. As a commander for the taifa of Zaragoza, he defeated armies from both Muslims and Christians.
El Cid only fought the important battles near the end of his life. He captured Valencia from Muslim forces. And he repelled armies that tried to take back Valencia.
William of Poitiers
The Norman conquest of England happened in 1066. William was a knight who had been trained as a youth.
William the Conqueror invaded England, and William of Poitiers became his chaplain. Later, he wrote a book about the conquest that historians still use today.
Hugues de Payens
Hugues de Payens helped found the Knights Templars. He was appointed as the first Grand Master. He fought in the First Crusade and captured Jerusalem.
The Knights Templar became a major economic force, with banks and shops all over Europe.
Joan of Arc
Joan of Arc had a hard life. She had to fight the English, who were trying to take over France. But she had some visions from God, and he wanted her to talk with the future King Charles VII.
She was a general in France, and she led Charles when he became King. When she was 19, the church charged her with witchcraft and heresy because she had dressed up like a man. They burned her at the stake when she was 19 years old.