How to be a knight
As our half term event in February is going to be A Knight’s Quest, we have been brushing up our knowledge about all things knights – and this is what we have learnt!
In the medieval times knights were well respected, enjoying high status, notoriety and often wealth. They were admired and feared for their skills on the battlefield and famous for their chivalry off it, but what you might not know is that it took a lot of training to become a knight.
There were two ways that a man could become a medieval knight. The first was by earning the right on the battlefield – if he was exceptionally brave during a battle, a man might be awarded a knighthood. The second, more common, way to become a knight was to be an apprentice to a knight and slowly work up the ranks, earning the title through hard work and dedication.
Most boys who became apprentices to knights in the hope of following in their footsteps had to complete these steps:
When a boy, or his parents, decided that he should become a knight, he would go and live in the household of a knight when he was seven. There he would serve the knight as a page. A page was essentially a servant who would serve his knight meals, clean his clothes and carry messages. A page would also become familiar with horses, riding, hunting and the use of mock weapons, as well as learning good manners. A boy would remain a page until he was between 10-13 years old.
From the ages of 14 to 18-21, a page would then become a squire. A squire would continue to assist his knight, but in a more hands on way. He would take care of the knight's horses and clean his armor and weapons. A squire would be trained to use proper weapons, practice their horsemanship, with skills such as jousting and fighting in the saddle, and would learn the code of chivalry. As a squire would accompany his knight to the battlefield they had to be ready to fight. Most future knights worked as a squire for five or six years.
When aged 18-21, a hopeful squire would gain the title of knight at the ‘dubbing’ ceremony, if he had proven his skill in battle, bravery and chivalry. At this ceremony he would kneel before another knight, lord or king who would then tap the squire on the shoulder with his sword making him a knight – this practice is what we now refer to as ‘knighting’ someone. At the ceremony, the new knight would take an oath to honor and protect his king and the church. He would be presented with a pair of riding spurs and a sword.
Once a full-fledged knight, he would act as a guard for castles, fighting in wars for his king and church and perform in medieval tournaments.