Knights were the most famous warriors of medieval Europe. On the battlefield, they were the most skilled and heavily armed fighters, riding the finest horses, and equipped with expensive armor, lance, and sword. Off the battlefield, they were the most respected members of society, with impeccable manners and fashionable clothes.
In the early Middle Ages, knights could come from any background, under the condition that they were extremely brave and skilled.
Kings could give the title of a knight to any man who proves himself as a great protector of his land. But by the 13th century, knights represented an exclusive class, and a boy had to be a son of a knight or at least to be born to an aristocratic – and extremely rich – family.
It was not easy to become a knight. The training had to begin in childhood. A lot of money was needed for horses, weapons, and squires. On top of that, a future knight had to know and follow the rules of chivalry. Many knights were highly educated and able to recite poetry – although not on the battlefield.
Becoming a knight
A boy could become a page and serve a knight proper at the age of 7 to 10, but only if he had already learned how to use mock weapons, handle horses, and hunt.
By the age of 14, a page had to learn to use real weapons, take more responsibility, and start an education that includes the study of chivalry.
Then he would become a squire and assist the knight in nearly everything. The duties of a squire include holding extra weapons for the knight, looking after his horses, and cleaning his armor.
At around 18 years, a squire who completed his training successfully was made a knight in a dubbing ceremony.
A dubbing required lots of preparation. A future knight had to take a good bath, and the church had to be open and wake all night. The next day, two knights would dress the squire in a while tunic and belt, dark brown of black stockings, and a scarlet cloak.
Those colors were important symbols, and they represented purity, the earth, and the blood that the future knight is ready to spill for his king and church. The blade of his sword had two cutting edges, which was also a symbol – one for justice, and the other for loyalty and chivalry.
A priest would bless his sword and return it to him under the condition that he promises to protect the poor and the weak at all times.
The last step of the ceremony was knighting by a tap or a blow on the squire’s shoulders, giving him his horse, shield, and an emblem that sometimes had his family’s coat of arms on it.
Knight’s armor and weapons
An ordinary person would not even be able to carry all the weapon and equipment of a knight, let alone riding a horse under full armor and fighting.
A knight’s equipment included:
- A large triangular shield made of wood and leather.
- Up to three meters long lance.
- A long (up to one meter) and heavy sword.
- Heavy armor – chain mail in the early medieval period or, later, plate armor. Full chain armor weighted around 13.5 kg, while plate armor could weight twice as much.
- Other weapons, such as a crossbow, battle axe, dagger, or mace.
- A surcoat with his family’s coat of arms.
- A fully enclosed helmet that could be personalized to show who was inside.
A knight’s horse was also protected by an armor that could be made of a plate or boiled leather.
A knight’s job
The main job of a knight might be:
- Serving as a member of a garrison guarding a castle and protecting the nobles
- Serving as an elite soldier of a medieval army
- Working as an independent mercenary
- Joining the Knights Templar, Knights Templar, or similar military order. Templars lived like fighting monks, but they had better training and weapon than any other medieval knights.
Who could become a knight?
At first, any extraordinary warrior could deserve this title, but later it could only be a boy from an elite family.
Which weapons did a knight use?
Every knight had to have a lance and sword, but they also used some additional weapons, such as bows, maces, or daggers.
What was the name of the knighting ceremony?
It was dubbing.
What promise a future knight had to have to the priest?
He had to promise that he would protect the weak and the poor.
Which knightly order had the best training and equipment?
It was the order called Knights Templar.
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