The Knight was one of three types of fighting men during the middle ages. A knight was dressed up in multiple layers of armor and could plow through any foot soldier or archer standing in his way. Knights were also the wealthiest of the three fighting men but it was very expensive to be a knight. Armor, weapons, and shields were very expensive.
Being a knight was part of the feudal agreement. In return for military service, the knight received a fief. In the late middle ages, many prospective knights began to pay “shield money” to their lord so that they wouldn’t have to serve in the king’s army. The money was used to create a professional army that was paid and supported by the king. These knights often fought more for pillaging (plundering) than for army wages. When these knights captured a city, they were allowed to ransack it, stealing goods and valuables.
When a boy was eight years old he was sent to the neighboring castle where he trained as a page. The boy was usually the son of a knight or a member of aristocracy. The boy practiced how to fight with a sword and shield. The human form dummy that they used was called a quintain.
The boy was also taught more civilized topics. He was taught to read and write by a school master. He could also learn French and Latin. The lady of the castle taught the boy to sing and dance and how to act in the king’s court.
When he was fifteen or sixteen, the boy became a squire in the service of a knight. His duties included dressing the knight in the morning, serving the knight’s meals, caring for the knight’s horse and cleaning the knight’s armor and weapons. He followed the knight to tournaments and assisted his lord on the battlefield. The squire also prepared himself by learning how to handle a sword and lance while wearing forty pounds of armor and riding a horse. When he was about twenty, a squire could become a knight by proving himself worthy.
A lord had to agree to knight the squire in a dubbing ceremony. The night before the ceremony, the squire would dress in a white tunic and red robes. He would then fast and pray all night for the purification of his soul. The chaplain would bless the future knight’s sword and then lay it on the chapel or church’s altar. Before dawn, he took a bath to show that he was pure and he dressed in his best clothes. When dawn came, the priest would hear the young man’s confession. The squire would then eat breakfast.
The outdoor ceremony took place in front of family and friends. The squire knelt in front of the lord who tapped the squire lightly on each shoulder with his sword and proclaimed him a knight. This was symbolic of earlier times, when the dubber would actually hit the squire forcefully, knocking him over. A great feast followed with music and dancing.
All knights believed in chivalry. They were expected to defend the weak, be courteous to women, be loyal to their king, and serve god at all times. They did not always practice this because most of them were little more than mercenaries so they did not get an inheritance. They plundered cities and destroyed property. They were often brutal to common folk. They sometimes even rape young women without fear.
Armor and weapons
Knights were armed and armored to the teeth . He depended on his squire to keep his armor and weapons clean and in good condition. At first knights wore chain mail, but this became heavy and uncomfortable as well as difficult to move in. As time passed, they covered their bodies with plates of metal. Suits of armor were hot, uncomfortable and heavy to wear. It weighed between forty and sixty pounds. Knights decorated their shields with their family emblem/crest and their motto. A knight’s weapon was usually his sword and a knife. They also used lances in jousts and metal axes, battle hammers, and maces.
Jousting and tournaments
Tournaments provided a means for knights to practice warfare and build their strength in times of peace. They were fought between two people or two teams. Jousting was with two people who gallop at each other on a horse and try to knock the other off of his saddle. Team play was mock combat who fought with blunted weapons to reduce the risk of injury but many people were injured or died by accident anyway.