Becoming a Knight:There were only a few ways in which a person could become a knight.The first way was the normal course of action for the son of a noble:Training: When a boy was eight years old, he was sent to theneighboring castle where he was trained as a page. The boy was usuallythe son of a knight or of a member of the aristocracy. He spent most ofhis time strengthening his body, wrestling and riding horses. He alsolearned how to fight with a spear and a sword. The young man was alsotaught more civilized topics. He would be taught to read and write by aschoolmaster. He could also be taught some Latin and French. The ladyof the castle taught the page to sing and dance and how to behave in theking’s court. Apprenticeship: At the age of fifteen or sixteen, a boy became a squire in service to a knight. His duties included dressing the knight in the morning, serving all of 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. A squire also prepared himself by learning how to handle a sword and lance while wearing forty pounds of armor and riding a horse.
The Dubbing Ceremony: When he was abouttwenty, a squire could become a knight after provinghimself worthy. A lord would agree to knight him in adubbing 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 thepurification of his soul. The chaplain would bless thefuture knights sword and then lay it on the chapel orchurchs altar. Before dawn, he took a bath to showthat he was pure, and he dressed in his best clothes.When dawn came, the priest would hear the youngmans confession, a Catholic contrition rite. The squirewould then eat breakfast. Soon the dubbing ceremony began. The outdoor ceremony took place in front of family, friends, and nobility. 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 what occurred in earlier times. In the earlier middle ages, the person doing the dubbing would actually hit the squire forcefully, knocking him over. After the dubbing, a great feast followed with music and dancing. A young man could also become a knight for valor in combat after a battle or sometimes before a battle to help him gain courage.
The Medieval LadyGirlhood - Girls were educated very differently from boys. They usually lived awayfrom home, in a monastery or another castle. There they were taught how to sew,read and write Latin, to sing, and to do many other "feminine" practices. Girlhood didnot last long. Some young girls were engaged to men when they were as young assix or seven years old. Usually girls were married by the time they were fourteen. Duties- The important function of the medieval lady was child rearing. Usually a woman had all her children by the time she was twenty. Giving birth was very dangerous and many women did not survive the process. Besides caring for the children, the medieval lady also had many other duties. Ladies also generally were in charge of the castles kitchen and meals. Additionally, she was often put in charge of the castle in the lords absence. Ladies generally proved quite adept at managing the castles affairs when the lord was gone. Sometimes they defended their castles against sieges or led armies on the battlefield.
The Medieval LadyThe Lady The lady was not considered a veryimportant person during the Middle Ages. Accordingto St. Jerome, a Latin father of the Christian church,woman is the gate of the devil, the path ofwickedness, the sting of the serpent, in a word, aperilous object. A woman didnt get to decide muchon her own. An unmarried daughter was a burden toher family. They were often sent to become nuns. Bysending her away, families thought they had solvedtheir problem. Usually woman were sent awaybecause they had fallen in love with a man her familydisapproved of. Marriage - Young noblewomen had little say in who they were married to or when they were married. Marriage was used to seal political ties and obtain greater wealth by most people in the upper classes. In exchange for a dowry, which usually consisted of a set amount of land, the medieval lady got one third of her husbands estate when he died. However, marriage was not always good for a woman. When she was married, she was said "to come under the rod". This meant that she had virtually no rights. She could not sue, appear in court, make a will, or do many other things that women today take for granted. Before she could do these things she had to get the consent of her husband. Once her husband died, she regained most of these rights.
Men of GodThere were many different kinds of clergymen during the Middle ages. Each one had his own duties and power.Some had vast amounts of power politically. Of course, they all shared one trait, they were the mediators of God.They were the bridge between God and the other people. The Bishop Bishops were the leaders of the church. The leader of the bishops, of course, was the pope. Bishops were often very wealthy. They dressed lavishly, wearing many of the same clothes as a feudal lord. Of course, they had their own religious garments to wear also. Bishops often had their own castles from which to conduct business. In this way, they were firmly entrenched in the feudal society. They were accepted in royal courts and dallied in politics. They also had many duties. They levied taxes and settled on issues such as annulments of marriages. An annulment is an alternative to divorce (which was not allowed by the Church). If a marriage was annulled, the union between the man and woman was removed by the Church. Parish and Castle Priest These priests said Mass for the town in the town church and also said Mass in the castle. This was done in its chapel. They also were responsible for the collection of church taxes and the spreading of alms among the poor. Often these priests were the only people who could write and read in the village. Thus, they were sometimes responsible for village and castle record keeping.
Men of GodMonksA monk is a man who is a member of a brotherhood. He devotes his lifeto a discipline prescribed by his order. Monks and nuns live in amonastery. A monastery is a kind of half church half hospital. They takecare of people there and they pray and meditate. It can also be like aschool for kids. They would teach them how to read and write. They usually wore brown robes with hoods around their heads. They were also well educated and could usually read and write Latin. Many monks devoted themselves to learning. Some of the first encyclopedias and histories were written by monks and then copied over by hand. Monks were often the only source of Bibles in medieval times. Bibles were also copied by hand because the printing press was not yet developed. Medieval Monastery
The Peasants Life The average peasant in the feudal structure could be grouped into two main professions: farmer or craftsmen. The farmers worked the fields daily, planting, harvesting, and fertilizing the plants. They paid for their rights to use the land directly in the form of their harvest, and keep the excess to be sold or for their own family use. Most farmers were not free and were bound to their land. The craftsmen were usually trained in the home by a parent who was in the profession, or by going into an apprenticeship with another skilled craftsmen in the town. The craftsmen built their goods to sell, and paid a tax to the lord for their right to use the land. Their life mainly consisted of making their goods and services available to the public of the town, coming to help when the town or castle needed repairs, or training the younger generation with their craft. Their profit from the sales was used to buy food from the farmers, and other items which kept the cycle of sales and purchases flowing to keep the medieval economy going.Guilds The unions of the past were known as guilds. They were one of the most influential organizations of thattime. They flourished because of the main reasons they were formed: to protect the business from the merchants,to ensure high standards and a high quality of work, and to look after the old and sick members of the guild. Theregular town merchants needed protection from the merchants who came in a provided cheap labor. The people ofthe town always wanted the job to be done right the first time, with as little money spent as possible. The guildshelped ensure that the job would be done right by having training requirements for their workers. When workersbecame ill, or too old to work any longer, the guild supported them and their families.
The Peasants Life Religion: Religion was an important part of the life for the peasants, and it was taken very seriously. In fact, before the strong, tyrannical government emerged in the tenth to thirteenth with the king as its ruling figure, the church could also be considered a contending force with the king, sometimes overthrowing the king and placing a puppet of the church in command. The church had strict laws which were carefully followed, and a severe punishment was usually guaranteed if they were broken.Festivals and Famine: Famines were frequent and plagues depleted the livestock. Crops were destroyed byfrosts, floods, and droughts. Fields and harvests were burned when the lords had bursts of warfare across thecountryside. Thus, the peasants life was a hard one. However, peasants of the middle ages enjoyed manyholidays, both religious and non-religious, which meant that the peasant worked for about 260 days a year.The life of the peasant was extremely difficult, but enjoying holidays kept spirits high.
Life in a Castle A castle in the middle ages was essentiallya fort, albeit a very big one. It served as a weapon ofboth offense and defense. If a king wanted to gaincontrol of certain lands, he could order a castle builtthere. Additionally, if lands that a king already had underhis control were invaded or were threatened withinvasion, then a king would also order a castle builtthere. Building: Castles generally took an incredibly long time to build. Occasionally, they could take centuries to build. However, sometimes, if the need for a castle was great enough, they could be built in the relatively small amount of time of ten years! Castles were built with defense in mind. They were often built on a hill so that enemies attempting to attack would have to travel up often steep inclines. This slowed an attack down and made it easier to defend the castle. Castles were also usually surrounded by a large ditch sometimes filled with water. This was called a moat. It was often filled with sharp objects like glass or metal. Anyone who fell in could be killed.
Under Siege: Castles were primarily structures of war and Tactics:were built in strife ridden lands. Thus, it was almost •The most effective offensive weapon was hunger andinevitable that they would come under attack. Because demoralization. Besieging forces would attempt tocastles were made with such massive defense completely surround a castle and cut it off from thefortifications, it was extremely hard to destroy them. Thus, outside world. The situation often got very grim insidethe goal of a siege army was not to destroy a castle, but to the castle. Even though large quantities of suppliespenetrate it. However, this task was also extremely hard. were stored inside, they sometimes ran out.Sieges often lasted for months and could even last for •Attackers also often tried to trick the castle defendersyears! to gain admittance to the castle. For example, the besieging army could take their weapons and march out of sight. Then, they could wait a couple days and send several soldiers disguised as peasants to the castle. These soldiers could then knife the castle guards in secret and open the main gate. The enemy army could then enter the gate and take the castle. •The battering ram was another way of getting through a castle wall. During the night a shed was erected quickly next to the gate, or a weak point in the wall. If a moat was there, it was filled most of the way with dirt, rocks, and logs. Then, a large tree trunk was hung from the sheds ceiling by chains. It was sometimes capped with iron. Teams of soldiers then rocked the trunk back and forth, knocking against the wall. This could eventually cause a weakness in the wall, possibly tumbling it.
The Age of Chivalry During medieval times knighthood was a class culture, cherished and jealousy guarded by the knightly caste. Knight had the honor of defending the king as well as their country. On the bloody fields of battle a code of chivalry evolved that tempered anger and fury with mercy. It created ways of turning the grim business of fighting into something tolerable, perhaps even acceptable. Knights believed strongly in the code of chivalry. Chivalry as we know it denotes the ideals and practices considered suitable to be a noble. They promised to defend the weak, be courteous to all women, be loyal to their king, and serve God at all times. Knights were expected to be humble before others, especially their superiors. They were also expected to not "talk too much". In other words, they shouldnt boast. Chivalry was not only looked upon as a code for war; it was looked upon as a setting for stories of love and romance. Chivalry meant a higher social status as well as recognition.True Chivalry? The code of chivalry demanded that a knight give mercy to a vanquished enemy. However, thevery fact that knights were trained as men of war belied this code. Even though they came from rich families,many knights were not their families firstborn. They did not receive an inheritance. Thus they were little morethan mercenaries. They plundered villages or cities that they captured, often defiling and destroying churchesand other property. Also the code of chivalry did not extend to the peasants. The "weak" was widely interpretedas "noble women and children". They were often brutal to common folk.
A Code Of Chivalry The following is an example of a code ofchivalry.I. Thou shalt believe all that the Church teaches, and shaltobserve all its directions.II. Thou shalt defend the Church.III. Thou shalt respect all weaknesses, and shalt constitutethyself the defender of them.IV. Thou shalt love the country in the which thou wast born.V. Thou shalt not recoil before thine enemy.VI. Thou shalt make war against the Infidel withoutcessation, and without mercy.VII. Thou shalt perform scrupulously thy feudal duties, ifthey be not contrary to the laws of God.VIII. Thou shalt never lie, and shall remain faithful to thypledged word.IX. Thou shalt be generous, and give largess to everyone.X. Thou shalt be everywhere and always the champion ofthe Right and the Good against Injustice and Evil.
Becoming a Knight The Medieval Lady Men of GodExplain the training a boy would go through to How was a girl’s life different from a boy’s? Describe the life and duties of each of thebecome a knight? following: Bishops: How were marriage practices of the Middle Ages Priests:Describe the duties of a squire: compare to today? Monks: Daily Life in the Middle Ages The Peasant’s Life Life in a Castle The Age of ChivalryDescribe daily life for a farmer/craftsman: How was the castle a weapon of both offense and According to the code of chivalry, what did knights defense? promise to do?Describe the role religion played in a peasant’s life: According to the code of chivalry, why shouldn’tWhat role did holiday’s play in the life of a peasant? knights “talk too much?” Why would castles usually be built on a hill?