Knights and Knighthood

Knights and Knighthood

The most significant military figure of the feudal system of the European Middle Ages was the knight. The word knight was derived from the Old English word cniht, the equivalent of the Latin word caballerius, meaning horseman. Knights were warriors who rode on horse back and fought with swords and spears. They were always men women were not normally trained to fight. The only woman that ever became a knight was Joan of Arc.

Boys began training to be a knight when they were about seven or eight years old. They were sent far away from home to live in another household, usually belonging to relatives or friends. There they worked as pages waiting at table, running messages for their master, and learning all the rules of polite behaviour in noble society. They also learned how to fight with small weapons.

When a page was about 14 or 15 years old, he became a squire. He learned all kinds of essential skills how to use weapons, how to wrestle, how to shoot with a bow and arrow, and how to wear and care for armor. He learned battle tactics and rules of war, how to look after horses and how to help his master get ready for a fight.

A squire became a knight when he was about 21 years old. In early Middle Ages the ceremony of becoming a knight lasted no longer than a few seconds, but later special ceremonies, which took almost 24 hours, marked the beginning of a mans knighthood.

It was rough and dangerous being a knight. Many knights were killed in battle, or died a few days later from infected wounds. The first medieval knights rode onto battle in mail (also known as chain mail). This was a flexible armor that could bend easily because it was made of interlinking iron rings. The armor shaped so it fitted well, covering the head and forming a heavy tunic over the body. Mail didnt offer complete protection it could be pierced by arrows. In the late 1200s, knights began to cover their knees with steel plates,...

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