History of the Medieval Knight
Knights were the most feared and best-protected warriors on the medieval battlefield, but apart from that, they were among the most fashionably dressed and best-natured members of society. However, as the Middle Ages progressed, attaining this high position became increasingly difficult as elites sought to maintain their privileged status.
Requirements to become a knight included an aristocratic birth, education from childhood, weapons, money for horses and squires, and knowledge of the rules of chivalry. Good looks, fine clothing, a striking coat of arms and the ability to recite poetry and song were optional, but these were highly desirable extras if one wanted to rise to the top of this elite medieval society.
How to Become a Knight
The process of becoming a knight started from early childhood. The typical starting point for a young boy 7 to 10 years old was learning to handle horses, hunt and use fake weapons while serving a knight. From the age of 14, the next step was to become an squire, with more responsibility than a servant, learning to use real weapons and beginning a training, especially knighthood training.
Adjutants assisted knights in peace and war, kept their extra spears or shields, cleaned their armor, and looked after the few horses each knight had. When all went well, the teenager, who was about 18 by then, would be knighted in a ceremony known as initiation.
For wording, a prospective knight would take a good bath and hold a vigil throughout the night. On the day of the ceremony, two aide-de-camp knights would wear a white tunic and a white belt to symbolize purity, black or brown stockings to represent the land to which he would one day return, and a red cloak for the blood he now possesses, thus making his baron ready to dedicate himself to his ruler and church. would have come.
His sword was returned, then blessed by a priest on the condition that he always protect the poor and the weak. The blade had two cutting edges; one represented justice, the other loyalty and chivalry.
The honoring knight could then put on a spur or put the sword and belt over the squire and give him a kiss on the cheek. Then with a heavy blow (colée or 'accolade'), the aide-de-camp, with a simple touch on the shoulders or neck, with a hand or sword, or a final blow, which he must take without retaliation, to remind him of his obligations and moral duty not to embarrass the man who struck the blow. was knighted. He was then given the horse, followed by the shield and banner that could bear the family crest. Thus, the ceremony would have ended with a great feast.
Early knights could come from any background, all it took was courage and effort. Many early knights were often given their titles on the battlefield by a lord or ruler (often symbolically in the form of spurs, hence the expression 'earning one's spurs'), often after showing a certain courage and efficiency in fighting the enemy. By the 13th century, most of the knights were sons of knights as the class sought to maintain its exclusivity in society.
A knight was always expected to behave like a knight. The ethical, religious, and social status of chivalry pervaded the upper echelons of medieval society and was made more important than ever by an endless stream of romantic literature praising the virtues of chivalric behavior.
Thus, in order to maintain a good reputation and be admired by those in power, a knight had to exhibit the essential knightly qualities such as courage, military prowess, honor, loyalty, justice, manners, and generosity, especially to those less fortunate than himself.
If a knight did not do these things, and worse yet, did the opposite, they could lose their knightly status and reputation, and their family's reputation would be tarnished forever. In such a case, the disgraced knight would have his spurs ripped off, his armor smashed and his coat of arms removed, or given an embarrassing symbol or simply shown upside down.
It was not uncommon for a knight to come to the end of his war days to join a military unit to secure a fine place in one of the cemeteries or even churches. Sir William Marshal employed just such a strategy, becoming a Knight Templar at the last minute, interred in the Church of the Temple in London, and his statue still stands.
Depictions of knights were a common way of providing commemoration. Often depicted in full armor and bearing a shield, these stone carvings can still be seen in many churches across Europe and provide historians with an invaluable record of medieval weapons and armor, as well as reminiscent of revered knights in the Middle Ages.