Becoming a Knight

During the middle ages, in order to become a knight one had to go through many years of training.

A knight-to-be spent at least fourteen years of his life learning the proper conduct and etiquette of

knighthood. Once the years of training were completed, often an elaborate ceremony took place when the

gentleman was knighted. Once knighted, the man had to live by the code of chivalry. This code had the

basic guidelines of a knight's behavior. This code was so respected that abiding by it brought honor and

respect from others.

The education of a knight began at the age of seven. This was when a boy was taken from his

home and sent to the castle of a famous noble, perhaps his father’s lord. Here he served the lord and the

lady as a page until he was fourteen years old. One of the many duties of a page was to accompany the lord

and lady at all times. He also waited on them during meals, and went with them on various affairs doing

whatever was asked of him. As a page, he received religious instruction from the chaplain. The squires

taught the page fighting skills, and gave him training in arms. The mistress and her ladies taught the page

to honor and protect all women. He also learned to sing and to play the lute, in order to hunt and hawk.

The most important thing that he learned during the seven years as a page was how to care for and ride a

horse. This was a skill that was essential when becoming a knight, because a horse was his primary mode

of transportation.

At the age of fourteen, the page became a squire, and at the same time, was formally assigned to a

knight. He now learned to handle a sword, lance, and to bear the weight of heavy armor. Along with his

continued duties from when he was a page, he now had to carve at the dinner table, and accompany his

knight to war. He was constantly receiving instructions from the knight, and attended to the knight’s

personal needs. He assisted the knight with putting on his armor, and had to make sure the sword and other

arms of the knight were polished. He also had to care for the knight's horse, which entailed grooming,

feeding, and constant attention. The squire stood by in battles to give aid in a conflict should the knight be

overmatched, and to lend his horse should his master lose his own. It was the squire who picked up the

knight when he fell, and took his body away if he was injured or killed. This all lasted for the next seven

years of the squire's life. At the end of th!

is period, when he was twenty-one, a squire who had demonstrated his competence and worth, either by

successful completion of his training or on the actual field of battle, was knighted.

The ceremony of the squire becoming knighted was often very elaborate. The squire had to first

take a purification bath that symbolized the purity of his new life. After the bath, he knelt or stood all night

in prayer before the altar on which the armor he would wear later lay. In the morning they had a religious

ritual, with perhaps a sermon on the knight’s duty to protect the weak, make wrongs right, and honor

women. After this, in the courtyard in the presence of the assembled knights and fair ladies, the knight's

armor was buckled on. He was presented with a pair of golden spurs, which only a knight could wear, a

shining new suit of armor, a sword, a shield, a lance, and a charger. After putting on the armor piece by

piece, he knelt to receive the accolade. This was a blow upon the neck or shoulder, given by the

officiating lord, or knight with his fist, or with the flat of a sword. As the blows were given, the lord said,

“In the name of God and St. Michael and S!

t. George, I dub thee knight; be brave and loyal.” He was now a full-fledged bachelor knight entitled to all

the honors and privileges of his rank.

Still at other times the ceremonies were not quite as