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Middle Ages

Becoming a Medieval Knight

History >> Middle Ages for Kids

There were two ways that a man could become a knight during the Middle Ages. The first was earning the right on the battlefield. If a soldier fought particularly bravely during a battle or war, he may be awarded knighthood by the king, a lord, or even another knight. The second way was to become an apprentice to a knight and earn the title through hard work and training.



Who could become a knight?

No doubt many young men growing up in the Middle Ages dreamed of becoming a knight, but only a few could afford to become knights. The first requirement of a knight was someone who could afford a knight's weapons, armor, and war horse. These items weren't cheap and only the very rich could pay for them. Knights were also people from the noble or aristocratic classes.

Page

When a boy, or more likely his parents, decided that he wanted to become a knight, he would go to live in the household of a knight when he was seven years old. There he would serve the knight as a page. As a young page he basically was a servant for the knight, performing tasks such as serving meals, cleaning his clothes, and carrying messages. While working for the knight's household, the page learned the proper way to behave and good manners.

The page also began to train to fight. He would practice with other pages using wooden shields and swords. He also would start to learn how to ride a horse using no hands and carrying a lance.

Squire

Around the age of fifteen, the page would become a squire. As a squire, the young man would have a new set of tasks. He would take care of the knight's horses, clean his armor and weapons, and accompany the knight to the battlefield.

Squires had to be ready to fight. They trained with real weapons and were taught fighting skills by the knight. They had to be in good shape and strong. Squires continued to practice their horsemanship, perfecting their skills at jousting and fighting from the saddle. Most future knights worked as a squire for five or six years.

Dubbing Ceremony

If a squire had proven his bravery and skill at battle, he would become a knight at the age of twenty-one. He gained the title of knight at a "dubbing" ceremony. At this ceremony he would kneel before another knight, lord, or king who would then tap the squire on the shoulder with his sword making him a knight.

At the ceremony, the new knight would take an oath to honor and protect his king and the church. He would be presented with a pair of riding spurs and a sword.

Interesting Facts about Becoming a Knight
  • Squires often learned about castle and siege warfare from their knight. They would need to know how to defend their own castle as well as how to attack an enemy's castle.
  • The word "squire" comes from a French word meaning "shield-bearer."
  • Wealthy knights would have had several pages and squires to assist them.
  • Squires would practice jousting using a wooden dummy called a quintain.
  • Not all squires were made knights through an elaborate ceremony. Some were awarded knighthood on the battlefield.
  • Before the dubbing ceremony to become a knight, squires were required to spend the night alone in prayer.


Take a ten question quiz at the becoming a Medieval knight questions page.

More subjects on the Middle Ages:

Overview
Timeline
Feudal System
Guilds
Medieval Monasteries
Glossary and Terms

Knights and Castles
Becoming a Knight
Castles
History of Knights
Knight's Armor and Weapons
Knight's coat of arms
Tournaments, Jousts, and Chivalry

Culture
Daily Life in the Middle Ages
Middle Ages Art and Literature
The Catholic Church and Cathedrals
Entertainment and Music
The King's Court

Major Events
The Black Death
The Crusades
Hundred Years War
Magna Carta
Norman Conquest of 1066
Reconquista of Spain
Wars of the Roses

Nations
Anglo-Saxons
Byzantine Empire
The Franks
Kievan Rus
Vikings for kids

People
Alfred the Great
Charlemagne
Genghis Khan
Joan of Arc
Justinian I
Marco Polo
Saint Francis of Assisi
William the Conqueror
Famous Queens



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