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Middle Ages

History of the Medieval Knight

History >> Middle Ages for Kids



What was a knight?

There were three main types of soldiers during the Middle Ages: foot soldiers, archers, and knights. The knights were heavily armored soldiers who rode on horseback. Only the wealthiest nobles could afford to be a knight. They needed very expensive armor, weapons, and a powerful war horse.

The First Knights

The first knights of the Middle Ages fought for Charlemagne, the King of the Franks, in the 700s. In order to fight battles across his large empire, Charlemagne began to use soldiers on horseback. These soldiers became a very important part of his army.

Charlemagne began to award his best knights with land called "benefices". In return for the land, the knights agreed to fight for the king whenever he called. This practice caught on through much of Europe and became standard practice for many kings for the next 700 years. If you were a son born into the family of a knight, you generally became a knight as well.

Orders of Knights

Some knights decided to pledge themselves to defending the Christian faith. They formed orders that fought in the Crusades. These orders were called military orders. Here are three of the most famous military orders: There were also orders of chivalry. These orders were meant to imitate the military orders, but were formed after the Crusades. One of the most famous of these orders is the Order of the Garter. It was founded by King Edward III of England in 1348 and is considered one of the highest orders of knighthood in the United Kingdom.

End of the Knight

By the end of the Middle Ages, the knight was no longer an important part of the army. This was for two main reasons. One reason was that many countries had formed their own standing armies. They paid soldiers to train and fight. They no longer needed lords to come fight as knights. The other reason was a change in warfare. Battle tactics and new weapons such as longbows and firearms made the heavy armor the knights wore cumbersome and useless. This made it much easier to arm a soldier and pay for a standing army.

Interesting Facts about Knights from the Middle Ages

Take a ten question quiz at the history of knights 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



History >> Middle Ages for Kids






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