Things Knights from Middle Ages had that we don't: Knights had chivalry, armor, and rigorous training

Fareeha Arshad
Image by Adalhelma from Pixabay

Recognized by their horses, chained armours, heavy suits, swords, and daggers, knights were soldiers during the medieval period with a very high status in the military. The head of the state conferred them with their raking and position. Sometime before 800 A.D., knights were considered ordinary soldiers. It was only after that time that they were given an elevated status. They became associated with chivalrous demeanour, a high court of conduct, and a perfect soldier.

Knights were usually raised by the king or one of the nobles. Some perks of being a knight included fighting with the enemy forces, a high salary, and the allowance to live anywhere on the land. Apart from their soldier duties, knights were also allowed to serve the court. Let’s have a look at some of the things that made these medieval soldiers who they were — things that are hard to find in one single person.

1. Chivalry

In the 21st century, we associate chivalry with an old-fashioned man who shows his utmost respect for women. However, during the medieval period, chivalry was something else. Chivalry comes from a French word for horse, cheval. In France, knights were synonymous with horses because apart from being great knights, they were also abled horse riders. The characters and principles by which a knight lived were known as ‘chivalry’. These included mercy, sacrifice, loyalty, courage, respect for women, honour.

Before the 12th century, knights were not very honourable. They were armoured men who often involved themselves in violence. This is why the higher authorities set the chivalrous code of conduct, to keep the knights in check and bring up professional knights that could be respected. You can imagine that all knights were sent to a chivalry school where they were taught how to be ideal knights. Their principal attribute included bravery in the battleground and loyalty to their people. Also, chivalry prevented the knights from looting people, burning homes, or raping women.

Chivalry being the overall conduct for any knight, prevented them from shaking hands with the traitors, not indulge in evil counsel, and treat everybody with respect, especially the ladies. These codes were strictly followed by the knights and were monitored by the nobles and the clergymen.

2. Armour
Image by blitzmaerker from Pixabay

The armour would define a knight. There was no way a knight would enter the battlefield without his armour. Every knight was given armour that would fit him perfectly. Also known as the panoply, the metallic body armour would completely cover the knight’s body. However, most of the time, the legs would remain exposed so that the knight could easily mount and unmount his horse. Since the armour was made up of metals like bronze, steel, or iron, there could be no room for size error, and it had to fit as perfectly as possible. This way, the knight could find himself comfortable during any fight.

An armour would typically weigh 45–55 pounds and could protect the knight from most medieval weapons. The armor’s quality and physical structure would imply the kind of status or position that the knight held. The plate armour was popular in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. By the seventeenth century, the use of such heavy armors declined but it was still used by few nobles. In the second half of the seventeenth century, the complete body armor was reduced to a breastplate that covered only the body’s upper portion. These days, metallic upper body armours have been replaced by bulletproof jackets or plastics.

3. Rigorous training

Most knights were from a higher social class and were usually related to the military. This was because the commoners could not afford the knightly training. However, a few people were allowed to join the ranks based on their bravery on the battlefield. Female knights were very uncommon but not unheard of.

The training period for a prospective knight would start as soon as he turned seven. It would stretch for fourteen years or sometimes even longer. The training began with the knight-to-be working as a servant, a page, who would serve his lord. Unlike the seven-year-olds today, he would play with two-handed maces, practice riding horses, learn archery, and fighting with swords.

After seven years, he would become a squire, serve a specific knight and get a first-hand experience of living with a knight — he would learn how a knight dressed, how he dealt with a situation, handled his weapons, and maintained his armour. By this time, young knights would have learned enough to be allowed on a battlefield. They would have been through enough injuries and would have undergone a learning process of traditional knightly skills that could aid them in any battleground. They were also taught the chivalric codes of conduct and were told the tales of bravery of previous brave knights.

After seven more years of rigorous training, the knight would have officially been appointed by the age of twenty-one. The knighting graduation ceremony was also called the dubbing — during which a nobleman would tap the squire on the neck or shoulder with a sword or hand and would share a few wise words. The new knight would then promise that he would serve his people with bravery and always remain loyal.

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I am a scientist by profession and a historian by passion. I mostly write about history and science.

Texas State

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