History of Medieval Knights and the Ways to Knighthood

When the word "knight" is mentioned, we often imagine a strong and handsome mounted warrior fighting dragons to defend his beloved.

Way to Knighthood:

As young as the age of seven, kids were already chosen to become knights by their parents. In order to be chosen to become a knight, a test had to be conducted on them to decide whether they were suitable for the task or not. In order to be chosen, a kid had to be tall for his age, strong and extremely healthy. If chosen, the kid was called a "Page". It was his lord (normally a knight) who frequently trained the young Page by assigning him diverse tasks in or outside the castle. In this process, many Pages died, though it was common since their death meant their weakness.

In order to become a Squire at the age of 13 or 14, the Page had to have shown promise in fighting. The Squire frequently stayed with the former knight who had taught him about knighthood since he was a young Page. During this period of time, the Squire handled the knight's weapons and was appointed to clean them and help the knight in any way he could. By the time a Squire reached the age of 15, he had to start wearing an armor to begin getting used to the weight.

Between 18 and 21, the Squire was finally ready to become a knight. A ceremony invariantly took place to help the knight overcome his problems. The day before the ceremony, the Squire had to fast and bath himself "to cleanse his sins". Afterward he had to go to confession and stay in the church praying to God for guidance all night long. When the ceremony took place, the knight had to enter the hall with his eyes looking straight ahead toward the altar and his sword charging forward, being carried with both hands. As the Squire walked toward his lord, the lord asked him some questions about his tasks and what he was destined to do during his lifetime. If the lord was satisfied with the answers, he would carry on with the ceremony which was later to become a feast.


Though knights were characteristic for being courteous and almost invariantly descended from the upper class, knights sought to exploit serfs as accorded in the feudal system.

Their objective was simple - knights had to protect their lord and king in exchange for fief and sometimes gold. Their strength and ability to command others in the battlefield and in a castle's garrison made most kings focus in them.

When a knight earned a lord's confidence it was common to see a castle appointed to the knight. They always swore loyalty to their king and would fight for him to the end.

Knights reached their peak during the XI and XII centuries, but they appeared earlier since the beginning of the end of the Viking Raids. It was then when their image was forged for they had to follow the code of chivalry.

I was recently reading an excellent book by Andreas Capellanus called "The Art of Courtly Love" in which the art of loving is outlined.

1.Marriage is no real excuse for not loving.
2.He who is not jealous cannot love.
3.No one can be bound by a double love.
4.It is well known that love is always increasing or decreasing.
5.That which a lover takes against the will of his beloved has no relish.
6.Boys do not love until they reach the age of maturity.
7.When one lover dies, a widowhood of two years is required of the survivor.
8.No one should be deprived of love without the very best of reasons.
9.No one can love unless he is propelled by the persuasion of love.
10.Love is always a stranger in the home of avarice.
11.It is not proper to love any woman whom one would be ashamed to seek to marry.
12.A true lover does not desire to embrace in love anyone except his beloved.
13.When made public love rarely endures.
14.The easy attainment of love makes it of little value: difficulty of attainment makes it prized.
15.Every lover regularly turns pale in the presence of his beloved.
16.When a lover suddenly catches sight of his beloved his heart palpitates.
17.A new love puts an old one to flight.
18.Good character alone makes any man worthy of love.
19.If love diminishes, it quickly fails and rarely revives.
20.A man in love is always apprehensive.
21.Real jealousy always increases the feeling of love.
22.Jealousy increases when one suspects his beloved.
23.He whom the thought of love vexes eats and sleeps very little.
24.Every act of a lover ends in the thought of his beloved.
25.A true lover considers nothing good except what he thinks will please his beloved.
26.Love can deny nothing to love.
27.A lover can never have enough of the solaces of his beloved.
28.A slight presumption causes a lover to suspect his beloved.
29.A man who is vexed by too much passion usually does not love.
30.A true lover is constantly and without intermission possessed by the thought of his beloved.
31.Nothing forbids one woman being loved by two men or one man by two women. 

Seducing Women, love and nobility were obviously extremely important for knights.

A knight would frequently die for his beloved or for defending his own honor, which was sometimes as important. It was common for knights to marry at an early age and have many children who he would protect. The role of knights as the head of the family was extremely important, though it was his mistress who taught their children needed skills, and who spent most of the time with them while the knight performed other activities in or outside of the castle.

Even though knights continued to be important for centuries, when gunpowder was incorporated into medieval warfare their importance began to decline slowly to the point when feudalism reached its end and so did knighthood. France was the last country to still have knights, though they were mostly symbolical and no longer used for warfare since it was enough for a bullet to kill him, rendering his skills useless.

A thousand years later, today, knights have evolved into a legend. Their stories are told and tens of thousands of books about them have been written. Undoubtedly, knights are very symbolical of the Middle Ages. Most of us are blown away by their stories of love making us aspire to achieve their code of Chivalry.


Chivalry comes from the French "Chevalier" and the Spanish "Caballero" which mean, basically, "mounted warrior" or "knight". The term had a completely different meaning during the Middle Ages since it was a complete code of ethics that a knight had to follow in order to be good. Chivalry covers many key-concepts such as helping the weak, protecting a lady and swearing loyalty to the lord. Following is a list of the basic rules of the code of Chivalry as contained in the book "Chivalry" by Leon Gautier

-Thou Shalt believe all that the Church teaches, and shalt observe all its directions.
-Thou shalt defend the Church.
-Thou shalt repect all weaknesses, and shalt constitute thyself the defender of them.
-Thou shalt love the country in the which thou wast born.
-Thou shalt not recoil before thine enemy.
-Thou shalt make war against the Infidel without cessation, and without mercy.
-Thou shalt perform scrupulously thy feudal duties, if they be not contrary to the laws of God.
-Thou shalt never lie, and shall remain faithful to thy pledged word.
-Thou shalt be generous, and give largess to everyone.
-Thou shalt be everywhere and always the champion of the Right and the ood against Injustice and evil

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