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History of England
Middle Ages
Knights
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How do you become a knight?

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May 20, 2010 11:00PM

Becoming a Knight: There were only a few ways in which a person could become a knight. The first way was the normal course of action for the son of a noble: When a boy was eight years old, he was sent to the neighboring castle where he was trained as a page. The boy was usually the son of a knight or of a member of the aristocracy. He spent most of his time strengthening his body, wrestling and riding horses. He also learned how to fight with a spear and a sword. He practiced against a wooden dummie called a quintain. It was essentially a heavy sack or dummie in the form of a human. It was hung on a wooden pole along with a shield. The young page had to hit the shield in its center. When hit, the whole structure would spin around and around. The page had to maneuver away quickly without getting hit. The young man was also taught more civilized topics. He would be taught to read and write by a schoolmaster. He could also be taught some Latin and French. The lady of the castle taught the page to sing and dance and how to behave in the king’s court. At the age of fifteen or sixteen, a boy became a squire in service to a knight. His duties included dressing the knight in the morning, serving all of the knight’s meals, caring for the knight’s horse, and cleaning the knight’s armor and weapons. He followed the knight to tournaments and assisted his lord on the battlefield. A squire also prepared himself by learning how to handle a sword and lance while wearing forty pounds of armor and riding a horse. When he was about twenty, a squire could become a knight after proving himself worthy. A lord would agree to knight him in a dubbing ceremony. The night before the ceremony, the squire would dress in a white tunic and red robes. He would then fast and pray all night for the purification of his soul. The chaplain would bless the future knight's sword and then lay it on the chapel or church's altar. Before dawn, he took a bath to show that he was pure, and he dressed in his best clothes. When dawn came, the priest would hear the young man's confession, a Catholic contrition rite. The squire would then eat breakfast. Soon the dubbing ceremony began. The outdoor ceremony took place in front of family, friends, and nobility. The squire knelt in front of the lord, who tapped the squire lightly on each shoulder with his sword and proclaimed him a knight. This was symbolic of what occurred in earlier times. In the earlier middle ages, the person doing the dubbing would actually hit the squire forcefully, knocking him over. After the dubbing, a great feast followed with music and dancing. A young man could also become a knight for valor in combat after a battle or sometimes before a battle to help him gain courage.