Knights and Knighthood by Aleisha SutherlandPosted: November 7, 2011
Knights and Knighthood
by: Aleisha Sutherland
History Of Knighthood
The term “knight” originates from the Anglo-Saxon name for a boy:
“cniht”. In early Middle Ages, it is true that any noble, under any
circumstances, could make a person a knight. Kings also knighted artists,
musicians, writers and any others fit to be a knight. However in the later
Middle Ages, as the Crusades began, men were knighted and given religious
charge. To fight in the holy wars to retake the holy Land from the Muslim
Nobility/ Life as a Page
As the middle ages went on, Knighthood became more common. There were only a
few ways a person could become a Knight. One way to
become a knight was;
Some from the poorer class could elevate their status and be accepted into
knighthood through valor on the battlefield. While orders of female Knights
were rare, they did exist.
But the most common way was if you were the
son of a noble. Then from the age of seven or eight you began training to
become a Knight. During this step, boys were called a Page.
During life as a page a boy would learn how to use weapons, how to fight,
archery, education, taught religion, manners, hunting, hawking, strategic games
such as chess and how to ride a horse into battle. He would learn manners from
the nobleman’s wife. The duty of a Page was to wait at the table, assist the
Lord in dressing and care for the Lords clothes. The Page wore a uniform of the
livery and colours of the Lord. Pages had a strict rule of conduct; When you enter a lord’s place, say, “Good Speed”
and with humble cheer, and greet all who are in the room Do not rudely rush in,
enter with head up and at an easy pace. Kneel on one knee only to your Lord. Bow
to your lord always when you answer. Otherwise stand as still as stone until he
At the age of fifteen or sixteen, a boy became a squire in service to a
knight. The squire assisted the Knight. Once your Squire duties were over,
there was a ceremony and then you became a Knight.
During the ceremony of becoming a knight everything the knight wore was cloaked
in symbolism. His red tunic indicated that he was willing to shed his blood to
defend the Church. His white sash or belt stood for a clean life and his white
coif (hat or cap) for a pure heart. When a squire he wore spurs of silver, but
as a knight he wore gold covered spurs, which meant he was ready for service.
His two edged sword stood for aid to others and self defence.
The symbols, colours and signs of the Middle Ages and Knighthood is called
Heraldry originated to identify knights in battle or in tournaments. In battle
a knight was covered in Armour making it hard to see their face. It then became
necessary to create a method to tell whether a person was your enemy. Heraldic
symbols ranged from simple geometric shapes such as chevrons, to more elaborate
drawings of real or mythological animals. As the honour of becoming a knight,
heraldry was passed on from father to son, or with family name. Eventually
heraldic symbols also came to signify duchies, kingdoms or provinces as a
medieval forerunner to our modern national
symbols were often worn on the knight’s surcoat, helmet, shield, or on a
|COLORS||Even the colors can have special meaning in a
“family crest” or coat of arms:
|Gold (Or)||Generosity and elevation of the mind|
|Silver or White (Argent)||Peace and sincerity|
|Red (Gules)||Warrior or martyr; Military strength and
|Blue (Azure)||Truth and loyalty|
|Green (Vert)||Hope, joy, and loyalty in love|
|Black (Sable)||Constancy or grief|
|Purple (Purpure)||Royal majesty, sovereignty, and justice|
|Orange (Tawny or Tenne)||Worthy ambition|
|Maroon (Sanguine or Murray)||Patient in battle, and yet victorious|
|FURS||The mere fact that a shield or crest contains
furs suggests a mark of dignity. Usually the fur coat of the weasel is
|Ermine||White with black spots.|
|Erminois||Gold with black spots.|
|Ermines||Black with white spots.|
|Pean||Black with gold spots.|
|Vair||Blue and white bell-shaped objects.|
|Heraldic Lines and Ordinaries:|
|Nebuly Line||Clouds or air|
|Wavy Line||Sea or water|
|Engrailed Line||Earth or land|
|Invected Line||Earth or land|
|Raguly Line||Difficulties that have been encountered|
|Embattled Line||Walls of a fortress or town (also, fire)|
What Signifies What?
Blue – Loyalty and truth.
Silver – Peace and sincerity.
Purple – the majestic color of
justice; the color of royalty.
Chevron – the V-shaped symbol of
Protection. Often a reward for notable achievement and faithful service.
Crescent – half-moon shape with
upturned horns and means faith and hope.
Eagle – represents speed and
Fleur De Lies – denotes valor,
faith, and wisdom.
Greyhound – represents courage,
vigilance, loyalty, and fidelity.
Griffin – a mythical beast with
the body of a lion and the head of an eagle. Represents perseverance,
vigilance, and valor.
Hawk – represents someone who is
vigorous in the pursuit of their objective.
Leopard – represents a warrior of
courage and valor.
Lion – represents strength,
courage, generosity, and majesty.
was armoured from head to toe. Knights
had so much armour and weapons that they depended on their squire to keep his
weapons and armour in good working condition and clean. At first armour was
made of small metal rings called chain mail. Knights wore linen shirts and a
pair of pants underneath as well as very heavy woollen pads under the metal
ringed tunic. Chain mail could have more than 200,000 rings. However, the chain
mal was very uncomfortable, heavy and difficult to move in. As time went on,
knights covered their bodies with metal plates. The plates covered their
chests, back, arms, and legs. A helmet like a bucket protected the knights head
and had a hinged metal visor to protect his face. The suits of Armour were hot,
heavy to wear and uncomfortable. A suit of armour weighed between forty and
sixty pounds. Some Knights even protected their horses in Amour.
Knights also needed a shield for protection in battle. Shields were made of
either metal or wood. Knights decorated their shields with their family emblem
or crest and the family motto.
The knights weapon was his sword which weighed around thirty-two pounds. It was
worn on the left side in case fastened around his waist. A knife was worn on
his right side. Knights also used other weapons such as a lance, metal axes,
battle hammers, and maces.
Humanities Alive second edition
Everyday Life: The Middle Ages Knighthood