As a page he was viewed as a boy, and looked after by the ladies of the court or castle. Squires were viewed as young men and had reached the age of puberty, their first step towards manhood. The care of the Squires moved from the Medieval ladies to the Knights. This page describes how was a life of a squire in the medieval times. The word Squire is derived from the French words "Esquire, Escuyer" which originally meant 'shield bearer'. In later years the term gradually moved away from the meaning of apprentice knight and on to mean a country gentleman of some standing.
Squires - A description from the Middle Ages
Squires were described as follows by Ramon Lull (1235 – 1315) was a Medieval writer and philosopher:
"a noble man who loves the order of chivalry and will be a knight to
have first a master who is a knight,
for thus it is a discovenable thing that a squire should learn the order and
nobility from any other man than a knight.
So very high and honored is the order of chivalry
that a squire should suffer himself not only to learn to keep horse and learn to serve a
knight, that he go with him to tourneys and battles; but it is necessary that he beholds the
school of the order of knighthood."
Ramon Lull is clearly describing the role of the Squires in this interesting quote.
The Lessons and Skills of Squires
The lessons and skills to be acquired by Squires were:
- The Code of Chivalry
- The Rules of Heraldry
- The use of weapons - swordsmanship and marksmanship
- Squires had to develop strength, speed, dexterity and leadership skills
- Climbing skills, athletics and swimming skills - important in situations which related to a castle siege
- He must also learn bravery and the ability to withstand extremes in cold and heat, tiredness and hunger
- All of these skills were required of a Knight
It was also their duty to enter into the social life of the castle and learn:
- Courtly etiquette
The Duties and Jobs of Squires
The duties of Squires and life of a squire was quite varied. However they could relate to specific tasks and roles such as:
- The Arming Squire, who accompanied the Knight to the Battlefield
- The Squire of the table, who performed duties in the castle or court
But the vast majority of the squires undertook a combination of these duties and their life of a squire was as follows:
- Attending to their Knights horses - the stabling and care
- Waiting at table, some duties in the kitchen, arranging for the upkeep of clothing, running errands, carrying messages and guarding their knight when he slept
- Assisting the Knight in dressing in his armor. Ensuring the armor and weapons of the knight were in good order
- Accompanying their Knight to tournaments and during the time of war to the battlefield
There was a 'pecking order' amongst the squires. The most envied of the squires positions was that of the "squire of the body". Such squires were the closest to the lord and were trusted to accompany him in battle. Such was the life of a squire
When the Squires became Knights
The Squires served in this role and performed their duties for seven years and became a Knight at the age of twenty-one. Sometimes knighthood was conferred on a squire at an earlier age as the reward for bravery on the battlefield. In time of war Squires accompanied Knights on the battlefield, leading and tending the horses and dressing them in the Medieval Knights Armor. They came under fire from arrows and many squires were killed doing their duty.
Not all Squires became Knights 'Arma Patrina'
Squires who had either grown too old to qualify for knighthood or who were unable to afford the expense of knighthood were called 'Arma Patrina'. These men were were allowed to carry a lance and shield even though they had not undergone the ceremony of knighthood.