Steps to Knighthood - Step 1 The right connections
A Knight was recognised by Middle Ages society as a man who possessed great combat skills and who adhered to the Code of Chivalry. During the Middle Ages, it was technically possible for any free man to become a knight. However, the process of training and equipping a knight with a horse and appropriate weapons was very expensive. Knights would therefore generally come from a noble, or wealthy, family - a would-be knight had to have the right connections. The origin of the term ' Knight' derives from Anglo-Saxon word "Cniht" meaning "boy" or "page boy". The steps to knighthood started as a boy. The honor of being a knight eventually passed from a knight to his sons.
Steps to Knighthood - Step 2 Upbringing
His future role as a Knight would be recognised at the birth of a son. His early upbringing would therefore be governed by this ambition. Up to the age of 7 years old a young boy would be brought up in the home of his parents. During this time he would be expected to learn basic good manners and to understand the role of the knight, chivalry and loyalty to his liege lord. Games would be played mimicking the role of a knight. Toys would include a wooden sword and shield. A boy's aspirations to becoming a knight would be fuelled by attending tournaments and hearing stories of brave knightly deeds and combats
Steps to Knighthood - Step 3 The Page
At the tender age of just seven years a young boy would be sent to commence his education at the home or castle of a noble. His role would be as a page, the third step towards becoming a knight. A page was also referred to as a 'varlet' meaning 'little vassal'. It was the duty of a Page to wait at table, care for the Lord's clothes and assist them in dressing. The page was also expected to acts as servants to the ladies of the court or castle her served in. The Page was provided with a uniform of the colours and livery of the Lord. There were many pages, the number depending on the wealth of the noble. There was a 'pecking order' amongst the pages which was dependent on age. The ages of the pages would range from seven years old up to fourteen years old when they would take the next step to becoming a knight by serving in the position of a Squire. The young page would receive an education being taught religion, manners, riding, hunting, hawking and strategic games such as backgammon and chess. A Page would soon start to acquire the skills required of a Knight by practising the skills of tilting a lance and watching the prowess and training of their seniors. The use of the lance would be practised together with the skills of horsemanship. A target was erected and the Page would mount a wooden 'horse' on wheels holding a lance. The wooden horse would be pulled along by two other pages towards the target and the page would aim the lance. Sword play was practised using wooden swords and shields. Fighting on piggyback introduced the young knights to the balance and skills required in mounted combat. The page would attend their superiors at Tournaments which were always seen as great occasions in the life of pages from the Middle Ages.
Steps to Knighthood - Step 4 The Squire
The Medieval Squire was a servant to a knight during the Middle Ages. This was Step 4 of becoming a Knight. The role to a squire was one of the most important steps to Knighthood and started when a page reached the age of fourteen years old. The duties of a Squire were to learn about Chivalry, the rules of Heraldry, horsemanship and practise the use of weapons and the skills required of a Knight. It was also their duty to enter into the social life of the castle and learn courtly etiquette, jousting, music and dancing. The Squire served in this role 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.
Steps to Knighthood - Step 5 The Knight
After many long years of training and learning the skills of combat and chivalry required of a Knight during the Middle Ages the steps to Knighthood were completed and symbolised in the order of Knighthood ceremony. The culmination of the ceremony was when a knight was dubbed and the words "Arise, Sir Knight" were uttered. This final part of the ceremony would have been knighted by a local knight, or if they were very lucky, by a greater noble or even the king. The ceremony marked the final steps to knighthood made by a Medieval Squire.
Order of Knighthood Ceremony