Hello dear readers of our Internet resource. Gallant, brave, loyal and noble. Perhaps these are the characteristics that come to mind if we represent medieval knights.
Of course, this is partly romanticism, and many average knights did not live up to such impeccable standards at all. But thanks to medieval literature, their image was popularized, embellished and brought to us in this very form.
And today we decided to better acquaint you with the knights. In the article we have collected the most interesting facts about the warriors who bear this honorary title.
Chivalry originated in Western European countries at the end of the 10th century as a military estate, which was directly subordinate to the large landed aristocracy. Soon, the ideals and way of life of these warriors began to spread to the entire nobility, including the monarchs and their entourage. By the end of the 12th century, all the nobility of Western Europe passed through the rite of knighthood.
The word “knight” comes from the old Anglo-Saxon word “cniht”, which literally translates as “boy.”
Their training was long and arduous, beginning at the age of 7, and lasted for a total of 14 years. A potential knight first had to serve as a page – a boy-servant who was obliged to carry out various assignments and obey his lord unquestioningly. Basically, his training took place in the form of all kinds of games and activities in various sports.
Women could be knights too. There were two ways to get this title for a woman – to inherit land from the knight’s husband (or father) or to be introduced into the knightly order. When the land of the deceased husband passed into the possession of his wife or daughter, his title was transferred to her. In England, such a woman was usually given the title of Lady, and in France, Tuscany and Romagna – the standard male title. In 1358, in England, women finally got the full right to be called knights, when they began to be introduced into the orders of knighthood.
The warriors who bore this title had their own set of rules of conduct, which is called the code of honor. Following the code, they had to protect the weak and innocent, children and women, and fight honestly with their opponents. The degree of adherence to the code varied among different knights. Some knights (raubritters, they are robber knights) did not always act fairly and honestly. They raided peasants, robbed their livestock and plundered their property.
Chivalry was not for the peasants. To wear this title, you had to buy yourself expensive armor, weapons, and a horse. Plus, you had to have land, a house, and servants.
Despite expensive and good armor, fully equipped knights could not withstand crossbowmen in any way. Arrows fired from a crossbow could easily pierce metal armor. The knights themselves despised the warriors who used crossbows. They considered crossbowmen to be cowards.
No knight could enter the battlefield without strong armor. The armor was made to order by craftsmen. Steel armor protected the chest of warriors from the lethal blows of the enemy. A little later, their armor was supplemented with bibs, shoulder pads, greaves and codpiece (a slit or buttoned flap in the front of trousers or underwear). All such items of uniform could weigh up to 22 kg. Due to the lack of steel, they were often made from rough leather and bronze. The armor performed not only a protective function, but also gave the warriors a formidable and intimidating appearance.
In addition to the standard knights, whole crusader orders arose with a more national bias. For example, in Spain, to fight the Muslims or to protect the pilgrims in Castile, the Orders of Calatrava, Alcantara and Santiago were founded between 1156 and 1171. Around the same time, the Order of Aviz was founded in Portugal.
As for the most famous and greatest order in history, it was the order of the German knights – the Teutonic Order. The history of this order began in 1189, when the German king Frederick I Barbarossa, together with his army, took part in the Third Crusade.
The first knightly tournaments appeared in the 11th century. They were invented so that warriors hone their skills before battles. Gradually, such tournaments became not only combat training for battles with enemies, but also a cultural part of society. Horse fights were not as popular as the competitions of warriors, divided into teams.
It was King Henry V of England who was responsible for the fact that chivalry began to disappear. During the Battle of Agincourt, when French and British forces clashed, King Henry V managed to capture more than 3,000 French prisoners of war. There were many knights among these prisoners of war. Henry the Fifth executed all the prisoners. This was contrary to the then knightly code, which stated that the knight had to be taken prisoner and later could be ransomed.
Why Henry did this is not exactly known, but one source claims that he was simply afraid that the knights would flee, rejoin the French army and continue the battle. However, in doing so, he made the rules of war, previously strictly enforced, completely obsolete and ended the centuries-old practice of chivalry on the battlefield.
Going to battle with enemies, knights usually took with them from 1 to 3 squires. The squires did not take part in the battles. They had to keep the armor clean and intact, transport shields and weapons during long hikes. The squires also helped the knights take off and put on bulky armor.
In many medieval castles, spiral staircases were cleverly designed between floors. Usually they were built near the walls of the castle. These ladders were designed specifically for knights (or rather against them). If an enemy army invaded the castle, it was very difficult for its knights to climb the narrow curved stairs during the battle. In addition, the spiral staircases were designed so that they wound upward in a clockwise direction. This meant that the invading warriors had to move forward with the left side, which was a serious problem since almost all warriors held their swords in their right hand.
That’s all, dear readers. Thank you for your attention to our Internet resource.