Life of Medieval Knights Essay Example
In a time where medieval Europe was under constant waves of attacks and defenses, one form of soldier stood out in the battlefield, the knight. Some say the idea of the knight originated from Charlemagne, but some say otherwise. Either way the knight changed many aspects of medieval warfare. Knights were great physical warriors, but the sight of a fierce well-trained knight sent enemies into a state of shock. Another key part of medieval knights was the code of chivalry, common courtesy of the middle ages. With these two aspects, war was on another level.
First off is the history of the knight. There were 3 main types of soldiers, foot soldiers, archers, and knights. Knights were heavily armored juggernauts. War horses were usually a part of a knight's set for war. The first knights were thought to have fought for Charlemagne, ruler of the Frankish empire. Charlemagne used knights on horseback, with long spears, the knights would joust the enemy.
A Knight's armor was an obviously crucial part of a knight's success. The earliest form of armor was hardened leather body plating, and wooden swords in the pre 1100’s, later chainmail was found and became the new standard for armor. Chainmail in the 1300’s was the standard. Chainmail is interlocking metal rings that protect wherever it covers. Later about 1300 to 1500 Metal armor became less expensive than chainmail. Metal armor was as it sounds molded metal plates to cover the main organs and critical points on a person. Some higher end knights even had armor on their best battle horse, covering its head and torso. Shields were a big part of the knight's armor, depending on the task the shield changed size and shape. The shield played a big role in the later middle ages when the longbow, crossbow and primitive firearms were founded.
Next knights had to train hard to become skilled at combat. There were two major ways to become an official knight, the first way was to earn the right to the battlefield, if a soldier were to fight with pride and bravery, they may be scouted to become a knight. The second way was to rank your way up to be the apprentice of a knight, and to obtain his title through good training and outstanding work. Though being a knight was a dream for many young men, very few made the full journey. First the expenses were too vast for many middle classes or upper-class citizens.
Not only was it expensive, usually people from high ranking families had a greater chance to become a knight than an average town folk. And to top it off the average starting age for a starting knight was 7-10 years old, this stage was called a page. Next step in a knight's journey was a squire, around the boy's early teens he could be promoted to a squire. The tasks would be taking care of the knights' horses, cleaning his armor, and accompanying the knight on the battlefield. Training with real weapons starts and the young knight is shaped in the fighting machine. Next is the graduation, or the Dubbing Ceremony. When a squire has proven himself, around the age of 21, he would be knighted, a knight or lord would tap the squire on the shoulders with a sword making him a knight. The now knight would have to take the oath of honor and swear to protect his king and church.
Furthermore, there are many famous knights that shaped our knowledge of a knight's bravery and courage, only the best of the best that passed their stories down. Some of the most famous knights ranging from King Arthur to Henry Percy.
King Arthur, thought to have lived in the 5th or 6th century, led the Britons against the Saxon invaders. But there is no proven score. Richard the Lionheart, 1157-1199. Gained power on the third crusade. After a short time in England he went to France and fought Philip II of France. El Cid, 1043-1099. He was a Castilian knight; his real name was Rodrigo Diaz de Vivar. He is a Spanish national hero; his biggest achievement was capturing Valencia in 1094. Alexander Navasky, 1220-1263. He was the prince of Novgorod, and leader for Vladimir. He was the most popular early Russian ruler. Won the Battle of ice, one of his most famous battles. Edward the Black Prince ,1330-1376. Prince of Wales got the name black prince from the armor he wore. His biggest battle was the battle of Crecy in the Hundreds year war, he later fought in France with his father Edward III.
William Wallace 1272-1305. He was one of the most important knights in the Wars of Scottish Independence in 1296-1328. In 1297 he killed the English sheriff of Lanark. Henry Percy 1364-1403. He got the nickname Hotspur for his short temper. He was knighted by King Edward III, at the age of thirteen. He expanded territory Scotland by a lot, showing his military skills. Bertrand du Guesclin, 1320-1380. He got the name the greatest Frankish knight at his time. Was ordered to fight several high-ranking people such as Charles II of Navarre. John Hawkwood, died in 1394. Was one of the greatest fighters and warriors of his time. He was a big asset to the English in the 100-year war. William Marshal, 1147-1219. He is best known for his bravery and winning record in tournaments. These are just a handful of the brave knights that expressed their skills in battle so much so that their stories live on.
A major moral code in the communities of knights was the code of chivalry, the code of Chivalry was a Moral system that was followed by many to all knights. It expanded the code of combat and made knight battle fair, or equal. Some examples of the rules were, if a knight is caught off guard with his armor off the attacker must let him put his armor on. Many of these rules were to balance a fight, and even the chances of winning. Though it was a fighting code it had no combat rules, such as bravery, honor, courtesy, and gallantry towards women.
The use of knights fell off around the end of the middle ages, due to two factors, one was that many countries had their own standing armies. So, nobles were not needed to fight as knights. The second and main reason was the constant changing of war, with the invention of the Longbow, crossbow and early firearms the knight was deemed pointless.
In conclusion, medieval knights were one of the biggest centerpieces of a medieval army. With all the aspects of a great soldier and the moral code of chivalry. War was a new shape of war rose, and the old had to adapt to the new and upcoming wave of elite warriors.