When was a medieval knight promoted?

Training to become a knight

Step 1: Training as a page
Step 2: Pages become squires
Step 3: "sword line" and accolade

Step 1: Training as a page

The first few years of a future knight's life were probably the most carefree. But if you want to become a knight, you get to know it early: At the age of seven, the young aristocrat left his parents' house and came as a page to friendly knight families or to larger courts. This training location was particularly popular because, in addition to a wide range of sports training, there were also the best career opportunities here.

In these years it was essential to learn the courtly manners, for which the page came into the care of women. As a budding gentleman, he learned fine manners, served at the table and practiced chivalrous behavior towards the lord of the castle.

From the beginning he was made familiar with the courtly virtues, above all with adherence to the good ("staete") and moderation ("mâze").

In addition, the future knight also had to become fit in other disciplines: In addition to learning perfect riding technique, other sports such as wrestling, fistfighting and archery were on the program.

Brains were also required: he had to learn to read and write, foreign languages ​​and a little Latin were an advantage. If he then learned to play the harp, the lyre or the lute and to recite a song, he was well on the way to becoming a perfect knight.

Step 2: Pages become squires

When he was about 14 years old, the page became a squire. Now he was mainly subordinate to the lord of the castle. Through him he got to know the basics of hunting, stalking, chasing and driven hunts, dealing with dogs, horses and falcons.

However, military training in his new role was in the foreground. So it was up to him to look after the knight's horses and look after his equipment. Above all, however, he had to learn to handle sharp weapons himself.

If it went to war, its grace period was over. Now it was time to follow his master onto the battlefield and be of service to him there. It was his duty to hand him the lance and to bring in a new horse if necessary.

If the knight suffered wounds during the fight, the squire had to rush to his aid - if necessary at the risk of his life. If his master fell in battle, the recovery of the corpse was also one of his tasks. He had to bury him or see that he was transferred to his castle.

The special relationship that existed between lord and squire can also be seen in the fact that he sometimes slept on the doorstep of his lord to protect him.

Training as a squire lasted about seven years, then the time had come: the long period of the apprenticeship was over, and the way to the longed-for knighthood seemed free.

Step 3: "sword line" and accolade

How did the squire take this last hurdle? The so-called sword line is comparable to the initiation rites of other cultures through which young people enter the adult world. At the age of about 21 the squire was inducted into the knighthood in a religious ceremony.

The ceremony proceeded according to fixed rules: On the eve of the memorable day, the budding knight took a bath, which symbolically was supposed to wash off his sins; the following night he spent praying in front of the altar in the church.

After a mass at dawn he was dressed. A red robe reminded one of his duty to sacrifice his blood for faith, black stockings reminded of death, a white belt stood for chastity.

The actual sword line then took place in the ballroom. A high-standing knight gave the candidate the spurs and girded him with the sword, which from now on he "knew how to guide" - the church's blessing could not be missing.

In the 14th century, the elaborate sword line was replaced by the accolade; first in the form of a blow on the squire's neck, later a nobleman touched the left shoulder of the budding knight with the blade of his sword. What he had striven for for so long was finally achieved: He was a "miles Christi", a knight of Christ.