Life in modern times was completely suppressed by the noble spirit of chivalry that remained trapped in its lagums. New generations do not have the opportunity to know how things used to be. We remember with ancient times, knights, knights armor and weapons, with nostalgia and respect. An era of medieval tournaments where everything was full of great helmets, swords and playful battle horses; knights under heavy armor pledge allegiance to court ladies who accompany them with long views of the central battlefield; faithful batsmen carry equipment and lead even more faithful horses; folk in colorful uniforms, swordsmanship and the fight with heavy swords and troubadours that announce excitement that crosses the walls and spills far beyond the horizon.
Medieval warriors of noble lineage who fought on horseback were called knights. Their favorite weapons were swords, rarely spears and axes. Feudalism is occurring in Europe. The most active were from the 11th to the 13th centuries. At the end of the Middle Ages, knights were replaced by mercenary pedestrians. The knights are beginning to lose importance.
Who were the knights
Chivalry occurs in Europe with the advent of feudalism. They experienced their flourishing and development in the period from the 11th to the 13th centuries. The Carolinians increased the number of horsemen in their army. They paid them by giving them land in ownership. The warriors thus gained possession, and in return fought for the ruler and swore allegiance to him. They had the right to collect the so-called. knightly levies from his peasants. The knights were relieved of some feudal charges. All these warriors who fought on horses, had land, and were submissive and loyal to the higher lords, who granted them land, were knights.
Knight training began as early as the seventh year, when a boy who was determined to become a knight would go to a relative, also a nobleman, to serve as a caretaker. In addition to practicing warfare skills and horseback riding, he also learned good behavior and refined manners. At the age of fourteen he would become a squire, passing the service of another knight. There he learned how to use weapons, took care of the horse, armor, and weapons of the knight he served. The young squadrons had to be in excellent physical condition. They practiced regularly, fighting with each other. These exercises were extremely difficult and exhausting, so not everyone could master them. He escorted the knight to knights in tournaments and battles, in which he assisted him in preparing and wearing armor.
In order to successfully complete his training, the young man was proclaimed a knight at the grand ceremony organized in his honor. Before he was proclaimed, he had to show his skills to the assembled people. He was then given weapons and special knightly marks, a belt, golden lures and a coat of arms with a motto. The trainee swore an oath to his senior (Count, Duke or Ruler) for his allegiance and courage. The blow of his sword on his shoulders and head marked him as a knight.
Because he fought on horseback, each knight owned must have had at least one horse. It was used for warfare, tournament fights, travel and equipment transfer. Horses were extremely expensive at the time. The most respected were those from Italy, France and Spain.
To protect themselves from blows during battle, the knights wore armor. At first, these were armor made up of many small, interconnected metal rings. A bulletproof shirt weighed between nine and fourteen pounds. From the 15th century, plate armor came into use. Although they are often thought of as being heavy and rigid and therefore problematic to wear, this is not really true.
The gunsmiths who made them worked very thoughtfully to make movement in them as easy as possible. The secret lies in making tiles that could move with one another as the knight moved. They were interconnected by rivets that allowed them to move. The armor could be put on and taken off in minutes, with his knight’s help.
The most important weapon the knights wore was the sword, which changed its shape over time, depending on the armor worn during that period. In addition to the swords, the knights were able to use the ax, spear, daggers, bows, etc. in combat.
Although the rules of chivalry meant that the victors in the battles would be courteous to the defeated, this did not apply to their equipment. Thus, regularly after the battles they looted the horses, weapons and armor of their rivals, which was a significant part of their income.
In addition to battles, the knights also fought in tournaments, organized since the 11th century, and in addition to being a party for the assembled, they also served as a sort of training ground for warfare. In a fake battle organized in the tournament, two teams would clash. After its completion, the defeated winners had to hand over their horses and armor. Later, other competitions, such as knights’ duels or leg fights, occur.
Knightly duels in which two knights fought with their spears while riding on a horse, appeared in the 13th century. At first, they used sharp spears, but later replaced them with those blunted tips. Such blunt spear fights were called “peace duels”. In the 15th century, a wooden fence was introduced to separate the sides on which the knights fought, and prevented possible collisions. Each of the competitors had a certain number of shots that he was allowed to direct to his opponent. Armed men were standing near the contestants during the duel, ready to separate them if they got too much into the fight.
There was also a knight’s duel on the water, in which the knights clashed in two boats clashed. The teams would paddle towards each other, and on the bow of the boat stood a knight trying to throw his rival with his spear out of balance.
Not all duels were competitive in nature, as sometimes charges of murder or betrayal were dealt with by combat. It was thought that God would help the innocent, and they would fight until one competitor was killed or surrendered. He would then be punished by death.
Hunting was one of the favorite interests of the nobility of the time, and especially of knights. It was also a good warfare exercise, and especially useful for practicing bow and arrow handling. In addition, he obtained fresh meat and served as a social gathering place, so he was extremely popular with members of the nobility. Hunters used onions or crossbows to hunt all the game, from deer, boars, rabbits and all kinds of birds. The falconry, which is the German Emperor Frederick II, was especially popular. The falconer loved it so much that in the mid-13th century he wrote a book on the subject. The hunters were also very helpful with the specially trained hunting dogs that they cared for. In the event of injuries, the dogs were treated with medicinal herbs, and bone fractures and wounds were successfully repaired.
Around 1500, there was a change in the structure of former military units. The most important part of every army now becomes well-trained, disciplined infantrymen, who somewhat suppress heavily armed and armored horsemen. There is also a change in the recruitment of soldiers. Increasingly, paid well-trained professional soldiers are being hired, and there is a diminishing need for knights who cease to be effective on the battlefield. One should not forget the appearance of firearms, which were fatal and very devastating to the armor of knights.
Chivalry in the 16th and 17th centuries ceases to be a title passed from father to son. It now becomes merely an oral honor granted by the ruler to the people to whom he wanted to give some recognition. But it has nothing to do with war anymore.
The Knight’s Code
Knights were not what we might call professional soldiers today. The knights saw themselves as a social elite who, in addition to fighting “unbelievers,” ie non-Christians, protecting “children and infirmities,” lived by their own code. From this codex also developed the medieval culture as we know it today, with troubadours and romantic expression of love for court ladies.
The history of knights can also be interpreted from a social point of view. It should always be kept in mind that this is a very small part of the population. And the one who could afford the knightly way of life financially. The knightly equipment itself cost a small fortune. All this would have been impossible without the feudal order and of course the army of serfs who allowed the ruling government to have a comfortable life in the court. But with the onset of the Renaissance and the discovery of new worlds and the strengthening of citizenship, the role of knights diminished. Their rural world was in conflict with new values but also with new war strategies in which there was no room for a romantic idealist in heavy armor. But the cultural component of chivalry persisted, especially in the noble classes. Especially when it comes to the attitude towards the “weaker sex”. “Giving preference to the lady, holding the door or moving the chair when the lady is sitting at the table is all a legacy of knighthood.”