Do you know how knighthood was obtained?

Knighthood began as a military rank. After A.D. 1000 it become a more complicated institution and one of the glorious features of the middle Ages, the standards of which were both military and religious. One became a knight through birth into the nobility or through bravery in battle. Knights had the right to fight on horseback and this right was bestowed on them in a ceremony by the king. In this ceremony the recipient of the honour would kneel before his sovereign who would touch him on the shoulder with a sword.

The younger children of a feudal lord became knights but first they had to serve a period of service when they were known as squires. The training for knighthood began at twelve years of age. The young squire was taught to ride, to fence and to handle the bow; he also learned to hunt with falcons and dogs. In his teens, the squire had to act as an assistant to a knight, and this was his true apprenticeship. His duties included swerving his master at table, looking after his master’s horse and weapons, carrying his shield and helping him in battle.

At the age of about twenty the squire became a knight. He spent the whole night before the ceremony awake and in prayer, guarding his arms. This was known as the vigil. Today knighthood is bestowed on persons by the monarch for outstanding contributions in all spheres of life such as industry, science and the arts. The ceremony of touching the shoulder with the sword is still the same. Knights have the title ‘Sir’ before their Christian names.


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