Knighthood began in the 9th century. As a request of the fall of Charlemagnes Empire in Western Europe a new way of life began. Little kingdoms replaced the old Empire that were held together by kings or lords. Because of continuous attacks by invading Moors and Vikings , the greatest need in these new settlements was for protection and security. Therefore , a new form of civil government arose. Which was called feudalism based on mutual agreement between the kings and lords , and their knights or servants. The kings or lord gave land to his knight in exchange for the knights loyalty , service , and military protection.
Boys from wealthy families were expected to become a knight. At five or six they had pretend battles with wooden swords. They were also sent to churches to learn the ways of the church. Often the lord or Duke who was looking after the page became very close and did things together.
The page had to learn to wait on the Duke or lord with very good manners. Their guardian often told stories or songs about famous knights. When the page reached teenhood , he became a squire. He helped with the horses , armor and learned how to fight. Squires also learned to joust and had to hold a lance which was three meters of heavy metal. Not all squires became knights. Some just stayed squires who were known has a gentleman who owned land. A rich squire could become a knight at sixteen , but if he was poor he had to wait until he was twenty. When the time came to become a knight , a squire would spend all night in a church praying. Afterwards , he took a bath that was very rare in those days and put on new clothes . When it was time , the lord or Duke who had trained the squire "dubbed ", ( hard on the shoulder with a sword. ) him a knight. After the ceremony there was much feasting and dancing.
Young knights wanted to do tournaments. So they had mock battles in tournaments which soon became popular in the year 1100. It first originated in France . Soon other countries had their own tournaments and teams. The lords had messengers spread the news and gathered their knights together to join the other lords and friends. This mock battle took place on a large , flat countryside which lasted several days. There were two sides and few rules. If an opponent was captured he was not killed but accidents did happen. Opponents that were captured had to pay ransom, money, armor or give their best horse. In the late thirteenth century the games became more organized. They jousted and therefore the contest took more time. They had judges watching and give prize to the knight who won. The safety precautions increased , for an example knights had to have horses apart so they wouldn't charge into each other. Weapons had dull points and as a result knights had fewer wounds. Still with all the safety precautions , it was a dangerous sport. People watched from the stands and ladies-in-waiting cheered on their favorite champion. The would throw a scarf from their dress for their champion and he would wear it on his helmet. After the tournament they would have a banquet in honor of the knights who won.
People who lived in castles , villages , and farms got up early before dawn. When it became dark outside, to light all the rooms with wax candles was to expensive , therefore they went to bed early. Often they used tallow candles which were dipped rushes in animal fat. Tallow candles were very smoky and smelt bad. On winter evenings , minstrels and jugglers performed by the light of a fireplace. If there were any problems in the castle the lord of the manor attended to it. He also had to make sure that their was enough food and water. While the lord was away at war , the lady of the manor took charge over the castle. If their were attacked , the lady defended the castle and also looked after the sick and wounded Women in the medieval times were expected to have many children. Often children died at a early age because of their diet and sanitary conditions. Each child had its own nurse and when they were older, sent to live with relatives. Girls had lady companions and learned how to embroider and some even learned how to read and write. Boys and girls played games ; like Blind mans Bluff and chess; and listened to songs and stories. Older boys and girls hunted. Hawking was a sport where the bird tries to kill another bird. The lords hunted almost every day and so they had fresh meat. If the meat went bad, the cooks pored salt and herbs on it and cooked it right away and served it to the lord and lady of the manor. During late spring and early fall , the lord let his animals run loose in the woods to feed on nuts and berries. So in the early spring the animals would be fat and ready to slaughter. After the slaughtered the animals , they preserved them in salt and put in a cool place so the meat didn't go bad. The church didn't allow meat to be eaten on Fridays , so instead people ate fish.
People living in castles liked pets. Ladies liked small dogs called lapdogs and men kept the big , furry gray hounds. Some cats were kept to , but only to keep mice and other small rodents out of the castle. People believed that cats were linked with witches and was afraid that it would lay a curse on someone. Pet birds and squirrels were kept in cages and got loose very often. One time a girls squirrel got loose and tried to catch it , but she fell from the castle wall and died.
In the 9th and 10th century ,castles were built to protect, defend, and to control lands owned by Kings and lords. The castle was the lords private home and served as headquarters. The first castles built in France weren't elaborate , but very simple , because of the frequent Viking attacks. When the Normans invaded the Saxons , they built simple castles to protect themselves from the Saxons they were ruling. They didn't fancy it up because their were lots of Viking attacks. The Normans invaded the Saxons. The Normans built simple castles to protect them from the Saxons they were ruling.
There were many different kinds of castles. The Motte and Bailey built during the 10th and 12th centuries, was an earth mound with a wooden tower and courtyard. A ditch surrounded the castle with wooden fences and a rampart going across. Stone castles, introduced in the 11th and 12 th centuries, were strongly built but expensive. They housed the lord and his family. They rebuilt the motte and bailey castles with stone walls and towers. They were first square and then became round for better protection. The stone was built out of limestone and sand, and mixed it with water which became a mortar. The lord had a work force to build it for him. The castle was expensive to build and maintain. A castle in Italy was up-to-date. It had stone floors decorated with mosaics. Most castles had basic straw and rushes on the floors to keep out the cold.
Knights of war behaved in a civil way toward women. This kind of behavior was a code , called chilvary. Poems of love and romantic stories based on the code of chilvary and knightly deeds became popular. These expressed how a warrior should behave. The church liked the idea of chilvary , because it supported their beliefs and values. Women liked to debate about the laws of love and the way knights proved their love for them by knightly deeds. Chilvary added romance to arranged marriages and slowly softened the hearts of warlike knights. A knight always had to keep his word and didn't try to escape from the enemy. A good knight was generous to the enemy and loyal to his lord and friends. He fought fairly and didn't cheat. This applied only to knights , as ordinary soldiers and people didn't have to practice the code of chivalry.
end of the fifteenth century, warfare changed. They didn't need knights any more because they had foot soldiers. They were more important. Archers helped Henry the V to win a battle in 1415. New weapons were made to drive out the English from France. In Normandy, the French used cannons to do battle. The earlier cannons were not that successful. Specialist made heavy guns that used gunpowder. It couldn't destroy the castle walls , but could take down the gates. Cannons were very expensive. Only rich people could afford them. It was also expensive to hire foot soldiers. Earlier it used to be free. Kings got more money from merchants. Representatives from the town joined the knights of the shire. The nobles , lords, knights were still powerful, but no longer the only ones to fight.