55 Medieval Knight Facts That Might Leave You Surprised

Joan Agie
Feb 29, 2024 By Joan Agie
Originally Published on Mar 22, 2022
Medieval knight facts are majestic to read.
Age: 3-18
Read time: 10.7 Min

A knight or a person with the title knighthood is regarded as a symbolic significance of the Middle Ages.

Bravery, chivalry, loyalty, and other such courteous words are often considered to be the synonyms of a knight. The reason was that knights were supposed to possess all of these qualities without any possibility of failure.

At the start of, and during, the Middle Ages, knights were not the possessors of extreme honor. They were designated as a part of mounted warriors and the lower nobility class. It was during the late Middle Ages when they received recognition and were associated with chivalry and bravery. High authorities of the society like the church, pope, or the kings were responsible for selecting the knights and bestowing them with the title of knighthood.

These knights were also picked by the people of the elite society to be served by them as bodyguards in return for landholdings. This was an act of status symbol as well. Skills like horse-riding, a battle on horseback, and knowledge of weapons were considered plus points by appointers. There are many more interesting facts waiting for you in this article.

History Of The Medieval Knight

The emergence of knights has its association with an interesting reason. In the ninth century, when the government felt weak against bandits, sea riders, and its neighbor competitors, an urgent need for protection emerged.

There was a need for protection in every city, village, and monastery. The armored chivalry was the most appropriate suit for the responsibility of protecting the nation at this time.

This urge for protection supported the rise of knights. Many knights were appointed during this time, and they served for the purpose of their land's safety.

Knights in the Middle Ages were the most honored warriors and best-mannered members of society. They were directly associated with the elites, so their power and position together allowed them to create a significant impact in society.

There were certain circumstances that were needed to be met by an aspirant knight. The person had to have a significant family background with proper training from a very young age. Along with that, there was a need for money to be able to afford weapons. Good looks, better clothes, ability to write and recite were optional but appreciated qualities that these knights could possess.

Knights had to have strong arms in order to handle heavy swords measuring 39 in (1 m) and deadly weapons like daggers, mace, battleax, bow, and crossbow.

Wars were fought for a longer period of time, so the capability of handling these armors for a sustainable period was another additional requirement for them. The more the knights could show their expertise in a battle, the chances of recognition were doubled.

Horse-riding was that one quality which they could not compromise upon. They had to carry triangular wood and a leather shield, along with an 8-10 ft (2.4-3 m) wooden lance, using both of their hands in the warfare. So, it was necessary for these knights to assimilate the proficiency of handling their horses with only their knees and feet.

A distinct dress code was issued for these soldiers, with outfits that were made with metal mail. There were hooded coats, gloves, and trousers as part of the clothing. It was intentionally designed to cover up the whole body except the face.

The weight of the dress was almost 29.7 lb (13.5 kg), and the knights had to survive the battlefield with both the weight of the armors and the suit.

Towards the 14th-century, plate armor became more popular because they were more efficient in protecting knights from sword bows and arrows. For their popularity, they came into existence with new shapes and designs.

This new type of costume was less heavy and easier to go into battle with, so, even if the soldiers fell down from their horses, they could move to save themselves easily. They were no longer trapped in heavy suits like those in the ninth century.

The head protector of the knights was called a helm or helmet.

Formerly, the design of the helm was kept simple, but with the evolution of other parts of these costumes, helmets were also transformed into more convenient ones. Nose guards and protruding snout were added for better face protection and ventilation, respectively.

Not all knights were serving for the purpose of their king, lord, and land's safety, some of them also prepared themselves to fight in the Crusades. There were groups that some fellow knights created to delve themselves into the Crusades. Three of these groups were most active, and they are Knights Templar, Knights Hospitaller, Teutonic Knights.

Knights Templar was a group of soldiers that emerged in the later Middle Ages during the Crusades. They were recognized for their immense bravery and strength. Only 500 knights of this army, along with a few thousand foot soldiers, fought against 26,000 Muslims and conquered the Battle of Montgisard.

Knights of Hospitaller was another army of knight soldiers with a white cross on black clothing as a recognizable symbol that emerged in 1023. They used a white cross on their uniform as they would rescue sick and poor pilgrims and their Holy Land from the Muslim army during the Crusades.

Teutonic Knights were the other active soldiers that were involved in the war of the Crusades. This army was an assembly of German knights that was once a part of the Knights Hospitaller. After the Crusades, they were involved in the conquest of Prussia. The battle of Tannenberg brought an end to this army of knights in 1410.

Knights of the Middle Ages have a powerful influence on art and literature as well. It's clearly evident from the songs of minstrels and legends. The legend of King Arthur is one such tale that includes mention of the Knights of Round Table. Histoire de Guillaume le Maréchal is another piece of evidence that records the name of William Marshal as 'the best knight in the world'. It is a poem that includes the courageous deeds of William Marshal.

Knights were often involved in seeking rights to pillage in order to become rich.

Towards the end of the Middle Ages, knights started paying money to the king to pay soldiers.

Often the honor of knighthood was bestowed upon by the king to soldiers who would showcase extraordinary skills in battle.

The courteous behavior of many knights was often limited towards the upper section of the monarchy and not for normal people.

Some of the famous knights of the middle ages are Saint George, Siegfried, and Sir Galahad.

The term chivalry is directly associated with the word knight. In the middle ages, the word was used to mean 'fully armed and mounted fighting men', which later evolved to the sense of 'courtesy'.

Knights were often ascended to the title of Grand Master after accomplishing something heroic.

The knight community was devoted to the God of poverty and chastity.

The first knights of the Middle Ages were from the army of King Charlemagne. The ritual of working in return for land was started by him.

Charlemagne started to excerpt more soldiers and transformed them into knights to use on the battlefield.

The process of becoming a knight was often a matter of lineage. The son of a knight could easily become a knight as well.

Training Of Medieval Knights

The way of becoming a knight was filled with challenges and difficulties. The process was hard to achieve and shows why knights were revered.

If a boy was to be a knight, he had to be prepared from the early age of seven or eight, and he was sent to the land of his father's lord.

In this serving period, a knight is called a page. As a page, he learns to ride horses and to hunt. Alongside, he also gets lessons of reading and writing, and the females of the castle teach him music and dance. To learn chivalry, he serves meals to the ladies and works as an errand boy for them.

The next period of training starts when the boy turns 15 or 16. During this time, the boy is called a squire.

The training session of a squire includes lessons on using a sword and other arms. A squire learns fighting techniques from his master and also gets the opportunity to fight along with his master in battle.

A squire also learns popular court games like chess and checkers.

The next step that the squire aspires to reach, is the investiture ceremony of becoming a knight.

This ceremony takes place only when the boy turns 20 or 21.

This ceremony includes multiple solemn rituals. It starts with purification by taking a bath, which signifies the end of the knight's desires and sins. Then the squire fasts for 24 hours. Afterward, the squire presents himself in front of his master while wearing his armor, and gets a mild strike on his neck and shoulder with the flat of a sword which signifies that he has become a knight.

The process of bestowing the title could also be performed on the battlefield if the squire shows extraordinary skills in battle.

Knights were involved in tournaments to polish their learned skills. These were called melee.

Blunt weapons and safety measures were taken in these tournaments so that no knights were harmed.

Defeated participants were captured and would need to pay a ransom in order to be released.

The purpose of such tournaments was to keep the knights ready for the battlefields.

Though the weapons used in these tournaments were not intended to be fatal like those on the battlefields, knights were often killed and harmed.

Later on, there were changes in these tournaments to decrease the chances of damages, which were termed jousts or tilts.

Jousts or tilts included the involvement of horses, which made them more interesting to watch.

These tournaments were celebrated in a more festive way and there were numerous spectators.

Chivalry was a code of conduct that was designed for knights. It was an amalgamation of Christian values, military ideals, and civility.

According to the code of conduct, a knight needed to be generous, courteous, loyal, and devoted to God.

One of the most significant duties of a knight was to respect and protect women.

This courtesy was most of the time only offered to ladies of the elite class.

The sword was a symbol of bravery for knights.

Women As Knights

The word knight was only reserved for men in the medieval period, but that does not mean that women were not involved in heroic deeds. In some parts of Europe, women could also take up the responsibility of being a knight, but they were titled as a dame.

In the first 10 years of the existence of the Knights Templar, women were considered to join.

The Teutonic Order also regarded women as a support system. They titled them Consorores, which means sister. They believed in taking help from the women in terms of hospital services.

When Moorish invaders attacked the town of Tortosa, women disguised themselves as men and fought the battle because men were already involved in a fight on another front.

The success of the eight-day siege of Jerusalem also relied on women to some extent.

Often, queens also showed up on the field at the time of war, like Eleanor of Aquitaine, the Queen of England, and France. She led many pilgrims to the Holy Land.

Women were never directly involved in knighthood as the process was only designed for men.

It was in 1358 that women were allowed to take up a knighthood in England. The title that they were given was Dame.

At the end of the Middle Ages, most countries had built their own army, so they no longer needed knights to defend their lands. As a result, the ritual of knighthood came to an end.


What did a medieval knight do every day?

Medieval knights were involved in activities like warfare, practicing their skills, guarding their lords, and many other tasks that were included in the code of conduct.

How do you live like a medieval knight?

We can live like a medieval knight by respecting women and elders, protecting our environment, protecting our motherland, and practicing our daily tasks sincerely.

How long did it take a medieval knight to get dressed?

It would take them about 10 minutes to dress for the battlefield with all their armors.

Why would Beowulf be considered a perfect medieval knight?

Beowulf had all the qualities of a medieval knight, like proficient battle skills, chivalry, courtesy for women, and obedience to the king. So, he can be considered a perfect medieval knight.

Could women be knights?

Knighthood was not given to the women, but they were given the title of Dame.

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Written by Joan Agie

Bachelor of Science specializing in Human Anatomy

Joan Agie picture

Joan AgieBachelor of Science specializing in Human Anatomy

With 3+ years of research and content writing experience across several niches, especially on education, technology, and business topics. Joan holds a Bachelor’s degree in Human Anatomy from the Federal University of Technology, Akure, Nigeria, and has worked as a researcher and writer for organizations across Nigeria, the US, the UK, and Germany. Joan enjoys meditation, watching movies, and learning new languages in her free time.

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