Today is the day that you stop being a child. You have been sleeping in your feather bed, dreaming of the day when you would become a knight. When you would take up a sword, mount your horse, and ride around the countryside, protecting our fair land in the name of our king and saving any peasants in distress along the way. You have dreamed of being a hero. Well, say goodbye to those dreams. The path to knighthood is hard and much different than you might expect. I hope you like carrying heavy things and walking long distances and cleaning up horse poop.
Before you start on this journey, it is important for you to understand what you are going to be become. The knight is the only thing that keeps outside tribes or kingdoms from coming into our country and taking everything we have worked for. A warrior
is a fighter who has experience with battles and fighting. Can you say you would be able to stop a man on a horse running at you full speed, swinging an axe? I didn't think so. Don't worry, you still have seven years of training ahead of you.
Your last seven years were very easy. A page
is a boy between seven and fourteen years old who acts as a servant for a castle and is preparing to become a knight. You were lucky enough to be born to a noble family that could give you the money to train to become a knight. Becoming a knight is expensive business! Not every knight starts as a page, but most do. (If you can prove yourself in battle, you could skip the training and be knighted right now.) You got to live in comfort while you were a page. You have learned how to be kind to lords and ladies, you have learned how to ride a horse, and you have learned how to swing a sword. You have carried messages, cleaned the castle, and served Lords and Ladies while they ate. That was the easy part. Now that you are fourteen, that comfort is over. If anyone wants to kiss the ladies of the court and shed a few tears, now would be the time to do it.
After the 7 years of being a page, you will not have time to pretend that you are a knight now, because you will be too busy serving one. You will polish armor and help him to put it on. You will carry his weapons and armor from place to place and you will sweat and grow tired and grow strong. You will guard your knight while he sleeps (or just wake him up if trouble comes along). And of course, you will brush and feed and clean up after his horse. A squire
is a boy older than 14 years old who is training to be a knight and helps a knight in any way they can. Also, now that you are not a page . . . you will teach the pages. You will now know how much you whined and cried. That's good. Babysitting will make a person strong. Trust me.
At the end of all this . . . after seven long years . . . after much sweating and working and smelling and no crying . . . when you turn twenty-one or prove yourself in battle . . . you may become a knight. While you have dreamed that being a knight is all about swinging a sword, galloping across the countryside, and of battle, there is one thing that is more important than any other. Chivalry
is the code of honor that a knight follows where he must swear to protect the weak and his lord, serve God, and be good to women. So, pretend to fight each other as much as you would like now. Many years from now, you will be so tired, you may not want to fight. And even if you do . . . I will still expect you to be nice.
I wish you luck on your seven year adventure to becoming a warrior, a fighter who keeps this country safe. You have already served seven years as a page, an assistant that live in a knight's house, sending messages and serving food. Now that you are fourteen, you will become a squire, someone who moves around with the knight, cleaning his armor and taking care of his horse. Through this process you will learn chivalry, the honor code knights follow that makes them kind to the people they meet. At the end of the day, being a knight is not about fighting. It's about being good to your kind and your lord and the people of this country. It's also about teaching some all the people who come after you the same . . . just as I have.
Medieval Europe. "Knights, Squires, Pages" mrdonn.org, 2007. <http://medievaleurope.mrdonn.org/knights.html
Middle Ages. "Becoming a Medieval Knight" Ducksters, 2012. <http://www.ducksters.com/history/middle_ages/becoming_a_medieval_knight.php