Yes, these three words may be new or at least pretty unfamiliar to you, but don't worry. This week's assignment is designed to give you some background information about those topics.
Below is the assignment and required reading. There are two parts: the completed pyramid diagram and the caricatures. You can either download and print the assignment from here
or attached to this page, or you can read off of this web page and complete the assignments on your own paper. You can get a total of 6RP for this assignment.
Knights, and Squires Assignment
Feudalism in the Middle Ages resembles a pyramid,
with the lowest peasants at its base and the lines of authority flowing up to
the peak of the structure, the king. Under Feudalism the King was only answerable
to the Pope. Feudalism was based on the exchange of land for military service.
Life lived under the Medieval Feudal System, or Feudalism, demanded that
everyone owed allegiance to the King and their immediate superior.
Pyramid - Fealty and Homage
During the Middle Ages a portion of land called a fief would be granted
by the King. This reward would be granted to him by his lord in exchange for
his services. The recipient of the fief would be one of his vassals. The
fief, or land, was usually granted following a Commendation Ceremony. The
commendation ceremony was designed to create a lasting bond between a vassal
and his lord. Fealty and homage were a key element of feudalism.
Feudalism Pyramid in England - How it worked
in England can be easily described through a pyramid:
- At the top of the Feudalism Pyramid was the King
- The King claimed ownership of the land
- The King granted the land to important nobles - these nobles then
pledged their loyalty by swearing to serve and protect the king
- The king also granted land to the less powerful military men (the
knights) who were called vassals
- The vassals also agreed to fight for the king in exchange for their
- The land was worked by the peasants or serfs. They belonged to the
land and could not leave without permission - the bottom of the Feudalism
Feudalism Pyramid - The Social Pyramid of Power
good thing about the Feudalism Pyramid of Power was that is was possible for
everyone to move higher up the ranks of the pyramid and this is what everyone
aspired to do. Medieval Squires and Pages of the Middle Ages wanted to become
knights. A Knight who proved valiant in battle or was successful at jousting in
tournaments could become wealthy. His wealth could pay for a castle. His
importance in the land would increase and he could then join the nobility.
Powerful nobles aspired to be King - and the Medieval history of the Middle
Ages under the feudalism pyramid describes such coups.
- The Pyramid of Power
The pyramid of power which was the Feudal system ran to a strict 'pecking'
order - during the Medieval period of the Middle Ages everyone knew their
place. The order of rank and precedence in the Medieval Feudal System was as
Knights / Vassals
Peasants / Serfs / Villeins
Feudalism Pyramid and the Pope
was based on the belief that the land belonged to God - but that the Kings, who
ruled by Divine Right, managed the land and used it as they wished. However,
under the Feudalism pyramid the King was answerable to the Pope. The Pope, as
God's vicar on Earth, had the right to intervene and impose sanctions on an
unjust King. Under the feudalism pyramid the Pope had the power to pronounce
judgment against a King, depose a King, forfeit his Kingdom, put another King
in his place or excommunicate a King. The power and pronouncements of the Pope
played a major part in the History of England. The Pope declared the Norman
Invasion as a Holy Crusade and declared his support of William the Conqueror
against the claim of King Harold.
Now that you
know a little about the feudal system in Europe during the time of The
Crusades, fill in the flow chart below. Use the reading to fill in the boxes on
the left and right of the pyramid about what each group provided the other what
each gave in return. Use the words below to fill in the dotted lines in the
King Nobles Vassals and Knights
Peasants, Serfs, and Townspeople
(You will want to download and print the diagram to complete it)
Knights and Squires
knight was one of three types of fighting men during the middle ages:
Knights, Foot Soldiers, and Archers. The medieval knight was the equivalent
of the modern tank. He was covered in multiple layers of armor, and could
plow through foot soldiers standing in his way. No single foot soldier or
archer could stand up to any one knight. Knights were also generally the
wealthiest of the three types of soldiers. This was for a good reason. It was
terribly expensive to be a knight. The war horse alone could cost the
equivalent of a small airplane. Armor, shields, and weapons were also very
expensive. Becoming a knight was part of the feudal agreement. In return for
military service, the knight received a fief. In the late middle ages, many
prospective knights began to pay "shield money" to their lord so
that they wouldn't have to serve in the king's army. The money was then used
to create a professional army that was paid and supported by the king. These
knights often fought more for pillaging than for army wages. When they
captured a city, they were allowed to ransack it, stealing goods and
There were only a few ways in which a person could become a knight. The first
way was the normal course of action for the son of a noble:
When a boy was eight years old, he was sent to the neighboring castle where
he was trained as a page. The boy was usually the son of a knight or of a
member of the aristocracy (the rich, land-owning families). He spent most of
his time strengthening his body, wrestling and riding horses. He also learned
how to fight with a spear and a sword. He practiced against a wooden dummy
called a quintain. It was essentially a heavy sack or
dummy in the form of a human. It was hung on a wooden pole along with a
shield. The young page had to hit the shield in its center. When hit, the
whole structure would spin around and around. The page had to maneuver away
quickly without getting hit. The young man was also taught more civilized
topics. He would be taught to read and write by a schoolmaster. He could also
be taught some Latin and French. The lady of the castle taught the page to
sing and dance and how to behave in the king’s court.
would begin training as early as 10 years old, but the majority would be
attached to a knight for training at age 14. A squire's training concentrated
on strength, fitness and skill with various weapons. Individual training was
only part of the regimen, as knights also needed to know how to fight as part
of a team of skilled horsemen. The squire would care for the knight's horse,
clean the stables, polish the knight's armor and maintain his weapons. They
would learn the chivalric codes of conduct and listen to epic tales of
Roland, Charlemagne, Arthur, Percival and Lancelot. His other
duties included dressing the knight in the morning, serving all of the
knight’s meals, and cleaning the knight’s armor and weapons. He was required
to follow the knight to tournaments and assisted his lord on the battlefield
(that means he had to fight alongside his master!) A squire also prepared
himself by learning how to handle a sword and lance while wearing forty
pounds of armor and riding a horse. When he was about twenty, a squire could
become a knight after proving himself worthy. A lord would agree to knight
him in a dubbing ceremony. The night before the ceremony, the squire would
dress in a white tunic and red robes. He would then fast and pray all night
for the purification of his soul. The chaplain would bless the future
knight's sword and then lay it on the chapel or church's altar. Before dawn,
he took a bath to show that he was pure, and he dressed in his best clothes.
When dawn came, the priest would hear the young man's confession, a Catholic
contrition rite. The squire would then eat breakfast. Soon the dubbing
ceremony began. The outdoor ceremony took place in front of family, friends,
and nobility. The squire knelt in front of the lord, who tapped the squire
lightly on each shoulder with his sword and proclaimed him a knight. This was
symbolic of what occurred in earlier times. In the earlier middle ages, the
person doing the dubbing would actually hit the squire forcefully, knocking
him over. After the dubbing, a great feast followed with music and dancing.
A young man could also become a knight for valor in combat after a battle or
sometimes before a battle to help him gain courage.
Knights believed in the code of chivalry. They promised to defend the weak,
be courteous to all women, be loyal to their king, and serve God at all
times. Knights were expected to be humble before others, especially their
superiors. They were also expected to not "talk too much". In other
words, they shouldn't boast. The code of chivalry demanded that a knight give
mercy to a vanquished enemy. However, the very fact that knights were trained
as men of war belied this code. Even though they came from rich families,
many knights were not their families' firstborn. They did not receive an
inheritance. Thus they were little more than mercenaries. They plundered
villages or cities that they captured, often defiling and destroying churches
and other property. Also the code of chivalry did not extend to the peasants.
The "weak" was widely interpreted as "noble women and
children". They were often brutal to common folk. They could sometimes kill
peasants or even rape young peasant women without fear of reprisal, all because
they were part of the upper class.
Armor and Weapons
knight was armed and armored to the teeth. He had so much armor and weapons
that he depended on his squire to keep his armor and weapons clean and in
good working condition. At first the armor was made of small metal rings
called chain mail. A knight wore a linen shirt and a pair of pants as well as
heavy woolen pads underneath the metal-ringed tunic. A suit of chain mail
could have more than 200,000 rings. However, chain mail was heavy,
uncomfortable, and difficult to move in. As time passed, knights covered
their bodies with plates of metal. Plates covered their chests, back, arms,
and legs. A bucket like helmet protected the knight’s head and had a hinged
metal visor to cover his face. Suits of armor were hot, uncomfortable, and
heavy to wear. A suit of armor weighed between 22 to 30 kilograms. Some
knights even protected their horses in armor.
A knight also needed a shield to hold in front of himself during battle.
Shields were made of either wood or metal. Knights decorated their shields
with their family emblem or crest and the family motto.
A knight's weapon was his sword, which was about 14.5 kilograms. It was worn
on his left side in a case fastened around his waist. A knife was worn on the
knight’s right side. Knights used other weapons in combat as well. A lance
was a long spear used in jousts. Metal axes, battle hammers, and maces were
also used to defeat the enemy.
Assignment: Make a Annotated
Character of a Knight and Squire
Now that you have read about knights and squires like Nigel, Rannulf,
Edmund, and Hubert in The Book of a Lion, make a caricature of a knight and a
squire during the Middle Ages in Europe.
A caricature is a cartoonish drawing that is meant to exaggerate
the qualities or characteristics of a particular person, group of people, or
character from a story. Political cartoons are often caricatures. Draw your own
caricature and make annotations, words explaining the parts of your picture and
teaching us about the person. See below for an example of what you should do.
(Click the picture to enlarge)