Knights and Chivalry

What is Chivalry?

Chivalry is an ideal system of behavior that was influenced by the Church and gradually formed during the eleventh and twelfth centuries. It represented a code of honor and ethics, or moral virtues, that knights swore to live by. These included bravery in combat, religious piety, and manners for behaving in court. Can you think of an example of chivalry that you’ve seen?


There were three stages to becoming a knight and the first one was to be a page. The process of becoming a knight was only available to the nobility and they had to start training early. By the age of seven or eight, young boys were sent to be trained by the families of other nobles. During this first stage of training, the boys served as pages, meaning they acted as a servant for a knight. In exchange for education and training, pages served all of a knight’s needs.


The second stage of training was to be a squire. This was when the boy learned how to handle weapons properly, as well as how to fight, hunt, joust, and ride a horse. These were critical skills that would be needed in the life of a knight and the training lasted throughout a boy’s teenage years.


By the age of 21, when a squire had mastered all of the skills necessary, he was ready to be dubbed a knight. This took place in a formal ceremony led by the knight’s sponsor. The dubbing was a ceremonial tapping three times on the shoulders with a sword blade and officially made the young man a knight. After that, he returned home where he practiced his fighting skills in battle and by jousting.