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Knights Essay, Research Paper

I have always been fascinated by the image of the “knight in shining armor,” and I’m sure I’m not alone. Who hasn’t wondered what it was really like to live the life of a knight? Just what was a knight? What did it take to become one, and what were his duties and responsibilities? What forces influenced his behavior and steered the course of his life?

The Middle Ages were a time of frequent war and brittle peace, grand spectacles and devastating plague, high moral standards and bitter persecution. It was a time of the brightest hope and the darkest despair. Through it all, the knight was there, an integral part of society and the events that make up our history.

A knight is essentially a mounted warrior in the service of his liege-lord. The mounted warrior had a great advantage on the battlefield. Using the speed and momentum of a charge, the horse could trample his rider’s enemies; the rider could use the long lance or pole-arm to injure his foes while he remained out of reach of their weapons. Then, with all speed, the knight could ride off, only to return for another deadly attack.

The ability to wield a sword or lance from horseback was a special skill that took practice. A lord would employ knights and give them the time and equipment they needed to practice; in return, they served their lord as vassals. The knight was under his lord’s protection, both legally and militarily. It was the relationship between himself and his lord that defined the knight’s life. The lord’s position gave him significant control over the knight’s life, career, and future.

When we think of the knight in shining armor, we almost automatically think of the grand joust. It’s hard not to imagine the thunderous hoofbeats and the roar of the crowd as two knights race towards each other in a test of skill and nerve.

The joust grew from the chaotic fight of the tournament. As restrictions were put on this dangerous form of combat practice, an event designed to test the horsemanship and weapon skills of the individual knight evolved, and eventually became the focus of the tourney.

However, the word knight talks about far more than just war and service. Loyalty, courtesy, honor, glory, courage, chivalry — all this and more come to mind when we think of the knight in shining armor. The knights fought for honor and loyalty of the king, defended their country, and protected damsels in distress. They followed the code of chivalry and lived by the idea of romance. Without the knight, it would be difficult for me to imagine the 14th century due to the monumental role they played in medieval society.


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