Middle ages

The Duties of a Medieval Squire

Whilst working for his knight, a squire had different jobs to learn and many of these could only be obtained by observing the knight go about his daily life. The squire’s job was to maintain and care for all the knight’s belongings, including his horse and armour, a knight’s most important possessions for fighting and jousting.

Maintaining the knight’s armour and looking after his horse were important training for when the squire was eventually out on a battlefield, as a knight. The squire was expected to be with his knight throughout the day, helping him to dress, serving him at table, running errands and messages and sleeping by his door at night, ready to help fight off any intruders.

The Training of a Medieval Squire

The first step for a boy to become a knight was when he was sent to live with another household before the age of ten, working as a page. In his new home, he learnt the skills of horse riding, sword play, reading, writing and court etiquette. All these were training, both physical and mental, for his future role as a squire, and then a knight.

Once a boy had reached the age of fourteen, he was considered an adult and could become a squire, for a knight with whom he would work closely, learning as he watched.

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How Could a Squire Become a Knight?

Generally, a squire could expect to attain the status of knight after satisfactory progress for seven years. However, in exceptional circumstances, for example, when a squire had performed heroically during a siege at his castle, or on the battlefield accompanying his knight, he could become a knight at an earlier age.

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Battle of Hastings

The famous Battle of Hastings did not take place in Hastings! It was actually waged at Senlac Hill – which is about 6 miles (10km) north-west of Hastings. “The battle at Senlac Hill” certainly doesn’t have the same ring to it as “The Battle of Hastings”!
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London Bridge

One of the earliest versions of the London Bridge was destroyed in 1014 when the Saxons rowed up the Thames, tied ropes to it, and pulled it down! This helped regain London for the Anglo-Saxon king against the Danes. It is possible that this event may have been the inspiration for the nursery rhyme “London Bridge is falling down”.
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Berengaria of Navarre was the Queen of England by her marriage to King Richard The Lionheart. Little is known of her life – but what is known is that she is the only Queen of England never to step foot in England! The entire time that she was married to Richard, she lived in Europe. In fact, Richard himself only spent about 6 months in England as he was so busy traveling on crusader business.
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In 1086, 10% of the population recorded in the Domesday Book (a large census) were slaves. In some areas, there were as many as 20%.
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Brown Bears

England used to be the native home of Brown Bears, but they became extinct around the 11th century. In latter parts of the Middle Ages, the bears were imported into England for sport.
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King Richard

There is much evidence to suggest that King Richard I (the Lionheart) was a homosexual. There is a possibility that he met his wife Berenegaria whilst in a sexual relationship with her brother, the future King Sancho VII of Navarre. It is also reported that he and King Philip II of France were involved. A historian of the time, Roger of Hoveden said they “ate from the same dish and at night slept in one bed” and had a “passionate love between them”.
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Animals on trial

It was not uncommon in England during the medieval period, for animals to be put on trial for crimes. Animals could be sentenced to death if found guilty of their crimes.
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The Middle English term “pygg” referred to a type of clay. In the middle ages, people would often keep coins in jars or pots made of pygg – these were called “pygg jars”. By the 18th century, with the evolution of language, these came to be known as a “pig bank” or “piggy bank”.
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Contrary to popular belief, medieval English people bathed quite regularly in public baths designed for that purpose. This was due to the belief that “cleanliness is next to Godliness”. Public baths were eventually opposed by the Protestants in the 16th century because of prostitution being common there.
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Produce their own food

Most common folk had to produce their own food. For this reason rye and barley bread was common amongst the poor who could not afford the large quantities of manure needed to grow wheat for white bread.
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Trial by ordeal was common in England in the middle ages. In this trial, the accused would be subjected to a very painful task (such as being burnt by a hot iron) – if they survived the trial, or their wounds healed quickly, they would be found not guilty as it was believed that God had performed a miracle to help the accused. The Catholic Church forbade participation in these trials and demanded the use of compurgation instead. Compurgation was the taking of an oath of innocence by the accused which 12 peers must believe.
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One bizarre recipe for a medicine to protect against the plague involved drinking ale that has had crushed roasted egg shells, leaves and petals of marigold flowers, and treacle added to it. Needless to say this was not particularly effective.
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Gravett, Christopher, Turner, Graham English Medieval Knight 1300 – 1400[Osprey, 2002]Jones,

Terry Chaucer’s Knight: Portrait of a Medieval Mercenary [Methuen, 1994]