Several hundred years ago, if one was looking for the sharpest tool in the shed, they need not look any further than the Norman knight. Having a reputation for being the best trained and best equipped soldiers throughout Europe, these men were the cream of the crop. What made this position even greater was that it was primarily comprised of the elite. Only the son of a lord or a knight could become one and no time was wasted in preparing them to be mighty warriors.
Training commenced for boys around the age of seven, where those desiring to be a Norman knight were sent to live at another lord’s house, serving as a page. This endeavor could also be considered an education in etiquette, as boys were to attend to the needs of the lord and his lady, wait on them at meal times, while learning knightly behavior and good manners in the meantime. He was also taught how to use a bow and arrow, become a swordsman (practicing with a wooden sword), and learn knightly riding and fighting skills. From this time came the concept of chivalry, which was the name given to knightly behavior. This meant treating others with the utmost courtesy and respect, most notably women.
Norman Knight Helmet:
At age fourteen, a boy became a squire and was apprenticed to a knight. He was to watch and follow his master’s every move and would shadow him on the battlefield. If the squire was deemed to have what it takes, he would graduate to knighthood at age twenty. This occurred at a knighting ceremony where the knight’s lord would grant him the title by tapping him on the shoulder with a sword.
The armor of a Norman knight was similar to that of other knights. The armor was specifically fitted to each knight’s individual size and was crafted by a team of specialists- mail makers, polishers, hammerers, etchers, and engravers. As stated earlier, Norman knights were equipped fighters and their armor aided them as such because it was basically indestructible. Any damaged armor could usually be hammered out and restored. For reinforcement, every army brought with them a portable forge for running repairs. Knightly garb began as chainmail armor and by the fifteenth century, switched to full suits of plate armor with padded undergarments. With so many pieces to assemble, it could take knights a long time to dress.
As a result of top-notch training, Norman knights were strategic in the manner they fought battles. They would first use longbows and crossbows to shoot at their enemies. This was followed by charging knights on horseback advancing towards the enemy with long spears, known as lances. Then attack was launched with other weapons, such as an axe or mace and after that, the foot soldiers would join in the fight. This proved to be successful play and brought Norman armies many victories.
In short, being a Norman knight meant training with the best and dressing for success! To see our collection of Norman helmets, Norman swords, and other knightly weapons and armor, check out: http://www.armorvenue.com/