Medieval Squire

Armed with Honour: The Life of Medieval Squires

What is a Medieval Squire?

Medieval squires were young men of noble birth who served as apprentices to knights during the Middle Ages, roughly from the 5th to the 15th century. These aspiring warriors played a vital role in the social hierarchy of the time and served as personal attendants and companions to their knights both on and off the battlefield. They were responsible for maintaining their knight’s armour and weapons, learning combat skills, horsemanship, and chivalry, and even accompanying them in battles. 

Becoming a squire was a privilege exclusively reserved for young men from noble families with a lineage of knighthood. Candidates for this prestigious role had to be around 14 to 18 years old and exhibit qualities such as loyalty, obedience, courage, and a sense of honour, which were considered essential virtues of a future knight. Physical fitness and strength were also prerequisites as squires were expected to endure the rigours of combat.

The Early Life of a Medieval Squire

Medieval squires
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In medieval times, a squire’s early life was very structured and began when they were offered as page boys to lords as early as seven years old. As page boys, they would assist the ladies of the court by running errands, helping with dress, and attending to their needs. They would continue in this role until they reached the age of 14 or 15, during which time they would learn the ways of the medieval court and absorb the values of chivalry, courtesy, and nobility. 

If they proved themselves loyal and performed well, they would be promoted to the position of a squire by their lord.

Training to Become a Skilled Fighter

Aspiring fighters who wanted to become skilled squires had to undergo rigorous training and show unwavering discipline. Their comprehensive education covered various fields that would mould them into proficient warriors. 

Swordsmanship was the primary focus, allowing them to hone their skills in handling multiple swords. Equally important was horsemanship, where they learned how to ride different horses and handle them effectively on the battlefield. Aside from personal combat skills, squires also learned the intricacies of defending castles and participating in siege warfare. They were trained to wield the lance, an essential weapon for mounted combat, and complemented it with the apt use of shields for protection. 

Through rigorous training and tournament participation, squires had the chance to showcase their acquired fighting skills, fostering a competitive spirit and refining their techniques in a controlled environment. Intense training and discipline were necessary to prepare squires for the challenges of knighthood. This equipped them with the necessary combat skills to serve as capable and fearless warriors in the medieval society of the time.

Clothing, Armour, and Weapons of Medieval Squires

Clothing – Medieval squires wore the distinctive clothing of the knight they served, adorned with the knight’s heraldic symbols, colours, and coat of arms. This helped identify their allegiance in battle and tournaments. They also wore practical clothing such as tunics, hoses, and boots suitable for their duties and physical activities. 

Armour – Squires did not typically wear full suits of armour like knights while training, but they had access to protective gear such as helmets, gauntlets, and chainmail. They wore armour pieces during practice sessions or to accompany their knight into battle, allowing them to understand the equipment’s weight, movement, and limitations. 

Weapons – Squires were extensively trained in using weapons such as swords, shields, and daggers. Their primary weapon was the sword, and they were taught various swordsmanship techniques for offence and defence. Shields provided protection and were used in conjunction with swords. 

By demonstrating their skill with weapons and showcasing their bravery in combat, squires aimed to solidify their status, gain recognition, and increase their chances of becoming knights.

The Code of Chivalry and Squire’s Virtues

In medieval times, squires were expected to follow the Code of Chivalry, which outlined the virtues of an honourable and skilled warrior. These virtues included courage, loyalty, honesty, humility, generosity, and respect for others, especially women and the weak. Squires were trained to uphold these ideals and demonstrate chivalrous behaviour both on and off the battlefield. They were expected to respect and obey their knights and superiors while treating their fellow squires with camaraderie and mutual support. The Code of Chivalry emphasised fairness, integrity, and protecting the innocent, serving as a moral guide for squires and preparing them for the responsibilities and expectations of knighthood.

From Squire to Knight: The Dubbing Ceremony

Medieval Squires is licensed under CC0 1.0

In medieval society, becoming a knight was a significant event that required a dubbing ceremony to mark the official promotion of a squire to the esteemed status of knighthood. 

Typically, squires were promoted to knighthood at around age 21, although exceptional acts of bravery could lead to earlier promotions. 

The dubbing ceremony varied throughout the medieval period. In early times, the Lord would strike the back of the squire’s neck with an open hand and instruct them to uphold the code of chivalry. 

Later, the ceremony became more elaborate, with the squire partaking in a ceremonial bath and keeping a vigil the night before the ceremony at the Castle Chapel. 

On the morning of the ceremony, a sermon was held, and the Lord would grant the squire a sword and shield from the altar, accompanied by two sponsors. 

The final act involved the Lord tapping the new knight with the flat of a hand or sword, symbolising the accolade, followed by celebrations with music, dancing, and a grand feast. 

Becoming a knight carried significant responsibilities, including upholding the code of chivalry, serving their Lord in military campaigns, participating in tournaments, and acting as leaders in battle. Knights were respected in medieval society and enjoyed privileges and opportunities not available to commoners. The dubbing ceremony marked the culmination of years of training and preparation as a squire.


In medieval times, squires were young noblemen who served as apprentices to knights. They learned about combat and chivalry, training extensively in swordsmanship and horsemanship. Becoming a knight was an honour that required loyalty and courage, marked by a dubbing ceremony. Knights were expected to follow the code of chivalry, serve their lord, and lead in battle.

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