Warfare through most of the medieval period relied entirely on the knights. The knights began to ascend as the most important military body around the end of the early medieval period. As mounted warriors, they became central to the outcome of a medieval battle.
The development took place hand in hand with the development of feudalism in medieval Europe so that knights became a distinct and powerful social class. They were marked by their martial lifestyle, extensive military training and rather expensive weapons and Armour.
Since medieval knights were expected to be the in the thick of fighting during a battle, they had to be skilled in the use of a variety of weapons. The training of the knights began from an early age when they were appended to a lord or another knight as a page. From a page, they were to ascend to the position of squire and after mastering military prowess required to be a knight, they would receive a knighthood.
Military training of the knights including the use of lance at the Quintain and the use of sword at the Pell. For close combat training, knights were trained in the use of other weapons as well including axes and daggers. Also since a knight was expected to enter a battle mounted, he had to train to be an expert rider as well.
Medieval Knights in Battlefield
Medieval knights were the most important portion of a medieval army on a battlefield. Typically, a medieval army would first deploy the bowmen and infantry to make way through the enemy lines. Once this was done, the knights would launch their charge and sweep across the field to destroy any remaining enemy lines, routing the enemy and forcing it to flee.
In many cases, both sides would agree to an honorable combat between one or more sets of knights. The outcome of these combats would then be taken as the outcome of the battle itself. In such combats, the winning knight would usually capture the vanquished opponent rather than killing him, in order to ransom him later.
A medieval knight was trained in a wide range of weapons. Most significant among these was the lance and the sword. The lance was important for a knight because it helped him counter an enemy knight on horseback. Such combat essentially became a contest of unseating one another. Once on close quarters, the knight would use his sword or in some cases, daggers. Other types of weapons used by a medieval knight on the battlefield included maces and flails.
Armour was crucial for a medieval knight and his life of warfare. It evolved significantly from early medieval period to the late medieval period. A knight’s armor in the early medieval period comprised mostly of chain-mail and a helm. Towards the late medieval period, knights had started using plate armor which covered the entire body. The plate armor of a knight was tailored to his size and was highly intricate, comprising of a dozen or more separate pieces.