We have the romantic story that comes down through history about a fair lady being swept by a knight in shining armor (who of course is tall and handsome like Prince Charming). The chivalrous, armor-covered knight on his charger doing good always. Who wouldn’t love the idea of having swords and shields that you could use to defend your people, at the same time, be respected by your kingdom? The bad news is, an actual knighthood in the medieval period could be less exciting, and in many ways downright awful.

If you fancy unpaid child labor, then knighthood is for you.

Not everyone is allowed to be a knight. Most of them were born into being one. Say your father is a knight or of noble status, then you will be one. The first step would be becoming a Page. So an aspiring knight as young as seven years old would live in a knight’s household and, quite frankly, be a servant. He would help with the household chores, preparing meals, doing the laundry, and the likes. The purpose of this is for the Page to learn good manners and proper behavior. Horse-riding and basic fighting techniques would also be taught using wooden shields and swords.

If you love being uncomfortable with your outfit all day, then knighthood is still for you.

Horse and knight armor. Dezidor / Wikimedia Commons

Do you fancy wearing metal plate armor or tough leather? How about a chain-mail shirt? Apart from those, other accessories include a metal helmet; a gauntlet made of fabric, leather, chain mail, or plate; a metal, fabric, or leather leg armor called greaves. If you want to be fancy, there’s a plate armor that could completely cover the knight.  It was all custom made and like famous brands of clothing, certain armorsmiths were famous and high sought after.  After you were done fitting yourself out, you still needed to get armor for your horse.

You should be willing to buy your own gear.

According to librarypoint.org, “Charlemagne’s knights were given grants of conquered land which quickly put them on the road to wealth. They might also receive gifts of money or other precious things. However, some knights weren’t paid at all.” You can’t just hope for the best, so one must also be prepared to shell out the money (or lands) to pursue being a knight. The gear mentioned above and more, for sure, could cost you an arm and a leg to buy, or an arm and a leg on the battlefield if you didn’t buy it.