Oxford University Press's
Academic Insights for the Thinking World

The Ultimate Book Of Knowledge: Knights and Castles

When I saw The Ultimate Book Of Knowledge: Everything You Need To Know on the shelf I immediately knew my niece would love it.  This encyclopedia specially written for young students is full of pictures and answers to questions about our world.  In honor of it being Friday and of my niece’s love for all things royal I am excerpting the section on Knights and Castles below.  I only wish I had access to the images which truly bring this section to life!

Knights were noblemen who fought on horseback. In medieval Europe it was a great honor to be a knight.

Knights served the king. In return, he gave them land. Many knights lived in castles – strong buildings that could withstand attack. Other knights served lords who lived in castles.

Knightly equipment
Each knight paid for his own weapon and warhorse. The steel armor protected the knight from head to toe. Knights carried a sword, a shield and sometimes a long, heave lance. Knights became less important on the battlefield after the invention of guns.

Each knight wore a ‘coat of arms’ a design on his shield. This meant he could be recognized easily in battle.

The background color of the shield was called its field. The field was split up into divisions or it had a picture or shape, called a charge.

Jousting tournaments
Jousting was a sport for knights. The tournament was a mock battle that allowed knights to show off their fighting skills.

Fast Facts
– Sieges – where enemy troops surrounded a castle – could go on for months.
– Captured knights were usually held hostage. Ransoms could be huge!
– In the 1400s, powerful cannons were developed that could break through castle walls.

Knightly behavior
Knights followed a set of rules. A knight had to be brace but kind to the weak (especially women), strong but polite, determined but honest.

Early castles
Motte-and-baily castles were built all over western Europe from the 900s. They had a wooden tower (the keep) built on a high mound (the motte) with a fenced area (the bailey) at the foot of the mound.

Walls of stone
From the 1100s, castles were rebuilt in stone. The tops of the walls were called battlements. Defenders could fire arrows through slits in the battlements. Castles also had a drawbridge that could be raised at the first sign of attack.

The crusades
The crusades were eight wars that were fought after the pope asked Christian soldiers to drive Muslims from the lands mentioned in the Bible. Kings, knights and many ordinary people took part. When the crusades ended, all of the Holy Land was in Muslim hands.

Recent Comments

There are currently no comments.