The beginning of the knight's life

          An old castle is never more animated nor livelier than on the evening when the birth of a son and heir is being awaited. The master of the house, the expectant father, has no idea what to do if a daughter was born. What did he want with a daughter? The knight and warrior wanted a boy who would himself be a warrior in his turn; who would learn to hunt the wild, go hawking, hold a charitable estate, and to defend and serve his lord. At the moment of birth, the father exclaims joyfully, "It is a son!" Rejoicing everywhere, knights and sergeants are all full of merriment.

          The newly born child, the future knight, is first bathed before a beautiful fire. This fire reminds the father of the other bath that the youthful noble must take on the day before he is dubbed knight, by ritual. The child is scrubbed dry in fine linen and clothed in a little fur-lined silken robe with a little cloak. This procedure clearly identifies the importance and significance of a noble family bringing a male into the circle of knighthood.

          Until he was seven years old the infant knight was usually confided to the care of the women, and his nurses never left him. Actually, the youth is not granted the honor of sitting down at his father's table until his seventh birthday. Many times, the children are only permitted to come in after dinner. Some of the rituals that families practice may seem strange or even wrong, but everything is done with the knight's best interests in mind. The strategy is that they want to bring up a knight that is chivalrous, brave, loyal and respectful.

          From the age of seven to fifteen, the youth is particularly instructed in fencing and hunting. He excels in his study of horsemanship and spends countless hours with his horse that grows and matures with the boy. Fencing, however, is a skill that is considered so extremely important that sometimes people are able to make money off the need of good marksmanship. If good fencing masters can not be acquired in the country, then the youth is sent away to the residence of some more accomplished knight. Of course there is a fee that is involved, but the final product well worth both the trouble of sending the boy away and paying the master to train him.