Knights had to be loyal subjects first, competent warriors second and chivalrous third, adhering to a strict code of conduct that governed their lives. Though most were of noble birth, knights did not have to be nobles. Training to become a knight was arduous and lengthy, even for the most highly born.
In Medieval times, good knights were years in the making. All knights in training were expected to learn arms, horsemanship, the code of chivalry and service to their liege. From ages 7 to 14, boys served as pages, beginning their training in arms and service. Squires, apprentices ages 14 to 21, continued training according to their age and strength. Squires’ training in chivalry – courtesy, bravery, honor and due deference to women – began in earnest while they trained for battle.
Because they were already regarded as combat soldiers, squires were expected to fight in battle. In addition to survival training, squires studied the lance, the broadsword, knives and other weapons in addition to hand-to-hand combat. They were trained to mount or defend against a siege and to use siege weaponry, such as the crossbow, catapult or battering ram. If a squire's superior judged him worthy of knighthood at the end of his training, he received his title and was “dubbed” by a local knight or higher noble.