What Did Medieval Knights Do?


Knights performed military services for lords within a kingdom. Clergymen during the Crusades established a moral code in which a knight must also protect churches, women, orphans and the weak.

Early Frankish warriors of the eighth century originally followed emperors on horseback during conquests. Knights mostly remained on horseback to avoid fatigue on the battlefield and to give them greater mobility when fighting an enemy. Warriors on horseback became associated with knighthood during the early Middle Ages, but they also fought on the ground with spears and other forms of weaponry.

Knights in the ninth century protected weak governments and provided protection against sea raiders, thieves and nearby kingdoms. Noblemen provided knights with land grants in exchange for protection. A knight was usually required to perform military service for 40 days of the year.

Knights also played a social role in society, including the display of such values as loyalty, charity and hope. Knights were also expected to exude chivalric romance. They normally hunted and participated in tournaments. The tournaments consisted of competition between knights and were hosted during peace time. The matches included jousts, combat and tilts. Safety measures were put in place to prevent fatalities, and melee combats were eliminated. The tournaments later became events of pomp and pageantry for noblemen and their ladies to watch.