Knightly heroes

Although the knights were emblematic figures in the Middle Ages and chivalry set in in the 11th century, the very term knight did not appear until later (late 12th, early 13th century). Previously, the Latin word miles, meaning free soldier or warrior, was employed. Reserved for the aristocratic elite until the 13th century, chivalry then became common and a title of nobility that could be bought by the rich bourgeoisie. The knight battled in the saddle, armed with a sword, lance and shield. To acquire equipment, the warrior needed money: good horses were sought, coveted and, therefore expensive, as were weapons and trappings. During the Middle Ages, horses began be differentiated into types characterised by physical properties tailored to various uses: the mare and draft horse used to transport people and goods; the nag used for agriculture and service in general; the light and fast palfrey ridden for parades or hunting; and finally, the powerful and complete destrier was the ultimate war horse. Being indispensable companions (no knight could not go without a horse), the latter were cared for, monitored and provided attention and daily care.

A sign of prestige and ally in war, the horse was a guarantee of distinction in the Middle Ages.

The knight was ideally characterised by the virtues he embodies. Becoming a knight and being dubbed was a favour that the knight had to honour by respecting a code of conduct in which loyalty, faithfulness, virtue and courage dominated on a daily basis. Knights stood out in war, as well as in tournaments, which are mock combats. Under their saddles, destriers were harnessed with trappings, embroidered with heraldic signs, that protected and decorated them. Quick, strong and courageous, they ensured their riders a unique advantage, an aura like no other. In the saddle, the knight became a hero, adorning himself with glory under the eyes of all.

< >