Thursday, January 24, 2013

History Alive! Part One

    Thirteen year old Steven de Gaunt looked around the great hall with a sense of mingled interest and apprehension. Before him, upon the raised platform, Lord John of Thetford laid his broad sword upon the stalwart shoulder of his eldest son.

    "In the name of God and our Sovereigns, I dub thee a knight." Lord John's strong voice rang out through the crowded hall and ringing back again into the ears of every listener. "Be faithful, just, and true, according to our brotherhood and the noble pledge of chivalry."

    The young man met the eyes of his father. "In the name of our blessed Christ, I shall do these things."

    "Then rise, Sir Arthur of Thetford, knight of our shire!"

    Sir Arthur arose to receive his father's handshake and quick embrace, whilst the crowd exploded into a wave of hearty applause. Steven reluctantly joined in the hand-clapping, his heart beating fast against his chest.
    Having blessed his son, Lord John turned once again to the onlooking crowd. "Hear ye, my good people! My son must now procure an esquire, as if the custom within this shire. Wither is the youth chosen for the noble task?"

   Beside him, Sir Edward de Gaunt raised his hand, as Steven had known for full many a week he would. "He is hither, sire, and is ready and willing to pledge his service unto his new master."

    Steven's heart pounded wildly. He looked up at his father, as if in the silent appeal that he would not apprentice him to this strange young man.

     However, Master de Gaunt did not look at him. At Lord John's beck, he pushed his son forward, compelling him to mount the platform.

    Standing before Lord John and Sir Arthur, Steven felt all color wash from his face. His hands trembled wildly, and they felt both cold and clammy. 

    Sir Arthur had but recently returned from serving his own knight in foreign lands, and, though he had lived all of his life within Thetford Castle, Steven could scarce remember the young man that was to be his lord. Lord John beckoned to him, and, shaking, Steven advanced.

    "How old art thou, my lad?" Sir Arthur asked, his tones cordial.

    "I shall be fourteen one month hence, on Michaealmas," Steven replied softly, bending in a polite bow. 

    Sir Arthur held out his hand. "Well, let us complete our business. Henceforth, thou art my squire and I shall be thy lord."

    Steven took the offered hand and pressed it, trembling, to his forehead and lips. "I shall be true unto ye," he managed, his tones scarcely audible.

    Sir Arthur stared oddly at him for a fleeting moment, then, burst into a hearty laugh. "The boy shakes like one in a spasm," he said, directing his jesting tones towards Master de Gaunt. "What frightening tales hast thou told him concerning me?"

    "None, sire." Sir Edward smiled dryly. "The lad hath heard much of thy regal power and strength. Methinks that be the reason for his fright."

    Sir Arthur turned again to poor Steven, whose pallid color had been suddenly replaced by a tinge of embarrassed scarlet. 

    "Well, methinks ye need have no fear of me," he said, again uttering a short, pleasant laugh. "Take heart, my gallant Steven - I shall make a man of thee, yet, I trow thou shalt not find thy new life a very arduous one."

    Steven looked up, for the first time meeting the young man's half-amused, yet kindly gaze. A new sense of well-being crossed in a wave of over him, and, slowly, he managed a smile.

    "Aye, Sir Arthur," he managed softly.

    Squires or Esquires were a very important aspect of the Middle Ages. Combination trainee and servant, they performed numerous tasks for their knights. A squire's duties included arming his knight, cutting his meat, maintaining his wine goblet, carrying for his horses, and even sleeping in the same room with him. (Nothing like having a servant get you a drink at 2:00 AM!) They even had the task of rousing their knight in the morning. 

    Any questions about squires? Feel free to post your comments or questions!


  1. Question regarding squires: Where can I get one? Oh wait-I just proved over the last six weeks that I have four of them! Haha You really pulled me in with this short bit! Such talent, m'lady!

    1. Hah! Maybe I should get one too...Servant that is. :) Do you really send your boys to get you tea in the dead of night?! :) I'm glad you enjoyed this post.

  2. I am doing a module on Chivalry this semester at Uni, so I might be learning more about such as this- come to think of it there's a couple of books about knights I might have to break get out.

    The dialogue in this passage seems more plausible than Medieval people saying 'Yeah' and 'Okay'. Seriously, I have read a series of novels in which the characters spoke like that. Is the passage from one of your books.

    1. How interesting! I'm six years into my study of the Middle Ages myself. No, this is not a passage from one of my books. I wrote this on the spur of the moment as a history lesson. :)

      Definitely! I know my dialogue is not 100% Old English, but I wanted to find a balance so that my readers could still understand it. (Since it was so heavily mixed with Old French.) You will not find "yeahs" and "hey dude" in my books! :)

    2. I'm afraid I am going to have to put you right on one thing, the language English people spoke in the 12 and 1300s was not Old English, it was Middle English.
      Old English is very different (having encountered it a few times) "Fæder ure þu þe eart on heofonum Si þin nama gehalgod" is an example of Old English.
      Thanks goodness Middle English is easier to understand once you can get past the odd spelling.

      I do have this habit of wanting to put people right historically, and sometimes it may be a bad thing, but when people refer to the likes of Shakespeare's plays as 'Old English'...

    3. I think I understand wanting to find a balance though. I have read one or two books in which the characters dialogue was almost entirely in something like Middle English, and they were not the easiest to read. However, language which is too modern does not seem right either, and I think some readers do notice such .

    4. I know what you mean. :) I just call the language Old English because few people understand when you call it be other terms. :) Many historians do the same.

    5. Don't worry I am waaaayyyyy too pedantic sometimes! If I start ranting you might want to just ignore me, put ear plugs in, or get your guards to throw me out!

      I like your 'Anti Feminist' poster, though I would be inclined to put a lady in an apron brandishing a frying pan (sorry, skillet is what you call them in the US).

    6. Thank you! I rather liked it myself! I say frying pan myself sometimes. In fact, I am supposedly rather English in my mannerisms and even accent (according to my book and marketing agents who work with many authors in the UK.) :)

    7. Lol! You know the difference between England and Britain/UK right?

  3. BTW I am adding your blog to the Blog List on my site. Makes it easier to see and access new posts. Fare thee Well, good Lady.


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