Squire

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A Knight with their Squire in the 21st century preparing to participate in a Jousting tournament.

A Squire is a shield and armor bearer of a Knight and a Knight's errand runner.[1][2] Originally, a Squire was a Knight's apprentice who learned everything they could about being a Knight hoping one day to bare the honor themselves.[3] Other countries have bastardized the term to include government officials and other dignitaries when, in fact, they are not a Squire in any capacity. One such bastardization is the contemporary American usage where Squire is the title given to justices of the Peace or similar local dignitaries. Squire is a shortened version of the word Esquire, from the Old French, itself derived from the Late Latin ("shield bearer"), in medieval or Old English a scutifer. The Classical Latin equivalent was armiger or ("arms bearer").

Knights in Training

The most common definition of Squire refers to the Middle Ages. A Squire is typically a teen aged child training to become a Knight or a Dame.[4] A child can become a Squire at the age of 14. Squires are the second step to becoming a Knight or Dame, after having served as a occupation. Teenage children serve a Knight or Dame as an attendant or shield carrier, doing simple but important tasks such as saddling a horse or caring for the Knight or Dame's weapons and armour. The Squire will sometimes carry the Knight or Dame's flag into battle with their Master.

A Knight or Dame typically take their Squires into battle and give them a chance to prove themselves. In modern times a Knight or Dame typically has the Squire join the military branch they are in so they are part of the same unit that way they can prove their loyalty and skill in battle or military drills, where they have an "Accolade", which is an official ceremony that makes the Squire a Knight or Dame.

Duties of a Squire

The typical duties of a Squire include, but are not limited to:

  • Carrying the Knight or Dame's armour, shield and sword
  • Guarding prisoners
  • Ensuring an honourable burial for a Knight or Dame
  • Replacing an injured or killed horse
  • Dressing the Knight or Dame in armour (in modern times this is plate carriers)
  • Carrying the Knight or Dame's flag
  • Protecting the Knight or Dame
  • Taking care of the horses
  • Accompanying the Knight or Dame to tournaments and the battlefield
  • Maintaining the Knight or Dame's equipment
  • Scrubbing armour

Medieval Squires

Medieval Squires were required to undergo different forms of education which played a role in their esteem as a squire and their chance of being promoted to a knight one day.[5] They had to learn the code of chivalry, horsemanship, swordsmanship and marksmanship, the rules of heraldry as well as a number of athletic skills to help them on the battlefield.[6][7] Moreover, the squire was expected to be well-acquainted with music, dance, jousting as well as various elements of court etiquette. Many of these requirements survive into the 21st century depending on the Order of Knighthood the Knight or Dame is part of.

United States

In the United States, this style is most common among attorneys, borrowing from the English tradition whereby all barristers were styled "Esquires" (Solicitors were entitled only to the style "Mr".) In earlier years in the U.S., the title squire was given to a Justice of the Peace, for example Squire Jones. It was also used to mean justice of the peace as in the example, "He was taken before the Squire." The connection to attorneys appears to have evolved from a time when Squires meeting to negotiate a duel would instead resolve the dispute. These modern bastardizations are not, in fact, associated with any Order of Chivalry and are not actual Squires. Using this term in some countries outside the United States by people who are not, in fact, Squires is illegal and a crime.

References

  1. Stevenson, K. (2006). Chivalry and Knighthood in Scotland, 1424-1513. Boydell Press.
  2. Rodríguez-Velasco, J. D. (2016). Order and Chivalry: Knighthood and Citizenship in Late Medieval Castile. University of Pennsylvania Press.
  3. Rodríguez-Velasco, J. D. (2016). Order and Chivalry: Knighthood and Citizenship in Late Medieval Castile. University of Pennsylvania Press.
  4. Saul, N. (2011). Chivalry in medieval England (p. 132). Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
  5. Scaff, L. A., & McCoy, R. C. (1989). The rites of knighthood: the literature and politics of Elizabethan chivalry (Vol. 7). Univ of California Press.
  6. Saul, N. (2011). Chivalry in medieval England (p. 132). Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
  7. Karras, R. M. (2003). From boys to men: Formations of masculinity in late medieval Europe. University of Pennsylvania Press.