Squires

If the player doesn’t want to shoulder the burden of the financial and social obligations of full knighthood for his gentleman or noble character, his may choose for him to rise only high enough to be a Squire. This allows him a certain amount of leeway in socializing with the common folk that a character of full noble rank and standing simply does not have.

On Becoming a Squire

The process of attaining knighthood usually starts about the age of seven to eight, or as young as age five, with the child being sent to be educated in the hall of an ally or liege-lord, as a Page. The position of page has been ennobled by the passage of time. It was originally used to designate a servant of low position, even a cook’s assistant or a lowly messenger boy, as late as the early 1400’s.

William Marshal, son of John Marshal the provisioner of King Henry I (1100-1135) will be used as a point of reference and example in discussing knightly training and the knight’s career. John was in wealth a very minor lord, holding only c. seven knight’s fees, and hereditary Marshal of the king’s household. Like many other aspiring knights, William looked forward to getting no inheritance, being John marshal’s youngest son. Young William started his training in noble society at about the age of eight. As customary in the houses of the nobility, William was fostered in the hall of one of his father’s kinsmen, the great lord William of Tancarville, a cousin. Not all knightly families have the opportunity to foster their children elsewhere, especially in such a prestigious house, and so have to train their own sons. Young William worked as a servant in Lord Tancarville’s hall, serving at the high table and required to help with the chores of the household that were in keeping with his dignity as the son of a titled man,

The Page must learn to be gentle and polite, to enter a room with grace and good manner, to greet all with a modest “God speed you”, an d not to stare at folk or look too boldly so as to challenge or give offense. They must learn to stand straight and tall, and do so quietly, not to slouch or lean against the wall, post, or jamb, and not to handle or fidget with things. Before their lords they must descend to one knee with grace. They must speak only when spoken to, unless they ask first for permission, by which very act they may make themselves seem to be too forward and so must take care to be humble. When responding to their lords they must first make obeisance to them for the honor of recognition by them. These good graces are learned indoors, primarily from the ladies of the household, the master’s wife and her ladies-in-waiting.

In short, all Knights are encouraged in their training to cultivate the social graces of the Courtier, as well. The two Trades go hand in hand.

All Pages must also learn to sit a horse and are provided one to care for and learn to ride. Many are also provided a hawk to care for and learn to fly, as falconry is another art of the knight, a mark of noble blood and breeding. Pages are sometimes used to carry messages, a happy occasion when the news is good, for it is a chance to get out from under the harsh eye of the master and be well-rewarded, for it is customary for both sender and received to offer a gift or coin in gratuity. Lack of physical strength usually keeps the Pages from entering into the service of a knight as a Squire until they reach the age of 12.

William Marshal was admitted to the ranks of Squires when he reached his teens, sometime between the ages of 12 and 14 years, according to custom. The position and distinction of the office of Squire were developed at the turn of the 1100’s, as they gradually gained the honor of serving only knights. Originally squires were the lowest servants of the armies, nothing more than villeins and serfs charged with the lowest duties.

Young gentlemen of devolved knightly blood are also eligible to be raised as pages. By age 12-14, when he has achieved sufficient size and strength, the Page is inducted as a Squire, apprenticed to a knight who will train him in the arts of combat, strategy, and tactics.

The Squire is known by his silver spurs.

When the Page becomes a Squire, donning the silver spurs, his household chores take a lesser role to his responsibility for keeping the arms and weapons of the Knight who is his master clean and rust free and for currying and sometimes exercising his war steed(s), as well as his training in the use of the lance, (long-) sword, shield, the wearing of mail, and perfecting his Horseman skills.

Pages and Squires are clothed and armed by their masters until they can sit a horse securely and carry both lance and sword (c. age 11-12). The Squire is charged with learning the arts of falconry and of the hunt, although NOT the skills of the hunter and of the officers whose place it is to facilitate the hunt, embodied in the Huntsmen trade.

They are schooled in the strategies of chess, and in the finer courts even to learn an instrument and to chant or sing the ballads and deeds of the heroes of Chivalry in good voice. In short, again, the Knight is encouraged to become skilled in the social arts and graces that make of him good company, able to make the lords and his fellow knights “good cheer”, alongside his skills of war. The finding of a place in the household of a wealthy lord and making of good cheer for him and his fellows is a rung on the ladder of the Knight’s career that embodies the apex for many. And for those who achieve that, even a lordship is not too high to aim.

Squires must learn from the stable master to curry the master’s horse(s) and also their own, see that they are kept in good shoes, and work with his master’s beastmaster to break in any new young horses the master may acquire by purchase or conquest, hence the availability of the Husbandman-Beastmaster trade – or Husbandman alone if the full scope of Beastmastery doesn’t interest the player. Once he dons the golden spurs, the Knight need not maintain these skills, and many do allow them to fail, relying on the men in their retinues to attend to those duties. Either way, once Knighthood is achieved, some means for providing the care of his horse(s) must be secured in play.

The Squire is never far from his master unless sent away to attend to or accomplish some matter of his business. He greets his Knight on rising, preparing and attending to his bath, waiting on him at table, and seeing him to bed every night, sleeping on a straw tick or pallet close by his master’s bed, or in the antechamber to his master’s chamber. He must receive his master’s guests, relieve them of their arms and attend to their comforts and entertain them as if they were themselves his masters.

In battle, the Squire is forbidden to touch the master’s sword, which often is also a reliquary containing a small relic of some saint, perhaps a memento of a personal or ancestral pilgrimage. Squires are forbidden to wear a helm of coat of mail or to carry a lance in battle.

At the tourneys, no more than three armed Squires are allowed to accompany each knightly combatant. These are required to wear their lord’s sign or coat of arms and only limited armor. Most commonly, a Squire wears a padded or studded leather garment called a gambeson or aketon. He is limited in his involvement in the melée, bearing broadsword only and fighting only with a javelin or quarterstaff. However, in service to their knights, they are considered non-combatants on the battlefield. Regardless, their responsibilities on the battlefield are very real. The Squire must provide replacements for lost or broken weapons from his master’s pavilion, help with repairs to his mount’s bridle, saddle, and harness, bring in fresh horses, or even to protect his master from capture if he should be knocked down and stunned or injured.

Only those Squires close and regular enough in attendance to be accustomed to carve a lord’s meat (Squires of the Body, senior-most) are allowed at the tournament festivities in the evenings. When or out riding on the hunt and especially in the melee at the many tournaments his master may attend, his duties are much the same.

In case of conflict with his master or any other Knight, the Squire has NO rights to offer battle. He cannot demand duel with him, and is forbidden to even engage any Knight in battle. He is beneath their dignity.

The Squire’s term of service as described lasts five to seven years, occasionally longer, but most commonly seven, ending only when the Squire reaches the age of majority, commonly acknowledged to be 21. Occasionally it is shorter, but it may depend on the customs of the country, and the Squire’s rank by birth and political situation.

The sons of lords are generally knighted at a given age, whatever the legal majority is in that society, as low as 12 among the Salians, but generally 15 among the Germans, and 20 or 21 in accordance with old Roman law in France and England.

Due to the laws of primogeniture, under which only the first born male child can inherit, the heir to a lordship is generally knighted at 17 or 18 so he may assume his responsibilities and continue being trained to assume his father’s position. The younger sons and heirs of lesser lordships generally wait to 20 or 21, however. Younger sons of lords are portionless, without inheritance, and have to have some means of earning their livelihood. Knighthood is the solution for many of them, as war is the province of their class, but a Church education for many others is common, leading to a number of different opportunities.

Philip the Fair was knighted at age 16, but his political position required it. He had succeeded to the throne of the Kingdom of Navarre, in the mountains between Spain and France, and it “was not meet” or considered proper that a reigning monarch should be excluded from the ranks of Chivalry. When the candidate attains no such high office at a young age, the general fashion of knighting at 20 or 21 obtained, as it did with Philip the Fair’s own sons.

The Squire’s apprenticeship is long and hard, and over the years the Squire generally becomes very close to his master, developing a relationship as strong as any true family bond. No Knight who has even a single shred of honor dares raise his hand against the man under whom he served as Squire, a prohibition that can endure for years, if not for life, after leaving his household. In addition, there is a sense of fraternity between those who have risen to the estate of Knight. Out of respect for the hardships and training they all have suffered and the rank attained, they are loath to slay their peers. This does not stop them from confiscating all arms and weapons, horses, and the equipment in victory over their peers, and ransoming them afterwards. When sureties are provided, it is common for the hostage to be paroled on his own recognizance, however.

Due to the means necessary to maintain the lifestyle, many Squires remain at that social rank for some years before taking on the mantle of Knighthood. This is so prevalent, in fact, that it is common practice for the Crown not only to offer mass knightings on special occasions such as the knighting of royal princes and the eves before embarking on important royal campaigns or battles, but also for the Crown to pay for the various accoutrements required for the ceremony, easily as rich as the lifestyle expected of a Knight in itself.

Those Squires who train for but never achieve the gilded spurs of knighthood have the title “Squire” added before their names, or “Esquire” tacked on after.

The fortunes of the branches of the family that do not take knighthood generally fall as they grow apart from the origins of their knightly heritage, and the estate of knighthood is expensive to take up and maintain. These restrictive practices are a major contributing factor to c. 25% of all noble bloodlines failing in the direct line of descent every 100 years or so.

For the purposes of the game, it is assumed that the Squire character has completed his training for the knighthood in its entirety. In skill on the field of battle the Squire character is the equal of any new-made knight. What is lacking here is only social rank. We use the word “only” here advisedly, however, because that difference in rank and precedence changes the complexion of the entire game world for the character. ALL of the social realities, responsibilities and restrictions upon a Squire explained in the preceding text remains FULLY in force. Being on this social track is the player’s choice. It is hoped that the player is able to accept the parameters of the social role of the Squire, especially regarding the knights and nobles he is likely to share company with frequently, as he occupies one of the lower ranks of the noble world.

A Squire whose training is considered complete is fully trained in all the skills of battle, in the same manner described for Trade Warriors.

While every effort has been made to ensure that each and every character has an opportunity to learn to swing a weapon of some sort, or fire a bow or hurl a sling or other such weapons, and also to provide the opportunities to cultivate Brawling and wrestling skills so that all have the means for self-protection, to at least stand their ground in a pitched battle, it is VERY important to understand that there is a great deal more to being a member of one of the Warrior trades than simply swinging a weapon.

Characters opting to follow one of these trades are the product of either some type of school or the tutelage of a particular master. Both sorts of training were widely available across England in the period of the game despite the legislation actually enacted against them in the period. The people were expected to participate in the Fyrd or Militia, and thus at least rudimentary training was made available to them. The Warrior trades are quoted a standard length of apprenticeship in character creation like the rest of the trades, BUT any such training was always at will and subject to the student’s ability to pay the tuition, like any other school, while the apprenticeship to a fighting master is considered equally informal but rather more serious in terms of commitment. This trade represents the efforts of those who pursued this path in favor of any other, and the benefits that accrue.

The real difference between the Warrior by Trade such as a Squire and those that merely swing a weapon for self defense is one of interest and commitment. Those outside the trade are dilettantes with a passing interest. Those within the trade are in it for life, to keep them alive on the battlefield, where they expect their fortune to be found or made. To parallel that commitment is their interest in the martial training, in not only weapons and their various regional variations and differing forms by nationality, but the styles in which they are used and also the men who created and teach (or taught) those styles and made them famous. Some of the greatest styles are described in detail with illustrations in costly books to be handed down – some of them considered useful and instructive standards widely known and observed even a couple hundred years after the original master’s death.

The specific skills for the different types of attacks (Slash, Thrust, Lunge, Aimed Strike, Disarm, Feint, Hearty Blow, and Charge) are provided to allow the character to hone his weapon skills in detail (as applicable, where those optional rules are in play,) as an expression of his own personal style, as a Wizard does with his Five Arts, his cantrips, spells, and rituals, and all his various charms.

A character with the formal training of this trade is allowed a bonus to ALL his attack AV’s and defense DV’s based on the SL of his Game Face skill, as it gradually stills any habitual movements he might make that might give his intended next move or strike away to his opponent. His Savvy skill provides the measure of how well he can read an opponent, especially his body language, and also provides a bonus to ALL attack AV’s and defense DV’s based on that SL. Those of other trades may learn these techniques from those among this trade willing to teach, but the Warrior, Huntsman, and Assassin trades are the only ones allowed to use those skills for such bonuses from the start of play.

The Combinations skills on the skills roster provide a means of using tactics that illustrate a knowledge of fighting styles only available to those who have shown a commitment to pursuing a trade in the arts of war. The Warrior and Assassin trades are the only ones with access to those skills at the start of play.

 

Squire
Shield *
Shield Bash
Rim Strike
Weapons † 11) *
(Common Strike)
Slash
Thrust/Lunge
Aimed Strike
(Entangle)
Disarm
Feint
Hearty Blow *
Charge
Combinations
Dual Attack
Dual Defense
Attack/Defense
Drover/Charioteer (P)
Horseman (P)
Literatus & Scrivener (P) *
OR Secretary (P)
OR Grammar School (P)
OR Finishing School (P)
Open Skills
Brawler/Wrestler
Dodge (AGL)
Game Face (HRT)
Perception (AWA)
Savvy
Search
Sentry
Presence (CHM)
Coerce/Beguile
Player

The (Common Strike) entry is in parenthesis because it is not a separate skill in the same manner that Disarming, Feint, Aimed, etc. attacks are, but is subsumed in the basic Weapon skill. Being able to attack is part of that skill, already filling an AWA-slot. The (Entangle) attack skill is intrinsic to taking a dueling cape, net (after the gladiator’s fashion), etc. skill in the same fashion. Generally speaking, entangling weapons can only be used for Entangling attacks, unless the player can come up with some use by means of the Brawling skill to do otherwise. For those weapons designated as being solely Thrusting weapons (estoc, for example), the Thrust/Lunge skill is substituted for the Common Strike in the same manner, because that is the primary use of the weapon.

The balance of the attack skills listed are subject to AWA-slot limitations, normally.

Violence is an accepted and unavoidable part of the true Warrior’s and Knight’s life, and for those who live by it, a simple fact of life whose religious and spiritual ramifications offer little, if any, deterrent. Indeed, a Squire or other Warrior is expected to be hit hard enough to knock him to the ground no less than 20 times during his trials and training before he is ever considered ready to face battle.

Thus, a Warrior’s will to survive is tempered to a steely edge. He becomes inured to pain and privation over the course of his career, and is no stranger to the ivory grin of death. Warriors learn to endure and even dismiss discomforts that would wear others down, and even the pain of injuries or wounds.

The Warrior’s training provides him with a bonus of (TR) to his P-RES score for the purposes of resisting numbing bodily shocks when struck and maintaining consciousness in the face of the pain of his wounds and in resisting extreme fatigue (if the optional END rules are in play) and the effects of exposure to the elements (heat, cold).

Another benefit of the Warrior’s Trade training comes in the form of a bonus of (1 per 4 TR’s) to the character’s wound allowance for each level of wounding, in turn (OR to his BP’s, if those optional rules are in play).

A (TR) bonus is added to his END score, where that optional rule is in use, and his TR is also added to his CND for the purposes of determining how quickly he recovers his END points (but ONLY for that purpose).

With their trade training providing such benefits, it is small wonder that Warriors are rather commonly noted for their callous lack of sympathy in regards to the complaints uttered by others when suffering physical hardships.

During the Warrior’s Trade training he learns to compensate for and work with his armor, to develop his fighting style that allows him to maximize it’s strengths, but mostly he becomes conditioned to the oppressive heat that can accumulate under it in the midst of a fight, rather more so than those who lack the same intensive training in arms that this trade represents. No strangers are these characters to having to be ready for action on a moment’s notice, or to taking their shifts on Sentry duty, and so inured to discomfort and physical hardship do they become, over time.

The Warrior is allowed to recover his END points normally, provided that optional rule is in play, if he should have a chance to cat-nap or even fall truly asleep while still wearing his armor, unlike those of other Trades.

When the player finally comes to the decision that it is time to seek his Squire’s Knighthood, he must look for an opportunity and a sponsor willing to provide him with the honor of being so elevated. Before the character actually undergoes the elevation or “dubbing”, it is incumbent on the player to become familiar with the information and social background regarding the Knight that is presented in that Trade’s description. It is important that the player be aware of the rights, responsibilities and social role of the rank he plans to attain.