Medieval History/General medieval question about pages/squires
Hi Mr. Aaron. I asked this question of Deborah as well, however, it is out of her time period so I figured I would cover all my bases and ask you as well. I am a teacher, and also an author of children's books and YA Novels. I am pretty knowledgeable about medieval times, but there are some questions I have about general life. In and around the 1300s, or even the renaissance period, would page boys and squires have walked or would they have been granted horses to use if they knight they serve goes on a journey to a tournament in another town. We are assuming they would have to travel for days or weeks. I was explaining to my students about page boys and squires, and the process/learning they had to go through to become a knight. My other question was if they did go visiting in someone else's castle with the knight, where would they be housed? I would assume in the keep, but would the page and or squire have been given their own room, or would they stay in the same chamber as the knight, as household handmaids would have? Or, would there be some kind of dorm, or would the squires and pages for the knight be roomed together? Would it still be in the keep with the knight? Thank you so much for your help, these are questions I couldn't answer that came up in my class.
Pages were deliberately assigned to the lady of the castle so that they would learn obedience, manners, courtesy, and respect. Squires were reintroduced to the world of men and were trained to be aggressive, to the point of what the modern world would call cruelty. It therefore would have been counterproductive to the training of a page for pages and squires to be housed together.
Pages and squires probably did not live in the keep which was the exclusive domain of the knight and his family. Inside the castle walls there was probably a barracks or two and this is where the pages and squires would live. Then as now, the military was divided into classes. The pages, squires, and castle guards would likely all live in separate rooms, just as officers, sergeants, and private soldiers live today. Of these three classes, the squires were the highest class and would have the most square footage per man. The pages probably all slept in one room. The squires, depending on how many there were at any one time, might be divided among several rooms. When traveling, the pages and squires slept with the pages and squires of the host castle. If not staying in a castle, the pages and squires probably had accommodations that closely resembled what they had at home, ie, the pages probably slept in one room while the squires had a different room and more personal space. If a lady only traveled with one or two pages, the pages might sleep with the other servants.
When traveling, the pages and squires probably traveled the same as the knight and his lady. If the lady rode a horse, her pages probably did also. Given that a page was raised from birth to eventually become a knight, he probably learned to ride at a young age, probably before becoming a page. If the lady rode in a cart or wagon, her page might travel with her. If he wasn't in her wagon, he was nearby, perhaps in a following wagon that carried the knight's and lady's baggage. Knights considered riding in a wagon to be beneath them and always rode horses, even if their wives rode in a wagon. It seems unusual today for a husband and wife to not travel side by side, but marriage was different back then. I'm reluctant to use the word 'carriage' in a medieval context but rest assured a knight's wife did not ride in a common farm wagon. It may have been unusual for a knight's lady to travel. She certainly did not travel as often as her husband did. Squires rode horses. By that stage their riding skills were quite advanced. Mastering the horse was part of their training, and traveling would have presented an opportunity to improve their horsemanship even further. At the very least, riding a horse toughens the skin at key points where body meets the saddle. A knight was expected to ride all day without the discomfort experienced by novice riders. That toughness is only acquired over many years of riding.
Hope this helps,