Noble war­riors

Boy pages were of­ten seen on me­dieval bat­tle­fields and were deadly with a cross­bow

BBC Earth (Asia) - - History -

In me­dieval Europe, boy pages were a reg­u­lar sight in the homes of aris­to­crats. At the age of seven, noble boys would be sent from their fam­ily homes and sta­tioned in an­other aris­to­cratic house­hold, where they would du­ti­fully serve the lord of the es­tate through me­nial chores and per­sonal ser­vice.

In re­turn, they re­ceived hospi­tal­ity and ed­u­ca­tion. They also un­der­went mil­i­tary train­ing, learn­ing how to use weapons and ride. The chil­dren would mount wooden horses, learn how to han­dle lances and con­duct tar­get prac­tice.

Boy pages wit­nessed their fair share of con­flict, dress­ing and arm­ing their lords on the field. They mainly per­formed mi­nor aux­il­iary roles but, in the event of a siege, were ex­pected to know the ba­sics of how to de­fend a cas­tle with a cross­bow. This was one of only a few weapons a child could use; the string could be pulled back with a lever, or by wind­ing a crank, giv­ing the bow ten­sion, power and the abil­ity to travel long dis­tances – all of which meant a child could kill with­out en­gag­ing in di­rect com­bat with an adult. De­spite their mil­i­tary train­ing, even in the heat of bat­tle it was bad form to con­sider the boys a tar­get. In the 1415 bat­tle of Agin­court, it is ru­moured that Henry V was so enraged by the French tar­get­ing his army’s boy pages, that he re­tal­i­ated by slit­ting the necks of his pris­on­ers.

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