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