At the Ozark Medieval Fortress many guests who have an interest in knights have also asked what exactly was a squire. The short answer is that a squire in the Middle Ages was a necessary middle step between a page (who was a boy) and a knight (who was a fully trained master in the skills of war). It was generally from the time that they were between the ages of 12 to 14 and age 21.
The word “squire” comes from the French “escuyer” or “esquire”, meaning “shield bearer”. That idea goes back to the Old Testament and the ancient world. By the 1700’s in England it came to mean a country gentleman and in the United States is was a title for the Justice of the Peace.
A squire’s duties included care of the armor, helping the knight don his armor, attending the knight at table, taking care of the knight’s horses and related equipment, keeping the knight’s clothes in good repair, running errands of whatever nature ordered by the knight, accompanying his knight throughout all the dangers of combat and serving as night guard. His training included all aspects of knighthood. Besides the obvious military skills of the knight, he also was expected to learn character and chivalry, heraldry, court etiquette, and even dancing. These skills were learned by watching the knight and practicing with other squires and his knight. Imagine all the skills when we are talking about everything from siege engines and horsemanship to the game of chess and how to appropriately address a lady.
It is worthwhile to remember that the castle, besides being the residence of the knight/lord and haven for the vassals was also a school for knights. The squire learned the use of the sword, ax, mace, lance and dagger. It is also important to remember that the squire was not just the teenager in the background, but rather was in as much danger during the battle as the knight. At a mid-sized castle such as the Ozark Medieval Fortress, squires would be considered a valuable asset.