In the Middle Ages, a squire was the shield- or armour-bearer of a knight.
Use of the term evolved over time. Initially, a squire served as a knight's apprentice. Later, a village leader or a lord of the manor might come to be known as a "squire", and still later, the term was applied to members of the landed gentry. In contemporary American usage, "squire" is the title given to justices of the peace or similar local dignitaries.[ citation needed ]
Squire is a shortened version of the word esquire , from the Old French escuier (modern French écuyer), itself derived from the Late Latin scutarius ("shield bearer"), in medieval or Old English a scutifer. The Classical Latin equivalent was armiger ("arms bearer").
The most common definition of squire refers to the Middle Ages.[ citation needed ] A squire was typically a young boy, training to become a knight. A boy became a page at the age of 7 then a squire at age 14.[ citation needed ] Squires were the second step to becoming a knight, after having served as a page.[ citation needed ] Boys served a knight as an attendant or shield carrier, doing simple but important tasks such as saddling a horse or caring for the knight's weapons and armor. The squire would sometimes carry the knight's flag into battle with his master.
The typical jobs of a squire included:[ citation needed ]
The young King Arthur served as Sir Kay's squire in the traditional tale of the Sword in the Stone that appears in literary works, including Le Morte d'Arthur and The Once and Future King . One of the pilgrim-storytellers in The Canterbury Tales is a squire who is the son of the knight that he serves. In Miguel de Cervantes' Don Quixote , the babbling Sancho Panza serves as squire of the deluded Don. In the children's book The Castle in the Attic by Elizabeth Winthrop, the protagonist William serves as the squire of Sir Simon, a knight from the Middle Ages who got transported to the present.
In the English countryside from the Middle Ages until the early 20th century, there was often one principal family of landed gentry, owning much of the land and living in the largest house, often referred to by people lower down the social scale as the "big house". The head of this family was often the lord of the manor and called "the squire". Lords of the manor held the rank of esquire by prescription.
Squires were gentlemen, usually with a coat of arms, and were often related to peers. The squire usually lived at the village manor house and owned an estate, comprising the village, with the villagers being his tenants. If the squire owned the advowson or living (i.e. "was patron") of the parish church — and he often did — he would choose the incumbent, designated as either a rector, or if the parish had a lay rector or impropriator, who was often the squire himself, a vicar. These roles were often filled by a younger son of the squire or of another family of local gentry. Some squires also became parish incumbents themselves and were known as squarsons;a portmanteau of the words squire and parson . The squire would also have performed a number of important local duties, in particular that of Justice of the Peace or Member of Parliament.
Such was the power of the squires at this time that modern historians have created the term 'squirearchy'.Politically, during the 19th century, squires tended to be Tories, whereas the greatest landlords tended to be Whigs.
The position of squire was traditionally associated with occupation of the manor house, which would often itself confer the dignity of squire. It is unclear how widely the village squire may still be said to survive today, but where it does, the role is likely more dependent upon a recognition of lineage and long family association rather than land, which, while relevant, is nowadays likely to be considerably smaller than in former years due to high post-war death duties and the prohibitive costs associated with maintaining large country houses.
In Scotland, whilst esquire and gentleman are technically correctly used at the Court of the Lord Lyon, the title laird, in place of squire, is more common. Moreover, in Scotland, lairds append their territorial designation to their names as was traditionally done on the mainland of Europe (e.g., Donald Cameron of Lochiel). The territorial designation fell into disuse in England early on, save for peers of the realm.
The later form of squire as a gentleman appears in much of English literature, for example in the form of Squire Trelawney in Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island . William Makepeace Thackeray depicted a squire in Vanity Fair as a lecherous, ill-educated, badly mannered relic of an earlier age. However, he clearly shows their control of the life of the parish. Others include Squire Hamley in Elizabeth Gaskell's Wives and Daughters and Squire Allworthy (based on Ralph Allen) in the novel Tom Jones by Henry Fielding, who was himself a squire and magistrate. There is also a notable squire in Cormac McCarthy's Outer Dark and Charles Reade's 1856 novel It is Never Too Late to Mend , where the squire uses his authority to abuse the postal and judicial services. In the Aubrey-Maturin series of novels by Patrick O'Brian, Jack Aubrey's father, General Aubrey and later Jack himself, are typical squires.
Mary Ann Evans, alias George Eliot, includes Squire Cass as a character in her novel Silas Marner . One of the main characters of Anthony Trollope's Doctor Thorne , published in 1858, is Squire Francis Newbold Gresham. Sherlock Holmes' ancestors are mentioned to be country squires in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's stories.
The "Royal Esquires" of the late-medieval English Court were not young men studying for knighthood. Far more frequently, and certainly from Edward III to Henry VIII, they tended to be men of a similar age to the monarch; having his complete trust.
In the 15th-century Black Book of the Household – a set of ordinances composed for Edward IV for the "Governance and Regulation of the Royal Household" – the king had only four "Esquires for the Bodie"; these were the most senior servants in the royal household, with total access to the royal person at all hours. They were the senior staff of the privy chamber, and the closest of the king's "Affinity" (i.e., his most intimate daily companions), and were the only servants in the household who were required – not just allowed – to bear arms in the king's presence, as one of their duties was to act as bodyguards "of last resort" in the event of an immediate threat to the royal person.
In times of war when their royal master was "under arms" himself, they would also fight at his side. They oversaw his pages and the other lesser servants of the privy chamber and acted as his valet, and stood guard while he was shaved, washed or bathed. One stood behind his chair when he dined. Squires accompanied him at play, including wagering with him on the results of games (see wagers lost and won recorded in the account books of Henry VII, each page signed by the king, National Archives at Kew) and delivered confidential messages of all kinds.
Edward IV and Richard III only appointed four esquires each. Henry VII appointed four of his closest "companions of Our late Exile" within days of his victory at the Battle of Bosworth Field on 22 August 1485,and an extra five esquires by the end of his reign in 1509. His son Henry VIII retained his father's esquires of the body while dismissing others of his father's senior officers and even executing some (for example, Richard Empson and Edmund Dudley), but he vastly increased the number of that select group, as he enlarged the rest of the royal household as set down in the Statutes of Eltham. The position was highly regarded, for the value of its close access to the king. At least two notable late-medieval gentlemen are recorded contemporaneously as refusing knighthood, declaring that to be an "Esquire of the Body" was a far-greater honour.
In the post-medieval world, the title of esquire came to belong to all men of the higher landed gentry; an esquire ranked socially above a gentleman but below a knight. In the modern world, the term has correspondingly often been extended (albeit only in very formal writing) to all men without any higher title. It is used post-nominally, usually in abbreviated form: "John Smith, Esq.", for example.
In the United States, this style is most common among lawyers, borrowing from the English tradition whereby all barristers were styled "esquires". (Solicitors were entitled only to the style "Mr".) In earlier years in the U.S., the title squire was given to a justice of the peace, for example Squire Jones. It was also used to mean justice of the peace as in the example, "He was taken before the squire." The connection to attorneys appears to have evolved from a time when squires meeting to negotiate a duel would instead resolve the dispute. [ citation needed ]
A knight is a person granted an honorary title of knighthood by a head of state or representative for service to the monarch, the church or the country, especially in a military capacity. Knighthood finds origins in the Greek hippeis and hoplite (ἱππεῖς) and Roman eques and centurion of classical antiquity.
A gentleman is any man of good and courteous conduct. Originally, gentleman was the lowest rank of the landed gentry of England, ranking below an esquire and above a yeoman; by definition, the rank of gentleman comprised the younger sons of the younger sons of peers, and the younger sons of a baronet, a knight, and an esquire, in perpetual succession. As such, the connotation of the term gentleman captures the common denominator of gentility ; a right shared by the peerage and the gentry, the constituent classes of the British nobility.
Jousting is a martial game or hastilude between two horse riders wielding lances with blunted tips, often as part of a tournament. The primary aim was to replicate a clash of heavy cavalry, with each participant trying hard to strike the opponent while riding towards him at high speed, breaking the lance on the opponent's shield or jousting armour if possible, or unhorsing him. The joust became an iconic characteristic of the knight in Romantic medievalism. The participants experience close to three and a quarter times their body weight in G-forces when the lances collide with their armour.
Esquire is usually a courtesy title.
A magnate, from the late Latin magnas, a great man, itself from Latin magnus, "great", is a noble or a man in a high social position, by birth, wealth or other qualities. In reference to the Middle Ages, the term is often used to distinguish higher territorial landowners and warlords, such as counts, earls, dukes, and territorial-princes from the baronage, and in Poland for the richest szlachta.
Lord of the Manor is a title that, in Anglo-Saxon England, referred to the landholder of a rural estate. The lord enjoyed manorial rights as well as seignory, the right to grant or draw benefit from the estate. The title continues in modern England and Wales as a legally recognised form of property that can be held independently of its historical rights. It may belong entirely to one person or be a moiety shared with other people.
A man-at-arms was a soldier of the High Medieval to Renaissance periods who was typically well-versed in the use of arms and served as a fully armoured heavy cavalryman. A man-at-arms could be a knight, or other nobleman, a member of a knight's or nobleman's retinue, or a mercenary in a company serving under a captain. Such men could serve for pay or through a feudal obligation. The terms knight and man-at-arms are often used interchangeably, but while all knights equipped for war were men-at-arms, not all men-at-arms were knights.
A manor house was historically the main residence of the lord of the manor. The house formed the administrative centre of a manor in the European feudal system; within its great hall were held the lord's manorial courts, communal meals with manorial tenants and great banquets. The term is today loosely applied to various country houses, frequently dating from the Late Middle Ages, which formerly housed the landed gentry.
The landed gentry, or the gentry, is a largely historical British social class of landowners who could live entirely from rental income, or at least had a country estate. While distinct from, and socially below, the British peerage, their economic base in land was often similar, and some of the landed gentry were wealthier than some peers. Many gentry were close relatives of peers, and it was not uncommon for gentry to marry into peerage. It is the British element of the wider European class of gentry. With or without noble title, owning rural land estates often brought with it the legal rights of lord of the manor, and the less formal name or title of squire, in Scotland laird.
A demesne or domain was all the land retained and managed by a lord of the manor under the feudal system for his own use, occupation, or support. This distinguished it from land sub-enfeoffed by him to others as sub-tenants. The concept originated in the Kingdom of France and found its way to foreign lands influenced by it or its fiefdoms.
An English country house is a large house or mansion in the English countryside. Such houses were often owned by individuals who also owned a town house. This allowed them to spend time in the country and in the city—hence, for these people, the term distinguished between town and country. However, the term also encompasses houses that were, and often still are, the full-time residence for the landed gentry that ruled rural Britain until the Reform Act 1832. Frequently, the formal business of the counties was transacted in these country houses, having functional antecedents in manor houses.
Heavy cavalry was a class of cavalry intended to deliver a battlefield charge and also to act as a tactical reserve; they are also often termed shock cavalry. Although their equipment differed greatly depending on the region and historical period, heavy cavalry were generally mounted on large powerful warhorses, wore body armor, and armed with either lances, swords, maces, flails (disputed), battle axes, or war hammers; their mounts may also have been protected by barding. They were distinct from light cavalry, who were intended for scouting, screening, and skirmishing.
Fettiplace is an English family name, allegedly of Norman descent, originating with a landed gentry family chiefly of Berkshire and Oxfordshire, from which came a baronetical line, extinct.
In medieval and Early Modern England, Wales and Ireland, a deer park was an enclosed area containing deer. It was bounded by a ditch and bank with a wooden park pale on top of the bank, or by a stone or brick wall. The ditch was on the inside increasing the effective height. Some parks had deer "leaps", where there was an external ramp and the inner ditch was constructed on a grander scale, thus allowing deer to enter the park but preventing them from leaving.
Sir Thomas de Strickland was an English soldier. He is best known for carrying the banner of St. George at the battle of Agincourt.
The royal standards of England were narrow, tapering swallow-tailed heraldic flags, of considerable length, used mainly for mustering troops in battle, in pageants and at funerals, by the monarchs of England. In high favour during the Tudor period, the Royal English Standard was a flag that was of a separate design and purpose to the Royal Banner. It featured St George's Cross at its head, followed by a number of heraldic devices, a supporter, badges or crests, with a motto—but it did not bear a coat of arms. The Royal Standard changed its composition frequently from reign to reign, but retained the motto Dieu et mon droit, meaning God and my right; which was divided into two bands: Dieu et mon and Droyt.
Gentry are "well-born, genteel and well-bred people" of high social class, especially in the past. Gentry, in its widest connotation, refers to people of good social position connected to landed estates, upper levels of the clergy, and "gentle" families of long descent who in some cases never obtained the official right to bear a coat of arms. The gentry largely consisted of landowners who could live entirely from rental income, or at least had a country estate; some were gentleman farmers. In the United Kingdom, the term gentry refers to the landed gentry: the majority of the land-owning social class who typically had a coat of arms, but did not have a peerage. The adjective "patrician" describes in comparison other analogous traditional social elite strata based in cities, such as free cities of Italy, and the free imperial cities of Germany, Switzerland, and the Hanseatic League.
An Esquire of the Body was a personal attendant and courtier to the Kings of England in the late-medieval and early-modern periods. The Knight of the Body was a related position, apparently sometimes merely an "Esquire" who had been knighted, as many were. The distinction between the two roles is not entirely clear, and probably shifted over time. The positions also existed in some lesser courts, such as that of the Prince of Wales.
In post-classical history, an affinity was a collective name for the group (retinue) of (usually) men whom a lord gathered around himself in his service; it has been described by one modern historian as "the servants, retainers, and other followers of a lord", and as "part of the normal fabric of society". It is considered a fundamental aspect of bastard feudalism, and acted as a means of tying magnates to the lower nobility, just as feudalism had done in a different way.
Sir Edward Hull KG was an English knight who served as Constable of Bordeaux and a military commander during the Lancastrian phase of the Hundred Years' War. Born into a Lancastrian-supporting family, his parents were both members of Henry IV's royal household. Hull became close to Henry VI and his wife, Margaret of Anjou. He served on campaign in France and as an ambassador to European powers. Hull held numerous offices including as Esquire of the Body to the king, Knight of the Body and carver to the queen, a feoffee of the Duchy of Lancaster, justice of the peace and sheriff of both Somerset and Dorset, and Devon.