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While serfs provided the labour in great feudal states, knights were highly valued for their military skills. So there were always quite a few of them at hand at the castle. Knights were professional warriors, who usually fought on horseback. They were very different from the ordinary soldiers at that time, because they came from wealthy families and they were much better trained. Training for knighthood began at eight years of age when a boy was sent to a castle to become a page, a student and servant of an experienced knight. His training went on for many years and it wasn't just in how to fight, it was also in such things as horsemanship, reading, singing, chess and the art of falconry. Special constests, called tournaments, were often held so that knights and those learning to be knights would practise the skills they needed for combat. Tournaments were popular forms of enterntainment in Medieval times but they were dangerous and knights were often severely injured participating in them. Because knights came from well-to-do families and were so valued for their fighting skills, they held a very high position in feudal society, just below the noble lords. That was why, to show them respect, knights were always addressed as "sir". A noble lord would often reward a knight for his courage with the gift of manor lands and the income they provided. So in a lord's great estate, it was not uncommon to find knights living in many of the manor houses.
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