I was never a squire but now I find myself in the position to make them. By finding myself in this situation I’ve been forced to ask myself what my expectations are for my squires. I’ve asked myself questions like, how do I find a squire, what do I look for in a squire, what are my responsibilities when it comes to taking a squire, what are my requirements for those I do squire? Those are just some of the basic and non philosophical questions that have occurred to me. At this point you might be asking yourself why you care and I’ll shine some light on to that question.
First of all this article will give you some insight into the squire knight relationship. I won’t just be talking about my perspective, while that will be primary, I’ll also litter in other knights’ perspectives as well. My own journey isn’t insular. Secondly this might help you decide if you want to be a squire yourself. Being a squire isn’t for everyone and it does greatly depend on the knight that you chose to peruse (more on this word choice later).
From my perspective being a squire is not a status symbol but the recognition by a person that they have potential. I hope that my article will also help to demystify the squire position. It’s one of the few titles that are not earned and distributed by the monarchy. However I often hear non-squired people speak of those who are squired with some amount of reverence just because they have a squire’s belt, which I feel is a little misplaced.
The core of the knight squire relationship is a mentorship. That’s all it really is. It’s the knight taking the knowledge they have and distilling it into a form for one person to absorb. This is different than the normal teaching a knight is expected to do, this is more constant supervision. For me this doesn’t just mean in game stuff but extends to life as well, helping where you are needed, being a sounding board, imparting advice where it’s appropriate; helping the squire grow, both in and out of Amtgard. This is why one requirement I and other knights I’ve talked to, have for their squires is the ability to connect on a personal level. There has to be friendship potential there, even if it’s a different sort of friendship than you might typically experience.
You might be thinking that you want to have this more involved kind of relationship with a knight and that’s great, but how do you actually become a squire. Simply put, you ask. That’s why earlier I said chose the word pursue. Now there are two thoughts on this, some people, typically the people who are not knights, think that it’s up to the Knight to ask someone if they would like to be their squire. However from many of perspectives of the knights I’ve talked to they are more likely to take note of an individual who has decided that they want to become a squire and seek it out themselves. I’m in that camp myself. If you want to be my squire I expect you to come to me, in a rare case I might consider asking someone first, but that is very uncommon. Why is that? No one knows better if you are ready for a larger commitment to the path than you. That is not to say that a knight won’t ask someone to be a squire, it does happen and some knights do that as a primary means of gaining squires but asking never hurts.
Of course if you ask to be a squire that doesn’t guarantee you a spot in someone’s belted line. Typically at that point the knight will either say no, or they will talk with you more about why you want to become a squire, what your aspirations are and what the knight’s expectations are for their squires. The expectations for a squire can vary greatly but generally speaking if you become a squire you are becoming a representative of the person you are knighted to and would be expected to act in a way that doesn’t disgrace them. There are of course more specific requirements depending on the knight.
Using me for an example I require all of my squires to read the Book of the Five Rings by Miyamoto Musashi and they are tested on what they read. This might sound like school and I guess it is, but it’s important, from my perspective, that they take the material seriously. I’ve been reading the book for nearly two decades and I find new insights every time I read it. Even if the squire’s path is not the path of the sword there are lessons to be taken concerning setting goals and overcoming difficulties. On top of that I have less specific requirements which I find are pretty common. Keep in contact with the Knight, up hold the beltline’s good reputation; have set goals and work on creating a path to achieve them.
For the knight’s part, they are there to help you visualize your goals and to help you create a path to achieve them. They are there to help guide you through road blocks and often times to be a safety line. The exact expression of this is different from each knight and for each situation but the generality of it is universal. Of course it’s also important for the knight to be available to the squire. In this way the mentorship could also be seen as a form of a partnership.
There are also some knights who will require you to take a lesser belt till you have proven that you are serious about being a squire, although admittedly they seem to be in the minority. I am one of those knights who are in the minority. Typically I will require someone to be a man at arms for an undisclosed amount of time till I think they are serious and are in it for the long haul. Once I believe they are serious I will raise them up to a squire. In the case of my current squire I made him start off as a page. He stayed a page until he had been in the game for a year then I raised him to man at arms. He was a special case, normally I wouldn’t add a person who was in the game for less than a year but he did ask to become my squire and I knew there was someone else who was gunning for him who I thought wouldn’t be a good fit, so I accepted him and he worked his butt off to eventually become my squire.
However, as I said, that view is in the minority. Other reasons you might not become a squire immediately is that they just don’t have a spot open. Some knights will give a person a lesser belt because they see the potential in the person but they just don’t have the time to dedicate to a person that a squire’s belt deserves. Most knights will only take so many squires as they are able to give dedicated attention to. This means that if a knight already has a few squires they might not be able to take you on at that time, but that doesn’t mean it’s pointless to ask, you never know till you do.
Once you become a squire the experience will be different for each knight and with each squire. As mentioned different knights have different requirements for their squires and some of those requirements might be minute and unspoken and some can be codified such as reading specific material or upholding specific standards. In general the experience will be something of a personal one as a mentorship typically is. There is a lot of give and take on both sides. Sometimes the squire might actually have to push the knight, especially if the knight is dealing with burnout, which is something long terms players will probably experience at least once. Most of the time it will be the knight helping the squire and motivating him to overcome roadblocks and plateaus.
There is of course the teaching aspect as well. Sometimes a knight takes a squire that has a different path to knighthood than the one the knight took, which is fine. For example own squire is going for a sword belt. You help them as much as you can but the teaching aspect of the mentorship is regulated to the background. However if the squire has the same path as the knight then the teaching aspect of the mentorship will most likely take a forefront, at least in the beginning. Eventually the squire will learn all there is to learn and at the point it’s up to the squire, with the support of their knight, to prove they can do what it takes to earn a belt themselves.
Hopefully I have given you some idea what it is to be a squire and given you some insight in what it requires to become one. Becoming a squire is often a simple act although situational. All you need is a bit of motivation, a knight you respect and one who hopefully has spots available.