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Before the appearance of firearms medieval battles were often decided by armored knights.
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In the 9th century, a new group emerged in Western European feudal society. They were knights, armored, mounted fighters. They were both vassals and members of the elite. They prepared for battle from an early age. Courage and loyalty to their feudal lords were among the most important knightly virtues.
In return for their services, knights received an estate from their lords. Income from the estate covered the costs of their equipment. The knights' armor covered almost the entire body. The combined weight of the helmet and the different pieces of the body armor reached 30 to 40 kg (66.14 to 88.18 lb). In battle or in an individual passage at arms, their horses were also protected by armor, called barding. Swords, halberds, bows, crossbows and a variety of maces were typical of their armaments.
When they were not fighting in battles, knights participated in tournaments, in order to practice and compete with each other. Tournaments consisted of several events in which knights could test their strength and skills. One of these was jousting, a type of martial game between two mounted knights. The aim was to strike the opponent with the lance while riding towards him at high speed on the opposite side of the dividing fence and knock him off the horse.
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