Summer Is Knight Time

Summer is just around the corner (again???), and once again I’m pleased to be working with the San Diego City/County Library System to be part of the 2009 Summer Reading Program. This summer, the theme will be something that every kid loves: Catapults!

We’re going to start with a “virtual” tour of a real medieval castle – kids will get to see what a castle looks like, see the view from the ramparts, and understand the defensive function of such a fortress. Then, they’ll see a few catapults in action as I demonstrate the mechanical principles of a few model siege engines – a true catapult, as well as an onager and a trebuchet too! Best of all, the kids in attendance will get to build their own mini-catapult (out of craft sticks) to take home with them. I’ll give the kids a few soft balls to use as safe ammo. Will the kids use these “war machines” to shoot more dangerous ammo – peanuts, coins, pebbles – when they get home? Well parents, that’s up to you!

How does this relate to the code of chivalry? You ask. We’ll also take a bit of time to talk about some of the “rules of war” a knight would have been expected to observe when using a siege engine like a catapult. Once a machine like this was brought to bear, a knight was expected to give the enemy a chance to surrender honorably before he started bombarding the castle. Additionally, an honorable knight would have allowed the non-combatatants (merchants and servants living in the castle) a chance to evacuate before an attack. It’s important to understand that even in war, there is a sense of honor and restraint that is part of the code of chivalry.

Interested in bringing our “create a catapult” presentation to your library or school? Just visit the Chivalry Today website for more information, or to contact us to add us to your schedule.