Steadfastness: A knight's story
To understand the meaning of steadfastness and to consider its implications for our lives.
by Jan Edmunds
Suitable for Whole School (Pri)
To suggest that often the bravest people are those who are frightened yet still do brave things in spite of it.
Preparation and materials
- No preparation is needed but pictures of a medieval castle, a knight in armour or any pictures about King Arthur and the legend of the Knights of the Round Table would help to illustrate the story.
- You could also ask some children to mime the actions of the story as you tell it.
- Do you know the song ‘When a knight won his spurs in the stories of old’? Today’s story is about one such knight.
Optional: A short discussion about knighthood and the significance of the Round Table could help to give a better understanding of the story.
- Tell the story using this version or in your own words.
Many years ago, so the story goes, in the court of King Arthur there lived a young squire called Galbraithe. In those days young men who wanted to become a knight had to prove that they were honest and brave. Galbraithe so wanted to prove his worth, and his one ambition was to win his spurs and so become a knight. His job was to keep his master’s and his own horse and armour in perfect condition and he worked hard at it.
Late one night the sound of a galloping horse was heard on the castle drawbridge. A messenger rushed in to ask King Arthur and his knights to go to the help of a nearby village which was being raided by some Bad Knights who were the enemy of the king. Without hesitation Arthur called his knights into action and preparations were made for battle.
The king addressed his followers and ordered that they should fight to right this wrong. But he insisted that someone should be left behind to guard the castle and the people in it. Galbraithe was chosen. Arthur made him vow that on no account should he leave the castle, or let anyone in. The young man was bitterly disappointed not to be able to go into battle but he was loyal to his master the king and promised to obey. He knew what he must do. He reluctantly remained behind as the knights galloped off.
In the early hours of the next morning a young woman came to the castle gates. She told Galbraithe that King Arthur and his knights were in trouble and that he must go and join them. Galbraithe was very tempted, but remembering the vow that he had made to his master he realized that it could be a trick to lure him from the castle. He refused to listen to her and sent the young woman on her way. The castle gates were kept firmly closed.
Not long afterwards one of the Bad Knights called to him from across the moat. He challenged him to come and fight. Once again, Galbraithe felt tempted to meet the challenge but once again he remembered his master’s words. The Bad Knight called him a coward, and eventually galloped off.
Lastly an old beggar woman appeared, asking for food and shelter. Galbraithe naturally felt sorry for her, but he knew that this too could be a trap for him to open the gates. He refused her entry. She cursed and spat at him, then went on her way.
Thankfully King Arthur and his knights soon returned, having successfully saved the village and defeated the Bad Knights. The king summoned all his knights and squires to the Round Table and honoured them for doing so well. Then he called for Galbraithe to step forward. The king took a velvet cushion on which were laid some silver spurs. He presented the spurs to Galbraithe, because his loyalty and actions had proved him to be steadfast and true and worthy to become a knight of the Round Table. He had been given, the king said, the hardest job of all.
- Ask the children what they think the word ‘steadfast’ means. Value all ideas and include phrases and words like: honest, true, firm, not changing, doing what you say you will, being reliable. Are these things that we still need to think about today, and how we could show these qualities in our daily lives?
Time for reflection
Although he was tempted to listen to the young woman, the Bad Knight and the old beggar woman, Galbraithe kept his word to his master and remained steadfast and true. Let us hope that when we are tempted to do something we feel to be wrong we have the strength and courage to say no.
Say the Lord’s Prayer together. Point out that this is a prayer that Christians have used since the beginning of the faith, including at the time of the knights in the story today.
‘When a knight won his spurs’ (Come and Praise, 50)