The name of Knight in describing this trade for the purposes of the game is literal, not merely figurative. There is a grand mystique surrounding knighthood and it is primarily one of glory, born of the virtue of ardimen (bravery and courage in battle). Service in battle, to defend the land and its people from invaders, is the purpose and place of all knights, the source of their political power, wealth and influence, but even more, of their honor.
The furs called “the vair and the grey” are exclusive to knights and may be worn by no other class. These are the mottled white, gray and brown belly furs and the gray back furs, respectively, of the northern squirrel. No matter high, great or powerful the lord, be he prince, earl or duke, if he has not been knighted he may not wear those furs.
Knighthood and the orders of Chivalry, the right to wear the golden spurs, are exclusive even among the ranks of nobles, in a similar manner that lordship is exclusive. Not all knights are lords, and not all lords are knights.
While proof of descent from the blood of Lords is sufficient for training and receipt of knighthood, only the first-born son of the noble knight who lacks a lordship is eligible to be trained and knighted by blood right after his father. Any younger sons of that knight may train and serve as Squires, but they must earn knighthood through service, especially by distinguishing themselves on the battlefield, if indeed they aspire to it. The first-born sons of those Squires bear the same right to be trained and take knighthood as their eldest uncle, so it is possible for the rank of knight to skip a generation in a given branch of the family.
If any branch of a knightly family fails to train for and earn the gilded spurs of knighthood for three generations in succession, that branch loses that right thenceforth. They simply become “gentlemen”. This does not mean that they have no privileges, they still have access through their family to positions in great lordly houses as clerks or officers, and their children may be taken in as pages and grow into positions of their own in the household, perhaps eventually recovering knighthood through service, too.
Those Squires who train for but never achieve the gilded spurs of knighthood have the title “Squire” added before their names, or “Esquire” tacked on after.
The fortunes of the branches of the family that do not take knighthood generally fall as they grow apart from the origins of their knightly heritage, and the estate of knighthood is expensive to take up and maintain. These restrictive practices are a major contributing factor to c. 25% of all noble bloodlines failing in the direct line of descent every 100 years or so.
According to ecclesiastical historian Orderic Vitalis, the Knight is most often reluctant to kill his fellow knights out of fear of the Light and due to a common fellowship of arms, as described for Squires. He should pity his prisoners and allow them to go free on parole when they have provided sureties for their ransom. The good Knight gives largesse and alms to the poor and indigent, and stands as a protector of monks and priests, the weak, and pilgrims. The renowned medieval author Chrètien de Troyes had this to say of largesse in his 12th century romance “Cligés”:
“‘Dear son,’ he said, ‘believe me when I tell you that largesse is the queen and lady who brightens all Virtues, and this is not difficult to prove. Where could one find a man who, no matter how powerful or rich, would not be reproached if he were miserly? What man has so many other good qualities–excepting only God’s grace–that largesse would not increase his fame? Largesse alone makes one a worthy man, not high birth, courtesy, wisdom, gentility, riches, strength, chivalry, boldness, power, beauty, or any other gift. But just as the rose, when it buds fresh and new, is more beautiful than any other flower, so largesse, whenever it appears, surpasses all other Virtues and causes the good qualities it finds in a worthy man who comports himself well to be increased five-hundred fold. There is so much to be said of largesse that I could not tell you the half.”
Service is part of the Knightly ethos, one of the major sources of a knight’s status. The Knight’s place in society often goes hand in hand with the skills of the Courtier, as described in his training as a Squire, for the Knight’s career outside of battle is one of service, especially to his feudal superiors. If the Knight is successful enough to earn the traditional Knight’s Fee (a manor of at least 480 acres, or fief) of his own, the nature of the service expands, as he becomes a “law-worthy knight” and is drawn into the network of Knights in the same district who help with the tasks of local government and justice.
A definite line is drawn in society between Knights who fight for their bread caring for horse, weapons and arms and the Courtier-Knights, however. On the background tables the latter are denoted as Knights of the Bath, also known in the period of the game as “Holy Mary’s Knights”. Even the law acknowledges the difference between these. The insolvent fighting Knight can not be deprived of his war-harness or steed(s) by legal distraint of his moveable property, where the Knight who earns his bread by (political) service at court rather than arms, a Knight of the Bath, would be allowed to retain only his horse under the same circumstances. Battle-seasoned fighting Knights commonly hold their gentler counterparts who may have either no battle skills or no battle experience in a certain amount of contempt. Those who merely profess to fight are generally considered to be men of little or no honor by those who risk their lives exercising their ancient right and privilege, the source of their power and authority. It is an expression of the conflict between their martial roots and trends towards gentility and the rise of politics in medieval society, as mentioned in the Troubadour trade description.
A Knight might aspire to a post as a royal falconer if he apply himself to learn and keep the skills of Husbandry of hawks when training for his trade, especially if he be a Huntsman or Woodsman. He might find himself made a Marshal or Keeper of a royal horse farm if he apply himself to learn and keep the skills of Husbandry of horses. A Knight-Huntsman might become a Ranger, Regarder, Verderer, or other officer of the Forest Law roaming the forest districts. Such work with any of the Beasts of the Hunt (horses, hawks and/or hounds) is considered consonant with his station as a knight.
The Knight known as a miles literatus is uncommon, but that is not just literacy as the name might imply, but true education and scholarship. Most Knights can read and even write [Latin] and [French], necessarily so in the work they are expected to do for the local government.
A Knight with no lands to administer in his own right or fief-rentes to support him is known as a Knight Simple. Knights of this sort commonly follow the tournament circuit in the hopes of winning enough to support their honor and social status, but even moreso to catch the eye of prospective liege-lords to take them in.
The household “Knight in service” is commonly sustained by a combination of fief-rente (the income from certain lands or estates assigned without the lordship over or ownership of those lands), enfeoffed land (carrying a feudal due – servicium debitum, or tenure by military service), and wages, robes and shoes, as well as occasional boon gifts. Fractional holdings, as small as 1/10th a Knight’s fee (48 acres), allow fractional service requirements, such as no castle guard but full field service; fractional duration of all duties; owing suit in the lord’s court-baron.
A knight who has been taken into the household of his lord is called a Knight Bachelor. He is generally supported by a combination of estates (a Knight’s fief) and fief-rentes (the income of lands of which he has no say in the management) or wages and fief-rentes with yearly gifts of robes and shoes, and the largesse of the lord. Knights Bachelor, whether in household service or enfeoffed, owe their liege-lords 40 days service in the field every year without pay in peace or in war, but the liege lord may seek to extend this service with an offer of pay. Knights Bachelor also owe their lords guard and escort duty, and garrison duty, as well, in either royal or baronial castles. Garrison duty might only last 2 weeks in any given castle, but two to three months of duty are owed in total over the course of the year and the Knight might be rotated every few weeks, or assigned duty off and on throughout the year. If needed for field duty in battle, they might be released from garrison, replaced by Sergeants or burgesses owing castle guard by sergeanty.
A Knight Banneret is a seasoned Knight distinguished for his service in the field by the specific royal grant of the right to lead a company of troops during time of war under his own private banner showing his armorial bearings (coat of arms). This banner is marked by its square shape, in contrast to the tapering standard or the pennon or pennoncelle flown by the lower-ranking knights. Bannerets are eligible to bear supporters in English heraldry. In heraldry, supporters are figures usually placed on either side of the shield and depicted holding it up, as the lion and the unicorn in the arms of the English crown. No knight banneret can be created except on the field of battle, and then only when the king is present, or at least when his royal standard is being carried on the field by his appointed representative (i.e., in a royal campaign). A Knight Banneret is expected to be enfeoffed with multiple Knight’s Feoffs to support the greater dignity of that rank and he can never achieve that recognition without being well-seasoned in battle and highly skilled not only in arms but in leadership, also.
The rise of the knight in his trade is a long and arduous odyssey. Having gone through it as the natural and necessary process to becoming a Sacred Knight, however, it is very important that the player be familiar with it as the being part and parcel of his character’s background. If the character came to the status of knight from low birth and/or relatively late in age, he still must have “caught-up” with his peers in achieving this state, and the player should know what that process entails.
On Becoming a Knight
The process of attaining knighthood usually starts about the age of seven to eight, or as young as age five, with the child being sent to be educated in the hall of an ally or liege-lord, as a Page. The position of page has been ennobled by the passage of time. It was originally used to designate a servant of low position, even a cook’s assistant or a lowly messenger boy, as late as the early 1400’s.
William Marshal, son of John Marshal the provisioner of King Henry I (1100-1135) will be used as a point of reference and example in discussing knightly training and the knight’s career. John was in wealth a very minor lord, holding only c. seven knight’s fees, and hereditary Marshal of the king’s household. Like many other aspiring knights, William looked forward to getting no inheritance, being John marshal’s youngest son. Young William started his training in noble society at about the age of eight. As customary in the houses of the nobility, William was fostered in the hall of one of his father’s kinsmen, the great lord William of Tancarville, a cousin. Not all knightly families have the opportunity to foster their children elsewhere, especially in such a prestigious house, and so have to train their own sons. Young William worked as a servant in Lord Tancarville’s hall, serving at the high table and required to help with the chores of the household that were in keeping with his dignity as the son of a titled man,
The Page must learn to be gentle and polite, to enter a room with grace and good manner, to greet all with a modest “God speed you”, and not to stare at folk or look too boldly so as to challenge or give offense. They must learn to stand straight and tall, and do so quietly, not to slouch or lean against the wall, post, or jamb, and not to handle or fidget with things. Before their lords they must descend to one knee with grace. They must speak only when spoken to, unless they ask first for permission, by which very act they may make themselves seem to be too forward and so must take care to be humble. When responding to their lords they must first make obeisance to them for the honor of recognition by them. These good graces are learned indoors, primarily from the ladies of the household, the master’s wife and her ladies-in-waiting.
In short, all Knights are encouraged in their training to cultivate the social graces of the Courtier, as well. The two Trades go hand in hand.
All Pages must also learn to sit a horse and are provided one to care for and learn to ride. Many are also provided a hawk to care for and learn to fly, as falconry is another art of the knight, a mark of noble blood and breeding. Pages are sometimes used to carry messages, a happy occasion when the news is good, for it is a chance to get out from under the harsh eye of the master and be well-rewarded, for it is customary for both sender and received to offer a gift or coin in gratuity. Lack of physical strength usually keeps the Pages from entering into the service of a knight as a Squire until they reach the age of 12.
William Marshal was admitted to the ranks of Squires when he reached his teens, sometime between the ages of 12 and 14 years, according to custom. The position and distinction of the office of Squire were developed at the turn of the 1100’s, as they gradually gained the honor of serving only knights. Originally squires were the lowest servants of the armies, nothing more than villeins and serfs charged with the lowest duties.
Young gentlemen of devolved knightly blood are also eligible to be raised as pages. By age 12-14, when he has achieved sufficient size and strength, the Page is inducted as a Squire, apprenticed to a knight who will train him in the arts of combat, strategy, and tactics.
The Squire is known by his silver spurs.
When the Page becomes a Squire, donning the silver spurs, his household chores take a lesser role to his responsibility for keeping the arms and weapons of the Knight who is his master clean and rust free and for currying and sometimes exercising his war steed(s), as well as his training in the use of the lance, (long-) sword, shield, the wearing of mail, and perfecting his Horseman skills.
Pages and Squires are clothed and armed by their masters until they can sit a horse securely and carry both lance and sword (c. age 11-12). The Squire is charged with learning the arts of falconry and of the hunt, although NOT the skills of the hunter and of the officers whose place it is to facilitate the hunt, embodied in the Huntsmen trade.
Knights are schooled in the strategies of chess, and in the finer courts even to learn an instrument and to chant or sing the ballads and deeds of the heroes of Chivalry in good voice. In short, again, the Knight is encouraged to become skilled in the social arts and graces that make of him good company, able to make the lords and his fellow knights “good cheer”, alongside his skills of war. The finding of a place in the household of a wealthy lord and making of good cheer for him and his fellows is a rung on the ladder of the Knight’s career that stands as the apex for many. And for those who achieve that, even a lordship is not too high to aim.
Squires must learn from the stable master to curry the master’s horse(s) and also their own, see that they are kept in good shoes, and work with his master’s beastmaster to break in any new young horses the master may acquire by purchase or conquest, hence the availability of the Husbandman-Beast Master trade – or Husbandman alone if Beast Mastery holds no interest for the player. Once he dons the golden spurs, the Knight need not maintain these skills, and many do allow them to fail, relying on the men in their retinues to attend to those duties. Either way, once Knighthood is achieved, some means for providing the care of his horse(s) must be secured in play.
The Squire is never far from his master unless sent away to attend to or accomplish some matter of his business. He greets his Knight on rising, preparing and attending to his bath, waiting on him at table, and seeing him to bed every night, sleeping on a straw tick or pallet close by his master’s bed, or in the antechamber to his master’s chamber. He must receive his master’s guests, relieve them of their arms and attend to their comforts and entertain them as if they were themselves his masters.
In battle, the Squire is forbidden to touch the master’s sword, which often is also a reliquary containing a small relic of some saint, perhaps a memento of a personal or ancestral pilgrimage. Squires are forbidden to wear a helm of coat of mail or to carry a lance in battle.
At the tourneys, no more than three armed Squires are allowed to accompany each knightly combatant. These are required to wear their lord’s sign or coat of arms and only limited armor. Most commonly, a Squire wears a padded or studded leather garment called a gambeson or aketon. He is limited in his involvement in the melée, bearing broadsword only and fighting only with a javelin or quarterstaff. However, in service to their knights, they are considered non-combatants on the battlefield. Regardless, their responsibilities on the battlefield are very real. The Squire must provide replacements for lost or broken weapons from his master’s pavilion, help with repairs to his mount’s bridle, saddle, and harness, bring in fresh horses, or even to protect his master from capture if he should be knocked down and stunned or injured.
Only those Squires close and regular enough in attendance to be accustomed to carve a lord’s meat (Squires of the Body, senior-most) are allowed at the tournament festivities in the evenings. When out riding on the hunt and especially in the melee at the many tournaments his master may attend, his duties are much the same.
In case of conflict with his master or any other Knight, the Squire has NO rights to offer battle. He cannot demand duel with him, and is forbidden to even engage any Knight in battle. He is beneath their dignity.
The Squire’s term of service as described lasts five to seven years (the same as a common apprenticeship in any other trade), occasionally longer, but most commonly seven, ending only when the Squire reaches the age of majority, commonly acknowledged to be 21. Occasionally it is shorter, but it may depend on the customs of the country, and the Squire’s rank by birth and political situation.
The sons of lords are generally knighted at a given age, whatever the legal majority is in that society, as low as 12 among the Salians, but generally 15 among the Germans, and 20 or 21 in accordance with old Roman law in France and England.
Due to the laws of primogeniture, under which only the first born male child can inherit, the heir to a lordship is generally knighted at 17 or 18 so he may assume his responsibilities and continue being trained to assume his father’s position. The younger sons and heirs of lesser lordships generally wait to 20 or 21, however. Younger sons of lords are portionless, without inheritance, and have to have some means of earning their livelihood. Knighthood is the solution for many of them, as war is the province of their class, but a Church education for many others is common, leading to a number of different opportunities.
Philip the Fair was knighted at age 16, but his political position required it. He had succeeded to the throne of the Kingdom of Navarre, in the mountains between Spain and France, and it “was not meet” or considered proper that a reigning monarch should be excluded from the ranks of Chivalry. When the candidate attains no such high office at a young age, the general fashion of knighting at 20 or 21 obtained, as it did with Philip the Fair’s own sons.
The Squire’s apprenticeship is long and hard, and over the years the Squire generally becomes very close to his master, developing a relationship as strong as any true family bond. No Knight who has even a single shred of honor dares raise his hand against the man under whom he served as Squire, a prohibition that can endure for years, if not for life, after leaving his household. In addition, there is a sense of fraternity between those who have risen to the estate of Knight. Out of respect for the hardships and training they all have suffered and the rank attained, they are loath to slay their peers. This does not stop them from confiscating all arms and weapons, horses, and equipment in victory over their peers, and ransoming them afterwards, however. That is how they earn their bread. When sureties are provided, it is common for the hostage to be paroled on his own recognizance, however.
Due to the means necessary to maintain the lifestyle, many Squires remain at that social rank for some years before taking on the mantle of Knighthood. This is so prevalent, in fact, that it is common practice for the Crown not only to offer mass knightings on special occasions such as the knighting of royal princes and the eves before embarking on important royal campaigns or battles, but also for the Crown to pay for the various accoutrements required for the ceremony, easily as rich as the lifestyle expected of a Knight in itself.
The Making of a Knight
This text is provided so each player of a Knight character knows and understands what his character has been through to get where he stands at the start of play, and also as a guide or template if any character should be lucky enough to earn the prestigious rank of knight once play has commenced.
Knighting ceremonies are generally held on holy fête days, when the churches draw their greatest crowds. Easter and Whitsunday are the most popular fêtes for dubbing knights. The occasions of weddings and royal baptisms are commonly expanded to include the dubbing of knights. Most choose to be knighted on the anniversary of their own father’s dubbing, however, especially among lesser Lords and the gentry – simple Knights.
Knights of less distinguished families are often created at the dubbing of the sons of other knights, while the dubbing of royalty and distinguished nobility is commonly accompanied by the dubbing 20, 50, or even as many as 100 other new knights as an honor guard. The dubbing of a large honor guard is an expensive and extravagant luxury, as the expenses for the war-harness and costly garments of silk and brocade for the ceremony are paid for by the family of the chief-most lord whose son is to be dubbed.
Trained Squires awaiting knighthood are often knighted on the eve of a great battle, as fighting men are always in demand, especially on the eve of a great royal campaign. Knighting on the field of battle after a heroic showing is often preferred, however, and can often include men of common or even base (landbound) birth. William Marshal finally earned his knighthood at the age of 21, on the eve of a battle when William’s uncle, Lord William of Tancarville, in whose court young William trained, needed to gather men. Before the French defeat at Agincourt, nearly 500 new knights were made. In contrast, the great majority of knights are created in times of peace. The dubbing of a knight is a great occasion for reuniting families which may have been scattered throughout the government, the Church, and the noble families of the realm.
The postulant or novice Knight elects to have either a military knighting or a liturgical ceremony. the military ritual is performed either on the meadows surrounding a castle or on the top of the steps leading to the keep. In the case of a liturgical ceremony, the church of the closest monastery or whatever local religious foundation the family commonly supports is usually patronized.
While every knight theoretically has the power to create another knight, in practice, all candidates by blood look to either their fathers, uncles, or the noble in whose court they took their training for knighthood to perform that ritual for them. Sometimes the liege-lord of the candidate’s father is chosen over a family member, to further cement the tie of the family to it’s lord. The king himself ((or emperor in regards to Germany) might be sought out to deliver that honor, but the previously described old custom (the father elevating his own son) prevailed more often, particularly for younger sons and lesser lords who were trained in the arts of Chivalry at home. In England in particular, the king was eventually able to enforce his right as the ultimate liege-lord of every nobleman of the realm, to become the sole source of knighthood in practice.
The knighting ceremony is called the Ceremony of Investiture. It is a very expensive event usually only enjoyed by the eldest son, unless his family has great wealth, for they must foot the cost for it. This is especially true when the Knight is to be dubbed by the king, for the parents must pay not only for the ceremony itself, but for the attendance of and even greater pomp required in entertaining the king.
There are several parallels between the ceremony of investiture for dubbing a Knight and the marriage ceremony. As the trousseau of the bride is laid out before the wedding, the clothing, spurs, and robes of the aspiring knight are laid out a day beforehand. Gifts are opened and admired and any particularly nice ones sent to the young man are displayed in the hall. At the spread of the news of the knighting, troubadors or minstrels, jongleurs, players, animal leaders and entertainers of all types begin to gather. Those who are rewarded may attach themselves to the knight’s company as long as his gifts and goodwill are forthcoming, even permanently. The presence of such a person in his retinue enhances his social presence and reputation. It can be a lucrative living for them. The poor make a point of visiting the hall of the soon-to-be Knight in search of alms knowing that this special event is a ripe one for the distribution of the largesse of the house.
On the evening two days prior to the investiture, the aspirant’s hair is cut, a symbol of dedication. For the military ritual a single lock may be considered sufficient, but for the ecclesiastical ceremony the aspirant’s head is shaved in a priest’s tonsure (from the crown in a circle, leaving only a fringe). Afterwards the aspirant undergoes a luxurious bath sprinkled with perfumes and rose petals, followed with a massage of expensive scented oils. The bath for the military ceremony may not be quite so rich, unless the family can afford it, but it is a happy affair nonetheless. In the ecclesiastical investiture, the bath is analogous to the anointing undergone when first entering the ranks of the religious, the washing away of the Knight’s sins (baptism). Laughter is prohibited in bath for the ecclesiastical investiture, as is idle chatter, and the massage is forgone as being too worldly a pleasure. An air of gravity prevails, but underneath is a strong current of excitement and happy anticipation. Stepping from the bath, the aspirant may retire to bed, symbol of the ease and comfort he will enjoy if he serves Chivalry, Honor, and the Church well. On rising in the morning, he dresses in the robes for the ceremony.
The candidate preparing for the military ceremony begins preparations the morning of the day before the investiture, proceeding directly from the bath to the ceremonial robes.
For the ceremony, the aspirant is dressed first in a long, white linen tunic with long sleeves, a symbol of his honor and the beginning of a new life free from any sins of the past. For the military ceremony, the tunic may be any color, but generally purple for those of royalty (an association left over from the Roman past) and the “small clothes” underneath this likely of silk. Over this he dons a red hooded robe, signifying the blood he must be prepared to shed and lose himself in the service of the Light, the needs of honor, of King, of country. For the military ceremony this robe may be rich, indeed, lined or trimmed in the grey and the vair, in miniver, or the royal ermine, and need not be red, but may even be of cloth-of-gold if his family can afford it. Last he is wrapped in a black coat representing the death which will one day claim him.
The day before the ceremony, a 24-hour fast is begun. In the evening of the day before the investiture, a younger brother or other young relative carries the Knight’s sword to the nearest religious house and lays it upon the alter, where it will remain for the night. Later, in company with any who may be dubbed alongside him, the aspirant says a little farewell to his family and rides to the church where his sword rests to undergo the Vigil of Arms. It is a wearisome task, 10 hours of steady prayer, meditation, and devotions centering on the honor to be received, the glory to be achieved, the very nature of Chivalry and the Virtues it requires of them, all contained in the Creed of their faith. The entire 10 hours is spent either standing or kneeling on the chill stone floor, never sitting. Neither is the aspirant allowed to speak through the whole vigil, and his fast must endure until after he returns home in the morning – a titanic task for a young man full of anticipation!
All aspirants regardless of the type of ceremony of investiture they will undergo must endure the Vigil of Arms. For the Knight entering a sacred order, it will be the second such investiture he will have undergone, for (historically) all orders of Sacred Knights require the Knight first to have achieved knighthood before he is allowed to enter. The GM is, of course, able to change this detail, allowing the Church to make Knights of its own – this puts Throne and Altar at odds, however. The Crown jealously guards it’s feudal prerogatives, and the right to create a Knight is the embodiment of a military feudal right.
The major difference between the Sacred Knight and the secular Knight is that the secular Knight follows the dictates of the Creed of the Light provide him with guidelines of behavior he adheres to in accordance with his own conscience, for good or ill, and which as a class the Knights largely apply only in their dealings with their peers and the greater nobles. The Sacred Knight, on the other hand, is bound by Vows of a religious order in the same manner as a monk.
On the morning of the day of the investiture, the aspiring Knight and any companions to also be dubbed make their confession to the chaplain or priest (as applicable to the religion of the GM’s gameworld). Afterwards a high mass or grand religious service is celebrated, and the candidate(s) take the Sacrament (or it’s analogue in the GM’s gameworld). He boisterously returns to the hall afterwards, the gravity of the event only partially subduing him. In the hall the fast is broken with a light meal – good white bread and perhaps some venison.
The candidate then appears before the crowd gathered for the occasion and enjoys their welcoming cheers and cries of well-wishes. The trumpets sound, the minstrels play, and then he descends to the carpet or patch of straw laid in the courtyard or in the field before the castle, and all fall silent. His sponsor questions his motives in seeking knighthood, that it not be for vain glory or the pursuit of riches. It is the sponsors responsibility to guard against persons of low character seeking the noble offices of knighthood (regardless of right by noble blood). In the ceremony of investiture, the postulant to knighthood may have as many as five sponsors – usually reserved for the honor of princes, dukes, counts, and earls), one to fasten each spur onto the candidate, one to gird him with his sword, one to deliver the paumée or colée (clout or blow with a fist), and the last to present his steed. Those of lesser birth might have only two persons to perform these offices. Of course, the higher the rank of the candidate, the higher the rank of the sponsors who attend him at his investiture.
The Sacred Knight’s investiture takes place in a church, and a priest delivers a short sermon on the duties and the life of the Knight before the sponsor questions him, perhaps the same priest who will be or has been the Knights teacher in religion. An official of the Church becomes the sponsor of the young Knight – Bishop, Arch-Bishop, Prelate, according to the candidate’s social rank.
The gold or gilded spurs are fastened first in the investiture. If ever he be proven dishonored, the Knight’s spurs are hacked off at the heels – a terrible fate. The hauberk is donned next, and then the helm (usually nasal helm or great helm), studded on the top or at the jointures with semi-precious stones, according to the purse of the candidate’s family. The girding of the sword is the focus of attention and a moment of high emotion for the new Knight, who until that moment has until then been forbidden to even touch it.
The candidate then bends his head for the colée, or blow, after which the sponsor brings forth the steed. The colée, or paumée as it is also called, is a rough clout upon the neck delivered by whomever the aspirant has chosen as sponsor to dub him. This not a gentle blow, but is intended to stagger the young Knight, sometimes bringing him to his knees or even knocking him to the ground. With the clout comes some simple phrase such as “Be thou a good Knight!” or the pious “Love God!”, but a lengthy evocation of the Knight’s responsibilities is also occasionally used, “Be thou brave and upright; remember that you sprang from a race which should never be false. Honor all Knights; be liberal to the poor; love God; and may [the Light] protect you from all your enemies. Go forth!”
The Church, which blesses all oaths of knighthood, commands all knights, sacred and secular, to defend it (the Church) and to turn his sword ceaselessly without mercy against its foes. In return he is promised the certainty of a heavenly reward, borne thence by the angels themselves. The knights are exhorted to avoid all Vice and base actions, to love Truth above all else, to defend the righteous and avenge injustice, to be humble and courteous in all things. One such oath:
“By [the Light], before whom these relics are holy, I will be loyal to (lord’s name and title), and love all he loves, and hate all that he hates, in accordance with [the Light’s] rights and secular obligations; and never, willingly and intentionally, in word or deed, do anything that is hateful to him; on condition that he keep me as I shall deserve, and carry out all that was our agreement, when I subjected myself to him and chose his favor.”
“[The Light] commanded that a lord should be loved as oneself …” and “All we ever do, through just loyalty to our lord, we do to our own great advantage, for truly [the Light] will be gracious to him who is duly faithful to his lord.”
According to the noted clergyman John of Salisbury, the prime qualities of the Knight were first Obedience, then Physical Strength, Endurance, Courage, then Sobriety, and finally Frugality of Life, or Temperance. In the oath of the Romance Knights, they swore to protect damsels, widows, and orphans, and all those seeking aid in just quarrels. The player of the sacred Knight character in RoM must pay strict attention to the 7 Virtues set forth previously, avoiding the 7 deadly Vices.
Failing to achieve these standards is common among secular knights, their vanity, greed and lust were commonly held up to ridicule by the chroniclers of the Church, historically. Among the Sacred Knights, such short-comings carry very real punitive consequences, which in some cases might hinder any mystical powers the Sacred Knight would otherwise be able to exercise freely, and ultimately including expulsion from the order.
In the author’s game, the phrase “May this be the only blow you ever fail to answer in kind. Be thou a good Knight!” was used. In England, this ceremony was commonly performed without the clout, or sans paumée. Over time, especially in regards the ecclesiastical ceremony, the clout became a light touch or tap.
Towards the end of the ceremony, the new Knight vaults into the saddle with a flourish. It is a matter of pride that the new Knight leap into the saddle without touching a stirrup, or sans étreir. When the Knight is astride his mount, the shield, painted with his family arms, is awarded him, along with a fine lance. He then gallops around the field to display his prowess for the crowd – and he must gallop! It is one of the elements of the ritual most ardently insisted upon. The new Knight then addresses the lists to tilt at the quintain, the final exhibition of his skill. Sometimes two quintains are set up, one behind the other, to increase the difficulty of the test, but as many as four or five quintains (extremely rare) may be used to prove the strength of the doughty. If successful, the Squire then is finally acknowledged as a Knight. Threats of being disinherited are not uncommon to ensure the success of the pass at the quintain in the end.
If there are several Knights created at the ceremony, they put on a mock combat for the crowd, fencing from horseback, the host of the ceremony brings it to a halt before any are seriously wounded.
After the ceremony, the guests are treated to as many as seven days of feasting, entertainments, and other merry-making, including the distribution of such gifts as the new Knight and his family can afford to all the guests to celebrate the grand event.
All knights, including Knights in sacred Orders, are fully trained in the skills of battle in the same manner described for Trade Warriors.
While every effort has been made to ensure that each and every character has an opportunity to learn to swing a weapon of some sort, or fire a bow or hurl a sling or other such weapons, and also to provide the opportunities to cultivate Brawling and wrestling skills so that all have the means for self-protection, to at least stand their ground in a pitched battle, it is VERY important to understand that there is a great deal more to being a member of one of the Warrior trades than simply swinging a weapon.
Characters opting to follow one of these trades are the product of either some type of school or the tutelage of a particular master. Both sorts of training were widely available across England in the period of the game despite the legislation actually enacted against them in the period. The people were expected to participate in the Fyrd or Militia, and thus at least rudimentary training was made available to them. The Warrior trades are quoted a standard length of apprenticeship in character creation like the rest of the trades, BUT any such training was always at will and subject to the student’s ability to pay the tuition, like any other school, while the apprenticeship to a fighting master is considered equally informal but rather more serious in terms of commitment. This trade represents the efforts of those who pursued this path in favor of any other, and the benefits that accrue.
The real difference between the Warrior by Trade and those that merely swing a weapon for self defense is one of interest and commitment.
Literatus & Scrivener OR
Grammar School OR
Weapons † 12)
Violence is an accepted and unavoidable part of the true Warrior’s and Knight’s life, and for those who live by it, a simple fact of life whose religious and spiritual ramifications offer little, if any, deterrent. Indeed, a Squire or other Warrior is expected to be hit hard enough to knock him to the ground no less than 20 times during his trials and training before he is ever considered ready to face battle.
Thus, a Warrior’s will to survive is tempered to a steely edge. He becomes inured to pain and privation over the course of his career, and is no stranger to the ivory grin of death. Warriors learn to endure and even dismiss discomforts that would wear others down, and even the pain of injuries or wounds.
The Warrior’s training provides him with a bonus of (TR) to his P-RES score for the purposes of resisting numbing bodily shocks when struck and maintaining consciousness in the face of the pain of his wounds and in resisting extreme fatigue (if the optional END rules are in play) and the effects of exposure to the elements (heat, cold).
Another benefit of the Warrior’s Trade training comes in the form of a bonus of (1 per 4 TR’s) to the character’s wound allowance for each level of wounding, in turn (OR to his BP’s, if those optional rules are in play).
A (TR) bonus is added to his END score, where that optional rule is in use, and his TR is also added to his CND for the purposes of determining how quickly he recovers his END points (but ONLY for that purpose).
With their trade training providing such benefits, it is small wonder that Warriors are rather commonly noted for their callous lack of sympathy in regards to the complaints uttered by others when suffering physical hardships.
During the Warrior’s Trade training he learns to compensate for and work with his armor, to develop his fighting style that allows him to maximize it’s strengths, but mostly he becomes conditioned to the oppressive heat that can accumulate under it in the midst of a fight, rather more so than those who lack the same intensive training in arms that this trade represents. No strangers are these characters to having to be ready for action on a moment’s notice, or to taking their shifts on Sentry duty, and so inured to discomfort and physical hardship do they become, over time.
The Warrior is allowed to recover his END points normally, provided that optional rule is in play, if he should have a chance to cat-nap or even fall truly asleep while still wearing his armor, unlike those of other Trades.
The Career of a Knight
Picking up again the tail of Sir William Marshal, our William made a fine showing at his first battle, fighting under the banner of his uncle William of Tancarville. He defeated many a good Knight, but made one major error that had to have impressed him for the remainder of his days. Out of all the Knights he defeated that day, our William did not pause to take a single hostage or claim a single horse, even after his own steed was slain. All of these would have been his according to the rules of Chivalrous combat. The armor of every man he defeated should have been his, their weapons, their horses, and a ransom from their families or lords as well. Though he left the field of battle with the greatest glory, he ended with badly beaten armor and much-abused weapons. Indeed, he was forced to sell the cloak in which he was knighted to equip himself for the next campaign on which he rode. At 50s. for common war harness, the GM can well imagine how rich and beautiful that cloak must have been, indeed, no doubt furred as well, to bring so fair a price.
Sir William drifted through the world as a Knight Errant for the next 15 years of his knightly career. He travelled the European tournament circuit and grew wealthy on his prowess, earning quite a reputation, as well. It was a dangerous occupation, though, to be sure. Indeed, following one tournament he had to retire to the smith’s to put his head on an anvil and have his helm beaten back into shape enough for him to get it off his head, so badly it was abused in battle.
Sir William was able to gain the notice of young Henry, heir to Henry II of England, and a place in his retinue by his renown. He was growing no younger, and his was a dangerous occupation with no secure income. Sir William was even granted the privilege of dubbing young Henry when he was knighted in 1181. After this Sir Henry went off on crusade to the Holy Land. On the strength of the reputation he earned fighting in the Holy Land, Sir William was added to the train of Henry II upon his return to England afterwards. Since Henry II was not interested in the tournament circuit on the continent, Sir William became a part of the government machine, instead. Eventually, Sir William was rewarded with the guardianship of a few fiefs and a young heiress. According to custom, the revenues of the heiress’ estates went right into Sir William’s purse until she came of age. Finally! A source of steady, secure income, even if only of limited duration. He continued in his service to Henry II for many years, until eventually he was promised the hand of the daughter of the Earl of Pembroke, a great lord. Sadly, as is often the case with royal promises, Henry II died without fulfilling it. Henry’s son Richard (Lionheart) assumed the throne, with whom Sir William had been enemies during Richard’s and his brothers’ many and long rebellions against their father Henry II, fuelled by their contentious mother, Eleanor of Aquitaine. Oops! Fortunately, Richard recognized the value in Sir William’s long and faithful service to his father, and fulfilled the promise of marriage to Pembroke’s heiress. Outliving his older brothers and succeeding to his father’s title of Marshal of the royal household, William became Sir William Marshal, Earl of Pembroke – one of the greatest of the English lords and a central figure in English politics for some 30 years. Earl William died in 1219, at 73 years of age, a tribute to the extraordinary possibilities available to the patient and diligent Knight in the English feudal world. We say the English feudal world because here simply because the social opportunities on the continent were not as available in regards the ranks of nobles. The path of trade and money held far more opportunities for advancement. Then again, on the continent, the father’s noble rank would have passed to all his children equally. The social order of England was more forgiving and permeable in regards to advancement, especially from one generation to the next.
The career of Earl Marshal certainly shone more brightly than that of the average Knight, but the pattern of progress in the feudal hierarchy was a common one among lesser Knights and among lesser lords. The average career of a Knight plying the tourney circuit was 15 to 20 years. Those who failed to achieve notable success and find suitable positions by the age of 40 commonly ended up as administrators of others’ estates, or as well-to-do land holders with (small) estates of their own (law-worthy local Knights of the Shire in England).
Civilian Duties of Landed Knights
Local Authority is composed of Knights, clergy, and freeman. In order to serve the local government’s needs and in the courts in a given shire, a Knight must be “law-worthy”, that is, able to acquit himself in the language of the courts and to read and write and have mastered basic mathematics. It also carries with it the requirement to hold land worth 40s. a year in income within that shire in which his services are sought, In practice, the knight is usually required to hold property not only within the shire, but in the same neighborhood (usually the same hundred, or bordering hundreds). Such a Knight may be referred to in public documents as a Knight of the Shire. A Knight can be rejected by the principles in a case at law for the failure to meet these criteria.
Historically, French was the language of the conqueror, and so of the local law courts, of management and lordship, as well as the king’s court, of all gentlemen. By the late 13th cent. records were rendered in French, Latin and English one after another in the official court Rolls.
“Unless a man knows French, he is thought of little account.”
Robert of Gloucester, l. 13th cent.
Knights are commonly serve the needs of the Justices and in association with the Sheriff and the shire court. Testimony may be sought in criminal cases by a Knight charged by the Justice(s) to do so, or offenders committed to a Knight’s custody. A local Knight can be discharged to inspect the scene of a crime or examine the wounds of a victim of assault. He can be discharged to act in the same capacity as the shire Coroner, gathering information and keeping the record of serious crime prior to trial by royal justice.
“Solidly-based” Knights called on as judges for the Assizes and for Gaol Delivery, or commissioned for assessing and collecting local taxes, taking control of the King’s escheats and wards of the shire, or to inspect the shire’s castles and make report to the government on any defects, as in the case of John de Ladbroke, of the village of Ladbroke.
He might be sent by Justices to view and make report on letters of complaint received.
A jury of 12 Knights is required to hold a grand Assize. Four law-worthy Knights must be summoned by the Sheriff to appear before the justices to elect those 12.
The record of a plea determined in a county court when needed in a royal court must be carried by a Knight. In cases of concords subsequently challenged, a record is required from the local Knights. Essoins of sickness (excuses not to attend court) at the third summons to court requires the dispatch of four Knights of the Shire to verify illness.
In cases of novel disseisin, juries must be composed of Knights, as well in all cases touching on the king’s interests. Survey and valuation of land in dispute must always be made by local Knights.
Local Knights will always keep the field and adjudicate all cases of judicial duel. The record of the wager of battle must be made by four local Knights at the royal capital before any duel.
A prominent Knight might serve as a Justice of Oyer and Terminer; as Sheriff; as a Purveyancer (procuring and organizing the supplies for the royal troops), though high profile Merchants are also preferred due to ability, that being the substance of their trade; Knights of the Shire to Parliament, bringing the petitions from their constituents; Commissioners of Array with contracts of indenture to provide troops in peace and war or for the tourneys, or in the household and tourney, for life or a specified term of years.