Knights are members of the Order of Chivalry. This simple statement represents what is for me the core of our whole role. We are servants of the Crown, bound by the Oath we swear. We are, in large part, the framework upon which our Society is built. We have privileges (a few), and responsibilities (many). We are envied by many, reviled by some, and watched by almost all. We are the public peers.

Knights are thrust (for the most part gladly) into the role of public peers by many things. Our regalia is the most easily noticed. Our title is the most easily recognized by the outsider. Our activities are generally highly visible. We are most clearly identified as the Crown's servants. I think that many of these things need redress to more evenly balance the perceived status of the Peerages (I do support the "three Orders of Knighthood" concept). Our public responsibilities are those which we share with the other peerages. We could all improve some portion of our public image.

Knights receive the accolade for having demonstrated "peer qualities" and being "masters" of fighting. We do not have clear definitions of either of those terms, which keeps us on a par with our sibling peers. We also have a merit badge list of things a candidate should know, or do, in order to become a Knight. If used as a guideline rather than a checklist I think this idea has merit, and might be well adopted by the other Orders. Unfortunately you sometimes see the "Oh. I danced once at Twelfth Night and played chess once at Crown. I'm all set" syndrome. The intent is to require a broad base of knowledge in order to become a peer of the realm. This is a good concept which could use some work in execution. Any ideas?

Peer qualities are more broadly defined. Chivalry. Courtesy. Honor. All are simple words with more interpretations than I can count. I think we can agree that courtesy should be omnipresent and is the due of every person. Beyond that I have seen that we have trouble specifically defining what any of these terms mean. I will give my simple definitions as a basis for discussion. Courtesy is the polite treatment of all people at all times. Specific forms are not the crucial part, attitude is. Honor is doing well everything to which you have agreed. Chivalry is a combination of these. All we need to do now is agree on what specific behaviors match these terms.

As peers our primary job is as exemplars. We should set the standard for behavior. It is not necessary to excel at every activity we try, but to be public about trying them. Encourage activity in your field(s) of interest. Be showy. Have banners and surcoats and pavilions and streamers and... Well, you get the idea. Remember that people ARE watching us. The way we represent ourselves, our Kingdom, and our Society will be noticed. Our position requires a higher standard of behavior, not entitles us to a lower one. Be who you could be in your dreams.

Fighting is our field of expertise. It is the thing which distinguishes us from our fellow Peers. The question is: "How good is good enough?" I feel that a knight should be a very skillful fighter, with a broad base of knowledge. We must also look at the way that skill is used and shared. Teaching is a fundamental part of the responsibility of peerage. The Society does not need Knights who can win at all costs. Drachenwald does not need us to defend Her shores (physically) from vile invaders or dastardly villains. We defend Her honor by being skillful, knowledgeable, and CHIVALROUS. Order of Chivalry, remember. I would be much more comfortable with a brother Knight who was a passable fighter but impeccably chivalrous than one who was unbeatable but barely tolerable. We are not Knights by force of arms, but by merit.

Finally, an aside or two to settle things and stir things. English grammar is sexist but no bias is intended by the use of masculine pronouns. Women are equally suited to this role. I personally have never understood the need for the Master of Arms, or the reason for only Knights swearing fealty. In Drachenwald we have a tradition of all Peers who wish to do so swearing fealty at Coronation. I think this is a good idea. All people who wish to be a Peer OF THE REALM should be willing to swear fealty to that realm. Oaths are to the Crown as a symbol, not the King and Queen as individuals. The only good reason I can think of for not swearing fealty is a moral or religious prohibition on swearing. We could surely find an easier way to work around this than a split Order (or three once the other orders join in). In stating this opinion I freely admit my ignorance involving this custom as I have never had close contact with a Master at Arms. If there are reasons I have missed please enlighten me.

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Copyright 2000 by Gregory R. Gagnon