On the Good Ship Beowulf
Chivalric Orders of Avalon
Knights in the Glamour Isles are entitled to be addressed as Sir or Dame, depending on their gender. A Knight is entitled to bear arms and a heraldic coat of arms, and to administer the Queen’s Justice, but the title rarely carries the feudal benefits (taxes and land) and obligations (military service) that it once did. Most modern Knights serve as advisors and administrators for their Lords.
Knighthoods are generally bestowed, either by a Lord, the Crown or (in rare cases these days) a chivalric or religious militant order, in conjunction with the administration of the appropriate oath of fealty. The nature of the bestower defines the relevant rank of the Knighthood. Knights sworn by Barons rank lower than those sworn by Earls and Dukes and Queen’s Knights trump all. Members of the Order of Avalon rank equal with the Dukes of the realm, a fact that doesn’t go down well with many nobles.
Although the title is not hereditary, neither is it restricted in number, and the children of existing Knights often find it very easy to acquire a Knighthood of their own.
There is a lesser rank of Knight, originally used for Knights-in-training, the Squire. Most Squires, these days, are men-at-arms serving Knights or nobles. They have no more rights or privileges than commoners.
The Order of Avalon (the Knights Errant)
The Order of Avalon is an official chivalric order honouring those blessed by the Glamour of Avalon (rumoured to be less than two dozen). Not all Knights Errant have agreed to join, especially those originating from the Highlands or Inismore.
There are currently thirteen members of the Order and they have no part in the military or governmental structure of the country.
The Order of the Graal (the Queen’s Knights)
The Order of the Graal encompasses all Knights owing fealty directly to the Queen, rather than a noble, order or the Church. Theoretically the Order serves as her personal bodyguard, but many of the Order have been rewarded for extended service and are no longer capable of fighting duels.
The Order currently numbers 78 knights, plus another 200 or so lower ranks (Serjants, Squires and Men-at-arms). A part of the swearing-in ceremony includes drinking water from the artefact known as the Graal, which is said to poison those not pure of heart, thereby proving the loyalty of the Queen’s Knights.
Leading the Order is the Council of Twelve, hearkening back to King Elilodd’s circle of knightly advisors (the Order of Avalon is aware of the reference but has chosen not to press the point):
- Sir Lawrence Lugh – leader of the Council and the Queen’s Champion, he is noted for his iron hand.
- Sir Jeremiah Berek – commander of the Sea Dogs, all of his captains are considered Knights but are not members of the Order of the Graal, their sailors are considered the equal of Squires.
- Sir Bleddig – foster-father of the Queen during her youth.
- Sir Cowan – foster-brother of the Queen.
- Sir Geriant – represents the Queen abroad as a kind of roving ambassador.
- Sir Gwydd – suspected to be part Sidhe and acts as ambassador to the Fair Folk.
- Sir Lamorak – general of the armies and former contender for the throne.
- Sir Bors MacAllister – a Highlander, representing Highland interests.
- Sir Owain – son of Sir Uwaine.
- Sir Peppin – away from Court most of the time, pursuing the Mirror Beast.
- Sir Uwaine – the first Knight to drink from the Graal, and High Sheriff of Avalon.
- Dame Yseult – the Lady Knight; an efficient agent of the crown.
While the Vaticine Church possesses a number of militant orders, none of them have any influence in Avalon, since Richard IV’s break with the Church. Occasionally, agents of such orders are unearthed as part of the routine breaking of conspiracies against the Crown.
The Knightly Order of the Rose and Cross
A portion of the Rose & Cross’s membership exists within Avalon. They are not taken very seriously, especially with the Glamour enforcing regular Knightly values.