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    Origins of Knighthood: The Knights Protector of Aerdy
    Posted on Sun, February 20, 2005 by Dongul
    CruelSummerLord writes "Wherefore did the Knight Protectors of the Great Kingdom come?

    Born at the dawn of the kingdom, tied to its soul. One linked to another, bonded in blood, sharing fortune and sadness. As one grew ill, so too did the other. Great overkings begat great knights; fool overkings begat fool knights. Aerdy's fall from grace was ne'er marked so well as by the fall of its greatest and brightest. - Lord Crown, King Sun: A History of the Aerdy Empire, iv.iii.502-509.

    On the Origins of Knighthood in the Flanaess: The Knights Protector of Aerdy
    By: CruelSummerLord
    Used with Permission. Do not repost without obtaining prior permission from the author.

    Knight Protectors of The Great Kingdom

    The Knight Protectors of the Great Kingdom are the oldest order of knights in the Flanaess. Founded in the earliest days of Aerdy, well before the beginning of the Common Years, they were renowned for their courage, their compassion, and their chivalry and honor towards both friend and foe. Founded from humble beginnings, the Knight Protectors would grow to become the inspiration for other orders of knights that arose in their wake, including the Knights of the Hart and the Knights of Holy Shielding.

    When the Aerdi had first come to the eastern lands they would settle, they had battled with the indigenous Flan, both the good and evil peoples. The Aerdi defeated most of these Flan peoples, either assimilating them or pushing them to the fringes of society. Most Flan could no longer resist the Aerdi, and so were forced to give over to the new arrivals. However, one cabal of Ur-Flan, the vile wizards who persecuted their own kin long before the Great Migrations, had conjured a demon from the Abyss meant to slay the Aerdi king, the leader of those who had conquered the Flan people.

    The demon came down upon the king as his caravan had paused for the night in an isolated village of his subjects, who were but humble farmers and woodsmen. The king would have perished at the hands of the horror sent to slay him, were it not for the bravery of the young men of the village where he stayed. Through skill and wit, they defeated the monster, though many of them perished in battle with the creature. The king was so impressed at the puissance and courage of the young men that he took them and their families into his household, making them his “knight protectors.”

    A formal order of knighthood was created, one whose positions could not be bought, or obtained through royal favor. Only those of skill, courage and intelligence could join this prestigious order. They had enormous responsibilities in protecting the Aerdi king and their countrymen from invaders and horrors, but they also had great prestige and pride, many enjoying a rank in society equal to that of the lesser Celestial Houses of the Aerdi people. They fought both against threats from outside the kingdom and moral decay within it, seeking always to maintain the high standards of moral and law they cherished in Aerdy.

    The Knight Protectors were mighty and powerful through to the 200s CY, when they were deeply wounded by the betrayal of the paladin Sir Kargoth and his Table of Thirteen, traitors who became the first known death knights. The Knight Protectors were greatly fractured by this treason, which contributed to a loss of spirit and strength among many knights. When Overking Zelcor was crowned in 213 CY, the eclipse that foretold the Age of Great Sorrow affected the Knight Protectors as it did the rest of the Great Kingdom. The Knight Protectors suffered defeats in combat, became pawns for the intrigues of the Celestial Houses, and were mistreated by the incompetent fools that sat upon the Malachite Throne. The order was also split by conflicts between the followers of Hieroneous and Hextor in its ranks. Adherents to both gods had always served in the Knight Protectors as fierce rivals; but never before had the rivalry come to physical violence and war.

    The conflicts between the knights of Hieroneous and their rivals who followed Hextor grew worse over the decades, even as the Aerdi overkings grew progressively more foolish and stupid. Only in Bone March and Ratik did the Knight Protectors remain strong, as those provinces avoided the terrible decay affecting the rest of the Great Kingdom. In a strange way, the fortunes of the Knight Protectors and the Great Kingdom were intimately tied together. When one suffered, so too did the other.

    In 443 CY, the Turmoil Between Crowns ended with Ivid I of House Naelax seizing the Malachite Throne from House Rax. The Knight Protectors and House Rax had always been closely linked, and the knights had fought bravely to protect the monarchy and kingdom from the grasp of House Naelax. As bad as things were under the dimwitted imbeciles of House Rax who now served as Overking, they would be infinitely worse under Ivid.

    Sadly, the Knights and their house failed. Ivid and the Naelax triumphed, and they broke the power of both House Rax and the Knight Protectors. Knights in almost the whole of the Great Kingdom were slain or forced to go into hiding. Only in Ratik and Bone March, those provinces of the kingdom that suffered not from the moral putrefaction of their kin, did the Knights have any semblance of power.

    Bone March collapsed in 563 CY, along with Marquis Clement, who was one of the last great members of the Knight Protectors. Ratik eventually cut ties to the Great Kingdom, those few knights who lived in the archbarony washing their hands of Aerdy. They wanted no more to do with the land they once loved, the land that had fallen so far. Some Knight Protectors are said to hide in the Grandwood and Adri Forests, or live quietly among their Aerdi kin in the newly created kingdoms of Ahlissa and Northern Aerdy.

    It is unknown what the Knight Protectors will do in the modern era. Some say that Marquis Clement would have led the way in restoring the knights to their former glory had Bone March not fallen. With Bone March now back in the hands of men, and closely tied to Ratik, it is questionable whether the knights who now dwell in Ratik and Bone March would return to the old order, or form a new order altogether. Most of them would not do this unless Marquis Clement were to reappear, as they do not trust Count Dunstan, now ruling over Bone March, or his daughter Lady Evaleigh, now Archbaroness of Ratik. If Clement were to reappear, however, their opinions might change…

    Other Knight Protectors may reorganize themselves and play a new role in the politics of the former lands of the Great Kingdom. Overking Grenell of Northern Aerdy would no doubt enjoy the support of those knights who revere Hextor, and would direct them to crush any knights who support Hieroneous. The knights themselves would either respond to this order, dividing once again along religious lines; or they may bury the hatchet and reunite once and for all, possibly turning on the man who would divide them.

    Overking Xavener of Ahlissa is the one most likely, apart from Marquis Clement, to bring back the Knights in anything resembling their old form. However, the goals of Xavener’s Knight Protectors would be to actively expand the borders of his empire. The empire of Ahlissa could use both the coin and the sword to expand its borders, controlling the economies of some realms while fighting and conquering others. The target that Xavener would most likely direct the knights against is, of course, his rival in Northern Aerdy, Overking Grenell. This is a distinct possibility if Grenell alienated the Knight Protectors, or creates an entirely new order of knights serving Hextor. Those knights that refuse to serve Grenell are almost certain to find employment with Xavener and Ahlissa if this is the case.

    In any case, the standards of knighthood will not have changed in any revived order. Women are not allowed to join the knighthood, nor are demihumans; indeed, almost every other order of knighthood only allows humans to join their ranks, except for the Knights of the Hart; and all orders of knighthood, save for the Knights of Holy Shielding, do not allow women of any race to join them either. Each man considered for the knighthood must be of noble blood and have performed an act of brave chivalry that served the interests of the Great Kingdom or its successor states. Needless to say, what is good for the Great Kingdom is (or was, as the case may be) not necessarily good for other peoples and nations. Hence the source of many of their conflicts; despite their general good and honest intent, are the enemies of the enemies of the Great Kingdom.

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    Re: Origins of Knighthood: The Knights Protector of Aerdy (Score: 1)
    by Spugnoir on Sun, February 20, 2005
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    Great article, but I do have one question. Both canon and the start of your article state that the knight protectors were originally not of noble birth. Why did you decide to make nobility a requirement in your last paragraph on the standards of the order?

    Re: Origins of Knighthood: The Knights Protector of Aerdy (Score: 1)
    by CruelSummerLord on Sun, February 20, 2005
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    Maybe a slight mistake on my part. I figure that, as time went on and the ideas of 'nobility' solidified among the Aerdi, their ideas of who could become a knight changed over time. No longer could backwoods farmers join the knighthood; only men of noble blood could do so. The peasants who originally acted to save the Overking in the first place were granted noble titles and fiefs along with the titles of "knight protector". Only nobles could join the knighthood, but again the standards were very high; nobles and princes could not join the order through bribery or patronage.


    Re: Origins of Knighthood: The Knights Protector of Aerdy (Score: 1)
    by Crag on Mon, February 21, 2005
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    I loved the series, hope it continues.

    Personally I wished the article would have delved deeper into the relations and attitudes the various other aerdi inspired knighthoods have towards their “parent” order. Also given the rampant aerdi idealized nationalism espoused by the order, I find it a little weak that the knights in hiding and the order in general have so little enthusiasm toward a possible aerdi renaissance or unification of the nation since the fall of the imperial house naelax removes the boot from their throat.

    Finally, must agree with the previous comment, keep the order “common”. After all, this would explain their popular support however the nobles saw the order as a threat to their power “giving ambitions to commoners” but while under imperial patronage the nobles could not move against the order, which helps explain the ease that Ivid gathered support for the destruction of the knights especially in areas where the noble aerdi ideals were slowly changing to an oppressive society and account for the poor attitude that the nobility ascribe to “knights” within aerdi even today. This premise could provide a reason for the pockets of the order that survived rather than being nobles themselves (although some were) the majority blended back into the populace except where their martial skills were desperately needed (Bone March or Ratik) or where they could receive spiritual support from established churches (Hextor or Heironeous).

    The order finally has a chance to rebuild, they need all the worthy recruits they can.

    Re: Origins of Knighthood: The Knights Protector of Aerdy (Score: 1)
    by PSmedger on Fri, February 25, 2005
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    It was a pleasure to take the KPers out of obscurity and make them a useful piece of Greyhawk lore through my work in the LGG and Dragon.

    I would have to agree with the readers who have suggested the KPers do not need to come from nobility. They have been established as a true meritocracy. Even the Overking cannot appoint them, only Grand Prince Almor had that original honor. Over the centuries, commoner and noble alike, could meet their strenuous tests and become one of them through sponsorship by another KPer. Eventually, they developed a Council Gallant (of Knight Commanders) to oversee promotions and such, independent of the Malachite Throne.

    Naturally, becoming a Knight Protector accords you an honor arguably greater than mere nobility. You are the best the kingdom has to offer, so its not a distinction worth worrying about.

    Re: Origins of Knighthood: The Knights Protector of Aerdy (Score: 1)
    by CruelSummerLord on Fri, February 25, 2005
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    Based on popular response and last night's LGG discussions, I am quite happy to agree. Perhaps what accounts for the falling standards of knighthood in the Aerdy heartlands (as opposed to Ratik and the Bone March) is a decline in standards of testing, or maybe the trustees began appointing knights based on brute strength and tactical ability, ignoring the standards of honor and justice that drove the Knights of old (and the Knights who still served in Bone March and Ratik).

    However, I still really like the idea of the Knighthood being tied to the Great Kingdom in the same way as medieval theories of divine kingship had the king tied to the Church, or the Shakespearean idea that the health of king and land are intimately tied-when one suffers, so does the other. Scotland suffered after The Thane took over, England suffered when Lear tried to divide his kingdom, Denmark suffered with Claudius on the throne, etc.

    Based on my conversations with Gary on GreyTalk, it's not incompatible with the whole idea of appointment based on merit. Perhaps the Council Gallant in the GK proper began to lower its standards for appointment at the same time that the quality of the men sitting on the Malachite Throne declined as well? Bone March and Ratik didn't have anything to worry about, since they avoided the moral rot that overcame the rest of the kingdom. Hence why the Knights Protector were at their strongest in those two provinces.


    Re: Origins of Knighthood: The Knights Protector of Aerdy (Score: 1)
    by Scottenkainen on Thu, March 17, 2005
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    Then the question becomes, is the breaking of the Great Kingdom not good for the Great Kingdom? Overking Xavener is no paladin, but surely better than the Ivids. Would not the Knights be enjoying, if not a renaissance, at least some improvement in their ranks and influence in Ahlissa?

    I can't help but think of Dave Duncan's King's Blades series when it comes to these Knights ...and wish one of the PCs in my campaign would try to join...

    ~Scott C.


    Re: Origins of Knighthood: The Knights Protector of Aerdy (Score: 1)
    by Kirt on Wed, March 02, 2005
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    Interesting and enjoyable article. What was missing for me was a few things...

    Some specific details would have "set" the article better in my brain. OK, the Knights are accorded great honor and prestige...what is one specific example of this? They don't have to pay a certain tax? They always sit at the High Table with the King? How does their prestige actually play out?

    Second, while you describe the fall of the order, you don't go so far as to explain why it is no longer considered an order. WoG p. 79 mentions both the Knight Protectors of the Great Kingdom and the Knight Protectors of Medegia, but it says that they are not "true orders of knighthood". Why not? Lack of leadership? Lack of recruitment of new members? Failure of their original purpose?

    As an aside, the idea of the health of the land being tied to the health of the King and vice versa is older than Shakespeare. It was a key element in the Arthurian romances, where the quest for the Holy Grail is taken up because Arthur the King has a wound that will not heal, and as long as it does not heal the land suffers. It is called the motif of the wounded king. This was the inspiration for TS Elliot's poem "The Wasteland" as well as "The Fisher King" film with Robin Williams. I could probably pull a few more references out of a Joseph Campbell book if you are interested.


    Re: Origins of Knighthood: The Knights Protector of Aerdy (Score: 1)
    by CruelSummerLord on Tue, March 08, 2005
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    The privileges of knighthood I think would be the wealth and prestige most young men would enjoy. They would be able to sit at the table with the Overking, claim room and board from any noble as needed, avoid paying income taxes to nobles, and enjoying many social privileges equal to those of the nobles. These were privileges, not rights, and could be revoked if a knight abused his privileges or broke his trust. They were rewards for faithful and dedicated service, not an excuse for the knights to act like thugs.

    If the Knights Protector are no longer considered an order, I would interpret it as meaning that they've become a living joke, although a pretty sick, sad one. Appointments to the Knights have become matters of patronage, often choosing corrupt and petty noblemen over worthy young champions who just happen to be peasants. Much like Medegia, the order has to do with patronage. Those who are appointed to it usually abuse their privileges and use it to sponge off other citizens, abuse nobles without losing their heads, and be spared paying certain taxes.

    As the major provinces of the Great Kingdom fell into moral decay, so too did their branches of the knighthood. Since Bone March and Ratik did not fall as far as the rest of the Great Kingdom, their orders of knighthood still had many of the same standards, practices and privileges as the knights of old.


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