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PostSubject: Traditions of the Knighthood   Tue Jan 03, 2012 11:47 am

Traditions of the Knighthood

An organization as long lived as the Knights of Solamnia
is bound to be rich in tradition. This was especially true
in the times before the Cataclysm, before most Knights
were killed or forced to forsake the Knighthood and
many traditions fell by the wayside. Since then, some of
the old traditions have been revived and new ones have
been added, but most of the traditions of the Knights of
Solamnia have the same focal point—the Oath and the
Measure. The Oath and the Measure describe
everything that a Knight is and should
strive to be. They are the guides by
which all Knights are supposed to live
their lives, though, of course, some
are more successful in following these
strictures than others. Living up to
the Oath, “My Honor is My Life,” and
following the rules set forth in the
Measure are the greatest of the Solamnic traditions.

Traditions of Law
Many of the ways the Knights operate as
an organization have become traditions
in themselves. A few Knights over the
millennia have proposed better ways to organize the
Knighthood, claiming that circles are inefficient. They cite
the fact that relatively low-ranking Knights can command
large circles under the right circumstances; this can cause
problems when a high-ranking Knight confronts a lower
ranking commander. However, whenever any kind of
idea of reorganization is suggested, the Grand Circle of
Knights always decides against it. The Measure states that
the Knighthood is to be made up of circles in every city or
town where Knights openly reside, and no Grand Circle
has ever found a compelling reason to change this.
The election of the High Knights and the Grand
Master has also become traditional. The High Knights
and the Grand Master are elected somewhat differently.
For example, if the Order of the Sword needs to elect a
new High Clerist, as many Sword Knights as can make the
journey travel to the Whitestone Glade on Sancrist. Here
they form the Circle of the Sword. Each Knight is allowed
to nominate one Knight Clerist, who must be present, to
be the new High Clerist. Once all Knights have made their
nominations, the three Clerists with the most nominations
are presented and allowed to speak on their own behalf.
All Knights then vote privately, and the candidate with
the most votes is invested as the new High Clerist. The
Grand Master is elected in a similar fashion, but, instead
of Knights from one Order, each circle registered in the
Measure sends two Knights to represent it. At least seventy
percent of all registered circles must send representatives
to be able to elect the Grand Master. The representatives
form the Grand Circle of the Knighthood, which is also the
name of the Grand Master’s circle based at the Whitestone
Glade. From there, the election proceeds the same as that
for the High Knights, though nominations for Grand
Master are not limited to those present.

Tradition also allows a Knight who has violated the
Oath and the Measure the opportunity to redeem himself.
He is typically sent on a dangerous quest to right a great
wrong in the world. An example of this is Lord Soth’s
quest to stop the Cataclysm. Though Paladine, and not
a Knightly circle, gave him this quest, it would still have
allowed Soth to redeem himself and regain his lost honor.
If the Knight refuses the quest or fails to achieve it, he
is stripped of his knighthood and his name expunged
from the rolls of the Knights of Solamnia. This chance at
redemption is a law written into the Measure. However, the
law also states that some acts are so heinous as to require
either immediate expulsion from the Knighthood or the
ceremony called the Honor of the Sword (see “Traditions
of Honor”).

Traditions of Battle
The primary purpose of a Solamnic Knight is to be an
effective member of a larger fighting force. To this end,
many traditions regarding battle and warfare have sprung
up over the course of the Knighthood’s existence.
Spending the evening before a great battle in prayer is
an old tradition that is rarely followed by anyone but the
Order of Clerists and a few of the most devout Knights.
Elias Solamnus, Vinas’ son and successor, always prayed
before battle and most of the Knights in those early days
followed his example. The tradition largely died during the
Shadow Years following the Cataclysm.

Another old tradition, though one that has better
stood the test of time, is the Knight’s salute to an enemy.
Whenever appropriate, a Knight will salute an enemy
before entering into battle. There are times when this
isn’t practical, such as having an entire army salute before
charging across the field of battle to meet an enemy army.
In cases like this, the commander leading the charge will
salute for his entire force, or the Knights will simply forgo
the salute. A Knight will generally not salute a monstrous
enemy, such as a goblin, troll, or the like, unless that
particular creature has somehow shown the Knight it
deserves the honor of a salute.

The weapons the Knights of Solamnia use have become
somewhat traditional as well. Every Knight learns the
use of a sword and shield, a two-handed sword, and a
lance. Knights are permitted to use other weapons, but
these are the favored weapons of most Knights. Knights
also generally tend to frown on missile weapons in battle.
They understand the usefulness of a bow or crossbow in
warfare, but they prefer to go toe-to-toe with their enemies
whenever possible.

In keeping with the traditions of honor in battle, a
Knight will never strike an unwary foe from behind. It is
said that Vinas Solamnus put this tradition in place, saying
that every enemy, no matter who or what it was, deserved
to see the figure of justice delivering judgment. This
tradition also tends to exclude tactics, such as a traditional
ambush, from a Knight’s repertoire of combat strategies.
Knights can still ambush foes, but they will always give a
warning before attacking.

In the days before the War of the Lance, tradition and
the Measure stated that a Knight would never back down
from a foe or retreat from battle, regardless of the potential
outcome. This meant that a small party of Knights would
be forced by tradition and law to battle an enemy force
of thousands, if encountered and challenged. This was
tantamount to suicide, but tradition demanded it. With
the revision of the Measure by Lady Anastacia Mercador,
common sense now prevails in the Knighthood.
While it is still against the Measure for a Knight to cravenly
abandon his post, it is acceptable by current tradition for
a Knight to retreat in the face of a more powerful foe, if it
means that Knight will live to fight another day.

Traditions of Honor
Evidenced by the Oath, “My Honor is My Life,” honor
is the very foundation of the philosophy of the Knights
of Solamnia. Honor is everything, and many Solamnic
traditions evolve from this perspective.
Honor demands that friend and foe alike be treated
with respect. Regardless of how a Knight views another
person or organization, even one actively opposed to the
Knighthood, tradition says that everyone deserves to be
treated honorably and respectfully. Many Knights find this
difficult, especially in regard to their enemies, but most at
least attempt to follow this tradition.

The knighting ceremony is a great tradition of honor
experienced by most Knights. It is during this ceremony
that a man or woman is raised from squirehood and
entered into the rolls of the Knights of Solamnia, usually
as a Crown Postulant. The squire is usually required to
spend the night and much of the day before the ceremony
in a vigil of prayer and devotion to the patrons of the
three Orders. Wearing nothing but a thin white shirt and
breeches, he is brought before the Knight presiding over
the ceremony. Standing with the presiding Knight are other
Knights in full ceremonial regalia, each holding a part of
the new Knight’s arms and armor. The squire kneels in
front of the ranking Knight and bows his head. The Knight
begins the ceremony by saying a prayer to the patrons of
the Knighthood and then speaks of the squire’s virtues and
how the squire will be a boon to the Orders. The Knight
then asks, “Do you swear by the patrons of the Knights
of Solamnia— Habbakuk the Fisher King, Kiri-Jolith the
Sword of Justice, and Paladine, Draco Paladin—that
you pledge your life to the ideals of honor and goodness
set forth in the Oath and Measure of the Knights of
Solamnia?” The squire raises his head, looking the Knight
in the eye, and states, “I do. Est Sularus oth Mithas.”
The Knight slaps him on both sides of the face with the
squire’s own leather-and-chain gauntlet stating, “Let these
be the last blows you ever receive that go unanswered.”
The Knight then takes the squire’s sword and taps him
first on the left shoulder saying, “For Truth and Honesty,
accept the blessings of Habbakuk.” The Knight taps the right
shoulder, “For Loyalty and Courage, accept the blessings
of Kiri-Jolith.” The Knight taps the top of the squire’s head,
“And for Wisdom and Justice, accept the blessings of Paladine.”
The Knight then takes a step back and
offers the new Knight the hilt of his sword,
saying “Rise, sir, accept your sword, and be
recognized as a Knight of Solamnia.” The
squire rises, taking the sword, and stands
stoically as the remaining Knights dress
him in his new armor. When the last piece
is put on, always the Knight’s spurs, the
presiding Knight bids the new Knight,
“Go, live your life by the Oath and the
Measure and serve the Knights of
Solamnia in all that you do.” Not all Knights go through
this ceremony, however. Some, for various
reasons, are knighted in other ways.
There is a record from the Third Dragon War of
fifty squires being knighted at one time on the eve of
a great battle. For reasons of sheer numbers, they
could not go through the traditional ceremony.

Another tradition of honor is the Honor of the Sword,
a ceremony of ritual suicide that a dishonored Knight can
perform to restore honor to himself and his family. If a
Knight has committed an act or acts that cause a knightly
circle to make the judgment against him that strips him of
his honor and his knighthood, the circle will also give him
the option of the Honor of the Sword. The Honor of the
Sword is always voluntary, though a Knight that refuses
it is cast out of the Solamnic Knighthood—stripped of
his titles, his knighthood, and his land if it was awarded
to him by the Knighthood. An outcast is reviled by all
other Knights, who are forbidden by the Measure to have
dealings of any kind with the outcast.

Years of love have been forgot
In the hatred of a minute. - Edgar Allen Poe
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