Knights of Camelot
Date: Mid Fifth Century CE, middle of King Arthur's Reign
“To be a Knight of Camelot is more than a job, it's a life calling.” The old knight says to the youngsters gathered around him in the training hall. “In the time before King Arthur knights were an order of soldier nobility. Pretty much every male noble of even a bit of physical prowess became a knight.” Here he stops and makes emphasize. “No longer! Now it is what I said, a calling rather than simply a career.”
“What was the first step in the change, sir?” Asked one of the gathered use.
“It was in the aftermath of an attack on Camelot when the then-Prince Arthur decided to honor those commoners who aided him in retaking Camelot with Knighthood. Their actions proved their worthiness even though they were commoners.” The old master knight continues with. “This is the first change. Though one which will set the stage for the rest.”
“They say that the old king didn't agree with it. But if that is so how did King Arthur get it approved?” A random young knight asked from the back.
“While I have no wish to speak ill of the dead even though he might not have agreed with it he choose to recognize the good deeds of those knights. Plus, well, in truth, though he was King in name he wasn't truly reigning anymore. At that point his majesty was the declared Prince-regent and ruling in all but name. But let us not talk about King Uther.” The wizened knight said firmly.
“That makes sense. So what was the next step to out knights?” A knight of middling age asked.
“Simply King Arthur declaring one Sir Isolde, wife of knight Sir Tristan, a knight in her own name. This was unexpected and not without noble fury, and a plot or two aside. It would have been worse if she was unknown, but by that time she was already accepted by pretty much all the Knights and lords who mattered.” Here he laughs. “In fact she was well known to have fought and bested even more senior knights. And came quite close to even defeating King Arthur himself.”
Here he looks at the crowed of knights around him, including some females of exceptional abilities. “The King mellowed some hearts who were against it by declaring her a Knight of the Rose. They subsequently looked at them as a separate order of knighthood, and so not a threat; like nuns are to priests.” Here he pauses to make a side thought. “At the time there was even some talk of calling them Dames rather than Sir, but it never caught on as many knights ‘forgot’ to use the other title.”
Then a young girl asks, “I heard that after this the male knights wanted their own branches?”
“They did, and the King listened. Though it has since come to light this was according to plan.” The group laughed at this, the King was known for certain manipulations. “With the Knights of the Rose created the others felt ignored, not given a greater honorific all there own. This would remain for years as events would begin occurring taking away the focus on more political maneuvering. But the idea was born and wasn't going away.”
“What finally tipped matters over to the King finally creating other knightly fellowships?” A man near the middle asks when given permission to speak.
“The first of the new fellowships were created as part of the general royal reorganization of the role of nobility, mainly the end of feudal succession. Due to this fact the status of Knight was no longer a category of the feudal hierarchy, rather a choice service to the Crown. To recognize and honor those nobles who joined out of tradition and honor he created the Knights of Pine. Nobody was forced to join, but many did, especially nobles, though the group was open to any knight. It wasn't long before these knights would become recognized as the knights of tradition and statecraft, of courtly behavior and noble pursuits.”
“Are commoners welcome in this order of knights?” A young man asks, with a clear common born accent.
“Yes. The King forbids any such restriction existing and thus they don't. Plus, it's the King who appoints members to the fellowships and tradition dictates they are spread out.”
“I heard the King doesn't appoint members by himself anymore?” A newly joined knight asks.
“Though that is partially true it is not the whole story. A council of senior knights made up of a representative from each fellowship both selects and organizes the training. Throughout the training the potential knight is brought to the King’s attention for discussion, as the King demands knowledge of all those who seek the knighthood.” He continues to explain, though the tone is very much that this they should all know.
“As that is the standard of our order, let us discuss the births of the next fellowships rather than our organization. Two were born at the same time, one for magic and one for lore. The Knights of Rowan focus on the topic of magic, be it protecting those with it or working against those who pursue it for dark ends. The Knights of Alder are dedicated to artifice and technological progress, which both means the protection of craters and the defense against tech which may go rogue. They were created to serve certain functions, of which they do amazingly well.” This was said it full-blown lecture mode.
“After that the King created the Knights of Oak. These are the knights dedicated to battle and war, of the soldier, the commander, and the bodyguard. These knights are in many ways the most traditional of the knightly orders, being mostly focused on the original purpose of the knight.” The elder knight teaching those interest in the knight pauses for a moment. “The path of the Knight of the Oak is considered the elder path, even though it's not the oldest.” Everyone nods at that. It makes a lot of sense to them. Since the Oak Knights followed the older chivalrous codes of course they are the elder ones.
“Soon after those of Oak came the Knights of Heather, who are often known as the travelers or the messengers. They more than any of the other knightly fellowships are known to never sit still, they constantly travel bearing news and the good word of the Crown and realm to the farthest corners of His Majesty’s territory. In an interesting twist they are often the ones the common folk have the most dealings with, and yet they are conversely without much influence in Court.” He says as a point of interest.
“The last sect to be created was that of the Knights of Willow. These knights are focused on protecting, finding, and revealing secrets. They are dedicated to going into the places others fear to trend and doing that which others cannot think about doing. They were first created when certain missions needed behaviors that not all knights strive to. Despite this the Willow Knights are a greatly important part of the Knightly Order of Albion.” He continues to explain, getting near the end of his lecture.
“Isn’t there an even greater order within the Knights of Albion?” A boy of middling age asks when he is given permission.
“Yes there is. The Knights of Yew, also known as the Knights of the Round, and they are among the most capable of knights in the whole land. Though not of the Round Table they are near to it, a status that grants them certain abilities not often seen by knights of other orders. This is not a group that a new knight joins, no, only those knights of experience who have come to the personal attention of either the King or the First Advisor are ever asked to join. Joining this order is a life long goal of many, though those who have joined often say the hard work only then begins.” He pauses to take a deep breath.
“Sir. When do the Knights of Rose disappear?” A young boy asks.
“That element has no official date. it was never an actual degree by the King. During the various changes those who were only Rose Knights were declared to be in one of the already existing paths. It wasn't long before nobody was a Knight of the Rose, and so the sect became defunct.” Here he stops to think if he should say the next part, but then he shrugs and continues. “There is some talk of creating a sort of meta-sect based on gender. The female one would be Knights of the Rose while the male would be the Knights of the Wolf. The decision on this has not been made, but once you’re a knight it might have an effect.”
At this point he begins wrapping up his teaching. “I thank you all for coming here today to listen to my lecture. I know that you are all interested in becoming a knight. But remember it's not for everyone. It's a difficult and intense curriculum which will test your body, mind, and spirit. Who you know will not help you, just who you are and what you do. So remember this - know yourself, be honest and trustworthy, work hard, and be true. And one day I will see you knighted.” With that the meeting was over and everyone began to disperse.