ASPIRATION TO THE
Captain Thomas Paul Westgaard, USAF Ret., NN, OLJ
Tiarna of Kileughterco
Typed by Joan Olsen
Chapter One: An Introduction 1
Chapter Two: Definitions 3
Chapter Three: Definitions Continued 7
Chapter Four: Chart a Course of Study 10
Chapter Five: Chart a Plan of Action 14
Chapter Six: Trappings 17
Chapter Seven: Personal and Financial Planning 19
Chapter Eight: Conclusion 22
Bibliography Appendix 1
Chivalric Quotations Appendix 2
Illustration of Arms Appendix 3
Organizations Appendix 4
Studies in Nobility Appendix 5
Contributed Information Appendix 6
Postscript: To Contemporary Knights Inside Cover
About the Author Outside Cover
ASPIRATION TO THE IDEALS OF CHIVALRY
Co 1991, 1992 Thomas Paul Westgaard
To the MacCarthy Mor, NN, GOAS, KCML, KCN, KMW, KHCJ, GCLJ, KMLI
Prince of Desmond and Lord of Kerslawny
Chief of the Name and Head of the Ancient Irish Royal House of Munster
This book is also dedicated to those active in the chivalric community who have inspired me to study chivalry and to share the ideals with those who would follow us.
To the four members of the chivalric community who were more influential in my becoming one of their number and in writing this book:
David Pittman Johnson, NN, KCLJ, Baron of Kilbonane
The Lord of Duhallow, NN, OMNN, KLJ, KHCJ, Baron of Kanturk
Sir Rodney Hartwell, KtBJ
John Hallberg Jones, KLJ (Malta Obedience)
To my wife, Cecilia Fredericka, Bantiarna of Kileughterco, for the untiring devotion which she put into editing this book, for her comments and questions which we hope brought the book to a more readable form, for her patience, and for being my sounding board as I tried to work concepts into words.
"A Knight is a man who intends to place himself at the service of a noble and difficult cause, a pure and arduous ideal; fighting evil, promoting good, defending the weak and the oppressed against injustice." Agostina Card. Cesaroi.
From Orders of Knighthood, Awards and the Holy See by Hyginius Eugene Cardinale, Van Duran Publishers, Gerrarda Cross, 1985
One of the benefits of working on this book has been the formation of new friendships. I am encouraged to find that through correspondence concerning the book I have been able to come into contact with more and more people attuned to knightly ideals.
Putting together a book of this type requires the contributions of a number of people. Some of these people have contributed substantially to the books content. A few, by their example, unknowingly helped to set the tone and the direction of the book. Others have helped to lesser degrees. Still others have offered their moral support. None should be slighted. With the benefit of some hindsight, it is now possible to see how each has contributed as the book moved forward from concept to its final form.
Mr. Michael Boldt, a friend and co-worker, reviewed the very first draft and has listened intently as I have related my experiences in pushing the book along. The Bantiarna of Kileughterco has worked harder than I to edit and re-edit the book. The Lord of Duhallow, the Baron of Kilbonane, the Baron of Elphinstone, and the Lord of Castlemore, have been especially helpful in the middle stages by their reviews, comments and contributions.
I thank The MacCarthy Mor for his exacting review of the book and granting the permission to dedicate this book to him.
In beginning to write this book, I sought to provide a guideline and advice to the Novice, the person interested in knighthood. Early in my research, I found myself seeking answers to a multitude of questions-and to new questions growing out of the answers. I found that there was no single source of information which summarized what knighthood was in the past and what it is today. The bulk of literature on the subject is oriented to the past. I wanted to emphasize the present. I also imagined how searching without directions could be frustrating to the inquirer.
Gradually, working through books and articles and contacts within the chivalric community, I discovered that fewer Americans (than I expected) of the knightly estate have a comprehensive understanding of the subject. This is not to disparage my contemporaries, but more a statement on the condition of chivalry among Americans and the breadth of the subject matter. Thus, this book is also written to the modern American knight and dame, with a hope to reaffirm their idealism and motivation.
I estimate that less than 0.007% of the adult population of the United States is associated with Chivalric Orders. It is apparent that the number of members is spread very thin. At times, individuals may feel isolated and unable to participate directly with their fellow members. Given the perspective that members are dispersed, I feel the need to encourage common experience across the boundaries of Orders- to promote an overall view of knighthood as a shared brotherhood, one of a common bond instilled with virtue and charitable purpose.
My approach to knighthood is universal and ecumenical. From an informational point of view, I suggest that knighthood exists as a secular as well as a Christian institution. While some Orders restrict membership to persons of one specific Christian denomination, there are others which are Christian ecumenical. There are also some Orders which are totally ecumenical, admitting people of Christian, Jewish, Muslim, and other faiths. A number of State Orders, granting awards on the basis of meritorious service to a government, and The Niadh Nask, the Ancient Gaelic Nobiliary Fraternity, are examples of knighthood which do not have specific religious qualifications. Members are drawn together by the highest ideals of human endeavor and it is upon these that Orders of Chivalry more forward.
While I hope this book flows with the idealism embodied in the concepts of knighthood and chivalry, there is the counterbalance of pragmatism repeated in the themes of commitment and allegiance. In approaching the subject, I have attempted to show that knighthood is a state of living which has its idealized components and its concrete pillars. Indeed, this composition intentionally attempts to divert self-promoting and non-spiritual individuals from considering entry.
One of my early over-generalizations about Orders was that they were composed of the rich and functioned primarily as fund raising bodies. This perception has changed as I found that entry into some Orders is within the means of middle-class Americans who are sufficiently motivated to take on a new or additional role in society. There are some Orders whose financial commitments remain beyond the reasonable means of the middle class. There are also those Orders where emphasis is placed on financial returns to the detriment of the spirit of charity and personal involvement through volunteerism. Clearly, Orders are diverse in their approach to chivalry and charity. The key is in learning which of them is best suited to the Novice and to his development within the ideals of chivalry.
A recent acquaintance reminded me how much human effort is put into recognition. The honors of knighthood and of Orders are distinct forms of recognition – and, indeed, honors themselves can be impediments to personal and spiritual development. Therefore, the prospective knight is encouraged to understand the pitfalls of recognition and reward in the frail human sense- and to strive to move beyond the external signs into true knighthood.
Chapter One: An Introduction
"You desire to great things? Begin with little ones. You desire to erect a very high building? Think first of the foundation of humility. The higher you intend it, the deeper must the foundations be laid." St. Augustine
This book is written for the man or woman who is drawn to, but somewhat unfamiliar with, concepts such as knighthood and chivalry, and terms such as Orders and nobility, included in the term unfamiliar would be the person who has been introduced to an Order and is attempting to understand, not only the Order, but the terms and practices surrounding knighthood. Equally, the definition fits the person who has been accepted into an Order, but is lost in a sea of questions. The unfamiliar person will likely possess an intrinsic desire to understand the foundations upon which historic and modern knighthood are built, as well as the reasons, processes, protocols, and nuances. The advice given is intended to be practical and is taken from the point-of-view of the near-novice only several steps ahead of the reader. For continuity, the term Novice will be used to refer to the person unfamiliar with modern knighthood and who has a sincere interest in becoming a knight or dame.
The words knight and knighthood carry considerable history. Within this book the words are intended to depict either or both the male and the female. The word dame may be readily interchanged with the word knight. In the modern sense, knighthood applies to either sex without intent of distinction. Just as man can be either noble or ignoble, so it is with woman. (Some people will hold, however, that the knight is the traditional armed gentleman and that the dame is a female invested person. This represents a traditional view held in some quarters, particularly in Europe.)
This book is addressed to Americans. Some readers may have concerns when they encounter words such as nobility and knighthood, which are misunderstood, given our Nation’s turbulent early history and attitudes. In their purest state neither nobility nor knighthood equate directly to aristocracy. Neither do they, taken a step further, equate to the abuses of power against which the Constitution of the United States seeks to protect. Most of us will agree that power in any hands has been shown to corrupt; whether that power be in the hands of a monarchy, an aristocracy, a religious hierarchy, an elected representative body, an appointed judiciary, or, in the hands of the people themselves. Neither nobility nor knighthood refers to a statement of political philosophy, but rather to a state of being.
Why Knighthood? Why Orders?
Two of the more difficult questions to answer to others are those of Why Knighthood? And Why Orders?
Knighthood, in its purest sense, is the pursuit of the ideal in human behavior. It combines many of the same attributes of the religious vocation; i.e., spirituality, service, commitment, and allegiance. The concept of knighthood with which most of us are initially familiar comes to us from Medieval times; the Arthurian legends, Romances such as that of Roland, and the Crusades. Carried forward from the Medieval age to modern times, these are the ideals which are the foundation for the dreams of exemplary human behavior. Knighthood is a vocation practiced in the world rather than in a monastery. Formal acceptance of Knighthood is, in its very essence, the acceptance of a vocation to strive toward a virtuous and honorable life, bringing into practice a complicated set of ideals. Thus, knighthood as a concept is an attraction for the individual interested in pursuit of the virtuous life.
The whole of knighthood finds its life and its historic roots in the shared community of brotherhood. Except for the rare occurrence where a King has knighted himself, no man may enter knighthood of his own volition. The aspirant must, therefore, be accepted into knighthood by at least one who is already a knight. Indeed, precedent has been long established; the average knight is no longer empowered to make a knight. That serious responsibility has been limited to those of rank and office in Orders, and, those generally empowered from a sovereign authority. Thus, one may not become a knight except by the acceptance of an empowered, responsible knight – and the formality of being made or named a knight. The individual may conduct the whole of his life in a knightly manner and be virtuous, but is not a knight without the formality of acceptance and the making or naming.
The individual knight does not exist as a knight except in the larger community of knighthood. In theory, one may be a modern knight without affiliation to an Order, but as a practical matter in the modern world, knights are accepted and made by Orders; the exception being Knights Bachelor. Once one has become interested in becoming a true knight, it follows that one will desire to associate with other knights. The whole of Knighthood finds its life and historic roots in the shared community of brotherhood – the Order.
Chapter Two: Definitions
Words are symbols used by people to convey meaning and concepts; i.e., to communicate. Given a common heritage and upbringing in a closed community, two individuals might communicate with considerable accuracy because they are accustomed to use of well understood symbols - words. In today’s complex, global society, words often carry slightly different meanings from one neighbor to the next, from one region of a country to another, and, across international boundaries. Some words carry considerably different meanings even in the same language. Often a technocratic or legalistic interpretation will arise to confuse the meaning of a word, clouding the precision of a common symbol. This difficulty is compounded as languages and cultures vary; there is often a need to translate, and, to examine the particular culture’s symbols. Where history becomes a factor, as is the present case, it is necessary to bridge the gaps of time between an earlier period and present in order to attempt to convey the former meaning in the light of present day word usage. Thus, in attempting to communicate, it becomes my duty to establish certain key words as symbols of common understanding.
The reader of this book should find it desirable to: 1) compare the definitions provided herein with his or her own; 2) use the dictionary frequently to verify how the symbol is generally used and how it is used in this book; 3) refer to other authors and works for clarification, comparison, and interpretation; and, 4) reflect on what the word/symbol means both intellectually and in the heart. This is not a lexicon, but rather an introduction to the work and study which one encounters at the initial stages of knightly development. While learning of knights and knighthood may appear to be a casual undertaking, full development requires the ability to study, the interest to carry forward and work, and finally, the endurance to overcome obstacles – whether in terminologies or in spiritual development. One does not become a true knight by the mere waving of a sword! Through study, comprehension, and internalization, an evolution occurs – which may result in a most dramatic change over a lifetime. Now on to the definitions of this chapter.
Knight. Historically, a knight was a heavily armed mounted warrior often in service to a Medieval feudal lord or chieftain. The use of the word knight pre-dates Medieval times, with examples in Roman, Byzantine, and Gaelic cultures prior to the 5th century A.D. In the 6th through the 10th centuries various cultures and tribes raised men to the status of knight; e.g., among Saxons the sons of chiefs were recognized in councils. In Gael only the Princes of royal blood were so recognized. Generally, knights were attributed with a code of conduct, or, charged with such conduct. In most of Medieval Europe, the knightly class included royalty, the aristocracy, and those from lower classes who had been raised to the status of knight usually based on military achievement. During his service to a feudal lord, the knight was paid, served on the promise of land and title, or, served on the condition of holding land and title. The majority of knights were retainers; i.e., paid for their services.
With the appearance of the Orders (of St. John of the Temple, and of St. Lazarus in the Holy Land, and Santiago in Spain, etc.) during the early Crusades, some knights took on the vocation of the monastic warrior in the Orders which provided hospitaller and military services in the Kingdom of Jerusalem and surrounding areas. Those that chose the vocation were usually the younger sons of nobility who were unlikely to inherit family lands. These early Orders were religious, living under rules similar to those of contemporary religious Orders.
In the present day, the knight is usually associated with one of the modern Orders, or, has been made a knight bachelor by a Sovereign. With the entrance of women into Orders, the term dame has come more into use – being the female equivalent of knight. Remaining from Medieval times is the code of conduct under which the knight is called to live. In place of the role of warrior, the modern knight is called to charitable and humanitarian service.
Knighthood. This word refers to the overall institution of knights; their common brotherhood, their common code of conduct and service. In the ideal, the institution of knighthood transcends both Orders and Nations, enveloping a large number of knights into an informal, undocumented brotherhood.
Chivalry. This word is best defined as the system of knighthood and its practices, encompassing the spirit of the ideal knight. Chivalry is marked by practices of honor, courtesy, and generosity – it is most often associated with courtesy toward women.
Christian Chivalry. "Writing in the twelfth century, the English philosopher John of Salisbury defined the function of knighthood: ‘To protect the church, to fight against treachery, to reverence the priesthood, to fend off injustice from the poor, to make peace in your own province, to shed blood for your brethren, and, if needs must, to lay down your life.’ To medieval men, knighthood was more than a career; it was a spiritual and emotional structure for an entire way of life."(1)
A translation of the Livre de l’Ordre de la Chevalerie by Sir Gilbert of Haye in 1456 indicates that the office of the knight "…is ordained for: one, the Faith of Jesus Christ; second, his natural lord; and third, the people in their rights." Likewise, the charges given to Scottish knights begin with "You shall fortify and defend the Christian religion…" Given the preponderance of literature stemming from the Medieval age (in Europe) and the flow forward into modern times, there is little doubt that when most people of European origins think of knighthood, chivalry, or Orders, their thoughts are of Christian Chivalry.
A study of knighthood shows that various non-Christian cultures and their Sovereigns have also established the institution of knighthood with its practices of chivalry. Thus, in the broad view, the terms knighthood and chivalry are appropriate to the Christian knight and the non-Christian as well. In fact, there is at least one fraternity of knights whose history predates the Medieval age and whose ceremony of acceptance is secular.
Christian Chivalry includes the definition of Chivalry and builds upon it.
The life of the Christian knight was, and should be now, one of honor, courtesy, generosity, protection of the Faith, its Church, and its clergy – practiced in a life of virtue.
The cardinal virtues to be practiced are fortitude, justice, moderation, and prudence. The virtues of kindness and tolerance are sometimes added. Faith, hope, charity, and love should never be forgotten, it would be well that the Novice take the time to familiarize himself with the definitions of virtue and of the virtues listed.
Knight Errant. Historically, the knight errant was one who individually, or with a small group of companions, set out to provide justice, avenge wrongs, and to defend the weak and the unprotected. Often in literature, the knight errant is encountered in search of the Holy Grail.
The modern definition of the knight errant mean a knight who is acting independently, outside of Orders. This could mean a knight who is either active or inactive with regard to Orders and has taken on independent, personal charitable activity. A more restricting definition would mean the knight errant is one who has left (resigned) an Order or Orders and is now doing charitable work on his own. In this latter case, the knight errant has disassociated himself from the Order. This is considered to be an act of disallegiance; i.e., going back on one’s given word. Such an action may be justifiable, but most often it is the result of poorly understood commitment on the part of the knight and indifference on the part of the leadership of the Order. While many knights may be loosely affiliated with an Order and carry forward with an independent, personal agenda, few knights seem to have left Orders for that purpose.
Chevalier. Chevalier means knight in French and is derived from the word for horse. It is most often encountered in formal lists of knights of an Order or used as a formal address: e.g., Colonel The Chevalier John David Parker, or, The Chevalier Hugo Vincent. The word knight is not used in this same way. The words Ridire (Irish), Ritter (German), Ridder (Norwegian), Cavaliere (Italian), and, Caballero (Spanish) all mean knight. Chevalier is usually the preferred form of address for international usage. The word Sir is usually encountered with Knights Bachelor and equivalent royal appointments in Great Britain, Yugoslavia, and Denmark. Sir is also used internally within several Orders. Sir is restricted in its generally accepted usage to Knights Bachelor of the several nationalities and knights who are members of British Orders. The conventional form of address is then General Sir Douglas Holms, or, Sir James Montrose.
Orders. Technically the word Order can mean any group formally united. In popular use it will mean the religious or fraternal Order. Within the vocabulary of chivalry, the word Order takes on a more restricted meaning; i.e., a group of knights united under the leadership of a Grand Master; separate and distinct from either the noble corporation or the Nobiliary fraternity. There are similarities between religious Orders and those of knighthood. In fact, the historic versions of knightly Orders were recognized by the Papacy and were religious Orders with hospitaller and/or military missions.
Present day Orders will usually have some or all of the following characteristics:
Orders can be placed into the following general categories:
Some Orders will fall into several of the categories.
In 1962, The International Commission for Orders of chivalry (ICOC) was established to assess the validity of Orders.(2) Subsequently, the ICOC has provided lists of recognized Orders, Noble Corporations (e.g., the Convention of the Baronage of Scotland), and a Dynastic Nobiliary Fraternity. These are updated infrequently. Recognition of an Order is also open to much discussion and controversy within the chivalric community. From my point of view, Orders might be further classified and divided for understanding as follows:
It is not my intent to discuss the merits of characteristics of specific Orders. In a later chapter, several Orders will be used as examples for independent study by the Novice. Given the fact that the inclusive list of Orders ranges well into the hundreds, all of which vary in category, classification, and division, further consideration will be limited to those Orders which are chivalric and have some evidence of life and purpose. Caution is definitely called for when the Novice or even the knowledgeable knight received an invitation to join an Order or takes an earnest interest.
A good friend once received an invitation to join an alleged Order bearing a name similar to a small but respected Order. The friend joined the alleged Order, but resigned immediately upon finding that it was not the one he thought it to be – but a fraud instead. This story has been repeated too many times. My advice is for the Novice to seek counsel, preferably with a disinterested but expert knight.
I have discovered that fraudulent Orders are far more pervasive than I had thought prior to my entry into knighthood. In a recent article I found an individual with eleven postnominals. The article listed the names of the alleged Orders. Of these, only four appear to have any credibility whatsoever. Two of these alleged Orders are outright frauds and the remaining five are, by all appearances, fraudulent as well. I would like to be sympathetic to the person who is so gullible as to chronically seek entry into these alleged Orders – and uses his funds so unwisely. However, from the evidence, it seems that this individual is more interested in postnominals(3) and decorations than in the pursuit of chivalry.
The regrettable thing about fraudulent Orders is that they cast a cloud over the chivalric community. Victims of such frauds are deprived of funds which could have been applied to charitable purposes. Indeed, smaller and legitimate Orders are disparaged and the whole of knighthood suffers as a result.(4)
Please keep in mind that legitimate Orders are human institutions and, as such, open to the same controversies, abuses, and criticisms as other organizations populated and operated by men and women. The kindest advice I might offer is to remain tolerant and not to let controversy, schism, and criticism deter your understanding of the established or stated purposes of the Order.
Membership in an Order does not always carry with it the entry rank of knight or dame. For example, The Military and Hospitaller Order of Saint Lazarus of Jerusalem has the ranks of Member, Officer, and Commander below that of Knight or Dame.
Noble Corporations. Bearing some or many of the characteristics of Orders, the Noble Corporations would seem to differ in name and in charter. While the names of eight Noble Corporations are known to me, detailed knowledge of only one makes them difficult to characterize. From that one example, it appears to me that the Noble Corporation may receive or make knights, does not profess to be an Order of chivalry, and may take on more social characteristics than charitable purposes.
Nobiliary Fraternity. A single example of the Nobiliary Fraternity is known to me; The Niadh Nask, which is recognized by the ICOC under the classification of Dynastic Nobiliary Fraternity – given its ancient ties to the Gaelic Kingdom of Munster. Under the leadership of The MacCarthy Mor, chief of the Name and Head of the Ancient Irish Royal House of Munster, Prince of Desmond and Lord of Kerslawny, and Hereditary Head of The Niadh Nask, this knightly fraternity indicates that it is not an Order of chivalry and that its roots predate both Orders and chivalry. The fraternity does, however, have a charitable purpose. Its traditions of knighthood are those of Gaelic origins. A single rank exists, that of Niadh Nask (Knight of the Golden Collar) and members are considered to be nobles of Munster. Membership consists of three internal divisions: Princes of ancient Irish Royal Houses or those of similar rank, members of the ancient nobility of Ireland or other countries prior to 1596, and those of recent nobility or holding nobility by office. Admissions are limited and there are a very limited number of hereditaries.
Chapter Two Footnotes
Chapter three: Definitions, Continued
While the knight is the basic entity of the overall institution of knighthood, it is the system of chivalry which prevails through the organizations known as Orders. This framework leads to the following definitions:
Estate. A calling to the knightly vocation does not carry with it a vow of poverty. On the contrary, one should have the means (and anticipate continuing to have the means) of maintaining the knightly office; i.e., personal charity (generosity) and obligations to the Order or Orders to which one becomes affiliated. It does not follow, however, that the prospective knight must be wealthy. The prospective knight will have the means to fulfill his personal and family obligations as well as personal charitable and religious intentions before serious consideration of knightly obligations. Most likely one will be of middle class or higher status in the United States before one has the means to support a knightly vocation. It may be seen that it is not until middle age that the Novice has developed the maturity and financial stability to enable him to consider knighthood.
Within knighthood, there are no means tests. It could be shown that membership in a single Order, with minimum involvement in uniform and other trappings, can be achieved with an average outlay of $250 to $500 per year. Therefore, the office of the knight could be upheld by many persons above the poverty level, or on limited retirement incomes. Such will, however, be the exception.
A second ingredient of Estate is the perception of one’s station in life (class or social standing). While there are likely many persons to aspire to higher stations they may not have the means, the gentility (the condition of being polite and well mannered, well bred), nor the sense of duty or obligation to fulfill that aspiration. One may have the wealth necessary to meet the financial obligations, but may possess neither the gentility nor the motivation to change for the better. The secular world marks success in terms of the financial. The Novice will do well to evaluate himself and objectively determine whether his Estate is that of gentility or that of the common. The gentility test will not be met by the boisterous and pushy person inclined toward self-promotion. The Novice will do well to consider a rational and insightful approach to the vocation of the knight.
Noble. My pocket dictionary gives several distinct definitions of noble. One speaks to the fact of one’s birth; i.e., being born of recognized nobility, aristocracy. Few Americans relate to that. Another definition indicates that a person is illustrious, notable, stately or imposing. This seems to speak to the external qualities without regard to the inner person. The last definition provides for a magnanimous nature; i.e., suggesting a lofty and courageous spirit. It is on this last context that the Novice should dwell. The qualities of gentility and nobility should be those possessed by the knight, regardless of the fact of his birth. (See Appendix 5, Studies in Nobility, for a more comprehensive, less idealistic approach to the subject.)
Nobility. The aristocracy and gentry of historic and modern times. Most often incorrectly equated with those holding the title of Baron or higher in the present day. Included in The Peerage (with variations by country) would be: King, Prince, Duke, Marquess, Earl (Count), Viscount, and Baron. However, most authorities agree the The Nobility included the previous list and Baronets (U.K.) and Knights, Lords of the Manor, Lairds, and Esquires would be considered noble if armigerous, not by their titles which are non-noble as such. The Nobility is comprised of those persons bearing noble Arms granted by a Sovereign power. The untitled nobility comprise a substantial segment of the whole. (See Appendix 5, Studies in Nobility)
Arms. Bearing Arms is customary and consistent with the maintenance of the Estate of a knight. The study of Arms is heraldry, a prestigious art form with terminologies and rules of its own. Strictly speaking, Arms are the artwork of the Shield alone. However, Arms are generally recognized to include not only the Shield, but the Helmet, Mantling, Wreath, Crest, Supporters (if granted), and Motto or Mottoes. (See Appendix 3, Illustration of Arms) the person entitled to bear the Arms is the armiger. That person is then called armigerous.
Some sectors of the chivalric community place considerable emphasis on a knight being armigerous; presumably from a genealogically correct ancestry of long standing. Some criteria include sixteen quarters; i.e., all sixteen of one’s great-great-grandparents were armigerous (and noble). Others indicate four quarters or 200 years of direct line descent. These qualifications are usually those for a knight of justice in those Orders which have such a distinction. (See Appendix 5, Studies in Nobility, for a more comprehensive review of the subject.) Obviously, this would exclude many Americans whose genealogical past is a mystery, or, whose early ancestors became unknown once the immigrant generation left their European homeland. Without regard to the most strict qualifications, the Novice should strive to become armigerous. Few of us are likely to readily prove an armigerous ancestry; fewer still have the resources of energy and money necessary to prove that an unknown ancestor of ours bore Arms. What then?
Unless one is able to prove lineage, it is totally inappropriate to adopt the Arms of another. Even then one’s Arms must be differentiated, or, differenced. For those of us without ancestral Arms, new beginnings will be required. In either instance, contact with the American College of Heraldry will be a first step. The Novice may or may not have a clear vision of his Arms-to-be. Through ongoing communication with the American College of Heraldry, new Arms may be designed or claims to ancestral Arms validated. With a reasonable outlay of funds, Arms will be designed and registered. At that point, one will become an armiger - but not an internationally accepted armiger.
Orders and organizations which require armigerous status as a qualification do not recognize new Arms unless they are granted, registered, or, certified by an heraldic authority. The United States has no heraldic authority which grants Arms and confers nobility upon its citizens. Those Americans with a provable Scottish ancestry may seek to have a grant of ancestral Arms through the Lord Lyon King of Arms. In the remainder of the United Kingdom, one with provable ancestry originating in Great Britain or Northern Ireland might seek a grant of ancestral Arms from the college of Arms in London. Citizens of Canada, South Africa, the Republic of Ireland, and Denmark might seek grants from their respective heraldic authorities. Obtaining a grant of ancestral Arms from one of these authorities can be an expensive and time-consuming activity. What might be done for the Novice who seeks to have his Arms granted? In addition to the options stated above, one heraldic authority, the Cronista Rey de Armas (Spanish Chronicler King of Arms), makes grants of Arms available to qualified Americans. Preparation for a grant by the Spanish King of Arms or other heraldic authority may be sought through the offices of the American College of Heraldry.
While the knight is expected to be armigerous and the design and grant of Arms or the granting of ancestral Arms is an expensive undertaking, Arms are not an absolute requirement of all Orders of Chivalry. In fact, many highly regarded American knights are not armigers.
Commitment. The best advice I can give concerning the knightly vocation is to understand that it is a life-long commitment; a pledge to uphold the traditions of chivalry within one’s powers. As the Novice extends his interests, he may become vulnerable to overextending the commitments to which he is answerable. Therefore, it is imperative that the Novice come to understand the levels of energy, time, and finances that will be required to fulfill and sustain those pledges.
Unfortunately, information on the level of financial commitment to an Order may not always be readily or forthrightly available. There are instances where the passage fee may not be fully explained, particularly as to which additional items the Novice is likely to have to (or want to) purchase, and, which are not included in the passage. One expects to pay an annual oblation. However, the Novice should realize that these annual oblations may rise with inflation and other circumstances. Indeed, there is (in some circles) the customary practice of providing an additional donation over and above the oblation. If the Novice becomes enthusiastically involved in the Order, there will be expenses for travel, accommodations, telephone, and apparel to consider. These will not always become apparent at the outset, raising the possibilities for shortfalls or adjustments in personal finances.
On becoming a knight, the Novice takes on the commitment to continue to study and to examine the spiritual self. Often in the involved fury of study and the acquisition of the materials of the knightly vocation, the spiritual self takes a back seat. It is much preferred that growth of the spirit will lead other areas of learning.
Allegiances. Similar to commitment is the word allegiance. Regrettably, in modern society allegiances are far less often developed than in the past. The Novice should search the inner self to ascertain the existence of allegiances, his ability to develop allegiances, and, expectations for the future. One of the foundations for historic knighthood was the development and formalization of allegiances; i.e., between a Lord and his vassal knight, between the King and his vassal Lords, and between the Grand Master of an Order and the knights of that Order. Given that modern day knights are no longer formal warriors, do not participate in tournaments, and very few modern knights live as religious monastics under the direct rule of an Order, the nurturing of allegiances does not take place as it did in history.
Of old, knights were either members of a closely-knit feudal community or members of active Orders. Today, there is a strong tendency for the knight to belong to multiple Orders, sometimes that number exceeding three. Living in a world of technology and mass communication, and occupied with business, family, the civic community, and (hopefully) an active participation in a religion; the modern knight who holds affiliations in multiple Orders is likely to be spread too thin to be either effective or to develop lasting allegiances. Unfortunately, this point of view is taken from observation of the leadership of several Orders, rather than the rank-and-file members. Contributing to this point of view is the general lack of face-to-face contacts with sufficient frequency and duration to foster the development of allegiances.
Against this background, the Novice should be challenged from within to develop allegiances. However, this development is a two-way street. Generally, allegiances are considered to exist from subordinate to superior. They do exist, however, in both directions – although not always consciously recognized. Allegiance seems to be earned, suggesting that a superior must support (and defend) the subordinate, while the subordinate renders service (and defense) to the superior. Allegiance is not a spontaneous undertaking and, at times it may not develop consciously.
When becoming affiliated with an Order, the Novice will be expected to render nominal allegiance to the Order, the Grand Master, and to his fellow knights of that Order. Given time, experience, and introspection, these nominal allegiances should become well developed and lasting. (Should does not equate to will.)
Heirs. The knight does not take on the knightly vocation for himself alone. It is through his children and generations following that the knight hopes to instill the noble spirit and knightly vocation. While membership in an Order of Chivalry might be perceived by some as hypocritical arrogance, it is the foundation upon which the future generation may build. While the trappings of Arms, of Banners and Standards, of the neck Cross and the Breast Star, and the Letter of Patent, Brevet, or diploma might seem so much material and nonsense; they are the vessels which carry ideals to unborn generations.
If the modern knight stands only for and upon his own achievements, then he is a sorry knight indeed. Better the knight have no Arms, no Letters Patent and no medals – and leave a spiritual heritage to those of his blood and to all of mankind, than to have material success and leave no noble legacy. The true achievements of the knight will be seen in the character of those who follow in generations to come.
Chapter Four: Chart a course of Study
For the reader unfamiliar with the many aspects of the knightly vocation, it is natural to be inquisitive. Left to one’s own devices, one may wander far afield in search of knowledge – following those trails that hold a particular fascination. For others it may be difficult to settle into a discipline of study. The intent of this chapter is to outline certain areas which should prove useful in understanding both historic and modern knighthood and, ultimately, the Chivalry of today. It is also very important to study one’s self, hopefully recognizing one’s capabilities and short-comings and modifying the inner person accordingly.
The Novice needs to set a pace consistent with his lifestyle and its demands. The Novice may also wish to wander into some valleys to observe the detail of a particular item of interest. There is an inherent discipline suggested; i.e., setting the direction and holding a steady pace. Perhaps the Novice will be better served if he studies the breadth of material first, then goes back to build upon items of specific interest.
The bibliography of this book suggests various titles and authors. Some of these will be difficult to either purchase or borrow. My advice is to try to locate the books indicated, but to substitute freely from those that are at your disposal.
In beginning the study of knights of old and the Medieval age, the Novice is advised to look at both the big and the small pictures. By big, I mean the economic, social, cultural, political, and religious environment of the times. By small, I mean recognizing the personal attributes of various individual knights as well as the characteristics of groups, kings and emperors, vassals and lords. A reading of the general Medieval history will likely give the Novice high points, but leave him devoid of personalities – of human strengths and weaknesses. Conversely, dwelling on biographies will leave the Novice with characters, but without the stage upon which their lives were played. Concentration on the romances will build ideals and images, but not give depth to the times or realism to characters.
From my point of view there are many stages upon which the Medieval drama unfolded. Either on center stage or off on the periphery, in each of these dramas were three interconnected institutions of the times. First, there was the Western Church which is identified most often with the Papacy. Second, there was the Eastern Church and Byzantium. And finally, there were the Crusades. The first Crusade originated at the urging of the Pope and began with cooperation between the Crusaders and the Emperor or Byzantium. However, affairs quickly deteriorated. Questions for your consideration include: What were the forces and influences which led to the unfriendly relations between the East and the West? Among the secular leaders and the respective Churches? What influence did this have on the success or failure of the whole series of Crusades?
What was the consequence of the Battle of Stamford Bridge and the Battle of Hastings in the year 1066? How did the Battle of Stamford Bridge affect the balance of powers in Scandinavia? The Battle of Hastings marks the start of Norman and then Anglo-Norman conquests. First England, then Wales, and then Ireland. Why was England feuding with France for hundreds of years? What was the influence of the Normans in England, France, Sicily, and elsewhere?
What of the French? Was life in France more than a round of tournaments? What was the role of the Franks in the Crusades? In the formation and continuation of the kingdom of Jerusalem?
What of the Germans? How did the Holy Roman Empire come into existence? What of the roles of successive Emperors and Popes? What of Crusades to the Hold Land? What was the consequence of the German Crusades in the Baltic States? What were the ministeriales? Was this uniquely German?
What of the Iberian Peninsula? What of the Crusades against the Moors? What is the history of the Christian Kingdoms of Spain? How did Portugal come into being?
Medieval history abounds with interesting characters. Study of a few will enhance the Novice’s ability to see the personalities of individuals, perhaps making comparisons to present day examples. Who was El Cid of Spain? What were his unique strengths and weaknesses? What were the attributes of Richard Lion Heart? What type of military leader was he? What role did he play in the East? In England? William Marshall is often called the Flower of chivalry. How did he come to earn that honor? What legacy did he leave in England? In Ireland? Why? Who was Robert the Bruce? Why would a knight seek to carry the heart of Robert the Bruce to the Holy Land? Were his early years consistent with his middle and late years? Is the picture drawn of Henry V of England by the Great Bard consistent with history’s further revelations concerning the man and his motives? Who was the Black Prince and what was his role in Medieval history and in the events of both England and France?
Chivalry, particularly Christian chivalry, is most often connected by the modern mind with the romances; e.g., those of King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table, of Roland, of Perceval, etc. The Medieval troubador was the carrier of these idealized characterizations through that world. Brought forward in history more upon the yellowing pages of books than in the hearts of men, these highly idealized tales speak of the extremes of honor and courtesy. A modern reading will most times reveal that some attributes or virtues, when taken to extremes can be damaging to a class and a way of life. In the mind of a fanatic, any virtue might be turned to a curse – especially if not surrounded with other virtues in a balanced personality. Appreciating the romance of chivalry is the challenge, for one must try to discern the realities of the times. While it may be difficult to draw parallels of the Medieval troubador and the modern rock singer, there appears to be a common denominator – something resembling cultism. The Novice who dwells too long upon the romantic notions of the troubador loses a sense of the reality of those times – and may be given a false illustration.
Modern Orders and Their History
Four well respected, recognized Orders are suggested for condensed study. Caution should be exercised, lest the Novice presume that he might meet the qualifications for these Orders. Clearly, these Orders are among the most prestigious. However, one does not presume qualification without knowledge of facts and customs.
First, the Sovereign Military Order of St. John of Jerusalem, called of Rhodes, called of Malta; commonly referred to as the Knights of Malta. In the very name of this Order there is an illustration of some of its history. Originating in the Kingdom of Jerusalem, the Order successively fought and lost Rhodes to the Turks and then Malta to Napoleon. The Novice should come to an understanding of the traditions of the Order, its Roman Catholic ties, as well as its current charitable activities.(1)
Second, the Military and Hospitaller Order of St. Lazarus of Jerusalem; usually referred to as the Order of St. Lazarus. Originating as an Order dedicated to care of lepers in the Holy Land, this Order later took on a military role as well during the Crusades. Prior to formal organization as an Order, the roots of St. Lazarus were recognized by the Crown of France in letter patent of 1343 as being from the year 72 A.D. It continued under the protection of the Borbon family even into the twentieth century.
Since a schism in the recent past, the Order has been divided into two camps, that of the ‘Paris Obedience’ under H.E. The Marquis de Brissac with headquarters in The Hague, and the ‘Malta Obedience’ with H.R.H. Prince Don Francisco de Borbon y de Borbon as Grand Master with administrative offices in Malta.
Until the recent schism, the Spiritual Protector was a Melkite Catholic Patriarch, who retained this position in the Paris group. The Spiritual Protector of the Malta Obedience is H.E. Silvo Cardinal Oddi in Rome.
The Order is now Christian ecumenical and continues to maintain hospitals for lepers and other victims of disease.(2)
Third, the Sacred Military Constantinian Order of St. George; often referred to as Constantinian St. George of Naples or Constantinian St. George – Two Sicilies. Byzantine in its origins, the Order is now a Dynastic Order of the House of Two Sicilies, with the Duke of Calabria as Grand Master. The Order has a very rich tradition and its history makes for interesting reading. The Order is Roman Catholic in its orientation.(1)(2)
The Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem has its historic ties to the late 11th century with the establishment of the Frankish Kingdom of Jerusalem and the protection of places Holy to Christianity. The Order is Roman Catholic and, perhaps, has the greatest number of knights and dames of any Order in the United States.(1)(3)
The study of modern chivalry is much an assignment to explore the present; i.e., coming into contact and communication wit present day knights and dames, then seeking their advice, counsel, and wisdom. However, there are relatively few knights and dames in the United States, fewer still that are both evident to the general public and willing to take on the role of mentor for one or more Novices. There are no knightly information centers in your local mall, no knights and dames wanted advertisements, and, no reputable knights or Orders list in most local telephone books. Much of the literature written on knighthood and chivalry (and available in the local library or through a bookstore) is historic or fictional. Recent books on the subject of the modern version of chivalry would, indeed, be a rare find to most citizens. How does one study modern chivalry?
The study of modern chivalry starts with the establishment of contact. Once communications are developed, it may be possible to seek advice or referral.
Unfortunately there are only two (respected and universally known within the chivalric community) portals immediately available in the United States to the beginner – unless one as either a personal acquaintance with a knight or a dame, or, can be referred by someone who knows someone. These portals are The Augustan Society and The American College of Heraldry (See Appendix 4). Indeed, it may be a venture with a low probability of success to inquire of a local priest, pastor, or official of the diocese in some regions of the country. Nonetheless, a cautious initiative must be taken by the Novice who has both the interest in chivalry and is without contacts in the local community. The Novice is advised that the barrier to entry-level communication with the chivalric community is not artificial, but is due to the relatively small number of organizations open to public inquiry across the country.
Ultimately, the Novice should desire the services of a Mentor; i.e., a reasonably seasoned knight who is willing to provide advice and insight. Based on experience, the knights who stand at the portals open to the general public are much overtaxed by the burdens of their duties. While it is quite possible to purchase on-location training on select subjects of chivalry, it is more worthwhile to seek the sustained, personal contact of a Mentor-to-Novice relationship. The difficulty for the Novice is that one does not demand or even request such a relationship – it happens because the Novice is perceived as possessing requisite inner qualities.
The cautions to be exercised in attempting to develop a one-on-one relationship with a member of the knightly community are manifold – learned from considerable experience in doing things, too often, the hard way. First, be courteous, never demand. Second, limit your questions to two or three per letter. Third, attempt to limit the length of your letter to the equivalent of one typewritten page, allowing large margins and white space. Given simple, straightforward questions, a Mentor may be more inclined to answer with a few words jotted on your letter and return it to you. Fourth, refrain from deluging the Mentor with your thoughts and opinions. The experience of writing may develop into a catharsis of thought. Indeed, writing offers the opportunity for the study of the self discussed in the next section. However, it is much more appropriate to show restraint by editing, cutting, and minimizing the outpouring in the letters that are actually sent. If the Novice is too self-revealing, the prospective Mentor or experienced knight may take the initiative to slow down the process with a few well-chosen words – a reprimand. Fifth, take time to draft the letter, letting several days pass before picking it up again. This will give the opportunity for rethinking the propriety of statements and questions, and, time for creative editing. It will also slow the pace of correspondence. Sixth, do not expect either rapid or complete responses. Obviously, do not continue to hammer home a question until you get an answer – or you may get an answer for which you are not looking. Seventh, remember that the knight who chooses to correspond with the Novice is not likely to be devoted to the Novice’s whims, but has many other demands to meet. Many knights are private persons – they neither wish to intrude nor to be intruded upon. Eighth, give the relationship time to develop slowly. And lastly, learn that any particular Mentor-Knight may have his own style and manner of responding. Some may be totally formal and restrained, others willing to explain in detail, while still others might come to eventually share their thoughts and insights. The most difficult area to approach is that of the spiritual search, thus refrain from mailing outpourings of self-revelation even though they are on-going.
Study of Self
The study of self should be an on-going process. Part of that process begins with coming to understandings about knighthood and chivalry – what they are and are not. Delving into the historic aspects will provide further background, as will the study of Orders. Development of the Mentor-to-Novice relationship is likely to take months to mature. The study of self may begin with a gradual inventory – not one of comparison with the historic knight nor even a vague image of the modern knight – but in taking stock of one’s strengths and weaknesses. Moreover, the self-assessment should ask the questions of How do I act in a chivalric fashion? And How do I grow to be a chivalric person? There is no fixed agenda; no clock ticking away the hours.
Referring back to the historic definition of Christian Chivalry, it should be very apparent that the prospective knight will have a strong and continuing religious affiliation. Ideally, the knight is a protector and supporter of the Church. The prospective knight will take the actions necessary to uphold his conscience and, without hypocrisy, strengthen his spiritual bonds as he knows them. The ideals of chivalry place stress on the commitment to religion, of whatever persuasion.
The examination of self is part of one’s journey in spiritual development. Rather than writing fixed guidelines in this area, I suggest only that it be done – and done constantly.
In taking on the role of a modern knight, the candidate should wrestle long and hard with his understanding of what the terms commitment, responsibility, and obligation mean to him. The virtue of prudence comes to mind, as a reminder that it is better to move slowly in the world of knights and consider oneself a learner, than to move beyond one’s capacities and be unable to sustain obligations.
Chapter Four Footnotes
Chapter Five: Chart a Plan of Action
Even though this book appears to have a chronological sequence, I hope that you will read it entirely before moving forward with any action. This chapter will try to provide guidance toward action. The intent is to produce an adaptable, flexible framework – not a hot to approach, but a degree of direction. Clearly, there is the recognition that many an inexperienced person will move much too rapidly; setting goals, building hopes, and constructing dramatic plans of action without having understood the need for control and restraint, the imprudence of such action, or, recognizing the pace and customs of modern chivalry. On the other hand, following a rigid progression through the guidance of Chapter 4 to 7 would be extremely frustrating. After making several trips to the local library and establishing a good, however limited, knowledge of historic knighthood and the Medieval age, it will be time to think of simultaneous activities. Most certainly the introspective search of Chapter 4 and the worldly aspects of financial planning from Chapter 7 can be accomplished simultaneously with the beginnings of contact with the chivalric community.
Heraldry is a unique artform which originated in the Medieval age. It is complex, and at the same time has simple rules. The Novice need not become an expert in heraldry, but a passing knowledge of terminology and some of the rules will help along the way.
Some authors write in terms of absolutes; i.e., a knight MUST be armigerous. Yet, there are modern knights active in the chivalric community without Arms. Bearing Arms is much preferred over the option of having no Arms. For the Novice, deciding to become armigerous is akin to making a self-proclamation; i.e., I want to enter chivalry! Or the assertive, I am capable of fulfilling the commitments of chivalry! The bearing of Arms does not make a knight. For some it will be an outward sign of intent.
At the close of the 20th century there are very few Americans who are validly entitled to bear Arms. The greater number of Americans have no knowledge of Arms, have no recognizable entitlement to bear Arms, and they do not pretend to be armigerous. However, some have been deceived or led to believe that Arms might be acquired through a mail order catalog. Not true! A number of Americans have assumed Arms passed to them from prior generations. Still, the questions of validity and entitlement remain. Whether one has ancestral Arms or no Arms at all, there is a first step common to both; consulting an expert.
The American College of Heraldry offers the Novice the opportunity to consult on the subject of personal Arms. If one has ancestral Arms, then the staff will be able to offer guidance and direction. If one is without Arms, the staff of the College will be able to assist in developing Arms, design them if necessary, and register the Arms with the College. There are fees for these services. While the College is non-profit, it must cover its expenses. Moveover, the College operates with a small, volunteer staff – so please be patient.
The United States has an heraldic authority, the U.S. Army Institute of Heraldry, but it limits its authority to the Arms of military units. The United States has no heraldic authority which grants Arms to its citizens, unlike Canada, the United Kingdom, Scotland, the Republic of Ireland, South Africa, and Spain. Therefore, Arms registered with the American College are not the same as those granted, registered, or certified by an heraldic authority operating under laws of the nation. At some point one may consider seeking a grant of his Arms. This should be done in consultation with the American College of Heraldry. Given the potential time, energy, the money required, the seeking of a grant of Arms should be carefully weighed. Rather than anticipate the future need to have granted Arms, the Novice will do well to proceed only after that need has developed from an external cause. (See Appendix 5) An American armiger may seek copyright protection for his Arms via the U.S. Office of copyrights.
The Augustan Society
The Augustan Society was founded in 1957, then incorporated in 1966 as a public benefit corporation. It is a non-profit, tax-exempt educational corporation for Federal tax
Purposes. It has a library containing approximately 20,000 items with specialized collections including: heraldry, chivalry and knighthood, Medieval history, and extensive genealogical materials. It publishes The Augustan Society Omnibus which contains sections on heraldry, chivalry, various historic themes, reports by various research and study groups, and, genealogy.
The Society serves a broad spectrum of subjects which may be o interest to the Novice. The Society also serves a s portal to the international chivalric community available to the general public. Subscriptions to The Augustan Society Omnibus are available at a nominal cost and should be seriously considered by the person seeking to become more familiar with chivalry. The broad array of subjects covered provides the Novice with the opportunity to open new vistas and interests. The genealogical resources of the Society also provide the beginner with an entry into personal genealogy.
The Novice is advised to become personally familiar with the Society before considering membership. The Society prefers to limit its membership to those who are able to sustain a commitment in support of the organization.
Because the Augustan Society is an entry point for the general public, its offices and publications may be used to develop further interest in chivalry, as well as to begin first contacts. Through its reprint service, the Novice may seek relevant information on chivalry and auxiliary subjects. Please see Appendix 4.
Under the wings of The Augustan Society rests the Noble Company of the Rose (a noble corporation), The Hereditary Order of Armigerous Augustans, and the Order of the Augustan Eagle, each with its specific orientation and qualifications. Also attached tot he Society are descendant societies; Society of Descendants of the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem, Order of the Conqueror, Order of the Conqueror’s Companions, Order of Descendants of Ireland, and The Hereditary Order of Descendants of the Kingdom of Scotland. (The foregoing are not Orders of chivalry.) Formal study groups for the Order of St. Lazarus and the Order of the Temple are also active. Genealogical research committees include those oriented to the American colonial period, England, Spain, France, Ireland, Scotland, Italy, Germany, Eastern and Central European countries, Belgium, The Netherlands, Luxembourg, and, the Scandinavian countries. The Society also registers granted Arms.
International Chivalric Institute
The International Chivalric Institute may be considered a second stage contact point for the reader who has developed a serious desire to learn more of modern chivalry. The publication of the Institute is its periodic /C/ Members’ Newsletter. The newsletter features short articles contributed by members and a referendum question to which members are asked to respond with their views and observations. The newsletter is not at all oriented to either advising the novice or responding to inquiries. It is however, an opportunity to learn of the views and experiences of knights and dames, and, offers a forum within which the Novice may participate.
The Institute offers auxiliary services to its members for which fees are charged. These include: preparation of the Curriculum Vitae, individualized training and instruction, responses to specific questions, referrals, letters of recommendation for members seeking to petition for membership in some Orders of Chivalry, heraldic advice, genealogical research, and specialized consultation. Before some of these services might be used, the Novice should be member of the institute, have a reasonable background and understanding of chivalry and knighthood, and, after a period of trial, be without personal contacts in the chivalric community. The Novice is advised to approach use of these services with caution, since use of them (particularly with regards to letters of recommendation) might be perceived within the community as self-advancing and opportunistic.
The International Chivalric Institute’s primary service to the chivalric community is through its newsletter. The Novice is afforded the opportunity of participation in on-going discussions. Within bounds, there is the possibility of building personal correspondence among members.
Before the Novice seeks affiliation with an Order he should have reasonable satisfied the following conditions:
Through the study of chivalry and of Orders, the aspirant should have come to some conclusions concerning his qualifications for affiliation with some of the Orders. He should have recognized that qualification is not the same in all Orders. Indeed, there are several of the more prestigious Orders about which the Novice should not be in the least concerned simply because of high qualifications. From a pragmatic point of view, there may only be one or to Orders for which the uninitiated Novice might be considered. The difficulty arises from the fact that one does not inquire into joining an Order. Through contacts in the chivalric community, one may express an interest in a particular Order. Generally, this type of conversation will be had with a Mentor.
Clearly, one is invited to affiliate with an Order. That means certain actions will have already been taken; namely, someone will have recommended the Novice to the Order. Thus, the Novice is left to attempt to learn more of the Order, while expressing private preferences. On occasion, the Novice will be approached by a knight of an Order on behalf of that Order. Generally, this will be an exception.
When discussing interest in an Order with a Mentor-Knight, the Novice should be reminded that he is to be fully capable of sustaining the long-term commitment associated with the Order. Passage fees and annual oblations should be considered as only a portion of the commitment to be undertaken. Indeed, some types of commitment may be unwritten, and the prospective knight will only learn of them when he has become affiliated. Therefore, prudence should be exercised as one begins to consider affiliating with an Order. As a rule of thumb, one should consider commitments as understated and expect to do more than the minimum. In no instance should the Novice shop around for an Order. Discussions with regard to Orders should be private between Mentor and Novice.
Chapter Six: Trappings
Trappings are those ornaments or adornments consistent with the estate of a knight. In the medieval age, trappings specifically referred to the highly decorated protective coverings worn by the war horse. Eventually the term included the armaments of the knight, harnesses, armor, the actual coat of arms, helmet, banner, guidon, etc. which were carried into battle. In modern times, an assortment of adornments and artworks exist, somewhat paralleling those of history. By extension, these may include a wide variety of items, as well as potential affiliations (with multiple Orders and organizations) and attire.
The essence of this chapter is to counsel the Novice to use restraint in the pursuit of material goods associated with knighthood. The first three to five years of activity within chivalry are liable to be filled with considerable flux in both direction and motivation, giving rise to changes. A waiting period will allow the Novice to more prudently determine what are the essentials and what are the collectibles. It is advisable to defer the acquisition of some items for a period of three to five years, as too early an emphasis on material goods may prove costly. While some of the trappings may be considered essential to the estate of a knight, there are others which are clearly material entrapments. It is very easy to become enthralled by the ornaments of chivalry and to be waylaid from the more important aspects. While it may be desirable to maintain the minimum trappings of the estate of a knight, it is not necessary to develop excessive material goods neither to illustrate that estate nor to become a collector. As one progresses in familiarity with the chivalric community one will likely find that some individuals are given to collecting items of heraldry and medals. Collecting of these items is a separate activity taken on by persons in the chivalric community or by others on the fringe. It is best to concentrate on the essentials of chivalry.
The Novice who has achieved armigerous status will possess a Line Drawing of his Arms and, most probably, a Certificate of Registration. From the Line Drawing, it would seem to follow that most will want stationery with the Arms imprinted. My advice here is to minimize expenses by having only the Arms printed on the stationery; foregoing the typeset name, address, and any postnominals so as to retain flexibility and future use.
The possessor of newly registered Arms may be inclined to commission a full color painting of the Arms, perhaps, a painting of a Seal Device, a painting of a Banner bearing the Arms, and a drawing of a Book Plate. If the Novice rushes into these heraldic works he may find later tat he will have imprudently spent the money. There is the likelihood that the seasoned knight will be better able to limit expenditures for heraldic items.
A side trip into the study of vaxilology (heraldic flags and banners) is interesting. However, the three to five year waiting period should be applied before proceeding with the design and construction of a Banner or other heraldic flag. To the knowledgeable person, Arms and their augmentations, and Banners and Standards read as books to the person who bears them. A word to the wise, it is imprudent to assume a higher station than the one to which one is entitled.
As the Novice becomes affiliated with an Order, he may be inclined to purchase all available decorations to which he is entitled. These might include such items as medals, lapel pins, rosettes, blazer patches, a Banner of the Order, and, if merited, the breast star. Rather than rushing to purchase these items, the Novice should consult with a more experienced member of the Order to determine which of those items are required or expected and which are optional. While a number of these trappings may be offered, the Novice will seldom be expected to purchase all of them.
The Novice with extensive military experience, especially the retired officer, is a special case. This individual will be inclined to collect all of his military medals along with those of Orders and other organizations. Generally, only military awards should be worn to military functions. At the discretion of the military member, the appropriate uniform may be worn to functions of Orders along with the miniature medals of the military, Orders, and other organizations. However, the wearing of the miniature medals, breast stars, etc. of Orders on the military uniform should only occur on the premises of the function of the Order. As a rule of thumb, the individual should limit his wearing of combined military and civilian miniature medals to three rows or fifteen medals. Anything more should be considered in bad taste. When wearing civilian formal attire, preference should be given to warning a single row of miniature medals oriented to Orders or to the meeting of the organization being attended.
The civilian Novice is also encouraged to use the same restraint in collecting or wearing medals. It is better that the Novice member or knight understate his achievements than to appear the peacock or the clown.
The Novice will be wise to approach the subject of formal attire with caution. Instead of immediately buying both black tie and white tie formal attire, it will be prudent to rent what is required for an occasion at first. Discussion with more experienced members on the subject of frequency of gatherings and appropriate attire should lead to conclusions as to whether both black tie and white tie attire are needed and whether these should be purchased or rented.
Once introduced to the world of modern chivalry, the Novice may find the opportunity to join several Orders which may be best described as being of the mail order variety. None of these are recognized Orders. It is possible to purchase various achievements (diplomas and medals) for ranks at or above that of a knight. It would be wise of the Novice to avoid these temptations, deferring any action until the waiting period has ended. The intent of this paragraph is not to pass on the merits of the respective Orders, but to suggest that the Novice act prudently and earn his way in the chivalric community as opposed to buying his way.
Chapter Seven: Personal and Financial Planning
The chapter deals with the more pragmatic aspects of maintaining the estate of the knight; i.e., with its financial and personal implications. As previously stated, there is no standard or wealth required of the serious aspirant. The Novice must be resourceful and will need to recognize the practical limits placed on his involvement in chivalry by the constraints of limited income and personal time. He will need to face the realities of maintaining cashflows, paying bills, and the like.
The prototypical aspirant will be between the ages of 35 and 60, married with children, have a professional or middle-management employment background, be a college graduate, likely have an annual family income nearly twice the national average, and have had some experience in community, civic, charitable, or church-related service. Realistically, the aspirant will have evolved some level of discretionary income or savings which might be allocated to chivalric and other charitable activities.
The Personal Inventory
The first step of financial planning, with a goal of chivalric commitment, calls for the assessment of personal resources and commitments already in place. For the married Novice, any substantive commitment to chivalry will require cooperation with a spouse.
Personal Capabilities. Within this category fall the measurements of time and energy devoted to job, family, recreational activities, and, existing involvements with church, charitable, community, civic, fraternal, and other organizations. The Novice will want to examine the time and energy presently, or projected to be, spent on activities of Church, charity, community service, civic, fraternal, and political organizations or interests. There will also be a need to examine the time demanded by hobbies, recreational, social, study, relaxation, and other activities.
The assessment should include similar activities of a spouse. The emphasis here is in taking stock of one’s (the married couple’s) ability to take on a greater role of service to either an Order or within the community at large. The intrinsic values of chivalry are not to be held as private matters in a marriage. If they are held privately, they will come between marriage partners. Unless the spouse is involved in the setting of goals and directions, the pursuit of the knightly estate may come at the expense of the marriage relationship. Clearly, this is not the intended result. Modern chivalry should not be considered another form of male bonding, but should be recognized as a family matter. Many Orders are no longer exclusively male; thus a wife may participate directly. The married Novice should restrain his aspirations to those which are compatible with family goals and the reality of married life.
Once the Novice has come to understand how his and his spouse’s time is allocated, then they may make room for chivalric activities by reapportioning available time, or, place practical limits on how much time is planned into any involvement in chivalry. With some certainty, the Novice will be able to chart his expenditure of time, limiting involvement as necessary. As interest grows however, so will the desire to participate. There is no guarantee that the Novice will be able to participate up to his limits. Rather, he may be better able to limit his chivalric activities and maintain others if he plans ahead and does not over-volunteer, taking the initiative to develop boundaries to save him from his eagerness.
Parents actively engaged in raising children will likely find limited time available for discretionary activities. Conversely, the couple nearing retirement with their children already out of the nest may find more capability. The Novice may wish to bring maturing children into the circle of information concerning a personal commitment to chivalry. In this context, one may be left to providing information as to the personal goals, motivations, and commitments involved – with the inference that the maturing child is free to follow, rather than being directed to do so.
Personal Financial Resources. The Novice should review, very carefully, his financial ledger. In general, this will involve a review of family and business commitments, as well as commitments to other organizations. This will include an analysis of both the present and the future.
Providing for Responsibilities
The question will undoubtedly arise for the serious aspirant; Can I afford to become involved in chivalry? From this follows the question, How much can I afford to spend on chivalric activities? For the majority of Americans who have a serious interest in becoming involved wit chivalry, or, becoming a member of an Order of Chivalry – the answer to the first question is Yes! The amount to be spend will depend on a myriad of circumstances, most of which are beyond the basic discussion of this book. For many of us it is a question of our personal desires, combined with the lifestyle we live, the on-going and sometimes unwritten commitments we have to maintaining an extended family, and our long-term charitable giving efforts which will place restrictions on the amount available.
The family most likely to be able to sustain a commitment to chivalry is one that has been prudent in its lifestyle and has been living within or under its means. Either due to prudent living of good fortune, the family will have provided reasonably well for retirement, the children’s education, assistance to elderly parents, support to Church, charitable giving, and, will have a nest egg of savings to meet emergencies. Likely, the preceding criteria will seriously limit the number of families or single persons financially prepared to undertake a small involvement in Chivalric activities. Nonetheless, it is these few who, having had the benefits, are best able to more forward.
Providing for responsibilities means thinking in advance. That, in turn, means planning and budgeting. The process of developing a meaningful budget is not difficult, if one is able to review and categorize one or two years’ worth of financial records; presumably from checkbooks, deposit and withdrawal slips, and, from the infamous charge card bills. Without a recent history, setting budget levels becomes haphazard at best. Thus, the first step in establishing a good budget process is to improve record keeping. Since this section is not intended to detail the how-to of budgeting, the Novice is left to his best judgement. Following are several ideas which may help keep the budget under control.
In the chivalric world, there is an inherent need to maintain the commitments made to Orders year in and year out. For the middle income American this means that one should manage one’s financial affairs with a sense of discipline and of personal control. One should assure the adequacy of funds to maintain a level of commitment to Orders, as well as to charitable giving. The front-end outlays of passage fees and trappings related to Orders can be considerable, leading to dips into emergency savings of even borrowing. The Novice should be able to manage his affairs well enough so as to anticipate the general level of cash outflow that will be required. Setting aside reserves to meet new commitments or possible passage fees and trappings is very good practice.
Considerable time should be spent in examining the personal and financial aspects of potential chivalric activity. In the short run, time and money can likely be allocated. In the long run, however, spouse and family approval must be developed – and time and money usage must be planned. Self-discipline in financial matters and in how one spends one’s time is always encouraged. We are pulled and tugged by the practical matters of living in the modern world, by intrinsic commitments to family, and by the extrinsic forces of society and modern technology. If one perceives the goal of being noble and chivalric as having merit and work pursuing – then the rudimentary tasks of providing resources in both time and money will follow.
The American propensity to keep up with the Jones family, to spend more than one earns, to commit to long-term capital outlays, and to relax and recreate – has generated a significant proportion of the population unable or unwilling to reasonably support both the Church and other charitable institutions. If one is not motivated toward supporting the Church and private charity, then an interest in chivalry is likely to be false and materialistic. This can, of course, be turned around.
The materially over-committed person or family; i.e., those whose service of debt payments and regular living expenses leave little or nothing for church, charity, and savings, will do well to rethink and revise their lifestyle before taking any further interest in chivalry.
Chapter Eight: Conclusion
You will, hopefully, find that this small book is of value in understanding modern chivalry, in coming to grips with personal aspirations and desires, and in developing a personal commitment to chivalry. It is no small task to move from the unfamiliar, through a myriad of definitions, into an open-ended course of study, recognize the significance of the knightly undertaking in terms of finances, time, and family relationships, and then evolve a personal plan.
Foremost, chivalry is a very personal and intricate spiritual journey. Through introspection and reflection, one seeks to recognize and correct one’s flaws. The operative word is correct, meaning to move beyond the cycle of imperfection and penitence, and into a new person whose direction has been changed from the person of the past. One is not solely a bundle of imperfections. Take the time to examine your positive characteristics, abilities, and those things of which you are capable. Build upon these.
You are not alone in this prayerful journey. While some prayers are petitions for guidance, others should be offered in thanksgiving to God for all that He has given you. When appropriate, seek the counsel of clergy and a Mentor from within chivalry. Especially seek the participation and guidance of your spouse.
Consistent with a change in the spiritual person and a learning of the aspects of chivalry should be a change in character and outlook. Spiritual and intellectual preparation can lead to formation of the noble character and the adoption of a changing personal role in society. Instead of being a taker and manipulator, one should become inclined to service. That service may be to the Church, the family, society at large, or to a local charity or community organization. Ultimately, it might include specific service to an Order. The historical analogy of the knight as defender of the weak should be updated into the modern day by the Novice in his personal quest.
"We ought not omit in this treatise a clear description of the weapons of those noble fighters, the shield of faith which they hold up before God, and before their trainer, and with which they ward off, so to speak, all thought of unbelief or backsliding; the spiritual sword that is always drawn and lays low every selfish longing; the iron breastplate of meekness and patience to ward off every insult, every jab and missile; the protective prayer of their spiritual master which they have as saving helmet. They do not stand with their feet close together, but one foot is advanced towards service, while the other stays firmly planted in prayer.(1) (Emphasis mine)
A general requisite of chivalry is participation in and support of one’s Church or other religious establishment. This should be achieved within the confines of one’s talents and abilities, and without a disposition to either lead or command.
A journey into the realm of chivalry is also an intellectual pursuit; i.e., learning of historic knighthood, the figures of history, the role of Orders and their traditions, the medieval age, and of contemporary knights and chivalry. This includes learning something of the terminologies, customs, and manners, and heraldry. The Novice should come to an appreciation of the nature of chivalry and its modern aspects.
It falls to those who are enabled by good fortune to move beyond conventional pursuits and to take on the added responsibilities of the knightly estate. The material aspects of chivalry are both the badges of office and snares. Extreme caution is urged upon those who would pursue knighthood for its material trappings and fame in the world. The acquisition of the trappings of chivalry presents a complex moral problem. If one accepts the responsibilities, obligations, and commitments of the knightly estate; one also accepts the near-mandatory bearing of Arms, social interaction with contemporaries, and, with personal refinements, the minimal trappings consistent with one’s specific station.
Ideally, one accepts the challenge of maintaining the nobility of character for one’s self and for those who follow in one’s blood. Arms are not borne for self, but in the hope that they might inspire the generations which follow to carry on the spiritual quest for themselves and to instill nobility of character upon their children. Arms and trappings are symbolic vessels, carrying values beyond the death of one generation and into the life of a new. Arms and trappings are also reminders to one’s self of one’s chivalric purpose and direction. Lastly, they are Badges worn and Standards flown to bring identity with those who also partake of chivalric activity.
While one might assume the knightly estate and chivalric activities outside the company of knights, this is contrary to the definitions of knighthood and to the purposes of a communal, shared brotherhood. Thus, at some stage, the Novice will desire to join in the formal chivalric community by becoming affiliated with an Order of Chivalry. This is neither a quick nor an automatic process. One does not openly pursue an affiliation with an Order. Preparation and counsel from a Mentor-knight are necessary ingredients.
The knightly estate, particularly for the person inspired to be active in chivalry, requires sustained financial and personal commitments. Thus, chivalry is not to be considered as the transitory thing to do, nor sought on a whim. Each commitment, especially those with regard to Orders, should be considered as permanent. Likewise, these are decisions impacting upon the family and should be carefully considered with the participation of one’s spouse. Such decisions should not be made hastily. The middle income American, to whom this book is written, should plan and budget in anticipation of sustaining these commitments.
Entry into the knightly estate and chivalry should not be construed to be hobbies or social forays. There are no guarantees of worldly success, since successes in chivalry are not measured on the same scale as used by modern society. The true rewards of Chivalry, Christian or otherwise, are intrinsic.
Footnote to Chapter Eight
Chivalry, Orders & Nobility
* Suggested reading for the Novice.
** Recommended advanced reading.
* Suggested reading for the Novice.
** Recommended advanced reading
U.S. Military Heraldry
Gaelic & Irish
* Suggested reading for the Novice.
** Recommended advanced reading
"You aspire to great things? Begin with little ones. You desire to erect a very high building? Think first of the foundation of humility. The higher you intend it, the deeper must the foundations be laid." St. Augustine
Ideal of Knighthood
In 1456, Sir Gilbert of the Haye, a Scots Knight who once was Chamberlain to King Charles VII of France made a translation of the anonymous "Livre de l’Odre de la Chevalerie." The following is a 20th Century rendering.
Knighthood is a great honor, married with a great servitude. That insomuch that a man has a noble birth and beginning, and has more of honor, then he is also more a slave and bound to be guided and agreeable to God and to him that does Him that honor. Unworthy is he who would be a lord and master that has never known what it is to be a servant.
This is the office that the knight is ordained for: one the Faith of Jesus Christ; second, his natural lord; and third, the people in their rights.
The office of knighthood is to maintain and defend widows, maidens, fatherless and motherless children, and poor miserable and pitiable persons, and to help the weak against the strong and the poor against the rich. Oft times such folks are, by more strong then they, despoiled and robbed, and their goods taken and put to destruction them to poverty, for lack of power and defense. And by cause all such deeds are wickedness, cruelty, and tyranny. Therefore is the Order of Knighthood ordained, as in that place among the lowly, to stand in defense. And if a knight himself be the maintainer or doer of evil deeds, he is unworthy to bear the Order for his wickedness. And rights God has given to the knight in his manhood, hardiness, and his courage; rights also has He given him in pity of heart, to have mercy on the poor that cry to him for help. And he that has not these virtues is not a true knight. He should not be accounted as one of the Order of Knighthood.
Where honor is not kept, order goes backward.
The Duties of a Knight
The Noble Company of the Rose (reprinted with permission)
Charges Given to Scottish Knights of the King in Ancient Times
From John Seldon’s Titles of Honor, ca 1689-1700
What Chivalry is and What it is Not
Chivalry is not bound to any time, place or religion. It is also not bound to nationality. As evidence I present the following rules of life:
These rules of life which take you into real Chivalry are not Christian nor from any medieval Order. This advice has been given by the wise Chinese Kung-fu-tse (Confucius) 500 B.C.
Quotation of Cardinal Casaroli
"A Knight is a man who intends to place himself at the service of a noble and difficult cause, a pure and arduous ideal; fighting evil, promoting good, defending the weak and the oppressed against injustice.
"Becoming a Knight does not merely mean receiving a title of honour, even though it is well deserved, it presupposes a solemn commitment."
Citta del Vaticano Agostino Card. Casaroli
June 1984 Secretary of State
From Orders of Knighthood, Awards and the Holy See by Hyginus Eugene Cardinale, Van Duren Publishers, Gerrards Cross, 1985
From the book of James
"My brothers, what good is it to profess faith without practicing it? Such faith has no power to save one, has it? If a brother or sister has nothing to wear and no food for the day, and you say to them, ‘Good-bye and good luck! Keep warm and well fed,’ but do not meet their bodily needs, what good is that? So it is with the faith that does nothing in practice. It is thoroughly lifeless.
"To such a person one might say, ‘You have faith and I have works - is that it?’ Show me your faith without works and I will show you the faith that underlies my works!" James 2/14-18
Basis Components of Arms
Arms: Generally, the entire achievement including Shield, Helmet, Wreath, Mantling, Crest, Motto(es) and Augmentations as are authorized. In a more restricted sense, Arms equates to the Shield only. Sometimes used is the form Ensign of Arms which encompasses the entire achievement.
Blazon: the heraldic description of the Arms, usually including the Helmet, Wreath, Mantling (or Mantle), Crest, Motto(es) and Augmentations. The blazon is a concise means of describing the Arms in a manner unique to heraldry.
Charge(s): The figures placed upon the field of the Arms (Shield).
Field: The background of the Shield upon which Charges are placed. The field may be of a metal, color, or fur and is mentioned first in the blazon.
Helmet: the type and placement of the Helmet will indicate the Armiger’s estate and affinity to Royalty. The Novice is cautioned to contemplate the gentleman’s Helmet, facing to the dexter (the Shield’s right).
Wreath: Also called Torse. A band of twisted cloth usually in the primary metal and primary color of the Arms (shield).
Mantling: Generally, a small cape (lambrequin) worn over the Helmet and shoulders to shade the wearer from he sun. Usually depicted as slashed; i.e., ripped and torn as if in a tournament; and often quite artistically interpreted and usually in the primary color and metal of the Arms. A full Mantle, considered part of the Crest, is a portion of the total achievement of some higher ranking nobles; e.g., The MacCarthy Mor, Prince of Desmond, and the Ard Tiama (Lord Paramount) of Duhallow.
Crest: Originally intended to protect the knight from direct blows to the top of the Helmet in a tournament, the Crest is often an animate object of symbolic nature to the bearer. In some instances, the Crest is drawn from the primary Charge of the Arms. The Novice is cautioned to avoid use of the human head as a Crest.
Mottoes: Ranging from war cries to poetic sayings, these may appear both above and below the Arms. In current practice, a single Motto below the Arms is preferred.
Supporters: Animate objects, usually stylized animals, to either side of the shield. These are the Augmentations as may be authorized for certain ranks of nobility within some sovereignties. For example, a Comital Lord of Desmond may be allowed Supporters, while the Baronial Lord is not. The Novice is cautioned not to contemplate the use of Supporters.
Commonly Used Metals, Colors, and Furs
Illustration of Arms
Arms of the Lord of Kileughterco
Blazon: En campo de gules (rojo) un aguila, de plata, redeada en punta de cinco estrellas de cinco punta, de oro. Va timbrado el escudo de Armas de un casco de acero brunido, con bordura y grilletas de oro, claveteado de lo mismo, forrado de gules, sumado de un burelete trenzado de plata y gules (rojo) con lambrequines de los mismos esmaltes y sumado a su vez de una cabeza de aguila de plata, linguada de gules (rojo). Divisa: En cinta de oro, con letras de sable (negro): "GREAT IS THE TRUTH: IT SHALL PREVAIL".
Blazon: On a field of Gules (red) and eagle Argent, surrounded in base by five mullets Or. Ensigning the shield of Arms is a helmet of burnished steel, with trim and grills of Or, studded of the same, lined Gules upon which is a Torse Argent and Gules (red) with Mantlings of the same tinctures, upon which is placed in turn the head of an eagle Argent, langued Gules (red). Motto: On a scroll Or, in letters Sable (black): "GREAT IS THE TRUTH: IT SHALL PREVAIL".
The American College of Heraldry, Inc.
Drawer CB, University of Alabama
Tuscaloosa, Alabama 35486-2887
Publishes The American Heraldic Register which is available for purchase.
The Augustan Society, Inc.
P.O. Box P
Torrance California 90507-0210
Publishes the Augustan Society Omnibus which is available for subscription.
Has some books for purchase. Inquire for reprint list.
The International Chivalric Institute
P.O. Box 386
Torrance, California 90507
Parliament Piece, Ramsbury
Wiltshire SN8 2QH
Lists for purchase books on heraldry, genealogy, history, and peerage.
Inquire for latest list. Visa & MasterCard available.
(Prices tend to be high due to the nature of subject matter.)
Captain Thomas Paul Westgaard, N.N.,
Tiarna of Kileughterco
P.O. Box 21745
Greenfield, Wisconsin 53221-0745
Studies in Nobility
1 – Nobility and Arms
What is the association between Arms and noble status?
Nobility occurs via three basic paths; ancient family, nobility of patent, and nobility of race derived from nobility of patent, and is closely associated to the bearing of Arms.
‘The ancient concept was that in the noblesse there were those who were nobles of race, in Germany called Uradel, or ancient nobility, often long predating even the use of coats of arms. These were gentlemen.(1) These families existed, were in positions of influence, and assumed Arms in the 12th and early 13th centuries.
In the 13th and 14th centuries Arms came under the control of the Crown (the fons honorum; i.e., the fountain of honour), usually delegated to an heraldic authority in the form of a King of Arms, Herald, or the like. It was from the Crown that grants of Arms were made.
‘What it (the grant of Arms) did was to give the legal basis of entry into the nobility, and create a nobility of patent (or wappenbrief) which would grow in a short number of generations into complete nobility of race, which was what was meant in the Middle ages when the work nobility was used.(2) And, "The grantee (of Arms) is an anobli, one who is put on the way to becoming a noble, and in most realms, it was usually reckoned that only in the third generation had full nobility of race been achieved.(3)
The bearing or possession of Arms became the tesserae nobilitatis; evidence of nobility. ‘While nobility may in certain cases exist without arms, arms are in all realms which have or have had courts of chivalry and where such arms are recorded in such courts, arms of noblesse.(4) And, ‘Arms in all realms are to be regarded as evidence of nobility except when the Crown or usage has allowed the development of infra-noble arms because of historical or important sociological reasons.(5)
In the present day United States, there are a number of persons interested in determining their ancestries; some to prove a connection with a Medieval title or aristocracy, some inquisitive and some in search of nobility of race. The genealogical exploration may be winding, illusive, and expensive. As an alternative, few Americans will endeavor to take the steps to begin anew, de novo. Indeed the United States is known in European chivalric circles as the land of non-armigerous knights. This is, of course, a bit of earned ridicule. A knight is supposed to be a noble and have the tesserae nobilitatis of Arms. While we have no heraldic authority empowered to grant noble Arms, and thereby create a nobility of patent, there is little excuse for one able to demonstrate initiative and seek the heraldic authority of another political jurisdiction.
Quotations from: Lt. Col. Gayre of Gayre & Nigg, Some Aspects of British and Continental Heraldry, Lochore Enterprises, Edinburgh: (1) pg. 72; (2) pg. 13; (3) pg. 13; (4) pg. 74; and (5) pg. 28.
2 – Nobility and Rank
What is the consequence of rank within nobility?
Presently we realize that the terminology of nobility allows us to identify those who are nobles under various terms:
However, the whole of The Nobility consists of various ranks ranging from the untitled nobility to a Sovereign. "A title is a rank in the nobility, and it may, indeed, only exist for a short period, whereas, nobility is something which is transmitted from the first noble of this line."(1) Thus, nobility exists without regard to rank. It seems that with the passage of time and generations, the fortunes of nobles have varied – some individuals and families rising, while others have fallen with respect to rank and influence. While rank, wealth, good fortune, and influence may wane with time, the constant thread id nobility.
"By that word (nobility), we mean not only the nobilitas major but also the nobilitas minor. The term embraces not merely the great nobles or magnates who were peers in all realms and in addition the lesser nobles, barons, lairds, seigneurs, and baronets, but also Knights, lords of manors, and the gentry proper. The Nobles of Europe were a much greater class numerically than the peerage class as we know it today, and were representatives of a very wide section of the community."(2)
The peerage (which we will interpret as the nobilitas major), as a sub-set of the nobility, has varied by country and with the passage of the centuries. In France it generally included only Dukes and the few of higher rank. In England it varied to include Barons, then changed to include Lords of Parliament as the lower extreme. In Norway the hoyadel included Barons. In the Gaelic Kingdoms of Ireland, the nobility was exclusively Princes of Royal blood – in the male line.
The nobilitas minor, thusly, included the lower ranks of titled and untitled nobility; i.e., baronets, knights (bachelor), knights of Orders, and the gentry. This grouping is and was imprecise, as national custom or edict might change the upper strata. The student attempting to determine ranks is likely to suggest that parallels between nations may be difficult, as the teaching model often used is that of the English which is far from universal.
For the American unfamiliar with nobility and its European ranks, it is important to distinguish between the two. The untitled nobility, the gentry, are the segment of nobility overlooked by historians as well as fiction writers. They are, however, just as much nobles as are kings and princes. Clearly, rank indicated potential privilege, influence, power, and wealth. But those of high rank did not represent the entire class of nobles.
Quotations from: Lt. Col. Gayre of Gayre & Nigg, Some Aspects of British and Continental Heraldry, Lochore Enterprises, Edinburgh: (1) pg. 74 (2) pg. 10.
3 – Nobility & Knighthood
What is the connection between knighthood and nobility?
As noted in Study #2, Nobility and Rank, knights are listed among the nobilitas minor within the ranks of nobility (Lavadel in Norwegian). This categorization seems to be consistent across national boundaries.
"Knighthood was originally of three types. First there were certain persons who held Knight’s Fees, which meant they could be called upon to provide military forces of that rank in themselves or by proxy. Secondly, there were those who were knighted by other knights in the field. Thirdly, there were those who were members of ancient Orders or fraternities. The knights of the oldest of these last Orders preceded in antiquity the second class, if not the first."(1) Indeed, within the Gaelic Kingdoms of Ireland there were no less than five military orders of nobility whose existence predates the rise of both the feudal system and chivalry. "The Warrior Orders of Nobility which existed in Gaelic Ireland possessed many of the more fundamental characteristics of ‘chivalric Knighthood,’ such as the possession of specific and exacting codes of conduct, initiation ceremonies, insignia, and, usually, dependence on a Royal dynasty."(2)
"…the Knights were nobles and so the arms used b them were those of nobles."(3) The knightly members of the Crusading Orders were drawn from the nobility, usually the younger sons far removed from the inheritance of family estates due to primogeniture. Equally, knights bachelor were of noble origins. To every rule there are exceptions and thus, "It should, however, be added that in former times no one could have aspired to Knighthood unless he were first an armiger (and so a noble) or was prepared to become one."(4)
"A non-armigerous Knight is really an anomaly. In earlier times knights were normally created from the nobles only, and where not, would at once have laid claim to the right to arms to ensure their transition from ignoble to noble. Save for the fact that the modern non-armigerous knight has been created by a Fountain of Honour (fons honorum), it could be doubted if in fact he could be considered a knight at all."(5)
In summary, Knight was a rank within the nobilitas minor. Obviously, an individual could be a knight of an Order of chivalry and have a rank in the peerage; e.g., one could be an Earl or count, and a knight simultaneously. Thus, one could have the rank of either and Earl or a Knight – while being a member of the universal institution of knighthood.
Quotations from: Lt. Col. Gayre of Gayre & Nigg, Some Aspects of British and Continental Heraldry, Lochore Enterprises, Edinburgh: (1) pg. 62, (3) pg. 64, (4) pg. 69, (5) pg. 69. And from: The MacCarthy Mor, The Niadh Nask: The ancient Gaelic Nobiliary Fraternity. (2) pg. 1.
4 – Entry into Nobility
What are the qualifications for entry into the nobility?
Perhaps we have the image of a Medieval warrior of non-noble origins being knighted on the field of battle after having won the day with courage and bravery. Indeed this occurred, but seems to be more the exception than the rule for entry into nobility. More consistently applied was the principle of nobility of office.
"…it was necessary for noble offices to be held before arms could be obtained by grant. That is, the person receiving the concession from the fons honorum had arrived at the porte of a gentleman. Yet he was not a gentleman (that is a noble) although his outward style of living befitted one. To confirm that he had reached the stage of being known (that is a noble) it was necessary for the Crown to confer the tesserae nobilitas."(1)
Early on some positions within government were recognized as bearing nobility of office; e.g., sheriffs and mayors. "From the fact that at first, probably without exception, the higher Churchmen supported by a large part of the lesser clergy, were men of family, it soon came to be considered that a coat of arms was an attribute of the clergy. In this way an ecclesiastical charge came to be regarded as a noble office. The evolution of this idea was parallel to that whereby ‘Captains of Wars,’ ‘Th Nobility of the Toga,’ and the chief magistrates of cities, were all entitled to arms of nobility, and indeed were granted them where they did not already possess them from birth."(2)
In the present day the Roman Catholic and Orthodox Catholic clergy are considered to be noble and entitled to Arms by virtue of office. This precedent appears to hold true within the Episcopal Church and some Presbyterian jurisdictions (Scotland). Perhaps the precedent is more widely accepted than illustrated in the preceding. Within secular society there do not appear to be clear-cut guidelines as to what constitutes the porte of a gentleman. Some authorities begin the list with commissioned military officers holding the rank of Captain or higher, while others start at field grade or even Colonel. Generally included on such lists are medical doctors, dentists, professors, attorneys, mayors, governors, judges, and persons holding doctorate degrees. An examination of the rolls of several Orders seems to show that businessmen (ranging from executives to supervisors) and engineers are also consistently included.
To reiterate, attainment of the porte of a gentleman or a noble office still requires the tesserae nobilitas of Arms to confirm entry into the nobility.
Quotations from: Lt. Col. Gayre of Gayre & Nigg, Some Aspects of British and Continental Heraldry, Lochore Enterprises, Edinburgh: (1) pg. 17, (2) pg. 173.
5 – Non-Noble Arms
Are all Arms presumed to be those of nobles?
"Arms in all realms are to be regarded as evidence of nobility except where the Crown or usage has allowed the development of infra-noble arms because of historical or important sociological reasons."(1) There are, however, series of Arms which are not of the noble class. Medieval European society was composed of classes, the numbers and types varying by location and period. The nobility, as a class, was oriented to the holding of land; i.e., the fief.
In Italy, and to a small degree in the Holy Roman Empire, the patricians of the cities were the ruling class and paralleled the nobility in the use and development of Arms – the more influential families assuming Arms as did their Uradel counterparts. The Patricians controlled access to their element by recording Arms in the Libro d’Oro (Golden Book) of the city.(2) In time, new Arms were assumed by a rising merchant class and ultimately recognized within the cities as the Arms of civility.(3) Ultimately, "…royal recognition (was given) to such arms as those of Proved Civility after the lapse of 100 years…"(4) The Wappenbrief ohne Nobilitation (Letters Patent of Arms without Nobility) were used in the Holy Roman empire to confer Arms to a class of distinct civility in parallel with the Proved Civility of Italy.(5)
Another class of Arms evolved in the Low Countries, Switzerland, and in Austria. These were called Peasant Arms, but were the Arms of small freeholders with origins in the Germanic tribes from which the Uradel came. In the Holy Roman Empire these were recorded as the Arms of Landtman.(6)
Burgerlich Arms evolved in Northern Europe outside of the British Isles and France. They were (and are) the assumed Arms of town burgers. In most cases these were (and are) uncontrolled and ungranted, but making no presumption of nobility.(7)
In France, the Arms of burgesses evolved and in the late 14th century received royal recognition as non-noble. Indeed, "…they were not allowed to carry these shields of arms with helmets, which were to be restricted to the noblesse alone."(8)
For the most part, the Arms of Americans, unrecognized as noble Arms by one of the nations still granting Arms, are considered the equivalent of burghal Arms. These being assumed, ungranted, and uncontrolled.
References & Quotations from: Lt. Col. Gayre of Gayre & Nigg, Some Aspects of British and Continental Heraldry, Lochore Enterprises, Edinburgh: (1) pg. 28, (2) pg. 21, (3) pg. 22, (4) pg. 22, (5) pg. 23, (6) pg. 28, (7) pg. 24, (8) pg. 26.
6 – Use of Standards & Banners
Historically, what ranks of the nobility were entitled to Standards and Banners?
"Knights and those of similar rank bore their arms on pennons carried upon their lances."(1) "The guidon (which is still associated with cavalry regiments) was, in fact, a flag for the rallying position of mounted formations."(2)
Barons (used in the generic sense to indicate those of baronial rank and higher) were entitled to carry the Banner "…which indicated their place at the head of that brigade of troops commanded by a baron or in lieu of him by a knight banneret."(3)
"Besides the banner such a commander had a standard…"(4) Thus both the Standard and Banner were entitlements of military commanders – usually equated with the nobiliary rank of Baron or higher. The Banner was carried to mark the person of the commander, whereas the Standard marked the "headquarters" or rallying point for troops and was, therefore, relatively stationary.
The knight banneret came into being in the absence or death of those of suitable rank – usually under battlefield conditions. The knight banneret assumed the position of a "Lieutenant Baron" as a military commander, after his Pennon was reduced to a Banner by cutting off the tail.
There is some correspondence between those nobles entitled to Supporters, the number of troops they commanded, and entitlement to use of the Banner. "This is consistent with the view of John Baptista, Chancellor of Brabant, in his Jurisprudentia Heroica, where he says that supporters are allowed to such as high barons, bannerets, and knights who were able to erect a banner in the field."(5) - with the following footnote; "this means they were tantamount to bannerets, who had to be able to command 24 gentlemen under their banners, each with one or more sergeants. Fifty gentlemen were considered necessary for a banner – presumably for a baron who was the true commander of the banner, as distinct from a banneret who was a surrogate for a baron."(6)
Modern use, particularly of the Banner, appears to have become disconnected from the concept of military command; i.e., knights of the modern day using the Banner. This phenomenon seems to correspond to a use of Helmets and Coronets inconsistent with the actual standing of the armiger – an inflation of prestige. In other instances, use of the Banner is construed to include those with a following, however liberally that might be interpreted.
Quotations from: Lt. Col. Gayre of Gayre & Nigg, Some Aspects of British and Continental Heraldry, Lochore Enterprises, Edinburgh: (1) pg. 160, (2) pg. 163, (3) pg. 161, (4) pg. 161, (5) pg. 157, (6) pg. 158.
The Curriculum Vitae
The Curriculum Vitae is a document of personal history, achievement, and association usually submitted along with an application for membership to an Order of Chivalry. Often an application for membership will contain a condensed version of the Curriculum Vitae and it would be wise to submit only those items requested. Nonetheless, the Novice may wish to prepare a complete, free-standing Curriculum Vitae for reference or submission as may be requested. The Curriculum Vitae should be periodically updated as necessary. Following is an example of content.
Any hereditary or genealogical dignities (cite source; send proofs)
Contributed by: The Much Honoured General The Chevalier Bailey Bruce McCune of Coil Earn & Elphinstone, Baron of Elphinstone, O,St.J., N.N., K.C.L.J. (Malta Obedience), K.M.L.J., Ph.D.
For those elected to public office a summary of elected service may be included. References to political affiliation should be avoided.
Frequently the application for membership will include a recent photograph. In most instances a good quality photograph from the waist up will be requested. A dark suit or black tie attire (military variation), or, feminine equivalent is usually suggested. The wearing of decorations should be appropriate and not overbearing.
International Ranking System
Taken from Orders and Decorations, by P. Hieronymussen
Contributed by: The Much Honoured General The Chevalier Bailey Bruce McCune of Coll Earn & Elphinstone, Baron of Elphinstone, O,St.J., N.N., K.C.L.J. (Malta Obedience), K.M.L.J., Ph.D.
The preceding serves for those Orders of Chivalry conferred by State Authorities and are honorary in their foundation. Given the breadth of Orders, that fact that many do not confer ranks lower than Knight and Dame, and that many Orders have the purpose of continuing charitable service, the above may only illustrate a general precedence for consideration.
Review of the practices of several Orders with regard to rank of initial entry suggests the following:
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