Knight of Tortall is a title given to a noble of Tortall who has completed training and passed the Ordeal of Knighthood. Customarily, noble families send their eldest sons to become knights, and younger sons often follow, although younger sons also have the options of pursuing studies instead. It is also customary for younger sons to spend time with the King's Own, as opposed to knight studies, as they are very expensive.
A knight bears a shield, usually of his or her family coat of arms. They receive the title "Sir Knight" or "Lady Knight". "Sir" is never a hereditary title in Tortall; the lords of fiefs, whether or not they are knights, have the title "Lord" (if not a higher title such as "Duke" or "Count").
The ritual instruction of would-be knights before their Ordeal of Knighthood lays out the duties and ideals of knighthood:
- "If you survive the Ordeal of Knighthood, you will be a Knight of the Realm. You will be sworn to protect those weaker than you, to obey your overlord, to live in a way that honors your kingdom and your gods. To wear the shield of a knight is an important thing. It means that you may not ignore a cry for help. It means that rich and poor, young and old, male and female may look to you for rescue, and you cannot deny them. You are bound to uphold the law. You may not look away from wrongdoing. You may not help anyone to break the law of the land, and you must prevent the breaking of the law at all times, in all cases. You are bound to your honor and your word. Act in such a way that when you face the Dark God you need not be ashamed. You have learned the laws of Chivalry. Keep them in your heart. Use them as your guides when things are their darkest. They will not fail you if you interpret them with humanity and kindness. A knight is gentle. A knight's first duty is to understand."
- —Prince Jonathan and Gary of Naxen instructing Alanna of Trebond[src]
As the ritual instruction implies, knights are required to behave honorably. As members of the nobility they are also bound by the rules and customs regulating a noble's behavior. This is called chivalry.
Levels of training
Training for knighthood typically consists of four years' training as a page in the royal palace followed by four years as a squire in service to the palace or to an active duty knight. Squires are eligible to take the Ordeal of Knighthood at age eighteen (assuming they've completed training by this age), except the Crown Prince, who is eligible at age seventeen.
Life at the palace
Page training takes place at the royal palace outside of the capital of Corus. This is under the supervision of the training master. New pages are made familiar with the palace and their duties by a sponsor.
Pages have a wing in the royal palace that was close to the training courts. If they have personal servants, they would share the rooms. Pages who misbehave or who are disobedient are given punishment work by the training master. Pages who behaved well and followed orders were granted free time also by the training master. They are free to use this free time for trips into Corus, if they so choose.
Hazing is also a huge part of page life. Older pages have a tendency to bully younger ones and force them to "earn their way" by making them do things ranging from silly and annoying to cruel. It can tend to lead to harassment and humiliation of the first-year pages. A young page has to do these things, or the others will think that that page believes himself or herself too good to do what they had to do when they were that age.
If pages get into fights, they are not supposed to say whom they fought with to the training master, or the other pages will not find them trustworthy and intentionally freeze them out. The most common answer is "I fell down".
The training is strict and demanding. Pages spend half of each day on combat training and half on book learning and studying. Usually the physical training is held in the afternoons, while the pages' mornings are spent in the classrooms.
Pages learn a variety of combat tricks to use in the field. Some of them are as follows:
- Staff-work—defense and offense; blocking, riposting, attacking
- Swordsmanship—Considered to be the noble's primary weapon.
- Jousting—Important for tournaments, especially with the arrival of the Immortals in the 430s HE
- Archery—taught both on foot and while mounted on a horse.
- Axes and maces
- Horseriding—taught both the basics as well as tricks
- Hand fighting—Shang warriors were sometimes guest teachers and specialized in unarmed combat that utilized quick attacks, flexibility, speed, and agility; Wrestling was also emphasized, but its emphasis was more in the early part of the 400s, as they realized that Shang was more useful in fight situations
- Survival skills—Pages were taught how to survive in the wilderness
- Hunting & tracking
Book learning and educational subjects were as follows:
- Reading and writing
- Mathematics—especially important for logistics and supply for large companies
- Deportment and etiquette
- Botany and zoology
- Study of Immortals—after their arrival in Tortall
- Study of magic and the Gift—for those who were endowed
- The study of at least one musical instrument
A page usually gets so much homework and punishment duty that there is little free time. Rule-breaking leads to more punishment work. Although there are many traditions, the training master has a lot of discretion and power of the pages' curriculum and may drop and add things as he so chooses.
Pages are a part of the palace service, and are required to run errands for nobles who live at the palace. They must perform duties such as waiting on banquets and doing whatever a lord or lady asks.
During the reign of King Roald V, the entire Court dined together, so pages had to wait on the royals and nobles each evening meal. Under King Roald's son, King Jonathan IV, the royal family dined separately, so the pages were not required to serve each night. Pages were only required to take part in service duty during banquets that usually took place during Midwinter. These were overseen by Upton Oakbridge, the Master of Ceremonies. Even so, one page always had to wait on the training master—at this time Wyldon of Cavall—each night; the pages took turns. When serving at a dinner or banquet the pages wore the royal uniform: A full-sleeved shirt and hose in bright scarlet with a cloth-of-gold tunic. The uniform also included sturdy leather boots and a slim leather belt from which hung a dagger and purse.
Pages are generally made into squires at age fourteen, although the decision to make a page a squire lies in the discretion of the teachers. A squire is usually chosen by a knight to be his or her personal squire. It is then the knight-master's obligation to outfit the squire, supervise his or her training, and prepare him or her for knighthood. The squire in return looks after his masters belongings, runs his errands and protects his interests.
Whenever knight and squire are at the palace squires also attend normal lessons, which continue and get harder. In Duke Gareth's time as training master the squires had a different hall for eating. They were also required to wait on table at evening meals. In addition to this duty, they also had to serve the nobles at evening parties after the meal. In Duke Gareth's time it as also usual for squires to live in rooms next to their knight masters'.
When Lord Wyldon was the training master, squires had separate wings for their living quarters in the palace, although some squires still had rooms directly besides their knight-master, especially if the knight-master was often called away from the palace on short notice, like the Commander of the King's Own.
Usually, a squire will serve approximately four years, or until they are age eighteen, when the squire may undergo the Ordeal of Knighthood.
Ordeal of Knighthood
The Ordeal of Knighthood is the most vital part of a knight's training. Squires undergo the Ordeal during the Midwinter Festival every year. Those who survive are knighted.
After undergoing a ritual bath where they receive instruction from two knights, the would-be knight must spend the night in contemplation, then enter the Chamber of the Ordeal alone at dawn. They are forbidden to make any sound during the Ordeal or the preceding night. Within the Chamber, they face their worst fears, and some see visions of their past, present, or future. If they are still alive when the chamber doors open, and don't immediately run away or confess to some disgrace, they are knighted in a ceremony that evening.
Knights are forbidden from discussing what goes on during their Ordeal.
Most young knights fight in the service of Tortall, but this is not strictly required. This duty may include border patrols under the direction of the royal training master. Knights are also called upon to serve in time of war.
The crown often gives monetary rewards to knights for excellent service.
Historically, daughters of noble families had the option to undergo the same training as their male counterparts and become knights. At that time about a third of the knights of the realm were female. However, the practice was banned for about a hundred years from c.340-442 HE. When this happened there already were no more female knights and the realm had too much peacekeepers; in addition to that the conservatives were in power and the cult of the Gentle Mother very popular. The re-institution of lady knights was the subject of much controversy and the discovery that a girl (Alanna of Trebond) had taken part in the education for knights disguised as a boy lead to stricter rules, including the introduction of the big examinations for pages at the end of their fourth year.
Lady knights, though nobles, do not generally make noble marriages.
List of Tortallan Knights
Including pages/squires that did not finsih their training or pass their ordeal
* denotes Lady Knights.
** denotes the years that are unclear due to the time difference in Squire
*** denotes the pages or squires that were mentioned in the Protector of the Small quartet whose year of knighting is guessed at from the year they started training for the purpose of this table
- ↑ Alanna: The First Adventure, Chp 1 (p. 7; Random House paperback)
- ↑ In the Hand of the Goddess, Chp 9
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 3.2 AtFA, Chp 4
- ↑ 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 Alanna: The First Adventure, Cp. 2 (p. 22; Random House paperback)
- ↑ ATFA, Chp 6
- ↑ Alanna: The First Adventure, Cp. 2 (p. 23; Random House paperback)
- ↑ Alanna: The First Adventure, Cp. 2 (p. 26; Random House paperback)
- ↑ Squire
- ↑ ITHOTG, Chp 9
- ↑ ITHOTG, Chp 3
- ↑ 11.0 11.1 Squire, Chp 13
- ↑ 12.0 12.1 Random Buzz; "Lady Sabine"; April 17, 2009
- ↑ Tortallan timeline
- ↑ Squire, Chp 11
- ↑ 15.0 15.1 15.2 15.3 Bloodhound, Appendix, Cast of Characters
- ↑ Alanna: The First Adventure, Cp. 2 (p. 21; Random House paperback)
- ↑ 17.0 17.1 Random Buzz; "Alanna's Children"; April 17, 2009
- ↑ Squire Chp 14