While ostensibly a religious organization, and title the Dragon Knights of the recent years have become like minor nobles as they can gain land, and hold a higher position that has mainly been one of military action.
Dragon Knights occupy a social standing between that of lords and small folk, and it is in this position that they truly make their names. Contrary to the nobility, this rank is not hereditary, and it is possible for the base born to become knights. Dragon Knights are referred to with the title "Ser", which donates a certain amount of respect for everything that the knight is believed to have accomplished.
Above simple Dragon Knights do stand two other types of Dragon Knights in the form of the Divine Knight, and a Knight of Ysgramor with the Knight of Ysgramor becoming the second most pinnacle Dragon Knight and are knighted after going on what is known as the Dragon's Dream. Divine Knights now nearly extinct but are a sworn knight of whom first rises to the rank of Knight of Ysgramor and then rises above it by both communicating with a Dovah and then riding it successfully.
Becoming a knight
The traditional process to becoming a Dragon knight has three stages.
- Page, A boy that becomes a page is attached to a knight, who becomes the boy's master. The sons of many knights and lords are sent to foster with relatives or allies, while other pages serve their own fathers. The page performs simple errands for the knight, who in turn begins to train the boy in vital skills, such as jousting and swordsmanship. Typical training involves sparring with blunted weapons and tilting at rings.
- Squire, When a boy reaches adolescence, he graduates to being a squire. Squires learn to properly care for and use of weapons, armor, and horses as well as learn about Chivalry. In time of war Squires join their masters in war, assisting them with their equipment and fighting by their side in battles. Some squires choose to never become a full knight, and live the rest of their lives as squires. This may be because the individual does not have the inclination to live a knight's martial lifestyle, or does not have the funds to properly equip himself.
- Knighthood, Any knight can proclaim another man a knight for whatever reason he chooses. This usually happens when a squire reaches adulthood and his master judges him worthy of accepting the responsibilities of a knight. A man who has not been raised in the knightly tradition can also be made a knight as a reward for service. This is often granted to soldiers or other smallfolk who have shown bravery or performed a great feat. Knighthood is considered valuable to smallfolk, as it raises a commoner's social standing. Knighthood is seen as primarily a martial position, so even the sons of powerful lords are not necessarily knighted if they are incapable of fulfilling the requirements. Doing otherwise would lose honor rather than gain it, and would make a lord and his family be held up to ridicule, this social pressure generally prevents knights from giving out knighthoods for petty or selfish reasons.
Thus the full course of steps for a prospective knight is:
- Hedge Knight
- Sworn Sword
- Landed Knight
A man does not necessarily have to go through the first two steps to become a dragon knight: if a commoner has significantly distinguished himself in combat, a knight may choose to elevate him to knighthood. Even a sellsword that has fought valiantly in combat may be rewarded by being dubbed a knight, though this is uncommon.
Types of Dragon Knights
There are several types of knight:
- Hedge knights are typically commoners who have risen to knighthood. They have no fixed abode and wander the valley of Lucerne looking for a cause to fight for. They are called "hedge" knights because it is said that they are so poor that they just sleep under hedges by the side of the road as they wander from one job to the next.
- Sworn swords are knights sworn to a particular lord. Sometimes this is permanent, but mainly it is temporary, with hedge knights joining a lord for a particular purpose and then being released from his service afterwards.
- Landed knights are knights who have been rewarded for their service by a lord with land, typically a smallholding, large farm or small manor with servants. They form the minor nobility of the Kingdom of Lucenre, or other Dragon Worshipping lands. Successful landed knights who expand their holdings or continue to perform exemplary service for their liege may be raised to the rank of "Lord" in time, leading a major noble House.
- True Knight, A knight who embodies all that a knight should be, that is, a perfect knight exemplifying all the qualities of what knighthood stands for and fully follows oath of knighthood.
The ceremony to create a knight can be simple or complex, however, it always involves the man kneeling before a knight and being tapped on the shoulders with a sword. Ceremonies usually have religious overtones involving the Dragon Worship that is common place throughout any lands that might have Dragon Knights. When knighted, men are often charged in the name of the Dragon to be just and honorable. More elaborate knighthood ceremonies involve the prospective knight sitting a night's vigil at a sept, before the figure of the Dragon, he may lay his sword before or upon the figure, and their armor piled at its base. Followed by walking barefoot from the sept to the knighting place to prove their humble hearts. They wear shifts of undyed wool to receive their knighthood, which is marked by the putting on of the swordbelt after dubbing. Newly-knighted men are also sometimes anointed with seven oils by a septon. It is considered a great honor for the recipient when individuals of high status or fame perform the ceremony.
A Dragons Dream is a quest set for a knight which will lead to their being knighted as a Divine Knight of Aerene.
The actual quest set out as a part of the Dragons dream can vary but has several qualifications in order to be classified as being worth of a dragons dream. While at one time all three qualifications were required to be deemed a divine knight due to the increasingly rare sightings of Dovah the fourth qualification has become optional.
- The Killing of a Trolloc. (There head must be brought back as proof)
- The Saving of a damsel
- Praying at a Temple of Glaurung in silence for three days.
- The Communication with of the squire/knight with a Dovah