The Imperial Order of Knights
The Imperial Order of Knights is a curious organisation that has emerged since the foundation of the Empire of Turelion. It is an umbrella organisation created to provide both a means of keeping tabs on the Knightly Houses, chivalric, pseudo religious, paramilitary organisations that were drawn into the Empire during its founding, and to issue them instructions so that they can better work for the good of the Empire.
Based out of the provincial capital of Turelion Province, Ganbrell the Imperial Order of Knights summons the heads of each of the Knightly Houses to what is termed the ‘Gathering of the Houses’ each summer and winter. These gatherings are the Order’s opportunity to communicate policy dictated by the Imperial authorities to all of the houses and it provides a useful forum to gather information on the activities and about the levels of loyalty of each of the Knightly Houses. The Gathering of Houses is presided over by the Knight Commissar, who is not a member of a Knightly House, but who is instead an official appointed from the Imperial Inquisition. All of the Heads of the Knightly Houses must answer to the Knight Commissar and during the rest of the year when the Gathering of Houses is not taking place, the Knight Commissar tours around Kelbonnar inspecting each of the Houses in turn. The Knight Commissar reports to the Congregation of Lords on the activities of the Knightly Houses, as well as referring troubling incidents and cases directly to the Inquisition. If they feel that it is necessary, the Knight Commissar has the power to summon any head of a Knightly House before the Congregation of Lords for a dressing down. Whilst ostensibly it may not feel that the Knight Commissar holds that much sway over the Knightly Houses, all of the houses know that the run a serious risk of being forcibly dissolved should they refuse to cooperate with the Knight Commissar’s demands.
Ostensibly the Imperial Order of Knights exists to coordinate the activities of the various Knightly Houses, to ensure that they work effectively together and within the Imperial system to provide as much support for the provincial armies and other Imperial institutions as possible. In reality, the order exists to keep tabs on the Knightly Houses and there is little concern for what they do as long as they follow the dictates set out by the Congregation of Lords and the Emperor of Turelion and Kelbonnar.
The Order’s headquarters in Ganbrell is a sprawling palace complex that provides enough space for all of the Heads of the Knightly Houses along with their retinues to be comfortably hosted during the biannual Gathering of Houses. The palace is also large enough to permanently house the Knight Commissar and their staff.
Before the conquest of Kelbonnar by Machestaro I, the nations that existed in the areas that are now Quess Province, Bar-Sunar Province, Langstrom Province and Ultaru Province all had their own chivalric, military organisations of knights, which acted in tandem with, but separately to the nations’ own armed forces to provide protection and sanctuary to those that needed it. With the coming of the Empire of Turelion, the many and varied Knightly Houses that were scattered across Kelbonnar, almost all of whom had fought against the invading Turelite forces were viewed as a threat by the Imperial establishment, who were presented with a quandary as to how to approach them. As membership of these Knightly Houses was restricted to the sons and daughters of wealthy, respectable families, the Empire was loath to dissolve these bodies, and risk alienating the wealthier classes in the provinces these organisations existed in, whose support they sorely needed to ensure that the transition from conquered territory to assimilated province of the Empire went as smoothly as possible. In addition, the fact that the members of each Knightly House are all highly trained warriors in their own right, meant that forcibly shutting them down risked driving a large group of dangerous people with the means and assets to cause trouble underground, from where they may well attempt to plot against the Emperors and the Empire. Instead, Machestaro, guided by his advisors offered an olive branch to the Knightly Houses, that would allow them to continue to exist, but under the watchful eye of the Imperial system. They were told that they would be allowed to continue to exist, retaining the freedoms to recruit and train knights and operate in defence of their traditional lands and the Empire more broadly as they saw fit, provided that they submitted to the dictates of the newly formed Imperial Order of Knights. The Imperial Order was created solely to monitor the Knightly Houses, increase their buy-in to the Imperial system and to ensure that the Imperial Inquisition were swiftly informed of any individual knights or whole Knightly Houses that looked likely to spread discontent so that they could be re-indoctrinated, or eliminated. Realising that refusal would be the end of them, the vast majority of Knightly Houses accepted the offer and submitted to the oversight of the Imperial Order of Knights, as well as the authority of the Emperor of Turelion and Kelbonnar. A handful of Houses refused to submit and had their keeps and lands destroyed, with any members who were caught being executed on sight. Those that managed to escape continue to operate covertly and are now known as the Renegade Houses. Since its founding the Empire has also begun using the overarching organisation of the Imperial Order of Knights to train its own knights, whose doctrine and principles are much more deeply rooted in the defence and continuation of the Empire. The eventual aim is for the Imperial Knights to slowly but surely outnumber the numbers that Knightly Houses, whose founding principles are less firmly rooted in the protection of the Imperial system, can call upon.
As well as acting as an umbrella organisation for the Knightly Houses, the Imperial Order of Knights also recruits and trains its own knights who act on the orders of the Knight Commissar and both defend the Order’s headquarters and undertake tasks appointed to them across the Empire. All Imperial Knights are experienced warriors, highly trained in all manner of combat.