The Contract of Chivalry basically has terms regarding what services are expected from a knight and how a knight is paid. Ultimately, the fealty of a knight was based on a system maintained through one of the three main branches: Lordship, Kinship or Fellowship.
Although the services required were mainly military protection, some classes of lords, notably Sharelords, enlisted “Coin Knights” for land management and profit purposes.
Contracts of Chivalry
- Blood Kinship
- Marital Kinship
- Warden Kinship
The contract of chivalry under a lordship is a formal and legally binding agreement. The terms are strict and the punishment for breaking the contract by disloyalty or treachery is usually very severe.
Majority of noble knights held estates (fiefs) granted by their liege lords in return for military protection or any other services that were demanded of them. The biggest advantage of this system was that a lord poor in coins yet with abundant lands could still manage to support a private military force.
Of course, lands could be held by knights without any bonds and conditions. Also, not every knight was granted land as a method of payment.
Knights of non-noble or humble origins (in aristocratic terminology, “lowborn” or “baseborn”) are mainly enlisted against a monthly grant of gold or silver with optional exemption from taxes.
In fact, from the days of the Second Blood Bath, the Sovereign granted knighthood to a vast number of non-nobles, enlisting them to the Order of the Sovereign Empire. These landless knights were sheltered in noble households, Today, this practice remains the standard system in the fortifications of Ennfort, Camelot, and Alferheim.
Contract by kinship is perhaps the most informal of the contracts that bind a knight to his liege lord. Here the terms of service and payment policies are not usually written down in legal terms. But some Houses with extensive family trees and land holdings with private lawyers do have their own methods of practice.
Commonly seen amongst the noblefolk of the Sovereign Lands, a knight binds himself to the service and protection of his own family or House. This is basically same as granting fiefs, except that there is no legal claim to the fief other than by descent.
When a knight of lower class marries a lady of upper-class, he is elevated to the class of the lady’s House if he were to serve alongside his lord-father-by-law.
It is not an uncommon practice to adopt an orphan child into a noble family. In such cases, he is known as a “ward” and his family is termed as “warden family”. Since this contract is not bound by blood, breaking it has no consequences other than tainted honor.
Fellowships have different strokes of color to them. Like an artist’s palette, it could range from the most lenient of contracts to the strictest ones involving banishment and death penalty.
This is the Contract without any legal terms. A friend of a lord or lordling- or even a baseborn- may choose to protect his liege or render services purely on the basis of friendship.
Brotherhoods are closed, secret or public ones, usually associated with various guilds. While entry into most of the brotherhoods is restricted by blood or by influence, some of them sport contracts for life, most notable being The Brothers of Blood and Steel- in which breaking a contract could leave the knight headless.