The An Tir Handbook, 3rd Edition, May XXXIII/1998
Sergeants, Yeomen, Gallants, Courtiers
Being a small dissertation by Gerhard Kendal, who was a sergeant, is a yeoman, and was there at the beginning of it all. (Based on an article by Baron Gerhard Kendal of Westmoreland which first appeared in The Progress, the pre-event newsletter of the Thirty Year Celebration.)
Many years ago, when An Tir was a Principality of the Kingdom of the West this was a wild and savage land, far from the center of the Kingdom. Peers were few, and in fact, there were but three Knights in the northern part of the Principality. These Knights had traveled much, and had made the thousand mile journey to the Principality of the Mists at the center of the West Kingdom. And for their fighting prowess, they were knighted. I note "for their fighting prowess", because their abilities in the other facets of knighthood (such as games, dancing, heraldry, entertainments, chivalry, etc.) were probably taken on faith by the Chivalry and the Crowns of the West Kingdom. After all, how many of the West had traveled to An Tir and had stayed long enough to see these other, non-fighting skills demonstrated?
This was considered to be a problem by Sir Theodolf of Borogrove and Mistress Anne of Caerdydd, Baron and Baroness of Madrone, and by Baroness Amanda Kendal of Westmoreland, Baroness Lions Gate and myself.
How could we in the north ensure that, when a good fighter from the Principality journeyed to the center of the Kingdom, that he or she would be proven in the non-fighting aspects of chivalry, to the satisfaction of those who would recommend his or her knighting to the Crowns of the West?
After much discussion, we four, with advice from many others both in our respective Baronies and outside, created the rank of Sergeant at Arms.
We decided that each candidate would have to submit a request to a Baroness to enter the tournament (or trials as they are called today) and be judged by experts in each field. The passing "grade" would ensure the candidate would have to be a dependable middling or better fighter, but would have to be much better at each of the other, non-fighting skills, than what the requirements for Knighthood demanded.
This way, when a Sergeant from An Tir was being discussed by the Chivalry of the West, they would only have to be concerned with that person's fighting prowess. The fact that he or she was a Sergeant would ensure that all the other requirements had been met and then some. There would be no question that the prospective knight had all the other graces.
The first trials were held at a tournament at Black Fens, the home of the late Master Michael the Black and Mistress Stevanna of Houghton (co-founders of the University of Ithra). There were three candidates from Madrone and three from Lions Gate. At the end of the day, one Sergeant was created, the gentleman now known as Duke Thorin Njalson, Crown Prince of An Tir. He received in token of his rank, a brown belt with a special buckle.
After a number of years of Sergeant Tournaments, it was felt that there should be an equivalent rank for archers, and thus the rank of Yeoman was created. Recently, the rank of Gallant (accent on the second syllable) was created for the rapier fighters. Most recently, a new rank for those in the field of service has emerged in some of the baronies, and is called a Courtier. (At the time of publication, another similar rank, Lancer, is being explored in Dragonís Laire for equestrian activities.)
The rank of Sergeant has spread from the original two Baronies to all the Baronies of An Tir, and to some other Kingdoms.
Sergeant, Yeoman and Gallant are not honours, they are ranks. This means that they are not given as an award by someone for past work done. Instead, there are a set of tests. If you pass all the tests, you receive the rank. If you do not pass one of the tests, you do not receive the rank.
Some baronies hold all the trials on one two-day camping weekend. Some baronies spread out the trial process throughout the year.
While the specific trials vary from barony to barony, they are likely to test heraldic knowledge, dance, medieval games, knowledge of combat (especially for the particular rank being tested), leadership ability, and chivalry and courtesy. If you think you might be interested in testing to become a Sergeant or one of the equivalent ranks, contact a landed Baroness in whom you would be comfortable swearing fealty, and ask her for more details.
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