- "I pledge my service and my loyalty, body and soul, to my Lord. When the clarion call is sounded, I will ride out and fight in the name of liege and Lady. Whilst I draw breath, the lands bequeathed unto me will remain untainted by evil. Honor is All! Chivalry is All! This I swear on my blood and my breath"
- —The Knight's Vow[3a]
The Knights of the Realm are Bretonnian nobles whom have proven their skill and valour in combat by completing an errand as a Knight Errant, which rewards the young Knight with an estate, a title, and the status as a fully-fledge noblemen of Bretonnia. Making up the bulk of the nobility within Bretonnian society, the Knights of the Realm form the mainstay of all Bretonnian armies, and are given the responsibility of administrating a domain, which is generally a simple few acres of land, a village and a castle from which he has absolute rule.[1a]
Those under the Knights rule are bound to his service, to work the fields and pay his taxes, and in exchange the Knight provides his subjects with protection. Within the hierarchy of Bretonnia's Feudal System, the Knights of the Realm form the foundations of the nobility, from which they are bound by fealty to another Lord of higher status and prestige, which scales all the way up to the Royarch himself.[1a]
- "They eat live frogs, make beer that tastes as if it’s been drunk once already, and ponce about on horses rather than using guns. Still, the wine is good. "
- —Thomas of Helmgart, mercenary[3b]
A Knight of the Realm is truly the epitome of what it means to be a knight. Those who manages to hold his domain for many years may end up with a retinue of Knights Errant, which might include his own grown up sons. Since the time of Gilles le Breton, it has become common practice for a Knight of the Realm to relinquish his castle and domain to his son when he has accomplished his errand of knighthood. The senior Knight then sets out on a grail quest and becomes a Questing Knight. If there are several sons, the eldest and first to accomplish his errand of knighthood succeeds to the domain. The others on accomplishing their own errands can be given a portion of the domain if it is large enough. This will usually be a tract of wild land on the margins of the domain, perhaps still waiting to be conquered and settled.[2a]
The errand of knighthood might actually be to conquer the land and hold it long enough to build a castle and settle down with peasants. In this way, new domains are constantly being calved out of the wilderness while the Orcs and other enemies are kept under pressure. If there are no suitable lands to be assigned, it is customary for the younger sons to relinquish their claims to a castle on accomplishing the errands of knighthood and either join the retinue of a Duke or the King, or set out upon the grail quest straight away. When new lands are conquered, it is better to carve out new domains for a Knights Errant than to enlarge an existing domain, as it is difficult to defend a domain when it becomes too big to properly manage. The simple fact is that a domain is most easily defended by a single Knight if he can see all of it from the highest tower of his castle and can ride all around its boundary in a single day.[2a]
It is also good if his neighboring Lord's castle can be seen from the tower of the Knights own castle, so that the Knight may signal for reinforcements and give out warnings of a possible invasion force entering his Lords domain. A Knight of the Realm is duty-bound to defend his people and his estate until his death. Trained in the art of war, a single Knight of the Realm is expected to defend himself and his subjects from only the most minor of threats. Should the situation becomes too desperate, a Knight of the Realm is allowed to marshall the peasants of the village into battle, or to shelter them within the confines of his castle until help arrives from the neighboring domain.[2a]
Above all however, a Knight of the Realm is to obey and embody the standards of Chivalry. Amongst the most important of these is to respond to the call to war. When called to war, each Knight of the Realm is required by fealty to answer the call from his Lord and join him on his campaign. Each Knight of the Realm is also required to maintain his own company of soldiers, such as a company of Men-at-Arms to either fight on his behalf, or to defend his domain while on leave.
When a Knight of the Realm leaves for a campaign, he brings with him as many Men-at-Arms company as he possible can to bolster the ranks of his Lord's army. The Knight himself will fight alongside other Knights, not as a rite of passage as he did as a Knight Errant, but as duty required by his position. For a Knight there is no greater shame than to fail in these responsibilities, thus betraying the chivalric code he is bound to uphold. If he does so, he may be stripped of all titles and rights, and be banished from the realm until he can prove himself worthy once more.[1a]
When on the battlefield, a Knight of the Realm forms up around others of similar status and forms the bulk of most Bretonnian cavalry squadrons. Though their Errand quest are done, a Knight of the Realm is still all too eager to show their mantle in battle, and would gladly face the toughest enemy opponent to prove such a point. As the staunch backbone of the Bretonnian knightly forces, they are skilled and deadly in combat, with stout lances setting their enemies to flight with a single, determined charge.[1a]
- 1: Warhammer Armies: Bretonnia (6th Edition)
- 1a: pg. 49
- 2: Warhammer Armies: Bretonnia (5th Edition)
- 2a: pg. 38 - 39
- 3: Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay: Knights of the Grail (2nd Edition)