|Headquarters||Kurtenwald Castle on the Crown Isle|
The Viridian Order is the oldest Knightly Order in the Regalian Empire, created in the starting days of the Ailor nation. Dating back to Primae Julian de Montverrat, the Viridians were established under Royal charter by Emperor Theomar the First. While originally established to protect the Imperial Family and the City of Regalia, political intrigue would see the Tyrian and Violet Orders established to take over said positions, leaving the Viridians as nothing more than an elite fighting unit. It would be the Viridian Order that created the concept of chivalry for Knights, with honor codes soon becoming a standard for them. While history has seen many changes to the Viridians, they remain the most prestigious organization in the Empire visible to the common population, continuing to serve the Emperor and the Empire’s best interests while demonstrating high standards of honor.
The Viridian Order finds its origins in the start of the Five Family Rebellion under Julian de Montverrat, who along with a few dozen others fled the Allorn Empire in the wake of the Cataclysm to search for better fortunes. Arriving in the Regalian Kingdom, de Montverrat and his men soon found themselves fighting in the armies of Thulric Ivrist, utilizing the skills they learned in Daen to serve in the vanguard, being the group that would take the outer gates of the Regalian capital and breach the walls of the Royal Palace. With the fall of the Regalian King came a power vacuum within the army and the security forces of the Kingdom. Seeing an opportunity, de Montverrat requested that the newly enthroned Emperor Theomar grant him and his men the right to create a new form military unit, one that would serve as an elite unit of warriors in defense of the Crown and his interests. By Imperial Decree, the Viridian Order was established in 5 AC, and were granted control over several castles on the Crown Isle to use for their purposes, led by de Montverrat as the “Primae,” or First Knight of the Empire.
Over the next century, the Viridian Order stood as the organization in charge of the Imperial Family’s security, the law enforcement of the capital, and the main military unit of the Regalian feudal military. As the Empire waged wars against its neighbors, the Viridian Order would oversee the movements, taking states such as the Hacarian and Vularian Kingdoms with their superior fighting technique. After every campaign, the Order would receive honors at the Imperial Palace, and granted honorifics and additional privileges for their services. Their status as the best in the Empire convinced the Five Families to send several of their sons into the Order, with the greatest honor coming with the ascension of Henri I, known as The Honorable Emperor. Also a Viridian Knight, Henri pivoted the Imperial Court to focus on the Viridians, awarding positions to fellow Knights, while favoring nobility with ties to the Order over those who never lifted a sword in their lives, believing that the future of the Empire rested on the promotion of knightly military prowess. Unfortunately, the Emperor was blind to the intrigue acting in the shadows, and upon his death, many concerns began to arise.
Intrigue and Conspiracies
Following the death of Henri I, the Regalian Empire entered into a period known as the Years of the Three Emperors, where one by one the sons of the previous Emperor ascended to the throne, only to be found assassinated. During this cycle of instability within the Imperial Court, many suspected the Viridian Order was responsible for the assassinations, playing kingmaker (or in this case, emperor maker) until they found a pliable Ivrae to become Emperor. Suspicions seemed to be confirmed upon the ascension of Leomar I, whose avid support of the Viridians saw the Years of the Three Emperors come to an end, until the cycle renewed under his sons.
Justeaux I was not the first Emperor to hold suspicions about the Viridian Order, but he was the first to begin actively looking into the deaths of his predecessors, including the assassinations of Arch Chancellors Betheoric III and Ellenore I. Unfortunately, Justeaux found himself also the victim of a premature death, which caused his brother Henri II to become increasingly paranoid that each day would be his last as Emperor. Consequently, the new Emperor began to hold lavish parties at the Imperial Palace, finding comfort in the hundreds of courtesans that he had visit his personal chambers, earning him the nickname of the Hedonistic Emperor. He too would find himself dead early in his reign, allegedly from choking on a grape during an Imperial Gala, surprisingly without the Viridian Order in attendance despite being the Imperial Guard.
While the last several Emperors appeared to have deaths related to the Viridian Order, Emperor Henri III was the first to take drastic actions to prevent a repeat of history. Believing the Viridians had grown complacent during the reign of his father Henri II, he announced that he would be removing many of the excess powers of the Viridians at the start of the year 122 AC, intent on reforming them to be like the warriors under Primae de Montverrat. Upon this declaration, the several Elders and Paladins of the Order began to plot a takeover of the Imperial Palace, turning the Empire into a Viridian state. Unfortunate for them, five of the conspirators had a change of heart, and reported the conspiracy to the Primae and Emperor. Wasting little time, Henri III ordered the arrest of all other conspirators, executing them alongside the Primae for his inability to root out the treason in his Order. Appointing a new Primae from the remaining loyal Elders, Henri III pushed through his reforms, stripping the Viridians from the military, the City Guard, and the Imperial Guard, the latter two being filled by the Violet and Tyrian Orders respectively.
The Charlemois and Arcèn Reforms
Over the next several decades, the Viridian Order remained in a weakened state. While still one of the most elite forces in the Empire, the Viridian Coup Attempt left a sour taste in the mouths of many Regalians, causing a dry spell of Pages entering the order for a time. Despite their setbacks and loss of reputation, they would find their salvation in Primae Yvrize Chattelois. A man of principles and integrity, Yvrize would spend much of his time as Primae researching the history of knighthood, and how its existence within the Regalian Archipelago was unique to the landmass. He would eventually publish his findings in the Treatises of Charlemois, where he would coin the terms chivalry and noblesse oblige. Chivalry, derived from the d’Ithanie word ‘Chevalerie’ or ‘Way of the Horse’, taught that those who had the status to own a horse were expected to heed the call to arms in defense of their lord. Noblesse Oblige, itself an d’Ithanie phrase meaning Noblility Obligates, taught that those who were held higher in social standing had a duty and responsibility to those lower than them. With these two concepts, Primae Yvrize revolutionized the Viridian Order by the implementation of the Code of Charlemois, as well as submitting the order to be obedient to the Emperor instead of acting as a political entity. With a renewed charter, the Viridian Order received some of their previous castles to train their knights at (others were either abandoned or taken by groups such as the Bloodcast Knights), and within twelve years they once again established themselves as the most elite order in the Regalian Empire.
At the turn of the century in 198 AC, the first female Grand Admiral of the Regalian Military, Marianne Cadar, was killed in battle. With her death came the question regarding the possibility of other women serving in the military, as Cadar proved to be one of the best tacticians (if not the best) in history. This topic would inspire Jeanne d’Arcoulais, an Ithanian immigrant who found it strange that the Regalians did not have any other women in military roles, despite the Ithanian Sovereignty having their own female-only tactical academies. Desiring change in the Archipelago, d’Arcoulais and several of her followers known as the Jeannarcs took the Treatises of Charlemois, and published the Arcèn Corollary, which proposed that women were also capable of becoming knights, as demonstrated with the Ithanaian Military. While a controversial statement at the time, the Jeannarcs found a supporter in Primae Yvrize, himself an Ithanian by Culture and familiar with the concept of women serving in the military. In 200 AC, he made the decision to create the Shieldmaidens of the Viridian Order, and granted Jeanne d’Arcoulais the rank of Prime Protectress, along with a seat on the Elder Council. Since then, the Shieldmaidens have acted as the Protectors of the Castle, acting as the first line of defense for the rest of the Viridians.
Recent Years and the Cedromarian Reform
It was the last several years that saw the Viridian Order put through several trials. Coming off the Ranger Crisis with high casualties, the Knights began to focus on replenishing their lost numbers, taking an absence from the Empire’s wars. This continued for several years, even as the Kade Dynasty took the Imperial Seat after the death of Justinian II. The next notable challenge came during the Anahera Occupation, which saw the Viridian Order’s main castle and training grounds under siege by the forces of the Lord Protector. While the Imperial Loyalists ultimately lifted the siege, it became apparent that the Viridians were starting to lose their prowess. This was ultimately proven a year later during the Lo Occupation, which saw the main Viridian Castle overrun by Deathling forces, resulting in the eradication of the Primae, Elders, and majority of the Order. When the Dark Queen was defeated, it was determined that only a fraction of the Viridian Knights were left, most either defending smaller forts on the Crown Isle, or deployed elsewhere in the Empire. Leaderless and broken, it would be Emperor Cedromar I that would reform the Viridian Order. Placing himself as its head and selecting a new Primae in Domenico Lampero, Cedromar would oversee a massive training effort to replenish the hundreds of lives lost during the Occupation, implementing a new code in the process, the Code of Ehrenhof. Today the Order is much smaller than it was a few decades ago, but shows signs of recovery as many new Pages enter the walls of the Kurtenwald Castle, keeping the pride of the Viridians high.
The Viridian Order has a very strict hierarchy that enforces a chain of command as well as quality within the order itself. Members are usually ranked based on their skill in martial arts. Ranks are often decided in a tournament held every year, though the highest rank of Paladin is reserved only for the most talented. Additionally, the Elders and the Primae are selected from the Paladins, who are seated for life. The Grand Tournament is a tournament held at the Viridian Castle, where all Knights are required to participate. Failing to participate is considered dishonorable. The Knights are all faced against one another in one on one combat through three disciplines: the sword, halberd, and lance. Based on their performance in the three disciplines, Knights may be promoted in rank, and during every Tournament a single Paladin is chosen to join the elite few. While the Grand Tournament is the most common way to be promoted within the Order, the Elder Council also is able to grant ranks throughout the year.
The Regalian Emperor
A recent addition to the Order’s hierarchy since the Cedormarian Reform of 306 AC, the Regalian Emperor acts as the Divine Patron of the Viridian Order, which is the official head of the Viridian Order. The Emperor may oversee (or perform) the dubbing ceremony for the Squires if he so wishes, and consequently has direct control of the Order, though Alexander rarely involves himself in Viridian affairs, tasking the Primae to manage the Order in his stead. This makes the Divine Patron more of a ceremonial title than one with direct authority, though any Viridian Knight will gladly pledge their sword to the Emperor's cause at the drop of a glove.
The Primae is the de facto head of the Viridian Order. He leads the various Elders and is chiefly considered the most respected and educated Knight in the order. The Primae is often very old due to the fact that he is chosen from among the older Elders. The Primae sets the rules and policies within the Knight’s order while also functioning as a representative. The Current Primae is Domenico Lampero, who is both the first Dressolini Primae, and the first to be elevated to Primae without being an Elder first. It is a position unofficially held by an Ithanian over the past years, owing largely to the former Imperial House, Ivrae de Sange, being of said Culture.
The Elders are teachers and instructors at the Viridian Order. They are generally considered the most talented sword fighters and lancers in the realm, so they use their knowledge to train the next generations instead of using it in battle. Viridian Knights are lost each war, thus by preserving the most skilled, does the average skill of the order not diminish after a particularly bloody war. It is not unheard of for a knight to reject the Elder status because they would prefer to wage war, though many choose it purely because it offers a comfortable existence. The Elders are given leisure and luxury within the castle and are often afforded a minor estate with servants as well. There are twelve Elders that make up the Elder Council.
The Shieldmaidens are the only asset of the Viridian Order in which women may be trained, and function as guardians of the Castle. They are trained outside of the Viridian Castle in a smaller building called "Frauenhaus" (as they aren't actually permitted to enter the Castle.) The women here are trained in the use of the Cross-Shield, a massive shield almost as tall as the female themselves and wide enough to protect their entire body. Then they also train in swords, horse riding, and halberd usage. Women are permitted to join in the Grand Tournament, though are required to wear a helmet when competing to make them indistinguishable from their male counterparts. When not deployed at the castle, the Shieldmaidens may patrol the Imperial District in Regalia to guard the noble houses, or areas considered valuable to the Viridians. There is no formal method of combat deployment of the Shieldmaidens, except when the Elders go to war. Shieldmaidens then function as bodyguards to the Elders in battle. Despite their separation from the men in the Order, Shieldmaidens are still able to rise up and down the ranks as dictated by the Prime Protectress (following the same hierarchy below), who has sole power besides the Primae to do so.
- The Paladins (or Lioness Protectress for Shieldmaidens) are the most talented and skilled warriors within the Viridian Order. These fighters will have mastered the art of horseback riding, sword fighting, and halbard swinging to the point where only few could challenge them in single combat. Paladins are revered across the Empire for being paragons and holy warriors of the Unionist faith even though they have no distinct religious backing or membership.
- Lieutenants are the highest rank any Knight can achieve before becoming a Paladin or Lioness Protectress. These are some of the most skilled of the Viridian Knights, but lack a certain finesse or skill required to become an all-rounder like their Paladin higher ups.
- Sergeants are the next rank any Knight can achieve after being promoted from Man-at-Arms. They are quite capable combatants, but lack refinement and dedication to become a Lieutenant.
- Men-at-Arms (or Dames-at-Arms) are the lowest rank any Knight is after graduation at the age of 21.
- Squires are the second step at becoming a full member of the Viridian Order. They receive this rank at 14 when they finish their training as a Page, and will remain such until they graduate. Squires often accompany their Mentors outside of the headquarters to learn first-hand combat experience, acting as a standard bearer and bodyguard assistant to their senior Knight.
- Pages are the first step in becoming a Viridian Knight, and to enter the Order at the age of seven following the completion of an entrance exam and tuition fee. Once inside, Pages are taught in a classroom setting by Elders and graduated Knights, after which they are paired with a Mentor who provides more in depth instruction to the trainee in exchange for completing various chores to learn humility. Pages also accompany their Mentors outside of the Viridian Castle, though their role is limited to non combatant roles due to their inexperience.
- Viridian combat theory is a bit contradictory to their own code of honor, as they rely on weaker and less trained levy troops to act as a shock barrier before they actually engage.
- Viridian Knights carry around a dog-tag with their name, rank, and graduation year to identify their membership. This is often kept below all of their clothing on a necklace in order to keep it close to their hearts.
- The current headquarters of the Viridian Order is the Kurtenwald Castle, which used to serve as the main residency of the Primae and Elder Council’s families before the Lo Occupation. The previous Viridian Castle still remains in ruins, currently kept defended by the Shieldmaidens against looters or wandering Bloodcast Knights.
- Viridian Knights greet each other by striking a closed fist to their chest while exclaiming “Ehren” which directly translates to “Honor”. They use this same greeting to members of the Imperial family.