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Errants & Renown

[This text has been severely edited. 333]

   On several occasions noble gentlemen have brought the questions: "What
   is it that errants of the company and other gentles need to acquire to
   admit them to the company? What do we expect of errants? What is this
   renown, and isn't it too fuzzy to make a qualification for membership?
   How are errants taken into the Company?"
   ...virtuous conduct is important, ...authenticity is more important 
   than the mainstream ... holds it, and that we must demonstrate these 
   beliefs through our own examples and through the improvement of these 
    The term errant implied a course of study and devotion....  The noble 
   gentles and ladies who stepped forward to be errants spoke with 
   passionate eloquence, reinforcing our beliefs in our own goals....
   perhaps the most important issue [is] renown. It is what we expect
   companions to have, and errants to strive for....  the whole conept of 
   the "errant" and of the required "renown" was cemented together.... 
   As it says in the Great Charter of the Company, to become a companion
   you must adhere to the maintenances of the charter (and the ordinances), 
   that you will be known to the Company for these things.

   What this means in practice is that you, as an errant or other person
   interested in the Company, must seek the renown such that you will
   bring fame to yourself for emulating the things the charter says we
   And what is renown? Renown is honor earned and attached to your
   reputation by chivalrous activity. Essentially you must become well
   known for the knightly virtues--prowess, courtesy, courage, loyalty,
   largesse, franchise, humility, justice, faith, forthrightness and
   the duty of defense. In particular the ones that the Company values
   highly--courtesy, franchise, faith and humility. We believe that these
   are harder to achieve than are prowess, loyalty, or even courage;
   although you must have all of them in some measure. We expect
   Companions to be especially strong in the particulars; franchise--to
   look and actually be a knight rather than acting the role;
   courtesy--and sincerity in the delivery of courtesy on and off the
   field; faith--in chivalry, in knighthood, in your fellow Companions
   and in the belief that there is more going on in the tournament than a
   simple exchange of blows; and humility--the ability to balance
   confidence and pride with respect and wisdom--and above all the
   avoidance of the poison of vainglory. In a philosophical sense, this
   is renown as the Company intends it.
   Practically, renown is being famous for looking and acting like a
   knight at all times. Revering authenticity and being known as a
   champion of chivalrous conduct over the 'sporting' mentality ...
   You must be the person that people seek out to fight, time and time 
   again, because you are fun to fight. This is a key; it is the 
   barometer by which we measure ourselves and our members. And it 
   holds, no matter how refined the skills. We expect our 
   Companions to be known for clean fighting, for unquestioned blow 
   calibration (this requires a measure of humility and respect in 
   giving the maximum benefit of the doubt to your opponent, assuming 
   that they are a knight (small k) until they prove otherwise). 

   It is a good deal to ask, and we recognize that we are
   hardly perfect. But the other Companions have made the judgement to
   accept the others on the basis of this judgement, and we are subject
   to their scrutiny and ultimately to expulsion should we fail to meet
   these expectations to the minimal level. To have earned a reputation,
   the renown, for the same is what we ask of our errants.
   Why the name Errants?

   We think the name errants is evocative of the Knight Errant. In
   romantic literature, young Knights Errant would go off into the world,
   selecting quests of their own devising, those imposed on them by
   others, or just wandering to win glory and fame in the cause of a lady
   or simply to win knightly renown. We charge our errants to follow the
   examples of Parsifal, of Eric, of Tristan, of Lancelot. We want our
   errants to do the same thing--to go off into the world seeking their
   knightly fortunes. They can do this in any way they wish, with as much
   or as little guidance as they request. Our Chancellor is an officer
   especially devoted to assisting the errants and companions in their
   quests and their education, both about history and about the
   in which we practice our chivalry.
   We charge the errants, under their own power, to go out and earn that
   reputation that will liken them to the other Companions. Or, we invite
   them to remain as errants for an extended period, associating
   themselves with the Company but maintaining a more distant
   relationship. Errants will be invited to speak of their travels, their
   accomplishments and observations, at Company feasts and convocations.
   Not as testimonials, but rather as chivalric enrichment for themselves
   and for this company, gathered as we are to celebrate and encourage
   high medieval chivalry.
    The Chancellor of the Company will maintain a library of source
   material from which the errants are free to choose. They might take
   part in discussions with the Ecole de Chevalerie, where we will read
   works important to students of chivalry. Or, they might simply gain a
   list of works to discover on their own. Or, they might request a
   series of challenges from the company, to be arranged by the
   chancellor. Or, they might have nothing to do with the office of
   Chancellor and strike out completely on their own.

   What should an Errant do?

   An errant should seek to do two things: to seek the renown discussed
   above, and to make themselves known to the company. We hope that they
   will attach themselves to one of our Company officers, so that the
   work of the company might become known to them and that their energies
   might be added to our pool. There is much we can do, if we work

   How is renown gained?

   Renown, knightly fame, is gained by the performance of chivalrous
   deeds. One might hold the field, impressing opponents with particular
   virtues. One might moderate a round table discussion at which
   chivalric or knightly virtues are debated. One might write an essay.

   One might simply fight in tournaments with a different
   mindset--putting winning out of the mind in favor of knightly conduct.

   And of course, there is no replacement for the repeated performance of
   knightly conduct in practice, tournament, and even off the field. It
   cannot be replaced. But in terms of fame or renown, building a stage
   helps. This is why the pas d'armes is so successful. It is exactly
   like the bright stage of a Crown Tournament except that the taint of
   victory is removed, removing the temptation to fail. This temptation
   generally passes unseen by the offenders, even the worst ones, and is
   what I call the trap of vainglory. Vainglory is very hard to succumb
   to at the pas, because there is little seduction of victory.
   Renown is also gained by sincerity of speech. When speaking to others,
   chivalry must come gracefully from the statements of the knight or
   man-at-arms. It cannot be forced; forced chivalry is insincere and
   does more damage than good, although it is hard to detect by the one
   speaking it. It is easy to detect, however, in those around who hear
   the words. Or see the deeds--the principle remains the same.

   How is renown lost?

   Renown is lost very simply. It is damaged by insincerity, by the ego,
   by vainglory, by a host of small things that make it "not fun" to
   fight someone. Or to watch them. Are they clean and interesting to
   watch when fighting? The more so, the more renown earned every time
   they take to the field. The reverse is true if they are ugly, in
   appearance or in gesture, or even in movement. Renown is easily lost.
   It is lost by careless gestures. It is lost when you are too tired to
   care anymore. It is lost in a thousand ways, and lost easily.

   Applying to the Company

   If it is a Companion you want to be, then we are happy to invite you
   to apply to our Company. Our Officers will determine whether or not we
   feel there is a good chance of your succeeding in your endeavor,
   whether or not we think you will accept guidance and criticism as we
   expect of companions, whether or not you will bring honor and glory to
   the company, and whether or not you are likely to hold on to your goal
   long enough to make progress. By application we mean a simple
   statement to the Company, delivered in speech or in writing. If
   delivered in speech, it should be done at a Company event. This could
   be a monthly Officer's Court, or more grandly, at one of our feasts.
   The Officers will discuss pending applications at the next court, and
   make the results known by the next Court.
   Comments and suggestions are more than welcome. Please direct them to
   the addresses below.
   All material copyrighted by author unless otherwise noted.

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