The Illustrious Order of the Dragon, known otherwise simply as the Knights of the Dragon, is the monarchical chivalric order of Daggerfall, and first among the knightly covens of the West. Founded at some indeterminate time in the misty myth and legend of Daggerfall's earliest years, the Order has since grown to be the shield and banner of the realm - dedicated entirely to the protection of the House of Thagor, and of their residence in the Tower of Raven.
Founding and History Edit
Little is known of the exact circumstances of the Order's founding. One of the few surviving clues can be gleaned from the very oldest of western chants - some of them make reference to a pact between the nigh-mythical King Thagore and "a stalwart drake of Kynereth's choosing"; and the annals of the Knights insist this is where the name of their Order originates. Beyond that, we have nothing but wild conjecture and speculation, and the occasional far-fetched legend. The Knights themselves maintain they are the heritors of the dragon's mortal acolytes, alike to the Nord Tongues of old; the truth of the matter, however, remains sadly outside our reach.
Whatever the case, the Illustrious Order of the Dragon first appears in reliable historical record in connection to the brutality of the Betony Interregnum. One royal register from those troubled years makes note of "fourteen Knights of the Dragon, stout warriors and spellswords each; of those, five heads female, nine heads male" in relation to the Tower household. This rather cryptic entry is all we have in the way of an introduction to the knightly coven that would soon come to stand for the iron fist of the Thagors. Of the original fourteen, thirteen knights would be sainted, and now stand as the patrons of the Order; of the last, nothing is known and less is spoken, save half-muttered rumours she were a witch - some spawn of Meridia's, or perhaps the goddess herself in the flesh.
After the Interregnum, and the long and troubled years of the Middle Dawn, the Order of the Dragon jumps back into history a fully-formed beast - tested and tried in many a war against countless someones and somethings during the muddled chaos of the Dragon Break. The first record of their coven heraldry already has them joined at the hip with the Thagor monarchy, sharing in their house-colours; and the Knights have been bound to their king and queen ever since. Indeed, altogether little has changed in the Order over the past eras - it has remained the Thagors' loyal house-coven, sharing in their triumphs and in their defeats, and many an eminent noble clan and family have bound themselves to some knightly order or other in imitation.
The Knights of the Dragon have taken part in most every great Thagor war and battle in written history. Most recently, their spellswords dueled with the Swordsingers of Sentinel in the War of Betony, and they were alongside the ruling King Camaron all throughout the War of Tulunese Succession.
For all its fame and prestige, the Order of the Dragon abides by much the same rules as many other knightly covens across the West - or perhaps, the knightly covens of Daggerfall follow the example set by the realm's monarchical order. Though scattered all across the gargantuan Castle Daggerfall, and with a few chapters even nestled in the city below, the Knights of the Dragon are, above all, one whole - all abiding by the same rules and regulations, all answering to the same masters, all aspiring to the same ideals. Their honour is one, shared equally among all knights; and, crucially, bound to the honour of their heraldry, the heraldry of the Thagors. The Knights are as nieces and nephews to their kings and queens, all of the same house and serving under the same banner.
Traditionally, the Order of the Dragon has always been commanded by a single magister; currently, the title rests with Lord-Marcher Samuel Bridwell. Below him are a number of sur-magisters - the knight-commanders of separate chapters, towers and garrisons, each wielding the power and resources of one whole lesser coven. In times of need, of crisis, or indeed of great festivity, the sur-magisters are assembled into the Order's innermost coven, and here they confer in private with the magister, and chant their oldest chants together. Ever since the Firsts - the sainted patrons of the Order - these covens have taken place within the Tower of Raven, in a chapel-hall devoted entirely to the Knights' own; housing all their oldest relics, banners, idols and sword-cults.
Beneath the magister and the sur-magisters are all the many common knights, and all their squires and retainers. The Knights of the Dragon are among the finest warriors and soldier-knights in Daggerfall, heirs to a long and treasured Bretic tradition of able spellswords. The oaths that bind a coven together are blood-strong, and the knights are to be as swordbrothers and swordsisters to one another - never to refuse aid if asked, and never to allow a traitor or renegade go unpunished.
The Palatines Edit
Of particular note within the Order of the Dragon are the thirteen Palatine Knights - known variously as paladins, as paragons, and even as the swordid saints. Never given to religious extremes, the Bretons do not place as much weight on sainthood as the Cyrodils or the Dunmer; and so their saints are myriad, and the Bretic meaning of the word - quite different. Individuals beyond counting are remembered for their deeds in life, or for their closeness to the spheres of the Divines; the Palatine Knights are just a few among many.
Believed to have been blessed by the Order's patron host of saints, the paladins are first of the coven's swords - and that entails much more than mere martial mastery. They are the Order's most loyal and dedicated, they who best embody its rules, its morals, its codices, and even its history. The Palatine Knights are held to the strictest standards, for they are charged with Daggerfall's greatest and most ancient treasure - the lives of its sovereigns. For this, and for their service, they are thought almost living saints themselves; or at least, as close as Bretons might ever come to anything of the sort. By Cyrodiilic standards, they are simply holy warriors - esteemed, but nowhere near the reverence accorded the "true" Heartland saints.