Lions and Warriors
By Michele Ellington Tawnee Darkfalcon
This one is a history lesson on the award of the Lion and Warrior.
How ironic these statements are! I feel pressed to offer a little history lesson. When we first started the club, the only order offered for fighting was the Order of the Lion. At that time, knights had a very definite code of conduct, which was expected of them. Not everyone in the club wanted to be a knight. The Corsairs and a few others recognized and freely acknowledged that this code of conduct was not for them, and did not even solicit Orders of the Lion. However, it quickly became clear that some of these "mavericks" were some of our best fighters. It was clearly unfair that there was no way to make public note of their skills. So we invented the Order of the Warrior. It was intended that a fighter who earned ten Orders of the Warrior would become a Warlord. A Warlord was to be the equivalent of the Knight, but not bound by the code of conduct expected of the knights. When tournaments were conducted, the fighters were watched for both skill and conduct, and were awarded Warriors or Lions as was deemed appropriate by the Monarch. At this time, there was only one form of Knighthood. Roses attributed to titles of nobility, and Dragons were simply prestige awards. Time passed. Some confusion evolved about the intended difference between Warriors and Lions. An odd sort of dichotomy arose, wherein Lions were almost impossible to earn, yet Warlord was the club's most coveted title. In my opinion, this was the result of the fact that most of the really skilled fighters were the "maverick" types, and the Monarchs all but forgot the existence of Lions and what they meant. Warlord was a separate title from Knighthood, but was no longer regarded as its effective yin/yang opposite. Warlords won Crown Tourneys and were also knighted. The intent of the creation of the Warrior as an Order separate from the Lion fell away. The focus became wholly skill based, with no real evaluation of attitude included. Monarchs came and went.
After a couple of years, the Monarch decided that Knighthood should be broken into four belts: Sword, Serpent, Flame, and Crown. To that end, the Orders were all evaluated. The Order hardest hit was Lion. The Monarch making the changes added Warriors as one of the Orders contributive to Knighthood of the Sword. Then he broke the Order of the Lion into Lions for combat and Griffins for chivalry. Then the persons holding Lions were subjectively reviewed, and decisions were made about whether they were good enough fighters to hold that number of Lions, or if some of those awards had been given for chivalry more than combat prowess. Some players' Lions were converted to Griffins, and, if I recall correctly, no longer contributed towards Knighthood of the Sword. As combat had always been the focus of the club, deleting combat orders to make them "orders of the nice guy", read "orders of the chump" by the much acclaimed Warlords who weren't expected to play fair, was hardly a compliment. So now you see the irony of your reference to Griffins as a highly sought after and scarcely offered award.
I am sorry we lost the dichotomy between Warlords and Knights. I think that a lot of the problems we experience today with Knights acting in unsportsman like and un-chivalrous fashions would be alleviated if there were another Prestige Track available to those who aren't truly "knightly stuff". I have mixed emotions about whether the "code of knightly conduct" should be enforceable, for right and wrong are ever subject to interpretation. But there was a time when those who knew themselves to prefer a less "moral" set of expectations were able to earn prestigious titles and awards for their skill alone. With this option available, it was certainly easier to argue that Knights should be expected to meet certain behavioral requirements.