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The Order of the Chivalry is bestowed on those people who are “considered the equal of his or her prospective peers with the basic weapons of tournament combat.“ (Corpora, Article VIII.A.4.a)
The Order of the Chivalry is one of the four SCA Peerages, along with the Order of the Laurel, the Order of the Pelican, and the Order of Defense. It is a Society wide Award that is recognized in every Kingdom in the Knowne World and conveys to the member a Patent of Arms, no matter which Crown of which Kingdom bestowed the Award.
The Order of the Chivalry, sometimes simply called “The Chivalry” (or, more informally, “The Chiv”) is divided into two branches: The first and largest is comprised of Knights, who are required to swear fealty to the Crown; the second is comprised of Masters-of-Arms, who are not required to do so. Despite the differing requirement of fealty of the two branches of the Order, they are equal in rank on the Order of Precedence.
The office of Master-of-Arms was established in the SCA as a response to real-world religious restrictions on the swearing of oaths; orthodox Jews, Mennonites, and certain Mormon sects are restricted from swearing any sort of fealty, for example. In addition, are are any number of personal (or at least persona-related) reasons why an individual might not wish to do so. In any case, when a candidate for the Order of the Chivalry is put “on vigil”, they are permitted to choose which title they prefer with no questions asked.
Knights wear an unadorned white belt and gold chain; Masters of Arms wear a white baldric.
There is a legacy chain which has been passed down through all Knights and Masters of Arms who have lived in Ealdormere. Traditionally this chain is passed on to the newest member of the Order of Chivalry, either at their elevation ceremony or when they first move into the Kingdom and swear fealty to the Crown of Ealdormere. Knights wear the legacy chain, while Masters of Arms hold it in trust.
Knights are addressed as “Sir”, regardless of gender. In Ealdormere, Masters of Arms are all addressed as “Master”, though a female Master of Arms has the option of choosing to be addressed as “Mistress”.
In addition to the Peerage Qualities expected of all peers, members of the Order of the Chivalry are “to:
Each Crown may chose to elevate Subjects of Their Kingdom to the Order, but the Crown must ensure the Subject meets the criteria as described in Corpora for Peerage Awards, and The Crown has consulted with the current members of the Order in Their Kingdom.
The actual “Knighting” ceremony is one of the few honours in the SCA that is not entirely bestowed by the Crown; if the sitting monarchs are not themselves members of the Order of the Chivalry, a member of the Order is required to participate in the actual Knighting as Corpora states that “only a knight can make a knight.” All members of the Order of the Chivalry, therefore, are in direct lineage to the first Knight in the SCA, one Sir Siegfried von Hoflichskei who was a mundane knight and one of the original attendees at the 1966 May Day Party which became the start of the SCA.