Monday, January 19, 2009

Ensiferi, the Sword Brothers of Livonia

The Ensifiri were once an independent order, based on the Crusading Knights Templar, established to pursue the crusades in the north. The old order was founded in the year of our lord 1197 by the first Bishop of Riga, Albert. Though a crusade in the north had initially been pursued with some vigor by good Christians, that commitment waned and it became obvious that an order should be formed to continue the crusade on a permanent basis, as the other knightly orders did in the holy land. The rule and symbols of the order were those of the Knights Templar and their badge was a sword, from which came their name. The bull approving their order (Innocent III in 1202) was notable in that, unlike the other knightly orders, there was no stipulation as to the birth or station of the brother knights and membership was open to all.

This new order pursued their mission only short time, with only two Grand Masters. The first was murdered by his brother knights and the second fell in battle along with many of his fellow crusaders when the order was almost wiped out by the combined pagan forces of Lithuania and the Semigallians in 1236. The surviving knights were incorporated into the Teutonic Order as an autonomous unit, retaining all their lands, symbols and the right to govern themselves under the nominal authority of the Teutonic Grand Master.

The Ensiferi remain a potent force on the Baltic, having avoided most of the losses suffered by the rest of the Teutonic Knights. They are organised differently to the other crusading orders and do not keep so closely to their vocation as religious, being almost totally military in orientation. Having never fought in the holy land, they also do not share the high esteem in which the Knights of St John, and to a lesser extent the other orders, are held.
Devices and colours: White surcoat with a red cross. They have a red sword as their symbol and bear a red bordered shield with a red cross on a white field as their coat of arms.

Skills: Animal Handling, Melee arts, Maneuver, Military Arts or Theology, +1 LP

Secret Masteries:

Swordbrother (Melee arts (Bladed Weapons) Mastery), the novice Ensifiri is Knighted and the accorded the right to command his own Gleve (Lance) of lesser soldiers. He will be granted a sword of good quality along with armour and horses appropriate to his station. His sure presence will give +1 to defense rolls for his Gleve (any party may act as a Gleve outside of battle) when in formation.

Crusader (Melee arts (Bladed Weapons) Mastery), the Veteran Ensefiri is accorded the rank of Preceptor and command of a chapter. His order will grant him a sword of exceptional quality as badge of his high office. He will also have the right to lodging and aid anywhere in the Ordenstratte.

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