This article has been retconned, but I'll keep it here for ol' times (when I was a complete and utter noob - sorry) sake.
The Brotherhood of Alonsus was founded during the Second War as a monastic order dedicated to preserving the old ways of the Light in a puritan manner on the order of Archbishop Alonsus Faol. Indeed, this purpose also included administration of the newly founded Knights of the Silver Hand. Though things have changed within the order since and, upon the resignation of Prior Aethelstan, Prior Reuben overhauled many of the practices kept by the order.
Recently, the order has become more or less a "secret" bond of trust rather than an officially recognized order. A good portion of the knights of Stormwind and paladins of the Cathedral of Light have once been, or have been trained by, a knight or paladin of Alonsus. Such patronage has granted those within the order a lot of respect, not only in Stormwind, but across the whole Alliance. Though it has equally granted them a lot of strife and hatred, as more and more of the Alliance has begun to doubt the Church of the Holy Light, and because the agents of evil, and the warriors of the Horde, have a propensity to target them. Nevertheless, the order survives, albeit in a lesser way, today.
On a rainy winter night, a priest wrapped in blue cloth approached a small priory on the outskirts of Mardenholde. He looked towards the light that breached the curtains of the chapel, and illuminated the shaved monk standing to attention outside. Without anything but a few grunts of greeting, the two clergymen hurried into the chapel. Once inside, they approached the altar. The priest in blue cloth pulled down his hood to reveal an aging man and a respected Archbishop; none other than Alonsus Faol.
Alonsus and the monk talked for some time, though the crux of the conversation was the news that Alonsus had come to give the holyman: A new military order was to be set up, that fought in the name of the Light. "Absurd," was the initial answer of the monk, and Alonsus could see his point. The Light does not encourage war, though perhaps it was a necessary measure given the Second War's imminent arrival. The monk was finally won over, though the Archbishop had more news to convey, as well as a proposal.
The monk from that night was an elderly man called Aethelstan; a man of intelligence, though somewhat limited charisma. Though only an abbot at the time when Alonsus had met him, Aethelstan would go on to become the Prior of the Lightsworn Brotherhood. Alonsus had needed an order to check the balance between orders; the new military aspect and the old traditional monastic aspect. The Lightsworn Brotherhood would act as an administration towards the Knights of the Silver Hand. Checking, no less, not only their influence but their activities. Arguably a more "moderate" inquisition; a practice which some clerics became too good at, some would say.
The "Lightsworn" were unsuccessful; it found itself in a position where it was to be regarded as mere bureaucracy getting in the way of the Knights doing their job correctly. After the Second War, it was unsurprising that this position did not change. The victorious Knights of the Silver Hand were promoted as heroes, and the Lightsworn were all but left to decay. Aethelstan slipped into depression, having failed his friend and mentor Alonsus, and eventually hanged himself in suspicious circumstances.
Reuben Ashwing, a relatively young and wholly unpopular Sub-Prior within the order, would then take charge. Many had assumed that Reuben was Aethelstan's illegitimate child, and that he had been placed in such a position because he was his heir. Though Reuben was determined to shake the bonds from his image, and create something more true to the principles of the modern day. Though, as he soon realised, their name was all but dirt within the courts, and to escape this the newly-promoted Prior would move the order south, to the slowly rebuilding Stormwind.
There, the "Brotherhood of Alonsus" - renamed after the death of Alonsus - would exact charity work and rebuilding projects with the other returning Stormwindians. Though factions within the Brotherhood were created; many felt that it was an order that belonged in Lordaeron, and that it should stay in Lordaeron despite its status. These fractions would later be recorded to join the Scarlet Crusade. Though a majority grudgingly stayed with Prior Reuben, and a peace was able to be kept within the elections and affairs of the Brotherhood.It was soon after that the now rebuilt Stormwind would grant the Brotherhood land tithes and villeins to serve their purpose. To its name, the Brotherhood had a flourishing Elwynn farm that was said to be "blessed" by the rest of the serfs in Elwynn. Many of the monks in the order were convinced that economic advantages contradicted the teachings of Aethelstan, though Prior Reuben was determined to push the order further, and began to create a philosophy that tied in with the "modern" Holy Light which appealed to many Stormwindians and humans.
Though many monks were inept at fighting, and many of them were not young, there were always novices who could learn quickly and very professionally in order to meet the new needs of the Brotherhood: Knights and paladins. This was not taken well by some of the traditional conservatives, known as "Aethelites", who were more commonly old and had joined when the order formed, though it was received with a cheer from those known as "Utherites"; supporters of knights and paladins that upheld the Light not just in prayer, but in arms.
Reuben did not brand himself either of these and, being quite arrogant, would dismiss any suggestion of taking advice from either side, instead he would say that he took the increasingly popular middle ground, the "Pragmatists". Eventually, with the coming of the Scourge (and the inevitable death of the older members, who were usually Aethelites), the Utherites and Pragmatists won over the majorities in the councils, and it was decided that the Brotherhood should formally be converted into Stormwind's own brand of knights and paladins.Though the order was not able to support Lordaeron with its full forces, who were still mostly in training: a group of knights, led by Reuben himself, would take part in some of the campaigns that the Ashbringer Mograine led. However the order soon found confrontation with the faction that had left it in favour of Lordaeron; the Scarlet Crusade would be formed soon after. Returning to Stormwind with but a few casualties, the Knights of Alonsus were sorrowed by the state of Lordaeron, and swore to never let Stormwind fall to such a condition.
By the end of the Third War, the Brotherhood of Alonsus had its own set of knights who would own their own land, as well as their own villeins, and pay for their own men-at-arms. Though still relatively small at the time, they had achieved the recognition they wished and, though still unpopular to some extent, Reuben was respected for his decisions and reforms to the order, even if they had, at times, placed the order upon a knife's edge (which was discouraged by many paladins; risk wasn't a favourable game!).Since, the Brotherhood has fought against the Blackrock orcs in the name of Stormwind and Her Crown, and has gone as far abroad as Kalimdor to push against the vile Horde. They also experienced a short spell at the Dark Portal, where they helped repel the invading creatures that poured forth from the magical gates. Though their most recognisable achievement would be in the War of the North. Though the events in Northrend have been exaggerated by recruiters to some extent, the Brotherhood had a hand in victories against the Scourge at the Temple City of En'kilah in the Borean Tundra.
In the Shattering the order experienced a period of total war; Alliance campaigns in the west had doubled in effort, and some of the Knights, including Tristan Ashwing (cousin to Reuben), were sent across the sea to fight in the Barrens. Though a more pressing issue was the crises in the Eastern Kingdoms. First of all a campaign of defence had been launched for Gilneas, and the Knights had been expected to contribute in sword and man-power. Prior Reuben was to lead that particular group himself, and fight alongside the Northgate Regiment. Even their homelands had been put under threat by troubles with not only orcs, but demons. Knights such as Marcos and Arianna Redmayne had been sent forth to deal with said troubles in the Kingdom of Azeroth.
However, the order was bound to come to an end. The Brotherhood had seen casualties in Knight Tristan Ashwing amongst others, and the knights had simply spread too broadly. To say the Brotherhood no longer exists would only be half true; in official practice, the Brotherhood has disbanded, however in spiritual and common patronage, the Knights are loyal to each other. Some even still wear the uniform, and the order meets often. Perhaps the Brotherhood is alive, after all.
On the one hand, the Brotherhood of Alonsus has the single thesis of the Three Virtues and the Light but on the other they have different beliefs and dogmas which have separated them since the order's conception. Though opinions will always differ, and within factions there are more factions, the are three "types" of members within the Brotherhood, which may be attached to the "right", "left" and "centre" of the order. As the picture to the left depicts, the Utherites and the Aethelites often argue, with the Pragmatists observing, trying to make the best decision.
The "right" of the order. The Aethelites focus on retaining a traditional order, and are quite often old members. Though now many of their beliefs are seen as outdated, they still hold quite some sway over the guild and are respected as the elders of the order. Though their beliefs are many, you can narrow them down to five main points:
- Pacifism: the belief that violence should not be tolerated in any form, and to welcome a return, despite the heavy losses incurred by this belief in the First War, to a less martial order. Also, they oppose the paladins and knights of the order, and would like to see a purely monastic and priestly order.
- Monastic doctrine: the belief that monastic vows should be followed; vows such as poverty, celibacy and charity.
- Conversion: the belief that the Brotherhood should not only enforce conversion to the Light within the Kingdom of Azeroth, but also impose religion based laws upon their land tithes. This has stemmed from a study Aethelstan had done upon the human race, where he states; "the human race is naturally rebellious and violent, they have been gifted the Light for some respite from their own brutality; therefore, they should follow it."
- Single race membership: the belief that only humans should be able to join the order, and that other races are either not holy enough, or aren't loyal to the true cause of the Brotherhood.
- Patriarchy: the belief that the order should be run strictly with utmost obedience towards the Prior, as the patriarch of the order.
The "left" of the order. The Utherites believe that, as the Holy Guardians of the Light, it is important the order takes a tough stance against evil and the Horde. Though some of their beliefs are seen as radical, and some overly-zealous, many of the Utherites are the novices that wish to prove themselves in battle. Their beliefs can be categorised to five main points:
- Martial ethos: the belief that the order should not shy away from a fight, whether the odds are stacked against the Brotherhood or not. This can often lead to many mistakes and disasters on the battlefield. The belief supports an order that concentrates more heavily upon the military, and makes advances in the domain of war.
- Communal doctrine: the belief that you should do things within a group at all times, and account for everyone; the Paleingamot is an example of this.
- Recruitment: the belief that people should not be forced into the order, and instead should be picked for military skill.
- Plural race membership: the belief that all races of the Alliance that wish to fight under the banner of the Light should be able to join the order.
- Communal spirit: the belief that the all the order is equal, and that all opinions should be respected. This also counts for decisions, which they believe should be made in a vote. The creation of the Paleingamot was the response of the Pragmatists to this.
The "centre" of the order. Pragmatists have recently seen a run of supremacy under Reuben Ashwing, who prefers to see himself as a Pragmatist. Pragmatists believe in doing the right thing at the right time, rather than being bound by dogma. Therefore, it is hard to "pin down" what they exactly are. However, we may have a general idea by some of their more consistent doctrines that have earned them the nickname the "workmen":
- Practicality: the belief that war should only be started if it is appropriate in terms of timing, state and moral grounding.
- Individualism: the belief that everyone has the right to self-determination, but more importantly that everyone should be self-sufficient and not dependent on the Brotherhood, apart from special instances.
- Guidance: the belief that it is wrong to deny someone their liberties, though they should be educated against sin and for the Light.
- Stormwindian membership: the belief that any race that considers itself Stormwindian, and is willing to fight for Stormwind, should be allowed into the Brotherhood.
- "Elective patriarchy": the belief that the Prior should be followed, though only if he is elected to the position. A bishop or Archbishop wields a veto, and knights may remove their Prior if they have a large enough majority.
Prior Leadership in the Brotherhood is in what you might call "constant flux"; at times, when the Prior is weakened, he or she may have to resort to the Utherite way of conducting votes for nearly every decision that is taken. On the other hand, if the Prior is quite strong and confident, he or she is able to make decisions fast and efficiently. Though there are downsides to this, too, in that it may turn sour and become an effective dictatorship within the order.
There is no real constitution that says the Prior should be held to election, and therefore democracy is essentially just a convention within the Brotherhood. In reality, the Prior has most all powers available to him or her when a bishop - Archbishop Benedictus in this case, - appoints him or her to that position. Of course, this would mean that the most sycophantic priest or paladin may become Prior. This is where convention and tradition intervenes, and many of the knights as well as monks will expect an election. Though there is an exception even to this rule, as there is also the traditions of handing the title of Prior to the Sub-Prior in succession. Indeed, there are many contradictions in tradition as well as function in the awarding of the leadership of the Brotherhood.
Like the appointments and the powers of the Prior, the duties of the Prior are vague. At times, the order may handle itself (through the Paleingamot), and at others the order desperately needs a Prior to act as its "Shepherd". Ceremonially, they are the leaders; they carry the mantle which allows the distinction to be made. However, they do not always have to be the decision making structure within the Brotherhood; rather councils and groups that are set up within to decide the functions of the order.
PaleingamotThe Paleingamot is an assembly of the Knights of Alonsus, and other important figures within the order. Created by Prior Aethelstan originally, the Brotherhood would soon see the definition changed from a group of monks, to a group of knights. Though this assembly is merely advisory, the importance of the Paleingamot during a war is unquestioned: Reuben, being a monk originally, has little knowledge of tactics, and therefore respects the opinions of the Paleingamot when it comes to battle and warfare. They are generally listened to, because of their status as experts for their respective representation.
Though this was disapproved of by Aethelites, the decision to create this was indeed made by Aethelstan himself to settle the rising Utherite influence within the squires. This has led many to believe that Aethelstan was not really an Aethelite himself, and was more of a weaker pragmatist who made one too many concessions.
Support of the Feudal SystemEditThe primary concern of the Brotherhood of Alonsus, now at least, is the military. Though their military, and their knights, are dependent upon the land tithes, or fief, that they are given by the Earl of the land. These land tithes supply the Brotherhood with revenue made from farming, which is done by the villeins*. The Brotherhood's Knights are therefore supplied by the land holdings, which include the villeins, and much of the order relies on economic and agrarian success. In fact, many of the Knights end up helping the villeins upon the farms.
The revenue pays for the armour, the horse, the food, the men-at-arms and the weapons that the Knights use, and it can be seen that when there have been a succession of bad harvests, the standard of armour and horses has gone down. Though in conventional feudal systems the peasants are abused, in the Brotherhood of Alonsus the peasants have traditionally taken a large part in the order. There is a "Land Captain", which is elected by the villeins, to represent them within the order's Paleingamot. It was under these traditions that Stormwind actually agreed to take part in the out-dated system.
Though the Kingdom of Stormwind does not support the feudal system in its entirety, and in fact has advanced into a society where armies are recruited directly under the King's name, and are organised into legions. The feudal system is an archaic practice of more agrarian kingdoms, such as Stromgarde and Lordaeron, which call upon their armies by Earldom. This means that, rather than the State owning the army totally, each Earl of a fief commands his own sector of army by paying for it in the similar manner that the Knights of Alonsus do. When the King or nation is in a time of war, each Earl is called on by law to serve the King - and so the armies are combined together.
Stormwind has allowed the Brotherhood to continue the traditions because of its status as a symbol of "the old times". A fief was especially made by the House of Nobles in Stormwind, so that the Brotherhood may practice its convention, tradition and system. Though to say it was as simple as that would be erroneous; many difficulties were encountered on the suggestion that peasants should be held to the land. It was finally concluded that whether they were legally tied or not did not matter; the peasants hadn't moved since the feudal system's abolition, and still showed an almost religious following towards their respective Earl.
- A villein is tantamount to a slave, albeit vaguely different: A slave is tied AS the master's property, whereas a villein is tied TO the master's property. Therefore, the owner of the land owns the villeins' livelihood but not the villein itself, and is not counted as property of the owner of the land. A slave may be killed by its master freely and be unpunished for it, whereas a lord of the land may be punished for killing a villein (although loosely). A villein may not move from the land holding, and must do its farming upon the land holding.
Though, like the rest of the order, the fief is expected to be self-sufficient. The armour that the Knights use is no longer bought from Ironforge, as the Brotherhood has trained one of the villeins to be a blacksmith. Though they do still import things such as the Arathian warhorses, the Dun Morogh truesilver and sometimes men-at-arms, they have become relatively self-sufficient over the years, with their fief increasing in size, and the amount of peasants willing to toil and nurture the land for them increasing at the same rate.
Oath to the Kingdom, the Crown and the People Edit
I vow to thee, my country, all earthly things above,
Entire and whole and perfect, the service of my love;
My sword that asks no question, my plate that stands the test,
For our prayer upon the altar, the dearest and the best;
The courage that never falters, my life that pays the price,
A knight that makes undaunted the final sacrifice.
I heard my country calling, away across the sea,
Across the waste of waters she calls and calls to me.
Her sword is girded at her side, her helmet on her head,
And round her feet are lying the dying and the dead.
I hear the noise of battle, the thunder of mighty hooves,
I haste to thee my mother, a son among thy sons.
Though the order was originally of Lordaeron, Reuben decided to move it to many of the knights' and monks' homeland: Stormwind. This was for sentimental reasons, as well as reasons to do with reputation. Nevertheless, the King greeted them there happily, and knighted them all once the oath was taken. Now, the Knights of Alonsus and their feudal soldiers protect not only the King, but the lands of Stormwind and its people under oath.
It is common knowledge, however, that the order's primary focus is the Light and what it commands. It can be compared to the Knights of the Silver Hand that were sworn to the Crown of Lordaeron, though took the Light as
its priority. The monks of Alonsus, which are thinning in number, do not have to take the oath. Therefore, it can be said that the monks are ironically more "free" to do what they wish than the knights are in terms of kingdom and location.
The oath also means that, should the King need military service from the Knights, the Brotherhood is bound to the service of the Wrynn dynasty. An example of this is the War of the North, where the Knights were called to help establish the Alliance war effort in the Borean Tundra.