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General Organisation of the Order -- 2. The Military

by Bruce Heard

The Military: The Grand Master of the Order is the supreme commander of the military apparatus. Either he or one of the two clerical Primates can lead an army. The main subdivisions of an army on a battlefield or in a major garrison require a Grand Knight. The Grand Master of the Order, the Primates, and Grand Knights are entitled a retinue of body guards, called Sergeants-at-Arms whose responsibilities include the safety of their commander and to see that orders are carried through. Sergeants-at-Arms are mounted, armoured knights.

Any land force fielded by the Order breaks down into one Vaward, one Main Battle, and one Rearward. Before combat the Vaward normally holds the left wing, the Main Battle the centre, and the Rearward the right flank. These three main combat units break down into Chapters of about 100 to 500 similar troops under the command of a Knight Banneret.

Chapters break down into infantry Companies and cavalry Lances, usually ten to a Chapter. A company includes either 20-30 men-at-arms, or 40-60 archers, crossbowmen, or pikemen. A Lance includes about ten armoured knights. A Knight Bachelor commands individual Companies and Lances. All knights of the order are entitled to a squire attending to their needs and safety. A sergeant usually helps command infantry troops and provides combat training, usually one for every ten soldier in a company.

A number of combat units are predefined before a battle as being part of a rear guard. These are experienced troops whose responsibility is to cover the army's retreat from a battlefield (a rear guard is not necessarily part of the Rearward).

All member of the Order below the rank of knight (except novice priests) are referred to as lay brethren. They receive a small monthly pay which is normally sent directly to their families and serve a ten year term. All other members of the Order receive no pay and serve for life. Generally-speaking, the proportion between knights and lay brethren is about ten for every single knight.