The Huntington Campaign
Due to the many mercenary knights encountered in the Huntington Campaign, including all the fathers of the campaign’s original player-characters, it is a good idea for everyone to know exactly what a mercenary knight is. The best way to do this is by first making a distinction between a mercenary knight and the other kinds of knights in the game.
A vassal knight is a knight who has his own land and is financially supported by it. A bachelor knight is landless, but he serves in the household of a lord (receiving room and board in exchange for his loyalty and service). What happens if a knight does not have his own land or does not belong to the household of a lord? Usually, he ends up doing one of two things. If he is independently wealthy, he may decide to become a “knight errant,” and go out adventuring and helping people (like Caine in “Kung Fu”). If, on the other hand, he still needs to earn a living then he will probably become a mercenary knight (after all, his skill set and gear are heavily combat oriented).
Becoming a mercenary knight may result from one of a number of reasons. Some mercenary knights started off their military careers as common foot soldiers or sergeants, and then later were knighted on the battlefield by a lord after displaying exemplary bravery and prowess. Basically, they were rewarded with the knighthood for possessing knightly virtues. In some cases, the lord is able to bring this person into his household, and therefore making him a bachelor knight. In other cases, the lord may not take him into his household due to a lack of funds for his upkeep, or some other reason, and therefore the newly made knight continues his military career as a mercenary. He still has a lot to be thankful for, because he is now able to receive more money for his services than he did as a commoner. Moreover, he is able to pass down the title of knighthood to his sons.
Other knights may start off with more secure careers but later have to become mercenary knights. For example, a Saxon invasion may displace bachelor knights from their households, and vassal knights may lose their lands. In other cases, a knight may lose favor with his lord and be exiled. There also may be the case of a younger son with no hope of inheriting any land or substantial wealth from his father and has no desire of serving in someone’s household. A vassal knight may have his lands struck by a blight or plague, resulting in a harsh blow to his estate’s economy and income.
Regardless of the way a person becomes a mercenary knight, so long as he can ride a horse and swing a sword, he is almost always assured of employment in medieval society. At any given time, there will inevitably be a battle going on somewhere in Europe, usually between lords quite willing to augment their forces with some knights-for-hire.