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"A Grail Knight, one of the virtuous few who had long quested for the Grail, driven ever onwards by visions of the Lady of the Lake to seek for her chalice in far-off lands, to vanquish evil, to aid the needy and forever prove his virtuous heart in the heat of battle. If this knight was such a warrior, then he had supped from the Grail; blessed beyond all men and honoured with a life of service to the Lady. A Grail Knight... A saint amongst men, a warrior beyond compare who had slain great monsters, fought in wars beyond number, vanquished the most dreaded of foes and who had been granted powers beyond the ken of mere mortals."
Mankind's finest.[20]

A Grail Knight of Bretonnia.[5]

Grail Knights, also known as Knights of the White Grail[23] and Grail Paladins[6], are among the most devastating cavalry in the Old World, Living Saints infused with the power of their patron god, the first being the revered Grail Companions of legend.

Overview

"He seemed like an immortal, divine paladin, a faultless living legend, and strength, majesty and faith radiated from him like the heat from an inferno."
The presence of a Grail Knight.[6]

Considered the ultimate Human warrior, a Grail Knight is a successful Questing Knight who has fulfilled his quest. He must slay Orcs, Dragons and countless other monsters, fight duels with Chaos Knights and resist all manner of worldly temptations. If he is true to these challenges, he will find his way to a hidden glade and behold the Lady of the Lake, only then is he allowed to drink from the holiest of artifacts, the Grail. Upon this moment he becomes a Grail Knight, infused with part of the goddess's own power. Among the most fearsome fighters in the World, only the most skilled Blood Knights and Chaos Champions can hope to match a Grail Knight in combat. To defeat them is made harder still by the fanatical Battle Pilgrims, warriors who swarm around their living saint, slaying all who are unworthy to reach their master.[2][3][6][14]

A Grail Knight charging his undead enemies.[3]

Very few knights survive and fulfil the quest for the Grail, having to travel the Old World slaying the greatest of enemies and performing many heroic deeds. Fewer still survive a taste of the blessed waters from the chalice, for only the truest exemplars of Bretonnian knightly virtue, Paladins with souls unsullied and free of taint, are able to drink it and live. Grail Knights have vastly changed lives having supped from the Grail, becoming irrevocably committed to the service of the Lady of the Lake. They stand taller and broader in stature than before. In battle and on campaign they can endure greater hardships than any ordinary knight as if they were of no effect. Mighty foes will look upon them with fear. When they speak, their voices will be far richer than those of normal men, demanding awesome authority and inspiring confidence in all who listen. They know no fear or despair. Even magic often fails to affect them at all.[3][12]

The mystical waters of the chalice ensure that Grail Knights are granted lifespans many times that of normal men, as well as other, stranger gifts. All signs of age, scarring and fatigue are removed. They are blessed with enhanced strength, speed and endurance. Many have been known to heal wounds and possess the gift of prophecy, while others are protected by auras of shimmering energy. Riding into battle atop the greatest Bretonnian Warhorses, the ground beneath them is often surrounded by a faint, glowing mist.[1][6][8][10]

Grail Knights are feared, esteemed, and respected throughout Bretonnia and beyond. Not even the greatest Knights of the Empire can match these living saints in combat, their enemies cut down in their droves by the righteous fury of the Lady. Each Grail Knight takes over the duties of guarding the holy sanctuaries of the Lady. These are often simple places such as Lakes or woodland groves, but all are sacred to the Grail Knights. Should a corrupted creature set foot within one of these places they will face the awesome fury of its defender, for the Grail Knight will never flee from his defence of the Lady’s land. Indeed, many foes will meet their end by his sword long before they stray into the fields of his domain. A Grail Knight will only leave his sanctum in dire need, eschewing the luxuries of a noble life for a lifetime of service. Although many nobles often decide they can best guard these places by defending the realm, and so retain their titles, fiefdoms and other responsibilities.[3][6]

Grail Knights in prayer.[1]

Sometimes, when all seems lost, a knight defending his land against impossible odds will be joined by a Grail Knight, coming unbidden to fight at his side. Together they will beat back the foe. After the victory the Grail Knight will ride off, seeking no reward for his efforts. During times of dire peril, the lord of a domain might send word to any Grail Knights in the region, asking for their assistance.[2]

The arrival of a Grail Knight at the gates of a town or city will result in great parades, feasts and a day of rest for all workers. Desperate crowds will fill the streets, whilst the common people fight to touch the champion of the Lady and thus share in her blessing. Grail Knights command respect and awe from all listeners, lowly Peasants and mighty Dukes alike. It is indeed a bold or foolhardy individual who will speak against a Grail Knight, for their wrath is fearsome and terrible, and their words are those of the Lady. Even within the most remote and isolated village in the realm, people tell the tales of these paragons of earthly virtue, and of their glorious deeds in the Lady's name. To the commoners of Bretonnia, Grail Knights form a pantheon of living deities, their names spoken as a reverent mantra throughout the land, and are often worshipped in their own right. They are tireless, and know neither fear, hardship nor despair, their words and deeds immortalised forever. Some five centuries since his death, many still recount how the eyes of Riquiard of Brascard glowed with a terrible light as he slew the enemies of the Lady, while others speak of a golden aura that protects all Grail Knights from harm. Amongst the most famous of all, Laudyricus of Couronne, was believed to have been possessed of a heart so pure and noble that he was anathema to all unclean creatures and could slay them with his merest touch.[1][5][3][6]

Vampires and Daemons

"The power of the Grail compels me to destroy you, Chaos scum..."
Anonymous Grail Knight.[1]

A Grail Knight faces a Daemon Prince of Slaanesh.[9]

Alongside famous tales of felling Dragons and other great beasts, Grail Knights are renowned slayers of both Vampires and Daemons. The divine Blessing of the Lady permeates each and every Grail Knight, and has a debilitating effect on the unholy. Lesser undead such as Skeletons and Zombies crumble and collapse in their presence, while mighty Blood Knights and Vampire Lords find it painful even to look upon them. Wielding holy weapons infused with a portion of their own power, Grail Knights are capable of banishing the servants of the Dark Gods, breaking their grip on the mortal world. They have been rendered all but immune to the fell powers of Chaos, for the Grail sustains their noble will far more than any magical trickery. Truly, the belief in the nobility of their Lady-blessed cause is even more impervious than their shining armour.[2][6][15]

Death and Finding Gilles

"The guardian of the grail shrine pulled himself up to his full height. He still cut an imposing figure in his chainmail and tabard, despite his age. His muscles were taut, his body made strong through a life of service to the Lady, and not one driven by the appetites of lesser men like the one before him now. He took a step forward and as he came between the pilgrim and the stained glass window, he was surrounded by a nimbus of radiant light..."
A pilgrim encounters one of the revered Hermit Knights.[22]

An elderly Grail Knight, setting out on his final quest.[5]

Grail Knights can seem ageless, but they will eventually start to lose the luster of youth. However, it has long been foretold that Gilles le Breton is gathering an army to aid him when he returns. Only knights with a record of glorious deeds can join the army, but those who do are restored to their full health and placed in a magical sleep until the day they are needed. Those Grail Knights who feel the end drawing near often embark on a quest to find their first King and join him. Many of these dying heroes need protection, for their days of glory are in the past, and aged limbs can no longer hold a lance with vigour.[5]

Other venerable Grail Knights choose to spend their time guarding old chapels, though new ones may be founded from time to time. These Grail Chapels become the resting places for the bones and magic weapons of these Grail Knights. Knights Errant swear on the relics kept in these chapels and, in times of peril, they may be taken up in defence of the realm.[12][13]

Over the centuries, some Grail Chapels have been enlarged as various nobles have rebuilt old ruins or embellished existing shrines. Such chapels, often called Abbeys of the Grail, may contain so many valuable relics that they require defences in the manner of a castle and several Hermit Knights to guard them. In addition, the chapel may attract a small number of female recluses known as Damoiselles du Grail, who seek to devote themselves to the Lady of the Lake.[2][7]

Reliqaues

"It was like burning in the fires of absolution. His eyes burned to open. His flesh burned within his plate. His mind burned with the hallowed nature of the place..."
The Everchosen encounters the lasting effects of the Grail.[4]

Such is the power imbued into each Grail Knight, that even their corpses can prove fatal to the enemies of Bretonnia. Many tales can be told of these ancient heroes protecting the weak, inspiring armies and slaying monstrous foes, long after they have passed from the mortal world. One example is the Tomb of Galand, its holy aura destroying the Undead hordes that assailed it, while gifting a young mortal with the power to kill their vampiric champion. Even the mighty Archaon, favoured of Chaos, could barely stand within the blessed Chapel of Brilloinne, almost perishing under the draining fury of its consecration. Other fallen Grail Knights are retrieved by their loyal Battle Pilgrims and carried as Grail Reliquaes, imbuing their allies with the Lady's divine blessing and resolve.[4][8]

End Times

Warhammer-Template-Spoilers.png
Attention, Empire Citizens!
This article contains information regarding the End Times, the actual canon ending of Warhammer.

During the End Times, the majority of Grail Knights remained within Bretonnia, safeguarding its holy sites as Louen Leoncoeur led his forces in defence of the Empire. Later, during the closing days of the World, the Lady was revealed to be none other than the Elven goddess of prophecy, Lileath. The goddess soon revealed the immortality of all who had supped from the Grail, resurrecting them to act as elite guardians for her daughter's new realm, known as the Haven. Indeed, the peasantry of Bretonnia had long believed that Grail Knights not only fought for the Lady in life, but continued to do so after death as her avenging angels.[7][12]

Duties

"Mighty fighters who know no fear, they are among the most potent warriors of the Old World."
Virtues of a Grail Knight.[11]

As the greatest of Bretonnia's warriors, Grail Knights are gifted with the most sacred of mounts and equipment. Many of these living saints will often band together to form elite units upon the battlefield, or to perform important duties and tasks. The King of Bretonnia is always a Grail Knight, for only the Lady's chosen can rule. Many Bretonnian Lords are also Grail Knights, more influential than even their superhuman brethren. They are always fewer in number than the other knights of Bretonnia, but, as proven by Gilles and his Companions in ages past, each of these supreme warriors is able to slay hordes of lesser creatures with ease.[17][1]

  • Paladins - Not all Paladins are Grail Knights, but due to the heroic deeds and martial might required to sup from the Grail, all Grail Knights are considered holy Paladins in their own right. Their courage, valour and loyalty are beyond reproach, and they defend the palaces of the Lady to the death. On the battlefield, they are fell opponents who issue and accept challenges with no hesitation. As such, bands of Grail Knights are rarely led by a single champion, for each is a renowned hero and living saint.[1][6][19]
  • Grail Guardians - The Fay Enchantress is one of the most revered and respected figures in all of Bretonnia. As is fitting of someone who speaks with the voice of the Lady, she is accompanied at all times by a retinue of Knights who defend her to the death. These men, selected from among the very best of the Grail Knights, are warriors par excellence, striking down the enemies of Bretonnia with shining blades of justice. Though rumours abound that the Fay Enchantress is none other than the Lady herself, and therefore requiring no earthly protectors, the Grail Guardians care not and defend their charge all the same.[1]
  • Royal Pegasus Knights - Greater than regular Pegasus Knights in every way, these are Grail Knights who bear the King's Royal Insignia, entrusting them with powerful Royal Pegasi. The rarest of all steeds, only the most noble of Bretonnians can ride these dignified, sophisticated creatures into battle, acting as devastating aerial fighters who bring holy wrath from above.[1]
  • Royal Hippogryph Knights - Bearing the King's Royal Insignia, these are Grail Knights who have captured and tamed ferocious Hippogryphs. Riding into war atop these mighty creatures, they are an all but unstoppable force. Combining superhuman skill with bestial fury, they destroy their enemies with giant talon and blessed lance, causing fear and panic in their wake.[1]
  • Hermit Knights - Grail Knights can seem almost immortal, but they will eventually start to age and die. Those who are nearing the end of their lives often become Hermit Knights, guarding Grail Chapels and the powerful relics housed within. It is the Hermit Knights who allow the ancient weapons of their Chapels to be taken up in times of need, and they who offer advice and wisdom to those knights who still seek the Grail. Some Hermit Knights are served by a retinue of lesser knights and Paladins, who assist them in defending their sacred charge.[5][12][13][14]

Errantry Wars

"The darkness is upon us! Every heart must decide, shall I forsake my kingdom, my sacred honour, the Lady herself? No! We shall rise as one and cry ‘Back, daemons! Back to the hell that spawned you!"
An inspiring Grail Knight.[21]

It is extremely rare for large forces of Grail Knights to fight in Errantry Wars, as they are mainly campaigns for Knights Errant to earn honour, rank and glory in defence of the realm. Some Grail Knights, however, will often join the ranks of the young Knights Errant, acting as mighty champions and giving them a source of inspirational leadership - an ideal for them to aim for.[16]

Grail Damsels

It is not uncommon for the mysterious Grail Damsels to take on Grail Knights as their personal champions and lovers. These duos will often travel the land, the Damsel's gift of foresight aiding the Grail Knight in his search for evil to destroy. In other instances, the Grail Knight will act as the guardian of a Damsel and her Chapel, protecting her with his life and slaying would-be invaders.[6][18]

Heraldry

"There was not a man in all of Bretonnia who did not know the names, deeds and heraldry of every hallowed Grail Knight, for they were veritable avatars of holy power, and their every action was recorded and spread the length and breadth of the land."
The famed Heraldry of the Grail Knights.[6]

Bretonnian Grail Heraldry.

Grail Knights have achieved the Grail Quest and drunk from the Grail. They have therefore earned the right to display the image of the Grail upon their shields and superimposed upon their Heraldry. They may even adopt the Grail as a helmet crest. This emblem is worn in addition to the knight's other heraldry or achievements.[3]

A Grail Knight will often have the most magnificent heraldry of all knights, bearing the colours of his Errantry, the blazon of his Errand of Knighthood, the Fleur de Lys of his Grail Quest and the blazon of the Grail itself. The Grail emblem has no standard form, but can be depicted however it appeared to the knight. There are thus many different versions of the Grail emblem, but it is impossible to confuse with any other blazon. Men across Bretonnia are also expected to memorise the individual heraldries of every living Grail Knight.[3][6]

Famous Grail Knights

  • King Louen Leoncoeur - The penultimate King of Bretonnia and a mighty warrior. Considered to be one of the greatest Human rulers since Sigmar and Gilles le Breton.
  • Lord Calard of Garamont - A famed Grail Knight renowned for slaying the powerful vampire, Duke Merovech of Mousillon, matching the immortal Gilles le Breton in combat and saving Bretonnia from an army of undeath.
  • Reolus - Hero of Quenelles and sublime swordsman.
  • Galeron and Joinville - A pair of Questing Knights who supped from the Grail after slaying an entire horde of Beastmen.
  • Sir Borlois - The last defender of Aix Fronnard Chapel.
  • Sir Dagobert  the Thrice-Blessed - An ageing hero who became a blessed Grail Reliquae.
  • Agilulf - A great hero who rid the land of many monsters. He was renowned for his mystical, shining armour.
  • Sir Geg of Wainfleet - One of the very few peasants to ever become a knight, and the only known Peasant to ever sup from the Grail. 
  • Gilles Ettringer - An elderly Grail Knight who acted as the personal champion for a barony.
  • Theudric - Grail Knight of Carcassonne who became famed for his tragic life and heroic deeds
  • Leofric Carrard - A hero from Quenelles who helped the Elves defeat a Beastman incursion.
  • Baron Janduiá de Turín - Rules over one of Bretonnia's holiest lands, his wife Jacomettá de Turín, is the only known female to have ever supped from the Grail.
  • Baron Chlodegar - The most widely known noble within the forests of Artois, who rules over a large fiefdom and many Grail Chapels.
  • Leon the Brave - Brother of the Questing Knight, Gilles de Moreaux, he famously completed his Grail Quest after only two weeks.
  • Sir Letour - A Grail Knight who attracted a large following of Grail Pilgrims, including their fanatic leader Estrebert.
  • Paris de Marbleau - A Grail Knight re-seeking the Lady, who a young peasant girl, Ulrike Stavonnus, fell in love with.
  • The Wardens of the Shroud - A group of five Grail Knights who guard the Shroud of Gilles le Breton, a sacred artifact of Turín, Carcassonne.
  • Pierre de la Micca - The keeper of Turín's Grail Chapel and first defender of the Holy Shroud.

Trivia

  • Grail Knights are likely based off the knights of the same name from Arthurian legend, whose ranks included Sir Perceval, Sir Bors, and Sir Galahad.
  • In his Designer's Notes for Bretonnia, Anthony Reynolds had this to say about Grail Knights; "They are minor characters in their own right after all! These guys are truly frightening; having drunk from the Grail of the Lady, they are filled with supernatural power (glowing eyes, halos of light around them – the whole shebang), and they truly can kick butt."

Gallery

Theatre

Total_War_Warhammer_-_Bretonnia_-_Grail_Guardians

Total War Warhammer - Bretonnia - Grail Guardians

Grail Guardians.

Miniatures

Sources

  • 1: Total War: Warhammer
  • 2: Warhammer Armies: Bretonnia (5th Edition), pgs 40-41
  • 3: Warhammer Armies: Bretonnia (6th Edition), pgs 32, 50
  • 4: Archaon: Lord of Chaos
  • 5: Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay: Knights of the Grail, pgs, 19, 104
  • 6: Knights of Bretonnia (Series)
  • 7: Warhammer: The End Times Compilation
  • 8: Warhammer: The Red Duke, pg 430
  • 9: White Dwarf: Issue 372 (Cover)
  • 10: White Dwarf: Issue 262, pg 109
  • 11: White Dwarf: Issue 205
  • 12: White Dwarf 203, pgs 15-16
  • 13: White Dwarf 300, pgs 69-70
  • 14: Warhammer Quest - Bretonnian Knight
  • 15: Zavant (Short Story), by Gordon Rennie
  • 16: Warhammer: Storm of Chaos
  • 17: Warhammer: Rulebook (8th Edition) - Bretonnia
  • 18: Warhammer: Perilous Quest
  • 19: Games Workshop US (Bretonnia) - Designer's Notes
  • 20: Warhammer: Guardians of the Forest
  • 21: Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay: Career Compendium - Grail Knight
  • 22: Sir Dagobert's Last Battle (Short Story) by Jonathan Green
  • 23: White Dwarf 230 - The Legend of the Black Grail