Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Is it wrong to seek Renown?

re-posted from the Armour Archive:

The question was posed: Is it wrong to seek Renown?

and I have answered:

Renown is a good thing. It is a deterrent to my enemies, and thus allows me to serve my liege lord better and to protect my people. But like Wealth (another good thing that allows me to serve my liege lord better and to protect my people) it is possible to both seek and acquire it in a bad way and thus bring dishonor upon myself and my liege.

Doing praiseworthy deeds is an essential prerequisite for achieving renown. It is also the simplest and best way to seek renown, and in a perfect world it would be all that is needed.

However, in this imperfect world it is quite possible to do praiseworthy deeds and remain unknown. Thus one who would seek renown must seek out venues where the Body of Honor will observe his deeds, must seek to become known to the Body of Honor so that his diverse deeds will be united into a single accumulated reputation, and must bear distinctive markings upon the field so that his deeds can be correctly attributed to the right person. Seeking renown in these ways seems good and right to me.

Sir Vitus wrote eloquently on this last matter in The Anvil of Virtue and I have taken his words to heart. Where before I often carried symbols of Ansteorra on my shield even while pursuing individual deeds of arms, now I save such gear for the battlefield and carry my own distinct arms in personal deeds and tournaments.

I make some effort to meet and cross swords with the knights and other serious students of chivalry in my kingdom both so that I can learn from them and in the hope that they may remember my name. Of course I could always do more...and he who does more is more worthy. As my prowess improves I hope to become more diligent in attending those tournaments and deeds of arms where individual prowess can be more readily displayed.

When I posted the name and arms of the Bryn Gwlad War Company on this forum I was seeking to improve our recognition so that our actions on the field could bring us renown. Even when I post my thoughts on topics of chivalry I am aware that here, as everywhere and always, my words will be weighed and judged and my reputation will be increased or diminished.

Grandstanding, boastfulness and criticism of others are common ways to seek renown badly. In war, the man who pursues personal glory rather than pursuing victory for the King's army may gain renown for a time, but he does not truly serve his liege and in time may come to ruin. Duke Cariadoc has offered us a helpful guide to avoid boastfulness in this poem:
"Don't boast of your might
Till you learn how to fight
Or after--or ever at all."

And as for criticizing others, I'm sure that no one in pursuit of chivalry would ever do that so I feel no need to critique them for it. *rolls his eyes* In all seriousness there are times when a private word of concern to an individual (or in the case of a squire, their knight) can be helpful. But public criticism of others rarely helps anyone and tends to identify the speaker as a gossip at best and at worst a self-serving, back-biting toady.

The temptation towards each of these false paths to renown is very great, much like the temptation toward false paths to wealth. Being human, each of us is likely to fall short in one way or another from time to time. May the Good Lord preserve me from such errors and forgive me when I fail.


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