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The Knights of the Gentian is a military order founded in Austria in 1480 by Balthasar the Vespertilio, also known as "Batman" for the purpose of enforcing crime and protecting important assets within the Holy Roman Empire. Composed originally of a small number of knights loyal to Balthasar, the group grew to become an important organization within the empire, taking part in many important events.
The Knights of the Gentian began when in 1479 Balthasar von Habsburg was separated while hunting and attacked by a group of vesper bats. The event would later inspire him to don the nickname of "the Vespertilio", or as one courtier joked, ‘bat man’. After seeing the effects of crime firsthand in the city of Vienna, Balthasar would adopt the alter ego of batman, dueling with hooligans and infiltrating crime rings. The Knights of the Gentian would be organized to aid him in his infiltration of criminals and thieves.
The Knights' first real test of ability was in 1481 when an assassination plot to slay the former chancellor, Rudolph of Koln, at Ulrich V’s Funeral Tourney was stopped by the Knights of the Gentian thanks to an elaborate spy system established within the event. While investigating the attempt on Archbishop Rudolph’s life, the knights uncovered a plot in Cologne Cathedral organized by Hans Hendriks, a minor lord and Dutch reformist. While attempting to apprehend Hendriks he escaped and raised his banner in revolt, beginning the War of the Gunpowder Usurper. The revolt would later be successfully crushed thanks to the efforts of the knights, gaining them fame all across the empire.
- Balthasar the Vespertilio - (1469 - 1542) The son of Holy Roman Emperor George I, Balthasar first became "Batman" when in 1479 he was separated while hunting and attacked by a group of vesper bats. The event would later inspire Balthasar to adopt Batman as his alter ego, putting his efforts toward ending crime in his city of Vienna. Founder of the Knights of the Gentian, Balthasar personally took place in several important events in its early career, including the War of the Gunpowder Usurper.
- Michael von Truchseß Wetzhausen - An imperial knight who saw action in the Prussian military and in the Swabian War, who served as Balthasar the Vespertilio's first second in command.
- Siegfried the Wild Hunt - A famous knight from the Odenwald mountain range. Renown as a ruthless warrior of both the Saxon War and the Westphalian Revolt, Siegfried was once a raider who led mercenaries to attack enemy villages. Famous for swiftly riding into town in the dead of night to attack their targets, Siegfried gained his nickname for his quickness and for his ruthlessness, beating enemies to death with a club. His mercenary group disbanded, Siegfried joined the order after having turned his life around and to become a pious individual.
- Gottfriend von Berlichingen - A notorious soldier who saw combat during conflict in Hesse and other minor engagements, and became the personal bodyguard of Emperor Charles V. Gottfriend, known as the “Knight with the Iron Fist” for his large iron prosthetic hand, after leading a charge in a battle in which he punched a cannonball in mid air, causing his arm to explode into several pieces, became notorious for his brutality with his iron fist.
- Hans Hendriks - A minor lord and Dutch reformist. Led an attempted assassination against Rudolph of Koln. Also is responsible for leading rebels during the War of the Gunpowder Usurper.
- Bishop Rudolph of Osnabruck - A sadistic ruler who, upon hearing of the string of murders in Oldenburg, could only laugh, earning him his nickname, “the Joker”.