—Dain Bornhald to Verin Mathwin
The Children of the Light are an independent military organization dedicated to finding Darkfriends and rooting out evil and corruption wherever it may be found. Their zeal in this endeavor often borders on the insane and makes them dangerous opponents. Their headquarters is the Fortress of the Light in the city of Amador in Amadicia. Although Amadicia has a king, the Children hold so much political and military power there that they are undoubtedly its true rulers.
They typically refer to themselves as 'the Children'. They are commonly referred to by others as 'Whitecloaks' due to their snowy white cloaks worn over their armor which is the most distinguishable feature of their uniform and the aspect that makes them easy to identify and instantly recognizable. This is not a name favored by the Children themselves and is likely to offend them if used in their presence.
The current Lord Captain Commander of the Children of the Light is Galadedrid Damodred.
The Children's banner consists of a golden sunburst on a white field edged with gold.
The Children of the Light always wear a pure white cloak or tabard over their clothes and armor. The left breast of each has a golden sunburst worked into it, a symbol of the light. Each garb is further adorned with silver lightning bolts for under-officers and golden stars or knots in increasing quantity to indicate rank for higher officers.
Each Child is armored with conical metal helm and plain breastplate. Swords are worn by all Children, though never in the audience chamber of the Lord Captain Commander or beneath the Dome of Truth.
Members of the Hand of the Light wear the same clothes as other Children, save for them having a blood-red shepherd's crook emblazoned behind the sunburst. The High Inquisitor wears only the red crook devoid of the flaring sun.
History and recent activity
The Children of the Light were founded in FY 1021 during the War of the Hundred Years by Lothair Mantelar. They were originally preachers working to expose Darkfriends, using Mantelar's book The Way of the Light as their guide. At first they only defended themselves against the Shadow, but by FY 1111 they had become a fully militarized force. One of their most notable accomplishment in the early New Era was their murder of the Amyrlin Seat, Serenia Latar, in 306 NE, while she was mediating a dispute in Altara; they hanged her body after death.
The Children's power and prestige was initially limited, but over the succeeding one thousand years, as the influence of the Aes Sedai began to ebb due to their declining numbers and failure to prevent the War of the Hundred Years and many subsequent conflicts, they became more popular and powerful. In the 930s NE they reached an accord with the king of Amadicia, who agreed to let them establish a permanent base of operations, the Fortress of the Light, in the capital city of Amador. However, the power of the Children within Amadicia rapidly outstripped that of the king, and within a few years the royal Serenda Palace had been removed to outside the capital and the Amadician army reduced to an auxiliary force under the Children. The Children entered a period of rapid growth under young, successful military commanders such as Pedron Niall, and in 957 NE, they launched an ambitious attempt to bring the much larger and more divided neighboring kingdom of Altara under their rule in what became known as the Whitecloak War. The kingdoms of Illian and Murandy intervened in the conflict and the Children were forced to abandon the attempt, despite significant military gains and successes.
Despite many intrigues and attempts to extend their influence into neighboring Altara, Ghealdan, and Tarabon, the Children's influence and power has been contained within Amadicia. In 998 NE they launched an attempt to foment rebellion in Andor, using popular discontent with the kingdom's alliance with Tar Valon, but this plan failed. Another plan to resurrect the kingdom of Almoth as a Children stronghold and then force Tarabon to submit due to pressure from north and east was also defeated, this time by the arrival of the Seanchan Hailene. Lord Captain Commander Niall learned of the later return of the Seanchan forces and rallied the Children's military in preparation for an anticipated attack, but he was assassinated before this information could be passed on. He was succeeded as Lord Captain Commander by Eamon Valda. A few weeks later the Seanchan invaded Amadicia, capturing Amador and the Fortress of the Light in a daring assault using airborne troops dropped into the city by to'raken. Attempts by the Children to retake the city in alliance with the Amadician army were defeated at the Battle of Jeramel.
Valda subsequently forged an alliance with the Seanchan to the discontent of many of the Children. Holding Valda responsible for the rape and subsequent disappearance and presumed murder of his adopted mother, Morgase Trakand, Galad Damodred, now serving in the Children, slew Valda in single combat after challenging him to Trial Under the Light. The other Children proclaimed him Lord Captain Commander and he led the bulk of the surviving Children out of Amadicia, north and east towards Andor.
The Children then encountered Perrin Aybara once again, with Galad being led to believe him a Darkfriend due to what Dain Bornhald and Jaret Byar mistakenly told him about Geofram Bornhald's death and Perrin's ability to communicate with wolves. After Perrin saved the Children from a Trolloc ambush, and with Perrin's ta'veren influence coming into play, Galad swore to follow Perrin in the Last Battle. The Children traveled with Perrin's army to the Fields of Merrilor.
The Children of the Light's primary mission is the rooting out of Darkfriends in all echelons of society and in every land. They believe that since the One Power was used during the Breaking of the World, all who touch it are Darkfriends, and thus all channelers - especially Aes Sedai - serve the Shadow. They believe in strict military discipline for all and are ruthless about their beliefs. It is not uncommon for Children to believe someone a Darkfriend before they even make the accusation, and they act on even the slightest suspicion unrelentingly. Many of them take their beliefs to the utmost extreme and, blinded by zeal, will often accuse someone of being a Darkfriend even when there is no logical reason to do so.
—Thoughts of Pedron Niall
The Children follow very strict ascetic beliefs, and usually give the impression that they alone know the truth and path to righteousness. Lothair Mantelar's book The Way of the Light serves as an ideological guide for the Children of the Light. In the book he outlined a humble, simple life dedicated to serving the Light that he believed all should follow.
The philosophy of the Children is a blend of retribution and redemption. While they believe that "no man is so lost that he cannot be brought to the Light," the penalty for being a Darkfriend is death. They also say that "The sins of the mother are visited to the fifth generation and the sins of the father to the tenth."
Council of the Anointed
- Main article: Council of the Anointed
The Council of the Anointed is the name for the ruling council of the Children of the Light and is presided over by the Lord Captain Commander. The council sits to determine policy for the entire organization. It will sit in either the Dome of Truth or the personal audience chamber of the Lord Captain Commander.
Lord Captain Commander
- Main article: Lord Captain Commander
The Lord Captain Commander is the supreme head of the Children of the Light. Traditionally, the Lord Captain Commander resides in the Fortress of the Light in Amador, where he directs the Children of the Light. Lord Captain Commanders, with two exceptions (see main article), are chosen by the Lord Captains from their own ranks.
Hand of the Light
- Main article: Hand of the Light
Nicknamed the Questioners, though rarely called so to their faces, the Hand of the Light is the branch of the Children that are responsible for extracting damning confessions from the men and women that are captured. Using thumb screws, boiling oil, and the like these people use torture and whatever means necessary to gain a guilty confession. Even other Children of Light tread lightly among the "Hand that digs out Truth"—they act as though they are a law unto themselves and they tend to assume guilt before they start interrogating, seeking only a confession from the victim. This often leads to the wrongful execution of innocent victims who have confessed simply to stop the torture. The High Inquisitor stands almost as high as a Lord Captain and is respected by all the Children, answering only to the Lord Captain Commander himself.
The last High Inquisitor was Rhadam Asunawa. It is unknown if a new one has been chosen since his death.
The intelligence branch of the Children consists of an extensive eyes-and-ears network spread throughout all kingdoms and provinces. All information is controlled and handled by a spymaster, and it is his job to keep the Lord Captain Commander informed. Even within the Children, the true spymaster is not known except to the Lord Captain Commander. Besides the Lord Captain Commander's spy network, many other individual Lord Captains also have their own personal networks of eyes-and-ears.
Pedron Niall employed Abdel Omerna as a spymaster, but unknown to most (even Omerna himself) he was merely a decoy and the true spymaster for the Children was Niall's inconspicuous secretary, Sebban Balwer.
The ranks, beginning with the highest, among the Children and the Hand of the Light are as follows:
- Lord Captain Commander — The leader of the Children of the Light.
- Lord Captain — Commands a legion which is nominally 2000 men, though it is often less and sometimes more.
- Lieutenant — Usually the lowest rank to hold a position of command. Usually act as support officers for their superiors.
- Hundredman — Commands a hundred men - often more, sometimes less. They rank below officers, but above common soldiers.
- Second Bannermen
- Second Squadman
- File leader
- Regular trooper
The Hand of the Light
- Galad Damodred serving from Aine 4, 1000 NE
- Eamon Valda serving Taisham 11, 1000 NE to Aine 4, 1000 NE
- Pedron Niall serving until Taisham 11, 1000 NE
- Abdel Omerna — "Spymaster" (Deceased)
- Geofram Bornhald (Deceased)
- Jaichim Carridin (Darkfriend) (Deceased)
The Children of the Light may be inspired by real-world religious organizations like the Jesuits during the Inquisition, the Inquisition itself, the Knights Templar, etc. Robert Jordan has likened the Children of the Light to the Teutonic Order in particular, a holy order that took over and colonized land in the Baltic area during the Northern Crusades against the pagans.