CHIVALRIC ARMS & THE RIGHT TO BEAR ARMS
Arms and armor are potential tools of rebellion. Obviously, limiting their widespread use is in the best interest of any ruling class. Weapons in the hands of simple folk challenges the nobility’s hold on power. On the other hand, the gentry may require military assistance from those lower on the social ladder and benefits from having a supply of trained warriors. …Good government, in a feudal sense, is largely a matter of keeping the right number of people armed.
In theory, like land, the right to bear arms devolves from the sovereign whose ultimate duty it is to defend the state. Obviously, those charged with the defense of the kingdom, must be privileged to bear arms.
In the strictest sense, only those explicitly granted the right or those who can trace their right to a grant from the sovereign, through his vassals, have the right to bear arms. The practice, however, is more liberal.
Like knighthood, the right to bear arms may be delegated by anyone who possesses it, so that a gentleman can arm his retainers, as long as they remain in his employ [of course, he is the responsible for their behavior while so armed].
Official military organizations, fighting orders, legions, etc., lend the right to bear arms to their members and this right is generally retained when an individual is honorably discharged, especially if the individual remains available for military service. Most mercenaries are former soldiers (or claim to be). The sons of soldiers often claim their father’s right to bear arms, a dubious claim that, nevertheless, may go unchallenged.Towns charged with their own defense are usually given charter rights to organize militia and/or hire mercenaries. To assure themselves of the legality, however, they nearly always hire knights to take charge.