The one hundred knights that Lear has retained as followers serve no practical purpose. Their function is to preserve the illusion that Lear is still king. They are loyal only to him and treat him with the same reverence he received from everyone before he gave his kingdom to his daughters. Since Lear is continually surrounded by these one hundred knights, they can sustain his illusion perfectly. They form a wall between him and reality. They represent a sort of mini-monarchy. But they are supernumerary attendants. They are expensive, and it is Goneril and Regan who have to pay for everything they (and their hundred horses) consume, plus some cash wages. These two practical-minded women can see that "downsizing" would be advantageous for both of them. But if Lear loses his one hundred knights, he loses the illusion that goes with them. That is what actually happens when he finds himself stripped of his entire retinue. He is nothing but a weak, helpless old man with nothing but the clothes on his back. The knights themselves cared nothing about him but were only following him because they were able to live in luxury and at leisure. Lear not only loses his knights but his identity, and eventually his sanity.