I touched a little on the subject that follows in this post.
It is fashionable these days to decry the past as silly, when men would get pinned with bronze for capturing an enemy standard or preserving an allied one.
This is nonsense. Do these people have any idea what a pain in the ass it is to organize a mob of non-uniformed men-at-arms, with no modern communication equipment, and only the most basic of discipline? When it gets foggy or dusty, and the mud begins to churn, even uniformed soldiers become just another brown blob in the fray. The only identification anyone has is the knowledge of what side they are fighting on, and the familiarity with that side's standard.
Concentration of arms is one of the first and most important rules of warfare. When the melee has broken, and the lines of combat have dissolved, a flag-bearer can literally turn the tide of a battle by rallying a critical mass of allies to himself, and spurring them into action.
Conversely, the capture of an enemy standard can provide allies with a priceless feint, drawing the enemy away from where you do not want them to be, or closing a trap.
Furthermore, flag-bearers were for the most part unarmed and unarmored. They had one of the most important jobs in the entire army, coordination, and they strode into the melee as the most important target with no defenses.
Preserving an allied standard was the Medieval equivalent of being a Navajo code talker. Capturing an enemy standard was the Medieval equivalent of cracking the Enigma. Except you stood a good chance of getting killed.
Is it any wonder, then, that those who mastered the standard were honored the most highly?