July 21, 1980 AS XV

To: All Members of the College of Arms

From: Wilhelm von Schlüssel, OL, OP, OLM, QOG, Laurel King of Arms


Enclosed with this letter is the July Letter of Acceptances and Rejections. It was a busy month. I passed something from every kingdom, with a total of 108 acceptances and 40 rejections. The backlog now stands at two months. At the August 10 meeting I will consider the submissions from the second part of May and from the month of June. Everyone should have their comments on Letters of Intent dated before July 1, 1980 in to me before then. For this last batch I had letters of comment from everyone except Brigantia, which really helped, as Corona can testify, she having attended the July meeting while here on vacation. Keep up the good work.

Brigantia informs me that his apparent lack of activity was due to two persons in the post office holding his mail because of a personal grudge. They are now facing criminal charges and he says his mail should now go through. He has sent me the submission forms for the January meeting, which are processed in this letter, and for the March meeting, which I will treat as a July letter of intent. Brigantia needs to send copies of that letter of intent to the rest of the College, so they can comment on it. Brigantia says he will get his office working correctly. If he does so and if the throne and officers in the East are satisfied with his performance then I will leave him in office. All I really care about is that the job be done now and done right.

My staff and I have been having some procedural problems and so I would like all of you to follow some guidelines. Whenever you send a letter out to the College, place the date you write the letter in the upper right hand corner of the first page, so I can easily find this date to file the letter. When one has to hunt through each one of two dozen letters to find the proper dates this is a real time-waster. Whenever you comment on somebody else's letter, give the date of that letter so it is obvious which letter you are commenting on. Use the date in the upper right hand corner. If Star is sending out a letter of intent dated September 14 concerning the devices passed at her September 7 meeting, the date everyone should use is September 14.

All Principal Heralds should make sure that the information sheets sent to me are the current form. I don't ever want to see the old great book of arms form again. If someone submits an old form, copy the information onto a current form for the one copy sent to me. Make sure that all of the form is completed. All of those questions are important. If you do not have all of the necessary information or documentation, hold onto the submission until you get such from the applicant. Don't send the submission to me without full information. If the applicant has ever submitted anything that reached Laurel level before indicate this on the top of the sheet, and tell me if it passed or was rejected. There is no way for me to know whether a resubmission is a resubmission of a device that was rejected at the Laurel level or one that was rejected at the kingdom level. In the first case there will be an existing file folder for the passage in my files, and in the second case there won't be. I waste a lot of time trying to find out whether there is or is not an existing file, and is it in the passed section or the rejected section. I try to only have one folder per person.

The last procedural point is to make sure you proofread letters of intent. In many cases I cannot read the written blazon on the forms, so I must rely on the typed blazon in the letter of intent. If there is an error there then I have a real problem. Try to make sure that the blazon matches what's on the shield. If there is a known and correct discrepancy between the two let me know about it.

A number of major issues have been raised and it is time to rule on them or settle them, so here goes.

1) From now on all SCA badges must differ by one and a half point from SCA devices and one point from all other categories. That one point cannot just be counterchanging. All SCA devices must differ from all other SCA devices by two full points, and from all other categories by one and a half points.

2) From now on all badge must obey the Rule of Tincture. Badges need not have any tinctures specified, but if any are specified then they must obey the rule. I have finally decided to eliminate the acceptance of anything violating the rule of tincture because of all of the rules of heraldry that is the one that is most known to the populace, and so it is confusing to the populace to see banners which violate this rule. The primary reason for this change is to be more in keeping with the period practice. In our period the rule of tincture was applied to both arms and badges. Although exceptions can be found, they were just that exceptions to an otherwise adamant rule. Since the rule of tincture is one of the most practical rules we have, being based upon reasons of contrast and visibility, I have decided it is best to honor it in all cases. All previously registered badges are of course unaffected, but no longer constitute precedence.

3) Counterchanging is less than a full point in most cases. In the case where there are several tinctures then a complete permutation can be a full point. Thus if one person has Per fess azure and argent, in pale a cross patonce Or and a lozenge vert, and another person has Per fess Or and vert, in pale a cross patonce azure and a lozenge argent, then there is a full point of difference between them, and only a full point of difference. Azure, a cross argent differs from Argent, a cross azure by only half a point of difference.

4) Grandfather clause. All submissions passed by the College before a rule change are considered to be exempted from that change by a grandfather clause, namely that they were there first. The first effect of this is that they are not then rejected by the rule change after having been previously accepted. This is what is stated in the corpora. The second effect is that they continue to be exempted. if Duke Henrik of Havn, whose arms violate the Rule of Tincture and were accepted before the Rule of Tincture was applied to SCA arms, decided to add a charge to his arms which itself obeyed the rule of tincture then he could do so. His new altered arms would still be immune to the rule of tincture with regards to the specific violation previously held. He could not add a charge which itself also violated the rule of tincture. This is the effect of a grandfather clause. Submissions under a grandfather clause are recognized exceptions to a rule and do not constitute precedent for breaking the rule.

5) Precedent. The rules of the College are those which I recently published and any which I subsequently proclaim. The acceptance of a submission does not in itself constitute a precedent. The College is not bound by anything that it has done or not done in the past, or by anything that it has passed or not passed in the past. It is bound by its published rules and decisions. If a specific charge or usage has been rejected in the past and there has been nothing since then to change that stance then that charge or usage is still rejected. If you are unsure about any charge or usage, ask me for an opinion.

6) In the SCA we do not follow the medieval practice of always showing charges advancing. If a person wishes to register a charge retreating he or she may. A lion rampant is one point of difference from a lion counter-rampant. We view what is on the emblazon sheet as the only correct form for the device or badge, subject to artistic license. This is an old custom from the beginning of the College.

7) In the College we are not duplicating any one heraldic system from our period. This is not possible, since at any one time in history you could not get all of the heraldic authorities in one area to agree on all points of heraldic rules, so how can we therefore make a complete set of rules that duplicate what was never a complete set of rules? What we are doing in the College is practicing a system of heraldry that recreates the style of the fifteenth century English College of Arms usage, but also is adapted for our specific needs and customs. Look at the difference in rules between England, Scotland, Ireland, France, Germany and Italy during the fifteenth century. The SCA embraces all of these cultures. Look at the disagreement you find on all sorts of issues in the standard heraldry references. The College is not bound by what was done in the Middle Ages, but is decidedly influenced. We are creating a system of heraldry that satisfies our needs and which also is in keeping with the style of the heraldry practiced in fifteenth century England. It is inevitable that difference between our practices and period practices will exist. The question is whether the difference is beneficial or not.

8) Branches may register one or more badges which are to be useable by groups or individuals belonging to those branches. A province could register a badge to be used by a provincial mercenary unit, such as a shield wall squad. A kingdom could register a badge to be used by all subjects of the kingdom at wars with another kingdom to show their allegiance. The arms of a branch are reserved to the head of the branch. In the case of a kingdom, principality or barony this is the King, Prince or Baron. In all other cases it is the seneschal. Kings, Princes and Barons may bear the arms of their branch upon a shield in battle as if they were their own personal arms, so long as they hold their office and no longer. Seneschals may not do so. All heads of branches may display the banner of the branch to indicate their presence. At any event held in a branch the arms of the branch may be displayed whether or not the head of the branch is present, to indicate that the branch is hosting the event. In grand marches the arms of branches may be carried by groups marching as those branches. Otherwise nobody can display the arms of a branch as if they were personal arms. The terms ensign and flag are out of period but standard is not. A branch could register a badge and call it their battle standard and have a banner made up of it to carry into battle. All armed units of the branch could be given the right by the head of the branch to carry this battle standard.

9) Any member of the College can ask me to put an issue to a vote of the College to get the view of the College. While such a vote is not binding on me unless it is a three-quarters majority vote, I will generally go along with the majority. A petition for such a vote should have with it enough explanation and documentation to warrant such a vote and to give the petitioner's views on the subject. To start this procedure I present an issue raise by Triton:

Do we or do we not allow personal names, place names, and living or inanimate things from fiction to be registered in the SCA? This includes the elven language from Tolkien's works. Any names from fiction that also exist in the real world are not affected by this vote. If the vote is yes than the current policy stands, which is that the piece of fiction has to be about a medieval style world where high-technology does not exist. If the vote is no then only names from the real world and from ancient mythology of our world may be used. In any event made-up names will still be allowed so long as they are in keeping with our period and so long as they do not duplicate any forbidden words.

10) I will shortly be printing up copies of the Ordinary and I need to know how many copies to print up. I need each of you to send me an estimate on how many copies people in your group would order from me. I need this quickly. If I print up 200 copies it will cost about $6.00 a copy. If I print less it will cost somewhat more, and if I print more it will cost less per copy. The whole thing runs about 400 pages. With seven kingdoms 200 copies is less than 30 copies per kingdom. I won't print more than 200 copies unless I get a clear impression of demand for more. I would like to tell the printer by August 1 how many copies to print so let me know quickly. The College will probably reprint the Ordinary once a year.

11) Styrbjorg Ulfenar, Kraken Pursuivant for Atlantia, has suggested a very good test for unique names. Names which are not unique may be used as long as the surname or sobriquets or place names adequately difference the given name form the famous holder of that name. Names which are unique to a famous entity may not be used, particularly if that entity is non-mortal. Here is her test:

a) Is it a non-human name? That is was the famous holder of the name human or non-human, mortal or non-mortal? You cannot claim to be a non-human.

b) Is this specific name famous in one and only one connection? If a famous figure is famous only under one name, and has a child name which only scholars have ever heard of, then the child name is not barred while the famous name may be. If the famous name has only been used once in all time, namely by that famous person, then the name is unique and forbidden. If most people will only have ever heard of this one use, and most people will in fact have heard about it, then, even if there are other obscure uses of it, the name is essentially unique and restricted.

c) In the submission in question, is the name connected with anything else that would indicate the famous connection. Any such connection is too much. While Arthur is a common name, if you put a dragon on the shield you are too close to Arthur, King of the Britons.

If the answer to all three is no then the name passes the test and is not unique and therefore restricted. If any of the three answers is yes then the name is restricted. Of course many of these will have to be judged on a case by case basis.

12) Corona's new mailing address is Alison von Markheim, c/o Alison Lowe, PO Box F, Denver, Colorado 80209.

13) Corona is organizing a Caerthen Heraldry Symposium on August 29-31, 1981 XVI to be held the weekend before the Worldcon in Denver. This event has my approval and I tentatively plan to attend, or at least to contribute. I urge you all to do the same. The Conclave was a lot of fun and very instructive. I expect this will also be the same.

14) A problem with courtesy titles in Meridies has brought to my attention the fact that the populace is not fully informed on the proper line of communication regarding heraldic matters and what constitutes heraldic matters. Anything that deals with actions by heralds or with matters of field heraldry, ceremony, protocol, titles, armory, or the rules of the College and the enforcement of the rules is a heraldic matter. Any member of the populace having a question or a complaint on a heraldic matter should first consult their local herald. if that doesn't solve the problem they should then contact their Regional or Principality Herald. Only after all of these has been tried and failed should they contact me directly, but they should contact me before bothering the Board of Directors, who will simply refer the matter back to me. The Seneschalate should not be consulted on heraldic matters, as that is the province and the responsibility of the heralds. If a herald cannot resolve a heraldic problem, the herald should assist in passing the matter on the to the herald's superior. Please inform your populace of this system.

15) Triton has raised an old and sticky problem. Somebody is using a name which violates the rules on names. This person is informed of the fact. The person states the intention of continuing to use the name and not bothering to try to register it, because it won't pass. What are we to do about such a problem? How can the heralds prevent or deter somebody from using unregisterable names and armories. What powers of enforcement does the College have? At present there aren't many but there are some.

First of all the College can refused to register and thereby protect any heraldic submissions for anyone whose name doesn't pass our rules on names. Secondly the Principal Herald of the Kingdom can prevent the presentation of any scrolls to a person until the person has a registered name. Thirdly the Principal Herald of the Kingdom can refuse to list the person in the Order of Precedence until the person has a valid society name to list. Fifthly, the court herald can refuse to announce a person at court or in a grand march if the person does not have a valid society name. The sixth power of enforcement is that the field herald can refuse to announce any combat on the field where a combattant does not have a valid Society name. The seventh power of enforcement is the possibility of the Principal Herald of the Kingdom publishing in the Kingdom newsletter the fact that a person continues to use an illegal name. The eighth power of enforcement is to have the Principal Herald request the King to bar the person from fighting on the field on the grounds that the person is not acceptable to the King due to the continued use of an illegal name in violation of the rules of his Principal Herald. This is within the powers of the King as stated in the Rules of the List and the Corpora. If the Kingdom has within kingdom law set up a court of chivalry or a court of heraldry than the Principal Herald can ask to convene such a court. If the person is a candidate for an order or an award the heralds can protest to the King or Prince that the person should not be so rewarded until the person stops using an illegal name.

The first two are normal procedure. The rest get increasingly controversial. The main power we have is the power of persuasion. if necessary the above can be mentioned as threats or consequences, but the main purpose should be to use the minimum force necessary to convince the person. Most heralds are normally very tactful. Anyone with a good sense of ceremony and protocol hates to air dirty linen in public, or stir up a fuss when some quite discussion can solve a problem. The other side of the coin is that the heralds must first make sure that a person knows the name is wrong. Many people innocently choose a Society name that turns out to not pass. Until their submission has been rejected they haven't done anything wrong. A simple delay in submitting the name until they have decided upon a device is hardly a cause for abrupt censure. Once a person has had a name rejected by the College and all appeal channels are exhausted, then the person should definitely stop using the name. If a person is told his name violates a rule and he refuses to to submit it to the College to see if it does indeed get rejected, then again the heralds can take action. Keep in mind that once a person's name has come before the heralds in any capacity then the heralds are officially aware of it. Thus if a person fights on the field and is announced, makes a presentation at court and is announced, receives some form of award, is warranted to an office, subscribes to the mailing list, writes a letter to a herald, or submits something to the College, then that person's name has come to the official notice of the College. While we generally wait for a person to actually submit something, all heralds have the right to inform a person that their chosen name seems to violate a rule (if the herald does it tactfully). Continued usage and refusal to register after repeated warnings is cause for action. Doing all of the above actions really puts a lot of pressure on a person, although many are as distasteful to the herald as to the person.

16) One last request. When you are commenting on more than one letter of intent in a single letter of comments, do them in chronological order please. I file pending submissions in chronological order by the dates on the litters of intent. When i finish a letter of intent and its batch of submissions I take the letters that commented on that batch and place them with the next batches that they comment on. If you listed them in chronological order it would be much easier on me.

Pray believe, my Lord and my Ladies, that I remain

Your Servant

Wilhelm von Schlüssel, OL, OP, OLM

Laurel King of Arms