2 December 1984, A.S. XIX
Unto the members of the College of Arms,
from Baldwin of Erebor, Laurel King of Arms.
My lords and ladies,
Enclosed herewith are the acceptances and
returns for the Laurel meeting of November 11. The letters of
intent processed at this meeting were for the West (8/5), Middle
(8/9), Atenveldt (8/11), and Caid (8/22). There were a total of
104 items approved and 15 returned, for an 87% approval rate.
The next Laurel meeting is scheduled for
December 16. The letters to be processed at this meeting are Ansteorra
(7/24), East (9/9), Caid (9/12), West (9/13), Middle (9/25), and
Meridies (9/26). If I have received enough letters of comment
on it, the Ansteorra letter of 9/27 will also be processed at
The January meeting is scheduled tentatively
for the 6th, with a fallback date of the 20th. The letters
to be processed at this meeting are Atenveldt (10/2), Atenveldt
(10/3), East (10/9), Calontir (10/9), East (10/22), Caid (10/24),
Middle (10/25), West (10/26), and Laurel (11/6). (I have not yet
received the Middle Kingdom letter of 10/28 or the forms for the
Atenveldt letters of 10/2 and 10/3.) Please try to get your comments
to me by December 22, if possible.
The following meeting will be on February
3. The letters scheduled for this meeting are Ansteorra (11/1),
Middle (11/1), Meridies (11/1), Caid (11/8), West (11/11), Atenveldt
(10/15), and Atlantia (11/15). Letters of comment for this meeting
should be in the mail to me by January 26.
Mark Lasie of Westminster is now Aten Herald.
Virgule Herald has a new area code, 718. The remainder of his
phone number is unchanged. Please remove Mistress Eriod of Eire
from the mailing list.
Principal heralds: if you find you've made
an error in a letter of intent one serious enough to prevent the
other members of the College of Arms from being able to comment
accurately on a submission (the most common such error seems to
be specifying the wrong tincture or omitting one altogether)
you should try to include a letter of correction in your next
mailing. This should be a separate letter, not part of a letter
of intent or comment. The problem is that most of your compatriots
won't get around to reading an LoI until just before the meeting
at which it will be processed, a month after the submission
with the error in it was due to be acted on. A separate letter
is more noticeable, and it can be acted on independently of its
When the documentation for a name is intended
to show names similar to the one being submitted, this
fact should be clearly stated in the letter of intent. A citation
from a book, without further explanation, is assumed to be a claim
that the documentation supports the name exactly.
If part of a name is made up, this fact
should also be noted. It is unfair to the heralds who are attempting
to catch grammar and translation errors not to warn them that
the next word they see won't be in any of their dictionaries.
When a charge is blazoned as proper,
its tinctures should be mentioned in the LoI. This gives the College
an opportunity to evaluate the submission for both contrast and
There is nothing wrong, by the way, with
mentioning something in the letter of intent that was omitted
from the blazon because it is "default" or "standard,"
or with mentioning how you know this fact. While this is less
important now than it was before the days of miniature emblazons,
it may still make your blazon clearer, and it is a way of sharing
information with other (possibly lessexperienced) heralds.
In his July and August letters, Master Wilhelm
von Schlüssel presented a number of issues for comment by
the College of Arms. I reviewed these with my staff at the November
meeting, and reached the following conclusions.
A. Badges for alternate personas.
At the present time, the College of Arms will permit someone to
register a badge to be used as a device for an alternate persona.
This means that the person may conceivably display, on a shield
or a banner, an apparent device that is less than two full points
different from the coat of another Society member. Two solutions
were suggested: that we stop registering alternate personas altogether,
or that we require two points of difference between the badge/device
of an alternate persona and other SCA devices.
These proposals received very little support
or comment. There does not appear to be any call for an immediate
change to our present rules, although the matter should be considered
as part of a more general review of the nature of badges in SCA
B. Tinctureless badges and heralds' seals.
Heralds, like other members of SCAwide offices, are not
permitted to register badges of office. A kingdom or principality
herald may, however, register a tinctureless seal, which privilege
is exclusive to the heralds. The question posed was: should this
be changed, and if so, how?
There were too few responses to this question
to warrant any changes, although there does appear to be some
support for the suggestion that we disallow tinctureless seals
altogether. I see no need to do so at this time.
C. Submission of mon. The suggestion
has been made that Japanese mon be submitted on the shape traditional
in that culture, a square with the corners cut off, in order to
eliminate confusion between an enclosing annulet and a bordure.
Opinions were more or less evenly divided
on this question. Comments in favor tended to be on the order
of "sure, why not?"; those opposed to the idea objected
to the loss of distinction between "device" and "badge"
on miniature emblazons (a convenience when one is checking conflicts),
the added complexity of "yet another set of forms,"
and the special treatment of nonEuropean heraldry. A couple
of the comments noted, to quote Mistress Catherine Winifred, "that
many of us know only a minimum about the correct usage of and
rules regarding mon," and called for the dissemination of
more and better information within the College itself.
I'd like to add the following observations
to those made by the College partly because they have some bearing
on the present issue, and partly as food for thought:
1) The problem cited is not confined to
Japanese heraldry. An orle or bordure in a European submission
may be confused with an annulet (if the submission is on a roundel)
or a mascle (if it is on a lozenge). Quite frankly, I feel there
is a great deal of merit in the suggestion that all submissions
(or at least all devices) be drawn on a square. This would
also make the many wedgeshaped charges and divisions more
distinguishable, since it would clearly define the corners of
2) At the October board meeting, the board
of directors reaffirmed the geographical and temporal scope of
the Society as being "pre17th century western Europe."
"Those attending SCA events or functions in lateperiod,
Easternculture, or veryearlyperiod garb and
persona, should be treated as visitors from another culture or
time who are guests at a medieval or Renaissance court in pre1600
Europe." (BoD minutes, 14 Oct 83, p. 12)
As much as I enjoy things Japanese, I do
not feel it is in the best interests of SCA heraldry, nor is it
consistent with official SCA policy, for us to regard mon as being
on equal footing with European coats of arms. For all the time
we have spent discussing it, the nature of SCA heraldry is still
as much a matter of conjecture and opinion as it is established
fact. We cannot sustain two parallel systems of heraldry. This
is what I see being urged upon us, and I suspect this is the leading
cause of the confusion alluded to in the comments on this proposal.
I believe we would be better off concentrating on the similarities
than the differences, finding ways to assimilate charges and design
principles into a predominately European system, not establishing
alternative procedures for Japanese personas.
It is my conclusion that the objections
to this proposal outweigh the possible advantages.
D. Viscomital coronets. At the present
time, there are SCAwide ducal and comital* coronets, but
there is no "standard" viscomital coronet, either as
a physical entity or as an heraldic convention. The question is:
should there be one?
* "Of or pertaining to a count or earl."
It is clearly too late to establish a standard
physical coronet for viscounts and viscountesses. Only tradition
can establish such a standard, and each principality has evolved
its own traditions. The most we could hope to do in this area
is to compile a list of the traditions in each area as a simple
aid to understanding (clearly labeled "this is just to give
you an idea of what people have done, and anyone who thinks it's
an attempt to impose a standard is a ninny"
or words to that effect).
There is, I must confess, a certain appeal
in the idea of creating an "heraldic" viscomital coronet,
if only for the sake of symmetry. The problem of selecting an
appropriate design is a thorny one, however, and the practical
application for such a charge is limited. Why? Because the only
restriction placed on royal peers (and the rules do not state
this explicitly) is that you can't have a coronet of strawberry
leaves in your arms unless you're a duke or duchess, and you can't
have an embattled coronet unless you're an earl or countess.
Other than that, a royal peer may have any kind of crown (yes,
I said crown) he or she wishes. This is what the rules
say, and, according to the Ordinary, this is precisely what people
have been doing.
E. Baronial coronets. At the present
time, crowns and coronets are restricted to kingdoms, principalities,
and royal peers. The question is: should barons (court or territorial)
also be permitted to bear a crown or coronet in their arms?
This issue drew more comments than all the
others combined. After reading through the comments and discussing
them with my staff, I found four points that stuck in my mind:
1) Elmet Herald's argument that "If
you can wear the hat, you can bear the hat," although emotionally
satisfying, is at heart too ambiguous for serious consideration.
The College of Arms does not define what a person may wear -
this is a matter for local sumptuary custom, which varies from
one region to another. In some areas of the known world, an armiger
(or nonarmiger) may wear a metallic headrail that would
be regarded as a coronet in other areas. We cannot base the acceptability
of a charge on something as vague as standards of dress.
2) A crown is a symbol of sovereignty, which
is why it occurs in the arms of a kingdom or principality. The
crown in the arms of a royal peer is an allusion to this symbol.
Baronies are not permitted to have crowns in their arms (they
are not considered sovereign), so it would be inappropriate for
a territorial baron to do so.
3) Unlike a royal peer, a territorial baron
does not retain his rank indefinitely. The right to bear an armorial
crown is thus revocable, while the arms containing them are not.
A court baron retains his rank, but this rank is even less associated
with a position of sovereignty than is that of a territorial baron,
so by the above analogy, it would also be inappropriate for a
court baron to bear a crown.
4) Period examples of crowns in the arms
of barons and nonpeers are of no help. We are dealing here
with a perquisite of rank, as it is practiced in the Society,
not with a question of period usage. The practice is, as has been
pointed out, discriminatory ("serving to distinguish").
So is the right to be addressed by a special title ("Duchess
, "Baron", "Lady"), to wear a coronet, or
to walk in front of somebody else in procession. Such is the nature
of class societies (like those in medieval Europe).
The most telling arguments in favor of allowing
barons (of any type) to bear armorial coronets are those that
either presuppose a change in the medieval structure of the SCA
or assume a different symbolic meaning for the crown in SCA heraldry.
The former is beyond our power to do; our bailiwick is heraldry,
not politics. The latter is a matter of interpretation, although
I believe a study of Society custom will bear it out.
The weight of opinion in the College of
Arms is against allowing barons to bear coronets in their arms.
Addenda and corrigenda
Some days you just can't win. Not only was
my original explanation of the grammatical change to the name
of Giovanni dei Fiori in error (28 Sep 84, p. 1), but as
Crescent Herald has just told me, so was the correction. (7 Nov
84, p. 2) So, on the theory that third time's a charm: In Italian,
degli precedes a masculine noun beginning with "sconsonant",
"z", or a vowel, and dei goes before a masculine
noun beginning with a consonant. (Alberto Tedeschi and Carlo Rossi
Fantohetti. Mondadori's Pocket ItalianEnglish EnglishItalian
Dictionary, pages xvxvi. Two volumes in one. Pocket
Brigantia Herald has requested a point count
for the submission of Arval Benicoeur, "Per saltire
Or and sable, a Maltese cross counterchanged," which was
returned for conflict with MOORE, "Per saltire gules and
Or, a Maltese cross counterchanged." (p. 17). The change
in tincture of half the field is a clear minor point. (Rule XIII.B.I.c)
The tinctures of the field have also been interchanged, which
is a minor point, but this is the second change to the field tincture,
and is thus demoted. This gives us "more than a minor but
less than a major" for the field. A similar point count can
be made for the cross. Had these changes been from different categories,
we could have treated them as additive, yielding more than a point,
which is sufficient difference from mundane arms. But all the
changes are to tincture, and the tincture of the cross is derived
directly from the field, so these are clearly not from separate
categories. I therefore elected to allow a full point for the
combined differences in tincture.
My discussion of the return for Marian
Greenleaf (p. 18) was not only unhelpful, it was downright
misleading. The coat consisted of a mound drawn in imitation of
the arms of NILINGER of Bavaria, with two fleursdelys
issuing toward chief and one toward base forming the line of partition.
Woodward refers to the Hilinger division as trèflé,
and describes it as "a curious example of the trefoil in
conjunction with a partition line." (plate XXIX, fig. 9,
and pp. 320321) Brigantia suggested a blazon of "a
point flory counter flory," which was objected to by most
of the heralds commenting on the submission. None of them offered
an acceptable alternative blazon, nor was I able to concoct one
myself. I finally concluded that the submission, although visually
simple, employed a line of partition that was not conducive to
simple blazon, and that it was therefore "too complex for
use in SCA heraldry."
There were a couple of other matters I had
intended to bring up this month, but they can wait. This letter
has gone on long enough already.
Please believe me to be,
Baldwin of Erebor
Laurel King of Arms