25 April 1986, A.S
Unto the members of the College of Arms, from
Baldwin of Erebor, Laurel King of Arms.
My lords and ladies,
Enclosed herewith are the letters of acceptances
and returns for the March and April Laurel meetings.
The March meeting was held on the 9th. Letters
of intent were processed at this meeting for An Tir (12/10), Caid
(12/11), West (12/18), Ansteorra (12/22), East (12/22), East (12/23),
and An Tir (12/30). There were a total of 177 approvals, 37 returns,
and 2 pending items for an 82% approval rate.
The April meeting was held on the 6th. Letters
of intent were processed for the East (1/16), West (1/19), Caid
(1/21), Ansteorra (1/24), East (1/27), and Calontir (1/30). There
were 105 approvals (126 if you count all the corrections), 9 returns,
and 2 pending items, for a 91% approval rate.
The May meeting has been scheduled for the
18th. The letters of intent to be processed at this meeting are
Middle (12/30), Atlantia (2/1), West (2/12), Caid (2/14), An Tir
(2/23), Ansteorra (2/24), East (2/26), and Meridies (2/28). Letters
of comment for this meeting, should arrive no later than May 10.
The June meeting is scheduled for the 8th.
(This may change; June looks a little weird right now.) The letters
to be processed at this meeting are Caid (3/10), Middle (3/15)
[appeal], Atenveldt (3/17), Atenveldt (3/18), West (3/19), Trimaris
(2/14) (received 3/25], Ansteorra (3/29), and East (3/30). Letters
of comment for this meeting should arrive no later than June 1.
I have not received forms for the Middle Kingdom
letters of 1/15 or 1/20.
The Outlands is scheduled to be elevated to
Kingdom status in June. Mistress Marta as tu MikaMysliwy
(presently Solar Herald) is slated to become Aten Principal Herald
at Atenveldt Coronation (June 7th); and Mistress Keridwen of Montrose
(currently Aten Herald) will become White Stag Principal Herald
at Outlands Coronation (June 15th). Atenveldt has begun issuing
separate letters of intent for the Outlands and the rest of the
Brigantia Herald has a new address: RR #2,
Northside Road, Wading River, NY 11792. Master Berowne of Arden
has retired as Eastern Crown Herald. His successor is Migel Gneuyle
de Normandie (Mike Newell), 1 Walter Avenue #C45, Norwalk,
CT 06851; (203) 8479361. He will not be commenting at this
Calontir has a new Principal Herald: Lord Andreas of Green Village (John
Kreipe), 4125 Kenwood, Kansas City, MO 64110;
(816) 5617508. Lord Gawaine of Mistbridge has asked to
remain on the mailing list as a commentator.
In Meridies, Mistress Ammalynne has found someone
to relieve her of the Pennon hat: Lord Ciarrai MacBraonin an Taghdach
(Lee Verner), 1802 2nd Davie Circle, Smyrna, GA 30080. She would
also appreciate it if you would send copies of your letters of
intent and comment to Lord Lachlan Sinclair Dumas (Jeff D. Parker),
P.O. Box 10607, Jackson, MS 39209.
Brachet Herald has a new phone number: (415)
4201860. Lady Tatiana has retired as Sea Wolf Herald of
the Mists; her successor is Viscountess Kathrine of Bristol (Kaye
Boatwright), 2041 41st Avenue, Oakland, CA 94601; (415) 553-6881.
Please add Lord Da'ud ibn Auda to the list
of commenting heralds: David Appleton, 9025 Boundbrook, Dallas,
TX 75243. Lord Anebairn MacPharlaine of Arrochar has found that
his mundane job leaves him too little time for matters heraldic,
and has asked to be removed from the mailing list.
Master Hrorek Halfdane of Faulconwood is due
to retire as Crescent Principal Herald at Caid Coronation, the
first weekend in June. His successor will be Master Bruce Draconarius
of Mistholme, presently Silver Trumpet Pursuivant.
On citations from the OED
If you cite the inestimable Oxford English
Dictionary in your correspondence, please take note of the
edition you are using. Most of the members of the College (myself
included) use the compact edition, which is in two volumes with
continuous page numbers. If no edition is mentioned, this is
the one most heralds will assume is being used.
The page numbering in the ten- or twelve-volume
set (the non-Microprinted edition owned by many libraries) starts
over with each volume. If you use this edition, you should also
mention volume number. And if you happen to be using the older
set (in 23 volumes, if memory serves), this is usually called
the NED (short for A New English Dictionary on a Historical
Basis), to distinguish it from the OED.
Orle vs. tressure
In August 1985, I approved a device for ARMILDA
ASTYAGES OF LYDIA of "Per pale gules and argent, a swan naiant
within an orle counterchanged." As on of his submissions
for the March meeting, Star Herald presented an appeal of the
blazon: what I had described as an orle had been sent up
as a tressure. Lord Star wished the latter term to be
used, and presented a fair amount of information gleaned from
mundane and SCA sources concerning the single tressure.
I had two reasons for altering the blazon as
1) SCA practice allows a diminutive name of
an ordinary to be used only when there is more than one of the
ordinary, or when the charge has been so positioned as to reduce
its importance in the coat. One might thus have "a fess",
"two bars", or "in base a bar", but never
simply "a bar". The tressure is widely considered to
be a diminutive of the orle: SCA practice would therefore call
one band lining the shield "an orle", and two "a
2) I also wasn't convinced that the unmodified
term tressure was unambiguous. Modern British armory recognizes
"a tressure flory" as a single tressure (the first was
granted to the Heraldry Society in 1957), but there is an implication
in the writings of a number of mundane authors (most notably Fox-Davies,
who insists that there is no plain tressure) that the term "a
tressure" might have been used in earlier blazons to mean
the same things as "a double tressure" or even "a
double tressure flory-counterflory". The easiest way to
avoid the problem was not to use the term "a tressure".
So much for my original reasoning. Let us
now proceed to some definitions.
The word orle means "border"
or "hem". In medieval usage, it referred, not to a
band, but to a group of charges "lining" the shield
-- "an orle of martlets", for example. The nearest
equivalent to the modern orle was the "false" of voided
escutcheon. Unlike the orle, which takes its shape from the edge
of the field, the false scutcheon retained its heater shape from
the edge of the field, he false scutcheon retained its heater
shape even when borne on something besides a shield. In modern
armory, the orle is a wide band within the edge of the field.
The word tressure is related to tress:
"plait" or "braid". The Boke of St. Albans
records blazons of a "double trace" and a "trace
triplait". In his capsule discussion of treçoir,
Gerald Brault posits that "the tressure is more likely a
stylized hair-ribbon, another meaning of what the Old French word
listed by Godefrom." It was most certainly a band, but whether
it was necessarily a multiple band, or could appear singly, Brault
does not say. In modern heraldry, the tressure is a narrow band
(or multiple band) lining the field.
I would dearly love to restrict the term orle
to its early usage, of a group of charges forming a border. Unfortunately,
this would leave me with the problem of what to do with all the
"modern" orles we get. I can't call them "false
escutcheons" unless I'm certain they will retain their shape;
and I haven't been able to establish that a medieval tressure,
unmodified, was a single band. The case is weak anyway: Brault,
quoting H. Stanford London, dates current usage from the mid-sixteenth
century, so the modern definition is technically period. And
the confusion this would bring? . . . oy! Look how often we have
to explain we are using the medieval definitions of "indented"
and "Dancetty". I am unwilling to undertake a change
of this magnitude without greater certainly that we are using
the terms correctly, and I don't know if the smidgin of authenticity
we would gain thereby would be worth the hassle it would cause.
Not that this reduces the temptation any . . .
Let's backtrack now to the question of diminutives,
and open by admitting that our present policy is a compromise
that isn't necessarily 100% correct. I'm sure, if you poke far
enough, that you can find mundane precedent for diminutive names
being used individually in a blazon. I feel this is a side issue.
The important point is that there is no difference between
and ordinary and its diminutive. No matter what it's called,
a charge is drawn as wide or as narrow as circumstances require.
From a logical standpoint, we could equally well allow the terms
to be used interchangeably. Unfortunately, modern heraldry books
(the ones everyone's read) claim there is a distinction, which
they stress by assigning numbers to be proportions. (All right
class, everyone take out your calipers and set them from "scarpe".)
If we don't quibble about the way they are used (reinforcing
customary, rather than absolute, use), we are tactically endorsing
the distinction. This is something we have decided we care about,
hence our policy on the use of diminutives.
Star's research into the question "is
the tressure a diminutive of the orle?" is a little misleading,
in that it really asks "does the book say the tressure
is a diminutive of the orle?" The references I checked either
said outright that the tressure is a diminutive, or else said
that the tressure is narrower than an orle. Diminutive
means "of a very small size; tiny": it come from a Latin
root meaning "to diminish". The very fact that the
tressure is said to have the shape of an orle but to be smaller
makes it a diminutive, whether or not the source explicitly
says so. It is clear from his arguments that Star regards the
tressure as being skinnier than the orle. This is the very distinction
we are trying to avoid.
The foregoing arguments are based on the modern
definitions of "orle" and "tressure", which
are the ones currently in effect. In the absence of sufficient
grounds to justify reserving the term orle to its early
meaning (in part because I don't know if tressure is a
suitable replacement), I am retaining these definitions, and upholding
the present policy on diminutives of ordinaries.
Well, I hope this (a) has proved enlightening,
and (b) makes sense. I'm too bloody tired to go back and revise
it. My apologies, Lord János, if I have gone overboard:
usage happens to be a field I'm particularly interested in.
Added difference for tertiaries
The Rules for Submissions define secondary
charges as "charges placed to the sides of the main charge,"
and tertiary charges as "charges placed on top of other charges."
At present, the only way you can obtain a full point of difference
for tertiary charges is to combine three distinct changes (usually
type, number, and tincture) or a group of charges (BoE, 29 Aug
84, p. 5)
There has bee some discussion in the correspondence
of late of allowing tertiaries to contribute more difference,
particularly when there are no secondary charges.* There appears
to be some historical support for the latter part of this suggestions
when the main charge in an ordinary. Silver Trumpet has recently
brought to my attention the following passage from an article
by Roger F. Pye:
When the ordinary was charged then generally
the field was not, and the charging of both field
and ordinary together was comparatively unusual almost
until the time of the Tudors. when it did occur earlier, it will
be found almost invariably to have been resorted to for the purpose
of differencing the basic arms of the family. (Roger F. Pye, Continuity
and change in English armory. Coat of Arms X (74): 42+,
* I should note here, for the sake of accuracy,
that we are misusing the word "tertiary" in this context.
Tertiary means "third in place, order, degree, or
rank". When there are no surrounding charges, the charges
on the main charges are second in rank, and are therefore secondaries,
not tertiaries. My staff persuaded me some time ago that using
the relative terms correctly would only make the Rules more complicated,
so I have refrained from trying to do anything about it.
The implication here is that, in later medieval
armory, charging an ordinary when there were no other charges
on the field was roughly equivalent to adding a group of "secondary"
charges around the ordinary. We are constrained here by the relative
lack of space on the ordinary; but when there are not surrounding
charges, you can afford to make the ordinary larger, and the charges
on the ordinary become a more important part, visually, of the
In light of these observations, and after discussing
the matter at some length with the senior members of my staff,
I have decided to modify the rules to allow up to a major point
of difference for adding or removing a group of tertiary charges
when the two devices in question consist of a field plus an ordinary.
It is also sometimes possible, under similar circumstances, to
obtain a full point of difference for combining two distinct
changes to a group of tertiary charges. (We were thinking in
particular of type and number; there may be other combinations
worth considering.) These are, of course, subject to the visual
test; and may need to be adjusted somewhat as we gain experience
in their application.
One of the questions we will want to consider
is whether this same principle ought to be allowed to apply in
some cased where the main charge is not an ordinary. Consider,
for example, "Gules, a roundel argent" against "Azure,
on a roundel argent a flem gules" or Azure, on a roundel
Or a covered cup sable" [1.5 points or 2?]. For a more immediate
example, see the discussion on ANDREW MACALISTAIR (april p. 10).
I have decided to extend the bordure rule [XII.5]
to apply to all uncharged bordure, not just ones with a straight
line or partition. (Note that this rule is still invoked "on
a case-by-case basis.") This change was provoked by the submission
of FERALL VON HALSTERN (March, p.7).
Names of defunct branches
We are beginning to see an increasing number of instances in which the name of a new branch conflicts with that of one we have already registered. This is particularly a problem when the registered branch is defunct. Prior rulings (including one sought by Master Wilhelm from the Board) have established the policy that we continue to protect the registered names and armory of branches that no longer exist. It has also been determined that the authority to grant permission for a conflict rests within the branch itself; which means that, once the branch has died out, no one may grant permission on its behalf.
It needs to be borne in mind that the definition
of what constitutes "conflict" lies within the province
of the College of Arms. Some kinds of conflict (such as identity)
are so obvious as to be axiomatic; in cases such as these, we
would not accept a letter of permission even if the branch in
question were thriving. There is another class of conflict, however,
which serves chiefly to protect the interests of members of the
branch: this is translational conflict. Since the interests of
the members of a branch cease to be as great a concern once the
branch is defunct, and since translational conflicts are more
a matter of heraldic definition than general perception, I think
we can afford to judge this case separately. I would certainly
make things easier on new branches that are trying to register
Therefore, in those cases where two branch
names conflict because one is a translation of the other into
a different language, and one of the branches is defunct, permission
may be granted jointly by the Crown of the Kingdom (who may delegate
this authority, if they wish) and by the Principal Herald (who
is responsible for seeing that local custom is maintained, and
whose signature attests to this).
In light of the length of time it has taken
me to come to this decision, I am accepting the permission that
has been granted on behalf of the Shire of TERRA TORRIDA as the
good-faith equivalent of the above, and so am approving the name
of the Shire of SCORCHED EARTH (April, p. 7).
Rulings of note
Among the March submissions, please take note
of the rules on SOVANY BARCSI JANOS (p. 1) and BARONY OF WESTERMARK
(p.15). In the April letter, consider the discussions on ALDRED
VON LECHSEND AUS FROSCHHEIM (p. 2), BARONY OF ANGELS (p. 3) ,
SEBASTIAN DE GREY (pp. 4-5), SOVANY BARCSI JANOS (pp. 8-9), and
perhaps IAN OF TREEMOORE (p.10).
Subscriptions to the LoARs are $18/year. Checks
should be made payment to SCA College of Arms.
The most recent draft of the Rules for Submissions
has been completed. Copies are being sent to the senior members
of the College of Arms, and to the people who commented on the
previous draft. Mistress Eowyn has spun off the Glossary of
Terms as a separate publication; copies will be available
(for a small remuneration) at TYC.
Please accept my apologies if the last couple
of letters have seemed a bit testy. I try to maintain fairly
high standards of courtesy in my official heraldic correspondence
(particularly when it is destined for wide distribution, as is
the case with the LoARs); but this requires times for careful
wording and revision, which has been in rather short supply of
Please believe me to be,
Baldwin of Erebor
Laurel King of Arms