Taigh Moran Chat
RR 2, Northside Road
Wading River, NY 11792
4 June, 1989
Unto the members of the College of Arms and any others who may read this missive, greetings from Alisoun MacCoul of Elphane, Laurel Queen of Arms!
The April meeting was held on Sunday, April 30. At that time the letters from the East (12/30), East (1/1), Calontir (1/10), Caid (1/15), Ansteorra (1/20), Trimaris (1/20), Meridies (1/23), Outlands (1/23) and West (1/24) were considered. Of 294 actions 246 were positive, 47 were negative and one was a pended item for an overall success rate of 84%.
The May meeting was held on Sunday, May 21 to consider with the letters from An Tir (11/28), Calontir (2/1), Caid (2/12), Atenveldt (2/13), West (2/13), Calontir (2/14), Ansteorra (2/16), Outlands (2/24), East (2/25), Meridies (2/26), Atlantia (2/28) and East (2/28). The letter of acceptances and returns from this meeting should reach you shortly.
The June meeting is currently scheduled for Sunday, June 18. It will consider Calontir (3/1), Caid (3/5), West (3/14/), Ansteorra (3/16), East (3/20), Trimaris (3/20), Meridies (3/21), East (3/23) and Calontir (3/31). Please remember that comments for this meeting which have not been mailed at the time you receive this letter should be addressed to Laurel's New York address (RR2, Northside Road, Wading River, NY 11792).
The July meeting is now scheduled for Sunday, 23 July. That meeting will deal with letters from the Middle (4/3), Atlantia (4/15), Ansteorra (4/21), Caid (4/23), Meridies (4/27), East (4/28), Atenveldt (4/30) and Calontir (4/30).
After nearly six years of service to the Principality of Drachenwald as , Regina Romsey has retired to the position of Aurochs Herald Extraordinary. Her successor is Klement St. Christophe (Will Handrich, USAEDE - Attn: CEEUD-IM-R, APO NY 09757-5301). He will not be commenting at this time.
Gold Falcon also asks that you add to your mailing lists the new Lanner Herald: Alban St. Albans (Edward Eisenstein), 2307 Fairmont, Columbia, MO 65203.
Attached to this letter is a revised roster of the College of Arms. As there have been many changes since the last roster was published a few months ago, I ask that you examine it carefully and emend your rosters and mailing lists accordingly. If there are any errors detected, please let me know at once (with all the commutation between New York and South Carolina, the resemblance between the Laurel Office and the Babes in the Woods is not inconsequential...). I hope to have an absolutely current, absolutely correct in details roster for distribution at the Symposium to facilitate exchange of views on the rules and other issues and I will need your help in making these corrections.
ON WALLABIES, KOALA BEARS AND OTHER SUCH BEASTIES
As many of you are aware, the recent approval of a device containing an Australian animal has caused several senior heralds to appeal to the Board for a change in the current policy of the College of Arms allowing any piece of flora or fauna that was known to mankind before 1600. Specifically, they are objecting to the registration of Australian flora or fauna on the grounds that it is offensive to Australian members of the populace and that it cannot be defended for a Society whose charter states that its sphere of interest is western Europe before 1600 since Australia was demonstrably not settled or explored by any known individual from western Europe in this time frame.
The current policy seems to be a fairly old one which is often, but not always, linked to examples of what has in the past been called "the naturalist heresy". Examples of birds, beasts and even insects which were not known in western Europe in the mediaeval period are relatively common from the early heraldry of the Society. Although many of these derived from North America, examples from the Antipodes were certainly not lacking by the mid-seventies (e.g., the koala bear registered to Alyson of Islay).
A variety of valid positions on this issue are available and it appears the time has come for all members of the College and heraldically interested individuals to determine which option they feel is most appropriate in the current situation and communicate this determination to the Board.
The "strict constructionalist" position would argue that no object, creature, plant, etc., not known in western Europe by 1600 should be allowed for Society use. This has the advantage of strict logic and theoretically allows for simple enforcement: if documentary proof cannot be provided for the disputed item in books, manuscripts, paintings, etc. clearly dated before 1600 in western Europe, then it will not be allowed. Under this regulation, the majority of the flora and fauna of the United States which have entered into Society heraldry would no longer be allowed nor would most of the peculiarly Japanese charges which have been used for mon over the years. Undoubtedly, the already significant demands on heralds as botanists, zoologists, etc. would increase as it became necessary to document previously licit charges and/or explain to submittors why some variants of birds and animals were permissible while other similar birds or beasts were not.
A more limited option would ban only Antipodean flora and fauna. This would presumably meet the objection that such items are offensive to the Society population in Lochac, remove the immediate issue, and create a minimum of disruption to the general populace since not that many peculiarly Antipodean charges are registered. However, this creates a problem in generating any kind of generalized ruling which can be explained in a logical manner: the submittor who wants an Australian beast will be quite likely to ask why his or her selection is illicit while an African beast first discovered by western Europeans in the mid-nineteenth century of a saber-toothed tiger known only in fossil form and wildest legend in mediaeval Europe are acceptable.
The most latitudinarian approach would be to retain the current standard which states that, if something were known in a particular form to man before 1600, it may be used. This bans mutants and modern genetic constructs as well as a few relatively common plants and beasts which are the product of post-Renaissance scientific breeding, but allows virtually all the plants and beasts that are in general Society use today. This option leaves the anomaly of a major class of charge that could not have existed in period heraldry, but avoids the difficulty of rendering illicit a large number of popular charges until they can be documented from period sources.
There are, of course, variants of each of these positions (for instance, the "ultra strict constructionist" would ban any charge not shown to have been used on period heraldry). From one point of view or another, each has something to recommend it. If you have an opinion on this matter, please communicate it to the Board as soon as possible. This matter is currently scheduled for discussion at the July Board meeting which has an early "deadline for business" so you should have your letter in the mail to the Corporate Secretary and the Laurel Ombudsman before the first of July. Remember that, if the Board acts in a manner of which you do not approve, you have no right to complain if you have not communicated your position.