Society for Creative Anachronism
College of Arms
1194 Firwood Dr.
Pittsburgh, PA 15243
5 February 2000

Unto the members of the College of Arms and all others who may read this missive does Dame Elsbeth Anne Roth, Laurel Queen of Arms, send greetings.

The January Laurel meeting was held January 16, 2000, and considered the following letters of intent: Drachenwald (August 8) (delayed due to late receipt of paperwork), Meridies (August 31) (delayed due to late receipt of paperwork), Nebuly Letter of Intent to Protect (September 13), Æthelmearc (September 15), Caid (September 15), Outlands (September 15), Drachenwald (September 20), West (September 20), Atlantia (September 22), Artemisia (September 25), An Tir (September 28), Ansteorra (September 30), and Meridies (September 30).

The February Laurel meeting is scheduled for Saturday, February 12, and will consider the following letters of intent: Middle (August 31) (delayed due to late receipt of paperwork), Middle (September 27) (redated to October 6 based on postmark), Atenveldt (October 1), Drachenwald (October 11), Lochac (October 11), Artemisia (October 16) (originally dated September 30), Atlantia (October 21), Middle (October 21), Æthelmearc (October 29), An Tir (October 29), Ansteorra (October 30), and Meridies (October 30).

The March Laurel meeting is scheduled for Saturday, March 11, and will consider the following letters of intent: Atenveldt (November 1), Caid (November 1), Lochac (November 8), Caid (November 15), West (November 15), Drachenwald (November 16), Atlantia (November 17), Ansteorra (November 29), Laurel (accidentally dated in July, should be November 30), and Meridies (November 30). Responses and rebuttals to commentary must be in the College's hands no later than February 29, 2000.

The April Laurel meeting is scheduled for Sunday, April 2, 2000 (which affects the commentary deadlines - see below), and will consider the following letters of intent: Middle (November 28) (redated to December 9, based on postmark), Atenveldt (December 1), Lochac (December 1), Artemisia (December 6), Drachenwald (December 13), Meridies (December 15), Outlands (December 15), Atlantia (December 16), Æthelmearc (December 21), Caid (December 22), Middle (December 24), An Tir (December 30), Ansteorra (December 31), and East (December 31). Original commentary on these LoIs must be in the College's hands no later than February 29, 2000. Responses and rebuttals to commentary must be in the College's hands no later than March 26, 2000.

The May Laurel meeting is tentatively scheduled for Saturday, May 13, 2000, and will consider the letters of intent from January.

Not all letters of intent may be considered when they are originally scheduled on this cover letter. The date of mailing of the LoI, date of receipt of the Laurel packet, or other factors may delay consideration of certain letters of intent. Additionally, some letters of intent received may not have been scheduled because the administrative requirements (receipt of the forms packet, receipt of the necessary fees, etc.) have not yet been met.

A Pelican King of Arms

.I have been discovering that I lack the time to do everything I want to or should do in this office. Therefore I have designated Lord Pietari Pentinpoika Uv, Koira Herald, as Pelican King of Arms in charge of names. As of the April LoAR (with the exception of the Midrealm November LoI), he will be making decisions on any name submissions and any appeals of armory decisions. I will continue to make all of the armory and administrative decisions and will handle any appeals of name decisions. I will also be handling all the paperwork — do not send Pietari any forms; send them all to me. He has currently scheduled meetings for Sunday, April 9, Sunday, May 14, and Sunday, June 11.

As the appendix to the administrative handbook does not list these duties of Pelican, I hereby update Appendix E (at least until after the general revisions of the handbook) to the following:

The Pelican Sovereign of Arms shall be a deputy of the Laurel Sovereign of Arms. The specific duties of Pelican must be published in the cover letter for a Letter of Acceptances and Returns and may include one or more of the following:

  1. Administrative duties
  2. Submissions-related duties
  3. Other duties

And now a word from the new Pelican King of Arms;

An Owl? No, a Pelican

Most of you should know me by now -- I've been commenting for almost exactly five years, including a two-year term as a principal herald. Compiling Letters of Intent is great fun and commenting on them even more so, but some poor sod has to read the comments and make decisions. I've agreed to help with that part for a while, but with a firm intent to eventually return to commenting. So beware: some day it may be your turn, and when that time comes I'll be back.

Meanwhile I'll try to do my best with this new job. Expect me to be unfair and to make stupid mistakes, though, especially in the beginning. Feel free to call me about these or any other issues, but please note that there is a seven-hour time difference between Finland and the eastern coast of North America. Also, for all of you except Edelweiss it'll be an international call. E-mail is your friend.

On Owls and Eagles

The question arose this month of how we count conflict between owls and eagles. Past precedent is clear on this point: they are only insignificantly different ("raptors is raptors"). For the most part we are overturning this precedent, based on rule X.4.e.

The standard in this rule is that when comparing two charges both of which were used in period heraldry, we consider them significantly different if they were "considered to be separate" in period. When considering owls in their default posture of close guardant it is difficult to construct an argument based on period evidence against granting this difference. The owl is found as a heraldic charge as early as 1308 (cited in Parker's Glossary p. 434) and in constant use ever since. Eagles displayed are found from earliest heraldry, and birds of the eagle/falcon/hawk family in the close posture date at least from the reign of Edward II (who died 1327). We have no reason to believe that there was ever any confusion between owls and the eagle/falcon/hawk family.

This raises the question of how the SCA's current interpretation arose. The likely answer is found in the precedents of the tenure of Bruce Draconarius. In the LoAR of 9/92 he considered an eagle displayed vs. an owl displayed, and wrote that "The owl and the eagle are both raptors, and the main difference between them --- the head posture --- is specifically worth no CDs per Rule X.4.h." This was reiterated on the 3/93 letter with "[There is not a CD] for type of raptor in similar postures." In both of these rulings the birds were displayed. That this was a general ruling is made clear on the letter of 8/93, considering an owl [close] affronty vs. an eagle displayed, he wrote "There's a CD for the change in the bird's posture, but nothing for its type: eagles and owls are both raptors, and the main heraldic difference --- the head posture --- is specifically worth no difference under the Rules (as well as having been subsumed into the rest of the posture change)."

Note that the earlier two submissions, of 9/92 and 3/93, involved owls displayed. This is unattested in period heraldry, where owls are invariably close guardant. The conflict rules make a rigid distinction between the type of a charge and its posture. This works well most of the time, but less so for birds, where the type and the posture are often closely connected. In particular, with vanishingly rare exceptions the eagle is the only bird found displayed in period heraldry. Therefore any other bird displayed will arguably be visually similar to an eagle.

The dilemma is that, keeping the rules' rigid distinction between posture and type, either granting a difference for type between owls and eagle or not granting this difference creates undesirable effects. Granting it would encourage more owls displayed, which is certainly inauthentic style and is arguably visually over-generous. Not granting it discourages registration of owls even in their attested posture and is inconsistent with both the spirit and the letter of rule X.4.e. Laurel chose the former path as the lesser evil.

The new solution to the problem is to sacrifice some of the theoretical purity of separation of type and posture. Because only eagles among birds are attested as displayed in period, any other bird in a displayed posture will be compared to any bird in a displayed posture usuing the visual test of rule X.4.e for non-period charges. Thus there will not be a CD between an owl displayed and an eagle displayed, because they are too visually similar, but there will be a CD between an owl displayed and a penguin displayed, because there is still significant visual difference. Additionally any bird other than an eagle in a displayed posture will be considered a "weirdness". Henceforth owls, being distinct charges in period, are generally considered significantly different from other birds, but are subject to the preceding visual comparison if displayed.

The end result of this is that there is still no difference granted for owls displayed vs. eagles displayed, but there now is a difference for type between owls close guardant and eagles/falcons/hawks close. In the future I expect that I will be more likely to grant difference between different types of birds when (a) they are (a) different in period, (b) in a period posture, (c) drawn correctly, and (d)there is some visual difference (i.e., there is really no visual difference between a popinjay and a hawk). This also means that in the future I will be stricter about requiring that a bird be drawn with its defining attributes (i.e., a dove should have a tuft). Without the defining attributes, the bird may just be blazoned as "a bird."

Documentation in Letters of Intent

Please remember that it is always necessary to at least summarize the documentation for a name or a charge in the letter of intent. I (and soon Pietari) depend on the commentary from the College of Arms to make an informed decision. The College cannot properly comment when the documentation is simply listed as "enclosed". In particular, if the documentation is from an e-mail correspondence the LoI should list the evidence given in the letter instead of simply stating that there is a letter. If the documentation is a letter from the Academy of S. Gabriel it is also helpful to give the client number of the letter, but a summary of the evidence is far more critical. Furthermore, it is often necessary for them to know the intended gender of the name, the intending meaning of the name (if there is one), whether the meaning or sound is more important, whether the submitter wants an authentic name (and when/where), whether major or minor name changes are not allowed, what changes were made at kingdom, and the history of any prior submissions when doing resubmissions.

Similarly, for armory submissions, if there is any documentation needed for the submission, it must be summarized as noted above. It is also very helpful to include the date of registration of the primary name if it is already registered. This not only ensures that the submission herald checks that the name is registered, but it makes finding the previous registration, if necessary, much easier.

Essentially, when writing a Letter of Intent, write it so that as much as possible decisions can be made without looking at the forms (excluding purely administrative requirements such as a petition and excluding color in armory) and without requiring someone to use the internet. Such letters are much easier to comment on and we are more likely to have adequate information to make a fair and accurate ruling.

The Administrative Handbook

Both because of a requirement by the board of the directors and because of various recent commentary, I will be revising the Administrative Handbook this year. While I will be working out many of the logistical details this month, I will be immediately taking suggestions for substantive changes to the handbook. I want these suggestions as soon as possible so they can benefit from as much commentary as possible. Please send me your suggestions — my hope is that I can include a letter similar to Palimpsest's rules letter with the February or March LoAR.

Title Equivalencies

Nebuly Pursuivant made some suggestions for alternate titles in Lithuanian and Estonian. I've placed his suggestions in a separate document along with this letter. Please make any comments and suggestions by June 1, 2000. I have saved commentary from Nebuly's Letter of Intent to Protect so those comments do no have to be repeated.

Roster Changes

First, anyone in the College of Arms who wants a copy of the roster in Access or Excel format can contact my roster deputy Symond directly to get a copy. His contact information is at the end of this letter.

Pietari Pentinpoika Uv, Koira Herald (Drachenwald) is now Pelican King of Arms on Laurel staff. He also requests that anyone calling him use the phone number +358 400 812 354 instead of the current one.

Dagonell Collingwood, Garnet Herald (Æthelmearc), is added to the roster and the mailing list. He is the new submissions herald for Æthelmearc. His address is David P. Salley, 136 Shepard Street, Buffalo, NY, 14212-2029,

Mari Elspeth nic Bryan, Bordure Herald (Ansteorra) has a new address: Kathleen M. O'Brien, 7323 Potters Trail, Austin, TX, 78729. Her phone number and e-mail address remain the same.

Caid has changed principal heralds. Thus Eirikr Mjoksiglandi Sigurdson, former Crescent Principal Herald, is now Golden Phoenix Herald (and is still on the mailing list) and has a new email address: The new Crescent Principal Herald is the former Dolphin Herald, Madawc ap Caradawc (listed in the roster as Madawc Seumus Caradawg). Also please add Jeanne Marie Lacroix of Caid to the roster and mailing list as a staff commenter.

Gerulf, Schwarzdrachen Principal Herald (Drachenwald), has a new address: Marcel Kramer, Henriëttedreef 12, 3561 JV Utrecht, The Netherlands

Elena de Vexin, Buckler Herald (Middle Kingdom), is removed from the mailing list (but not from the roster). She has informed me that she lacks the time to do commentary. Similarly, Kiena Munro, Fretty Herald (Outlands) is removed from both the roster and the mailing list. She has informed me that she is no longer able to keep the title.

Cairbre mac Siomaigh, Lambent Herald (Meridies) has a new address: John Pate, 1002 Upper Kingston Rd, Prattville, AL, 36067, 334-365-8336,

Clarissa Wykeham, Dragon Principal Herald (Middle) has a new e-mail address: or

Alicianne de Montfort of Sprucewood, Vesper Principal Herald (West), has a new address: Ann Clark, 824 Cape May Place, San Jose, CA 95133-1506, 408-251-9787,

A new roster is included with this letter.


Send roster changes, roster corrections, and LoAR subscriptions to Lord Symond Bayard le Gris, Bruce R. Nevins, 2527 E. 3rd St., Tucson, AZ, 85716-4114, (520) 795-6000, (520) 795-0158 (Fax), To request an electronic copy of the roster send e-mail to Lord Symond above. Please make all checks or money orders payable to SCA Inc. — College of Arms. The cost for an LoAR subscription is $25.00 a year. Send all other administrative requests or payments to Laurel.

Until then, I remain

In service

Elsbeth Anne Roth
Laurel Queen of Arms

Created at 2000-07-09T22:52:35