Society for Creative Anachronism
College of Arms
15910 Val Verde Drive
Houston, TX 77083-4921
12 December 2001
To all the College of Arms from Master François la Flamme, Laurel Principal King of Arms, greetings. It is my intent to register the following item:
1. Society for Creative Anachronism. New heraldic title, Wreath Sovereign of Arms.
Wreath refers to the primary charge on the SCA's arms. RfS III.2.b.iii states, "Heraldic titles must follow the patterns of period heraldic titles. These are generally drawn from ... names of heraldic charges ('Crosslet' Herald, 'Estoile Volant' Pursuivant, 'Noir Lyon' Pursuivant), ...", among other types.
The spelling "wreath" dates from the 16th C on, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, 1st ed., p. 3834, s. v. "wreath", def. II.11. The word, in alternate spellings, is found in English as early as 1000.
Discussion: There was some support for having a Sovereign of Arms title that corresponds to an SCA-wide order, perhaps even an assumption by some that it is necessary to do so. There is no reason to require any particular naming convention: the English College in period included Garter Principal King of Arms, a title based on an order name, but most of its Kings of Arms' titles were not based on order names (Clarenceux, Norroy, and others). Generally, a herald's title which matched an order name was the title for someone who was (in addition to other duties) herald for that order. The most famous real-world example is Garter Principal King of Arms, who is involved in activities of the Order of the Garter. In the SCA, Laurel is not the herald for the Order of the Laurel, nor is Pelican the herald for the Order of the Pelican.
Moreover, while "Pelican Sovereign of Arms" was based on "Order of the Pelican", that may not be the case for "Laurel King of Arms". Though we have no written evidence on the subject, some state that Laurel, like Wreath, was originally a reference to the laurel wreath, the principal charge on the SCA's arms. That pattern is best exemplified in the real world by (Lord) Lyon King of Arms in Scotland.
Because of the prevalence of order name suggestions, initial research into a new title included a search for a "Chivalry"-based title. However, inquiries amongst some heralds of the SCA and some members of the Chivalry showed that there was no generally acceptable Sovereign of Arms title which alluded to the Chivalry. The members of the Chivalry who responded to the queries indicated that it was not important to them that the new Sovereign of Arms title refer to the Chivalry. It was, however, important to them that the new title should not seem inappropriate. Chivalry Sovereign of Arms was perceived as awkward or inappropriate by virtually all Chivalry members and heralds. Moreover, some of the possible regalia-derived titles referring to white belts or chains seemed inappropriate to some Chivalry members, as they were only appropriate to Knights, rather than Masters of Arms.
Rose Sovereign of Arms was a popular title among the heralds, some of whom noted that there was briefly a Rose Herald in the English College from time to time from 1553 on. No objections were received from those members of the Order of the Rose who were asked. However, we preferred in this case to use the heraldic charge model rather than the order name model.
In service, François la Flamme, Laurel Principal King of Arms.