Society for Creative Anachronism
College of Arms
For the August 2002 meetings, printed November 14, 2002
To all the College of Arms and to all others to whom this missive comes, from François Laurel, Zenobia Wreath, and Mari Pelican, health and good friendship.
This letter contains the issues raised in the August 2002 LoAR for CoA discussion. The text in this letter is copied verbatim from that LoAR; it is provided here for convenience. As with a November LoI, these matters are currently scheduled for the Laurel meetings in March 2003. Original commentary must be in the College's hands no later than January 31, 2003. Responses and rebuttals to commentary must be in the College's hands no later than February 28, 2003.
Atholl, Earl of. Non-SCA arms. Paly Or and sable.
These arms are the territorial arms of the earldom of Atholl. They are found as independent arms and also as a quartering of the arms of various earls of Atholl, including the Stewart and Murray earls or dukes of Atholl.
The Cover Letter for the February 2002 LoAR stated:
In this month's submission for Aethelwine Aethelredson (Calontir), a commenter raised the question of whether we should protect the non-SCA arms of the Earl of Atholl.
Ordinarily, such a request during the commentary cycle would cause a pend of the associated SCA armory and would be discussed there rather than in the Cover Letter. In this case, the armory in question was returned for a different reason, so there was no need for a pend. Laurel procedure in the past has been to rule on all requests for protection, whether they are raised in commentary pertinent to a submission in progress or whether they are raised in Letters of Intent to Protect. Therefore, this "orphaned" issue is presented for your consideration here in the Cover Letter.
The Cover Letter then quoted the section of the letter of comment which requested protection of these arms.
This item is being pended for the College's further consideration for two reasons. One reason is the ambiguity in the wording of the Cover Letter for the February 2002 LoAR. The second reason is the amount of new and pertinent information on this item which was received by the Laurel office, but which had not been presented to the College.
On the issue of ambiguity: As a general rule, when new items are presented to the College, the intent of the writer is clear to the readers. "Letter of Intent" is an accurate term. The Cover Letter for the February 2002 LoAR did not state that it was the intent of either Laurel or Wreath to protect the arms of the Earl of Atholl. It just asked for "consideration" of a commenter's request for protection of these arms.
The ambiguity in the request for consideration became apparent when we found that we must rule on this submission based on very sparse commentary. The general policy of the College of Arms has long been that "silence implies assent." The intent of the writer of a Letter of Intent is assumed to be supported (or at least, not opposed) by all members of the College who do not comment on the submission. Since the intent of Laurel and Wreath concerning this submission was not made clear in the Cover Letter, it was not clear how we should interpret the silence concerning this request for consideration. We asked some members of the College how they would interpret this silence, and received very disparate answers, implying that the ambiguity was a legitimate problem. Some members of the College felt that, since the Cover Letter did not state Laurel's (or Wreath's) intent to protect the submission, silence implied a lack of support for protection. Others felt that since the cover letter quoted the commenter's request for protection, silence implied support for the commenter's request for protection.
While the College is not, and has never been, a "voting organization", the criteria by which we choose to protect, or not to protect, real-world arms involve opinions as well as fact. Fame, familiarity, and importance are not easy to quantify. If twenty members of the College all provide the same argument explaining why two pieces of armory conflict, the argument is no more or less compelling than if only one commenter has done so. However, if twenty members of the College all state that a particular piece of real-world armory is, or is not, "important", "famous" or "familiar", that shared opinion is more compelling than hearing the same opinion espoused by only one commenter. We therefore strongly encourage all members of the College to comment on issues of protection of real-world armory. While scholarship and informed discussion are always preferred, there is use in even a short comment like "The evidence presented [does]/[does not] justify protecting this armory in the SCA."
It is therefore necessary to state unambiguously how silence will be interpreted in reference to this pended item. Because this item originated as a request for protection of the Earl of Atholl's arms as important non-SCA arms, silence will be interpreted as support for (or lack of opposition to) the protection of the arms. Please note that this statement does not reflect the personal opinions of either Wreath or Laurel.
As a reminder to the College, the grounds for protecting (or not protecting) this piece of armory are in the Administrative Handbook, section III.b (Protected Armory) subsection 3 (Significant Personal and Corporate Armory from Outside the Society). This states in pertinent part, "Modern or historical armory may be considered significant or recognizable enough to protect on a case-by-case basis". The Administrative Handbook does not specify what the grounds for the "case by case basis" for protection might be, so we must turn to precedent for guidance. The Cover Letter for the LoAR of August 1999 states:
I am more likely to decide that an item is important enough to protect if it appears in multiple general sources...
The importance of protecting individuals' arms is a combination of the "arms" and the "man" schools of thought. The "arms" school contends that we should protect famous arms regardless of the importance of the owner of the arms. One example of arms that fall in this category is arms used as examples of design in heraldry texts. The "man" school maintains that the arms of famous people should be protected regardless of the familiarity of their arms. Past rulings try to balance these two schools of thought.
Here follows a summary of the documentation pertaining to this submission which has been presented to the Laurel office, but has not yet been presented to the College of Arms. This does not include the material that has already been presented to the College in the Cover Letter for the February 2002 LoAR or in commentary thereupon: the College is encouraged to revisit the pertinent past correspondence.
These arms are found as examples in some standard heraldic references. Woodward's A Treatise on Heraldry, British and Foreign gives them as the illustrated example of paly. They are also found as an example of paly in A.C. Fox-Davies' The Art of Heraldry.
The arms are found in a number of period rolls in Scotland, England and the continent. Note that while England and Scotland had many cultural ties throughout our period, for the entirety of our period the two were independent sovereign (and at times, warring) kingdoms.
Britannica.com mentions three of the Atholl nobility in entries under their own names. All three used these arms as a quartering. The first is John Stewart fourth earl of Atholl, summarized in britannica.com as a "Roman Catholic Scottish noble, sometime supporter of Mary, Queen of Scots". His use of the Atholl quartering is demonstrated in Lindsay of the Mount's roll. The second is John Murray, second earl and first marquess of Atholl, summarized in britannica.com as "a leading Scottish Royalist and defender of the Stuarts from the time of the English Civil Wars (1642-51) until after the accession of William and Mary (1689)." The third is John Murray, second marquess and first duke of Atholl, the son of John Murray, first marquess of Atholl, summarized in britannica.com as "a leading Scottish supporter of William and Mary and of the Hanoverian succession". (He's the Atholl who captured, and then lost, Rob Roy). Both Murrays also used the Atholl quartering, as demonstrated in the Lyon Ordinary.
Bella da Firenze. Device. Azure, a cherub's head between three crosses crosslet argent.
The original blazon on the LoI was missing tinctures. The reblazon of the device provided by Kingdom blazoned the cherub's head as proper. There is no defined proper for a cherub's head, and the proper tincture for the similar charge of a seraph's head, with Caucasian-colored skin, red hair, and multicolored wings, is very different than this argent charge. The commenters were unable to correctly deduce the actual tincture of this charge. Thus, this is being pended for further research.
(This submission was originally item 6 on Meridies's LoI of April 30, 2002.)
Galen Storm. Badge. Sable, a hawk's head erased and on a chief argent a rapier azure.
The rapier was originally blazoned as argent on the letter of intent. This must therefore be pended for further research.
(This submission was originally item 8 on Atlantia's LoI of April 25, 2002.)
Pray know that I remain
François la Flamme
Laurel Principal King of Arms
Created at 2002-12-08T17:59:53