Society for Creative Anachronism
College of Arms

16308 SE 165th St
Renton, WA 98058-8221

For the August 2005 meetings, printed November 7, 2005

To all the College of Arms and all others who may read this missive, from Elisabeth Laurel, Jeanne Marie Wreath, and Margaret Pelican, greetings.

The August Laurel decisions were made at the Pelican meeting held on Saturday, August 5, 2005 and the Wreath decision meeting held on Sunday, August 28, 2005. The meetings considered the following letters of intent: Artemisia (20 Apr 05), Atenveldt (20 Apr 05), Middle (20 Apr 05), Laurel (20 Apr 05), Atlantia (21 Apr 05), Drachenwald (22 Apr 05), An Tir (25 Apr 05), West (26 Apr 05), Caid (27 Apr 05), Lochac (27 Apr 05), Outlands (27 Apr 05), Calontir (28 Apr 05), Northshield (28 Apr 05), and Ealdormere (29 Apr 05).

The September Laurel decisions were made at the Pelican meeting held on Saturday, September 17, 2005 and the Wreath decision meeting held on Saturday, September 10, 2005. There was also a Wreath roadshow on Sunday, September 25, 2005. The meetings considered the following letters of intent: Atenveldt (13 May 05), Laurel (16 May 05), Meridies (20 May 05), West (25 May 05), An Tir (26 May 05), Atlantia (26 May 05), Drachenwald (26 May 05), East (26 May 05), Middle (26 May 05), Northshield (27 May 05), Outlands (28 May 05), Lochac (29 May 05), Laurel (31 May 05), and Trimaris (31 May 05).

The October Laurel decisions were made at the Pelican meeting held on Sunday, October 30, 2005 and the Wreath decision meeting held on Sunday, October 23, 2005. The meetings considered the following letters of intent: Calontir (10 Jun 05), Artemisia (20 Jun 05), Æthelmearc (22 Jun 05), Caid LoItP (22 Jun 05), West (22 Jun 05), Ansteorra (23 Jun 05), Atlantia (23 Jun 05), Ealdormere (23 Jun 05), Caid (24 Jun 05), Drachenwald (24 Jun 05), Meridies (25 Jun 05), Middle (25 Jun 05), An Tir (27 Jun 05), Atenveldt (30 Jun 05), and Trimaris (30 Jun 05).

For the information about future scheduling please review the status table located on the web at:

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, et cetera) have not yet been met.

REMINDER: Until all administrative requirements are met, the letter may not be scheduled.

From Wreath: On Whales

A submission this month raised the question of what a whale should look like.

Le Blason des Armoiries by Hierosme de Bara, 1581, p.88, gives an illustration of the heraldic whale (une baleine). It isn't attributed to anyone, so it doesn't appear to be actual arms; it's just an example of the charge, in the book's section on Fish.

Bara's whale has features in common with the whale in the arms of the Soap Boilers of London (taken from Gesner's De Avibus et Piscibus), shown in the Oxford Guide to Heraldry, pp. 64-65. They're both essentially "monstrous great fish". Both have lots of teeth (though Gesner's whales also have tusks). Both have the majority of the body mass well forward on the body, like modern cartoon whales do. Gesner's whales have two blowholes, while Bara's whale has one (and a small one at that). Bara's whale has a smooth dorsal fin, which Gesner's does not.

Based on these two period emblazons, there are enough features in common to allow us to state: the heraldic whale is a monstrous fish, toothed, with at least one blowhole, and the bulk of its mass well forward on the body. It is definitely not a sperm whale, or any other recognized species of natural whale. The heraldic whale's spout (or spouts) is not blazoned.

As we do with heraldic vs. natural tigers, heraldic vs. natural antelopes, heraldic vs. natural dolphins, etc., we should only use the unmodified term whale to refer to the heraldic whale, and all natural whales be either blazoned as such or by their species (sperm whale, killer whale, etc.)

Just as a heraldic dolphin conflicts with a natural dolphin, a heraldic whale conflicts with a natural whale. The majority of whales currently registered specify the type of whale: narwhal (also a heraldic monster), sperm whale, killer whale, etc. Those that do not have been reblazoned in this letter.

From Wreath: Wings That Hold

The SCA has three different kinds of wings-that-hold; they all have a period justification, but they're not the same. We have not been consistent in blazoning these three different charges.

In German heraldry there's a charge termed the Adlerflügel mit Schwerthand ("eagle's wing with sword-hand"). It's a period charge, found in Konrad Grünenberg's Wappenbuch of 1483 (reproduced in Fox-Davies's The Art of Heraldry, 1904, fig.402), and in the Concilium zu Constanz of 1413, f.xcix, in both cases as the arms of the Duke of Calabria. It consists of a single eagle's wing, shown as though couped at the "shoulder" from an eagle displayed: the limb is roughly fesswise, with the feathers spread downward. The sinister end of the wing shows as a bulge; the dexter end of the wing terminates in a hand wielding a sword fesswise reversed above the wing.

Though it's hard to be sure (the German depiction of single wings are very nearly symmetric), the emblazon in the Concilium makes clear that this is a dexter wing. The "bulge" at the sinister end is almost a trefoil, which is how German heraldic art depicts the truncated end of a limb.

Many SCA registrations follow this exemplar. They are usually blazoned along the lines of a wing (sometimes explicitly fesswise) terminating in a hand maintaining a sword fesswise reversed.

A second sort of "wing-with-a-hand" is found in the Armorial de Gelre, c.1370, f.62vo, as a quartering of the arms of the Marques of Villena. The Armorial blazons the charge as a bras ailé ("winged arm"). Here the wing is erect -- essentially bendwise sinister -- but unlike the example of Calabria, the truncated portion of the wing is conjoined to the hand, instead of being at the opposite end of the wing. In Villena's emblazon the hand is in dexter base and the sword palewise.

Both Calabria's variant and Villena's variant have the hand to dexter -- but because of how they're formed, Calabria requires a dexter wing, while Villena requires a sinister wing.

A somewhat larger number of SCA registrations follow this second exemplar (often with a claw substituting for the hand). This variant gets blazoned in a lot of ways, but a hand issuant from a wing or a wing with a hand issuant is common. Because this variant uses a wing of the opposite handedness from the Flügel mit Schwerthand, it requires its own distinct blazon.

Finally, there are a few cases that are, literally, winged hands or claws: a wing (or pair of wings) grafted onto a hand/claw. In these cases, unlike the two previous variants, the hand is usually a significantly large part of the design. Like the second variant above, if the hand is to dexter, then the wing must be a sinister wing. This is both blazonable and acceptable style, but we need to make the distinction. They tend to be blazoned either as winged hands/claws or hands/claws conjoined to a wing.

In summary:

The difference between these three charges can be seen in the illustrations provided by Bruce Draconarius of Mistholme, which are included at the end of the LoAR. [In the HTML version, instead linked above]

From Pelican: Patterns of Order Names

This month we consider clarifications of how we interpret Order name patterns and of the logical extensions of Order names that, while we have no actual examples of such patterns, can be derived from the existing patterns. On the February 2005 Cover Letter, we asked:

Does the pattern we have been using follow the patterns for period Order names? If so, what is missing from it? In what ways is it reasonable to expand this pattern? For instance, given the large number of Orders named for Saints, Mary and aspects of Mary, or Jesus, is it reasonable to allow the registration of Orders named for non-Christian Gods, demi-Gods and, for want of better word, Saints? If such names were held to follow a pattern, would they be held one step from period practice? Given the existence of the Order of the Golden Fleece, it it reasonable to extend the pattern to Orders whose names come from ancient myth (as current precedent suggests)? Given at least one Order named for a secular founder, do Orders named in honor of secular people follow the pattern of medieval Order names? What questions do these patterns raise in your mind? Please bring them forward, as they are important to formulating a reasonable statement of what constitutes a pattern for forming a period Order name.

I thank the commenters of the College of Arms for the time and effort this discussion took. I hope the result will be well defined guidelines of what we now believe are valid period Order name patterns, and a better understanding of those Order names.

Thanks to all who did research and sent comments on this issue; your information is invaluable in such cases.

First, is it reasonable to allow the registration of Orders named for non-Christian Gods, demi-Gods, and Saints? We believe it is. The commenters all favored the logic behind such an extension and described it in terms consistent with the Rules for Submission. Furthermore, evidence from period order names suggests that there were wide reasons why an order might be named for a saint -- simply as an expression of religious honor is only one reason among many. D.G. Neville, Early Orders of Knighthood and Chivalry discuss various reasons why a saint's name appears in an Order name. Some are named simply to honor a saint; the Swedish Order of the Brician Knights established in 1396 is such an Order. The rules of other orders are more closely connected to the saint whose name it bears; the Order of St. George, Burgundy was founded in 1400 "to guard some relics of Saint George." For other Orders, the saint's name is part of a specific place with which the order is associated; The Knights of the Holy Ghost, established 1486, are also known as "The Brethren of the Hospital of the Holy Ghost." There is one example where an order is named for the saint on whose feast day a victory was won (the Order of Saint Hubert of Juliers, established 1444). Given the wide range of reasons why a holy name might be attached to an order name, and given that religion and religious practice is very important to all medieval cultures, it seems logical to make such an extension. However, as we have no examples or such names, their use must be considered one step from period practice. The same logic may be applied to holy relics of non-Christian deities and saints; they may be registered but must be considered one step from period practice.

Second, given at least one Order named for a secular founder, do Orders named in honor of secular people follow the pattern of medieval Order names? Yes, they do. While this pattern appears only in late period, we now have one undisputed example from late period, the Knights of Pius. Argent Snail notes:

It seems clear to me that the "order of Pius" was named after Pope Pius, and does not mean Pious (as in religious) knights. Let me give you some background on the order name. The current Vatican order, the Order of Pius, was founded in 1847 by Pope Pius IX, and in fact, the order name is found in some sources as the Order of Pius IX. However, his intention was that it be reminiscent of the Order of Pian Knights, which was founded by Pope Pius IV in 1560. However, and this is the important part, the way Latin grammar is formed, Pian is the genitive form of Pius, so the order of Pian Knights, means the knights that belong to Pius, not knights that are pious.

We also have a description of this order from 1615 which establishes that in England and France at least some people believed that Pius had named this order after himself. From Edward Grimstone's translation of Pierre d'Avity, The estates, empires, & principallities of the world Represented by ye description of countries, maners of inhabitants, riches of prouinces, forces, gouernment, religion; and the princes that haue gouerned in euery estate. With the begin[n]ing of all militarie and religious orders., comes the statement "Pope Pius the fourth, in the yeare of our Lord God 1560 erected t[the scan is smudged here]which carrie his name, whom he would have precede all other orders made by Emperors and other Princes, yea the knights of Malta themselves, for tht they were of his houshold, and did eat at his Table." We also have two two examples from the gray area, The Order of Maria-Eleanor, founded 1632 in Sweden and The Order of Amaranta, founded around 1645 in Sweden. Given this information, order names whose descriptive element is the given name of the founder or an honored person are considered consistent with late period practice.

Given the existence of the Order of the Golden Fleece, it it reasonable to extend the pattern to Orders whose names come from ancient myth? The answer here is less clear than the other two questions. Clearly, the extension of order name patterns to include the names of non-Christian deities extends registerable order names to the names of deities from classical mythology, so they are not considered in this part of the discussion. There is no doubt about the classical allusion here; it was obvious enough that even early order members occasionally tried to hide it. Guy Stair Sainty, "Great Orders of Chivalry, The Most Illustrious Order of the Golden Fleece" (, says:

The adoption of a pagan image as the badge of a Christian Order led to a protest by the Order's first Chancellor, Jean Germain, Bishop of Nevers, who preferred that it should recall Gideon's fleece (which was neither gold nor a prize for courage). Later in the century, Chancellor Guillaume Filastes added the fleeces of Jacob, Mesa, Job and David to be associated with this image, making six in all and supposedly corresponding to the virtues of magnanimity, justice, prudence, fidelity, patience and clemency.

However, we have found no other examples of chivalric orders whose names make allusions to classical mythology, and we have evidence that even the allusion to the Golden Fleece was uncomfortable to at least some people of the class who would form chivalric orders at that time. The fact is when the classical age was opening itself once again to Europeans and orders reviving chivalric ideals were once again being formed only one bore a name that referred to classical mythology. This suggests that the name is unique and cannot be taken as a pattern for the general use of classical references in Order names. Note, for example, that The Order of the Golden Fleece was not named The Order of Jason or The Order of Jason and the Argonauts. Instead, it followed the well-established pattern of naming a chivalric order after the badge or symbol of the order, e.g. after the name of a heraldic charge. There are some items from classical mythology that are heraldic charges; we have registered chimeras, pegasi, krakens, harpies, and sphinxes as heraldic charges in the past. We would probably register a minotaur if it was submitted. Therefore, any object from classical mythology that can be used as a heraldic charge may be registered as part of an order name. However, period order naming patterns do not support extending this to any random reference from classical mythology.

Argent Snail, in arguing for more generous interpretations of patterns notes, "since we know that there were period order names of the form color (including Gold/golden) object, any color object should be considered acceptable, and not one step from period practice, even if the submitted color was not used in a period order name." While we are unwilling to extend the interpretation of period order names to include any color (images of "Order of Dead Spaniard Lion" leap to mind--"dead spaniard" being a fabric color found in Elizabethan England), we are often far stricter in our interpretations concerning colors than we are of other patterns. Therefore, since heraldic objects may be found in any heraldic tincture, the ordinary color name for any heraldic tincture may be used as part of an order name when combined with a heraldic charge (which, if applied to the example above, gives us the "Order of the Green Lion," a perfectly ordinary name.) Following this pattern comes with no penalty; even if a particular color found in heraldry is not found in any order name, its use in an order name still follows the established pattern. This does not overturn the precedent disallowing the registration of Orders of the form heraldic tincture name + object in English, since we have no examples of English order names that use heraldic tincture names. So, for example, while the Order of the Green Lion would be held to follow demonstrated patterns, Order of the Lion Vert or Order of the Vert Lion would not.

We noted that the items discussed above all address the meta-patterns found in period order names and the logical extension of these patterns. This makes sense, because Order names do not seem to be constructed using strict word-by-word patterns; rather, they are named using a small set of meta-patterns whose structure is made up of common by-word patterns. To base an order name on just a meta-pattern or a by-word pattern considering the other pattern type often leads to names that do not bear much resemblance to period order names. The by-word patterns laid out in Meradudd Cethin's "Project Ordensnamen" must be considered when forming an order name, but only after one of the following meta-patterns is chosen for the name of the order:

Roster Changes

François la Flamme (Wendel Bordelon) is no longer on the mailing list but remains on the roster under Laurel as Estencelé Herald.

Send What to Whom

For all Letters of Intent, Comment, Response, Correction, et cetera, send one paper copy directly to each of the Sovereigns of Arms, Laurel, Pelican and Wreath at their mailing addresses as shown on the College of Arms Roster.

Send Laurel office copies of all submissions-related paper, including

to the SCA College of Arms, PO Box 31755, Billings, MT 59107-1755.

Send the required electronic copies of all submissions-related files to This applies to all LoIs, LoCs, LoRs, et cetera.

Cheques or money orders for submissions, payable to "SCA Inc.-College of Arms" are to be sent directly to the Society Chancellor of the Exchequer, who is temporarily acting as Laurel's chancellor of the exchequer, at Laurel Chancellor of Exchequer, 4N400 Church Rd, Bensenville, IL 60106-2928.

Send roster changes and corrections to Laurel. College of Arms members may also request a copy of the current roster from Laurel.

For a paper copy of a LoAR, please contact Laurel, at the address above. The cost for one LoAR is $3. Please make all checks or money orders payable to "SCA Inc.-College of Arms". For subscriptions to the electronic copy of the LoAR, please contact Laurel at The electronic copy is available free of charge.

For all administrative matters, or for questions about whom to send to, please contact Laurel.

Pray know that I remain,

In service,

Elisabeth de Rossignol
Laurel Principal Queen of Arms

Created at 2005-12-05T17:31:17