|Court Heraldry: A Checklist for Success|
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Court Heraldry: A Checklist for Success
© Richard Coleman.
Originally printed in the Atlantian Herald's Handbook
The most important part of heralding any court, kingdom or baronial, is proper planning. You need to know what is going to go on at court, and in what order, so that the court proceedings will flow smoothly, with a minimum of effort for all concerned.
This is a checklist of steps that you as the court herald can take to help insure that court will run smoothly. While there is no 'one true way' to herald a court, this should serve as a basic guideline for the things that you need to think about and plan for in preparing for court.
Before the event:
1. If you are fortunate enough to know in advance that you will be heralding court at an event (especially if it is a large event such as Twelfth Night), you may want to get in touch with the Crown* ahead of time and find out what their plans are. If they already know what their court business is going to be, then you can offer to make a list of it and work up a preliminary order in advance of the event, which can save both you and them time on the day of the event.
2. If you will be heralding a court, or think you might be heralding a court at an event you will be going to, make sure that you take a notebook or covered clipboard, something to write with, your herald's tabard, and appropriate clothing (see below).
*(For the purposes of this document, the terms 'crown', 'monarchs', 'royalty', etc. will be used to refer to the people holding the court, whether they be King and Queen or Baron and Baroness.)
The day of the event:
3. Check in with the Crown early in the day. Even if they already know that you are going to be their court herald, it lets them know that you are on site and at their disposal. Tell them where you can be found during the day (where your encampment, table setting, etc. is), and see if they know yet what the schedule for court is, and when they want to get together with you to set up court. If they don't yet know what the schedule is going to be, don't worry about it, but check back with them occasionally so that when they do decide to start working on court they will know where to find you.
4. When you know that the time to start preparing for court is near, make whatever clothing changes you might be planning to make before you start any of the preparations -- you won't have time later. Most important is to wear comfortable shoes! If you wonder why this is an important thing to mention, try standing in one place for an hour (or longer) without fidgeting. Now, any questions?
1 1/2 hours before court: (the time may vary depending on the size of the event and the court)
5. Get together with the Crown and get the list of their business for court (if you had not previously done so). This includes all awards, proclamations, etc. You need to make sure and cover the following details:
6. When you have the Crown's business, thank them and tell them that you will get back together with them when you have collected business from the populace. Now review the Court's business to get an estimate of how long you think it will take in relation to how long you have for court. If you are short on time, you may need to ask that less pressing business from the populace be handled at another time.
7. Make an announcement (or have one made) that you are taking business for court from the populace. Make sure that this announcement is made to all parts of the site; people in the kitchen are just a likely to have business for court, but much less likely to hear an announcement. Choose a location that people can come to you that is conspicuous (so that people can find you easily), but not where you, or the line of people waiting to talk to you, will be in the way. If you have not already done so, put on your herald's tabard so that you can be easily recognized.
When taking items of business from the populace, keep the following things in mind:
8. Five minutes before you are through collecting court business from the populace, make another announcement that is a 'last call' for business. This won't stop people from running up to you with business later, but it's a start.
9. When you have collected all of the populace's court business, go back and find the royalty and ask to sit down with them and order the business for court. Some royalty will want to be very involved with this process, and others will ask you to do it yourself and then present it to them for their approval. In either case, these are some general guidelines for setting up the order of court:
10. Take care of any other last minute details with the royalty, which might include such things as:
11. If you did not do so while arranging court with the royalty, write up the final agenda that you will use to conduct court. This may consist of rewriting the entire agenda, or merely writing numbers by the items in the order that they will be used. What method you use will depend on your personal preference and the size of the court. However, it is important that someone else be able to read and understand your agenda, in case they should have to assist you.
12. By now, someone will probably have come running up to you with some piece of business that they just have to get on the court agenda, and they didn't hear the announcement, and, and...
Evaluate the business that they have just like the ones you had before. If it really is something that needs to be done in court in spite of its late arrival (and how much it needs to be done may depend on how full your agenda already is!), then add it to the agenda in an appropriate place, making sure to tell the royalty about it before court. If there are any questions, have them talk directly to the royalty.
15 minutes before court:
13. If there is going to be another person helping you with court, such as a scribe or another herald to keep track of the award scrolls and hand them to you at the proper time, make sure that you get together with them and that they understand the agenda. Make sure that any award scrolls are in the order that they will be given out so that you can get to them easily when they are called for during court. Once again, make sure that you (and your assistant) can pronounce all of the names. Make sure that you have a cup of something (non-alcoholic) to drink situated behind the thrones where you will be able to get to it during court.
14. Go back to the royalty and let them know that you are ready for court to begin. If they did not arrange the order of court with you, have them look over the order that you have come up with and approve it. Make sure that if you have been given any new items of business since you showed them the agenda, that you inform the monarchs of them now.
Ask if they want an announcement made to assemble the populace for court, or how long it will be until court.
When court is ready to begin:
15. If the royalty are processing in, wait until they signal that they are ready, and then instruct the populace to rise. As the royalty starts down the aisle, announce them to the populace. If there are others who are processing (other dignitaries, not the royalty's attendants), wait until the royalty have arrived at the thrones and are standing facing the populace, and then announce the next dignitaries. Repeat until all who are processing have been announced and come into court. Be careful not to announce the next processor(s) if the monarchs are still greeting the last ones. When all who are processing have done so, the royalty will take their seats.
-- or --
If the monarchs are beginning court already seated, instruct the populace to rise.
16. Open court with an announcement such as: "Now pay heed to this, the court of _________ and _________, King and Queen of Drachenwald", or "Here begins the court of __________ and __________, Baron and Baroness of __________", or something similar.
17. If they have not given their permission before now, ask (quietly) if the populace has the monarchs' leave to be seated, and when they give permission, announce it to the populace.
18. Conduct the court according to the agenda that you have prepared. Remember though, that if the royalty decides to insert some new item, or delete an item, or reorder things entirely, they have the right to do so, and it is up to you to cope with it as best you can. This is why having a well organized agenda is essential in order to adapt to such changes.
19. Announce each person (or group) that is being called into court loudly and clearly. Be looking up at the populace, not down at your notes when you do so. Not only does this help you to project better, but it keeps you from yelling in the monarchs' ear! As you scan the populace, if you do not see any activity that would indicate that the person was on their way, announce the name again. If there is still no response, and the person is being called up for an award, ask the monarchs if they wish a representative called forward; if so, ask for a representative, if not, go on to the next item. If the called person shows up later, let the royalty know and then call them forward at the next available opportunity.
20. For presentations: After the presentation has been made, announce to the populace what has been presented (however, be careful not to step on the conversation between the royalty and the presenter(s)). You may wish to use a little poetic license in your description of the presentation, for example: "A gift of fruit of the vine" sounds better than "They gave them a bottle of wine" (just don't get carried away and get 'cutesy').
21. For awards: No matter how many awards are being given, each one is very important to the person who is receiving it -- treat each one accordingly. Read an Award of Arms scroll with the same reverence that you would read a peerage scroll. Remember that for many people, an Award of Arms is the only award that they will ever receive, so you should never spoil their moment by treating it as 'just another Award of Arms'.
22. Award Scrolls: As each award is approaching on the agenda, let the person who is handling the scrolls know who's scroll you are about to need, so that they will have it ready (or if you are handling them yourself, get it ready). There will usually be an opportunity to do this sometime during the preceding item of business.
23. Cheers: For each person who receives an award, you lead the populace in cheers. Remember not to do this until the award has actually been conferred, and until the monarchs are through speaking.
For things other than awards, you may need to check with the royalty to see if they want cheers done; especially for presentations -- some monarchs want cheers for every presentation, some for only certain ones, and some not at all. If you are not sure, ask.
24. When each item of business has been completed, and the person(s) involved are withdrawing, you should go ahead and announce the next item. This help keep court from dragging on unnecessarily. Make sure that you do not make an announcement that no one will be able to hear because the hall is still buzzing loudly from the last thing that happened. Wait until you will be able to be heard, then go on with court.
25. Pay attention to the royalty. Especially, watch and listen for them to say something to you; they may not turn their heads toward you before they do. Most often this will be to ask you what is coming up next, or how much of court is left.
When you are through with court business:
26. When all of the items of business on the agenda are complete, inform the
royalty, and ask them if they have any further business, even if they had told
you previously that they would have none. This gives them the chance to say any
last minute things to the populace that they may have thought of. It also saves
you from the potential embarrassment of announcing that there is no further
business, only to have the royalty interrupt you to say that there is.
28. Check back with the royalty to make sure that there were no problems with the way that you handled court, so that you will know better next time (don't be upset by any criticism -- learn from it!). This is especially true if it is the first time you have heralded for these monarchs.
29. Make sure that someone has kept track of the awards that were given, so that a list can be sent to the Acorn (or the baronial newsletter). Sometimes the royalty themselves will do this, sometimes they will have someone else doing it. If not, it becomes your job!
As I said before, these are merely guidelines for what you need to do and think about in heralding a court -- there is no one true way to do it. Each court, and each set of royalty will have different requirements, but this checklist should give you a good idea of what the basic elements and procedures are for heralding court at either the kingdom or baronial level.
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