May 26, 1983 A.S. XVIII

TO: The Members of the College of Arms

FROM: Master Wilhelm von Schlüssel, Laurel King of Arms


Enclosed is the massive LOA&R for May, with 217 accepted and 94 returned to the submittors, for a total of 311. In response to a suggestion at the Symposium that the College adopt a more positive attitude, hereafter submissions that are not registered will be returned to the submittor for correction of various problems rather than rejected. Apparently the term "rejected" had too many negative connotations, so we will instead say that those submissions are "returned to the submittors" for correction of certain problems. My letter thus becomes the Letter of Acceptances & Returns.

By June 4 I would like all LoCs on the following 8 LoIs: Caid (3/3), West (3/5), Middle (3/10), West (3/13), Atenveldt (3/14), Trimaris (3/17), Atenveldt (3/25), and Ansteorra (3/28), covering some 191 submissions. By July 2 1 would like all LoCs on the following 10 LoIs: Meridies (3/17), Caid (4/6), Atlantia (4/10), West (4/10), An Tir (4/11), Caid (4/14), Meridies (4/18), Atlantia (4/28), An Tir (4/25), and Middle (4/28), covering some 210 submissions. As you can see, we are now averaging 9 LoIs and 200 submissions per month. Schwarzdrachen and Seawolf have withdrawn from the CoA mailing list. I need to receive LoCs from Triton and Jean FitzRoye. Due to her illness, I grant Aten a one-month extension.

I have decided to postpone the questionnaire on next year's Symposium bids and on the various heraldry questions in order to allow the bidders to send out more information to the College and to allow you all more time to send in proposed questions to me. I will draft the questionnaire after my June 12th meeting. If you have any questions you would like the College polled on, send them to me before that date. This questionnaire will be a test case to see if such a practice is useful.

I would like to announce the promotion of Morimato Koryu, our consultant on mon and Japanese names, to Monsho Herald. He has done a fine job for the last year and the promotion is well deserved. Years ago, Mistress Karina ruled that proper name usage for Japanese personas was the registration of a family name followed by a given name. Monsho 's research has upheld this ruling, and so we will continue to hold that those desiring Japanese names should register just a family name followed by a given name, and that these should conform to period Japanese usage. A person with a Japanese name could, when signing his or her name, add a clan name between the family and given names, and s/he could add titles s/he has earned, such as no-kami for armigers. S/he can even add a nickname. All three can be used at the person's option, but they are not registered. Just the family name and given name are registered. This is the period Japanese practice.

We have had a large number of appeals in the last year. In some of these cases, the submittor did not provide enough information, so I had to return the submission. The appeal then contained the information I needed. In other cases, the information available to me indicated that something was wrong with the submission, and the submittor was able to submit further information showing that the submission was acceptable after all. These are both valid types of appeals, and through them we all learn more. I am forced to make prompt decisions on 200 submissions a month, and so there are bound to be times when I either lack information or am in error through faulty or insufficient information. The appeal process compensates for this. I have, however, noticed an increase in appeals simply on the grounds that the submittor didn't like the rejection or doesn't agree with it. All appeals MUST include the reasons for the original rejection, the reasoning by which the submittor refutes those reasons, and sufficient documentary evidence to back up the submittor's claims. You cannot just appeal because you really want the submission.

All Principal Heralds are hereby charged to ensure that any appeal sent out on an LoI states the reasons for rejection, the reasoning for the refutation of those reasons, and a summary of the evidence provided to support the refutation. The members of the College will then be able to properly comment on the appeal and on all issues raised by the appeal. The LoI should also give the date of the LoA&R in which the submission was returned, so the members of the College can look through their back issues to see exactly what was said. Make sure that all appeals and resubmissions address or correct all problems listed in the LoA&R. Too often a submission is returned for several problems, only to be resubmitted with just one of those problems fixed.

On the subject of submissions, every submission MUST include an information sheet. I must have at least an information sheet to place in the file to indicate what is being submitted/resubmitted/corrected. All Principal Heralds should make sure that the Society name is the same on the LoI, the information sheet, and the picture sheet. The blazon on the LoI should match the final blazon on the picture sheet, and both should agree with the emblazon on the picture sheet. If there is any discrepancy anywhere, it should be explained on either the information sheet or the picture sheet, so I will know which to use. Everyone submitting LoIs to me should please fill in the "final blazon" section on the picture sheet to match the blazon on the LoI. It takes a lot of my time to have to go through all of the submissions and write down the blazons. Most of the time the blazons are correct on the LoIs and, even when they are not, I usually do not have to completely redo them but just change a few words. Even when I do have to redo it, I can just cross out the old blazon and write a new one next to it. So please do fill in the blazon. If you make any changes to the submission at the kingdom level, please indicate these on the appropriate sheet so the sheets will agree with the LoI. (Most of this was already in the Administrative Guidelines.)

All Principal Heralds should continue to monitor the branches in their kingdom to make sure that they submit their names and arms. As branches are the official representatives of the SCA in the area, the names and arms adopted by the branches should set good examples for the membership. Therefore, the Principal Heralds or their subordinates should try to make sure that branch names, arms, and badges do follow good standards.

With the Papworth sent to Lochac, the goal of the Duke Siegfried Papworth Fund has now been met. Every kingdom and principality now has access to Papworth. His Grace Duke Siegfried has therefore terminated the fund. On behalf of the College, I would like to thank His Grace for this generosity.

The Trillium Herald has written me concerning the proper abbreviation for members of the Order of the Pelican. He is concerned about the conflict between M.P. and the mundane usage of it to mean Member of Parliament (or Military Police). For anyone who is concerned with this, I hereby authorize the use of M.O.P. for Master/Mistress of the Order of the Pelican. (For those worried about this acronym, it generally is the Pelicans one sees pushing the mops at the end of a revel.)

To allay any confusion remaining from my previous statement on submissions from children, let me again state that there is no ban on submissions from children. We do encourage the local herald to ensure that any child submitting a name and/or device is old enough to understand the significance and consequences of the submission. The heralds should discourage parents from submitting names and devices for children too young to understand enough to make an informed decision on the matter. If the herald feels the child does understand and does want the submission, then by all means it should be submitted. Certainly any child who has earned an Award of Arms is competent enough to submit a name and arms. And certainly there is no bar against a child being a member, taking part in activities, and earning and receiving an Award of Arms. We do want to avoid having parents submit a name and device for an infant too young to understand the situation.

I would like to ask the College's opinion on the desirability of protecting the names of SCA Kings and Queens as historical personages in the SCA, whether or not they were actually registered. Many of the early rulers did not register, and yet we really do not want to see people adopt their names as Society names. I therefore propose that we consider the past Kings and Queens of the SCA as historical persons in the SCA and that we protect against conflict with those names just as we protect against conflict with historical persons in the mundane world. This would mean drawing up a list of past rulers, rather than actually registering their names. Some of those names would not pass our rules and thus could not be registered now except on a grandfather basis. We could of course list them in the Armorial in parentheses, to make them available but to indicate that they were not actually registered. What do you all think?

The 1983 Heraldry Symposium was held in Atlantia from May 6-9 in Richmond, Virginia. The Triton Principal Herald presided. It went very well. While there were some problems, everyone had a good time. Friday night, the 6th, saw everyone gather in the autocrat's back yard to open the Symposium, greet each other, and to hear Master Vuong Manh talk about and present his new Ordinary of Military Arms, which covers military insignia from the U.S. and Great Britain. It was well received. Copies may be obtained from Lord Kraken, and I recommend it highly.

Saturday morning we gathered in the main hall for a meeting of the College of Arms. Besides myself and the Laurel Secretary there were four Principal Heralds (Triton, Brigantia, Crescent, and Dragon) and seven other members of the College (Kraken, Elmet, Oaken, Virgule, Pale, Nereid, and Eastern Crown). Along with the Guest of Honor, Mr. J. P. Brooke-Little, Norroy and Ulster King of Arms, there were fourteen of us at the main table, with the rest of the attendees looking on as we processed the February 21 Atlantia LoI. (Having an English King of Arms present as a consultant was a most pleasant and informative luxury.) After a lunch break, Mr. Brooke-Little gave us a marvelous overview of the development of heraldry and heralds from the 12th century to the present, accompanied by a great slide show. I learned a great deal, which I will get back to later. Saturday evening we had a great feast, with Sir Tojenareum doing a marvelous job as head chef. My Lady and I sang after the first remove. (She did her usual superb performance, but as I was recovering from a cold, I gave a very limited performance – at least they applauded!) After the second remove we heard the Celtic Thunder Band sing, and after the third we were treated to an exciting juggling performance by Roe Field.

Sunday morning was free time, and that afternoon we had a good round-table discussion on SCA heraldic philosophy and the rules. This was followed by various seminars, after which many had to leave or fly/drive home. That evening the rest of us gathered to continue the general discussion. Monday morning the remaining attendees held a discussion regarding heraldic matters in Atlantia. My Lady and I did not attend.

The weather was a trifle warm, but not unbearable, and the humidity was mercifully low. I had the privilege of taking Brooke-Little to lunch on Saturday and had a long talk with him on heraldry. We were hampered in finding a place to eat by the fact that most of the restaurants in the area were closed in observance of Orthodox Easter. The Symposium ran late a number of times, but overall things ran well. The Proceedings contain a number of good articles and I recommend them. The Proceedings may be obtained from the office of the Triton Principal Herald

And now for some particular issues that arose from the Symposium and from previous discussions in the College. I have decided to adopt Virgule's proposal, as the response has been generally favorable. Beginning with LoIs dated June 1 or after, regardless of technical points of difference, if a Society device or arms is an exact mirror image of a mundane or fictional arms, then it is in conflict. Essentially this means that mirror-imaging the entire arms constitutes one major point of difference. If there is an additional minor point to break the exactness of the mirror-imaging, then there is no conflict between the SCA device and the mundane arms.

In talking with Mr. Brooke-Little, I discovered that mundane heralds consider rotation to be a significant difference. Therefore the rotation rule shall not apply between SCA submissions and mundane arms/badges, but instead only between SCA submissions. We have to worry about it because of the use of round shields on the field and the painting of the submissions on objects that can be rotated. One big advantage I gained by becoming better acquainted with Mr. Brooke-Little is that if we now have a question on mundane heraldry, I can just write to him and ask. He is a marvelous fellow and most helpful. He is truly interested in heraldry and enjoyed the Symposium. He is impressed with the SCA and happy to see so many people in the United States interested in heraldry. He seemed quite willing to answer any questions we came up with.

I had previously written to Mr. Brooke-Little concerning the use by SCA members of their SCA arms and devices in countries belonging to the British Commonwealth, since we have branches in Canada, Australia, and England, and there was a rumor of one soon to form in Scotland. He wrote to Lord Lyon and they both agreed that they had no objection to display of SCA armory at SCA events and in private homes so long as the SCA members did not try to claim the SCA arms as their mundane arms and so display them. (There is no mundane heraldic authority in the U.S. to worry about, but by law the English College of Arms has sole jurisdiction over mundane arms in the British Commonwealth, so I thought it best to get formal permission.)

Therefore all SCA members should know and remember that the SCA arms are valid ONLY within the context of the Current Middle Ages, i.e., in the SCA. They are registered under the Society name, not the mundane name. They are not a person's mundane arms. This is why a person who has mundane arms registers a separate SCA arms. If I wanted my SCA arms to also be my mundane arms, I would have to register it with the American College of Arms. Citizens of the British Commonwealth who want their SCA arms to also be their mundane arms would have to matriculate them with the English College of Arms. (Unless they were in Scotland or of Scottish descent, in which case they could matriculate them in the Lyon Court.) What this all means in practice is that when in the British Commonwealth, you can display your arms as you wish at SCA events and in your own home, but do NOT place them upon your mundane stationery along with your mundane name, or on your wall with your mundane name, or any other obvious way of linking your SCA arms to your mundane identity.

Mr. Brooke-Little is the founder of the Heraldry Society of England and is the Honorable Editor of their quarterly magazine, Coat of Arms. I highly recommend joining the Heraldry Society and receiving their newsletter and Coat of Arms, as they have many interesting articles. Write to the Secretary, Mrs. J. C. G. George, at 28 Museum Street, London WCIA, ILH, England (dues £10/year). I have sent an article on the SCA and our College of Arms to Mr. Brooke-Little which he plans to publish in Coat of Arms, although the exact issue is not set yet. Mr. Brooke-Little tells me that Parker's Glossary is considered a very good reference by the English College of Arms and is a standard reference. He says that blazoning a lion passant turned to sinister as a lion passant to sinister is correct usage. The English College generally avoids placing Or on ermine (and equivalent poor-contrast combinations) but does do it occasionally when there is a particular reason for it, such as a family with an ermine field that is related to another family with arms that have Or charges. In that case, the first family may be allowed to place one of the second's Or charges upon the ermine field as a secondary charge to indicate the relationship. Thus you can occasionally see Or on ermine in the records, but this is not normally done. The English College of Arms is currently trying to discourage the use of proper and of landscapes, and is trying to encourage medieval heraldic style. Mr. Brooke-Little is apparently one of the leaders in this endeavor.

Mr. Brooke-Little told a cute anecdote about his early years as a Pursuivant when he was given the job of writing the ceremony for the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II. He later tried to get Garter Principal King of Arms to accept a proposed coat of arms which had a toad reguardant as a charge. Garter sent back a note saying, "Toads cannot be reguardant. It's not physically possible." Mr. Brooke-Little wrote back, saying, "A unicorn cannot ramp." Garter responded with "Game, set, and match. Have your toad."

As you may remember, Mr. Brooke-Little came to the U.S. on behalf of the celebration of the 400th anniversary of the founding of the first English colony in America at Roanoke, Virginia. The celebration was held in Manteo, North Carolina, and it was because of his appearance there that he was able to attend our Symposium. The celebration went fairly well, and Manteo is going to be continuing it for some time. They are making an exact replica of the first English ship in North America, which has left them in the embarrassing position of having constructed a ship with a draft of 8 feet when their harbor is only 6 feet deep. (They are currently petitioning the Army Corps of Engineers to dredge a channel.) This year is also the 450th anniversary of the birth of Elizabeth I and the 500th anniversary of the chartering of the English College of Arms, which is taking advantage of the occasion to have a fund-raising drive to renovate its building. When I last visited Mr. Brooke-Little in 1979, they were remodeling their library with a grant from an American citizen. They discovered that the whole building (which is over 500 years old) was riddled with dry rot. They are trying to raise almost $1 million in contributions.

At the Symposium round-table discussion we agreed that the College of Arms was in favor of increased authenticity, with due application of imagination, and that the rules now reflect this. Right now the primary necessity is the education of the membership and of the local heralds as to just what is period heraldic style and name usage. When the membership is better informed, the level of authenticity should improve. We should continue to discourage improper practices, with the hope that, in years to come, their occurrence will drop to the point where we can actually ban them. We should definitely encourage good practices and make every effort to provide consultation and advice to submittors to convince them to follow period style. The Oaken Herald agreed to typeset a new edition of the Rules for Submissions, combining the previous set with the Supplement, so the College can have a single, updated set of rules in a good condensed form. Elmet volunteered to look into the idea of a book on good heraldic style for the Pamphlet Series. I will try to write an article for T.I. on the heraldic philosophy of the College. Work proceeds on the Authentic Society Names book. All heralds are encouraged to write short articles on heraldry and submit them to Vert & Or, to T.I., and to their kingdom and local newsletters. Classes on heraldry should be given as often as possible.

At the round-table discussion, the suggestion was made that we try to save good devices whose names fail to pass the rules by registering the device to a "holding" name. This holding name would consist of the mundane given name of the submittor with the submittor's branch name used as a place name. Thus, if I were submitting my device now and my name conflicted but my device was acceptable, my device would be registered under the name William of the Mists. Such names automatically satisfy the rules except for possible conflicts. Obviously the second William from the Province of the Mists who submitted and had the same problem could not also be William of the Mists, but he could be William of the West. This holding name would remain until the submittor later submits an acceptable name to replace it. As the holding name is a valid Society name that is a correct name for the person, some members may just adopt it as their Society name, thereby saving the time and effort of resubmitting. This procedure would only be followed in those cases where the device or badge was good heraldry and was acceptable, but the name was not. If there was something wrong with the device or badge, this procedure would not be followed. The person would not be stuck with the holding name because a more desired Society name could always be submitted to replace the holding name. What do you think? Should we try it?

Mr. Brooke-Little covered a number of points in his talk. Most crests were worn at tournaments before the actual combat and then removed for the actual combat. Tudor heraldry was deliberately complex. The old nobility had basically killed itself off in the Wars of the Roses. The followers of Henry VII married the heiresses of the old families or were directly given land by Henry VII. The earlier families' arms had been simple in design. The Tudor heralds, in an attempt to make the arms of the new nobility different from the old, out-of-favor family arms, created arms that were very complex, averaging ten charges per arms. (!) This didn't last long, because many of the new nobles soon realized that their new, complex arms weren't as elegant as the old arms inherited by their wives, and many demanded and were granted simpler arms. (Since the SCA has not just fought the Wars of the Roses, there is no need for us to emulate this artificial complexity, and we shall not do so.) The English College of Arms today grants about 100 arms a year at a cost of about $1500 each. The mantling on scrolls was always gules and argent up until 1780. This suggests that the livery colors of the kingdom should be the mantling colors for its scrolls.

One of the subjects covered by Mr. Brooke-Little in his talk was the use of badges in our period. It seems that badges were always tinctured charges with no field, and usually consisted of a single charge or a group of charges conjoined to form a single object. This was so the badge could be used as a single object, say, on a building, on a door, as a pin, etc. They did not use separated charges. Badges were not recorded as carefully as arms in the Middle Ages, and so many are not recorded at all, and of those that are, a number do not have their tincture recorded, as they only survive in tinctureless engravings on seals or other objects. This does not mean that this is how they were adopted. The badges in our period were tinctured, and the tinctures were important (witness the Wars of the Roses).

We have been discussing the question of the desirability of continuing to register tinctureless badges, and there seemed to be a movement towards consensus that we do not need them. This feeling was confirmed by Mr. Brooke-Little's statement that badges were always tinctured. I therefore rule that, beginning with LoIs dated on or after June 1. 1983, the College of Arms of the SCA will no longer register tinctureless badges. Those already registered will of course stay registered, and their owners will continue to have the right to display them in all combinations of tinctures. The difference requirements shall be one major point of difference from everything else, with tincture not being a difference unless it involves a difference of outline, such as lines of partition, furs, or semé. Titled heralds may continue to register tinctureless seals for use by their offices in sealing documents. These seals, like those already registered, are to be used only as tinctureless seals. (If the College feels it is desirable to be more consistent, we could separate out the heralds' seals and have a separate list of them.)

This ruling means that we will not register tinctureless badges. It does not constitute a ban on their use. Everyone has the right to devise and use a personal seal. This can be a tinctureless version of his/her arms or badge, or a design including these (such as a mounted knight displaying the arms on a shield), or any other design. The College simply shall not be involved in this private matter, just as we shall not be involved in the regulation of maker's marks, scribal marks, monograms, and other tinctureless emblems. These are not displayed as arms and cannot be confused with arms, and so need not be registered to be used.

Mr. Brooke-Little says that badges are properly fieldless, because badges are not supposed to look like arms. The English College of Arms checks arms against other arms for conflicts, and checks badges and crests against other badges and crests for conflicts, but does not check arms against badges because the two are displayed differently and cannot be confused. Should somebody in England use a badge in such a way as to make it look like arms, it would be legally treated as a display of arms, and if not so registered with the College, the display could be legally ordered torn down. This makes it clear why badges are always single charges or charges combined to form a single composite charge. In this manner, they do look different from most arms.

Mr. Brooke-Little went on to say that badges could be and were displayed on flags, called either badge flags or standards. The badge flag displayed the badge upon a background of the livery colors. The standard had at the hoist the emblem of St. George (Argent, a cross gules) and then the badge repeated on the livery colors. The livery colors of a Lord consisted of one or two tinctures. While these were often the main metal and color of the arms, this was not always the case. It was up to the Lord how the field of the badge flag was divided into the livery colors. It could be divided per pale, per fess, paly, or any other such division. One color could be the main part, with the other used for the fringe, producing the effect of a bordure. These badge flags are what we would think of as household banners.

Thus a household banner in the SCA should consist of a single charge or a group of conjoined charges upon a field of the livery colors, if it is to be properly consistent with period practice. The actual badge is fieldless. The members of the household display the badge upon clothing in the livery colors, when being formal about it, or as patches of the livery bearing the badge. A badge was often associated with a particular estate, and a great Lord who had many estates could therefore have a number of badges. The badges were borne by the Lord's retainers from those estates, the men from each estate bearing that estate's badge. On occasion, when estates were sold, the right to the badge often went with the estate, as the new owner now had the command of the retainers. The use of badges as military insignia lasted through our period and was the origin of the military unit badges in use today. A retainer who possessed his own coat of arms would bear his own arms on his shield and wear his liege's badge upon a surcoat.

As you can easily see, we have not always been using badges properly. Many of the badges registered with fields look just like arms, and this has indeed led to confusion in the past as to whether an emblem one sees on a banner is a badge or arms. When we register a badge for an alternate persona, we are really registering an alternate device. When we retain old arms as a badge, we are really retaining secondary devices. We have, in short, misused the term "badge." We do have a number of fieldless badges that are historically accurate, but a lot of what we call "badges" are actually various types of devices. This is particularly true for those badges registered for use as ensigns of branches or orders.

It would be nice to think that we could change this to be more authentic. Perhaps we could split the category of "badges" into several categories, such as secondary devices, ensigns, true badges, seals, and household flags. Perhaps we should treat all objects that look like and are displayed like arms as arms for the purposes of difference, to better avoid visual conflicts. These are all nice thoughts and worth thinking about.

Unfortunately, we have been operating in our current manner for 17 years, and I expect that it is now too late to change. I expect that any attempt at any major modification of our current system would cause more disruption and ill feeling and confusion than it would be worth. Perhaps we could stop allowing past arms to be retained as badges, and to stop registering alternate personas and alternate devices for them as badges. I would hesitate to consider any such change at this time, though. We have just finished a thorough overhaul of our rules, followed by a careful defining of the degree of authenticity required. The membership is now in a state of confusion as to just what will or will not pass because the changes have not been adequately explained to them. Now is not the time to make any further major changes. We must first explain care-fully what we have already done and why.

What we can and should do is encourage the use of proper badges and household flags. We do not register livery, but that doesn't mean we cannot explain what livery is and encourage households to use it. We should encourage fieldless badges and discourage badges that look like arms. We should explain period badge construction and try to counsel those thinking of submitting a badge to think about doing it right. But we cannot, in my opinion, require it at this time. We may not ever choose to require it, but just say that the SCA has chosen to do badges differently. At least now we are not ignorant of how badges were actually used in period. (Actually, I am sure a number of you already knew this, but it was news to me.) Therefore treat the above information as just that – information – and not any attempt to change the way we do things at this time.

Pray believe, my Lords and my Ladies, that I remain

Your servant,

Master Wilhelm von Schlüssel
Laurel King of Arms


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