Cover Letter June 1987

Taigh Moran Chat

RR 2, Northside Road

Wading River, NY 11792

22 July, 1987

Unto the members of the College of Arms and any others who may read this missive, greetings from Alisoun MacCoul of Elphane, Laurel Queen of Arms!

The two letters enclosed cover the submissions processed at the two Laurel meetings held in June. The primary Laurel was held on Sunday, 14 June, and considered Caid (3/8), West (3/12), Ansteorra (3/25) and Atlantia (3/27). A special Laurel meeting was also held on Sunday, 28 June, as part of the Known World Heraldic Symposium held on the campus of the University of California at Berkeley. This latter meeting considered the submissions made on the Atenveldt letter of 1 March. Of the 147 actions in June, 125 were positive, 14 were negative and 8 involved items pended for an overall success rate of 85%.

The July meeting is scheduled for Sunday, 26 July, and will consider letters from the Middle (3/30), Middle (3/31), Atenveldt (4/1), Caid (4/5), Meridies (4/7), Ansteorra (4/9), West (4/15) and Atlantia (4/28).

The August "meeting" will be held in several sessions at the Pennsic War and consider Atenveldt (5/1 ), An Tir (5/5), Caid (5/10), East (5/20), West (5/20), Atlantia (5/27), Middle (5/27) and Middle (5/28). The Laurel Office will be going "on the road" on Thursday, 6 August, so I would beg anyone who plans on commenting for that meeting to get their comments to me by the preceding weekend. I live in an area whose population grows considerably in the summer and a day or two added to mail delivery is not unusual at this time of year. Please bear that in mind.

The September Laurel meeting is scheduled for Sunday, 13 September. That meeting should consider the June Laurel letter of intent as well as letters from Atenveldt (6/1), Calontir (6/3), Caid (6/7), West (6/10), and Outlands (6/18).


Inevitably, there are several changes to the Roster of the College of Arms as summer migrations move into high gear. Aureliane Rioghail, has resigned from the position of Star Principal Herald in order to pursue a graduate degree in the Middle. Her successor is Adelicia Alianora of Gilwell (Peggy W. Rudin, 7135 Vinland Street, Dallas, TX 75227; telephone: 214-388-8156).

At about the same time Wilhelm von Westphalen, who has served as Black Lion Principal Herald for some years, found that mundane circumstances were leading him southwards to the Kingdom of the West. His successor as Principal Herald of An Tir is Sophia de la Mer (Andrea Hirons, 3877 Vine Maple, Eugene, OR 97405; telephone: 503-686-8043) .

From the Middle Kingdom, Minna von Lubeck is now Fenris Herald (Alison Galbraith, A203 Cornel Courts, Ypsilanti, MI 48197; telephone: 313-482-2756). She will not be commenting at this time. From the East Kingdom, please add the Gonfannon Pursuivant, Elaigne Kerr Benicoeur to your mailing lists as a commentor (Eileen McCabe, 29 Colborne Road, #1, Brighton, MA 02135).


By now you will, of course, have noted the striking change in the appearance of this letter. Prototype sheets for the format were circulated to a number of members of the College at the recent Symposium in Berkeley with strongly positive response. The documents are written on an IBM clone, using Microsoft Word, as has been the case since January. However, with the arrival of new fonts for my Quadram laser printer at work, the Laurel Office now has the capacity to do real "near-typeset" quality printing with full access to the italics, foreign language symbols, diacritical marks, etc. previously unavailable on my impact printer at home.

For those who are into such things, the letters are set in a Bitstream Helvetica 10 point normal font. Since this is a fully proportional typeface, we will effect a considerable saving in the number of pages which must be mailed, hopefully without any sacrifice of legibility and clarity. (For example, the submissions from the 14 June meeting, which take up seven pages in this format, would have required nine pages printed in Prestige Elite.) If you have any comments or suggestions with regard to the new formats, please let me know.


Variety might have headlined it "Boffo in Berkeley": the Known World Heraldry Symposium held in Berkeley on the last weekend of June was in most respects a notable success. Great thanks are definitely due to Eilis O'Boirne, Latimer Herald, and Alison von Markheim, Brachet Herald, the autocrats who provided such a pleasant working environment for the dozens of heralds there assembled (I know the provision of breakfast munchies and cold drinks through the weekend contributed mightily to the civilized tone of the discussions on rules and policy) .

For much of the weekend sessions ran on a three-tier system, with two sets of lectures/workshops running concurrently with the rules and policy discussions. To my deep regret I was not able to attend any of the lectures or workshops, since I chaired the three discussion sessions and (of course) the Laurel meeting held on Sunday morning. However, those who were able to attend indicated that the sessions were excellent and I look forward to reading the papers from these sessions in the Symposium Proceedings.

The heart of the weekend for many of the College of Arms members present were the discussions on rules and policy. Saturday morning's session on basic policies and the directions that Society heraldry should be taking provided a background to the afternoon's discussions on naming practice and Sunday afternoon's session on armoury and difference. Since heralds from all twelve Kingdoms were present at most of these sessions, the discussions were most valuable in beginning to develop a consensus for the direction that we should be moving in. As the need for basic reconsideration of assumptions about the way heraldry works in the Society seemed paramount, I fear that the chairman rather ruthlessly kept the discussions to general issues (resulting in references to "the p word" when discussion of categories of points of difference, the "point and a half rule", etc. were banned on Sunday afternoon as we attempted a drastic reconsideration of the way we look at difference!). For the most part, the discussions were notable not only for their courtesy and openness but also for the remarkably strong consensus there was on most issues amongst the bulk of the heralds present, a similarity of outlook on principles that is often obscured in College of Arms correspondence that focuses on concrete applications of these principles.

Apart from the formal sessions, plenty of informal socializing and "creative interaction" went on through the weekend at the banquet, in the ethnic restaurants of Berkeley. and at the post-revels at Herald Square and elsewhere. (Latimer's house not only served as troll on Friday afternoon, but she hosted a post-revel on Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings!). Since the first Symposium I attended (the Caerthan Symposium for which Alison von Markheim was also an autocrat), I have felt that one of the major benefits of such gatherings is the opportunity to meet in the flesh those people with whom you have corresponded for months or years. When you have broken bread together or spent all your spare cash in a bookstore together, it is much more difficult to forget the person behind the letter and "they" becomes "we" much more easily!


The Proceedings of the Symposium will consist of two volumes, the first containing papers presented in the "lecture track" and the second containing a transcript of the three rules and policies sessions together with "position papers" on the issues confronting the College (primarily the rules revision).

If the schedule holds, the Proceedings should be available by Pennsic (i.e., the second week in August). Copies should be on sale at the War for those who will attend. Those who cannot attend may order them from Brachet (Alison von Markheim, c/o Alison Douglas, Box 3266, Berkeley, CA 94703; 415-420-1860). The cost will be $6.00 for the Proceedings with $2.50 postage and handling. Cheques should be made payable to the West Kingdom College of Heralds.


One of the highlights of the weekend was the (mundane) wedding of two members of the College of Arms; Alefwynn Gyrthesdohtor, Batonvert Herald and former Vesper Herald of the West, and Thomas Longshanks, Kraken Herald. The wedding party and many of the guests wore garb and the setting (a garden in the hills with the Mists living up to its name) and the beautifully written ceremony combined for a memorable experience.


Now that the 1987 Symposium is over, whilst everyone is still in the glow of good fellowship, it seems to be an appropriate time to issue a call for bids for the 1988 Symposium.

The Autocrats of this year's Symposium did a marvelous job and attendance was extremely good, but there is no telling how many more people would have been able to attend if they had had more time to plan and save for the event. This year I would like to have a decision on the site for the Symposium made by 1 December so that those interested will have preliminary information and be able to begin to make plans well before Twelfth Night.

To that end, I am requiring bids for the 1988 Symposium to reach me by 15 November, 1986. All bids should indicate proposed date(s), autocrats, site(s), facilities for accomodation, transportation, etc. If there are any special events (e.g., a museum exhibit or conference) that might be of interest to those attending, include that information. In other words, the bid should include as much information as possible to allow the selection committee to make a reasonable decision.

NOTE: Judging from experience over several years, proposed dates for the Symposium should avoid proximity to either Pennsic or Estrella War unless the Symposium is planned in conjunction with either of those events (e.g., as the Symposium in Columbus was scheduled to allow those attending Pennsic XIV to attend). Otherwise the potential attendance may be diminished by conflicting responsibilities, a situation we would like to avoid.


As you all know, ongoing developments in mandated rules and policies have to this point made it inadvisable to embark on a full-scale publication of the Armorial and Ordinary at this time, even if the funds to do so were now available. However, I am glad to announce that, as a result of discussions at the Symposium, an interim Armorial and Ordinary, covering all material registered through the end of A.S. XXI, will be published jointly by the Morsulus Herald and House Markheim with financing from the Free Trumpet Press.

Both the Armorial and Ordinary should be for sale at Pennsic. The volumes will be available separately, with the anticipated cost being $7.50 for the Armorial and $17.50 for the Ordinary (i.e., $25.00 for the set) hand-delivered. The anticipated cost of postage and handling will be in the neighbourhood of $2.50 for the Armorial and $5.00 for the Ordinary or $6.00 for both, but this is somewhat speculative as yet since the volumes have not yet been printed and therefore their weight has not been precisely determined. Details on mail-ordering the Armorial and/or Ordinary should be available within a couple of weeks.


I am glad to say that initial response to the idea of the "Year of the Book" has been excellent. Several groups very kindly started the exchange of educational materials by filling gaps in the Laurel library. Many have indicated an interest in exchanging photocopies, acquiring annotated bibliographies, developing alternate book purchasing arrangements for those in remote areas, etc.

Graidhne ni Ruaidh, Holus Herald, will be acting as co-ordinator for this project. I would urge anyone interested in participating in the information exchange should contact her either by letter (c/o Cecelia Weisenberger, 159 East Granville Road, Worthington OH 43085), telephone (614-436-0412) or in person at Pennsic. Anyone who will be at Pennsic and wishes to bring along bibliographies, photocopies, etc. is more than welcome to do so.


The policy sessions at the Symposium provided an excellent start for the basic reconsideration of the Rules for Submission which has been mandated by the Board of Directors. I expect that the more informal discussions which I hope to hold during Pennsic will be of equal value. It is my feeling that this is an opportunity, perhaps the last opportunity for some years to come, to make the sort of radical modification in the operation of Society heraldry that will be necessary if we are to avoid becoming a Byzantine bureaucracy hedging itself around with the protection of arcane regulations and jejune jargon.

With this in mind, as I indicated to those present at the Symposium, I would like to set up a system which logically and equitably derives its rules from first principles. From these first principles would derive basic corollaries which would be modified only rarely. From the corollaries would be derived the applications which would determine the rulings on particular submissions, applications which would be somewhat more open to modification by precedent and/or statute as the need arose. If one may borrow from the analogy of English law; the principles would be analogues of the basic principles of equity that underlie all law, the corollaries the common law principles derived from those principles as applied over the years, the applications of the statute law enacted to codify the conclusions of the common law. While the principles of common law normally will not change, whether Conservative or Labour rule the government, the statutes surely will as circumstances require.

It was a pleasant surprise to see how much agreement there was on the first principles. Although the wording that follows is not the actual wording to be used, the three "prime principles" of Society heraldry hereunder expressed seemed to be acceptable to nearly every herald at the meeting:

1. All names and armoury registered for use in the Society shall be compatible with the mediaeval environment created by the Society.

2. No name or armoury shall be registered which is offensive to a significant proportion of the Society membership, whether the offensiveness is innate, contextual, or derives from a an expressed or implied claim on the part of the submittor to be someone or something that he/she is not.

NOTE: An example of innate offensiveness might be the scatological or obscene. Contextual offensiveness involves that which is offensive because of its associations or context (e.g., a Swastika). Offensiveness through presumption might involve and expressed or implied claim to be more (or less) than is actually the case (e.g., a duke, a Norse god, Harald Hardraada, etc.).

3. Any submission, once registered, is not subject to review or revocation of the registration, even if later research demonstrates the original registration was made in error.

Note that Item 3, the venerable "Grandfather Clause", really does not derive from first principles as do the other two statements. So important, however, is this principle to the functioning of Society heraldry that it has been included as a "prime directive"!


Although the initial response to my request for "position papers" on the general issues involved in redefining Society heraldry was somewhat disappointing, the discussions at the Symposium seem to have galvanized a number of heralds into propounding their own thoughts in a written form. Some of these statements will appear in the Symposium Proceedings. Others could not make the Proceedings deadlines, wished to wait until they has discussed matters at Pennsic before making their formal statements or preferred to work with in the normal lines of College of Arms correspondence. From these folk I would like to have all position papers by the 13 September Laurel meeting. You may send as many papers as you like on any issues as long as they are general, i.e., deal with the basic issues and not applications such as the weight to be derived from a specific type of charge.

Once the Laurel staff has these position papers in hand, they will be examined carefully and a draft edition of the corollaries and suggested "statutes" will be drawn up. I hope to have this draft out to the College of Arms and interested spectators in October.

Optimally, I would like to have comments on that draft back on my desk by the end of November so that the penitential Advent season may be suitably consumed in drafting the final version of the "Rules" for release early in the New Year (hopefully, around Twelfth Night).

I realize that this schedule is optimistic and assumes a fair amount of promptitude of response and co-operation from the senior heralds of the Known World. Given the background of lengthy discussions during Master Baldwin's tenure and the definite ideas which so many heralds have already discussed with me, I think this is not really a totally unrealistic schedule. I am prepared for some slippages, but devoutly hope they will not be too serious: I would like to see this infant mewling into the Known World before my tenure as Laurel is up!

Your servant,