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Re: Response to Proposed IAC Banishment Change

On Mon, 25 Mar 1996, Lisa Steele wrote:

>   To Alianora and the good gentles of this list does Esclarmonde de 
> Colloure send greetings.
>   I write merely to correct the popular notion that democracy was foreign 
> to medieval Europe. Yes, the various systems had limits on who could vote 
> and many of those limits could prove problematic if adopted without 
> thought.

I think no one will argue this point with you.  I surely shall not.  But 
at the risk of being too cynical, I would venture to point out that the 
forms of democracy in period were often the cause of strife.  The Italian 
city-states we've mentioned were as famous for their civil unrest as for 
their republican government.  It seems to me that it is unwise at best, 
and at worst arrogant, to believe that we can make a system that clearly 
was not perfect in period work perfectly for us.

>   On the other hand, I hale from fair Carolingia in the East Kingdom. We 
> recently elected our new barionial couple after Baron Patri's nearly 20 
> year reign. The candidates were chosen by Carolingia's Great Council 
> (composed of about 20 heads of orders, baronial officers, and heads of 
> major households). The candidates were then sent to the populace for 
> ratification.
>   There was considerable politicing over the method of taking the vote 
> (regular ballot, approval ballot, AUstralian ballot, cumulative voting, 
> etc.), but the campaign itself was remarkably free of politics.

Well and fine, but how many of these forms of vote-taking are 
authentically medieval or Renaissance?  I am not familiar with all of 
these, and would like to know.

At some point someone expressed the concern that the inauthentic form of
the crown tourney as a means of selecting royalty could interfere with the
SCA's corporate status as a non-profit educational organization.  Would it
not be equally perilous to adopt a clearly out-of-period form of
democracy?  There is at least evidence for the king by right of arms
(though on the battlefield and not in tournament) in medieval Europe -
William of Normandy thus became king of England, after all. 

My lady, I believe you mentioned at some point the methods used by 
tournament societies in period for selecting their leaders.  Perhaps you 
could explain these more fully?

>   I confess I am not satisfied with this. One with the title of monarch 
> should be more than a figurehead the administration works around. If we 
> want a figurehead, let us clearly say so.

I would say here that the concept of the *monarch* as opposed to the
*sovereign* is not a medieval idea, or really even a Renaissance one.  The
royalty of medieval Europe was often weak at best, and real power often
lay in the hands of the landed nobility.  Furthermore, even the strongest
of kings would not have dared try rule without the advice and consent of
the baronage (if they were wise).  Those who did try (John of England, for
example) almost immediately found themselves in trouble.  Charles I of
Scotland and England developed the famous doctrine of the divine right of
kings and was beheaded for his pains. 

In service,

My opinions do not necessarily represent those of my clan 
Stephanie M. Thorson			*  SCA: Lady Alianora Munro
University of St Andrews		*  
St Andrews, Scotland			*  Clan White Wing
email smt2@st-andrews.ac.uk		*  Tarkhan, Khanate Red Lion