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Re: Query re: A&S/heraldry comp at Pointless

Poster: Mark Schuldenfrei <schuldy@abel.MATH.HARVARD.EDU>

Greetings from Tibor.

Eldred quotes me, and write:
  Scripsit Tibor:
  %On the other hand, this sort of problem was period, and was resolved in
  %period, in period ways.  We could do the same.  Sometimes, the problem
  %was considered no problem at all.
  True.  But I really doubt if we should hold heraldry courts a' la Lord 
  Court (Scots Heraldry for those of you without a program) and fine people
  for violating the codes and statues of heraldry.  Also in this particular
  instance, asking that the "offending" party place a bar over the arms to
  differentiate them obviously would not have worked.  Challenging the
  individuals to a duel over the right to fly the banner seems equally
  unlikely.  Nope, have the Crown intercede and be done with it.  See my
  next remarks to clarify my position.

There are another period solutions: learn to live with it.  Challenge them to
a judicial duel (in fun, people, only in fun.) Ask the Crowns to intercede.
Or, gather up a few learned heralds, and hold a mock heraldic court.  (In fun,
only in fun.)

My point being, the level of distress being shown here, and the presumption of
wrongdoing on the part of the peoples involved, is a Societal artifact.  There
are plenty of good ways of learning more, doing authentic and fun things, and
still resolving problems.
  *Sigh*  I was wondering when this problem would crop up.  Someone
  displays the SCA-registered armory that belongs to another person.
  Tibor, we all know that SCA armory does not model period armory very
  well.  At best it is a pale shadow of mixed styles and jurisdictions that we
  have manipulated to fit our idea of the Middle Ages.

True.  But (I would argue) an irrelevant aside.

The narrow issue was the use of armory, not the content, style, mixture, color,
metals, charges, etcetera stuff that heralds normally worry about.

The issue of use of arms in the Society is shrouded in error and falsehood.  No
one can keep you from flying arms, whichever arms you choose.  Not even your
Crown, and certainly not a herald.

But... like just about everything in our Society, we can learn and do fun and
medieval things all the time, and pretend to follow along with medieval
approaches.  My response was an attempt (perhaps not a good one) to point out
that the presumption people were concerned about was a really good way to
explore more about period.
  Now, I agree with your points about armory.  However, until the College of
  Arms changes its policies (unlikely), we still need to have a mechanism
  in place to resolve problems of this nature.

This play *exactly* into my point.  There is no problem, the College of Arms is
irrelevant to it, and there is nothing to resolve.  To pretend that there is a
real problem is to fundamentally misunderstand both the current Middle Ages,
and period.

What there is, here, is an invitation to learn more about period, and to
consider what the period situation might have been.

If you really consider this to be a problem, well, then the College of Arms has
done you no service at all.  At wars and gatherings, you might well find that
identical armory of all sorts would appear.  What is the problem?

                                                An interesting point to bring
  up here is that when a person receives an Award of Arms or any other
  armigerious award, the Crown grants the use of Arms to an individual,
  specifically, those that the person has registered with the SCA CoA.
  Usually, an injunction of "without let or hinderance" is included in the
  text.  In my view (and apparently a good portion of the SCA) this
  directive from the Crown pretty much says that the individual
  awarded the right to bear those arms is the only one--across all the

This shows even more generic misunderstanding about the role of the Crown.
Sure, if a Crown wants to grant you certain rights, they can do so... if they
can enforce them in their realm.  Would a grant of arms given by an French
Prince to a resident of Brittany been of any real meaning once the English took
over the area?  What about after the English retreated?

No Crown has the right to grant arms across all Kingdoms.  Not in period, and
not now.  Of course, any Crown has the right to make promises that cannot be
kept... also a period problem, eh?  (:-)

             This means that if someone inappropriately displays
  arms not belonging to them, then they are in violation of the Crown's
  Word--and therefore subject to a Court of Chivalry for treason....
  Admittedly, this is taking matters to the extreme, but I really wanted to
  emphasize my point.

Over emphasize the wrong point.  Treason isn't the issue, and neither would a
court of chivalry be... but I take your point.

My point is, of course, that such actions taken against the will of some of the
parties involved, is ridiculous.  We come here to play, and that is that.  A
resident of a foreign Kingdom can easily laugh off the rulings of a foreign
Crown.  (Although, I am starting to wonder if BMDL is better named than I
thought... :-)
Eldred says to Rhiannon:
  Hmmm.  Boss, I think you may be stretching things a bit there with your
  analogy(then again, I am guilty of the same), but the underlying principle
  is the same.  By displaying someone else's armory, you are erroneously
  identifying yourself as that person.  In the context of the SCA, this 
  doesn't actually harm anyone unless you do something vile and people
  associate the arms you bear with the wrong person.  In the "real world"
  using someone's SSN has definitely more opportunity to be harmful--that's
  why it's a federal offense....

I think you overstate the period case, rather strongly.

Armory isn't identity: it was a special class and kind of property (most of the
time, in period).  It was a kind of property that was closely associated with
the person who owned it, and also with the person who granted (or forced) the
rights to it upon you.  (Yes, in some heraldic visitations, arms that had been
used for years informally were forced as registered on people, and promptly
taxed as a special kind of property.)

You could easily be from another heraldic jurisdiction, and have separate arms.
In the period case, another Kingdom would clearly be another heraldic
jurisdiction.  Don't you agree?

While we do run a single heraldic registry, it is a long way from that to a
single heraldic jursdiction.  It is as much a mundane bookkeeping function as
it is a period re-creation.  You cannot drag in the isssue of a Crown making a
promise, and then pretend that some Corporate Functionary (Hi Jaelle) can
overrule them.  One of these models conflicts with the other.

That is part of the confusion. What is period, what is game, and what is
mundane SCA Incorporated functioning, and how do you put them all together?

  I definitely agree that bearing someone else's arms is unworthy of anyone
  within the context of our SCA lives.  Until the SCA revamps it's structure
  and policies, I will continue to follow the rules that we have set forth for 

But, there are no such rules.  Merely customs.  And so many of those customs
are treated falsely as rules, and taught as invariant lessons from period.
This is a poor service to teach to people who want to learn about period.

It is hard to generalize safely about arms in period. Their use and traditions
grew and changed over the last third or so of our time period, and those
traditions and usages mutated quite a bit between areas.

Teaching that there was an armorial absolute in period is a falsehood.
Teaching that there are such absolutes in our current middle ages is frequently
a falsehood too.  If one that is done more often out of ignorance than malice.

  Tibor, your response to this last part does not make sense.  Nothing
  Rhiannon said was false.  The SCA does not model period armory--
  most people are aware of this.  If heralds are out there saying that
  we do model period armory, then they are telling falsehoods.  Rhiannon
  stated how SCA armory works, nothing more.  You are getting too
  emotional in your stance against the College of Arms.  Have some
  of this mead to calm you down....

I'm pretty calm.  (I've tried to joke throughout...)  I have no real beef
against the College of Arms as some kind of totem.  I do have a beef when
people cite coercive rules that don't exist, or teach things as absolutes that
are dramatically unclear and confusing from period.

I would suspect (although I do not know) that Rhiannon meant quite well, but
gave advice based on shibboleths instead of period.  And if so, I am merely
trying to clear up confusions and misunderstandings.  Sadly, all I have to
substitute are truer confusions and contradictory evidence.  Which is to say,
the period record, and the maelstrom that is Corpora.

But my real lesson is this: no one has exclusive right to any arms throughout
the Known World, nor the right to coerce others into believing it is so.  But
there are lots of interesting things about period you can learn from studying
their means of resolving armorial difficulties.  Not the least of which was,
they weren't very good at it, nor consistent, either. (:-)  In that, we are
quite authentic.  (:-)

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