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

Poster: "Thorpe, John" <thorpj@caepo1.columbiaSC.NCR.COM>

Greetings from Eldred (again)!

It may be time to quit boring the Merry Rose with our discussion on heraldry
and enforcement move to a private room.  Anyone wishing to join us, let me

Tibor responds to my missive:
%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 
%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 
%only in fun.)

%My point being, the level of distress being shown here, and the presumption 
%wrongdoing on the part of the peoples involved, is a Societal artifact. 
%are plenty of good ways of learning more, doing authentic and fun things, 
%still resolving problems.

Personally, I'd like to see everyone working from the same script in this
instance.  I think I may have fallen into the same pitfall as many before me
have.  We(heralds)  have defined a set of rules (yes, customs can have the
same force as rules, they just aren't written down) that we expect everyone
to uphold as a matter of chivalry and honor.  When someone violates the
rule(custom), we get upset.  For the most part, it seems to work.  It's just
in the rare instance that things fall apart.

%  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 
%  have manipulated to fit our idea of the Middle Ages.

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

Not quite.  I meant jurisdiction in the broadest sense of the word, which
includes the enforcement of the laws and customs of armorial display.

%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.

I wish you would quit saying that.  I do not believe anyone has 
lied to the populace about the use of armorial display--in period.  The
mechanism we have in place to register and display arms simply does not
fit a period model.  Erroneous, perhaps, but not deliberately false.  You 
correct that no one can prevent you from displaying arms as you choose.
However, your behavior will win you no friends.

%But... like just about everything in our Society, we can learn and do fun 
%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 
%that the presumption people were concerned about was a really good way to
%explore more about period.
%What there is, here, is an invitation to learn more about period, and to
%consider what the period situation might have been.

An interesting point.  However, I do not believe that a majority of people
would agree with your assessment of the situation.  The cold hard fact is
people have paid money to the SCA CoA to "guarantee" they "own"
unique armory within the context of the SCA.

%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?

It is a problem because of a monetary transaction with the SCA CoA that
implies a contract between the submittor and the CoA that the CoA will
ensure that no armorial bearings within the SCA will conflict with any
other armory currently within the SCA and without the SCA to a limited

%                                                An interesting point to 
%  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
%  Kingdoms.

%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 
%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, 
%not now.  Of course, any Crown has the right to make promises that cannot 
%kept... also a period problem, eh?  (:-)

No, not across all Kingdoms, but by custom, law, and treaty, the armegerious 

awards of various Crowns are recognized across the Laurel Kingdoms.  In
effect, the outcome is the same.  You are attempting to map historial 
onto the SCA which by its very structure and own history has already
bypassed this argument.  By your argument, (let's take Master Arval for
example) if Master Arval were to travel from the East to Meridies, the
populace of Meridies could ignore his Peerage, and refuse to address him
by his hard-earned title and any member could display Arval's arms.
However, this would not happen in reality as the agreements between the
Kingdoms recognize Arval's status and arms no matter where he travels in
the Known World.  I think that the Crown of Meridies would feel bound to
uphold any claim that Arval made with regard to his own arms and awards
as a reciprocating courtesy to the East Kingdom, else he may one day
find himself in the same predicament in another Kingdom.

%             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 
%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 
%  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.

I was making the SCA case.  This whole argument is extremely difficult to
handle because we have three different cases to look at and try to map
on top of one another:  1) Modern real world 2) Period(s) 3) SCA.

%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) 
%rights to it upon you.  (Yes, in some heraldic visitations, arms that had 
%used for years informally were forced as registered on people, and promptly
%taxed as a special kind of property.)

Even though armory is not identity, it is so closely associated with people
that it almost makes no difference whether it is identity or property.

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

True.  And I do agree.  However, we are stuck with inertia.  People have
become so attached to our model that change to a new one will be very

%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 
%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 agree.  There are no clearly defined lines in this debate.

%  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 
%  and policies, I will continue to follow the rules that we have set forth
%  for ourselves.

%But, there are no such rules.  Merely customs.  And so many of those 
%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.

I would like to know who is teaching things this way.  Whenever I teach a
class or consult with someone on a heraldry submission, I point out to them
everything that has been brought up here.  A)  We do not correctly model
any specific period College of Arms or practice--the SCA has it's own
set of rules (and customs, if you insist); B)  The SCA has no real heraldic
enforcement capability; C) In reality, you can display whatever arms you 
just be prepared to catch a lot of flak about it if it conflict with someone 
D) Period armory was not unique across jurisdictions, and sometimes not
within jurisdictions, but it is the College of Arms' charter that we have 

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

OK.  Obviously we agree that SCA heraldry does not work in the same way as
period heraldry from any given jurisdiction.  Obviously, there are many who
would like to see this change to mirror a more period model (I am one of 
believe it or not).  What we have to deal with here is Modern SCA reality. 
no uncertain terms, the charter for the College of Arms specifies that each
person registering armory have arms that are unique within the SCA and
without.  Because of this charter, people have the right to assume that the
$8 they paid to the College of Arms, SCA guarantees that they are the sole
owner of said armory--at least within the context of the SCA.  Poor 
given that the CoA has no enforcement powers to speak of, but that is the
intellectual reality of the situation.

Have some more mead.....

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