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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, I am going to try to turn this discussion, slightly, to the general
case, and thereby keep it more interesting to most folks. If I fail, so be it:
but I tried. Because a narrow discussion of heraldic "Yes it is" "No it isn't"
would be dull for everyone, including Eldred and I.
Eldred, you seem to be stating the following: "Everyone believes that
registration of arms with the SCA's College of Arms gives them exclusive
rights, and they can have those rights enforced, and we should work toward
giving them what they want." I say "No It Isn't". (:-)
This is simply not the case: it is not the intent of the law, nor is it the
actual law. The sooner we teach people that, the better. Sure, there is a
tremendous social inertia that comes through on the topic, and lots of people
*want* to believe it. But it still isn't so.
There is a dangerous slippery slope here, in giving people what they want. If
we give them what they want, in this case, we start providing an enforcement
arm to the Society. I'm not sure I want that camel's nose in our tent. See
some of the discussions on the West list (or about the West list) for the real
and present dangers of a Crown that says "Don't do that: I won't allow it".
If, instead, we did a better job of educating people (as you do) in what was
period, and how we can model period better, we can have even *more* fun, learn
more, and do better for each other.
I've read enough law, and taken enough contract law, to know that the hogwash
we peddle as implied contract is junk. What we do see, is as one person
posted: the current belief leads them to think that appeals to authority,
harrasment, or even theft are justifiable. Nothing could display the dangers
of the slippery slope better, than someone sliding down it.
I had written:
%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.
Some of the above which you say is true. Please, allow me a short aside: Many
people can teach something that is not true, without lying. I certainly did
not accuse anyone of lying: nor would I. Differing opinions can be held, and
taught, without lying, just as errors can be perpetuated without lying.
Good Eldred, we can dispute this peacefully, without rancor or raising the
"truth stakes". Here, have a homebrew... (:-)
%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.
That is the reason why I posted the answer I did, although perhaps it was too
pithy to be useful.
People who really and truly believe that the SCA and the College of Arms have
guaranteed them anything about their names and armory have been sadly misled.
It simply is not true. Yes, I know, I was to avoid "No Its Not". But there is
We heralds (all of us, even the enlightened ones like you and I, Eldred) are
collectively doing the populace of the Known World no service at all if we
teach them that such a guarantee exists. Instead, we should teach them that in
period it was a real problem too, and that they found ways of dealing with it.
Some good and some not. One solution was to ignore the problem.
Were I the herald who was first informed about the problem at Pennsic, I would
have been delighted to turn it into a learning experience for all, and a chance
to have a lot of fun resolving the problem. The classical Societal response of
asking a herald to "Make Him Take Down My Arms From His Camp" produces neither
a pleasant neighborhood feeling, nor does it teach much about period. (Nor does
it teach much about how grownups ought to behave.)
I'd talked about Crowns (real and period) can overstep the bounds of their
authority, and you answered:
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.
Ohh, change of subject alert. Awards and honors are a different topic than the
rights to exclusive arms. Further, if you think about it, you will no doubt
realize that one baronies honors and awards are not universal, and that most
Kingdom awards are not universal.
But, the awards themselves are a change of subject. (Although they also
reflect another area where we don't teach period, or the uncertainties of
period, at all well.)
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.
[Clever to use Arval in this example: I am his apprentice in heraldry.]
By my argument, the only argument I would make is that someone in Meridies
could use his arms, and there was little he could do about it. In fact, by my
argument, if he travelled to Meridies, and found someone displaying his arms,
I'd expect the King of Meridies to side with his subject over an outremer, if
the Crown were to emulate period. I leave the argument about Peerages for
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.
I'd expect a Crown of Meridies (if Meridies were a period Kingdom) to treat
Arval-as-example in a fashion that served his own best interests. Yes. Who
can say what those were?
To use your example, however, against you. If someone in Atlantia travelled to
the East, and found that someone there was using their arms: who could they go
to in a period manner? And what would they find? If it was an Easterner
displaying those arms, I'd expect a period style Crown to uphold their subject,
unless it was someone really important asking.
This leads into the whole conflict of fairness... in period the justice would
have been uneven and unfair (by our modern lights) but a modern person who is
genuinely outraged over their arms being borne might want a tad more fairness.
This is part of the reason I would discourage a modern person from genuinely
getting upset over the issue. It's part of the game: play the game... as it
would have been played in the past.
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.
Ah. All three of those say that there is nothing to be done about it. In
period, it wouldn't be an issue for Kings, especially at a gathering of
many gentles from many Kingdoms: it would have been dealt with one on one. The
SCA provides no guarantee of usage, and there is no modern authority.
Only custom can be prevailed upon: and custom is a lesser being than rules.
The complainent has no absolute rights here. When dealing with such a
situation, perhaps the best thing to do is make a period game out of it.
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.
Ahem. This is not true. Perhaps you are ignoring issues of inheritance,
rewards of property and titlature and armory in period, or the basic issues
that people from even nearby regions might have identical armory? (Scropes won
one and lost one, remember?)
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
So, my friend Eldred, why do you not help me to teach and educate to the newer
model, instead of arguing with me here? Come, let us reason together...
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.
But this is counter-factual. If you read the rules, they say that Laurel has a
list, and if you register something on that list, nothing else should appear to
be too similar to it, that is also on that list. (Not that mistakes aren't
sometimes made, but by and large).
That's it. Laurel has a list, and if you are on it, you know that nothing else
on the list is the same. It doesn't mean that folks don't bypass Laurel, nor
does it mean that Laurel can do much about it. (Jaelle, my friend, I know you
hate it when I talk that way.)
And who would Jaelle use to remove that armory? I am personally assured that
all her minions are good ones, and no good minion would do something they
aren't allowed to do... <tease, tease, Jaelle> (I told her at Pennsic that if
she wants a REAL EVIL MINION, she should let me know... but on reflection,
truly evil minions like me don't work for authority figures... unless the pay
is extraordinary. Oh, Ruler over Ordinaries, may I have an Extraordinary? :-)
My goal here, truly, is to educate people on what is historical and real, and
what is current and real, and to teach them to delight in solving period
problems in period ways, instead of demanding rights they don't have from
enforcers they wouldn't really want. After all, how do you make enforcers go
away when you are done with them?
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