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Re: Query re: A&S/heraldry comp at Pointless
Poster: Michael and MJ Houghton <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Dominus Herveus d'Ormonde, alias Triton Principal Herald, etc. sends greetings
unto all to whom these letters shall come.
On the subject of display of unregistered arms, arms belonging to another,
The original question asked about the propriety of displaying unregistered
arms. On this I expound.
If one is considering a display of unregistered arms one should consider
why the arms are not presently registered. If because they have never been
submitted for registration, the displayer should be aware that they may
have selected arms which are heraldicly identical to or very similar to
those registered to another individual or considered important enough to
be protected within the jurisdiction of the SCA. If the displayer is
prepared to cease display if this should arise and be brought to their
attention, go ahead.
If the lack of registration is because the arms are in the process of being
considered for registration (in the submission process), the previous
If it is because the arms have been submitted but returned, one must then
consider the reason given for the return.
If the return was for administrative reasons, consider that they have
simply not been submitted and see the conditions dependent from that
If the return was for conflict, then the displayer should not use these
arms as their own, without the permission of the owner of the conflicting
arms. Consider that the submitter asked and was told "no". Proceeding to
display the arms is now a direct affront to the authority of the College
of Arms. Enforcement of this authority would be ticklish, but in theory
could involve a Court of Chivalry in an extreme case.
If the return was for stylistic problems, either the proposed arms were
judged to be not heraldic, or their rendering was poor enough that they
needed to be redrawn. If the former, then the design is "not heraldic",
thus not arms and there is no offense. If the latter, see above under
Note that the only case where use and display is clearly inappropriate
is where arms have been returned for conflict.
Nereid did in her message bring up a related issue of someone
conspicuously displaying arms registered to another as his own. If the
offender declines to cease the display when the matter is brought to his
attention, then the owner of those arms has a legitimate grievance which
can be pursued to its conclusion.
It has also been argued that the College of Arms does not have or should
not have jurisdiction, or that there is not or should not be one
heraldic jurisdiction encompassing the entire Society. To this I reply:
The structure of the SCA sets the Laurel Sovereign of Arms as the chief
heraldic officer of the SCA with authority and jurisdiction over heraldic
activities in the Society. Thus, by definition, the SCA comprises a
single heraldic jurisdiction. Arguments of the nature and range of period
heraldic jurisdictions cannot change this. Note that the recent change
in the range of armory protected within the SCA reflects the position that
the SCA is a heraldic jurisdiction, distinct and independent from any other
in the past or present. I reject the call for anarchy.
Since its earliest days, heraldry has been characterized by several features:
It identifies an individual
It is inheritable property
There are certainly exceptions at certain times and places, but these two
features are characteristic.
In service I remain,
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