ThinkWell
Issue #6 October 1991 (A.S. XXVI)


Index to Classic ThinkWell
and envelope art




Other Issues:

#1 | #2 | #3
#4 | #5

#7 | #8 | #9
#10 | #11 | #12
#13 | #14 | #15
#16 | #17 | #18
#19 | #20 | #21

Notes on this issue


COMMENTS ON THINKWELL
Keep doing what you're doing; somebody somewhere will thank you for it. I was reading issue four during the lulls in our Commedia dell'Arte practice last week, and the issue wound up getting passed around quite a bit. I practically had to resort to fisticuffs to get it back. It was with a great deal of pleasure that I received the five copies of ThinkWell (several of my friends just knew I would be interested). I look forward to future publications! We got our ThinkWell with no problem. There have been many good discussions that were directly caused by the document. Having read the last five (or is it the first five!) issues of ThinkWell quietly, I feel now that I have a few things to write about. I have to admit I don't agree with certain people's views on a variety of issues, but everyone's entitled… GREAT issue of TW! We'll watch eagerly for #6. The appearance of ThinkWell on my metaphoric doorstep is assuming greater regularity than that of any of a number of people I know…and I think that this is a Good Thing (as regularity usually is…) I like the idea and format of ThinkWell! After 17+ years in the Society, it is always nice to come across things that are fun and challenging. Thank you.

FROM THE EDITOR
The only responses I've received to my question on whether there was too much of me in here were these: "It's your toy; you can say as much or as little as you are minded to. If you want to comment, criticize, editorialize or whatever, have fun." and "I don't think editorial objectivity really applies in this case; you're publishing, at your own initiative, an opinion letter, not a newsletter. Go ahead and contribute as much as you want, as long as you also print contributions from a broad spectrum of others." I do have fun playing mediator and writer of clarifying footnotes, but I don't want to irritate people with it. On the other hand, I know of no one planning to let a subscription lapse, so I guess people are happy enough. I myself am, still, having tons of fun.

There are still a few paragraphs from September letters which I plan to get in this issue, so if you wrote a favorite bit it might be in #7 (there are "#7" markers sticking off of several letters already).

CALL FOR QUICK INPUT

If you receive this issue in time to assist The Honorable Lady Eimile Seilide as Draeghean in her request, please write directly to her:

c/o Emily Egan
[her address in those days, but
time has passed anyway…]
League City TX…
In TW#2 (page 17, 6th paragraph) I was charmed by the description (in parenthesis) of passing the medallion to the circle. If you or any of your friends have a copy of this ceremony, either in part or in whole, or any other suitable for a laureling ceremony please send me a copy. I need input by November 1 because on November 16 the Crown will leaf me and they are expecting to be presented with a written ceremony for their prior comments/ approval. I have never written a ceremony for anyone so I am looking for as many examples as possible to study.

—Eimile Seilide as Draeghean (Ansteorra)

WHY IS SO MUCH OF THIS ABOUT PEERAGE?

Why do we talk so much about peers? Why does the Society at large talk about peers? Target of Opportunity. Why do we pick on George and Dan and leave the Secretary of the Interior alone (for the most part)?  [1] Targets of Opportunity. In any system, interest tends to focus towards the apex, especially if that apex is perceived as a focus of power/authority/license. The great unvoiced assumption in all of this is that most folks want to become peers. I'm not convinced that this is so, but I am fairly certain that one of the reasons that peers seem to find themselves at the heart of so much chatter is that they are those people known (to a greater or lesser degree) on a kingdom-wide basis. If it seems at times like the Society rises or falls on the backs of the Peers, I think that that is a most unfortunate perception. So goes the process of myth manufacture…

—AEdward of Glastonburh (Meridies)

I have told people in their vigils that they are about to become one of our little world's celebrities and people will watch them, quote them, misquote them and gossip about them.

—AElflaed of Duckford (Outlands)

The reason I think peerage has been (and will be) the focus of discussion is that it has been the area of common interest for the people you got your initial comments from and therefore the subject that has generated interest. As more people write and read more diverse subjects will come to print. Also as a peer a person is expected to be a role model, give advice and support the realm. ThinkWell is a forum that encourages these things. My third reason is maybe a little strange and maybe more of a question of a non-peer that really doesn't know. After you are a peer, what is there to aspire to other than being a role model, supporting and advising? If peerage is a reward, then is there something better later? If you are not particularly fulfilled by the things I think peerage is all about (or of course, I missed the boat completely) what kinds of goals and aspirations are there for peers? Something I feel that I have read in some of the letters is a justification of peerages in general and the question "What's next?"

—Lady Ragnell Gry (Outlands)

WHY ARE YOU STILL IN THE SCA?

I found Tule of Tehri's account fascinating. The question does occur to me on infrequent occasion. The idea that I can get a sense of shared community is probably true, but it is equally true in other groups; SF-fandom, rock concerts and gay-activist organizations all come to mind as places with a similar feeling for me.

So why the SCA? Well, there is this closet half full of garb I can't exactly wear to work! And while I can use some of the stuff at SF cons, it isn't quite the same. And I have 6 ft. of shelving on the back porch to hold all the pots, pans and implements for cooking for the masses, one bookcase full of embroidery "stuff" and half a bookcase of costume references and books of pretty color pictures of garb I want someday-if-I-ever-learn-to-sew-that-good. And a tent and stove and other camping gear I never use, except to go to Pennsic…

Maybe there is a point you reach (say about the 3-4th year?) where your investment becomes too great to quit; you feel you have to "get some good out of all this stuff" and the knowledge that you have an investment to protect keeps you going when you discover that your office is taking more time than your job, you are cooking for three feasts in the next four weeks, and you've just had a terribly polite argument with His Majesty in which the words "mutton-headed oaf" never actually passed your lips but you both knew they were hovering there!

Or maybe it's just that after a few years surviving in this group you've developed strong friendships that you'd hate to forsake just for a little peace and quiet!

—Bishop Geoffrey d'Ayr of Montalban (East)

I think the SCA is an interactive soap-opera with a medieval theme, and once a person is in and becomes a major character, he's never dropped from the storyline. Those who aren't yet major characters stay in to see if they can get more lines, and more time in the thick of the action. If I "quit" tomorrow, here's what I think would happen:
1) it would be the topic of conversation
2) reasons would be made up
3) criticisms would fly thick and fast
4) my mundane life would be kept track of
5) I'd eventually come back and have to explain where I'd been
It's easier to just stay and play my part (in self defense, if nothing else). Besides, I'd miss the opportunity to make and hear music, which is why I came in the first place. There are very few people who have really gone away. Generally if you ask where they are and what they're doing, you can get an answer. If they were to decide to return, they'd still have their titles and devices and could pick up again and play the same character.

I really like some of the other characters, too, and would miss keeping up with their parts of the soap opera. I like to think of it as "Two Lives to Live" or "The Daze of our Knights" or something. (I just wish I could read the previews in TV Guide or TI or somewhere so I'd know when my character was about to get in trouble, or at least that we had a soundtrack.)

—AElflaed of Duckford (Outlands)

ACCEPTING BLOWS

Blow counting is an issue which pops up repeatedly, and probably will so long as we fight and count blows the way that we do. But it can become less of a problem. The first change that would help is one that Bish notes. We tell everybody that only the fighter being hit can tell if a blow was good. This is obviously false: since we teach new fighters how to count blows, somebody else must be able to tell else we could not teach, right? In fact, the fighter holding the weapon can usually tell if the blow which he struck was "hard enough"—what he may not be able to judge is whether it was partially blocked. An outside observer (make that a trained outside observer) may be able to tell if the blow landed unobstructed, but cannot tell whether the hand striking the blow was relaxed rather than gripping firmly (the easiest way to make a blow feel much "lighter" than it looks). A better way to explain to new members is to say that it is very, very difficult to tell from the sidelines whether a given blow was good.

The next problem is the assumption (on no evidence) that because a blow was not counted which clearly should have been, therefore the fighter who was struck knew that it was good and simply and dishonorably chose to ignore it. Granted, this has been known to happen. However, more often the fighter honestly did not believe the blow was good. New armor can have this effect, until the fighter becomes accustomed to it. Some armor is simply too good—the fighter cannot feel a blow through it. Sometimes a fighter is simply so full of adrenaline that he does not feel things like he does in practice. (That's what adrenaline is for, after all, and all of us have ancestors who lived to be our ancestors because they could keep going in an emergency without being distracted by pain which would otherwise have left them a quivering heap on the ground!) Sometimes the force of a blow went primarily into bending metal. (I was once struck a blow in practice which felt like I had been hit with a feather pillow. I stopped the fight because I could see no reason why the blow had not been good—but it certainly felt like nothing. Someone standing behind me advised me to feel the side of my helm, which had been flat and was now concave almost 1/4 of an inch—and it was 12 gauge stainless steel!) By assuming that a fighter is guilty, we set up a situation where everybody is insulted and defensive and a calm discussion of what happened and why is extremely difficult.

The non-culpable problems can all be addressed. New armor can become familiar. Too good armor can be removed. Adrenaline can be adjusted to (or the fighter can learn to fight more calmly). New dents can be pointed out. Of course, the fighter may refuse to acknowledge the physical reasons why he did not feel a good blow; then the refusal is a new problem.

I have found a methodology for dealing with an opponent who is repeatedly refusing to count blows, and who will not consider discussing the matter. It is not, I admit, available to everybody, but it is brutally effective in dealing with extreme cases. To make it clear that I "can't kill" my opponent, the simplest and most effective action is simply to set my weapon aside and continue with only a shield. No, I will not yield. (That just rewards bad behavior.) He still has to kill me, but everyone watching is going to know that there was a problem (not just those in the crowd who are knowledgeable).

If asked (and I have never encountered an opponent who would not ask afterwards when he noticed that I did not have a weapon, even if he did not notice when I put it aside), I simply say "I had already hit you as hard as I was willing to hit you, lest I do you an injury. Had I kept my weapon I might have hit you harder, and that I could not honorably do." This will typically get a response of "You're accusing me of not counting blows/behaving dishonorably!" To which the response is "No, your honor is in your own keeping. I just say that I had hit you as hard as I am willing to hit you."

This sort of public humiliation is brutal. It should not be used on marginal problems. And it works much better coming from a fighter who is known to be much better than average and preferably as good or better than his opponent (which means that unbelted fighters probably cannot make it work when they have problems with a belted fighter). But the fact that someone is sufficiently unhappy with his blow counting to deliberately lose a fight  [2] and pick up bruises doing so will, in my experience, get the attention of even the most hardened egotist. I have only done this a couple of times, and pray that the necessity will not arise again; but if it does, it is there.

—William the Lucky (West)

US and THEM

by Lady Nykolette Ayesha de Nafarroa
Atenveldt

In my mind it is all very simple: when regarding the SCA (or any organization) there are two teams, "Us" and "Them." For the uninitiated, I will briefly describe this concept starting with "Us" (since that's the team I'm on and I'm rather partial to it).

US—We are the ones you see laughing and smiling because we enjoy being where we are, doing what we're doing, and just generally enjoying each other's company. We love talking to the newcomers, not because we want to "get to them first," but because we want to share the Dream with them so they can come to love it and revel in it as much as we do. We're the ones who, when someone needs help, offer it freely, not asking for repayment, just being glad we could help someone else as we were all once helped. We're the ones who support and defend each other when the old rumor mill has been churning.

Up until three years ago, I had been rather protected by the "Us," and "Them" were kept pretty much at bay. Then, three years ago, I moved to a new barony. I was excited. Here was a chance to meet lots of new people and learn how they "played the game." Well, I learned much, much more than I ever wanted to. You see, that's when I was fully exposed to "Them."

THEM—They are the ones who are only laughing and smiling when they are hurting someone else. They are the ones who run up to newcomers, appearing friendly only so as to "get to them first" and shanghai them into their households. They're the ones who, when someone needs help, offer it only if there is something in it for them, and providing, of course, that they have nothing better to do at the time. They are the ones who start the old rumor mill churning, and fuel its fire so that people keep bickering with each other, feelings keep getting hurt, and (more frequently than most will admit) people keep being chased out. They are the ones who try to keep people from becoming friends, and attempt to break up existing friendships. They are the ones who apparently do these horrid things for sport.

I have been in the SCA for nine years. Since the day I joined, I have always held an office, and I have worked hard to recreate the Dream, not only for myself, but for others as well (because we all know it's more fun when shared), and it hurts me to say this, but "They" seem to be winning the game. I no longer want to go to fighter practices, and I do not look forward to (or enjoy) attending events. In fact, I won't go to an event if I can't get someone to go with me. While I am still in love with the Dream, I no longer enjoy the game. I am tired of fighting what appears to be a losing battle.

Right now, they are managing to sever bonds between friends, and that, really, is the saddest part. They have recognized what we, in our hurt, have failed to remember: that in the battle between "Us" and "Them," they cannot stand against an "Us" united together.

[The author of the above article says she is over the depression which inspired it, but would appreciate input from others on positive ideas for changing the almost hostile attitude which sometimes dominates her area.]


Remember that nearly everyone is someone else's "Them." Even if you know your motives are good, it won't keep an opposing faction from seeing your results as somehow ill-gotten (whether it's awards or friends or new household members).

On the other hand, as to "doing these horrid things for sport," I must say that I know from personal experience and confession of some involved in the area in question that there have, honestly, been times and cases in which rumors were invented and planted for the fun of tracking their growth, and troubles were magnified. The quote from "inside" was "stirring the pot." I'm no longer a resident of the kingdom in question, but with sorrow I can vouch for the probability that Nykolette is not imagining these things.

"Winning the game" is not a valid analogy. They may be influential currently, but if "the game" involves learning and practicing period arts and skills, they can't keep you from doing that. The game's not over until the game's over, either, and rot will start to stink. Someone may do really well for several years, but if they really are bad guys, they start to lose friends, their householders quit and say why, their reputations slide to the point that their word isn't valued, etc. While you wait for that to happen, you need to protect your own virtue by not giving in to reciprocation, mudslinging, etc. I think of it as a combination of the Renaissance idea of the wheel of fortune—sometimes you're up, sometimes you're down—and the Hindus' concept of karma. If it's a game, it involves both chance and skill, but in the long run good should be rewarded.

—AElflaed of Duckford (Outlands)

CARIADOC OF THE BOW
Middle Kingdom

I am called Cariadoc. I have been in the Society for about 22 years. My interests include cooking, jewelry, storytelling, poetry, persona, Islamic persona, pontificating and fighting. My accomplishments include having the sense to kiss Melisande's hand before she was a duchess.

EQUALITY OF THE PEERAGES
AND
SOME BASIC DIFFERENCES

The peerages are not the same. They look different from the outside, they feel different from the inside, and although all three require moral virtues as well as accomplishment, the moral as well as the external requirements are different for each.

Consider how we would classify some prominent historical figures. Egil Skallagrimsson is clearly not a knight in our sense. On the other hand, Benvenuto Cellini probably is a Laurel—even if he does have an attitude problem. Indeed, one might argue that Egil is a Laurel (poetry). The fundamental difference between the two cases is that being an S.O.B. is a serious handicap for a Laurel but an absolute bar for a knight.

(Someone objected to the sentence above; this is excerpted from my reply:)
For simplicity, I will confine my discussion to the Laurel and the Chivalry. The Laurel is supposed to represent the ideal of the artist/scholar, the Knight the ideal (actually, a particular, medieval and Victorian, romantic ideal) of the warrior. Each fills a different and important role in the Society.

It is vital that the ideal warrior be gentle and courteous; people who are good at killing and do not have those characteristics are too dangerous. Under our system, it is also vital that he be honest in certain things—in particular issues of honorable fighting, such as blow calling. It is nice but not vital if he has a burning interest in how fighting works, how it was done historically, how everyone else does it, and how he can do it better. Someone who does not have that interest but is a very good natural athlete and a gentle, honorable, and courteous person could be quite a good knight.

It is vital that the Laurel have a deep desire to find out how things were done in period and do them. It is vital that he be honest about issues of scholarship—that he not make up his sources. It is nice if he is a gentle, courteous, generous person.

Of course, in an ideal world, we would have lots of perfect people to give both awards to, so we would never have to make hard choices. But in the real world perfect people are in short supply. If we have to choose between someone who is really and passionately interested in fighting—and rude to anyone else who is not—and someone equally skilled but much less interested and knowledgeable who is gentle and courteous, I think we should (and probably do) choose the latter to knight. If we have the equivalent choice for the Laurel—between a very nice person who does nice work out of talent but really does not much care how things were done in period, or whether his work is done right, and a less nice person who stays up all night figuring out how the real gauntlet went together and then tears his fourth attempt apart so that he can redo the fifth version right—I think we should (and probably do) choose the latter.

On a related point, I long argued that knighthood ought to be given only with the unanimous assent of the existing knights—it being understood that a "no" vote means "I am confident this person is not a knight" not "I have no idea whether this person is a knight." I have never held that position for the Laurel. Why?

Our fighting rules have a fundamental weakness (and glory)—the honor system of scoring. The potential problems with it are obvious. One good solution is to have an elite group of fighters such that they all trust each other, and every active fighter knows and trusts at least one of them. That, in my view, is one of the central functions of the Chivalry.

If Alpha, one of our fighters, thinks Beta from Barony X is refusing to die when he is killed, he tells me. I watch Beta. If I decide there is no problem, Alpha is willing to accept my judgement. If I decide there is a problem (and do not think I can deal with it directly) I go to Gamma, a knight from Barony X. If Gamma tells me there is no problem, I trust him, Alpha trusts me, that takes care of it. If people like me keep coming to Gamma to complain about Beta he, being the sort of person who deserves our trust, reconsiders and deals with the problem. Since Beta trusts Gamma (the knight from his barony) Beta listens and amends his ways.

That is a short sketch of the sort of informal but effective system that I think can and, to a considerable extent, does keep rhino hiding, accusations of rhino hiding, and related problems down to a reasonable level. But in order for it to work, the fighters have to trust the knights (and masters), and they have to trust each other. Hence my discomfort with a situation where someone is knighted who some existing knights are sure should not be.

None of this applies to the Laurels—we do not have a system of self-judging for the arts. What does matter is that they be honest scholars—that if someone asks them a question they will answer "I don't know" if they don't know. That is a form of honesty, but not the same form that applies to knights. If you ask a knight "how do you use a halberd to kill someone using sword and shield" and he, having never tried the experiment, makes up a plausible sounding answer and delivers it with great authority, that is unfortunate but only unfortunate. When you try his method and get killed, you will discover that he knew less than he thought he did. If a Laurel does the same thing you may continue for years doing things wrong and telling other people to.

On the other hand, consider the issue of honesty about your art. I am not sure that calling bad work good is not, at some level, the artist's equivalent of a knight calling a good blow bad—i.e. the kind of dishonesty that implies you clearly do not belong in the order. The equivalent for a fighter would be saying that someone is a good fighter when he is not. I find it hard to imagine any degree of encouraging a poor fighter by exaggerating how good he is that would (or should) disqualify a fighter for knighthood.

My point is that, while all virtues are, by definition, good, some are more important for some roles than for others. One sort of honesty is vital for knights and desirable for Laurels; another is vital for Laurels and desirable for Knights. In a world of imperfect people, we sometimes have to settle for the vital virtues and do without some of the desirable ones.

On the general subject of artistic honesty and the artist equivalent of a knight, I recommend Kipling's short story "The Wrong Thing" (in either Rewards and Fairies or Puck of Pook's Hill—I forget which). My favorite line (spoken by a carpenter to a boy who has cut himself while making a model ship): "Do your work with your heart's blood, but don't let it show."

With regard to the pelican, my impression is that many people think of it as "the peerage for bureaucrats." Others think of it as "the peerage for service." These are very different things; I prefer the latter.

—Cariadoc of the Bow (Middle)

THE SOLE AND EXCLUSIVE RIGHT…

About the heraldic heretic business Gyrth mentioned: You suggest courts to decide issues when people move from kingdom to kingdom. I'm more worried about people who don't move. I don't want there to be some AElflaed of Duckford with my device anywhere else, any time. It's bad enough in real life, even without having a really common name. There's another Sandra Dodd in Albuquerque. They've tried to make me pay for her X-rays, for her utilities, and once called to say what would happen if I didn't make payments on my Subaru. I've never even been in a Subaru. Luckily there are social security numbers and maiden names and ages, but the SCA tracks none of those. When someone in the Society says I did something I didn't do, it's pretty hard to do anything about it—-and so far it's only involved one me.

My favorite story so far on being misquoted, and the easiest to deal with was I got a call from Drachenwald once, when I was steward, asking whether I might have really told a woman this or that because she was running around using me as back-up on something. I said, gee I wasn't even sure if I'd ever spoken with her about anything. "What exactly did she say?" I asked. The response was, "She said, ‘My good friend Sandy said…'" and I stopped her right there and said nobody calls me "Sandy."

Another good identity story was a question about an alleged Atenveldt knight in another kingdom. Someone called me and said "There's a woman out here who says she's a knight from Atenveldt, and we wanted to check it out." "Well, it's possible," I said (because there were two or three at the time). "What do you know about her?" "She's about six foot tall and has red hair." "NOPE, not ours." People who are six feet tall and have red hair should never tell lies. I, on the other hand, am 5'4" and have brown hair. There are lots of people who could pass for me. I don't want them to be able to do it easily.

Don't other kingdoms' arms scrolls still give them "the sole and exclusive right to bear [their arms] in the Society for Creative Anachronism"? It doesn't say just in your own kingdom. Arms and peerage are society-wide for a good reason, I think. If this heraldic sovereignty by kingdom came to pass, not only would one's name and device not be protected, but neither would peerages have to be recognized from one kingdom to another. Or we'd have to put mundane names, social security numbers, fingerprints or something on arms scrolls; else all the William the Luckies in the Known World could claim to be triple peers and Counts (or Dukes if they wanted).

—AElflaed of Duckford (Outlands)

NEW VOICES THIS MONTH
I'm happy to welcome several people who have sent their first comments this month. Some have just subscribed, but others have been reading a while. I have a little information about them, some they sent and some I'm writing from personal knowledge.

Susan the Midwife is from the Outlands. She began in Aarquelle (Pueblo, Colo.) but has lived in al-Barran for the past few years. She's a potter and makes dumbeks that you would not believe (unless you have one). She has two different baronial arts awards (from Dragonsspine and al-Barran) and the Outlands' Kingdom Service Award (the Stag's Heart).

Eimile Seilide as Draeighean is the Minister of Arts and Sciences for the Barony of Loch Soilleir, in Ansteorra. She has a grant of arms for arts-related service, and is scheduled to be made a Mistress of the Laurel in November.

Ragnell Gry has recently moved from the far northern part of Atenveldt to the pretty-far northern part of the Outlands. Her various comments herein contain some more personal information about her.

Elfwyn de Barfleur has been in the Society for four years. She is apprenticed to Mistress Warjna, the Premier Laurel of Trimaris, as well as being a protege of Baron Taliesynne, the Premier Pelican. She is presently Chancellor of the Trimaris Royal University and herald of her local canton (Mathom Trove). She wrote, "Mundanely I (among other things) coordinate the Hoggetowne Medieval Faire."

Mark Lasie of Westminster is our token peer. He's been in the Society since he was about 14 years old, having started in Phoenix. His award of arms dates from December 13, 1975. He moved to the Outlands about that time, and taught Baldwin of Erebor all about heraldry. He's a Master of the Pelican and a Court Baron, one of the finest cooks ever, and has a local service award, and the Order of the Light of Atenveldt.

WAIT! LATE-ARRIVING COUNTESS:

Aziza al Kashani wrote: "I am from a town called Kashan in the middle of Persia around the 15th Century. I like to dance and fight which is a hard combination to put together into a persona. I am also in love with a Scottish Duke which is also hard to explain so I usually don't. I am a Defender of the Stag's Blood (Outlands kingdom fighting award) which I am still shocked and thrilled to have. I am also a countess and have held several offices in my home shire (Drygestan/Santa Fe) a long time ago." (Aziza is living in the West temporarily.)

HERALDRY
I was at the Mists coronet tourney last week, and Duke Frederick of Holland saw my ducal coronet but didn't know who I was, so he looked up my surcoat in the Ordinary and found out. This was a great example of heraldry in action. Well done, your Grace. (Good thing my arms were passed.)

—Artan macAilin [West (Outlands)]

ARTAN macAILIN
Outlands/West

My name is Artan MacAilin and I live in the West Kingdom in the Barony of Tarnmist. I am a knight which is important to me and a duke which is cool but less important. I love Aziza, fighting and heraldry (book) in that order. I have been king three times so I am difficult to live with because I think I know everything. I love to read and hate to write. I don't really have a persona because I want to be a Scottish Duke (Rothsey would be nice) but the BOD won't let me so I just live in Tarnmist, not 15th Century Scotland. I love making my own clothes when they are finished (not while I am making them) and my great passion is English history. I have a lot of fighting awards and no service awards which should tell me something and I like to sing medieval music (usually with many other people at the same time).

OFFERING PEERAGE
Now or Later?

Currently in Meridies, all is change. For the longest time, knighthood elevations were quietly announced ahead of time to those being elevated to provide for whatever vigil and ceremonial arrangements the elevee (hmmmmmm….) chose to make. Of late there has been some rethinking of that in the Chivalry, and some rethinking of the Pearl Harbor Strategy in the Pelicanate and Laurelate as well. Now we have secret surprise knightings and pensive Vulnings, and Wreathings of every conceivable stripe. Miss Manners' job in this kingdom has become so difficult….

—AEdward of Glastonburh (Meridies)

In Ansteorra in general awards below peerage are given out without the recipients' prior knowledge, but with peerage it can go either way depending on the perceived wishes of the recipient.

—Eimile Seilide as Draeghean (Ansteorra)

I believe that both spontaneous elevations and offers for elevation at a later date are great and should be continued. There are pros and cons to both. A knighting "on the field" can be one of the most exciting happenings at an event! It can be a problem for the person who goes back to camp for a drink or, worse yet, isn't at the event. This was the case at my lord's knighting at Estrella last year. My daughter Kyla chose to stay at home with some friends and consequently missed her dad's ceremony. For Needham, though, it was great. Shouldn't we consider the person who is receiving the award first? Should they have to wait because uncle or daughter isn't there? Kyla was happy for him. Sorry that she missed it, but did remain completely positive about what happened.

We in the Outlands do have wonderful vigils and ceremonies for the informed candidates. The time to plan, invite, sew and (mentally) prepare can make the difference between a ceremony and a CEREMONY. Once again I feel the person being elevated is the deciding factor.

—Susan the Midwife (Outlands)

FEALTY

To me, "The Pledge of Allegiance" is a fealty oath. My marriage vows are a fealty oath. My husband says the vows he made to the US Army are a fealty oath.

Nothing the SCA has to offer and calls a fealty oath stacks up to those. I cannot think of one king I have ever seen or heard of for which I would break any one of these. As I understand the concept of medieval fealty oaths, nothing I can promise anyone is as life-controlling and all encompassing.

When people pledge fealty to what are they really pledging and what are those accepting the pledge really expecting?

—Lady Ragnell Gry (Outlands)

I have noticed that the topic of fealty has been discussed coincidentally to other topics (e.g., the wearing of "chains") but the topic has not been addressed in a head-on fashion.

I would like to see a discussion of what the concept of fealty is in the other kingdoms, as well as the feelings of others here in the Outlands.

As I understand fealty in the mediaeval sense it was a form of land ownership which preceded the current "fee simple," which entailed reciprocal pledges and duties. Certainly in this sense only the rulers of principalities and baronies would owe fealty. I was quite interested to note that fealty from ruling nobles was not the custom everywhere. The oath of personal loyalty and faith was homage. It is interesting to note that clerics in mediaeval England swore fealty by right of land ownership, but were forbidden by Canon Law to swear homage outside of the religious hierarchy.

In the Current Middle Ages I understand kingdoms to have widely divergent traditions. In some kingdoms anyone is allowed to swear fealty, while in others it is restricted. I am interested to find out more about this, as well as such related items as from whom is fealty compulsory, what is the form of the oath, etc.

—Mark Lasie of Westminster (Outlands)

QUESTION: Which kingdoms require fealty of Barons, which make it optional, do any not do so? Middle Kingdom makes it optional.

—Henry of Linlithgow (Middle)

THE CHIVALRY AS AGGIES
which used to be called
PEERAGE ORDERS (I THINK)
and it might be related to
ENHANCING THE ARTS
but I'm pretty confused.

(This to Geoffrey re taking "orders form some bozo with rhinohide!"), Well, s'truth is, you don't have to take orders from anyone. Period. If you choose to do so, there are always ways to make the process more palatable (especially for one who can "best practice the fine art of political cunning"….) Seriously, I think an added problem twixt the Chivalry and the other two peerage orders may well be the "extra" that "only a Knight can make a Knight, but any old Sovereign can make a Pelican or a Laurel." I wouldn't mind seeing this change on a Society-wide basis (it sorta comes closer to my idea of what "Equal Peerages" is all about).

—AEdward of Glastonburh (Meridies)

I agree with Bish that probably the reason the Chivalry is resented (and thus leading to verbal "knight-bashing") is that fighters get to be royalty, and for non-fighters, it is a lottery.

Our current analogy for those non-fighters with a chance at the throne is that of a lottery. If someone is fighting for you, you have a ticket. Lots of people don't even have a ticket, so you have a better chance than most. If you have a knight (or master of arms) fighting for you, that's automatically 10 tickets. Consorts of the hottest contenders have about fifty tickets. The odds are better for them, but you only need the right one ticket to win. The jackpot is fame, respect (for the office, at the very least), lots of deference, and a sometimes tiring and generally expensive task.

—Eowyn Amberdrake (Caid)

The "jackpot" can become a booby prize. The "reward" for becoming king or queen is to be set up on a stage with a spotlight, to be critiqued by one and all, to be kissed up to by the smarmiest and greasiest, to be lied to by devious SOB's you'd be afraid to say "Get Lost" to, and the chance of one getting through the reign with reputation untarnished is teeny-small. Many, many people are unable to deal with that kind of random pressure, and they make Big Mistakes; they end up offstage having the living integrity knocked out of them by someone(s) who can't live with his/her/its own jealousy.

The end result has been, more than once, that someone who was living a free and happy life in obscurity has been set up and torn down by an entire kingdom, to go down in history as a Bad King. I think more Crown Tourney entrants have read Corpora cover to cover than have considered the risk of being royalty.

(This was written on a bad day, but I do not recant of having written it.)

—AElflaed of Duckford (Outlands)

GEOGRAPHICAL FACTORS

When William makes the pointed comment about travel to Trimaris, he's right as rain about being shocked at the lack of attendees from Meridies at the first Crown List. And the fact that the double-handful of us who went to Tampa for the first Trimarian Coronation were blown nearly away by Hurricane Elena did nothing to strengthen our resolve to make continued trips down the peninsula. There are those from Meridies who continue to have strong ties to those in Trimaris, just as there are Trimarians who continue to travel northward to spend time in Meridies, but there is also the admission to be made that the travel problems between the two lands predate the rise of Trimaris as a Principality, and are at least partially responsible for the split that resulted. Distance surely isn't always measured in miles….

—AEdward of Glastonburh (Meridies)

I like to travel long distances, especially if I have a personal reason for going. But going somewhere just to be going is fine too. When I lived in the Barony of 1000 Eyes (Idaho Falls, Idaho) a Wednesday night fighter practice in Loch Salann (Salt Lake City, Ut.) was not beyond reasonable travel. It is about four hours away, but it is also where the bulk of the experienced and belted fighters are. Raising the caliber of fighters and receiving the extra training and attention weekly instead of monthly or less makes a big difference in the growth of a fighter. Boise was four hours away, Braanshelm (Billings, Mont.) was 8 hours, Dark Tower (Great Falls, Mont.), is 12 hours and Dragon's Vale (Kalispell, Mont.) is 16 hours. These distances are common for Artemesian travelers. The Barony of Atenveldt (Phoenix) was 16 hours away. We traveled there enough that people in our barony weren't surprised when we did it.

Since moving to the Outlands in late July we have put nearly 9000 miles on our car. Some of it has to do with juggling two jobs and the distances driven daily, but just as much is from going to events in the Citadel of the Southern Pass (El Paso, Tex.), Lonely Mountain (Los Alamos, N.Mex.), Dragonsspine (Colorado Springs, Colo.) and several local events where "local" is defined as "in the metro Denver or connecting area." Until the subject came up I didn't realize the amount of travel we do. Fighter practice is currently 25 miles away for us. Needleworkers is now 15 miles away. We go what I consider regularly. By the time you get this (barring any unexpected disaster) we will have gone to the Outlands-Calontir event in Salina, and anywhere else that sounds fun. Distance as a deciding factor is way, way down on the list for us normally.

—Lady Ragnell Gry (Outlands)

"People are willing to travel great differences" is true of people in the Outlands, but the people who travel regularly tend to be the same two dozen, all of whom are chummy, involved in kingdom-level dealings, who are influential and dynamic and some other people resent their attitude of knowledgeable superiority. This is a caricature of the travelers and their detractors, but as in all caricatures it's based on a truth. I guess I can say it, since I'm one of the travellers (on maternity leave at the moment, and still more active than many other peers [3] ). People who travel get to know the kingdom in a way those who don't travel don't. It often follows that their opinions are valued by royalty. Sometimes those who don't travel don't like that.

I heard it said of a large barony outside my kingdom that there were two groups—those involved in the barony, and those involved in the kingdom. Perhaps that's the group I'm talking about—those for whom traveling around the kingdom holds a higher priority than keeping up with day-to-day local happenings.

—AElflaed of Duckford (Outlands)

RELATIONSHIP OF KNIGHT TO SQUIRE
and Pelicans' Apprentices
and belt colors
and stuff like that

Maybe we could change from colored belts to colored suspenders….

Re "got it all already!" (Mistress Tatiana): Well, I guess it's all a matter of what you're used to. I've been a knight for nearly five years, and I still don't have any spurs (never found a pair I've particularly liked/could afford). When I was a squire, I had a red belt. Period. It was not the practice at the time I was made a squire to label the end with the device of my knight, but I have no reservations about the practice today. Here's why. When Squire Doofus is having a rough day in the trenches, and just flat missing calls, or having trouble keeping his/her temper in check, it becomes very useful for me to note that said offender belongs to House Thickskull, and I know where I might go make inquiries/suggestions for corrective measures to someone who might command a larger share of the errant squire's attention. Also, when I'm asked to "watch my boy" by Sir Dunlap, that household squire's belt is an easy tag to find. If it's seen as an "advertisement for the peer," I can see why it would upset you, but my take on this is that the only advertisement for a peer worthy of notice is the conduct of that individual; the other stuff makes not the slightest impact with me, except that, in the case of a squire with exceptional grace, courtesy, and fighting acumen, it reinforces my opinion of that peer's ability to at least judge character well.

—AEdward of Glastonburh (Meridies)

When I became an apprentice, I was very proud to be serving my Laurel (and still am). He gave me a green belt with his mark on the end. He even still had the stains from the green leather dye on his hands. To me that belt is a symbol of the promises we made to each other. I don't wear it often (green doesn't go with everything) but I look at it often. Like all symbols, it inspires the person it is supposed to inspire and means nothing to others. The tab at the end is special because he made it for me. I don't know what the period basis is for it, or even if there is one. I do know when I do wear that belt that I am identified (for good or for bad) with him and his lady, his household, and its members. This is not to impress anyone that I know or do not know. It is to motivate me and make me feel part of a family.

—Ragnell Gry (Outlands)

PEERAGE VS.
THE PEERAGE ORDERS

Peer-at-Large— interesting concept, Justin. As a technical consideration, who would recommend for elevation to the Crown? Committee of the Whole? Would these Peers-at-Large meet with the other Orders to consult in business? Would they have a vote in all the Circles? None? Set up one of their own? Although this sounds like I'm agin the idear, I'm not. But it does raise some interesting logistical considerations. Regardless of the solution, I agree with you that "things as they are" have caused some deserving folks to fall through the cracks. Then again, I can honestly say that I've seen this happen at almost every level of the Society's awards and recognition structure.

—AEdward of Glastonburh (Meridies)

It seems that quite a few people have implied that there should be a way for everybody to get a peerage. In Justin du Coeur's article (in #4) he says, "…currently, a skilled archer, even one who teaches and serves a great deal, [has no way of attaining a peerage]." Someone else mentioned that it was not fair that only fighters were able to become king. I think there were a few other subtle references to the idea that everyone should be able to attain the same position or rank. The only two ways I can think of to take care of the first problem mentioned is for the person to either put all their efforts into one thing and become an expert or for the SCA to adopt the fourth peerage that Nerissa Meraud talks about (#4, p.3). The other issue about only fighters becoming king makes me irritable. In the time period we are trying to recreate the only people to become king either inherited or fought for it—conquered the land and proclaimed himself king. In the SCA we don't inherit crowns so we fight for them. I feel strongly that it would not be at all in the spirit of the Dream (yes I know a lot of you don't like that Dream stuff, but I do and I think you all know what I mean when I use it here) if we elected our king or chose in some way other than than the more period and traditional method of combat.

—Aziza al Kashani [West (Outlands)]

I honestly can't figure out if Sir Lavan is arguing for or against my proposal. His tone sounds like he's arguing against it. Yet, he makes the very arguments that I would make. He says that he was made a peer for more than just fighting; I gather that he thinks that knightings should be largely based upon the "intangibles" (like courtesy and chivalry). Yet he argues against making (for example) archers Peers. This seems contradictory to me. Can't an archer have those intangibles to as great a degree as a fighter? The entire point of my proposal is to emphasize those other qualities of Peerage, rather than the "track" that someone may be in.

Possibly Lavan is confusing my idea with the other one put under that heading (having a Peerage for Courtesy). For the record, I don't much like that other idea either, because I expect any peer to be essentially courteous. (This may seem like a hopeless expectation sometimes, but I'm not inclined to give up the fight.) Having some sort of award for especial courtesy and honor might have some merit, but making it a separate, equal Order would seem to say that the other Orders are not expected to live up to high standards of honor.

William makes the good point that the existing Orders don't have to be for specialties—that one could get a Laurel for general artsy stuff, or a Pelican for doing something less specific than sitting a Kingdom Office. It's a good point; the question is, is it realistic? My idealistic side entirely agrees, but the cynic in me says that the Orders are almost too far gone into specialization to be rescued. It is often bluntly stated (at least in the East) that a generalist can't get a Laurel. Although there is no corresponding statement for the Pelican, I haven't seen many people get Pelicans without sitting a kingdom office or equivalent.

I'll play Devil's Advocate for a moment, and mention one argument against the idea that Arval Benicoeur, Brigantia Herald of the East and another Rialto loudmouth, brought up. The idea of an untitled Peerage is an SCA invention, and one of the ways in which we are least authentic. This idea of having a Peerage without any corresponding Order could make this a shade worse yet.

—Justin du Coeur (East)

Pelicans and Laurels in the Outlands can be made for other than kingdom office holding or extreme specialization in one art form. I think this is becoming a good example of different kingdom "truths" and perspectives. The whole Society shouldn't be changed to accommodate the habits of a kingdom or two (or three) who have narrowed the rules extremely. The requirements listed in Corpora for Peerage are pretty clear that the Pelican is for exemplary service to the Society at any level, and that Laurels should be the equal of the other members of the order in some area. As I understand Laurel scuttlebutt from Places East of here, that requirement has been cranked up to their being superior to the entire order, or excellent in a skill no one else has. They're going past proficiency and excellence to have people jump through hoops like "unique," "things we never knew," and "puts the rest of us to shame."

In our kingdom it's considered a plus if a person is involved in more than one art form. They should be extremely good at one and decent in another one or two. Shabby or embarrassing work in another area might count against. If someone's a really great illuminator but wears very tacky costumes or always has an embarrassingly mundane campsite, it might be mentioned. We hope that Laurels will live a Laurel-life, having an overall concern and awareness of what enhances the medieval atmosphere. It doesn't always happen, but it's a good goal.

Similarly, if a person has done a bang-up job of a kingdom office but has spent a similar amount of energy making local trouble, the Pelicans will average the whole thing in and the "service quotient" is considered as a whole. If someone struggles for years to finally amass a pile of good works, but for every two successes there was a failure the Pelicans (or anyone else) had to clean up after, the person's organizational skills are not considered to be of a sufficiently high level. Some kings have not understood this, and only looked at the positive column, not the negative, but more often kings have understood our concern with organizational ability and consistency.

If it seems I'm way off the subject, I might be. However, in some kingdoms the idea of peerage for other criteria is not as needed, because more people are accommo¬dated by the system already in place. I think the Outlands is one. However, the things below have all been mentioned, at least quietly or in passing, over the years, as things we should consider for peerage. Which do you think are close enough and which are too far-fetched?

  • fencing
  • archery
  • photography
  • computer graphics or newsletter layout (as an art)
  • chirurgery (as art, rather than service)
  • heraldry (as art, rather than service)
While I'm near the subject, I would like to mention the phenomenon (local, I hope) of the attempt of the other peerages to use the Order of the Pelican as what teachers sometimes call "a dumpground." Schools often have a class or a teacher they consider, for one reason or another, a reasonable place to dump those who fit in no other category. In my school it was chorus. Without regard for talent or interest, kids who had no other 2nd period place to go were put into chorus. As a pelican, I feel uncomfortable about Knights and Laurels who try to shove off their oft-nominated-but-not-good-enough candidates on the pelicans. "He's really active and good-hearted and a lousy fighter/artist, so we think you guys should recognize him." It has even been suggested (by Laurels) that people might be made Pelicans for perpetual cheerfulness (which, it was explained, performed the service of making every event more pleasant for others). The "art" that Pelicans should have is ability to know and accomplish what needs to be done. Many years ago when I was new and we were in Atenveldt I used to hear it said (by a subgroup of peers who aren't active anymore) that everyone who stayed in long enough would eventually become a peer. I guess they really meant a Pelican.

—AElflaed of Duckford (Outlands)

On "nice guy peerages": Lately I have been thinking about what to do about people who are really wonderful and chivalrous, who would love to be peers but who really don't have the ability to get any better in any of the three areas of peerage. I think the idea of some kind of peerage for being just really wonderful is a fine idea. Sort of like giving a Patent of Arms with the Walker of the Way. So you say, "Wait!, there should only be the three main peerages," yet in the Midrealm being a Lady of the Rose is a Peerage.  [4] That is where their countesses get their Patent of Arms so it is possible for them to have countesses who aren't peers. Interesting, huh? If awards of arms and grants of arms can be given independently then why not patents of arms? Duke Gyrth mentioned a count who was given a separate patent, so it has been done before. I don't agree with Bishop Geoffrey that people would consider them second class peers. Did the Laurels think the first Pelicans were second class peers? Even if they did at first, they got over it. I think this is a great idea. Someone (AElflaed) should come up with a catchy name, order of the garter or something like that, and then we should just do it.

—Artan macAilin [West (Outlands)]

AElflaed sez: Keep my name out of this. Have I mentioned I don't like this idea? I'm one of the most conservative people I've met about the SCA. I don't like radical changes. I want it to be simple and uniform and traditional. I know there will be changes, because there always have been, but without conservatives putting on the brakes and offering some resistance and friction, reforms and reformers would throw the whole system out of orbit and beyond recognition in no time, so I'm serving a useful purpose.

FORMALITY

I am sorry that Duchess Malinda thought that Sir Reutnor's knighting was stuffy and that our courts were stuffy as well, but the Outlands are not Atenveldt, nor are we a wee principality with drunk viking princes anymore. We are a SOVEREIGN realm with traditions and Dignity, we don't sing bunny foo-foo in court like our Atenveldt cousins. We treat our kingdom with the respect and formality due it. It is NOT acceptable for our king to say in court "Let's party till we puke." I don't mind the king being a regular guy when he is walking around at an event, but when he is sitting court I want Henry V from Shakespeare. I want "You shall know Our mind on the morrow," not "I'll tell ya later." If you feel this is stuffy, then you do. The Outlands should be as much of a real medieval kingdom as we can possibly make it, not a bunch of ex-hippies pretending to be a kingdom.  [5]

—Artan macAilin [West (Outlands)]
(when he's saying "we," he means Outlanders)

It is valuable for there to be famous, high ranking people being formal. It is also valuable for there to be famous, high ranking people talking with everyone, visibly practicing their arts for the general benefit, etc… . One Pennsic I had spent a good deal of the week in the Merchants' area selling Miscellanies and cookbooks. At some point during the final weekend I went through the area on my way back to the encampment from a battle, and was therefore wearing my knight's belt. One of the merchants looked at me in surprise and said "Oh. I thought you were just one of us peons."

—Cariadoc of the Bow (Middle)

MORE FORMALITY

I think that people should be addressed by their SCA names and titles whenever possible. So if I see a Duchess walking by in a bathrobe at an event I should say, "Good Morning your Grace," not "hi Flo." It is hard for me to separate the real from the mundane but I think I should try harder, and I would like to see everyone else try as well. So if I see Kathryn of Iveragh (Countess, MP, ML) I should say "Your Excellency" and then she can tell me to just call her Kathryn, but it should be up to the person addressed.

—Artan macAilin [West/Outlands]

KINGDOM DIFFERENCES
(& MAYBE ABOUT REGIONAL TRAITS)

Mistress Eowyn mentions the bowing and scraping to hats at TFYC; this was actually the source of much amusement at the Eastrealm encampment. One day, Her Grace Elaina, Queen of the East, decided to go out shopping with her retinue. Now, Elaina was wearing one of the Cariadoc crowns, which are quite nice and period, but relatively unadorned by many SCA standards. Baroness Elspeth of the Bridge (Rhode Island) was wearing her coronet, a large affair with big crystals and bridges all over it. The result—everyone on site paying enormous respect to Elspeth, and completely ignoring the Queen! For much of the rest of the week, it was decreed that the Bridge Coronet was obviously the real crown of the East, since it was the one everyone was paying attention to.

—Justin du Coeur (East)

Costume jewelry or no, respect in our neck of the woods (Meridies) is decidedly a thing earned by individuals. Because we tend to treat the hierarchy in a more familial way, "Pa" (the king) gets a certain amount of deference just by being Pa, but respect must be earned ("you have our attention…now command our respect"). Respect for the station (bowing to empty thrones and the like) comes pretty easily in our kingdom, at least in part because of our historical affection for the monarchical model…. The observation has been made that "any goon with a stick can become Sovereign" (though we have been singularly blessed in our monarchs in Meridies—for the most part). It is also noted by the keenly-observant populace that the "quality filters" for the "permanent peerages" are not all that they might be at all times….we apparently have goons with needles and goons with typewriters and more goons with sticks loose amongst the elite. Wearing a white belt or a laurel medallion or Disc of Vulning is no guarantor of respect. That is purchased with fresh coinage at each new public opportunity, and I think that that's how it should be….

—AEdward of Glastonburh (Meridies)

[aeditor's note: I didn't leave a thing out,
not even an ellipsis.]

"The Dream"

I mildly disagree with what seems to be the general sentiment on this one (that the term is genuinely bad). It does have some meaning, even if that meaning is exceedingly vague; most people who use the term seem to use it to mean "the elements (particularly the moral elements) present in the SCA that seem to be missing in the Real World." That's a useful concept; it embodies the personal romanticism of the Society, which is, for many people, the SCA's greatest appeal.

The problem comes when the term is misused. What too many people don't realize is that "The Dream" is an inherently personal thing—one person's views of what makes it up may differ greatly from another's. So yes, it is often misused. But it's the misuse that deserves correction—the concept that the word embodies isn't bad by itself.

—Justin du Coeur (East)

Mistress Tatiana, you made Duke John the Bearkiller's day….thanks!

—AEdward of Glastonburh (Meridies)

The dream is personal to the individual. Its presence (or lack of) is different for everyone. Everyone has a different reason for having one or not having one. Mundanely I am a Nuclear Engineer. I work in a place that is a hotbed of politics. CYA is a way of life. One slip-up on my part, no matter how many people have bought into it, can mean my job, my supervisor's job, or someone's life. The threat is very real to me on a daily basis.

The Dream to me is basic. It is the things that I would like to see on a daily basis, but do not.

  1. My word is good. When I say I will do something I will. No signatures are needed, not even a handshake. You can take or leave it, but don't question its worth.
  2. I organize well, especially in a kitchen or camp environment. So occasionally putting together a camp or feast is nice. It means handling one project from beginning to end—setting a goal and seeing it realized.
  3. I like to be treated like a lady occasionally instead of one of the guys. I guess the emphasis is on "occasionally." There is an attitude adjustment in wearing big floofy dresses that you can't do anything in but embroider or read that is lovely for me.
  4. I like people being polite to me.
If in the space of a weekend, afternoon or evening the majority of these things happen to me I can have something to reflect on during the week when things get tough. I do like the term "The Dream." It is generic enough that it doesn't need a concrete definition. When the words are said people who have one can reflect on their own and ignore the people who are gagging on their pewter spoons, who obviously don't have one.

I also like the phrase "…glide through life in the white light of your own purity and honor." If I can come up with something good to do with it, I'll let you know. Does this make me as big an idiot as you think you are AElflaed?

—Lady Ragnell Gry (Outlands)

[I just said "I might be an idiot" to head off people who might write and say "You are an idiot." I really think I'm right, that there is a spiritual reality to all this and that goodness is good. —AElflaed]

PEERAGE ORDERS:
HOW THEY CONDUCT
THEIR OWN BUSINESS

Well, since I'm not a peer, obviously anything I say here is a little suspect. On the other hand, I do have a fairly good idea of how things work, I think…

The East does pollings by mail; the exact rules on who must be polled, and who pays for the postage, have varied a bit in recent years, but the basic idea hasn't. In general, I disagree a bit with AElflaed's views, but I'm obviously a bit biased by the difference in how our kingdoms work.

I don't entirely grok the implied sentiment that "activity" as a peer is determined by whether or not one shows up for a circle. I can see some possible merits in having such a thing (in particular, it might foster a little more identity in the order), but we certainly have plenty of very active peers who rarely make it to the royal peerage meetings. Frankly, when getting to the meeting may mean a drive of twenty hours (which it easily can in the East), it seems pretty sensible to have a mechanism whereby people can provide their opinions via mail…

Also I find myself having just the opposite reaction from AElflaed on the question of what I would be able to say when. There are many things that I am able to write down in a letter that I would never be able to say in public; speaking out against someone in even a semi-private forum like that is relatively difficult for me. A private letter to the royalty, on the other hand, I find a far better venue to speak openly and frankly.

Finally in response to AElflaed's worry—no the polling letters aren't available after-the-fact. They are generally sealed and given to the Kingdom Archivists; some monarchs simply destroy them. In any case, they are at the top of the short list of files that even the Kingdom Historians don't have access to…

—Justin du Coeur (East)

Peers not attending circles here is equal to and the same as peers not attending kingdom events, and I think they should attend as many as they can.

Polling in person doesn't preclude writing to the crown with one's opinions on one candidate or all of them. It's just considered supremely cowardly here to mumble "yeah, fine" in the circle, or to abstain, and then to write a fiery "HELL NO and here's why" letter to the Crown. The idea of coming to a consensus as a group, or at least of the present members of an order laying out honestly and truthfully what they know and feel about a candidate to the crown in the presence of the other members of the order so that points can be defended or disputed is important here to our sense of the honor and integrity of the orders. In a way, it's not so much a matter of convincing the king and queen as of convincing the other peers, even though the comments are formally directed to the Crown (with some exceptions). The mechanism for providing opinions by mail exists, but those who miss major circles must take it upon themselves to find out who was discussed if they're interested enough to make their feelings known to the Crown in writing.

—AElflaed of Duckford (Outlands)

In Meridies, all three peerage orders have secretaries. With the Chivalry and the Laurels, the office "floats" (no fixed term, just someone foolish generous enough to volunteer to keep the minutes, update the address lists, serve as a clearinghouse for information, publish the agenda, etc.), while in the Pelicanate, the Principal of the Order has stayed on as secretary. We in the Chivalry and Pelicanate don't mail-poll as yet, but we do have provisions for proxies at voting meetings.

—AEdward of Glastonburh (Meridies)

Answering AElflaed, Caid's Laurels and Pelicans each have a charter. I was among those who pushed for a document long ago, so we wouldn't have to keep re-inventing ourselves. We still do, of course, but at least we build on the past, rather than swinging wildly depending on who happens to attend a meeting.

What is the charter? It tells who we are and how we conduct our business; it tells the populace who we're looking for, and how to be sure their recommendations are heeded; and it tells the reigning royalty how we will be dealing with them, and how we expect them to treat us. It is a public document, available from the secretary to anyone who asks (for copying and mailing costs) and specifically given to Their Highnesses on the day after Crown meetings to read.

We stopped meeting at events ten years or so ago, because it started bringing events to a crashing halt. We had one all-peer meeting a couple of years ago at an event. The autocrat wept and wailed for months afterwards because the meeting had ruined the event—nothing could happen because key people were in the meetings. They felt quite wronged by the peerage.

Laurel and Pelican circles are not held on weeknights. They are usually held on a Sunday and start with a pot-luck brunch. The dates are scheduled on the day after Crown Tourney, so that they will occur about 1/3-1/2 way through the reign. This is the candidate discussion meeting for that reign. The secretary sends out reminders of the meeting, and directions, a month in advance. Their Majesties are invited. Their current Majesties are the first in years to accept the invitation. We feel it is important for them to hear the discussion, even if they don't. A vote is taken at the meeting. The active Laurels or Pelicans then get a ballot within about two weeks, with the minutes. They have one month to answer. If they aren't heard from, they have no vote on that, but can't say they weren't asked.

The Laurel Charter, at least, defines what an "active" member is. One can go "inactive" voluntarily or by failing the criteria in the charter for activity. Only active members vote. One is presumed to be active until proven otherwise.

Mail-polls are in the secretary's files, which are passed to the next secretary. They are culled periodically.

By the way, Their Majesties do get all minutes of meetings, and if if a ballot is sufficiently positive for a recommendation, then one is forwarded to them.

I suspect the rumor that the Crown is "not necessarily invited" comes from the fact that the Laurels call the Laurel meetings (and Pelicans call theirs), and thus control the meeting (agenda, moderator, secretary), and invite Their Majesties, as a matter of course. In fact, there was a Laurel meeting yesterday, and Her Majesty attended. It was not candidate discussion, but rather things like "the relationship between the charter and the Crown; Equestrian and Archery laurels—what criterion?; Order Robes; The Great Kneeler Project." The discussion for these, since it was not candidates, is not considered confidential.

—Eowyn Amberdrake (Caid)

SCRIBAL BACKLOG

I think that Bish is being a little more cynical here than is deserved; most awards, including AoAs, are presented with scrolls in the East these days—only about one in ten seems to get a promissory. As I understand it, the East currently doesn't have a backlog; indeed, I know scribes who have offered to do scrolls and been told to try again later, because they were all taken. On the other hand, it's taken years to get to that point, and the only reason we can sustain it is that we have 120 or so active scribes.

—Justin du Coeur (East)

Promissories vs. Final Scrolls: Caid inherited from the West the tradition of giving promissories at the time of an award. For an AA, for instance, it charges the recipient to "consult with Our heralds to devise suitable and unique arms." The Promissory proves, if one should need it, that one has gotten X award on Y date from these monarchs. If it differs from the Order of Precedence, the latter is assumed to be incorrect. Promissories are done in a nice hand and xeroxed on "parchment" paper. Some have illustrations on them now, rather than being bare words. With illustrations comes the temptation to color them in, so I rather disapprove. Have scribes spend their time on the final scrolls, not the promissory.

The final scroll grants the recipient, in this example, not only the award of arms, but the right to display the achievement appropriate to that rank, to wit, a gold crown of four points.

—Eowyn Amberdrake (Caid)

"…rare in the Outlands to get an award without a scroll." Maybe this year! It took seven years to get my AoA scroll; I held the kingdom record for longest outstanding unfinished scroll. It's been ten years and still no Laurel scroll. I did get preprinted promissories for most awards received, but since in the SCA I am barely literate enough to sign my name, I can't really complain.

—Mirhaxa av Morktorn (Outlands)

[Editor's note: This came in before the last issue, but I thought it unfair/not applicable because the awards being spoken of are not from the Outlands, but from Atenveldt. The Outlands as a kingdom has been very conscientious about scrolls, and so Mirhaxa is owed no scrolls for awards from the Kingdom of the Outlands. I spoke with Mistress Eowyn, though, who says Caid considers outstanding West Kingdom scrolls part of the backlog Caid inherited at the moment they were a new kingdom. I'm wrong; they're right; a new kingdom should still arrange for back scrolls for awards for its residents. More commentary from Eowyn on scribe-business will appear in the next issue.]

CAMPAIGNING FOR PEERAGE

There is nothing wrong with wanting very much to be a knight, but there is something wrong with wanting very much to be knighted. The latter desire confuses the form with the substance. Of course, if one wants to be a knight, it is certainly a nice thing to have the rest of the world decide that you have succeeded, but that should not be the real objective. Kings don't make knights, they recognize them.

—Cariadoc of the Bow (Middle)

I would define "campaigning" for a peerage as SCA activities done not for the enjoyment but as a means to an end.

It seems that the one mutual bond that most SCA members share is that for one reason or another they simply have never quite fit into the mainstream of modern society. This seems to create one of two responses, either they learn to trust in themselves despite what others may think, or they suffer from low self esteem. Those who learn to trust in themselves tend to come out okay in the SCA despite the fact that others not as secure often feel threatened by them. Those with low self esteem often seem to be trapped by their own insecurity. No matter what awards they are given, they want/need more to prove their own worth. They also seem to feel a need to be "better" than or higher in rank than as many people as possible, and may use any influence available to keep others from advancing.

The associate system offers an opportunity for the peers to help the associates develop self assurance. I have seen associates who have been showing the symptoms of peerage campaigning grow with the assistance of their peer to point that they no longer feel the need to fight for the peerage without regard for who they stepped on during the struggle. I have also seen peers who seem not to have developed the self esteem necessary to be able to use their position to help others to grow. Instead some seem to be using the height of their position for throwing rocks. I have seen the SCA lose some very talented people during the four years I've been a member, usually due to mistreatment driving them away.

No system is perfect, and low self esteem is a difficult problem to fix. Perhaps if instead of faulting someone for what is perceived as campaigning, they were instead given reassurances and assistance in their personal growth, those individuals who don't recognize how very talented they truly are would grow beyond the point of needing rank to prove their worth.

—Elfwyn de Barfleur (Trimaris)

PEER FEAR

Bizarre. I've heard of the concept many times, but never quite so vehemently, or for as many reasons, as Jocelyn describes. Granted, my situation may be a little unusual. Depending on your definitions of "Carolingian" and "active," Carolingia has somewhere between 15 and 25 active peers, so any gathering of people in the barony is decently likely to contain one or two. So, I may be a little biased by being friends with a fairly large number of peers.

Still and all, I really haven't seen any of the problems that she describes here. The good majority of the peers that I know come by it for obvious reasons; they are the people who the rest of the barony looks up to and respects. There are one or two exceptions, but the considerable majority seem to work pretty hard to avoid just the syndrome of "We're Peers, and you're Scum" that Jocelyn seems to describe.

(And yes, the East has had a few Courts of Chivalry, although it's arguable whether they've had all of the intended effects…)

Either Jocelyn is seeing the peerage in the worst possible light, or things are a lot different there from here. I've seen a few assholes with patents of arms, but they're very much the exception rather than the rule…

—Justin du Coeur (East)

In response to Jocelyn, I can only say that I'm sorry that she feels she can't impact upon an undesirable peerage situation without causing folks to "slay the messenger." On the other hand, if her description of her area is accurate, I can say with some confidence that the peerage there is absolutely no place I'd ever want to be. AEdward's rule of Just Plain Folks is as follows: "Costume Jewelry aside, a putz is a putz is a putz." And no amount of dressing one up is going to change that. On the other hand, drawing from personal experience, I'd have to echo AElflaed and say that, in discussing candidates, there is an exceptional amount of care used in dealing with the character traits of those being scrutinized. If anything, the harshest judgements have been reserved for the collective or individual shortcomings of those already in Circle (as an attempt to "self-police" or maintain the same high standards reflected in our expectations of those we scrutinize for admission).

—AEdward of Glastonburh (Meridies)

No Court of Chivalry in An Tir— you are lucky. We had one, and removed his belt. In another case, the king and the council of one peerage asked a peer to resign, for stated cause. That member did resign.

In Caid, the standards expected of and criteria for peerage, at least for Laurels and Pelicans, is available in the charter of each order (available to any who ask). We try to seek out worthy candidates, and the Laurels define their purview here very broadly.

—Eowyn Amberdrake (Caid)

I never felt anything that I would have considered Peer Fear until I moved to the Outlands. This in my experience means that I never had a bad time or had been intentionally misled by a peer or person I respected until I moved here. Now I don't feel I have peer fear, just a healthy disrespect of certain peers and certain persons with enough influence to occasionally see to it I do not have the good time I came for. I don't feel like they sit around saying, "How can we fix her this week?" even though they might. I feel it is more casual, like brushing away a bug. If the opportunity arises, why not? I think it equates to what a lot of people have described as peer fear. It is really an aversion to people who are spiteful and petty. This is universal and is not limited to peers or non-peers, Society members or non-Society members. Peer Fear is a form of prejudice that comes from expecting a whole group to act like a small set of that group, which happens to act poorly.

—Ragnell Gry (Outlands)

This past weekend (10/5/91) I went up to EK Coronation. (The site was too small, the Courts were too long and virtually inaudible and I didn't stay for the feast.) I spent a lot of time chatting with people about one thing or another and have a few reflections on peers and perceptions.

First, I noticed that about the third time somebody said "Oh, you're Bishop Geoffrey; I've heard all about you!" I wanted to run away and hide out with people who have known me for no less than five years! Then there are the people who obviously know me and who I can't remember to save my life! (Old age, obviously—thank heavens we use "milord" and "milady" routinely!)

Hmmm. I can see why there might be a perception that the peerage keeps apart from the hoi-polloi….I can see why they might actually do so! (…I've heard all about you…FROM WHOM? What did they say? Were they smiling when they said it?)

When somebody is sitting alone working at something (spinning, in this case) and you walk up, smile and ask about it, it makes them happy; it also attracts other people who might have been interested but didn't quite have the nerve to ask! It sounds stupid, but I hadn't noticed that before.

On the other hand, two Laurels standing together and talking about anything with intent interest is a people repellent! OK, we were discussing some candidates from the last polling, and anybody who got close enough to hear immediately parabola-ed in another direction; but we were saying nice things! We had nothing to hide. Everybody was being so gosh-darned polite and courteous! Even when we switched topics to the ever-popular "my job is driving me nuts."

But a Laurel or Pelican talking to a regular person (so, we're constipated?) also attracts people who come over to listen and join the conversation.

Observing social dynamics was my fun for the day.

—Rob/Geoffrey/Bish (East)

The backhanded compliment I get sometimes from people who had "heard all about me" is wonderful. It goes kind of like this: "You're nice!" (with a tone of voice they might use if they'd discovered I could fly, or glowed beautifully in the dark). Sometimes it's "I was told never to speak to you, but I'm glad I did because you're really fun." It's a kind of compliment and I'm glad to hear it, but ….

When I first went to Pennsic years ago and met people I had known only through letters and phone calls, the most common comment was "I thought you'd be taller!" I guess I write taller than my actual height. I suppose that's good. It's kind of a literary blowfish effect.

—AElflaed of Duckford (Outlands)

CHILDREN

Bish, if only I'd had as little trouble from supposed "adults" down through the years as I've had from most kids, I could die a happy man. And I must confess to another weakness. As I slip and slide into relentless middle age, I have discovered a certain calcification of thought and philosophy that will sometimes leave me quivering at the thought of "becoming my parents." While there is no denying that the occasional yowling youth wears their welcome wafer-thin in virtually no time at all, and that there have been times when I'm interested in trying B.F.E. (Brat Flotation Experiments), there are also those crystalline moments when a child will hold something in the Society up to the fierce light of their wonder, and make me all gooshy and weak in the knees for that part of myself that I must constantly fight against losing. I get a lot more from kids than I give…all this from a guy who doesn't have any offspring of his own. (Hope that this didn't have you reaching for the insulin….)

—AEdward of Glastonburh (Meridies)

I am surprised to hear that some parents expect an autocrat to provide children's activities. There are lots of children at events these days. That means there are a lot of parents. Caid does have a "children's guild" called the Caidan Crescents, with planned activities at various events. I admit I never paid much attention to it before, but as a new stepmother to a six-year-old, I'm beginning to learn. We haven't tried him at a feast yet, and he's only been to half a dozen events.

—Eowyn Amberdrake (Caid)

In my view, one of the unfortunate characteristics of the last century or two is the tendency to think of children as helpless, innocent little people who have to be kept from the real world for fear they will get their hands dirty. That is in striking contrast to the medieval system, where one of the standard ways in which a young lord grew up was as a servant (page) in someone else's household.

One of the things I like about the Society is that it offers an opportunity for those young people who are functional adults to act and be treated accordingly. While that may not apply to many three year olds, it applies to a lot of twelve or thirteen year olds, and some people younger than that. My impression is that at least some page schools some of the time represent an attempt to restore "twentieth century standard" behavior—i.e. get the children out of the way and keep them busy with vaguely medievalish make-work, of a conventional kindergarten or elementary school sort. Medieval pages did not go to page school, they served dinner, ran errands, and generally made themselves useful—activities that I think most children, given the choice, prefer to sitting down cutting up paper and pasting it together.

—Cariadoc of the Bow (Middle)

Let me preface this by saying I have no children of my own but have several close SCA friends with children. I feel that the SCA has so much to offer to persons of any age group that it would be unthinkable to push the children out because they are sometimes a little inconvenient.

Trimaris has a co-op child care program called "House Hobby Horse" which, like so much in the SCA, is based on high ideals which are hard to live up to. The idea behind the co-op is that each parent will assist with child care for a couple of hours during the event in exchange for knowing that they have a place to leave their child while they are needed elsewhere. The children play games, learn crafts, read stories, and generally have much more fun than they would sitting through meetings, etc. They even have early feast (an hour or two before the "adult" feast) occasionally. Children get into the event (and feast) for half price, and no family pays more than three adult fees (including feast). Sounds perfect right? Well…, not if the parents (apparently like their counterparts in other kingdoms) don't do their part by volunteering a little of their time to make it successful. Too often I have the dubious privilege of having my class, feast, conversation, or tent/cabin disrupted by children running about without adult supervision and getting into all sorts of messes from nearly drowning to breaking the water pump for the site. I and many of my friends who do not have children don't feel comfortable talking to SCA parents about their choice (or lack of) in child care/rearing. I wish that programs like House Hobby Horse were supported and utilized, and that children were entertaining themselves with whatever they may, or accompanying their parents to activities which they couldn't possibly enjoy.

—Elfwyn de Barfleur (Trimaris)

Maybe I should apologize to someone quickly, but I really cannot say I disagree with one word of Bishop Geoffrey d'Ayr of the East Kingdom when it comes to his article on children. If it was written to launch an argument, all I can do is support him. My obsession with events is Arts and Sciences. I would like to see an A&S forum at every event; a documentation exchange, a display of current projects, a class, anything. The difference is when I suggest these things and logistics are appropriate, I am willing to tend them until their completion. In my experience (everywhere but Caerthe) most parents aren't willing to do this with children's activities. I have a great deal of respect for the people who have the patience and the attitude necessary to deal with children of any age. I am not one of them.

I love it when somebody does children's activities because it means they will be out of my hair. I can see them and interact with them (I'm good for a story or craft) then there is someone else to turn them over to when it gets out of control. I don't condemn people for bringing children to events. I praise the ones who can manage their children in public. We are a family organization in my opinion. What I do condemn is the people who do not watch their children and expect me to pick up where they have never started.

I do know someone who is interested in starting a Page School or coordinate Fostering, if he knew where to start.

—Ragnell Gry (Outlands)

Bish's views on children were heartbreaking and harsh. I have two children, both of whom are paid members. They have been brought up in the Society. My almost-12-year-old daughter, Kyla, received a Promise of the Outlands last year as a result of her "willingness to serve and entertain." My son Dane (9 years) participates actively. He loves wearing garb (he's usually the first of our family to have his on), loves boffer fighting, takes other children on various adventures, and I can't think of one time that they offended or hurt anyone.

It seems to me that if Bish would start looking for the good in these kids he would see a lot of potential and worth. On the other hand, I also agree with Mirhaxa's approach. There are some children whose parents are the real problem. I could name a few but ThinkWell law doesn‘t allow it. These folks probably don't read it (TW) anyway.

—Lady Susan the Midwife (Outlands)

TIME LIMITS ON BARONS

The procedures for removal and replacement of barons were put in not to save barons from "‘crazy' reactionaries," but from spiteful kings who would remove a baron and put in a buddy without regard to whether the barony liked the idea or not.

You said "Extremism is the only rein on the baron." That's like saying the board is the only rein on a king. What happened to advisement, persuasion, consensus, inspiration, and good old fashioned manipulation? I assume you're thinking of a case of someone who's not susceptible to the above.

—AElflaed of Duckford (Outlands)

A resounding Hurrah! for the suggestion of warranted barons. Having joined the SCA during a time of heavy political upheavals in our barony (which eventually led not only to the Baron and Baroness passing on their coronets, but to the baron returning his white belt and dropping out altogether) I am well aware of how the changing of barons can affect a group. Our group is still recovering and it's been 3+ years. A warrant would solve so much!!!

—Lady Elfwyn de Barfleur (Trimaris)

I've been Baron Skraeling Althing only for a couple of years; my Lady wife (Enid Aurelia) has been Baroness for over ten. The office (at least as practiced here) has no power. Thus there seems little need for the legal "checks and balances." But, I see few of those below kingdom level. It is, in the Middle, up to each group or superior officer to establish terms. I may expound later, but local option sort of works.

—Henry of Linlithgow (Middle)

There are two aspects to the problem, for which time limits is an attempted solution. First, barons (meaning barons and baronesses, as in Mistress Angela's comments) have acquired authority over their baronies. Second, in spite of this there is no routine, no confrontational means of getting rid of one.

Barons were originally intended simply to provide a ceremonial focus for groups which were so far from the center of their kingdom that they seldom if ever got to see royalty holding court. Strictly to reign, NOT to rule. But almost from the first, barons started acting like they had authority, and frequently managed to convert their pretensions into reality. Thus the real problem is not that barons do not have term limits like other officers, but that they do not have term limits and standard methods of selecting new holders like the Crown or Coronet. Make no mistake about it, the way barons act (in most cases) is much closer to the way the Crown acts than to the way an officer would act. Right down to handing out awards of a sometimes startling variety of types.

This is avoided only in the few places which are so isolated that they have been made Palantine Baronies. Here the fact that the Baron rules is dealt with by converting him to a Prince-in-all-but-name. He is selected by regular competition of some kind. He holds the position for a set period of time. The only difference between a Palantine Baron and a Prince is the size of the population over which they rule.

Which points up the second aspect of the problem: having created an unacknowledged (at least officially) but real type of absolute ruler for some of our members, no method has been set up to routinely change over. If the baron were strictly a ceremonial figure as originally envisioned, this would perhaps not matter very much. But as things have worked out in reality, we have founding barons who have been in place for nearly 20 years and who have such a grip on their barony that it is effectively impossible to participate in the group unless you are willing to play their way—including acknowledging their supreme power over everything that happens in the Barony.

On balance, I think that warranting is the wrong approach to solving the problem. It would be better to convert every barony to a palantine barony (except those which would rather become provinces and avoid the problems that way). It isn't necessary that the baron be selected by combat. The Barony of the Far West, in Japan and Korea, chooses one by combat and one by an arts competition each year. It seems to work for them. The founding baron could still be the individual who was responsible for getting the group going, as now, but after six months or a year he would give way to the first of a long succession of palantine barons.

In addition to the benefits for the immediate problem, there are some side benefits which may also be mentioned. One of the reasons that some kings (including queens; see above) do badly, especially in their first reign, is that they are learning on the job. We have seen a very noticeable difference between those of our kings who have been prince of one of our principalities first (a majority these days) and those who have not had that opportunity to learn the sovereign job first. A term as a palantine baron might similarly give some individuals a chance to learn the job before mucking up the job of prince.

—William the Lucky (West)

To Angela of Rosebury,
Does the phrase "opening a can of worms" strike a familiar note?

First, let me say that I fully support the idea of such time limits or terms for the office of Baron/ess; I don't believe that any office should be a life sinecure.

In the East, to the best of my knowledge, all baronies are life appointments except my home, Bhakail. From the very first, we decided that we would regard the baron as an elective office with a two year term, renewable ad infinitum if the barony so wished. (Lest anyone freak unduly, we all recognize that our "elections" are to determine who the barony will recommend to the Crown for appointment, and that the crown is under no obligation to enfeoff the person we recommend, or even someone who was a candidate in the election!)

By and large this has worked; we have had reasonable people as baron and/or baroness (here we have no rule requiring or even encourage either singles or couples; we gets what we gets) and the elections have run pretty smoothly.

The flip side, however, is that when it doesn't run smoothly, you can have disaster. Ours was mainly caused by the fact that we tried to get away without writing down our rules; eventually we had to come up with a set of written rules governing our elective process and a few other pieces of business. But what we discovered about the system of having terms is that when you do have an "unfortunate" incumbent or a disputed election, it becomes a horrible breeding ground for factionalism.

Our rather regrettable problem wasn't exactly a problem of epic proportions, but was bad enough that the Crown felt it necessary to intervene and tell us not to hold an election for a year until things had cooled down (leaving me stuck as Vicar) and we still have a few twinges of harsh feeling over the whole business. Like any "club" election, you are going to get the phenomenon of people voting for their friends or against their "enemies" and there will be people elected for their personalities rather than for their competence.

Perhaps warranting like an office rather than popular election would be a better system; but how does the Crown decide who to warrant? Have a Kingdom Baron-meister who makes recommendations, the way a Kingdom Herald would recommend a new pursuivant? Or ask the group who they want (i.e. put it up for an election, at least in many groups!)?

While it is most often patently obvious who should become the founding Baron/ess of a group, it is never that obvious who is the most deserving to succeed! And "deserving" isn't always the criterion that should be used.

So, yes—I think that a term limit is a good idea and would urge that it be seriously considered as an alternative to the current system in most groups, [but we need to] be aware of, and prepared to deal with, the pitfalls of those alternatives.

—Bishop Geoffrey d'Ayr etc. (East)

It just so happens that I've been thinking about this one lately (because the rumor mill has it that the East is considering time limits), and I could not disagree more strongly with Mistress Angela.

I certainly concur that the process of selecting a Baron brings out a lot of the nastiest politics that the SCA can produce, and that a lot of heartache can result from the current system. But requiring Barons to step down after a specific amount of time just makes things worse!

Let me give you a situation. Carolingia has, for the past thirteen years, had Sir Patri du Chat Gris as its Baron. He is quite well-loved by the Barony as a whole, and no one has, in my memory (eight years) ever even suggested replacing him. (Indeed, Patri has several times nearly had to move out-Barony, and the prospect of losing him has caused an immense amount of worry.)

Now, if we have upper limits on the time that one can be Baron, what does Carolingia get? We will suddenly find ourselves experiencing politics that we left behind years ago!

[Some groups in the East have baronial elections written right into their group's charter, and it works well for them, but to mandate it for all groups would be unfair. When the current system works well it should be left alone.]

....unlimited terms of office were the norm [in the Middle Ages]…. Getting a new King every six months is strange—having a Baron for life is not.

As I allude to above, there is nothing requiring a group to have a Baron for life. Many branches have charters that call for elections every (say) two years; this is usually because there isn't a clear candidate when the charter is written, and they want to make sure that they aren't permanently stuck with a bozo. It seems a sensible solution for such groups; I just ask that those of us who do have excellent Barons not be required to get rid of them.

—Justin du Coeur (East)

Clarifying time from the mediator: People in kingdoms where some groups have charters or constitutions should be aware that this practice is neither mentioned nor recommended in Corpora.

I'm not referring to a paper saying "Now you're a real group," but to a formal set of rules (like a bitty set of laws) to describe the daily workings of the local group.

There are whole kingdoms which have never heard of such a thing as what Justin refers to as a local charter, and all groups are governed by kingdom law and Corpora, period. Being from one of the latter, the idea of charters bothers me as odd and foreign, but also as something which, once set down, has to contain means for its own maintenance. That means giving barons and baronial officers powers not governed by Corpora, and it means having to appeal upward to kingdom to settle disputes (if any) over amendments or interpretations of the charter, and so I've always hoped and prayed the idea would stay wherever all it is and not get any closer to me. The potential for problems for the kingdom and kingdom seneschal are large. At its worst it can be a violation of Corpora.

Since this publication is going out with my own return address on it, I feel compelled to say to anyone who's thinking, "Hey, our barony ought to get one of those things!": The existence of "constitutions" for local groups is not endorsed by this publication. Any who live in a group ‘governed' by a formal document should live a long and happy life, in full awareness that others can and do lead happy lives far from such documents.

—AElflaed of Duckford (Outlands)

I was founding baron of Bryn Madoc. I rode the chair for eight years. At the end of that time, I was tired, the folks were ready for a change (in fact, past ready for a change), and the group was paying the price for my inertia. That our changeover went as smoothly as it did was entirely due to the excellent people we've got in the barony; indeed, all the good fortune which Bryn Madoc has enjoyed can be attributed to our having (for the most part) folks who were willing to "check their egos at the door" when the time came to make the right decisions for the good of the group. They were even able to convince me that it was best for everyone if I step down, even when I thought I could "work through it," that it was "just a phase" I was going through.

I'm not sure I'm comfortable with a formal warranting process. I have, however, come to believe that a "vote of confidence" taken regularly would be of real value as a monitor on the "state of the baronial seats." Thanks to Mistress Angela for a very thought-provoking essay on this subject, which so obviously touches a nerve with me.

—AEdward of Glastonburh (Meridies)

CALL FOR TRIVIA
Which baronies still have their founding baron and/or baroness? Please send the baron/ess's name, the name of the barony, and how long since that first investiture. Some will still be in because their barony is new, but send it anyway. Whether you're glad they're still in shouldn't be published here, but the list itself would be very interesting.

HOW IMPORTANT IS SCA MEMBERSHIP?
and the Meaning of Life
and the Purpose of ThinkWell

This is not about membership. This is about William the Lucky's comment on membership in #5: "However I see nothing to be gained by arguing it out here." There's as much to be gained by arguing membership as arguing anything else in ThinkWell. The people reading this are thinkers and doers, writers and teachers. The level of understanding and tolerance of at least a part of the Society will have been improved. That's an absolute gain.

My original questions and opinions have to do with the strong feeling of many in the Outlands that non-members shouldn't even be allowed to participate in the fighting, or to enter contests to get prizes (arts fairs and the like). It's healthy for us to hear another opinion, and people who don't think membership should ever be a factor need to know there are many people who disagree wholeheartedly with them.

I like to think this entire exercise is training up kingdom officers, royalty and future board members who will have a solid understanding of the types of kingdom differences which exist now and will develop in the future so that the practice of judging one kingdom by another's standards will seem an archaic, stodgy, unacceptable practice in years to come. That's all. No big deal.

—AElflaed of Duckford (Outlands)

NEXT ISSUE will have more from Cariadoc on why he feels membership should not be required.

SUGGESTIONS for TOPICS
from AEdward of Glastonburh
In future issues we might touch upon:
  1. Home Rule—Too Much of a Good Thing?
  2. Well, what should we be spending the money on?
  3. The Board—Myth or Fiction?
  4. What do you mean, I can't wear this?
  5. I'm a volunteer—you can't make me!
Hey, if we're gonna stir the pot, let's use a BIG spoon!

In what ways has the SCA affected your mundane life
for the better?
for the worse?

My four years in the SCA have given me an outlet for creative ideas which are not common or valued in the mundane world, and have acquainted me with a wonderful group of friends who not only appreciate the things I enjoy, but also share those interests with me. Through my association with the SCA I have developed more self confidence, have overcome shyness, and have learned that I can do anything if I really set my mind to it, including overcoming physical limitations.

Unfortunately, not every association in the SCA is positive. I have found that despite the high ideals of the SCA, the members are still typically human with their own wants and needs often taking precedence over other considerations. So often politics and petty jealousy seem to dominate the interplay between SCA members. However, I feel that as long as we set high ideals to aspire to and continue to try to improve ourselves, we have something here that is unique and worth saving.

—Elfwyn de Barfleur (Trimaris)

I met my husband at the first Outlands-Atenveldt War. We got married seven months later. I am very happy. There are a lot of other ways, but that is the best.

I lost my best friend not long after I joined because she was afraid we would steal her baby and eat it.

—Ragnell Gry (Outlands)

My better: Got me to travel and meet people I otherwise would have never known. My worse: Delayed my Masters thesis by years.

—Eimile Seilide as Draeghean (Ansteorra)

Being in the SCA has given me a real family. I am an only child, and my parents live in Trimaris. But as a Montfort (boos may start now), I have a chosen family. If most of us in Oertha dropped out of the SCA tomorrow, we would remain very close. I can't say my mundane work skills were improved: I brought my mundane organizational skills into the SCA. But I learned all my cooking and needlework in the SCA. On the downside, I ceased being active in other types of activist organizations, like Greenpeace and NOW (yup, I'm an old hippie from the 60s, and proud of it!)

—MistressMorgana yr Oerfa

THINKWELL TRIVIA

On 10/2/91 there hadn't been time for people to respond to Issue #5, and I already had 7 pages of Issue #6.

Here are the ever-popular subscriber counts by kingdom. When you're imagining how many people are reading your articles, remember that many of these which show up as single numbers are actually couples, and that each person or couple is getting two, and that some of the extra copies are going to meetings, to SCA sweat-shops, to the coffee tables of houses full of SCA people, and I haven't heard of anyone throwing their back issues away.

64 Subscribers as of October 22, 1991
(changes in boldface)
WEST 7
EAST 5
MIDDLE 4
ATENVELDT 5
MERIDIES 4
CAID 5
ANSTEORRA 1
ATLANTIA 2
AN TIR 2
CALONTIR 1
TRIMARIS 2
OUTLANDS 26
(some may lapse; we await word)


To prevent loss of sleep due to curiosity: the number in the upper left corner of the front page is my charge account number at the copy center (I don't remember numbers very well), and the multi-color printing on the envelopes is done with a plastic, manual Japanese printing toy (can't think of a better way to describe it) which prints all those colors at once, from a sort-of-like silk screen which is burned (with battery-powered flash bulbs) into a sort of cellulose frame which holds ink, and each impression is done by hand, they dry, that's it. I've had my printer for about six years. It costs me about $4 worth of supplies (bulbs, screen, ink) each time I print. The tool/thingie is called "Riso Print Gocco." I guess it's Japanese for printing toy thing. It runs around $100 and Albuquerque seems to be one of the few places in the country where they can be had; a local calligrapher is a dealer or importer or something. Several al-Barranians own them, and we print dags for tourney fields and tents (among other exciting things).

TRIVIA COLLECTING
DOUBLE PEERAGE/SAME DATE
(additions in boldface)

Nerissa Meraud de la Fontaine, [Laurel and Pelican], West Kingdom (Oertha)
Flavia Beatrice Carmigniani [Laurel and Pelican], West
Ambrose Celidonis [Laurel and Pelican], Caid
Elriin of Hrassvelg [KSCA and Laurel], West
Enid Aurelia [Laurel and Pelican], Middle, at the same Pennsic

[Freana Geardsson, Pelican and MSCA (change from KSCA)] Ansteorra

Fern de la Forêt [Order of the Rose, KSCA] "Middle's only female knight"
--I wouldn't have put this one in, as I wasn't thinking of royal patents, but in light of Artan's comments I'll leave it in this once.

TRIPLE PEERS
ARE THERE MORE THAN THESE?
(KSCA or MSCA, Pelican and Laurel) [additions since #3 are boldfaced]:

REQUEST FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION FROM WILLIAM THE LUCKY: "As long as you are gathering information on triple peers, why not check on which order they got their peerages in? Would any trend we found say anything about the relative difficulty of getting the various peerages? (Even a glaringly obvious pattern might not prove anything about relative difficulty, but as least it has something more than simple opinion as a basis!)"

Raymond the Quiet Outlands
Stefan of the Wanderers Outlands
Steffen de Loraine West
Hilary of Serendip West
William the Lucky West
Lars the Fierce Calontir
Trude Lacklandia West Laurel/Aten other
Henrik of Havn West
Siegfried von Hoflichskeit West
Robert of Dunharrow [6] West
Jon FitzRolf West
James Greyhelm West
Elriin of Hrassvelg West
Khaalid al-Jarad West
Edward of Gendy An Tir K&L/East
Sigmund the Wingfooted (C/L/P) Ansteorra
Ludwig von Lemminghaus An Tir
Gerhard Kendal of Westmoreland An Tir
Scellanus of Skye An Tir
William of the Shire Atenveldt
Cariadoc of the Bow Middle
Eowyn says there are no triple peers in Caid. Are there other kingdoms where the answer is "none"?

WHO HAS RULED MORE THAN ONE KINGDOM? [additions since #3 are boldfaced]:
Christopher of Hoghton (West/Atenveldt/Outlands)
[the only ruler of three]
Christopher of Hoghton
(the only ruler of three)
West/Atenveldt/Outlands
Cariadoc East/Middle
Finnvarr East/Middle
Gyrth Oldcastle East/Atlantia
Melisande de Belvoir East/Atlantia
Frederick of Holland East/West
Nicorlyn of Caer Wydyr East/West
Lyn Whitewolf Atenveldt/Caid
Jonathan de Laurfson Atenveldt/Ansteorra
Willow de Wisp Atenveldt/Ansteorra
Albert von Dreckenveldt Middle/Atenveldt
Selene of the Sky Middle/Atenveldt
Aaron Brek Gordon Meridies/Trimaris
Branwyn Meridies/Trimaris
Verron Meridies/Trimaris
Ronald West/East
Michael of Bedford East/Atlantia
Carissa of Burgundy East/Atlantia
Bertrand de Flammepoing East/Atlantia
Gregory of York West/Caid
("The first and last Caidan king of the West"—Eowyn )
Barak Hanno von Halstern East/Caid
Steingrim Stellari (West/An Tir?)


At Last !!!

                The Revised Edition of Ye Headless House Fighters Handbook and Training Manual is now available!
> Everything from basic armor requirements, stance, and blows, to advanced fighting techniques and training drills.

Not to be confused with the SCA's Fighter's Handbook, this is not an encyclopedia, but a training manual organized into a series of lessons which can benefit everyone from novice to expert!

All this can be yours for a mere $8.00 (plus $2.00 book rate postage; $4.00 for Canadian addresses).

Send your check or money order to:
William Jouris
. . . .

2006 note: If anyone knows whether these can still be procured on paper or electronically, please let me know. Sandra@SandraDodd.com
News in May 2011; still available!


2006 note:
Remember this was all 1991, and is provided for historical purposes.
In This Issue:

WHY IS SO MUCH OF THIS ABOUT PEERAGE?

WHY ARE YOU STILL IN THE SCA?

OFFERING PEERAGE
Now or Later?

ACCEPTING BLOWS

CARIADOC OF THE BOW

EQUALITY OF THE PEERAGES AND
SOME BASIC DIFFERENCES

THE SOLE AND EXCLUSIVE RIGHT…

NEW VOICES THIS MONTH

Susan the Midwife

Eimile Seilide as Draeighean

Ragnell Gry

Elfwyn de Barfleur

Mark Lasie of Westminster

Aziza al Kashani

HERALDRY

ARTAN MacAILIN BIO

US and THEM

OFFERING PEERAGE

FEALTY

THE CHIVALRY AS AGGIES

GEOGRAPHICAL FACTORS

RELATIONSHIP OF KNIGHT TO SQUIRE
and Pelicans' Apprentices
and belt colors and stuff like that

PEERAGE VS.
THE PEERAGE ORDERS

FORMALITY

KINGDOM DIFFERENCES

"The Dream"

PEERAGE ORDERS:
HOW THEY CONDUCT
THEIR OWN BUSINESS

SCRIBAL BACKLOG

CAMPAIGNING FOR PEERAGE

PEER FEAR

CHILDREN

TIME LIMITS ON BARONS

and the Meaning of Life
and the Purpose of ThinkWell

TRIVIA COLLECTING

In what ways has the SCA affected your mundane life
for the better?
for the worse?

TRIPLE PEERS


Copyright © Sandra Dodd 1991, 2006


Notes   
and missives: