Bright Ideas and True Confessions: How and What to Do and Why

Introductions in the Society
Ælflæd of Duckford

When SCA folk are left to their own introductions, they are often very friendly and outgoing and polite, and the relationships are screwed up from the start. I had a long talk with some people in my own barony, when after one summer during which a huge number of new people joined the group, it became apparent that they were nearly every one confused about the relative ranks and titles of all the older members they'd met. One who had palled up close to a count would assume he was outranked by various other barons and viscounts, only to find out months into the relationship who it was he'd really been hanging around with. Everyone had a story. I rarely use "Countess," and usually use "Mistress." On the class proposal forms for TFYC I wrote "Countess" and a friend said "Why aren't you using your highest title?" When I told her that was my highest title, she was appalled.

On one hand this looks like a story of lack of education. On the other hand, much of the problem could have been avoided if we were accustomed to formal introductions. If a guy comes up in the park and says "Hi, I'm Bobby," and our friend Jeff says, "I'm Artan," then that's very friendly of Artan, and three weeks later if Bobby sticks around he may be embarrassed to be calling him "Artan" rather than "Sir" or "Your Grace."

Consider this possible solution: If a newcomer or visitor approaches a group of people at fighter practice or a tournament, one of the group should introduce the others. That way all the titles can be recited, and the individuals' modesty preserved. You can blush prettily while someone says that you're a baroness and a mistress of the laurel, and everyone involved will feel better and know more. One of the people in the group should then properly introduce the first speaker who, in his mannered humility, didn't recite all of his own titles. Now the visitor has heard everyone's set of "stuff," and no individual had to say "I'm a countess, and a laurel, and a pelican, and blah blah blah blah."

Here's a suggested sort of introduction, you introducing your guest who has no titles to your friend who's a duke:

"Your Grace, this is my friend Carol. Carol, this is Duke Johann. He's a knight, and an armorer."

That's a kind of introduction for a newbie or non-SCA person. How about introducing someone who is actually in the Society to a king?

"Your Majesty, may I present Lady Elizabeth, my apprentice"
or ". . . your subject from Foxrot"
or ". . . the chronicler of Caerthe."

Don't also then name the king. The assumption is that anyone in a position to be introduced to the king knows who he is (and even his name).

When introducing two ranking people, neither of whom has ever met the other, address the higher ranking person first, like this:

"Your Grace, this is Sir AEdgar of Brambleditch, from Atenveldt, who was once Sir Gunther's squire. Sir AEdgar, this is Duchess Wulfrun, who has been Queen of both the Outlands and of Ansteorra, and who is one of the finest poets I have ever known." [1] Lovely enough; now you can leave them to discuss Sir Gunther or poetry if they want to, or hang around and if no conversation strikes up, say something nice to Duchess Wulfrun and take off with AEdgar.

When you introduce someone or announce him in court or in a processional, it's possible to get two or more positions or ranks in without using two titles, if you're careful.

"His Grace, Sir Koris Natterhelm, Master of the Pelican" (3 honors)
"Her Excellency, Baroness Kathryn of Iveragh, Mistress of the Laurel and of the Pelican, and Lady of the Rose" (4, with no repeats and no doubles)
"His Lordship, Aleyn Douglas" (1, grant of arms; Lord Aleyn Douglas, GA, is not good)

It's never good form (except maybe in formal processionals, if the royalty is interested in a full-blown set of introductions) to go through every single award a person has unless there are only two or three. Two or three is enough to announce for anybody at one sitting. It is possible to lump them by saying "and His Excellency has several awards for the teaching and encouragement of martial skills" or "Lady Mary has received three different arts awards for her cooking." It's awkward to say that. I think it's better to just name a couple of the highest, or the one or two that might interest the person present, and leave the rest to be discovered later. It's also awkward (and I say this from personal experience) when someone says "and she has every award in the world" or "I could never name all the awards she has." This is really embarrassing, and there's not a good response. On behalf of anyone who has more awards than you can name, say something nice about their service or talents if you want to, but please don't razz them about the awards.

[1] Fictional—don't try to look these people up.

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