achieving Peerage

Mark Wallace blackfox.mwal at
Sun Jan 26 18:23:14 PST 1997

Unto the subscribers of the Ansteorra List does Master William Blackfox send
fair greetings:

	There is a current discussion about the relative ease or difficulty of
achieving Knighthood or any other peerage.  I feel that I have a tidbit of
wisdom to add to the soup.

	I have encountered any number of people who have not only failed to
comprehend the time, effort and traditions involved in acheiving Knighthood
(or any other peerage),  I have known people who refused to accept the
validity of any of it.

	Some time ago, one individual actually advanced a proposal whereby
everybody in the SCA could be made very,very happy.  
	"Everybody wants to be a Knight," this person said,"so why not make
everybody a knight?"
	"We'll make a "knight a day" until everybody is a knight and then everybody
will be happy, won't they?  Well, won't they?"
	Frankly the only thing that made this person give the idea up was that
people stopped listening.  In my opinion, this person had noticed that
Knights had a great deal of influence, had determined that they could never
acheive it by conventional means and (with a sincerity born of purest
ignorance) made this proposal in order to acheive knighthood quickly and
cheaply, oblivious of the notion that when everyone was a knight, nobody
would carry the unique cache of the order.  

>From my first days in the SCA I admired the knights and learned of the
qualifications and the difficulties.  I never got far enough to attract the
attention of a knight and I was just glad to be one of the gunchers.
	We all saw the time, effort and dedication involved in getting a belt. 
There was always a certain price to pay, but the cache of Knighthood in the
SCA still carries a special something that makes the SCA as special a place
to be as it is.
	In the same way that a great athlete must learn and polish his game for
years before becoming a super-star, it must take years for even a uniquely
talented fighter to learn the higher aspects of the sport and the ideals
required by tradition as well as Corpora in order to qualify for knighthood.
 Without that, how much could the accolade possibly be worth?  
	What is so telling is the relatively small number of fighters who acheive
the belt. 

	Now as to the matter of attitude, there is perforce a huge contrast in the
attitudes to be taken by those who pursue peerage.  I shall cite my
perceptions of the contrast between squires and proteges.
	A squire accepts a bright red belt which is visible from dozens of yards
away.  They are boldly proclaiming to all around them that they are in
pursuit of Knighthood.  Of this, they must be given the leeway to be so
forward about their ambitions.  Fighting isn't like ballroom dancing.  The
Chivalry is the most prominent and visible of the orders and they must
accustom themselves to the situation.
	The protege of a Pelican wears an unobtrusive green belt or cord which can
be lost in a person's garb.  Being a volunteer and serving the Society is
not meant to be showy or obvious.   Pels and Laurels display their regalia
on little necklaces which are not obvious from more than a few paces away,
so we can become lost in a crowd.  It is a long, hard row to hoe when one is
toiling amongst so many other people who aren't doing it to get a Pel.
	Squires must practice constantly, travel to far-flung tourneys, win as many
of them as possible and become an object of general conversation.
	Proteges really can't get away with being too flashy, but they can become a
remarkable personality if they extend themselves in initiating some project
which supports or enriches either  one's kingdom as a whole or even extended
parts of the SCA.  
	The time required to become a knight in Ansteorra varies from person to
person, probably based on ability, availablility for travel and skill
development.  For other aspects, I suggest you ask a knight for only they
have the perspective of what they had to go through.
	With Pels (if I am any example) the time involved is much longer no matter
how you slice it.
	One can appreciate someone who makes a fluttering blur of themselves in
their first years in the SCA by autocratting something at every turn,
organizing this, helping at that and becoming indispensable.  It may help
the SCA, but one must ask if this is too much too fast.  Is such a person
liable to burn out?  If they don't, how do they react to the prospect of
advancement in the SCA's heirarchy?
The most difficult phase in the chase is what has come to be called "Peerage
Fever".  This comes when a deserving person gets wind that they are
...possibly... being considered for a peerage.  As time passes and one's
accomplishments stack up, that person may start grumbling about how unfair
it is to have the accolade held up for so long.  This was the trap I fell
	Whether I was deserving or not, I became too convinced that I deserved the
Pel and should get it.   As the months passed by, I would sound off to
friends at events out of Kingdom who were peers.  I thought that this was
just blowing off steam.  Actually, my friends mailed communiques to my Crown
in an honest effort to get things going.  All this did was make me come off
as a whiner and things got pushed back even further.
	Finally I was taken aside by my patron, who asked a very telling question:
	"How many people do you think are being considered at any one time for a
	"Oh, 6 or 8," I replied.
	"Actually," she said," it's generally 2.  Over a dozen candidates have made
the other slot and either fallen away or been elevated.  Out of the tens
upon tens of deserving people whose names are never brought up in circle,
YOU, you dummy, you've been on the top of the list for over 3 years! So
quitcher bitchin', do your stuff and put it out of your mind!"
	My Lords and ladies. . .I cried my eyes out then and there because I
realised that I was too selfish to appreciate my situation.  
	I lost all interest in the procedings of the Pelicans, did my stuff as
usual and the accolade arrived all too quickly. 
	Phooey!  The system really works!

	I hereby relate this to all who read this:  You may rest assured that your
selfless, dedicated service to your Shire, Barony, Kingdom or to the Society
in general IS being observed and appreciated.  You don't need to do a buck
and wing, you don't need suck up to the big Brass (the taste is awful) and,
if you did it right, you wouldn't even need a green belt.  Just remember
that a certain old saw applies here; The wheels of time grind slow but
exceedingly fine.
	Do your stuff.
	Quitcher bitchin'.
	I'm watching.
	I'm not the only one, either.

	Yours in service,

	William Blackfox
	Companion of the Order of the Pelican
	Court Baron
	et alphabet soup

	Diatribes may be directed to: blackfox.mwal at

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