ANST - Patent of Arms

Tim McDaniel tmcd at
Thu Nov 6 21:18:48 PST 1997

On Thu, 6 Nov 1997, Robert Ruiz <raruiz at> wrote:
>  What are patent of arms?

A Patent of Arms is granted by the Heraldic Patent Office.  If you
invent a new heraldic charge, you can register it by giving the HPO a
working model.  You get exclusive rights to it for 17 years, but you
can license it to other people for a fee simple if you like.

Sorry.  I like silly jokes.

In the SCA, some awards are called "armigerous": they convey the
nominal "right to bear [a coat of] arms".  They come in three levels;
from low to high, they are Award of Arms, Grant of Arms, and Patent of
Arms.  Well, you can call "non-armigerous" a level too, if you want.
Usually, all AoA awards rank below all GoA awards rank below all PoA
awards.  (Certain offices tend to be exceptions.  Also, that's formal
rank.  "Lion of Ansteorra, Defender of the Dream" is non-armigerous,
but since it's given at most once per reign to truly exceptional
people, its holders have very high public esteem.)

Ansteorra uses all three levels of armigerous awards.  Examples of
AoA-level awards are bare AoAs, Sable Thistle (given for expertise in
the field of _something_), Sable Crane (given for service).  Some
GoA-level awards: Iris of Merit (for major expertise in arts and
sciences), Star of Merit (for major service); bare GoAs are extremely
rare.  There are levels of fighting awards; sorry, but I don't know
them, except I know the Centurion (rattan fighting) and White Scarf
(rapier fighting) are grant-level.

The PoA-level awards: Order of the Laurel (for mega-expertise in arts
and sciences), Order of the Pelican (for mega-service above and beyond
the call of stupidity), Order of the Chivalry (for mega-stick jocks),
and in some kingdoms ex-royalty.  There are other requirements that
apply to all peerages: roughly speaking, they should be an all-around
exemplar, they should teach, they should serve, they should have
knowledge of period arts and sciences.  Bare PoAs (not associated with
those orders or ranks) cannot be given.

In the real Middle Ages, there was no such distinction.  In places
where the right to a coat of arms was actually granted, you were
awarded and granted arms by letters patent, or some such.  In most
places in most of period, there was no granting of arms; you took
whatever arms you like (assumption of arms).  In some places where
there was granting of arms, people still assumed arms, though there
might be legal penalties if you got caught.

In the SCA, even without an armigerous award, one can still bear what
looks to all the world like a coat of arms.  Since one is not
armigerous, it's simply called "a device" rather than "arms".  In
real-world heraldry, "device" means something different.

In short, the SCA award system has bugger all to do with past or
present reality, or with logic.

Daniel de Lincoln
Tim McDaniel; Reply-To: tmcd at
tmcd at is wrong tool.  Never use this.
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