[Ansteorra] newcomer thanks

Christie Ward val_org at hotmail.com
Wed Nov 21 08:04:38 PST 2001

>a. almost exclusively, a knight in the time period
>which the SCA recreates, had to own a horse and had to
>be able to field that horse - it was one of the
>primary distinguishing characteristics of being a
>knight -

Pshaw.  If you look at the Germanic cultures, the húskarlar, drengr or þegn
were the functional equivalents of High Medieval knights, and they
specifically were not horse-warriors -- look at the heroic poetry and you
see stuff along the lines of:

2 Het þa hyssa hwæne    hors forlætan,
  He bade every warrior then to leave his horse,

3 feor afysan,    and forð gangan,
  drive them far away and go forth,

4 hicgan to handum    and to hige godum.
  trusting to his hand-strength and to good courage.


17 Ða þær Byrhtnoð ongan    beornas trymian,
   There Byrhtnoth at once exhorted his men,

18 rad and rædde,    rincum tæhte
   rode among them and advised, taught the warriors

19 hu hi sceoldon standan    and þone stede healdan
   how they should stand and hold their station

20 and bæd þæt hyra randas    rihte heoldon
   and bade that their round-shields be held upright

21 fæste mid folman,    and ne forhtedon na.
   firmly in their fists, and to fear nothing.

22 Þa he hæfde þæt folc    fægere getrymmed,
   When he had nobly encouraged that folk,

23 he lihte þa mid leodon    þær him leofost wæs,
   he alighted among his people where he was most loved;

24 þær he his heorðwerod    holdost wiste.
   there were his hearth-retainers who were most loyal.

(Battle of Maldon, http://www.vikinganswerlady.org/Maldon.htm)

This doesn't even begin to take into account the later medieval and
Renaissance practice of awarding knighthoods for service of various sorts,
which gets discussed and documented every time the discussion cranks up
about making all the peerages "knighthoods" and distinguishing them by their
names and trappings alone -- go to the Rialto and look at the archives if
you're interested in all of that.

Being a horse warrior was perhaps the most central and distinguishing
characteristic of the knight in our period, but it was not universal by any

Actually, SCA knighthood most closely resembles the old Germanic model,
right down to the duties, oaths, and size of the warbands - see
http://www.vikinganswerlady.org/oaths.htm for details.

>b. Also, Many have witnessed some enter the crown
>tournaments who do not have the financial means or
>time , etc. to fulfill the obligations required and
>yet they are allowed to participate by giving their
>word that they do.

This is a type of deception that completely punishes the offender.  If such
a person did win, then the expenses routinely borne by the Crown will
destroy their pocketbook.  This isn't a problem that affects anyone except
the offender.

It's not a major calamady if the Crown can't go to an event every single
weekend during their reign, either.  We've gotten spoiled by the fact that
recent Crowns (recent from my view as having been in the SCA 20 years) do
travel a lot.  If you ask an old-timer, you will find that in Ansteorra's
early days, when were still a part of Atenveldt, *years* could go by when no
one ever SAW the Crown inside the territorial borders.  Ansteorra's Western
Region still knows what that feels like!

What happens if the Crown doesn't travel in such a case is that the Crown
has to rely more on the populace, peers, nobility, and officers for award
recommendations and problem-solving.  Awards can be approved by the Crown,
and They can delegate members of Their nobility to distribute them.  I have
in fact seen the Crown even ask Court Baron/esses to handle this duty for
Them in some cases, and of course the Landed Baron/esses can certainly serve
in this capacity.

So, it's a non-problem.  If a person is such a doofus that they will take
the risk of fighting and winning when there is no way that they can afford
to hold the office, it's their mundane wrack and ruination in a financial
sense that punishes them.  The rest of the kingdom goes on as always, with
maybe a little less High Ceremony if the Crown can't afford to travel
extensively.  Think of it as good practice for the rest of us in doing cool
persona things, for the nobility in holding their own local courts and doing
cool things that way as well.

>Some of these participants AND
>OTHERS have even used their influence to get
>themselves and their friends recognition (awards)
>which have not been earned. Where is the HONOR AND
>NOBILITY in this? And why is there not a means to both
>stop and rectify these situations when they arise?

I think you have a profound lack of understanding of how the awards system
works in the SCA in general and in Ansteorra specifically.

No Crown, no matter how widely travelled, wise, and good-hearted they may
be, can know personally of the virtues or lack thereof of all Their populace
members.  As a result, the Crown relies EXTENSIVELY on the recommendations
of Their landed nobility, Their peers, and letters from members of the
populace in determining which awards will or will not be granted.

If you're sitting in your living room 500 miles away from a given group, and
you have in hand 15 letters of reccomendation telling you in glowing detail
how wonderful Person X is and why Person X should be given Award Y, as Crown
you are probably going to take the word of all these fine, upstanding
subjects who have been so impressed by Person X that they have taken the
time to write you and tell you so in detail.

Conversely, it doesn't matter if Person Z, also 500 miles away, is
absolutely authentic in every detail of dress, equipment, comportment, is a
God-like artisan, a paragon of martial skill on the field, and labors
thousands of hours monthly performing service to their local group *if the
Crown doesn't hear about it*.  The Crown won't know to give them Award Y if
They have not personally seen all this work *unless someone writes and
recommends that the award be given*.

And that's just skimming the surface - there are other reasons why someone
might not get an award that I'll talk about in a second.

Meanwhile, if you see someone going without an award that you think that
they deserve, have you, personally, written the Crown yourself and told Them
all about how wonderful this person is?  And when you do so, you need to
make sure that include details - what is the person's full name, exactly
what have they been doing, for how long they have been doing it, and where
they've been doing it - so that the Crown can see exactly why you believe
that the person should have that award.  And there is nothing stopping you
from also encouraging others in the area to do likewise.  Even if it is your
first day in the SCA, you have the right, honor, and priviledge of being
able to send recommendation letters to the Crown.

OK, I also mentioned that there are other reasons why a person might not get
an award.  I'm going to take the example of a peerage, but these thoughts
apply in many ways to all awards.

In the Laurels Circle, we discuss candidates for the Laurel.  There is not a
cookbook recipe for "what is a Laurel", and SCA law and custom provide only
extremely general guidelines. Every Laurel in the Circle has their own set
of things that they look for in a candidate.  In general, (and from my point
of view, obviously) the person should be practicing their art at the same
level as the rest of the Laurels -- not necessarily in the level of purely
artistic achievement, but they should be doing work with solid craftsmanship
(including finishing details) and they should be researching what they do
and be able to document this research at least to the level of standard A&S
documentation. This is along the same lines of the other peerages -- the
candidate should excel in the specific field of endeavor along the same
lines as the existing members of that Circle, or else they are not the
"peer" of the others in the mundane sense of the word.  The second
requirement for a peerage is that the person *be* a peer (in the SCA sense
of the word) in terms of maturity, problem-solving, courtesy and so forth --
which means that it is possible for a kick-ass artisan to NOT be made a
Laurel, for instance, if they are complete jerk who sucks up to the Laurels
but tramples all over the populace or has other major behavioral

The next facet to consider is the Crown - 100% of the Laurels may want a
specific artisan elevated to the Laurel, but if the Crown doesn't agree, it
won't happen, period.  At least not until there's a new Crown who may see
the matter differently.  And the converse is true - the Circle may have a
100% unanimous NO vote on a person, and the Crown may choose to make them a
Laurel (or Knight, or Pelican, etc.) anyway.  It's not a good idea for a
Crown to disregard their Circles in this way, but it is their RIGHT to do
so, and the Crown can and does ignore the opinion of their Peerage Circles
on occasion.

How this applies to the AoA and Grant-level awards is that while you may see
Person Z doing all this cool stuff, you may not be aware that they have some
major behavioral issues of which the Crown, officers, peers, nobility etc.
have observed, and that they are not being given an award because of these

But really, the most common reason why someone doesn't get an award is just
that the Crown for whatever reason has no idea that the person needs one.
You have the power to rectify this - write the Crown yourself, and encourage
others to do so as well.

And really - having awards doesn't make you have a better real-world job,
doesn't count in St. Peter's Ledger Books at the Pearly Gates, doesn't make
you better-looking, etc.  What awards mean, at all levels, is "this person
is doing cool things, and their friends and associates noticed and told the
Crown about it."  It's a special feeling to get an award.  But what makes it
special is that the people who recommended you for it thought you were doing
cool stuff.  Having an award does not give you one iota of respect that you
have not already earned on your own.  It does make you feel good - because
it means that people do respect you and your accomplishments.


Who has cool friends who thought I was doing a lot of cool things.  And I'm
pleased that they noticed.

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