[Ansteorra] A social aside (was tractions and problems)

lanphier taylor jonwillowpel at juno.com
Thu Aug 1 16:00:58 PDT 2002

Noblesse Oblige was codified by the Victorian. As were the Code of
Chivalry and rules of Courtesy. Many of the "ought of beens" come from
the writings about the middle ages that came into being during the
Victorian period. But the Victorian notions were based on the writings of
the middle ages.   It is true that the noble thought little about the
average commoner but he did believe that he owed duty to his men of his
own class. This just made common sense. When you went to war you needed
your knights to back you up. If you didn't do your duty to your vassals
they would do their duty to you. The untitled individual in Ansteorrra
isn't a commoner. He or she is a junior member of the noble class. They
are in the same situation that William Marshall was for 40 years. Then he
became the most powerful man in England. Period wittings are very clear
that you should be polite and do right with your underling because
someday he could be your lord.

When Ansteorrians  had strong personas Noblesse Oblige made a lot of
sense. It was very interesting that Ansteorrian's nobles to go to far a
way places and the fighters from Ansteorra would gather under the highest
ranking fighting noble present. I got that honor once because I was it.
Ansteorrians expected their nobles to do right with them. If they had
problems with the marshalls they took it to their noble. If they wanted
to negotiate for fighting they took it to their noble. Nobles and peers
from all over the known world marveled at this.

The old line Ansteorrian nobles took our jobs very seriously and Noblesse
Oblige was thought to be very important. A ways back ,about 12 years ago,
we had big increase in our population and  at the same time we lost a lot
of our old people. Shortly after that we stopped stressing the role
playing and historical aspects of our game and started to stress the
dream. Many of our younger peers and nobles at the time hadn't done a lot
of the same kind of work as the older nobles and peers had done. When the
older peers and nobles stepped out of the picture the newer people didn't
think it was their dream to do that kind of work. About this time we also
started what I call "the grand experiment". This was a program built
around the concept that if we got rid of standards then everyone who fall
into the natural flow of the dream. Things would just happen. This didn't
produce result everyone expected. The everyday person doesn't really know
how to behave  in a medieval model. They have to be given information.
Things don't just happen. A new movement started with the next crop of
people trying to put the Ansteorrian culture back together again. We have
made advancement but there is still confusion.

You mentioned that you believed that the regular everyday person doesn't
have a say in the patterns of behavior that the peers and nobles
followed. This is not true. The expectations of the populace play a very
important part in the makings of new peers. We, the peers, have learned
from some very bad experiences that if the people do not think someone is
worthy of peerage it goes very hard on individual. We have lost some good
people because of this fact of life. Ever time we put a new peer into the
circles it effects the combined philosophy of the circle.  Over time this
can and has made radical differences. Regular people expression what they
would like to see in a "good" peers makes a difference. You, the people,
need to set high standards for our kingdom.

Willow de Wisp

>epts of Noblesse Oblige and knowing your place.  Noblesse
> Oblige, in
> case there are those who have not heard of this, is the Victorian
> notion of
> the obligations of the Nobility to those beneath them -- since the
> Peerage
> is superior to those beneath them, they have the obligation to care
> for
> those beneath them socially, as parents care for children (as an
> aside, this
> is the ultimate origin of the other 19th century concept of the
> "White Man's
> Burden" which helped colonialism so well).  Because your social
> place is
> assigned by God, that social position really can't change all that
> much, if
> at all. From that "a place for everything and everything in its
> place"
> culture, people were encouraged to "know their place", which would
> help them
> know what was expected of them, and what they could expect of
> others.
> Now, in such a system, it is -unthinkable- for say, me, a Gentleman
> yes, but
> still a "non-noble" to even _approach_ a noble without some great
> reason,
> much less talk to them and ask them how to do something.  Not
> because I
> suffer from "peer fear" (since clearly I don't :) ), but because
> it's
> socially inappropriate to do so.  They can approach me and talk to
> me to
> their hearts content, and I can respond to that, but that's all.
> [For the
> record, this is how I -try- to play my persona -- although when
> dealing with
> my local peers, keeping my distance is harder]
> Now, in the US we try to pretend that we have no such social
> distinctions,
> and especially here in this part of the country, there is an
> attitude of the
> Hat's just a job, and when it's not on, I'm just like you all.  This
> is
> even, to a certain degree, implicit in the assumption that "we are
> all
> noble".
> The difficulties emerge since there IS a de facto difference between
> Peers and non-Peers (that award), to the degree that I daresay that
> many
> people view the SCA Peers *as* the Nobility, and the populace as the
> commons
> [for which you might look at long standing disagreements over time
> about the
> names given the various awards and how they are viewed.  Also the
> use of the
> term "Peer" to refer to a specific subset of the Nobility when,
> historically
> this was not the case].  The fact that we have developed a subtle
> parallel
> isn't either surprising or singular (there are other parallels -
> some far
> more annoying from an educational perspective...).  Most people just
> happen
> to SEE Peers as being different and more important than they are.
> Over the years there has developed an uncomfortable dichotomy of
> "are they
> different from the populace or aren't they", "are they like medieval
> peers
> or aren't they".  And I know this makes some people uncomfortable
> (to be
> honest, most Americans find the whole topic of social class
> distasteful and
> tend to accuse those who bring it up at all of being "snobs").  We
> really
> want to be just "one of the herd".  This stress is made more
> difficult by
> the fact that different Peers have different views on the topic.
> Now, having gone through all this, I'd like to make a suggestion, if
> I may.
> You will recall that I said I wasn't going to tell anyone the
> responsibilities of the peer, and I'm still not.  Yes, I have my
> opinions,
> but that's all they are.  I'm just going to point out that if the
> Peerage
> can't come to a consensus about how they should be viewed, treated
> or
> approached, the Populace certainly isn't in the position to do it
> for them.
> Thank you for your time.
> Diarmaid O'Duinn/Marc Carlson
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