[Ansteorra] Vigils for White Scarves
Sir Lyonel Oliver Grace
sirlyonel at hotmail.com
Tue May 8 08:29:59 PDT 2007
On the matter of vigils for White Scarves, Master Robin dit qe:
>It has happened, but extremely rarely. Ansgar received his White Scarf at
>the same event that Cedric received his Laurel, and Cedric asked his friend
>Ansgar to "share" his vigil.
>The White Scarf is always in a politically sensitive position, because
>fencing is looked down on in many kingdoms, and still illegal in one. We
>cannot act like we think we're peers, but our responsibilties to the
>community parallel those of the Chivalry to the fighting community, the
>Laurels to the arts community, and the Pelicans to the service community.
>There are knights right next door in our neighbor Gleann Abhann who believe
>that we are acting like peers because we take students. Others in other
>kingdoms think we're getting "above ourselves" because we hold meetings
>the Crown. But we are expected and required to do so.
>So we need to be especially careful not to look like we're claiming peerage
>privileges we can avoid. Vigils are too close for comfort.
Perhaps this is true. I've been surprised by the level of venom toward the
rapier community in the posts on this topic on the SCA Chivalry board. The
folks in the West, An Tir, Caid, and Atenveldt don't seem to be too
concerned about it.
The folks in the Middle and the East appear to be the most harshly negative.
Several arguments have been leveled from those kingdoms by individuals
concerned that rapier fighters are gradually attempting to coopt ceremonial
aspects of the Chivalry. One of the sillier comments (I thought) came from a
Midrealm Duke who said, "no doubt next time a Bronze Ring (our grant level
fencing) is given someone will say "Hey lets have a vigil and while we are
at it were is my patent of arms?"
>From an historic perspective--both Medieval and SCA histories--the whole
vigil furor surprises me. Medievally speaking, the vigil as part of the
knighting ceremony grew out of the establishment and proliferation of the
orders of militant canons (Templars, Hospitallers, Teutonic, and so forth).
A canon was expected to sit vigil before elevation to adept status just like
any monk, nun, or priest would do, and that eventually became a requisite
step in many knighting ceremonies (there were many variations). That
incorporation did not, however, make vigils a perquisite of the Chivalry.
Anyone could sit vigil, and many did for various life-changing events:
journeymen testing for mastery, bridegrooms before their weddings, palmers
before going on pilgrimage. Also, medieval vigils were a lot less social and
celebratory than ours--typically a night spent alone in a chapel praying and
contemplating the life change in question.
SCA-ically speaking, vigils have not always been the norm. When I was
knighted in 1991, I had only seen one vigil (in the East Kingdom two years
earlier). No one offered the option, and I didn't think to ask (of course, I
was in a state of shock at the time). The next four knightings I saw in
Atenveldt all included vigils. I did not see a vigil for a Laurel or Pelican
until I came to Ansteorra. The Midrealmers say they began doing vigils at
Pennsic 10 (26 years ago), and the East appears to have begun theirs at the
same time. Across the various kingdoms, vigils have become the norm for the
peerages over the past fifteen to twenty-six years. I've also heard that a
few unbelted Crowns sat vigil on the eve of coronation. Ideologically, then,
I can see why a vigil has become synonymous with "elevation to peerage," but
I still don't see that it need be so.
Impedimentum via est
(The obstacle is the path)
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