[Ansteorra] Advice to a new Baron and Baroness
herrdetlef at gmail.com
Fri Dec 31 11:38:37 PST 2010
Okay, here I go!
Probably the trickiest thing about being a landed baron/ess is balancing the
fact that the SCA is a hobby (however seriously you may take it) with the
fact that several people will be demanding your time and energy at once.
Remember that, for many people you meet--not just newcomers but also
oldtimers--you will be the image of the Society for Creative Anachronism in
its totality. People will look to you to see what the Society is all about.
This is something that happens to anybody who plays, but landed barons and
baronesses, as well as kings and queens and princes and princesses, are the
focus of attention far more than almost anybody else is. Do you want to
inspire newcomers to become peers? Or do you want newcomers and even
established members to run screaming away?
Landed nobility rarely get to play for themselves. They are not part of
their own game but part of everybody else's game. The demands the job will
put on you outweigh the perks more than anybody could ever imagine. The
landed noble or royal who gives much thought to "what's in it for me" will
not leave a desirable legacy.
Keep in mind that you will want to overhear people say "Remember when (you)
were baron and baroness? Man, those were the days!" much more than you will
want to overhear people say "Remember when (you) were baron and baroness? We
don't ever want THAT to happen again!"
Don't play favorites. If you're ever tempted to play favorites, drop
everything and read Shakespeare's "Richard II" or Marlowe's "Edward II."
Stay away from political games or personal issues between individual members
unless it is absolutely up to you to restore the peace. Your obligation to
execute the King and Queen's law and keep the peace FAR outweighs the
privilege to get your own way. Baronies have seneshals for a reason. Respect
their judgement; if that's impossible, respect the kingdom seneshal's and
the Crown's judgement. If THAT's impossible, you seriously need to step
down. Offer your opinion when it's asked; hesitate to offer it when it isn't
asked (unless, of course, you find yourself in a groupthink
situation). Remember that the title "Baron/ess of (whatever barony)" does
not belong to you; YOU belong to the title. And since the title belongs to
the barony, so will you.
DO NOT MICROMANAGE YOUR BARONY! Tending to every detail in the barony's
operation while you also hold down a mundane job and handle mundane personal
obligations will eat you inside out. Deputize! Deputize! Deputize! Encourage
your populace to do their part.
As a court herald, I would strongly recommend that you cultivate court
ceremonies that minimize the time that any attendees are left idle. Court
ceremonies are the province of official (that is, appearing in the kingdom
Order of Precedence) awards and honors and of prizes for the day's
competitions. Nobody wants to witness something at court that they cannot
hear or understand, so private audiences during court ceremonies really
should be discouraged. The focus of a baronial court is and ought to be the
barony. Official awards are necessarily given at court ceremonies, but they
also provide a tribute to the barony's activity as a whole, and prizes also
testify to the glory of a barony. Private audiences with individuals and
groups can and should be given at other times during the event. Oaths of
fealty by peers and landed barons should be given in public at court (since
they actually affect the OP and the kingdom's history), but that really only
involves royal courts. Whatever is done in court, make sure everybody in
attendance can hear and and take part. The last thing you want to do is bore
your populace with a needlessly long, drawn-out court.
You're going to need a strong and reliable support system. A healthy
baronial household will include at least a chamberlain (to assist in
ceremonial functions), a steward (to assist with setting up and taking down
camp and related gear), a butler (to help keep track of your feast gear),
and a marshal (to help you make sure you're always at the right place at the
right time). There is a historical precedent for this set-up in Germany: the
secular electors carried out these functions in at least a ceremonial way).
A baroness should have at least two ladies-in-waiting (so, if one must be
sent on an errand, the other can stay in attendance), and a baron should
have at least two men-at-arms. The landed baron and baroness who think they
can do it all by themselves will find themselves playing catch-up during
their entire tenure. Make sure you have reliable shoulders to cry on, and
make sure you have someone on hand you can trust NEVER to break confidence.
It wouldn't hurt, also, to have someone on hand who can put you in your
place whenever you get too full of yourself for your own (or the Society's)
And for the love of G-d, find something non-SCA to do that you can escape to
every once in a while! Even though the SCA is a hobby, it will become an
occupation while you are in tenure. Cultivate an outside interest so that
you can get your mind off of SCA every once in a while. The demands a landed
baronage places upon a person can become exhausting--and the rest of the
world will not stop turning while you're representing the Crown to your
barony and your barony to the Crown, the Kingdom, and sometimes even the
Known World. Have a refuge to retreat to every once in a while. You don't
want the end of your tenure as a landed to be the end of your SCA
Speaking of the end of your tenure. It wouldn't be a bad idea to start
thinking about that soon after your tenure begins. Scout your barony for
successors. I would hesitate to suggest grooming someone specific to succeed
you, but do what you can to make sure there is a healthy field of candidates
to succeed you when the time comes. Sometimes your successors will be an
obvious choice; sometimes they will not. Plan on staying with the job about
three years. Five is possible but not always attractive. Some people can do
it beautifully; some people cannot. The length of your tenure will not have
half the bearing on your legacy that the quality of your tenure will have.
Knowing your limitations is much more heroic than trying to force yourself
to go beyond them with disastrous results. Do everything you can to make
sure that people feel good about your tenure at its end.
And then, after you step down, you'll get enjoy the game again. You'll be
able to speak your mind again, and, depending on how successful your tenure
was, your opinion will be taken seriously. And you'll also have a wealth of
experience and insight to pass on to your successors. <G>
If you find yourself putting in for a landed baronage, I have this to ask
you: "What are you, MAD???" If you've read all these words of advice on this
thread, and you still intend to go through with it, I wish you the best of
luck. I'll even pray for you, if you want me to.
Detlef von Marburg (who hopes NEVER to be a landed baron!)
On Thu, Dec 30, 2010 at 4:31 PM, Hillary Greenslade <hillaryrg at yahoo.com>wrote:
> Of late, there have been a number of new transitions for the office of
> Baron and
> Baroness (B&B) in the landed Baronies of Ansteorra, and several more to
> this season. This job is probably the hardest office of the SCA, both for
> length as well as it's depth.
> Many years ago, as I met Baron Edwin FitzLloyd of the Steppes, along a
> at an event, I asked him how he was enjoying his retirement from Baron of
> Steppes which he had vacated some few months before. After a pause, Edwin
> astutely said "It is a pleasure that the opinions I give are from Edwin,
> than the 'Baron of the Steppes'". Wisely said.
> Some of you have held the post of B&B and may have many words of advice to
> a new
> B&B. Many with years in the society, having supported your landed Baron
> Baroness, may also have words of advice. I've asked this question before
> this list and you can search the archives for responses, but I think it
> The question:
> What advice, suggestions or counsel would you give to a new Baron and
> in order for them to find success in their new office?
> Or to those considering applying for the honor of holding the office of
> and Baroness?
> Regards, Hillary
> Ansteorra mailing list
> Ansteorra at lists.ansteorra.org
> In order to make changes and manage your account please go to:
Hwæt! We Gardena in geardagum,
þeodcyninga, þrym gefrunon,
hu ða æþelingas ellen fremedon.
Oft Scyld Scefing sceaþena þreatum,
monegum mægþum, meodosetla ofteah,
egsode eorlas. Syððan ærest wearð
feasceaft funden, he þæs frofre gebad,
weox under wolcnum, weorðmyndum þah,
oðþæt him æghwylc þara ymbsittendra
ofer hronrade hyran scolde,
gomban gyldan. þæt wæs god cyning!
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