[ANSTHRLD] [Fwd: Heraldry announcement for Commentary

Darin Herndon darin.herndon at chk.com
Thu Jul 10 13:33:47 PDT 2008

For the record, I've come to prefer period styled armory over the years (despite my first submission attempt).  Having said that, I want to focus on a point and counterpoint presented by Robin and Sara respectively.

Robin said:
Requiring a Laurel wreath is a non-heraldic, non-historical, non-authentic
bureaucratic requirement that usually forces more complex (and therefore
worse) heraldry.  It makes it harder for new groups to design armory, and
harder for people to create banners and other heraldic bearings.

It is, in every relevant way, a violation of the College's charge to
encourage good, authentic armory.

English baronies don't have to use Lions.  French shires don't have to use
fleurs-de-lys.  Castilian cities don't have to use castles.

It doesn't serve the people, or the branches, or the CoA, or the
corporation, in any relevant way.

Sara said:
I think the wreath serves a useful purpose: it allows us to readily identify which arms belong to groups and which belong to people. That distinction lets us easily locate which pavilion belongs to the local group at an event, so we can find the baron or seneschal or autocrat more easily; and at wars, it helps us distinguish between private encampments (where we might be intruding) and group encampments (where there might be a communal area). Personally, it doesn't bother me that the purpose the wreath serves is an SCA-specific one. I think our SCA traditions have their own merit and worth.

<End Quotes>

Thoughts on keeping the requirement in territorial arms:
1) Robin is absolutely correct in his examples about English lions, etc.  Sara is also correct it is useful to "readily identify which arms belong to groups and which belong to people".  Not necessary, but useful.  Per Alden's example, I have been one of those fighters who was with a group that targeted other fighters whose armory indicated they might be in the chain of command for the other side.  (Chaos to the enemy!)  But, in a better example, I have also been in the position where finding group arms made me feel more comfortable about approaching an unknown encampment.  So, I would disagree with Robin that a common symbol included in territorial arms doesn't serve the people in any relevant way.  It may not be in a manner important enough to keep the practice, or it may; but I think there is some value to getting the word out to newcomers (or when traveling to different kingdoms) on how to recognize group arms versus personal and feeling a little less timid about approaching out of the dark.  I think that has some value, aside from the traditions of it being the status quo so far, in relating newcomers to groups.

2) Additionally, the different kingdoms do get referred to as the Laurel kingdoms in a verbal comment off of the Society arms.  That is a traditional term but its purpose is simple; to verbally show the binding of the sovereign kingdoms under the common structure of our society.  That this is visibly represented by the wreath on kingdom arms makes some sense.  The extension to the local group arms is more of a stretch but has some SCA logic to it.  It especially makes a visible statement at events where multiple medieval re-creation or re-enactment groups gather.  The arms with laurel wreaths make finding SCA groups much easier.  That has a useful purpose.  Again, is it enough to be worth protecting?  Or requiring?

Thoughts on not keeping the requirement in territorial arms:
1) If recognizing group arms, and members of a group, was absolutely critical, then the required laurel wreath should be required on group badges as well.  So that the members of the groups are recognized as members of a territorial group and not confused with a private household or person.  Of course, this would create great confusion in the minds of newcomers as to who is a Laurel and who is just a member of a group.

2) And if it was really necessary, then we would use kingdom symbols (like the black star) to show groups allegiance and membership in their kingdoms rather than the SCA laurel wreath.  Kingdom symbols on branch arms would be a better fit to Robin's examples above.  Maybe kingdoms keep the wreath but local groups have to have a specified kingdom symbol.  But no one is suggesting that we do that.  And it would be horribly non-period practice as Robin's examples noted.

I'm still making up my mind on whether I think the presence of the common symbol on territorial arms has enough value to continue to require it.  And I am think in the context of a common symbol (any common symbol, not specifically a Laurel Wreath) having value.  Can some of those on this list give any specific examples where having the requirement was beneficial to them personally?  Maybe ask your local groups the same question and then post valid responses back to this list?  Perhaps some reasons will be offered that make us all step back and go "hmmm...  that is worth protecting."


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