SCA Court Primer

Courtly Graces (Calontir Edition, Online Expanded Version!)

Or, Funny Hats For the Win

Saito Takauji (Uji) January A.S. 48

Note: While there are a lot of generally applicable things in this article, it is primarily designed for use in the Kingdom of Calontir–because purple is awesome, and also I’m teaching it as a class.  I will be making an SCA-wide one that is less specific.

Introduction: What is court?

Court is a chance for the Crown to address the populace, make official announcements, have some fun with “schtick”, and give out awards.  Court is NOT where someone finds out they are in real trouble, where you will get yelled at, or something to be intimidated by.

Who runs court?

Right now?  These guys:                                                      In a couple of weeks, these guys:

DamienIssi                                       MartinoAriel

King Damien MacGavin                                                        Crown Prince Martino Venneri

Queen Issabell St. Charles                                                   Crown Princess Ariel of Glastonbury Tor

Note: Pictures good for January 2014 through the end of Martino and Arriel’s reign.  Pictures may be kept updated, maybe not; when in doubt check www.calontir.org

They are the King and Queen, and Prince and Princess, of Calontir.  There can also be courts run by Barons and Baronesses, of which Lonely Tower has a set.  But there are a number of them in the Kingdom, and ink is expensive, so we’ll be pointing them out rather than listing them all here.  A King and Queen are addressed as “Your Majesty,” a Prince and Princess are addressed as “Your Highness”, a Baron and Baroness as “Your Excellency”, and an Uji is addressed as “Hey, Uji.”

So everyone with a shiny hat is a King, Prince, or Baron?

Well no.  That would be too easy.  We also have Dukes/Duchesses, and Counts and Countesses who each get their own hats.  A Duke or Duchess is addressed as “Your Grace,” and a Count or Countess as “Your Excellency.”

Ducal                         

Ducal Coronet (Strawberry Leaves)

 County             

County Coronet (Embattlements)                 

  Baronial

Baronial Coronet (Pearls)

Their coronets will look roughly as above.  Only Counts and Countesses have embattled coronets, only Dukes and Duchesses have Strawberry leaves.  Someone with pearls, embattlements, and strawberry leaves was a Baron who kept getting promoted but didn’t want to buy a new hat.   Also note that “pearls” can be any round or spheroid protrusion.

Also, want an easy way to identify a Landed Baron (one who runs a group) versus one who has an award letting them be a Baron without the pesky land (Court Baron)?  Landed Barons have gold colored coronets, while Court Barons have silver ones–this is by Calontir law.  The Vatavian Secret Police (which do not exist) enforce it.

If in doubt, call someone with a shiny hat “Your Excellency.”  It covers most of the common titles, and anyone who is a Grace, Highness, or Majesty is also entitled to be or will soon be entitled to be an Excellency.

Ok, so what do I do if I get called up there, besides feel like fainting and/or running?

First, don’t faint or run.  Court is fun, it’s a good time, and you’re probably up there for something good.  First, approach until you’re about ten feet away and then bow or curtsy.  Royalty has a “bubble” around them by courtesy of about ten feet, so if you’re going to be in it you bow/curtsy.  If there is an obvious point at which to do this, like the end of the first row of chairs, that works too.  Then come up to them, bow, and kneel.  Note: KNEEL ON THE CUSHION.  Your knees will thank you, and that is what they are there for.  Then listen to what they say.  Then you do it in reverse, stand and bow/curtsy, back away to ten feet and bow/curtsy, and then go back to your seat.  It’s that easy.  If they’re up on a stage, don’t back down the stairs; the Crown will not be offended if you choose to not fall down.

Ok, but what if there are lots of shiny hat wearing people up there?

This can be a little bit trickier, but not really.  Come up to ten feet, and either make lots of little bows/curtsies or one big all-encompassing bow/curtsy.  Do it with style!  Take your hat off!  Find a hat, put it on, then take it off!

Ok, so my hat is now off, I’ve successfully gone through being called up, and you’re my hero.  How did those people get there?  Can I get there, and have people find hats to take off at me?

Aw shucks, I’m no hero.  They got there through one of two ways.  The King and Queen and Prince and Princess got there through an armored combat tournament called “Crown Tournament”, or just “Crown.”  When you win Crown you serve as P+P for three months, then K+Q as six.  Then you get made a Count/ess if it was your first time as King/Queen, and a Duke/Duchess if it was your second.  The Baron and Baroness are chosen by the Crown with input from the group they will lead every 2-5 years roughly.

I’ve seen some people disarming themselves before they go up to court; do I need to do that?  I mean…I’m not gonna lie, I like knives.  Like…a lot.

First…calm down, and don’t hug me because I don’t want to get cut.  Secondly, it depends.  In some Kingdoms you would have to disarm, in others not, and in others disarm unless you have an Award of Arms.  No, that’s not what an AoA really means, but…it takes all kinds.  Bless their hearts.  You know what I mean.

In Calontir we take a pragmatic view of it.  You do not have to disarm if you are in fealty to the Crown, because you have sworn on your honor that you are their man/woman/Canadian.  I actually really like this, because it gives a tangible ritual to fealty.  Since I am in fealty, the Crown trusts me to bear arms since I have sworn to defend them.

FInally…seriously, they have support groups.  The first start is admitting that if you have so many knives you are terrified of sneezing yourself into meat confetti, then you might have too many.

Why do people keep getting scrolls?

Because scrolls are amazing, that’s why.  Each of those scrolls represents an award of the Kingdom of Calontir.  Awards are recognitions by the Crown or Baronage that someone has done a series of awesome things, often in a specific area.  A rundown of awards can be found online, and spoken in this class.  So pay attention!  Did you miss it?  Scrolls in Calontir for AoA level awards are printed out and hand painted in, while scrolls for Grants of Arms and above are individually drawn, written, and calligraphied.

Ok, so I can tell a Count from a Duke…but why do they keep calling that person Master Sir?  Why does Her Royal Highness Ariel wear a belt and two medallions?

They call that person Master Sir because they are terrible people who do a terrible crime called title stacking, which should be outlawed in the civilized world.  Peers, as opposed to Royal Peers, come in three flavors: Knight, Laurel, and Pelican.  A knight wears a white belt and spurs and an unadorned chain, a laurel a medallion of a wreath, and a pelican a medallion of a pelican.  Knights are called Sir, and Pelicans and Laurels Master or Mistress.  If someone has more than one, then you pick one of the titles and go with it.  You can pick whichever one seems most appropriate to the moment (i.e. on the field Sir, in the Kitchen Master), or go by whichever one you know they prefer (if they were a Mistress first then they might be more used to that).  And of course the Crown Princess is Her Highness, then she will be Her Majesty; and when she is done with her time as Queen will be Her Grace, Duchess Ariel, since Count/ess and Duke/Duchess have higher precedence.

Never title stack, it’s tacky.

The only exception is Master Master Sir Hilary of Serendip, and only because she can revoke your birth certificate.

I’ve heard the following myth, is it true?

Probably not.  In my time in the SCA I’ve heard some doozies, as have most other people.  So a rundown of the most common or crazy is:

Can you wear purple? Yes you can wear purple.  Especially because we’re in Calontir; it is our thing.

Can you wear shoes before you have an AoA?  Yes you can wear shoes before you get an AoA (although it isn’t a requirement afterword, depending on the site).

Yes you can be earlier than 600 (but not later than 1600), yes you can wear blue belts (we don’t protect other groups’ regalia), yes you can use part of your real name, yes you can talk to Peers or the Crown.  No you do not have to be a peasant until you have an AoA, no your garb doesn’t have to be perfect to come to an event, no you don’t have to choose a name or persona for your first (or tenth, or hundredth) event or even stick with the name you pick when you do pick one.

The Nitty-Gritty Distinctions, Or: Uji, you didn’t teach me that in the class, you magnificent bastard lovable rogue!

Ok, so everything above this was pretty much my overview for the sake of my class, at Twelfth Night (and maybe elsewhere by now)–either it was in the handout, or we talked about it.  I didn’t want to overload newcomers with too much information, especially for things that we don’t encounter in Calontir that much.  Everything /after/ here is additional information that will help you know more about the SCA, but isn’t something you will have to encounter much in Calontir.

When an Embattled Coronet isn’t a Count

There is another rank of Royal Peer, because of course there is–this couldn’t be easy!  A Principality is ruled by a Prince and Princess, as opposed to a Crown Prince and Crown Princess who will be King and Queen.  When a ruling Prince and Princess step down the first time, they are made a Viscount and Viscountess.  The Coronet for one of these is less standard than others.  In Calontir it is a silver embattled coronet for Viscounts as opposed to a gold embattled coronet for Counts.  In some it is the height of the coronet, or how much decoration it has.

Why is he wearing his belt around his chest?

There are two parts to the Order of Chivalry, both alike in dignity in fair Verona where we…wait, crap.  Wrong thing.  But there are two halves of the Order of Chivalry, Knights and Masters of Arms.  The difference comes down to the early days of the Society, where some for persona or personal or religious reasons did not want to swear fealty as it was decided a Knight had to–but were still superior fighters and gentlemen.  And so they created the Masters of Arms, who were equal members of the Chivalry but did not have to swear fealty.  They wear a white baldric (diagonal sash/belt over the chest) instead of a white belt around the waist.

(Note: Images of Damien and Issabell, and Martino and Ariel, from Calontir.org, images of coronets from http://housethreesheets.wordpress.com/sca-primers/sca-newbie-primer/ .  All images used for educational purposes without permission, and I will be happy to change them if needed).

2 thoughts on “SCA Court Primer”

  1. A note on title stacking: I find it is also acceptable when it causes the Peer in question to make a funny face, and you don’t mind the repercussions that may come with said funny face.

    Example: Master John Inchinham the Fool, Pelican and Laurel, known to the brave as “Master Master John John”

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