The Occasional Journal for the College of Heralds of Atlantia
Volume 6, Issue 2 -- March/April 2009 (A.S. XLIII)
Artwork credit: Maestra Julianna Fiorentini
Greetings, fellow heralds!
Finally, it appears spring is just around the corner, and not a moment too soon in my book. I am not a cold-weather person, and the chilly months just seem to drag out with no end. But warmer temps are finally arriving, which will soon mean outdoor events and activities! Yay! Remember our mantra: Water is your friend. And keep sunscreen close by as well!
Later in this issue, you will find a very timely article from Conch regarding court decorum. This is a topic we ALL should brush up on, both as heralds and as the audience. It is very easy to slip into bad habits, both in front and behind the thrones, all of which reduce the sparkle of court. Remember, when you are acting as a court herald, you are:
Act respectfully, and accordingly. And when you are in the audience, use your church manners! I donít know about your church experiences, but you just donít yell back and heckle the preacher! Itís rude! And it gives a bad example for newcomers to follow. Same with holding conversations in the back. We have all gotten a little slack lately, and itís time for each of us to clean up our own backyard. Start with yourself and pledge to be an exemplar to others. Show respect to the Crown/Territorials, the award recipients and your fellow audience members by behaving as you know you should.
Mistress Rhiannon ui Neill
Triton Principal Herald
House Corvus, Atlantia
A Word from the Newsletter Editor
Greetings unto all to whom these presents come from Lady Patricia of Trakai!
Folks, at the moment I'm stressed out over deadlines at work, so I'll make this quick. Personally, I think the "Heraldic Terms of the Day" are a brilliant idea. Digestible chunks of learning! It's like Twitter for the College of Arms!
Lady Patricia, Editor
Soundings of the Conch: Decorum for the Court Herald
By Master Donal Mac Ruiseart, Conch Herald
The court herald has many functions: Organizer, announcer, master-of-ceremonies, cheerleader, and sometimes entertainer. But overarching all of those functions is the duty to maintain proper decorum and dignity.
Dignity and panache are qualities that set a court apart from a mere business meeting. It would be infinitely easier to just call the recipients of awards up in a group, hand them their parchments, give them a handshake, call for cheers, and send everyone on their way. But that would make our Courts about as dignified as a Scout meeting. In fact, a lot of Scout meetings have more ceremony than that.
So we have heralds, and rituals, and proper forms for how one approaches the Thrones, and so forth. To those of us who have attended and been part of many courts, it may seem old hat, a bit tiresome. But to others, especially those relatively new to the SCA, itís high theatre. And for the sake of those, we heralds owe it to the populace to maintain the standards.
How many of you remember being called into court to receive your Award of Arms? I do, and that was over 30 years ago, and Iíve received several other more prestigious awards since then. But that evening still resides clearly in my memory. How much more clearly will it reside in the memory of a person whose only moment of glory may be that Award of Arms? For a good many SCAdians, thatís the only award they receive. For the recipient, that AoA is as significant as a Peerage. It should be done with every bit as much dignity, though the ceremony be simpler.
Although the herald is an important participant in a Court, s/he must remember that the Court is not about the herald. The herald is a supporting player, whose job is to ensure that proper attention is given to the principals Ė that is, the Royals or Baronials whose court it is Ė and to those being honored. For the former, holding Court is both a privilege and a duty. It is the heraldís role to imbue it with as much dignity and make it as easy for the Royals as s/he can. For those being honored, it is their moment of glory, their ď15 minutes of fame.Ē It must not be made into a farce or a slapstick.
Heralds are expected to be exemplars of courtly dignity and courtesy. One of the most basic forms of courtesy is to get peopleís names right. It isnít always easy, because a good many SCAdian names are from linguistic traditions unfamiliar to our ears. Furthermore, you canít really get it from the source: if you go up to a person and ask how they pronounce their name, it might be a giveaway, and most often the agenda of Court is supposed to be secret. But if you do not know the pronunciation, ask around. There will surely be someone who knows the person and knows how to say their name. If they have a significant other, that is an excellent source. But sometimes even this goes awry, and the herald will wind up mispronouncing someoneís name. When this happens Ė and it will; none of us are perfect Ė be regretful and apologetic (but donít overdo it), and be sure to get it right the next time, such as when you call for cheers for the award recipient.
Another point of courtesy and decorum is never to contradict or directly correct one of the Royals when they are speaking. I have on a few occasions tried to prompt a Royal with the correct pronunciation or the like by saying it very softly, but never ever would I do such a thing at full voice. Most unseemly. Itís your duty to make the boss look good, and it may seem that allowing him to mispronounce a name or get a fact wrong runs counter to that, but jumping in to correct him makes him and you both look foolish. Donít do it. This includes when a Royal is speaking extemporaneously.
If there is some special matter of protocol that needs to be addressed, be sure to clear it up before the court begins. This would include such matters as multiple courts at different levels interwoven, or visiting Royalty, or an inter-Kingdom court. Confer with the other heralds ahead of time to ensure that everyone agrees on who should do what in what order. If such a matter comes up unexpectedly, it must be dealt with quietly. And if no one is sure of the actual protocol of a situation, remember that courtesy is more important than the fine points of protocol. You would gain more credit from deferring to another than by trying to claim precedence. Let him who would be first, be last.
Finally, there is the matter of the carriage and behavior of the herald him/herself. A herald should ALWAYS conduct him/herself in a dignified manner. Heralds are court functionaries, not court jesters! It is acceptable to inject a little humor into an announcement, but telling jokes or making fun of a situation are not. You are not doing stand-up. And avoid personal comments. When functioning as a herald, you are the official voice of those whose court it is. They might not agree with your comments, and that means not agreeing with themselves, which is an absurd situation. Heralds have been reprimanded or even dismissed as a result of such matters.
Wear a tabard. Every herald should own one. If you are disinclined to wear a tabard there are alternatives, but the details of regalia are outside the scope of this article.
Stand up straight, maintain a decorous posture at all times. Do not lean on the thrones or affect a posture that suggests inappropriate familiarity. Keep your elbows off the Thrones. I myself have leaned on one of the Thrones, when heralding at a court after fighting all day. That was a matter of necessity. But I attempted to be discreet about it.
It does occur, from time to time, that a herald is unable to stand through an entire court. Especially if it is a combined court, a provision can be made for that. Provide a chair or a stool so you can rest your feet for a bit while your direct participation is not needed.
When you address the Royalty, always use the formal forms of address. Courts are formal by nature; there is no occasion for familiarity.
If one of the Royals veers from the set agenda, deal with it. You might try to gently steer them back, but do not attempt to stop or correct them. They are the Royals; you are the subject. They are in charge!
Make your calls clear, loud, and strong. You are the voice of the Crown or Barony. Do not be shy or timid about calling someone into Court. If you are called on to make a proclamation, remember again that the words you are saying are the Crownís not yours. It does not matter if you agree or disagree with the proclamation; you must read it out with authority and conviction.
If you use a staff, hold it in a natural manner, use it to emphasize the call for cheers, and so forth. Do not in any way suggest that it is a weapon. If at some point you need to use both hands, such as to read a parchment, tuck the staff under your arm or hand it to your second. You should always have a second, or at least someone to hand documents to you and so forth.
In summation, the herald is an essential part of a Court, but in a universal supporting role. It is essential to be prepared, be flexible, and be courteous and respectful to all with whom we interact. Refrain from personal comments and excessive humor. Make the boss look good, and it will reflect well on you and on the College of Heralds.
The submitter is a court baron and is entitled to display a coronet on his device.
His old device, Sable, a sheaf of three spears and in chief three suns Or, is released.
This was pended on the April 2008 LoAR.
Point of Fact
Unguled - describes the tincture of the hooves of beasts such as horses, bulls, pigs, goats, unicorns, and so forth. It does not have any connection to the heraldic tincture gules.
(Thanks to Master Donal, one of the senior Heralds participating in "Heraldic Term of the Day.")
Heraldry is an art as old as Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine, and as young as the newest submission. I welcome you to join in exploring it with your colleagues, the heralds of Atlantia -- this is your journal. If you have always wanted to write an article that would be read by every Atlantian herald, or if you have a question you would like to ask of all the heralds of Atlantia, send me a message at Patoodle AT aol DOT com! I prefer that any articles or other messages come as plain text (ASCII), as opposed to HTML or some other format. Thank you!
Patricia of Trakai
Herald's Point is the newsletter for the members of the College of Heralds of Atlantia. Herald's Point is not a corporate publication of the Society for Creative Anachronism, Inc. (SCA) and does not delineate SCA policies. Herald's Point does delineate policies specific to the College of Heralds of the Kingdom of Atlantia. Copies of this newsletter are available from: Patricia of Trakai (Patty Daukantas), 7740 Lakecrest Drive, Greenbelt, MD 20770.