Thursday, February 23, 2006

On Æthelmearc Awards

(written for the local newsletter)

Many folks have expressed confusion about the kingdom’s award system. I say kingdom, because most of the non-peerage awards vary between kingdoms. This article only deals with Æthelmearc’s awards, as I do not claim to understand any other kingdom as well as I do ours. All kingdom level awards are mentioned in the Order of Precedence, listed here: which is a listing of everyone in the kingdom who has ever received an award.

First, there is a difference between awards of Merit and awards of Distinction. Those of distinction do not convey arms, or rank. That means, if you get one of these awards, your name doesn’t change. But that doesn’t mean we don’t think you’re special.

These awards are:

Order of the Cornelian: given to honor courtesy. The token is a carnelian gemstone. Keran and Malcolum have been given this honor, for their poise and unending tact.

Order of the Sigil of Æthelmearc: given for service to the Crown. The token is the Æ (Aesch) of Æthelmearc. Briant and myself have attained this by retaining directly for Royalty.

Order of the Silver Buccle: given to outstanding children (age 14 and under). The token is a silver buckle.

Order of the Jewel of Æthelmearc: given to recognize those outstanding individuals who exemplify skill, courtesy, chivalry and service. The Crown may recognize only one new member per reign, and consults with the members of the order before bestowing the award. The newest member is presented with a escarbuncle set with a gem, dependent from a chain, which is passed on to the next recipient.

The Champion of Æthelmearc is the other finalist in the Crown Tournament. If the Crown Prince and Princess are unable to ascend the thrones, the Champion and his/her consort become the new Crown Prince and Princess. If the King and Queen are unable to complete their reign, the Champion becomes Regent.

Order of the Garnet (a principality order, now closed): given to former consorts of Æthelmearc, who displayed gentility, grace, statesmanship, courtesy and chivalry during their reign. Companions are styled "Lady of the Garnet." Their duties are to promote courtesy and chivalry, to be an example of proper etiquette, to give counsel to the Coronet, to devise quests to promote the ideals of the order, and to give tokens of favor to those who perform extremely courteous/chivalrous acts, or to those who are constantly courteous/chivalrous. They have the privilege to select a Champion of the Garnet, and to convene a council to advise the Coronet on matters of courtesy and honor. The token of the order is a garnet. The Ladies of the Garnet retain their rank and precedence and may aid the Order of the Rose.

The awards for minors include Silver Buccle, Silver Alce (for youth combat), Silver Sycamore (for A&S), and I'm not sure if there is a silver Keystone for service.

Now, on to the awards of Merit- the awards that convey rank, and get those fancy & confusing titles in front of your name. This is where most people get all confuzzled, and just avoid everyone with hats if they don’t understand it. There are three levels of these awards: Award of Arms (AoA), Grant of Arms (GoA), and Patent of Arms (PoA, also known as a peerage). There are four basic branches of these awards: service, arts and sciences, fighting skills, and holding land, the latter only applies to GoA and PoA awards.

Please note that everyone in the society is allowed to arrange with a Herald for that colorful banner thing to be uniquely yours. For convenience sake, most call it their arms. However, if you have not been awarded arms yet, it is more properly called a device.

Receiving an AoA allows one to be called Lord or Lady for a title. The sovereigns may simply hand out an AoA without an attached award of merit, and in fact, most people receive their AoA this way. The three Awards of Merit are:

Order of the Keystone: This is given for service to the kingdom, or to your local group. Autocratting, teaching, holders of local offices, dependable volunteers

Order of the Sycamore: This is given for arts and sciences. Demonstrations, competitions, performances, articles, scribal work

Order of the Golden Alce: This is given for martial activities. Known prowess and often willingness to teach in any of the martial fields, including heavy weapons, throwing weapons, fencing, archery, and even equestrian

Receiving a GoA allows one to be called the Honorable Lord, the Honorable Lady (both also known as THL), or to be referred to as her ladyship, or his lordship. While one could receive a naked GoA at the discretion of the Crown, it is usually attached to an Award of High Merit. These are also more confusing. These awards are polling orders: companions are invited to discuss who should be included in their ranks, and give their recommendations to Their Majesties.

Order of the Millrind: This is given for service to the kingdom. Regional officers, lesser kingdom officers, frequent volunteers for organizing Pennsic things, etc.

Order of the Fleur: This is given for Arts & Sciences. More teaching, articles, websites, performances, scribal work

Order of the Gage: This is only for heavy weapons. You may hear the occasional joke about cooking skill… as a lovely coincidence, many bearers of the award are also good cooks. But this is only for fighting prowess in armor.

Order of the White Scarf: This is for fencing skill only. It is the highest award one can achieve for fencing. Her Majesty is usually requested to join the Order as a courtesy. Also, the title Don and Dona is often used by members. They will also take Cadets to aid in their training, and these will wear blue scarves.

Order of the Scarlet Guard: This is for archery skill only. A large tassel is given, and usually no paper scroll, as many archers view paper as something to shoot.

Order of the White Horn: This is for “Other” martial activities. Thrown weapons, equestrian activities, and siege engines all fall in here.

The GoA is also the rank of Barons and Baronesses, which are also called Your Excellency. All baronies in the kingdom have landed barons and baroness to hold these lands, and may hold baronial Courts and give baronial awards as their lands allow and they see fit. But you’ve probably noticed there are more barons and baronesses running around in this kingdom than we do baronies. These are Court Barons or Court Baronesses. This award is given at Their Majesties’ discretion, and is usually given to landed barons and baronesses when they step down. It is also given to anyone that They wish to honor highly without giving an award of distinction. All barons and baronesses wear hats with 6 points or six pearls. Landed ones usually have their baronial colors or device on their hats.

And now, the peerage. When one is recognized as a peer by one of the Orders: Pelican is service, Laurel is arts and sciences, and Chivalry is for heavy weapons- one may choose to be called: Master, Mistress, Dame, Maestro, Don, Dona, or one of several translations of these. Sir is reserved for knights only, which means that person has been recognized by the Order of the Chivalry, and has chosen to swear fealty for every reign. None of these have special hats (except the laurel wreath).

Pelicans often have a pelican in its piety some where in their jewelry or garb to mark them. The pelican was believed in the middle ages to pierce its chest and feed its young, hence “in its piety” and the demonstration of the service pelicans give. They may take protégées to foster, and these are often marked by yellow belts.

Laurels wear laurel wreaths, given by the Greeks for many reasons including scholarship. They will often take apprentices, and these usually wear green belts.

Members of the Chivalry usually have white belts, gold chains, and spurs. If they decided not to become knights, and become Master of Arms instead, they will be called Master (often when they aren’t looking) and wear a white baldric or sash. They will take squires which wear red belts or baldrics. They or their squire can also take Men at Arms, but this is a more informal arrangement and is usually for a finite time.

The taking of a protégée, apprentice or squire usually happens in Court and with a formal agreement. The goal is for the peer to see that their protégée, apprentice, squire is suitable for the Order by providing training, recommendations, tasks, etc, and then sponsoring them when they are ready. It is a very serious thing and not a step to be taken lightly.

And now, the Royalty and former Royalty with yet more confusing titles, and their hats.

Before Æthelemearc was a kingdom, it was a principality of the East. Those who completed their reign of the principality achieve the title Viscount or Viscountess, and their hat has either one point or many.

Curently, Their Royal Majesties, or sometimes, Their Sylvan Majesties, are the king and queen. Their Heirs are Their Royal Highnesses, also known as the prince and princess. Occasionally, a set of Royals will translate these titles to their personae. Scribes often refer to the king and queen as Rex et Regina, which is the Latin form. Look for anything with escarbuncles. Silver usually means TRM, gold usually means TRH, but this is not set in stone, and is up to TRM to decide.

Once the reign is over, they are usually created Earl or Count and Countess. These hats are embattled. Think of offset blocks or the top of a castle battlement. These gentles are called Your Excellency. If they have reigned as king and queen more than once, they become Duke and Duchess and are hailed as Your Grace. These hats have four points, and strawberry leaves.

Of course to add to the hat confusion, one may always choose to wear a hat of a lower rank that they have earned, or none at all. If you cannot think of what to call someone, “my lady”, “my lord” or “Your Excellency” is a wonderful default. If you are wrong, they should politely correct you. And possibly, they may explain all of the above better than I can.

Here’s a simplified table of the ranking awards:
Service Arts and science Martial
(Lord, Lady)
Keystone Sycamore Alce
(lordship, ladyship, The Honorable Lord, The Honorable Lady, THL) Millrind Fleur Gage (heavy)White Scarf (fencing)Scarlet Guard
(archery)White Horn (other)
Landed Barons and Baronesses and Court Barons and Court Baronesses
Pelican Laurel Chivalry Royalty and former royals

The online Order of Precedence for the Kingdom is here:

The Æthelmearc webminister has posted a form on the web to make recommendations a lot easier to do.
Book mark it and use it often.

And I’d like to think it’s my fault they’ve added the “gender” to the form…

Things to include in any letter of recommendation:
1. Who. Mundane AND Scadian, spelled correctly. Verify with them or their friends.
2. What. What did they do that you think needs recognition? Lots of examples are great.
3. Which? Which award do you want them to have? Just the AOA? Or Knighthood?
4. When and Where - list at least one Royal Progress you are pretty sure they'll attend. Like Bards & Bows. Pennsic is usually a Bad place to suggest because so many other things happen that weekend. For me, this is always the hardest part!

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