If AEthelmearc ever becomes a kingdom, a number of changes will occur. Some will be by necessity, others by choice. This article will discuss some of the changes that may or may not occur within the requirements for officers.
In the paragraphs that follow, I will be referring to the officers' positions by a mundane job title, if a suitable one exists. I have several reasons for doing so. First, I hope to minimize any pre-conceived notions regarding who is responsible for what. Second, I believe that officers are part of the mundane interface that allows the Society to exist, the stagehands if you will. When I'm explaining the structure of the Society to the mundane world, I use terms like 'chapter president' rather than 'local seneschal' because it's part of the common language and I don't have to explain my terms before making my point. Finally, I think that if some group does want to bestow pseudo-medieval terms on their officers, they should be free to do so however they want. If some shire wants to be a pirate ship with a captain and a paymaster instead of a seneshal and chancellor of the exchequer, I say, "Go for it!" Anyone who objects is welcome to explain what a real knight marshall did for a living without looking it up first.
Personally, I feel that officers should not be a visible presence at an event, merely easy to find if needed. On one hand, going to see court and watching officers taking oaths of office before the king is like going to see Camelot and watching stagehands giving oaths of fealty before King Arthur. On the other hand, even the President gets to be the star of a swearing-in ceremony, and our officers deserve some recognition for the work they do.
I couldn't find any definitions of the difference between Great and Lesser Offices in the laws at any level, other than a specific listing of each. Eastern royal law requires Lesser Offices to report to their assigned Great Office while Great Offices report to their Society superiors. However, there are offices that are Great Office on one level and Lesser Office on another. It's been my observation that because officer posts are volunteer positions rather than paid labor, the relationships between Great and Lesser Officers tend to be 'mutual co-operation' rather 'superior-subordinate'. The dividing line between 'required report' and 'courtesy copy' can become fuzzy, and frankly, I couldn't be more pleased.
Society by-laws require membership for all offices, both great and lesser. I don't see why we should require membership for an office that isn't required to begin with. The alternative would be Court Appointments, which is how the 'offices' of Warlord and Scout Commander are currently run. Although the aforementioned require membership because of their activity on the battlefield, other appointments, like Bard, do not. If all of the Lesser Offices became Court Appointments, we could do away with the membership requirement entirely and open the positions to more people.
Interestingly enough, the responsibilities of local officers are never mentioned anywhere in the laws themselves, only in royal officers' policy statements. For that matter, the responsibilities of officer positions at the other levels are completely self-defined. At the Society level, the Society offices are listed along with their responsibilities. Kingdoms and principalities are required to have a full slate of the listed Great Officers. Shires and cantons are required to have a seneschal, herald and either a marshall or arts and sciences officer. Baronial officers are never specified except that they must be "a set of officers suitable to the Crown". I think the latter is a great idea. It allows for the local bureaucracy to be tailored to the needs of the group.
Eastern royal law lists the royal officers and their responsibilities, adding Minister of Lists and Signet Clerk to the list of Great Officers. The required offices for a principality are not listed as such. Eastern law says, "All branches of the East Kingdom of Baronial/Provincial level or greater are required to have, ..." Presumably, the "or greater" covers principalities. The list duplicates Kingdom Great Office with the omission of Chirurgeon and Signet Clerk and the inclusion of Chatelaine, the latter actually being a Lesser Office at kingdom level. The requirements for shires and cantons are identical to, and redundant with, Society requirements. That being the case, why even bother to list them?
AEthelmearc's laws include the statement,"Principality Officers' duties are
defined in Corpora, East Kingdom Law and by their Corporate and Kingdom
superiors. Only their additional responsibilites are stated here." The duties
of local officers are not mentioned at all. Given the meticulous detail listed
in some of the Eastern officers' policy statements that's probably for the
I think it's self-evident that every group needs a president. Someone who can say, 'I am the person in charge of, and legally responsible for, the activities of this group.' I'd like to point out that the Eastern seneschal's policy is nearly eight hundred lines long. In addition to listing the duties of principal and local seneschals, it also includes lengthy instructions on: creating, upgrading, downsizing and dissolving local groups; subordinate group relationships; and holding events. If AEthelmearc becomes a kingdom, we may want to decide if instructions for establishing groups and holding events should be included as part of our kingdom laws or remain seneschalate policy. In either case, I think subordinate group relationships should be left up to the groups themselves.
One thing I've noticed when attending events held by small groups; when it
comes time to give out the prizes to the winner of the tournament, A&S
competition, bardic circle, or what-have-you, it's usually the seneschal who
'holds court' and awards the prizes. I think all groups should be
allowed to have some sort of ceremonial head. There used to be a rank of
Sheriff in the East for just that purpose, and I'd like to see the custom
revived. Perhaps the more medieval form of the term, Reeve, should be used
to avoid confusion with mundane law officials. The gentle would not wear any
sort of coronet or stand very high in the Order of Precedence. He would just
be the person who hands out competition prizes, leads the shire into battle,
and stands at the head of the group when they give a gift to the royalty. I've heard the argument that shires aren't allowed a ceremonial head because it
gives them the motivation to become bigger, and I don't agree with it. Bigger
is not necessarily better. If a dozen people are happy playing the game, why
not leave it at that? People will see that they're having fun and join them.
Growth will occur at a natural and easy to handle rate. Why push it?
For a group as large as a kingdom or principality, that's enough work for the chief herald to require a staff of assistants, most of which get their own heraldic title. But why are local groups expected to have one-and-only-one titled herald?
A shire doesn't necessarily need a herald. To quote Brigantia Policy, "Any gentle may herald courts, cry the camp, or herald on the tourney field. The choice of court herald is absolutely the prerogative of the noble who is holding court." That covers the first three items on the list, without even mentioning that shires don't have a ceremonial head who can hold court and are not required to hold tournaments. The next two items, records maintenance and commentary are usually done at home rather than at events and can be done by anyone who's interested in doing them. Which means that a shire is required to have a herald for the purpose of accepting armory. Brigantia Policy confirms this, "The only activity reserved to warranted heralds is accepting submissions." This is probably because the herald has to accept money for the submission. But if all five people in the shire have all the armory they want, you have a required office with no official duties, so why mandate it's existence? For that matter, there's no regulation that says a member has to submit through their local herald. They're free to submit through any warrented Pursuivant-at-Large and if the local herald is unskilled, they probably will.
Baronies, on the other hand, may be heraldically active enough to keep half a dozen heralds busy, so why not let them have half a dozen heralds if they want? I couldn't find anything in law, but it seems to be strong custom that only one person from each local group is warrented as a titled herald. Everyone else is simply warrented as an untitled Pursuivant-at-Large. If they are doing the work, why not let them have a title? Heralds' titles can be taken from award names and baronies are allowed to register more than one award, so why not have more than one titled herald? It's period, the more heralds you had in your employ, the more status you were thought to have. It's no increase in paperwork, they can all sign the same group report. It's no increase in bureaucracy, the noble they work for can establish the exact hierarchy as needed.
I recommend that AEthelmearc not require local groups to roster heralds. The
AEthelmearc College of Arms could be organized just like the Chirurgeons'
Guild. Shires and cantons will still be stuck with the Corpora regulation of
at least one herald, but if we don't add any requirements, it could be a
duty-less position, as I've outlined above. On the other hand, all local
groups, including shires, will be free to have as many heralds as they want or
need. Silver Buccle policy should include the procedure for submitting armory
and limit accepting submissions to rostered heralds and pursuivants-at-large
because of the money involved, but I see no reason to put anything in law.
Baronies are required to have Marshalls. Shires and cantons are required to have a marshall if they don't have an A&S officer, and are encouraged to have one in any case. A marshall's job is to conduct the fighting and run tournaments. Local groups are NOT required to have fighters or tournaments. So why are they required to have marshalls?
I've always thought that the United States Chess Federation had a much better method. Only warrented groups can sponsor official USCF chess tournaments. Only warrented Tournament Directors can conduct official USCF chess tournaments. Warrented groups are NOT required to have warrented directors. If a group wants to sponsor an tournament and they don't know any directors, a SASE sent to the regional director, whose mailing address appears in the monthly magazine, will get them a list of all the warrented directors in the area.
I think it's a great idea. AEthelmearc shouldn't have to require local groups to have a local marshall. We only need to require that all tournaments are run by a warrented marshall. Shires and cantons, however, are still stuck with the Corpora regulation of either a marshall or an arts and sciences officer. I think that given the choice of the two, I would elect to have a marshall. A&S officers have to write reports on a regular basis. A marshall only has to write a report when a tournament has been held. If you're getting the impression that I think report writing should be kept to a bare minimum, you're right!
By the by, for those who were unable to answer the question I asked back in
paragraph two, a knight marshall was a high military rank, but he was either
chief herald or chief quartermaster depending on the time period.
Brace yourselves, I'm about to commit near-blasphemy. I have been Arts and
Sciences Officer for both the Barony of the Rhydderich Hael and the
Principality of AEthelmearc. I THINK THE MINISTRY OF ARTS AND SCIENCES IS THE
MOST USELESS OFFICER POSITION EVER CREATED!!! Local officers are not required
to do anything except generate reports and paperwork! Policy statements almost
always include verbs like 'support', 'encourage', 'promote', 'foster', etc.
when describing the purpose of the job. When my wife and I held the job, we
tried to become a cross between a camp arts and crafts counselor and a local
librarian, putting would-be artists and artisans in touch with possible
teachers or information sources. At our best, we came close to the efficiency
of the local grapevine, but never surpassed it. I've given a lot of thought
over the years to the purpose behind the creation of this office. The best
rationale I've been able to come up with is that somebody somewhere decided
that since the S.C.A. re-creates the middle ages, it would do so best if
someone was officially in charge of fostering the re-creation. I don't think
this is true. I think that if the office never existed, people would still be
making garb, brewing, cooking, illuminating scrolls, and what-have-you. The
existing network of guilds and grapevines does a far better job of
disseminating information than a single individual ever could. I don't think
AEthelmearc should require local groups to have this post.
Truth to tell, I'm surprised this isn't a required office for all groups.
Parlimentary procedure states that all organizations should have a president,
a secretary and a treasurer. Society law says that any groups that handle
money are supposed to submit a treasurer's report and I don't know of any
groups that don't handle money. If there is no treasurer, it's the
seneschal's job to keep the books. That's not doing without a treasurer,
that's giving two jobs to one individual. I would have no objections at all
to AEthelmearc making this a required office for all local groups.
Royal law requires baronies to have a chronicler. There is nothing in royal law or policy requiring baronies to have a newsletter, just a chronicler. I don't think this position should be required by law. If a warrented group wants to put out a newsletter, then they should have to follow minimum guidelines set down in policy, ie. a masthead [with disclaimer], no copyrighted or offensive material, and no paid ads. The latter restriction exists, in part, because the parent corporation, SCA Inc., has made itself responsible for all bank accounts, down to the lowliest shires. If the local chapters were more independent, like the United States Chess Federation's are, there would be no reason why paid ads couldn't offset the production costs of the newsletter.
I think AEthelmearc royal chronicler policy should limit mandatory non-subscription copies to the royal chronicler only. Royalty and seneschals don't need local newsletters to fulfill their duties and checking that standards are being met is the head chronicler's job so why put additional expense on a bare bones budget? Local editors should have the option of giving copies to whoever else they want.
One final note: only warrented groups, including guilds, which are
funded through official bank accounts should have to follow policy.
Individuals who publish song books, cook books and the like for personal profit
do not need to include a disclaimer because they're not connected with the SCA
in any way.
I have nothing to say about this position. AEthelmearc law is as bare-boned
as you can get and still comply with corporate policy and that's fine by me.
If AEthelmearc becomes a kingdom, I'd like to see this office abolished at
both royal and local levels. It's a Great Office of AEthelmearc because it's
required by Eastern Royal law, but it's a Lesser Office for the kingdom
itself. Admittedly, a chatelaine may be the best way for some groups to
welcome newcomers to the Society, but that doesn't mean it's the best way for
all groups. I think local groups should welcome new members in the way
that they think is best for them, be it an official chatelaine, or the local
household that brought the new member in.
Much of what I said about the marshallate applies equally well to the Minister of Lists. If local groups are not required to have fighters or tournaments, why are they required to have a Minister of Lists? The duties of the office go hand-in-glove with the duties of the Marshall. In some kingdoms, the MoL is it's own great office, in others, the MoL is a lesser officer under the jurisdiction of the Marshall. Some kingdoms don't even have a List Minister at all, and the necessary paperwork is the duty of the Marshall himself. Atenveldt, on the other hand, has an Earl Marshall (Great Office), a Minister of Lists (Lesser Office) and a Keeper of the Martial Rolls (Lesser Office). I think it should be the option of the whoever's running the tournament whether or not the duties should be divided. Why make a ruling about something that's best handled on a case-by-case basis? Leave it to the local groups to decide.
AEthelmearc is required to have an MoL by Eastern law. Once we're on our own,
we have the choice of keeping it as a Great Office, demoting it to a Lesser
Office, or eliminating it entirely. I don't think the latter is really an
option. I think that there's enough paperwork involved that it should be
handled by a separate individual and the marshallate can concentrate on
inspecting armor and conducting the tournaments.
SUMMARY -- This article was meant to list all of the possible required office
or Great Office duties, I could think of, that could be changed if AEthelmearc
became a kingdom. The few recommendations I've made, have been specified as
such. All of it may be considered as springboard for discussions. If anyone
would like to discuss this further with me, I can be reached at: David P.
Salley, 136 Shepard Street, Buffalo, New York 14212-2029 or via e-mail below.
Lord Dagonell Collingwood of Emerald Lake, CSC, CK, CTr
Comments to: email@example.com
to Article Index.
to Dagonell's Page.
to David's Homepage.