Wednesday, 30 October 2013

On Project Plans: A Herald's Tabard

Now that there opens something of a gap in my schedule (hello, end of undergraduate study), my thoughts turn to the sewing projects I've been putting off for one reason or another. The first of these is my own spiffy herald's tabard.

I've had possession of a great many types of tabard, from the Politarchopolis Baronial Court Tabard, a confection of velvet and brocade with a satin lining - guaranteed to make winter courts toasty warm and summer courts brief, to the standard crossed trumpets and green, both the quick cotton drill versions to the somewhat nicer appliqued damask.

So, in deciding on this plan, there are a few things to decide: Shape, design, and material.

For shape, I've found a few examples in period illustrations of tabards which are joined under the arms, just a little way, such as in this illustration, or this one. I think this is a wonderful idea, especially given the number of times I've had to herald in a windy situation. Some shaping will be required around the arm holes and shoulders, and I'll probably flare the body out a bit, to give more room for display.

For the design, I am quite set on using the Lochac royal arms - not the populace badge, and certainly not the crossed trumpets.

As for the question of using the royal arms on a tabard, the argument is simple: As a pursuivant in good standing of the Lochac College of Heralds, I serve the Crown of Lochac in all heraldic business. In period, a herald of any rank wore a tabard of the arms of the noble they served. Often the king, but sometimes other varied nobility who chose to have them in their employ. There were freelance heralds, with a variety of designs, but I do not consider myself one of their number.

The populace badge? I certainly have the right to bear the populace badge of Lochac (the royal arms sans crown and wreath) as a member of that fine Kingdom, but for a herald's tabard? That would be rather like seeing a herald in the English College of Arms wearing a tabard of the cross of Saint George. Such tabards did exist, certainly, but they were worn by crusaders, not heralds.

And as for the trumpets... Heralds wearing the arms of the College of Arms is a distinct oddity. I can think of no real circumstances where I might, as a herald, want to identify myself as being in service to the College of Arms or of Heralds. Perhaps, if presenting College business in court, I may wish to do so. However, when going about the business of the College in the service of the Crown? That is rather like an English herald wearing a tabard of "Argent, a cross Gules between four doves, the dexter wing of each expanded and inverted Azure." (the coat of arms of the College of Arms of England).

Finally, for the materials, I am planning on having the main body of it pieced together - the field and cross each joined together at the edges - with the crown, wreath, and stars affixed using appliqué. For the basic fabrics, I believe that a nice damask or brocade, of the appropriate colours, would be the best. Each side of the field should be the same, of course. The cross would be best in a contrasting textured fabric, possibly a satin or velvet. The charges, then, all in white, would be best in a contrast to the cross (as most of them are on there). Velvet, or satin, depending on which was used for the cross.

There will also be an interlining (possibly of a light canvas) to make it drape better, onto which the other layers will likely be quilted - a thin layer of padding over the canvas would highlight the quilting to great effect. Behind this, a lighter backing - most likely black, to seal it in and hold things together.

I would also aim to have some level of affixed pearls as decoration, given my late period preferences and love of sparkly objects (my household badge, currently under design, features a corvid). Edging the charges with strings of small pearls is one possibility. The crown, in particular, could have jewels attached, possibly in the style of those of the true Lochac crown. The laurel wreath, as well, could actually be formed almost entirely of pearls and other beading, as an alternative to such fiddly appliqué.

In all, I think the deciding factor on these materials will be what I can find, and what I can afford. Given the level of work involved in making the tabard, I'd like to start from as fine a base as possible.

These are my plans, and may take any amount of time from a few months to the rest of forever to complete. I'm aiming for somewhere within a year, though, depending on other projects and available energy.

Saturday, 26 October 2013

On Augmentations in Period - Part I: The Bordure

The incorporation of the sovereign's arms into one's own heraldry was used in period, and is still used in the Society, as a display of great honour bestowed on an individual. The most common forms are by placing it on either a canton, a small square or rectangle in the dexter chief corner of the shield, or an inestucheon, a smaller shield placed somewhere on the shield.

However, in Display of Heraldrie (1611), Guillim gives an example of another method: the bordure.

He beareth Argent a bordure quarterly, as followeth: The first, Gules enury of three Lioncels passant guardant, Or. The second, azure, verdoy, of as many Flowers de Lices, Or. The third as the second : The fourth as the first. Such a Bordure did Henry Courtney Earle of Devon, and Marquesse of Exceter, beare, (who lived in the time of King Henrie the Eighth) environing the Royall Armes of England, which he received as an augmentation of honour.
This form of augmentation would adapt well to some SCA kingdoms. For example, the populace badge of Lochac would fit quite well, being quarterly with a cross, and four charges on the cross. Caid, on the other hand is very well-suited to a canton, being a single charge on a coloured field (however, a bordure semy of the Caidan cross would be quite good).

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

On Personae

Following on from my previous discussions of selecting a name, we come to the subject of personae in general. For many people, their persona may never be developed past selecting a name (or even as far as that), but when done well, it can allow for quite an interesting set of insights into medieval life, and enhance the feel of the Society at large.

The basic parts of creating a persona are to choose a time and a place. This can be as general as a rough range of centuries, and a specific quarter of Europe - think of your generic 'Viking' persona, or get as specific as a specific year in a specific town or city - Worcester in 1540, for example. This gives you a general guide for clothing, names and other such things, and in general, the later within the SCA's period it is, the more finely you can narrow down what these things would have been for a specific year or town. There are scant few real resources on how Scandinavian clothing varied between the range of Norway to Finland or the many centuries which constitute the Viking age, but we can track fashions as they spread through England over the individual years of the 16th century. That isn't to say that you shouldn't be as specific with earlier periods as with later, just that there is somewhat more fluid answers to some of the questions.

Some people choose to develop this further, sometimes to a somewhat scary extreme of research. Baron Modar Neznanich has compiled a list of Research Questions for Developing a Persona, which can be used as both a guide for working out which areas you could research for your persona development, and for finding a coherent order in which to record the various aspects you've discovered.

An interesting alternate method for persona development, rather than creating a fully-formed medieval person who just so happens to have been transported to the strange Kingdoms of the Known World, is to create a persona based on your real story. For example, those who have read my 'About the Author' page will have noticed that my persona, while culturally rooted in the 16th century lands of England, was born in the lands of the Barony of Politarchopolis, in the fair Kingdom of Lochac, and is well traveled within that sun-baked realm (my own having moved about through various parts of Australia, translated). This allows me some flexibility in some things - for example in dress. While I aim to keep each outfit internally consistent as to time and place, there are some things which I've adapted from those around me, most notably a 15th century tellerbarret (big wide hat) with my 16th century garb. This is, largely, for practical reasons, as being a field herald wearing a Tudor bonnet which offers no sun protection would be a bad idea in the Lochac summer. I saw a style of hat which would serve my purposes admirably, and like any good Englishman, I stole the idea (there is a period book which depicts the various national fashions, and the Englishman is nearly naked, but with a bolt of cloth and pair of scissors).

Once you have a persona, what can you do with it? Firstly, it can be used as a guide for your development of other things, including garb, camping gear, feastware, &c. Each culture has its own ways of adding personalising touches to personal possessions or outfits, from the heraldic painting of western Europe to the excessive personal adornments of gold of the steppe cultures (in a nomadic setting, having all of your wealth as items to wear made it much easier to transport and show off). It can also add to the roleplaying side of the Society, with the curious interactions between people of the various cultures (so long as it's kept civil) and the differing perspectives they bring to various matters.

Finally, a brief note on what *not* to do. There is a temptation, and sometimes a tendency, to create a persona which explains every little odd combination of clothing you wish to experiment with and every other weirdness you'd like. You can, if you particularly wish, be a viking who was kidnapped by gypsies, then escaped and joined a pirate crew, before winding up in the court of Elizabeth I. Temporal problems aside, this is... well, in short, silly. You can do it, and you can also show up to SCA events dressed as Captain Jack Sparrow. Both are equally silly, in my opinion.

Saturday, 19 October 2013

On the Nine Virtues of Chivalry

John Ferne's 1586 Glory of Generositie (part of The Blazon of Gentrie) gives the following 'Nine vertues of Chivalrie'.
Torq. I was never daintie of my cunning : of these nine vertues, foure of them beene called spirituall, and five temporall, the foure vertues spirituall be these.

1 He shall honor his father and his mother.
2 He shall not oppresse the poore.
3 He shall shew mercie where mercie is due.
4 He shall fight for the defence of the sacrifice of the great God of heaven.

Now follow the five vertues temporall.

1 He shall not turne his backe to his enemie, with intent to flie.
2 He shall truly hold his promise to his friend, as to his foe.
3 He shall be free of his hospitallitie.
4 He shall defend maidens right.
5 He shall uphold the cause of the widow.

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

On Selecting a Name

The process for selecting a name in the Society is one of the first encounters with book heraldry that most people have (along with designing a coat of arms), and thus is one of the areas where there can be the greatest confusion. To be registered with the College of Heralds, the name must be documented as being a plausible name to be borne by a real person in period.

Why register your name? Firstly, to have a coat of arms registered, you need a registered name to go with it. Secondly, when your name is registered, it is yours, and uniquely yours, forever. A side-effect of this is that if you don't register your name, and then someone else (maybe on the other side of the Known World) registers the same name, then it's theirs, and uniquely theirs, forever.

Essentially, there are two ways that selecting a name is usually undertaken, of which... one is more problematic.

The problematic method is to create a name, and then try to document it. The problems with this are, largely, that it's an unreliable and difficult way of coming up with things. Some names simply didn't exist in period, including ones from so-called medieval fiction, and some elements aren't compatible with each other (for example, those too far separated by time or by culture, or by gender). Some modern given names were surnames, and some modern girl's names were male. For many names, this process can work. It can be more problematic, and certainly trickier to research. But, it can work. I'd not recommend it, however.

The better method is to first, pick a time and a place. This is, when it comes down to it, the first part of developing a persona. Once you've selected that, it's time to start researching what names were found in that culture. For most of the cultures in the SCA's period and geography, you can find many great sources on the College of Heralds site and the Academy of St Gabriel. These sources are largely articles on name constructions, and lists of names garnered from period sources. Other websites, and also many books are also acceptable, but care must be taken that they've not modernised the spellings (which will present an obstacle to documenting names accurately).

When reading through lists of names, you can find some great names that have died out, or been modified beyond recognition, in the passage of time, from Lettice to Lancelot (both 16th century English). There are opportunities for amusing names, like Ralph de Pukehole, too (though be careful - if you pick a funny name, you still have to live with it).

By looking at what names were actually used, and then crafting something with a good personal significance from there, you'll end up with both a more medieval, and also more human, name than you would otherwise have found.

Saturday, 12 October 2013

On Tinctures in Period - Part VIII: Tenne and Sanguine

Going beyond the regular Tinctures, there are those strange creatures of tawny or orange, and of blood red, known in Blazon as Tenne and Sanguine respectively.

Dame Juliana Berners - Boke of Saint Albans (1486)
St Albans gives the tinctures of termed "brusk" and "sinamer or sanguine"
Tercius lapis

And this stone is calde brusk colore in armys

The thirde stone is calde an Ametisce a dusketli stone brusk hit is calde in armys. The vertue ther of is : that he the wich berith in his Cotearmur that stone. fortunable of victori in his kinges batayll shall be. the wich stone is reserved to the virtutys crowne that was fortunable and victoriows in his kyngs batail of heven whan they faught with Lucifer.

Quintus lapis

A loys is calde sinamer or sanguine in armys

The . v . stone is calde a Loys . a sanguine stone or sinamer hit is calde in armys. The vertue therof is : the gentilman thatt in his Cotearmure this stone berith myghtifull of power in his kyngys batayll shall be . the wich stone was reserved in domina cionys crowne that was myghtifull of powere in his kyngys bataill of hevyn whan thei faught with Lucifer.
It is interesting that these tinctures are given positions three and five, of the nine (with Purpure between them).

John Bossewell - Workes of Armorie (1572)
Orenge Tawney, termed Tenne, is compared to the Dragons Head, and to the Jacinthe.
The Jacinth is taken to be medecinable, and to give vigor or strength to the Lyms, to encrease the Synewes, and to provoke quite & sound sleape.
Murrey, termed Sanguine, is compared to the Dragons Tail, and to the Sardonix.
The Sardonix saieth Isidore also is three coloured, black about the botom, white in the middest, and redd at the toppe. [...] The Lapidarie sayeth , it is bredd & borne of the Sardye, which is father to him, & Onyx. [...] In workyng it maketh a man lowlye, & shamefaste in his doinges.
In the second table of tinctures, Tenne and Sanguine are excluded from mention (indeed, Purpure only just barely scrapes a mention).
Of the 9. diverse coulours, planettes, and precious stones before rehearced, which be assigned for the fielde of Cote armoure. There be moste usually used in the blazon of oure English ensignes, but 6.

John Ferne - The Blazon of Gentrie (1586)
In the table of diverse systems of blazon, Ferne has omitted Tenne and Sanguine, by good cause. However, they are given place in the table of tinctures to angels (as there are nine orders of angels, so a rounded nine tinctures may be of use here.)
It is even so, you shall know that Purple was called Plumby : Tawney was named Bruske : and Sanguine was blazonned by the name of Synamer.
Bruske, alias Tawny, is compared to the Powers, fortunate of victory. Synamer, alias Sanguyne, is compared to the Denominations, mighty of power.

Edmund Bolton - The Elements of Armories (1610)

I have found no mention of Tenne or Sanguine in Bolton's writing, who only barely admits to the possibility of Purpure in arms.

John Guillim - Display of Heraldrie (1611)
Tawney (saith Leigh) is a Colour of worship, and of some Heralds it is called Bruske, and is most commonly borne of French Gentlemen, but very few doe beare it in England. In Blazonit is knowen by the name of Tenne. It is (saith he) the surest colour that is (of so bright a hew being compounded) for it is made of two bright colours, which are Red and Yellow : neither shall you have any Colour so made among all that may be devised ; and not to be stainand.

The last of the seven mixed colors, we doe commonly call Murrey, but in Blazon, Sanguine, and is (as most truly saith Leigh) a Princely Colour, being indeed one of the colors appertaining of ancient time to the Prince of Wales. It is a colour of great estimation, and very stately, and is of use in certained roabes of the Knights of the Bath. Some Heralds of approved judgement do hardly admit these two last mentioned for Colours of Fields, in regard they are reckoned Staynand Colours. Yet some Coats of Armes there are, and those of reverend antiquitie, whose Fields are of those Colours, for which respect they have beene allowed for Colours of Fields, as Sir John Ferne in his Glorie of Generositie noteth. THis kinde of bearing, Leigh doth instance in two English Gentlemen of ancient Houses, that have of long time borne Tawney in their Armes: the one of them he nameth Hounzaker, and the other Finers.
This is a much higher estimation of these two tinctures than may be found in any of the other sources save St Albans.

In his table of the names used for the tinctures and their order, Guillim gives Tennè the eigth place, the stone of Iacynthe, and the planet of Dragons head, and gives Sanguinethe ninth place, the stone of Sardonyx, and the planet of Dragons taile.

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

On the Importance of Heraldry

Some days, it can seem as though heraldry is almost everywhere in the Society, between the various forms of book and voice heraldry. But why, exactly, should it be so ubiquitous? I believe (as may be deduced from most of the other posts here) that heraldry is important, though the reasons vary between the various forms of heraldry.

Let us begin with the obvious, that of arms as seen in the banners, pennons, standards, and other flags which are flown at events, and the shields and tabards of fighters and heralds, and painted on any number of diverse items. This side of heraldry is important to the Society partially because it was so important in period. A great many tourney scenes and feasting halls may be seen hung with a great many banners, and the inclusion of such things can quickly add a good period feel to an otherwise dull (or even unattractively modern) venue. Arms also still fulfill their original purpose, of identifying the bearer (either individually, or their affiliations in the case of group arms). And thirdly, the decorating of various objects with coat-armour is a relatively easy (or potentially greatly complex) way to make an object unique to the individual, and also make it uniquely theirs.

Continuing with the other side of book heraldry, being the creation of period-accurate (or at least period-plausible) names, I feel the importance here is again largely in changing the feel of our society, including by encouraging people to explore other cultures than the medieval equivalent of their native culture, and by encouraging the development of a separate persona that may be used as an escape from the modern world. While not everyone will go further into persona development than selecting a name, most will complete at least this basic step.

As for voice heraldry, the most commonly visible role is that of the field or tourney herald. Their value lies largely in adding flair and pageantry, and in communicating to both the participants and the audience what is actually happening, and what is about to happen. By calling the names of the fighters, and leading the salutes, the audience is more able to be involved in what can be, for those not actually involved or specifically following a fighter, a rather repetitive if noisy event. Also, by making sure that the participants know who's fighting who, and in what order, without having to come and directly check with the list keeper, the tourney is made to flow more smoothly.

The next form of voice heraldry is court heraldry, which is valuable in that it allows the ruling nobles, be they Baron and Baroness or King and Queen, to take the centre of attention without straining their voice, thanks to the court herald taking the role of loudpseaker system, or having to be constantly fiddling with or hiding behind paper, thanks to the court herald having the full schedule and guiding the court through it, and having the text of the various ceremonies easily to hand.

Finally, there is duty heraldry, making the announcements at an event. The value here is simply as a mobile public address system, making sure that the announcements are made and heard, whenever needed. This is perhaps the least exciting form, and is usually best kept the least fanciful, but it is a necessary task for the smooth running of the other excitements.

Saturday, 5 October 2013

On Tinctures in Period - Part VII: Purpure

The seventh and final of the Tinctures found in period treatises and allowed in the SCA is Purple or Violet, known in Blazon as Purpure.

Dame Juliana Berners - Boke of Saint Albans (1486)
St Albans gives a "plumby" colour, which I have placed with Purpure because of Ferne's explanations given below.
Quartus lapis

And this stone is calde plumby in armys

The . iiii . stone is calde a Margarete a clowdy stone Plumby hit is calde in armys . The vertue ther of is . what gentilman that in his Cotearmure that stone berith grete govenawnce of chivalrie in his kyngys batayll he shall have . the wich stone is repued in the potestatis crowne that was chevalrius of govenaunce in his kyngys batayll of hevyn whan thay faught with Lucifer.

John Bossewell - Workes of Armorie (1572)
Violet, termed Purpure, is compared to Mercurie, and to the Amatiste.
The Amatiste his force or vertue avayleth agaynst dronkennesse, it keepeth a man wakyng, and dryveth awaye ill thoughtes, and sharpeneth the understanding also.
In the second table of tinctures, purpure is not included in the list of four colours, with the following note:
Purpure, may bee addedd to make the 5.coloure, but it is rare in use with us.

John Ferne - The Blazon of Gentrie (1586)
The last of the 7 tinctures detailed by Ferne.
The 7. cullor is composed of white, blew, & red, and is called purpre, it signifieth in

1 - Planets. - Mercury.
2 - Precious stones. - Amethist, Opall, and Hyacinth.
3 - Vertues. - Temperancie and prudence.
4 - Celestiall signes. - Sagittarius and Pisces.
5 - Months. - November and February.
6 - Days of the week. - Wednesday.
7 - Ages of Man. - The age of gray heares, called canasenectus.
8 - Flowres. - The Violet.
9 - Elements. - Water and earth.
10- Sesons of the yeer - Winter.
11 - Complexions. - Flegmatique with some choller.
12 - Numbers. - 7. 12.
13 - Mettailes. - Tinne.
Purpure is the only tincture to be given a complexion of a combination of two, rather than a single humour on its own.

In the angelic system given later in the book, Purple is given to Vertues, with the virtue Knightly of governement. In the leadup to the angelic system, Ferne gives the following:
It is even so, you shall know that Purple was called Plumby : Tawney was named Bruske : and Sanguine was blazonned by the name of Synamer.

Edmund Bolton - The Elements of Armories (1610)

The rankings of tinctures given by Bolton hold Purpure as one of the lowest, with Upton placing it fifth, after Gules, Leigh and Scohier relegating it to seventh and last, after Vert or Sable respectively, and Bolton's own throne of colours placing it last, sharing the fourth tier with Vert.

There may also be found this conversation on why purpure has sunk from honour in our estimation:
A. I affect not the maintenance of forced paradoxes in matter concerning them , neverthelesse before I entered farther I would gladly that purple were restored to the owne place.

E. Indeed I marvayle seeing the best , and most ancient Authors speake of purple,as of an Imperial, and most reserved colour , peculiar to the Ceasars , and other Soveraigne Princes, how it hath lost the præcedence ?

A. You may wel say it was peculiar indeed, when in the phrase of Iustinians Code , the shel-fish wherein it grew is called sacer murex , and the crime of using it in cloak, or other garment by an imperiall edict dated at Constantinople equalled to treason, and the appropriation thereof to them of the bloud only, is honored therin with no meaner, nor lesse holy a word as the Dedication, which yet is but according to the Analogie of the whole use, if the colour were sacred, nay; if I forget not greatly, the State therein grew so precise, that to use but guards, laces, or strings dipt with that die wascapitall, though the great and glorious Emperour Iustinian remitted the rigour of those Edicts made by his prædecessors.

The reason why it hath loswt præcedence is because he have lost the colour it-selfe, since (as som thing) he Turks have come into possession of the fishings at Tyre, and other places where the Welks or Shel-fish grew in which purple was found, or beacause though the fish bee not extinguished, yet the Art it selfe of drawing, and keeping it is utterly perisht: For it is not (God knowes) that bastard die which is in Grocers turnsol, a mixture of vermillion, and blew-byße, or cynaber, or the colour in violets, but a most pretious, bright and admirable; which (saith Pancerollus) is now to bee onely ghest at in the Italian ielliflower, & seemes not in some judgements to bee that of the Amethist, but that of the Rubie, Pyropus or Carbuncle, or (as saith Bartolus) of Elementall fire, or rather of the Empyræan heaven it selfe.

If the true, and Tyrian purple were not lost, I perceive you would not feare to advance it in dictitie above white and yellow, that is above the metals in Armories, goldand silver.

A. I durst certainly. But forsomuch as those colours are in the Court of honour exempt from the name, and nature of colours, beeing the vegetative soules of Armories, and so reputed, wee put them apart as agreed uppon for the purpose of Armorie.

John Guillim - Display of Heraldrie (1611)
Purpure is a Colour that consisteth of much Red, and of a small quantitie of Blacke [...] Cassaneus having formerly handled those former six Colours, viz. White, Blacke, Red, Yellow, Greene, and Blew, saith, that of them all (being compunded and mixed together according to proportion), this Purpure Colour is raised. This Colour usually hath no other name in Blazon.
In his table of the names used for the tinctures and their order, Guillim gives Purpure the seventh place, as Purpure. Amethyst. Mercury.

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

On the Herald's Staff

5.9. Any herald on official business may carry a small white stave to indicate they ought not be interrupted.
9.2.3. When announcing a multi-field, multi-herald tourney a herald’s white stave may be raised when speaking to assist in prevention of overlapping calls.
The above are quotes from the Lochac College of Heralds official policy. It is rather brief on the point, giving it as simply a method of stopping interruptions during calls. However, there are a great many uses for the herald's staff, and they are currently greatly under-used by heralds in my experience.

The most useful area of heraldry in which a staff can serve well is in tourney heraldry. At the start of a bout, the marshal indicates each fighter as they're introduced, and each fighter usually indicates the other with their weapon. If carrying a staff, the herald can join in on this. At the end of the bout, one fighter is again indicated, the victor, and if carrying a staff, the herald can help with this. Also, the staff can be raised to call for attention. In a multi-field environment, this attention is, as indicated in the Lochac policy, quite useful from the other heralds present. In a single-field environment, raising a shining white staff can raise the visibility of the herald, particularly if it's crowded.

Outside of tourney heraldry, a staff has some other very important uses for a duty herald. Firstly, it increases the visual impact of a herald in their tabard, adding to the style and pageantry of the event, which is, after all, one of the important roles of the herald. Secondly, it gives the the herald's hand something to do, rather than fidgeting or scratching (though, be careful not to drop it too often once you inevitably start twirling your staff).

Finally, when making an announcement in a hall, or calling for the beginning of court, a stout staff banged on the floor before your 'Oyez' makes it slightly more likely to get attention, and on top of that, adds an interesting note of class.