East Kingdom Arms

The East Kingdom Herald's Handbook

College of Heralds Seal


Lord Thomas de Castellon, Treblerose Herald

revised by

Lyle FitzWilliam, Eastern Crown Herald (Emeritus)


Intended as a beginning manual of heraldry for the Heralds and Pursuivants of the Laurel Kingdom of the East.

This version of the EK Herald's Handbook is an unofficial revision created by Lyle FitzWilliam, Eastern Crown Herald (Emeritus). It does not delineate policy of the East Kingdom College of Heralds.

Table of Contents:


What does a herald do, anyway?



The Art of Effective Commentary

The Verbal Heraldries

A Conceptual Idea

"Blessed are the Cheese Makers?"

Field Heraldry

Heralding Court

The Order of Precedence

The Order of Precedence as a document

Precedence as a concept

Being a local heraldic officer

Assorted useful information


A Basic Library

In Closing


"Ok, now we need a herald. You (pointing at you), youíre loud. You can be the herald."

A sad statement, but Iím told it happens. If you are new to SCA heraldry, whether as a new local officer, or someone just getting interested, then this work can serve as your starting point. It will hopefully tell you something about everything you need to know as a herald. Donít worry if it seems like a lot; I have met very few heralds who have thoroughly studied all aspects of heraldry, myself included.

This handbook will go over each of the various things that a herald does, and discuss them a bit. Bear in mind that you do not have to be good at all of them, or even do all of them. Many heralds specialize in one or two areas of study, while others experience a bit of each. There are more detailed works on many of these subjects, and I encourage you to seek them out if you are in need of more information. There are a few things this handbook does not cover. Things such as basic armoury (the study of devices, rules for submitting, etc.) and onomastics (name research and documentation) have been deliberately avoided, as they each fill volumes by themselves. Some good starting sources for such subjects are included in the bibliography. Especially useful for the new herald is a self-paced course, written by Mistress Orianna Fridrikskona (check with your regional herald for more information). What will be covered here are the aspects of being an SCA herald that are seldom written about, with specific emphasis on heralds in the East Kingdom.

As you reach the limits of the information presented here, remember that your best source of information is the College of Heralds itself. Other heralds are the most helpful source I have found, and have always been willing to help. Seek the assistance of your peers, and you will not be disappointed. Indeed, this work would not have been possible without the support of several figures in the college, both for their contributions and for the guidance they gave me when I was a floundering, new herald.

What does a herald do, anyway?

Of all the various functions in the SCA (seneschal, marshall, etc.). I think being a herald covers the most diverse duties of them all. You will perform a great many, seemingly unrelated tasks. The ones we will discuss here are:

You should also remember to read Brigantiaís column each month in Pikestaff, and be aware of Brigantiaís policies in each Law and Policy issue. They will have current information that you, as a herald, should know.

Thereís also another side to being a herald. You are often directly involved in the ceremony and pageantry of the game we play. The herald served a very special role in period society, and you should be familiar with it. He served as neutral messenger, diplomat, and ambassador. A herald could safely be sent into the enemy encampment with a message. He would be unarmed, but protected from all harm. He would be permitted to deliver his message, and would be treated as a guest, and then return to his master. He would not be feared as a spy, for the herald would never disclose any information he learned while in the enemyís midst. A herald was the focus of ceremony and pageantry, and was an advisor on ceremony and proper behavior. Be ready to serve in this role as well. Many of these conventions are used in our Society, and heralds still hold these functions. When acting as a herald, you are protected from harm, you should not be armed in any way. (Of course, this is only a game. Nobody is going to hurt you, even if you are making announcements at 6:30 a.m. at a camping event.) Many mundane books can give you a more thorough feel for this aspect of a herald. What follows is an excerpt from the Middle Kingdomís Pursuivantís Handbook:

  • "You must be dedicated and industrious. In demeanor; patient, gentle, courteous, and to be wary of quarrels. ...It is your responsibility to be accurate and honest, to forego your own feelings and opinions, and become a useful, neutral force within the Society."

    Baron Daemon de Folo, Dragon Herald Emeritus

    A herald is more than just a person who stands around yelling "OYEZ" and being a mobile bulletin board. ...You can also use your voice as a diplomatic tool, traveling to other shires and baronies, delivering messages and giving presentations. Keep in mind that a herald is the voice of the Crown to the populace, and conversely the voice of the people to the Crown. ...You should strive to be familiar with the myriad ceremonies and titles in the SCA, and be ready to advise on proper behavior in court, and before the nobility.

  • As you develop your own style and tastes for being a herald, be aware of these concepts. Especially if you are interested in court heraldry, you may be asked to serve in one of these roles.

    Letís cover some of these items in more detail.


    "But why canít I have two twelve-headed dragons and a machine gun on my device?"

    Consulting is the art (and it is an art) of helping a submitter register a name or a device with the College of Arms. This can be done at varying levels, depending on the amount of heraldic knowledge and reference material you have available, but there are some things that stay constant and should be remembered.

    1. Be polite and helpful - I canít emphasize this enough. It is the single most important thing about consulting. Think of the submitter as a customer. You want to provide the best service to that customer that you possibly can. Most submitters will sit down with you already having some ideas about what they want for a name or device (I am going to just say Ďdeviceí from here on, but it applies equally to names as well.) What they want may not be legal or passable under the Collegeís standards. The idea is to work with the submitter; to become a partner with him and help him design a device that he likes and is passable. Some examples will drive this point home.
    What you shouldnít say What you should say instead
    "You canít have lions. Everybody has lions." "Lions are a very common charge. We may have to make adjustments to make sure it passes."
    "You canít put color on color." "We need to change those colors somehow so it conforms to the rules." Explain contrast rules.
    "Thatís so ugly." (Unless there is a genuine style problem, say nothing. You are not an art critic.)
    "Thatís NPS." "The way these lightning bolts are drawn is not really a period style. Is this type of picture ok?"

    Try to remember the following:

    1. Make sure the paperwork is right - Regardless of your materials or experience level, any herald can make sure the paperwork is correct. This means sending the correct amount of money with the correct number of copies to the correct person. Any problems will only hold up the submission and frustrate the submitter. Send four copies of each name form (and one copy of name documentation), and three colored copies and three black and white line drawings of each armory form. You should also send two extra copies of the line drawing, photo-reduced to about 2 inches tall (Two successive reductions at 65% is about right). Check the Law and Policy issue of the Pikestaff, under Brigantiaís Policies, for current information. Send the proper amount of money; resubmissions of a returned item are free if the item is resubmitted within one year of the return (a copy of the return letter helps). Be sure to keep a copy of the entire submission in case something goes astray. This includes making sure that a person has a name passed or in-process, before they try to submit a device. One further note on the forms: membership is currently not required to submit an item to the College. There is a copy of each form included in this handbook, which you may photocopy to your heartís content.
    2. Do whatever research you can - If you have the sources to research a name or conflict-check a device, then do so before you send it in, preferably with the submitter present. Make sure the device and name conform to the current Rules for Submissions. There are some basic sources listed at the end of this handbook. Especially with names, you should send in copies of whatever documentation you have available. Go to the local library for more materials, or encourage the submitter to do so.
    3. Be prompt - Promptness is even defined in Law and Policy. (Really!) Donít take the submission and then let it sit on your kitchen table for six weeks. Always keep things moving.
    4. Help at Pennsic - The heralds handle a huge number of submissions at the Pennsic War. One great way to get some front-line training under good supervision is to do consulting at the war. And they always need the help.

    These ideas can help make a submission go much smoother for the submitter and the herald. More importantly, you help build a good relationship between the submitter and the College, and between you and the submitter. He might be King someday....


    "I have a comment on everything. Whether itís useful or not is another question."

    In order to understand commenting, letís review the process a submission goes through before it is accepted. The submitter and the local herald submit the item. The submission is sent to the Eastern Crown Herald. The Eastern Crown Herald collects all the submissions for that period (one month to 6 weeks) and creates an Internal Letter of Intent, or ILoI. This includes any relevant documentation, condensed down to a paragraph, for each submission, along with pictures of the devices and badges. The ILoI is sent to commenting groups (which donít necessarily have to live in the East Kingdom). The groups meet and review the letter, checking each submission to see that it conforms to the Rules for Submissions, providing additional documentation from their sources where necessary, and checking for conflict (if a new device is too similar in appearance to previously registered device). They send their comments back to the Eastern Crown Herald, who looks at all the commentary and rejects any submissions he feels needs more work before it would pass Laurel. (Laurel Sovereign of Arms is the chief herald of the Society, just as Brigantia is the chief herald of the East Kingdom.) The remaining submissions are sent to Blue Tyger Herald, who compiles an External Letter of Intent, or XLoI, which is sent to the XLoIs commenters across the Known World. These commenters repeat the process, and add their interpretations and opinions on borderline cases. These comments are sent to Laurel, who reviews the commentary and makes decisions. These decisions are sent back to the Kingdom on the Letters of Acceptance and Return, or LoAR. The Eastern Crown Herald then informs the submitters of the fate of their submission. The average time for a submission to be processed has been about nine months to one year (circa 1994). Add extra time for submissions taken at or near the Pennsic War.

    External commentary (comments on the XLoIs) is beyond the scope of this work, so we will discuss Internal commentary. Internal commentary is an invaluable experience and service for any herald to perform. You will gain an understanding of what is good and bad, and your comments will help the submissions reach their final destination. To start, try to find a commenting group that is operating near you, and join up with them. If you canít find one, you may have to start your own. Check with the Eastern Crown Herald for more information on nearby groups. Being in a group is better than doing the letter by yourself, since it divides the workload nicely, and is a wonderful learning and social opportunity. It also lets you access the reference materials of all the commenters. Also, remember to compare your comments with the decisions from the regionals, so you know if you were on track or if you missed something.

    The following article provides some wonderful advice on commentary. My thanks to Mistress Allison MacDermot, Badger Herald, for so wonderfully summing up this important job.

    The Art of Effective Commentary

    Commenting on heraldic submissions is one of the least-defined jobs in the SCA. Corpora says that the duty of the College of Arms is "registering and authenticating names and armorial devices," and to do this "has the right to call for documentation in the case of names, devices, or titles which are obscure or questionable, and to determine disputed issues of fact . . ." It does not specify how this is done.

    What the College has done to meet this obligation is to set up a staff of intrepid irregulars, who offer advice to Laurel and do research ad hoc. Having been both a commentor and a submission herald myself, I know very well that Laurelís job would be impossible without the commentors - after all, Laurel processes about 400 submissions a month, which touch on many specialties in onomastics and heraldry. Even if Laurel had the expertise necessary to do good research in Japanese naming practices, German field divisions, rare charges, and everything else we deal with, the time to do so would still be lacking.

    Therefore, Laurel asks the commentors to do as much research as they can, and then makes a decision based on what the found.

    Besides, itís great fun. I assume you already know how to have fun; this article is intended to help you write useful and informative comments while youíre having fun.

    So what is the job of the commentor? There are three-and-a-half duties:

    What should a LoC contain?

    A commentor "does his duty" in the Letter of Comment (LoC). The most important part of an LoC is comments on current submissions. Some commentors include replies to othersí comments, comments on submissions that have already been decided on, stray inclusions and cartoons, etc. I like the format:

    The comments themselves consist of several different things, all of which are intended to help the submissions herald do his or her job. These are:

    Conflict Calls

    The SCA has traditionally tried to prevent the names and devices adopted by its members from being to easily mistaken for those of other people (both SCA and real-world). The process of looking for too-close names and arms is called "checking for conflict." In the case of names, commentors scan the SCA Armorial and a few reference books for the names of significant real-world people. For devices, specialized books called "ordinaries", which are listings of arms arranged by what they look like, are checked. If a too-close match is found, a "conflict call" is made.

    How to be effective: For names, give the potential conflict name in full, and (if itís a non-SCA person) explain why he or she is significant. For devices, blazon completely, then give the armiger and the source. I like to "count points" after that, both because it helps make my point and because I may prove to myself that something I thought was a conflict actually wasnít. Itís a sort of mental proofreading.

    Comments on Style

    In the RfS are several rules that give a thumbnail sketch of what the SCA considers to be acceptable, registerable names and armoury. In general, they restrict submissions that are excessively complex, modern, or offensive.

    How to be effective: Go easy on style comments at first; watch other commentors to see what gets a reaction and what doesnít. "I donít like it" is not a valid objection. Something like "The Irish and Chinese did not interact with each other in Period a name mixing the two shouldnít be registered" or "The koala bear was unfamiliar to Europeans throughout our period, as Australia was discovered in 1606; by Rule ..., it cannot be used" is much more like it. Supporting comments, like "this motif was used in at least 10 French coats in Period, for example ...; it should be acceptable" are also nice, because they serve as supplemental documentation for the submission. It is also acceptable to comment on unusual spellings and renditions; care should be taken not to go overboard, however.

    Given that this is whatís needed, what can you do to make yourself as effective as possible?

    Play to your strengths

    If you know a lot about a particular area (like Polish armoury or Scottish names), then by all means focus on that! You have information that the rest of the College doesnít. You can, of course, comment on areas outside our specialty. Many commenting groups have two or three specialists in different areas.

    If you donít have a specialty, thatís OK, but you might enjoy doing research in an area that interests you on the side. If you really get into it, you may suddenly look up one day to discover that youíve become more knowledgeable on the topic than most CoA members. The flip side is that no one expects you to comment in an area where youíre clueless. I, for example, know literally nothing about medieval Chinese naming practices. When a submission comes through with a Chinese name,, I generally skim over it to check for any obvious misstatements of fact, but I almost never comment. I know that I cannot add anything of value. I the time I have saved and apply it to commenting on something in my specialties. In the College, we have both generalists and specialists; at this writing, we have an "adjunct commentor" who works on only Russian names! I think this is a fine thing, so donít let unevenness in your knowledge scare you away from being a commentor.

    Plug the holes (or, The Dutch Boy Herald)

    If the submitter, the consulting herald, or the submissions herald asks a question, see if you can answer it. If you see a hole in someoneís documentation, try to fill it. We are all backups for each other. It is also appropriate to ask a question about a submission, thereby pointing it out to others for special attention, although I try to do this only when I have exhausted my own resources trying to answer the question myself. It is less helpful to ask a bald question without trying to research it first; that simply shifts the burden of answering it to someone else.

    For Godís sake, document

    If you canít cite a source for what youíre saying, think three times before saying it at all. The worst trip-ups Iíve ever made happened because I thought I knew something, and didnít bother to check it. You still might be right, but you might not be - at least express it as "I believe this is so," rather than "I know this is so." If youíre later proven wrong, the first form allows an "oh, I see I was mistaken"; the second only "something I knew just wasnít so." (And you will feel much worse if your error caused someoneís submission to be bounced. Save yourself, and the poor submitter, the grief.)


    After you finish your LoC, put it away for at least 24 hours and look at it again. Make sure that the logic is clear, there arenít any typos and everythingís been referenced.

    Read your reviews

    When the LoAR comes back, compare your comments to what was accepted and returned. This is valuable feedback to see if you missed a conflict call, or if you misunderstood a rule. This will help you make your commenting better. Some submissions heralds include quotes from the commenters when they are particularly relevant. This is a good chance to see what other commenters are thinking.

    In short, keep in mind why we have commentors in the first place: to help the College of Arms do its job properly. Donít forget to have fun - after all, this is volunteer work - but be serious about doing a good job, too.

    The Verbal Heraldries

    or How to be loud, understood, and alive to tell about it.

    A Conceptual Idea

    The verbal heraldries (as I call them) include crying the camp, field heraldry, and court heraldry. They all share some commonalties, and I will discuss them together. Remember that you do not need to be a warranted herald to perform any heraldic activity except handling submissions, but as a warranted herald, you will probably be asked to do these things.

    "Blessed are the Cheese Makers?"

    The single most important thing to do and do well in the verbal heraldries is to be heard. People have to be able to hear you in the back of the hall, across the lists, or across the camp, and they have to be able to understand what you said as if you were right in front of them. You also have to do this without shouting and blowing out your voice. I have seen a great great many heralds who could not do this thing. I have seen several who could, and did their job well, and the people with the cheap seats in court were grateful. I have seen a great many Monarchs who should also learn this lesson. When the King speaks, all should hear him, not just the first two rows. Fortunately, it is easy to do, if you know how. Explaining it is another thing.

    The technique is called projecting your voice. It produces excellent results. I figured it out years ago and I can be heard halfway across the camp outdoors. In court, there is nobody who can't clearly hear every word of the scroll I read (or so I'm told). At the end, my voice is not scratchy or hoarse. All this and more can be yours. Since I just worked it out on my own, I have chosen to ask the aid of someone whom I consider an expert in this field. She used to hawk at a Renaissance Faire, and you could hear her from one end to the other. She is also good at explaining how to do it.

    This brings up another interesting point: you don't have to be male to do this. Women have a different vocal range than men, and everyone will sound slightly different. Some people will carry better than others because of this, but I think anyone can carry well.

    So let me officially thank Bountie for her help with this. Thanks, Bountie. We'll teach them all, yet.

    So here's how to do it:

    1. Pick something to practice with. Bountie used the phrase "Turkey Legs" since that is what they were selling. You might want to use "Oyez Oyez Oyez."
    2. Now yell that phrase at the top of your lungs. Really really loud. Right now. Smile at your neighbors who thought you were weird anyway.
    3. Now that you have done that, you could probably feel the force and volume of your words being generated in your throat. You might even feel how that could make you hoarse in a big hurry. Remember this. Try it again if you like.
    4. Take a deep breath. Deeper. Deeper than that. Most people will breathe in and fill the upper part of their lungs in their chest. Fill your lungs completely, down near your stomach too. Feel the tension around your stomach area (your diaphragm). That is the area you are going to be using. You can let it out now.
    5. This is where teaching in person is much easier. Breathe in some air and put it down near your stomach. Put your hand there and add a little tension to that muscle yourself. Now try yelling your phrase, not loud, but with some force. Instead of putting pressure on the outgoing air with your throat, your are using that muscle your hand is on. To me, itís kind of like trying to be an opera singer. Singers understand this technique and can help you.
    6. You may have noticed that someone doing this technique has almost a sing-song quality to what they are saying. This is not just for effect. It is part of the technique. When you are yelling your phrase, act a bit more like it is a song. It will help you use your diaphragm.

    Now this may seem difficult to grasp, but when you do it right, you will know the feeling. And you will be heard for a long long way. And you won't be hoarse later, either. Practice it. Work on it. Don't try to cover Pennsic on your first afternoon. But after a little time, you will surprise yourself, and the people who are listening. They will be very appreciative you took the time to learn. One more thing: you will carry better downwind than you will upwind so stand upwind and yell downwind.

    If you need to make announcements, this is all you really need to know. Donít forget to turn around so people in different directions can hear you.

    Field Heraldry

    Field Heraldry means announcing who is fighting on the lists, as well as things like who is on deck (donít say Ďon deck,í say Ďarm and make readyí or something), and doing the various honors. Either you or the marshall in the list will also be working with your runner to inform the List Mistress who won. This is the second easiest aspect of heraldry. The difference here is that you are now dealing with peoples names. Names that are often hard to pronounce or understand, and then there are the titles associated with those names. Know how to project your voice, so the fighters know which list they are in next. If you can't handle a name, ask someone or do the best you can. Nobody likes to have their name butchered, but I have found people with tough names to be very understanding, and will usually inform you of the correct pronunciation. As for titles, do the best you can. If your list mistress is kind, they are written on the card for you. Nobody can expect you to know every title for everyone on the list, so when in doubt, Lord or Lady is just fine. Try to always be respectful and helpful and you canít go too far wrong. If there are several lists running, try not to step on other heralds; let them finish their call first, then do yours.

    Now for the matter of salutes. Examples are listed for each. In the East, the first salute is to the Crown ("Please do honor to the Crown of the East," bow and point in the appropriate direction.X ) If you are in a Principality, do a similar salute to the Prince and Princess of the Principality. The next salute is to the consort of the fighter ("Please do honor to the gentle who inspires you to greatness this day." Remember, we have lots of female fighters.). You may optionally insert a salute to the crowd ("Please do honor to the crowd herein assembled to witness your bravery." I like to get the crowd involved.) The final salute is to the opponent ("And please do honor to your most noble opponent") You may not have to do salutes before each bout. Sometimes a grand salute is held before the tourney (thus avoiding salutes in the lists) and you may optionally call for salutes to the respective opponents before each bout. For a double-elimination tourney, they may only do salutes for the first round, and dispense with them until the final rounds. Find out whoís in charge, and see what they would like for salutes. Lastly, after the bout is over, announce the winner Do not assume the winner yourself! Let the marshall tell you, or let the marshall announce it. Discuss it with the marshall on your list before starting.

    Drink fluids while working a list. Last, and most important, remember to wear sunscreen.

    Heralding Court

    So you want to be a court herald? Boy, are you crazy! But so am I, so I understand. It was a crummy job with a lot of standing, but I loved it to death. All that pageantry and such. First, know that there are no hard and fast rules for doing court, but there are many guidelines. I certainly do not consider myself the definitive authority on doing court, but I have done a few, and I have been told they went pretty well. I have also been fortunate enough to have access to people who I consider true masters. I must honestly say that part of being a good court herald is raw talent. If you have trouble speaking in front of people, then this may not be for you. Also, timing plays a large part in it. Itís kind of like stand-up comedy (my Lady says "game-show host" but thatís not my preferred analogy). It may take talent to hold a truly great court, but with some help and practice, anyone can hold a good court. Here are the guidelines, in rough order of importance.

    1. Organization is everything - Always take plenty of time to look at the agenda for court. (You will need a copy for the court report.) Make sure you have all the scrolls you will need. Read each scroll through once or twice to become familiar with it. If it is difficult to read, write a translation (wonderful scribes will send you one with the scroll). If there is no scroll, be prepared (see last point). Stack the scrolls in order, and have someone ready to hand them to you in court, if possible. Make sure you have something to drink behind the thrones, and donít forget to go to the bathroom. This point is one of the three keys to a good court. (Organization, not going to the bathroom.)
    2. The herald makes (or breaks) the court - I have heard it said that the only capital crime for a herald is to bore the Monarch. Anyone who has sat in court can tell you that courts can be long and boring. The herald plays a key role in making court good or bad for the audience. A boring monotone reading voice will put people to sleep. A herald that can't be heard will lose interest. Some courts are very serious and solemn. Some are light and fun. Know which is which and don't get caught in the wrong gear. This ties into the next point. Remember that the scroll you are reading may be the only one the recipient ever gets. You should do everything in your power to make it special. There are also appropriate times for levity. Used in the correct proportions, you can do a wonderful court that is enjoyed by all. Ask me sometime and I can tell you about some of the classic bits Iíve seen and done. (Pennsic XXIís Ďnot-a-warí is probably my most infamous.) This is the second key to a good court.
    3. Every Noble does things differently. Know what yours wants - There is probably as much variation between Crowns as Kingdoms. Usually the Queen dictates how she wants her court handled (if it is a Royal Court, If not, the female noble.) Ask her any questions you may have. Know how they like to do things. ("Would you like to read the scribeís name, or should I?") Some give out the awards. Some like to tell the populace why the recipient is getting it (in which case, you are probably the one who has to provide that data as the person is walking up.). Sometimes they will want the scroll read before they speak, sometimes after. Be flexible. This is the third key.
    4. When something goes wrong, bluff - If you screw up reading a scroll and skip a few sentences, whoís to know but you? Keep going like nothing happened. If you trip on a word, untwist your tongue and keep going. The trick is not to get flustered, but just to improvise and continue. Be confident: if you act like it was right, theyíll assume it was.
    5. Court = Standing - Ask any retainer or champion, they will tell you that court means a lot of standing. Wear comfortable shoes (or air-pillows in your boots). Donít lock your knees while standing for long periods.
    6. Vivat - When calling for Vivan, (the plural of Vivat) raise your hand to help lead the crowd. Youíd be surprised how much theyíll follow your cue. If there is a single person being acknowledged, use "Vivat"; if there are two or more, use "Vivant".
    7. Boasting - When walking a noble into court, you may wish to say things beyond the normal "Make way for Fred, King of the East and Ethel, his gracious Queen." Especially in Great Courts, or courts where Royalty from other kingdoms are attending, boasting becomes part of the pageantry. Wax poetic about the mightiness of His sword, or the beauty of Her smile, or the greatness of Their Realm. Check to see how far you have to walk while composing so you donít run over or come up short.
    8. The Zen Scroll - Unfortunately, not every award going out has a scroll to go with it. You have some options in this case. The monarchs may decide to wait on the award, but this rarely happens. The monarchs may give the award without a scroll. Or you can improvise something. If you have time, sit down and write the person a scroll for the award on a piece of paper. (Or get a scribe to help you.) Read that in court. At least it was something. (Save your words; the recipient might like them and want to keep them.) The East Kingdom Scribes Handbook has generic wording for all types of scrolls and awards. It is the book the scribes use for guidelines in making scrolls. You may want to get a copy (from the Tyger Clerk of the Signet) to give you some ideas. If you have some experience, some guts, some craziness, and no time to prepare, you can go for the last ditch option: The Zen Scroll. This is an art form I learned from Master Fridrikr Tomasson, the Zen Master. All you do is stand up there and make it up as you go along. (I find it helpful to take a Zen Scroll posture and hum briefly.) I canít bear to see anyone not have a scroll read for an award, so I do the Zen scroll whenever I need to. I believe itís part of the job, but donít feel you need to do it if you are just learning.

    As I said, these are my guidelines. Get advice from experienced court heralds, work with them, and get their feedback afterwards. You wonít find too many references on this subject. Most people have learned by doing or watching. Try both.

    The Court Report

    Where would we be without paperwork? Any herald doing a court (Royal, Principality, or Baronial) must submit a court report. The court report contains information about what awards were given to whom, and if the scroll was present. It also includes details like who was holding court and when/where it was held. When making out a court report, be neat and legible. (A sample form is included.) Handwritten is bad. Typed is good. Computer-generated and laser-printed will get you a friend for life. The report must be submitted within two weeks after the court. Pay particular attention to the spelling of the names, because that information is compiled in the Order of Precedence. You need to send copies of the report to the following people:

    Royal Court Principality Court
    The Crown The Prince and Princess
    Tyger Clerk of the Signet Principality OP Herald
    Pikestaff Editor Shepherdís Crook Herald
    Shepherdís Crook Herald Pikestaff Editor
    and one for your files Principality Newsletter Editor
      Principality Clerk Signet
    Baronial Court and one for your files
    The Baron and Baroness  
    Shepherdís Crook Herald  
    Principality OP Herald (if applicable)  
    Local Herald (if not the court herald)  
    Local Newsletter Editor  
    and one for your files  

    Baronial awards do carry precedence, so Shepherdís Crook Herald needs to know about them. Shepherdís Crook Herald is responsible for tracking information for the Order of Precedence.

    The Order of Precedence

    "Precedence? Whatís precedence?"

    Precedence is the idea that a Duke outranks a Count, who outranks a Baron, etc. The Order of Precedence serves a very important role. It tells you who has which awards, and from this you can also see who has precedence over whom. Heralds historically tracked such information, and the Eastern College does as well.

    The Order of Precedence as a document

    The Order of Precedence, or the OP, is a very useful and under-rated document. Its highest value is in telling you if a particular person has a particular award. This is why every local group should have (and does get) a copy. How many times has person X not received an AoA because everyone thought he had one? This is how you can avoid such things.

    Precedence as a concept

    It is difficult to say exactly when precedence is used. When the final two participants enter the lists, you might use precedence to determine who goes first. At a feast, the person with the highest precedence gives the first toast. (This can be turned into a dinner game.) Generally, if youíre not sure of who to do first in a group, you can always use precedence as a guideline. Here are the awards listed by their order of precedence. Some categories donít always apply. Many thanks to Mistress Caitlin Davies for this information.

    1. King & Queen of the East
    2. Kings and Queens of other kingdoms, and their ambassadors, in order of the age of the kingdom.
    3. Prince & Princess of Principalities, oldest first.
    4. Crown Prince & Princess of the East
    5. Foreign landed Princes, Princess, and their ambassadors.
    6. Foreign Royal heirs.
    7. Heirs to Principality thrones.
    8. Foreign heirs to Principality thrones.
    9. Great Officers of State, in this order: Seneschal, Brigantia Herald, Earl Marshall, Chancellor of the Exchequer, Chronicler, Minister of Arts and Sciences, Minister of the Lists, Tyger Clerk of the Signet.
    10. Lesser Officers of State, by age of their office.
    11. Duchy rank
    12. County rank
    13. Viscounty rank
    14. Companions of the Laurel, the Pelican and the Chivalry.
    15. Viceroy & Vicereine of Ostgardr (New York City)
    16. Landed Barons by age of the barony
    17. Retired landed barons, by date of accession
    18. Grants of arms
    19. Orders of Merit (Maunche, Tygers Combattant, Silver Crescent, Sagittarius, Golden Rapier) Note that these orders are armigerous, meaning that if the recipient does not have an Award of Arms yet, they receive one automatically with the award.
    20. Court Barons (without Grants of Arms)
    21. Principality armigerous awards
    22. Awards of arms
    23. Kingdom non-armigerous awards (also called awards of honor)
    24. Principality non-armigerous awards
    25. Baronial awards

    If you donít know the age of a barony or some other detail, ask someone or bluff. Not too many people will know all the details, and nobody expects you to, either. When comparing precedence between two people, the person with the highest award has precedence. If two people have the same level of award (for example, a Knight and a Pelican) the person who received their award first has precedence.

    Being a local heraldic officer

    "Well, I went to the bathroom, and when I came back they told me I had been elected herald."

    Being a local heraldic officer has some distinct responsibilities beyond those of a Pursuivant-at-large, and those responsibilities deserve some discussion. Whether in service to a Canton, Shire, or Barony, you have a higher profile job, and everyone in the area will know you are the herald (or at least they should). Many of these things are equally valid for the Pursuivant-at-large, but an officer should go to even greater efforts.

    1. Act as a hub for submissions - As the local herald, you should be accessible to people wanting to submit their names and such. This may mean running a consulting table at local events, or spending extra time after business meetings, or going to peopleís houses, or all of the above. You should be prepared to go to an extra effort to help people get their submissions in. Try to get people to submit before Pennsic instead of at the war.
    2. Be prepared to do a court - If the Royalty is coming, they might want you to do court. Be prepared. It doesnít always happen; sometimes they bring their own herald, or someone else does it. But you should be ready to do their court, should they ask you to. Which herald does court is strictly the prerogative of the nobility in question, so do not be offended if they have someone else. But you donít want to pass up such an opportunity for lack of preparedness. If you donít feel ready to do a court, offer to second the court herald. Itís one of the best educations you can get. If you are uncertain, write the Crown ahead of time and ask. Remember, you are the most likely person to be asked.
    3. Encourage heraldic display - This may sound silly, but part of the job is to encourage people. If they have a device, they should use it. Help people make banners, surcoats, etc. Have some idea of how these things are made so you can help others, if you have such talents. This includes running the field heraldry at a local event.
    4. Educate yourself and others - You should be ready to learn more about aspects of heraldry that you are unfamiliar with. You should also be patient and helpful with other people who come to you as a source of knowledge. Scribes need arms researched for scrolls, people need names checked, and some want to become big, important heralds someday, just like you.
    5. Comment - This is not a requirement for any herald, but I encourage local heralds to comment and hence become active on a kingdom level. The local herald can often serve as the hub for a commenting group.
    6. Supervise subordinate group heralds - Baronial heralds are officers like any other, and the heralds of the subordinate groups in that barony should be reporting to the baronial herald in some form. The baronial herald should help supervise and coordinate heraldic activity in the barony.
    7. Issue a local OP - When the OP comes out every two years, consider compiling a local OP. Get a list of all the people in the area, and go through the OP. Put an article together for the local newsletter with the OP for the group. If anyone sees any errors, they should report them to you, so you can send a correction to Shepherdís Crook Herald. It also reminds people what awards everyone has, and what awards they donít.
    8. Have a local tabard - Make sure thereís a tabard with the local arms on it. See Tabards below.
    9. Handle submissions for the group - If your barony is making a new award, or your shire wants to change its name, then you should handle the submission. REMEMBER: in order to change a name or device for a group, the group must send a petition with the submission. Check Law and Policy for more details. This mistake often causes long delays.
    10. Make sure you have a deputy - Every officer should have someone who can take over in case of emergency.

    Now, arenít you glad you took the job?

    Assorted useful information

    "Whether you want to be a herald, or just look like one...."

    This is a collection of some miscellaneous information you might need.


    A tabard is the symbol of office for the herald. Every local group should have a tabard with the groupís arms on it, and the local herald should wear it when performing heraldic duties. The arms on a tabard are the arms of the person or group that that herald serves. A baronial herald wears a tabard with the baronial arms on it, for he serves the barony. Brigantia Herald wears a tabard with the East Kingdom arms on it, for he serves the King, as do any other heralds who are acting in the name of the King and Queen.

    A basic tabard design is shown below.

    Please note that the golden crossed trumpets included in this tabard design is purely for illustration purposes. In general, the East Kingdom College of Heralds discourages wearing the golden crossed trumpets (the traditional badge of the SCA herald) on a tabard. Instead, try to obtain a tabard bearing the arms of the person or branch that you are representing.

    Previously, if you are using or borrowing a tabard, and you do not hold that office (for example, using a baronial tabard when you are not the baronial herald, or using an East Kingdom tabard when you are not Brigantia), it was advised that you should wear the tabard athwart (turned 90 degrees sideways, so the long part is over your sleeves, and the short part in front and back). This is no longer practiced in the East Kingdom. Wearing the tabard athwart was done in some places to indicate the rank of the herald, not whether the herald actually holds the official office in question.

    A Basic Library

    A heraldís library can rapidly consume all his available space and money. There are so many different cultures and styles that no single work or even group of works adequately covers them all. There are several fine bibliographies listing a great many books (and some of that information is included here). What I am presenting here is a modest collection of books that have distinguished themselves by their value and usefulness. There is a brief description of what each one is good for, so you can decide how valuable it would be to you. Some local groups may want to try to acquire some of these invaluable references for use of their residents. Armoury sources pertain to devices and badges, while onomastic sources deal with the research of names. If you are strongly interested in name research, you may want to pick a particular culture or area to specialize in. One important note: there is currently a proposal that is in the process of being implemented. In a nutshell, this proposal would mean we would no longer have to be worried about checking for conflict against mundane armoury sources.

    Check with your regional herald for more current information before buying any source that you wanted for mundane conflict checking (such as Papworth, Combo 1 and Combo 2.)

    Armoury Sources

    Armorial and Ordinary of the Society for Creative Anachronism. The SCA O&A is probably the most important work a herald can have access to. Every group should consider buying one. (The Armorial sorts by the name of the person, while the Ordinary sorts by the description of the picture. They can be purchased separately.) It is updated periodically with new information, either in the form of updates added on, or a whole new version. A full O&A costs around $60 in 1994, plus the cost of any current updates (around $6 each). The updates may or may not be useful to you, but the O&A is a must-have book. Be prepared to get some LARGE three-ring binders to hold it together. It can tell you what someoneís arms are, as well as serve for conflict-checking.

    Compleat Anachronist, #22, Heraldry, by Lord Arval Benicoeur and Master Marten Broker. Available from the SCA stock clerk, this is the first source I recommend to someone who wants to learn the difference between vert and vair. It is well done and easy to understand, and lays the groundwork for other, more in-depth sources.

    Compleat Anachronist, #50, Armorial Display, by Mistress Eowyn Amberdrake. Also available from the stock clerk, this covers various subjects like making banners, making surcoats, flags, and other topics of armorial display. It is a very useful guide.

    The On-line Armorial is not a book, but is a valuable item for the computerized herald. It is a flat text file containing every name, device, badge, title, etc. registered in the SCA. There are several programs available to extract useful information from this file. Locating it may be difficult; ask other heralds. If you have the disk space (over 4MB in 1994) the flat text can be used on almost any platform.

    A Pictorial Dictionary of Heraldry as Used in the Society for Creative Anachronism, by Master Bruce Draconarius of Mistholme and Master Akagawa Yoshio (2nd ed). The PicDic is one of the most valuable resources a Society herald has. It can tell you what a charge looks like (every other page is pictures,) what its default posture is, how it was used, and if it shouldnít be used. It is wonderful to have at the consulting table for submitters to get ideas from. Highly recommended, it was $15 in 1994.

    The Rules for Submissions. This document is also available from the stock clerk, and contains the rules and regulations regarding the submitting of anything to the College of Arms. There is also a work that contains a wondrous glossary of a variety of heraldic terms. Very inexpensive and nice to have.

    Onomastic Sources

    Armorial and Ordinary of the Society for Creative Anachronism, see above.

    The On-line Armorial, see above.

    The Rules for Submissions, see above.

    A Dictionary of British Surnames , by P. H. Reaney. This work is a favorite of many heralds. Each entry includes date citations, making this work very valuable. Of course, the down side is that itís hard to find and very expensive.

    Irish Names by O'Corrain and Maguire. Originally published as Gaelic Personal Names, this is a new edition. It is the very finest book on Irish names available. It is a dictionary of Irish given names, with modern and ancient forms, derivations, origins, and period citations.

    The Oxford Dictionary of English Christian Names , by E. G. Withycombe. This has been called the Bible of SCA naming. It includes a great deal more than just English Christian names, and is one of the most common name sources in the SCA. It can sometimes be found in bookstores, or they can order it for you. This book is not perfect, but it is cheap, useful, and user-friendly.

    Welsh Personal Names by Heini Gruffudd. Normally, a baby-name book is considered very bad documentation, but this is the exception. Where the author gives a period citation, this book is wonderful for documenting Welsh names.

    So where do I get these books?

    The SCA stock clerk can supply you with some of these items, and Free Trumpet Press can usually supply the rest. For the mundane references, you can try the larger bookstores for the items still in print. Large stores like Borders and Barnes and Noble can order many books for you. As for the more obscure heraldic works, the best source I can point you to is Heraldry Today. It is a small bookshop that strictly deals with heraldry books. They have a mailing list and regularly release a list of books they have in stock. They have also specially reprinted some landmark works, such as Papworthís. I have been there personally, and it was Heraldic Heaven. Unfortunately, the shop is in England, which give you shipping and the exchange rate to contend with. Write or call them for current stock and pricing information.

    Heraldry Today

    Parliament Piece


    Nr. Malrborough, Wiltshire SN8 2QH

    Phone (0672) 20617

    Fax (0672) 20183

    S.C.A. - Free Trumpet Press West

    c/o Stephen Goldschmidt

    704-A Vera Cruz Avenue

    Los Altos, CA 94022

    In Closing

    "Can you go over all that again?"

    After reading this handbook, it must seem like there is no end of things to learn. And thatís true. There is not a single herald in the college who would claim to Ďknow it all.í Heraldry offers a limitless field of study, but anyone can be a useful herald with very little study or training. So donít be intimidated by it; just go ahead and do as much or as little as you see fit. It may seem a lot now, but in the future, you could be the person writing the next Heraldís Handbook.

    Of all the resources and references youíve seen here, I want to remind you of your most valuable one: other heralds. They can help you with virtually any question or problem you might have, and with any aspect of heraldry you are interested in. It is a resource you can ill afford to ignore. No herald exists in a vacuum, and no herald has gotten to where they are without help and support from other people. Donít ever hesitate to ask questions.

    The Society should be fun. Heraldry is fun, so try it all, and do the parts you like.

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    Last modified: Fri, January 28, 2005

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