Letter of Registrations and Returns

Society of the Middle Ages, Inc.

Office of the Muskatour King of Arms

August 2022

Greetings from the Muskatour office.

The VERY few submissions considered this month belies the level of excitement in the College of Arms. Fully half of the items considered by the College raised issues with the registration process – one with the current policies of the College of Arms and one with the practice of sitting royalty. Both were addressed in in-depth conversation and summaries of those actions make up the bulk of this month’s letter.

From the beginning (since the College of Arms was formed roughly a year ago) it has been the practice of the College of Arms to allow members from other re-enactment organizations to migrate their registered names and armoury to the SMA even if their legacy items do not meet the standards set by the SMA College of Arms. During this month’s meeting, a point was raised that someone who has their submission returned by the Muskatour office could simply register that same submission with another organization outside the SMA before resubmitting it within the SMA as a legacy, thereby bypassing the rules we have in place to protect authenticity within our heraldic community. As such, beginning with the October decision meeting, the Muskatour office will no longer accept any legacy submissions from other organizations if the registration date in the other organization post-dates this letter. This does not prevent someone from registering the same name or armoury they have in other organizations. It simply means that if the registration date in the other organization is after August 2022, the submission will be treated as “New” rather than as “Legacy” and will be required to meet our standards outlined in the Rules for Submission.

The other issue is one of practice over policy. When I took this position, I had a two-hour conversation with the Board of Directors regarding my roles, responsibilities, and the relationship of the College of Arms to the rest of the Society. While there was a significant amount of complexity in both the conversation and the results, the Board was very clear that in all matters heraldic, the Muskatour office was the final word, bound only by policy set in the governing documents of the corporation. To that end, the Rules for Submission and Administrative Handbook were created to govern how the College of Arms functions and how we interface with both the corporate side and the “game” side of the SMA. One of the tenets of the office is that no title, honorific, award, order, or civic entity exists in the SMA unless and until at least the name (and in many cases the name and associated armoury) are registered with the College of Arms.

Perhaps this has little meaning to the average member of the populace; however, it is a clear line of demarcation between the SMA and other, similar but different, reenactment organizations. Bluntly stated, no sitting nobility or royalty may “create” an award, order, title, or regalia without first registering said entity with the College. Since the entity does not exist until registration, it may also not be bestowed on any member of the populace until it appears on a Letter of Registrations and Returns as having been registered. Such has happened on more than one occasion with more than one award/order in the roughly six months since the Administrative Handbook was published. The College has not asked for enforcement of the rule up to this point because distribution of the Administrative Handbook did not necessarily reach all intended recipients. Because both sets of governing documents are now available through multiple venues, the College of Arms requests compliance from this point forward from all who are in a position to contribute to the process of creating, designing, administering, and recording the awards, orders, and titles we use within our game. NOTE that simple tokens of appreciation or acknowledgements of achievement do not fit into any of the protected categories and are therefore not subject to College of Arms oversight – only such items as would be entered into the Order of Precedence.

As we move forward into the second year of the College of Arms and approach the start of the third year of our Society, I would like to acknowledge the efforts of the Board of Directors, the sitting royalty for both the current reign and the previous one, and the officers and members of the College of Arms themselves, and to thank them all for their proactive and stalwart support in the development of this extremely important aspect of the Society. This letter marks the 12th month – a full year – of name and armoury registrations, and that is a milestone to be celebrated.

There is one pend and one return of a previously pended item this month. We also have one new precedent:

The Muskatour staff was unable to find evidence of voided charges surrounding a central charge when the voided charge is not a defined heraldic charge in its own right. An annulet is essentially a voided roundel but is separate and distinct from a roundel by virtue of its designation. The same is true of a mascle in comparison to a lozenge. A voided mullet is not known by a separate and distinct designation, and the Muskatour staff was unable to locate an example of any unnamed voided charges surrounding a central charge in period rolls of arms. Therefore, that motif is ruled incompatible with SMA heraldry. If at some future time examples of this motif in period heraldry are discovered, we will revisit this precedent.

  1. Artemius Filikós – New Name, Legacy Arms Per pale sable and vert, on a plate a leaf vert.   Originally submitted as the legacy name Artemius of Hunters Home, the byname originated as a holding name from another reenactment organization and is a geographic group within that organization. The client then submitted the original name he had attempted to pass in the other organization, but we ran into the same temporal language barrier they did – French and Frankish names the did not both exist in an era when those two languages were compatible. The client then submitted the current form, which was pended in the May decision meeting to discuss the grammar of the name in Latinized Greek. Although the Muskatour staff could not find definitive rules or practices, the format of the name appears to be accurate with the limited sources we have available. We are therefore giving the client the benefit of the doubt and registering the name. The arms are legacy arms free of conflict but were pended because we need a valid name against which to register armoury. Since the name is now registered, the arms are also registered.
  3. Ginevra Bagnesi – Resub Badge (Fieldless) A fleur-de-lis per pale ermine and gules
  5. Llywelyn Gruffydd – New Badge (Fieldless) A griffin sejant contourny argent
  7. Melisende Bernard – New Legacy Badge (Fieldless) On a bear’s paw print gules, a rose argent
  1. Jamison de Appleby – New (Pended) Arms Azure, a rose Or within a mullet voided argentThis submissions was pended in the April decision meeting to allow the Muskatour staff to determine if the motif of a charge within a voided mullet was a period motif. Period rolls of arms do have some instances of one charge appearing within another charge voided. For example, there are examples of an annulet (essentially a voided roundel) surrounding a central charge and at least one example of a mascle (a voided lozenge) doing so. However, in all cases involving this motif, the surrounding charge is a “named” charge separate and distinct from its “solid” cousin. The mullet does not enjoy this status. A mullet voided is blazoned as such rather than having a separate and distinct name by which it is called. As we were unable to find any examples of a central charge surrounded by a voided charge NOT identified as separate and distinct from its solid counterpart, we decline to register this motif at this time. If at some point in the future, evidence is provided that shows this motif in period heraldic design, we will revisit this precedent.
  1. Álendia, Kingdom of – New Award The Aquilla of Álendia Gules, an imperial eagle Or The Aquilla of Álendia is an award, given no more than once per reign, to an individual who the Crowns feel embodies the spirit of chivalry, courtesy, and the virtues of the kingdom. Administratively, the award was not submitted through proper channels. As a kingdom award, the client must be the Kingdom Seneschale. Additionally, the armoury was submitted without the name. This mitigated (ironically) the inevitable return for conflict. The submitted armoury is almost an exact duplicate of one of the arms attributed to Napoleon III, and further conflicted with more than a dozen different sets of arms from royalty/nobility within the Holy Roman Empire throughout our time period. As these errors were identified prior to the decision meeting, the Muskatour staff determined that we would not consider the submission as it stood, but rather pend the submission to allow the kingdom staff to rectify the deficiencies. The award will be formally considered in the September meeting. The Muskatour office reminds the kingdom at large that no award or order exists unless and until the name of the award/order has been registered with the College of Arms (Administrative Handbook, Appendix A, paragraph C.1.e). Thus, the Aquilla of Álendia does not currently exist in the kingdom’s award structure and should not be used by any seated royalty. The College of Arms has granted an exception for the single instance of this award given the time constraints on the previous royalty reaching the end of Their reign.
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