Letter of Registrations and Returns
Society of the Middle Ages, Inc.
Office of the Muskatour King of Arms
Greetings from the Muskatour office.
At the risk of repeating myself from last month’s letter, please note that it is the responsibility of the client and their consulting herald to provide documentation for names – origin and construct. While the Muskatour staff is available to assist, we are also thin on both volunteer researchers and available books. The College of Arms is too new and the SMA is too strapped for cash to invest in an extensive library similar to what other organizations have built up over years or even decades. While I understand that the average reenactor is also not going to have the sources easily at hand, they should at least have the time available to ask the questions and follow the advice provided. Therefore, if you are having difficulty as a client or consulting herald, please do ask for assistance from the College in general or the Muskatour staff in particular. The answer back may come in the form of “where to look” rather than a straight up answer. It is also perfectly acceptable to go to outside organizations for assistance with research. For example, in the last six months, I have used the International Society of Commoners’ Heraldry, the American Heraldry Society, the Society of Ecclesiastical Heraldry, the Academy of St. Gabriel, the Society for Creative Anachronism, Living History in Europe, and several dozen personal blogs and published papers from several individuals with various academic credentials.
We have three new precedents from this month’s decision meeting.
- Regarding the legal name allowance, the purpose of the rule was to allow someone to use a single name element from their modern legal name without having to worry about documenting its existence as a name in our period. However, the rule in the RfS does not explicitly state this limitation. The issue with having one’s legal name and persona name be identical affects both the game side and the legal side. On the game side, being yourself in the Middle Ages smacks of a Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court rather than the medieval ambience for which we strive – a minor point to be sure but a point nonetheless. The real issue comes from the corporate side. Signing one’s name seems simple enough but signing one’s legal name has ramifications in the real world. When the legal name and the persona name are identical, this can have unintended consequences that the organization would rather not risk, Thus, pending a formal change to RfS II.A.5, the legal name allowance will restrict any client from using their legal name for more than a single name element of their persona name, and the legal name and persona name cannot be identical – even if both elements can be documented in period.
- Chess pieces depicted in period heraldic display do not always resemble the styles that we are familiar with in the modern world or even certain pieces that may have actually been used to play chess in period. One example is the chess knight. The documented heraldic form of a chess knight is a double-headed piece as depicted at https://mistholme.com/?s=chess+knight. While the single-headed chess knight we are used to seeing in the modern world was not used in period heraldry (as best as we can tell), there is sufficient documentation that such a piece was incorporated into chess sets as early as the 13th century. Therefore, we define the default for a chess knight in heraldry as a double-headed piece. Single-headed pieces are permitted but must be explicitly blazoned as “single-headed” at the time of registration. This definition will be added to the RfS Appendix P.
- The practice of using a double byname in late-period English names has been documented to the middle of the 16th century – outside our period (ending in 1500), but possibly within the gray area of 1501-1550. I do not have any hard documentation of the earliest example of this practice. We have allowed the double byname in English for legacy names (and in fact have allowed one in this month’s meeting) but have not yet received a new submission requesting this pattern. Unless and until we receive or can locate documentation showing the double byname in English within our time period, the pattern will be disallowed for new submissions. Documentation within the gray period will need to show several/multiple examples sufficient to justify this as a normal and regular naming practice for SMA purposes.
There are no pended submissions this month.
- Alexandra Notte Clare – New Legacy Name, New Legacy Arms
Azure, a phoenix and in chief three lozenges argent
- Blayne Dutton – New NameSubmitted as Blaine Dutton, this is the client’s modern legal name. Although use of a name element from one’s modern legal name is permissible, the full modern name cannot be identical to the full persona name. Typically, we would give the client the benefit of the doubt if a rule was not explicit, but in this case there are potentially problematic considerations of unintended consequences put forth by the Society Seneschal’s office. Thus, we would ordinarily return the name for administrative reasons. However, Blayne – changing the i to a y – is an alternate spelling documented to 1392 and (only in this instance) can be used to justify the registration. RfS II.A.5 will be amended to reflect the limitations on the legal name allowance and future name submissions using this allowance will need to meet published conflict criteria when compared to the client’s legal name in order to be registered. The client has agreed to the change of spelling.
- Ginerva Bagnesi – New Badge
(Fieldless) A swan naiant wings displayed argent.Several commenters noted the similarity between this submission and the livery badge of Henry V of England, (Fieldless) A swan roussant wings addorsed argent engorged of a ducal coronet and chain Or. While the two swans do resemble each other (as would all argent swans with wings in any configuration other than close), we assessed sufficient difference to avoid conflict. First, Ginerva’s swan has its wings displayed – at full spread with the tips pointing up. Henry’s swan has its wings elevated – raised but not spread and with the tips pointing down. This is a SD as these two wing orientations fall into separate line-item orientation categories. Second, while the engorging of any beast with a long, slender neck would be expected to be visually minimal, the visual impact of Henry’s ducal coronet with trailing chain is significant enough to count as a SD. Thus, with three technical differences – two of them significant visual differences – the badge is clear.
- Johanna Jakobsdottir – New Name, New Arms
Purpure, a horse’s head couped and in chief a key argent.Submitted as a chess knight, it turned out that the client actually preferred a horse’s head. The forms have been updated and the client has approved the new artwork.
- Llewelyn Gruffydd – New Name, New Legacy Arms
Vert, three cattails slipped and leaved, conjoined at the stem argent.This would have been a legacy name, but the client’s registered name in the other organization included a locative reflecting the in-game location in which he lived. That element has been removed, and the remainder of the name is adequately documented.
- Máire ingen Fheirgil – New Legacy Name
- Ginerva Bagnesi – New Badge
(Fieldless) A fleur-de-lys gules.
This is a direct conflict with the city of Florence, Italy, Argent, a fleur-de-lys gules with the only difference being the absence of a field.
The following submissions have been pended: