Letter of Registrations and Returns
Society of the Middle Ages, Inc.
Office of the Muskatour King of Arms
Greetings from the Muskatour staff.
This month’s meeting was by far and away the longest decision meeting we have conducted since the inception of the SMA College of Arms. We didn’t have that many submissions… in truth, fewer than in many previous months. What we did have, though, were several submissions that elicited some spirited debate – either regarding heraldic style or adherence to the intent of the rules. These are the meetings I enjoy the most, as the resulting discussions help to clarify the vision of what we want heraldry within the SMA to be and frequently wind up in the establishment of new precedents or outright changes to the Rules for Submission and/or the Administrative Handbook.
As far as issues faced this month, we are still seeing submissions coming in without the required forms or documentation. I charge each and every warranted herald within the Society to review the Rules for Submission and the Administrative Handbook. Being familiar with both allows you to provide the most accurate information to clients and prevents unnecessary delays in adjudication of submissions. The most egregious issues include missing artwork (particularly the black-n-white line art), documentation provided from unreliable sources (mostly “behind the name” websites or wiki sources), and missing petitions (in the case of civic submissions). All of these are relatively simple to resolve prior to the submission reaching my office.
We have a resounding and record setting eight precedents from this month’s meeting.
The Paschal Lamb is a well-established heraldic charge from early in the medieval period, particularly in ecclesiastical heraldry. In researching the charge for one of this month’s submissions, the Muskatour staff determined that there was no “standard format” for the charge. Some sources indicated that the Lamb always appeared with a halo. Others stated that the halo was optional. Some sources stated that the head was regardant. Others did not mention the position of the head, but presented marginalia showing the head in standard orientation, raised, or regardant interchangeably. All sources stated that the Lamb was argent, passant, and maintaining a staff (most times a cruciform staff) bendwise sinister with a white banner on which lies a red cross. Currently, the SMA does not define either a default depiction or a proper tincture for the Paschal Lamb. The following information will be included in Appendices O and P in the next revision of the Rules for Submission:
• Paschal Lamb is defined within the SMA as a lamb passant argent maintaining a staff bendwise sinister which is in turn sustaining a banner argent charged with a cross gules.
• The style of cross is considered an artistic detail and need not be blazoned (unless the client wants a specific cross).
• The halo is considered an artistic detail but must be explicitly blazoned if included in the emblazon.
• The orientation of the head, if gardant or regardant, must be specifically blazoned but offers no heraldic difference from any other head orientation.
The garter is a rare heraldic charge within our period, but examples do exist. A garter appears in the arms of Bokeland in 1460 AD and as the regalia of the Order of the Garter in 1348 AD. A garter is always shown as buckled – generally in annulo. This is distinguishable from a belt, which is generally shown as unbuckled and either in a U shape or pendant from the buckle in a palewise orientation. Thus, we have two precedents deriving from this discovery. The first is that the default orientation for a garter is buckled in annulo. The following will be added to Appendix N.B.2.b. and Appendix P in the next revision of the Rules for Submission. This will be added to in the next revision of the Rules for Submission:
• If the garter is NOT buckled in annulo, it will be blazoned as a “belt”.
• The orientation of a belt must always be explicitly blazoned.
• Garters azure may not be used in SMA heraldry.
A question that arose in this month’s meeting was the motif of a garter surrounding a central charge. This motif is seen most commonly in the presentation of Scottish clan badges dating to the 17th century and later. Other organizations have banned this motif in order to avoid the appearance of claiming precedence in a Scottish clan. Two questions needed to be settled. The first is whether the motif is consistent with heraldic practices within our time period. The second is whether the Scottish clan badges of post-16th century fame create a situation of presumption in the modern era presentation of SMA heraldic display. The Muskatour staff determined that while the most common occurrences of the motif are the post-period Scottish clan badges, these are not exclusive. The garter, as an in annulo charge with a void in the center, lends itself to the motif of a central charge within (or within and conjoined to) another charge as is common with annulets or mascles. One example is the arms of the Garter King of Arms, which show a gold crown within a gold garter in the center of a blue chief. Various badges of the Order of the Garter depict a blue garter with other charges inside the void. One shows a demi-horse and rider emerging from the bottom inner edge. Another shows a blue garter surrounding a plate on which sits a red rose. Post-period heraldry has many examples of a full achievement of arms surrounded outside the escutcheon by a garter indicating membership in a knightly order (this is NOT the case with the submission that drove these questions as the submission involved only a single charge within the garter – not an entire achievement.) The Muskatour staff determined that with the example of Bokeland (c. 1460), the garter should be treated as any period charge with regard to its use in conjunction with other charges. The situation of the garter is an underlying charge in an “overall” or “surmounted by” being obscured is already covered within our published rules regarding identifiability (RfS B.3.b. and C.2.b.)
This month we have no returns and two pends. See below for the details.
- 1. Centropolis, Borough of – New Branch Name, New Branch Arms
Vert, a bend between a sun and a garb argent, a chief ermine.
The name was documented using examples of Latinized names of Greek communities dating to the Roman Occupation. κέντροπόλης (meaning “center city”) would be Latinized to Kéntropóles. It is not unusual in the medieval period for the name to be further Anglicized to Centropolis.
2. Galen of Bristol – New Badge
(Fieldless) A Paschal Lamb regardant argent within and conjoined to a garter gules upon which in chief is the word FIDE.
Submitted as (Fieldless) On a garter gules in chief the word FIDE, overall a Paschal Lamb regardant argent, the Muskatour staff believed the lamb to be barely overall in violation of Appendix I, Section D. The client approved the shift in size and orientation of the lamb to make it within and conjoined. Note that artistically, it would not be unusual for a portion of the banner staff to extend beyond the inner boundary of the garter in this configuration.
3. Hans Emert – New Name
Submitted as Hans von Emert, the Muskatour staff could find no evidence that Emert was an actual place (or even a credible notional place.) However, the client provided extensive evidence that Emert existed in period as a surname, including placenames where Emert was adjectival (e.g., Emertshoffen (Emert’s haven), Emertsgingen (Emert’s Way) in the creation of location names. Thus, the Muskatour staff determined that Emert was in fact a surname rather than a location in and of itself. The client approved the change.
4. Kveldúlfr Kolfiðsson – New Name, New Arms, New Badge
Arms: Argent, a wolf rampant contourny sable and in chief three blackberry sprigs sable slipped and leaved vert.
Badge: (Fieldless) A blackberry sprig sable slipped and leaved vert.
Submitted as Hárbarðr Kolviðurson, the sole documentation offered for the name Hárbarðr is an excerpt from one of the poetic eddas identifying Hárbarðr as a ferryman verbally harassing Thor on his return to Asgard. While literary references are permissible as documentation for naming practices, this particular edda identifies Hárbarðr as either Loki or Odin in disguise for the express purpose of causing Thor consternation. Additionally, several academic studies point to Hárbarðr (gray beard) as being one of Odin’s many surnames.
Thus, we had two issues with the name.
First, it is only documentable as an epithetical surname.
Second, as the only reference is to the alternate identity of a deity, it is considered presumptuous.
The resubmitted given name also had some issues. This is a constructed name using Kveld- as a prepended adjectival nickname meaning “night” or “evening” and úlfr is a documented given name meaning “wolf”. The sole use of this name cited by the client was also a literary source (Egil’s Saga) wherein the person was identified as a shapeshifter and was so named because of his ability to shapeshift into a wolf at night. By itself, this would have been grounds for another return, as the RfS clearly states that name elements cannot make a claim to magical powers. The Muskatour staff found references to Kveld- in use as a modifier to a vor-name later in the Middle Ages. Most telling was an entry in the Academy of Saint Gabriel archives (http://www.s-gabriel.org/2113). This report indicates that the name may have been used by humans in at least two cases within our period of study – 1334 AD and 1528 AD (gray period). In both cases, the documented name includes a spelling variation of Kveldúlfr within a constructed patronymic. Ordinarily, this would indicate that the father’s name was the name in question. However, the St. Gabriel scholars point out that in neither case is there straight up documentation of the father’s actual name. In short, the evidence shown in the report cannot definitively prove whether any later reference to Kveldúlfr as a constructed patronymic was referencing an actual parent or was assuming a descendance from the mythical shapeshifter – much the same way that modern parents might refer to their children as “imp” or “demon spawn.” However, since we were able to find the two later forms of the name, and since the source cannot tell us definitively that the later versions are alluding to magical ancestry rather than existing as actual patronymics, we have decided to give the client the benefit of the doubt and register the resubmitted name.
The sole documentation offered for the submitted patronymic was a Danish language wiki with no dated references. Generally, wikis are considered invalid for documentation. Muskatour staff was able to find a variation of the pater-name at the Viking Answer Lady, referencing Gierr Bassi, page 12: Kolfiðr. The correct patronymic formation would then be Kolfiðsson. The client approved the change.
5. Otto von Lübeck – New Arms
Or, an eagle and on a chief sable three crosses pattée argent.
6. Scriptorium Luminis – New Guild Name, New Guild Badge
(Fieldless) A dextrochère à manches embowed maintaining a pen argent.
Originally submitted as Scriptorium Titivillus, the Muskatour staff determined that Titivillus, as the patron demon of scribes, was inappropriate under RfS III.D.3 and III.D.4. In short, it is unlikely that any scriptorium within our geographic area and time period of study would have used the name of a demon as an identifying marker in spite of the association of Titivillus with the scribal community. Additionally, the name may be construed as a claim of “ownership” of the guild by a supernatural entity. The resubmission cleared both of these concerns.
7. Snorri Ketilsson – New Name, New Arms, New Badge
Arms: Per fess indented Or and vert, a badger statant vert marked Or and a snake involved in annulo Or.
Badge: (Fieldless) A badger statant vert marked Or.
These are legacy submissions.
8. Solumbria, Province of – New Heraldic Title
Croix Cléchée Pursuivant
9. Stórvötn, Borough of – New Branch Name, New Branch Arms
Purpure, a wolf rampant maintaining a sword argent, a chief ermine.
Meaning “big lakes”, this follows the Old Norse pattern of naming communities for the body of water they sit adjacent to. One example is Straumfjǫrðr (stream ford) – a settlement established by Thorfinnr Karlsefni in Vinland. The name is recorded in two versions of the Saga of Eric the Red: Hauksbók (14th century) and Skálholtsbók (15th century). Another is Árheimar (“River home”), a Goth capital city cited in the Hervarar saga ok Heiðreks (13th century). Öxnafurða (“Oxen’s ford”) was the Old Norse designation for the settlement in the 8th century that eventually became the modern city of Oxford (Oxford English Dictionary).
- Michael of Caer ar yr Afon Goch – Name Name, New Arms
Sable, on a pall vert fimbriated three bears argent.
The name is pended awaiting the client’s approval for a major change. Submitted as Michael of Afon Goch, the documentation cited the registered castle of Caer ar yr Afon Goch as the source of the locative surname. By rule, locative surnames must use the entire name of the location. Thus, the name was changed to reflect the entire castle name. Additionally, as “Afon Goch” translates to “Red River”, precedent does not allow someone to be “from” a body of water.
The arms currently have no conflict, but are also pended because we cannot register arms without a valid registered name.