Why-Reg-A-Nme-art - 5/11/14
"Why Register a Name in The SCA?" by Wulfhere of Eofeshamme.
This article was submitted to me by the author for inclusion in this set of files, called Stefan's Florilegium.
These files are available on the Internet at: http://www.florilegium.org
Copyright to the contents of this file remains with the author or translator.
While the author will likely give permission for this work to be reprinted in SCA type publications, please check with the author first or check for any permissions granted at the end of this file.
Mark S. Harris...AKA:..Stefan li Rous
stefan at florilegium.org
You can find more of this author's work on his blog at:
Why Register a Name in The SCA?
by Wulfhere of Eofeshamme
One is not required to register a name in the Society for Creative Anachronism (SCA), and many do not. I know I went for ten years (combining my first and second stints in the SCA) without registering a name. For years and years folks have went their entire SCA lives without registering a name. Some kingdoms now require one have a registered name or device to receive a scroll for an award though (to register a device one must register a name) or to register a name and device to fight in their respective crown tourneys. Even if one is not required to register a name to receive a scroll for an award in his or her kingdom there are some advantages to registering a name.
First and foremost by registering your name and device you avoid confusion. Lets say there are two people going by Henry of Faversham. One resides in An Tir, the other in the East Kingdom. As long as the two never cross paths, and no one that knows them crosses paths, there may not be a problem. Not being in the same kingdom there is unlikely to be any confusion over who received what award. But lets say Henry of Faversham moves from An Tir to the East Kingdom. Suddenly, folks talking about "Henry of Faversham" have to ask, "Do you mean the one from Glenn Linn or the one from Stonemarche?" More confusion is encountered when awards are granted. Henry of Faversham from Glenn Linn may be recorded in the East Kingdom Order of Precedence as having gotten an award given to Henry of Faversham from Stonemarche. There are safeguards against this, but mistakes can be made. Even if both stay in their respective kingdoms there can be confusion. Lets say one or both are admitted to the Order of the Pelican. Suddenly folks are confused when people are talking about "Henry of Faversham." Granted these are worst case scenarios, but even then there can even be confusion when folks are referring someone to one of them for answers about some area of expertise. Lets say Henry of Faversham from An Tir is a master armorer, while Henry of Faversham from East Kingdom cannot even tell you what a mail coif is. Henry of Faversham of East Kingdom may be perplexed as to why he is getting questions on how to make a pair of gauntlets.
There can be similar confusion over devices. Lets say John of Amlesmore adopts a gold cross with a red background (gules, a cross Or) as the design of his device. Jack of Brokenbridge quite unaware John of Amlesmore is using that device decides he wants that design too. Then comes a day when the Kingdoms of Calontir and the East face each other on the field of battle. For whatever reason both armies are wearing purple surcoats (with their respective kingdom emblems on them of course). In the heat of battle all one may see is a flash of purple and the shield. Suddenly, John and Jack are wondering why they are not getting hit, or worse yet why members of both armies are attacking them. In battle shields play an important role in identifying whose who. The same is true of tournaments to a lesser degree. It is therefore important that each device be unique.
By registering names and devices one avoids such needless confusion. The College of Arms ensures that each name and each device registered is unique, and is not too similar to another. Thus there cannot be two Henrys of Favershams, or two devices that are a gold cross on a red background. Such a practice may not be authentic to period, but then folks did not travel in the Middle Ages as they do now. Folks that knew John of Ashford from Surrey may never meet people that knew John of Ashford from Kent. A knight in England with a shield with a gold cross on it may never meet a knight from Sweden with a shield with the same emblem. Today, that is not a case. It is entirely possible Henry of Faversham of An Tir may move to East Kingdom where he will be confused with the Henry of Faversham that has always lived in East Kingdom. And it is entirely possible John of Amlesmore and Jack of Brokenbridge both bearing shields with a gold cross on them will both be at Pennsic.
There are other reasons to register a name and a device. When your name and device passes submission it is added to the records the College of Arms keeps. These for the most part are now online for all to see. This makes it easy for the respective Crowns, heralds, and scribes to know who you are and what name to put on scrolls for awards, and what name to put in the Order of Precedence. It is makes it easy for a herald who has never seen a name spelled, who has only heard it, to check the spelling to make sure the scribe doing the scroll spells it right. It saves the time of inquiring of group members how a member's name is spelled and possibly ruining what is to be a surprise award.
Finally, registering a name is a polite thing to do. It shows one is serious about the SCA, that he or she is dedicated to it. It shows that one wants to make it easier for the Crown and officers when they make awards, and ensures people know who is being spoken of when referrals are made. There is no requirement to register a name. One can use a name his or her entire time in the SCA without ever registering it. There are many sustaining members who are group officers that do not have a registered name. At the same time it is a good idea. One thing that must be emphasized if you are a new member though, do not just rush out and register a name. Take your time, use your own legal birth name for a while if need be (I could have went by Berry of Amlesmore for a while before attempting to register my name if I wanted). There is no rush. It is more important one choose a name to register they like than to just register a name to have a name registered. To register a name it is suggested you talk to your local herald.
Copyright 2014 by Berry Canote, 202 E, Mulberry, Huntsville, MO 65269. <swainwodening at gmail.com>. Permission is granted for republication in SCA-related publications, provided the author is credited. Addresses change, but a reasonable attempt should be made to ensure that the author is notified of the publication and if possible receives a copy.
If this article is reprinted in a publication, please place a notice in the publication that you found this article in the Florilegium. I would also appreciate an email to myself, so that I can track which articles are being reprinted. Thanks. -Stefan.