Guid-f-Barons-art - 1/19/02
"A Guide for Barons and Baronesses" by by Baron Hrolf Herjolffsen OP and Mistress Madelaine de Bourgogne OL, OP.
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
NOTE: This article is written from the perspective of a Baron in the Kingdom of Lochac, when it was still a Principality. Some of the details will differ in other parts of the Known World - editor.
A Guide for Barons and Baronesses
by Baron Hrolf Herjolffsen OP and Mistress Madelaine de Bourgogne OL, OP
Please note that this will be amended and added to as we receive feedback. It is to be regarded as a living document, and not something graven in stone.
When we took on the job of being Baron and Baroness Ynys Fawr we did so armed with only what we had gleaned from talking to people over the years and reading in books. We discovered that there is no manual, no training and no back-up for the job. If these had been available, we would probably have made fewer errors along the way. We hope that this guide answers a few questions that you may have about the job and what it entails. It is a job that is a lot of work, but is very rewarding. We have not always done everything right in our job – you will not either, but try to get it right as much as you can. The enjoyment of many people depends on your words and deeds. Feel free to ask us directly if there are points that you wish clarified. This is not a “definitive” text on being a Baron or Baroness, such is not possible, there is no “one true way” of doing the job. It is merely our view on how to do things, one we think works.
Baron Ynys Fawr
Baroness Ynys Fawr
Anno Societatus XXXI
This is the Oath you will swear to the Crown as Baron and Baroness. You may do this through the Coronet if the Crown is not present. Learn it as this is what you must live by.
“Here do we (A) and (B) swear fealty to You, (x) and (y), King and Queen of the West; and we swear that we will obey Your lawful commands, that we will faithfully hold and administer Your Barony of Ynys Fawr, that we will support all our people in their various endeavours, that we will bring all good works to the notice of Your Majesties and, being mindful that the harmony of our Barony springs from our own deeds, that we will treat courteously with all, whatever their degree or station, until the King departs from his throne, death takes us, or the World end.”
The Corpora covers the appointment and removal of Barons and Baronesses (talked about below) and then goes on:
a. The basic duties of the Baron and / or Baroness are ceremonial in nature in reflecting the royal presence in the barony. The Crown may assign additional duties and responsibilities, according to the laws and customs of the kingdom.
b. Territorial Barons and / or Baronesses are responsible to the Crown and (if the barony is within a principality) to the Coronet. The Baron and / or Baroness shall work with the baronial officers as circumstances dictate, and shall keep these officers informed as necessary for the efficient performance of their duties and effective liaison within the barony.
c. The privileges, duties, and rights, ceremonial and otherwise, of the office of Territorial Baron and / or Baroness are established by the laws and customs of the kingdom, and shall include the right to make such awards as the Crown (or Coronet, if applicable) shall specifically delegate, and to establish and present non-armigerous awards specific to the barony. (See VI.A.1.f.4)
d. A territorial Baron or Baroness may hold any other Society office for which he or she is fitted or qualified, save only that of Baronial Seneschal, but must not allow the duties and responsibilities of such an office and the office of Baron or Baroness to conflict.”
West Kingdom and Lochac law says nothing on the powers of a Baron and Baroness. There are several times they are mentioned, and these are cited (as appropriate) below.
The Baron and Baroness should avoid situations where they have a conflict of interest (eg items that affect them or their household personally). If such a situation exists, and they need to speak on it, they should make the conflict of interest plainly known.
To avoid such entanglements, it is best if the Baron and Baroness do not belong to any household while they are in office. Their retinue become their household.
Anything said to you, while you are acting officially, that has a bearing on other people should be treated as confidential to anyone else unless you have received permission to pass information along. Of course, this does not apply to your partner on the seat, as they need to know as much as you do. This means that award recommendations, details of personal and SCA lives and other such items should not become topics of gossip from you – even to your best friend.
Not you, but the Seneschal, is the legal head of your group. Defer to them on issues of mundane law. The ultimate authority on the mundane legal situation in Australia is the OziBOD. Consult them if necessary.
It is up to you to organise insurance for the Regalia. You should be covered by domestic insurance while they are in your home, but will have to take out travel insurance if you are heading away.
You do not have the power to banish anyone from your group. The Crown has the right to banish anyone from the SCA for one reign, but they are very reluctant to do this. Under Australian Law, only the OziBOD has the power to ban someone from the SCA. For a person to be banned it would have to be shown to the OziBOD that the person is one who is bringing the group into disrepute or disorder. Examples would be a person charged with certain criminal offences deemed incompatible with the SCA or a person who is maliciously slandering and disrupting a group and causing people to leave. This is rare and would be subject to mundane legal challenge, so be sure of your facts. If such an action is possible, make sure that all actions of yourself and your officers are well documented.
If a person has a grievance with a person in the SCA, take they should take them aside and talk to them about the problem. If an understanding cannot be reached with them, then the person should talk to their superior. This may be their superior officer, the local Seneschal or you. This proceedure continues up the line. If an aggrieved person comes to you with a complaint about someone else, the first thing to ask is “have you talked to them yet?”. They may wish someone present when they have this conversation.
If a person has a grievance with either of you, steps must be taken to resolve the problem, or resentment and lack of respect will result. Such a thing has the power to undermine the stability of the Barony, or at the very least make your position less than happy.
The Baron and Baroness are the local representatives of the Crown in a group.
Their role is to represent the Crown in all matters. This includes the pleasure and duty of speaking to the Crown for their populace and vice versa. This is especially the case if the Crown (or Coronet) is acting in a manner you believe is against the interests of the people who have been entrusted to your care. It also includes the ceremonial role of accepting salutes in tourneys for the Crown and advising the Crown on Awards.
Locally you serve as the focus of Baronial attention and as a representative of your Barony to other Baronies. When you are visiting another group, the honour that is done to you is not personal as honour to you but as the representative of the people of your Barony. Likewise, when you have visiting Barons and Baronesses and do them honour, you honour their whole Barony.
At all times the Baron and Baroness must attempt to be impartial, acting not from personal motives and desires, but for the good of their Barony. This can mean curbing what you may personally want to do until you have thought: “Is this what I have sworn to do?” It means that you must not show favour to any particular person or household, as all within the Barony have an equal call upon you. In a similar vein, at events, a Baron and Baroness must attempt to talk to as many of their populace as possible, not sitting remote behind a High Table but making sure that all are as happy as is possible.
When away from their Barony or writing , a Baron and Baroness are the readily identifiable and visible representations of it. Their words and deeds reflect most immediately upon the perceptions that all have of their people.
To an extent, over time Baronies tend to reflect some of the opinions and attitudes of their Baron and Baroness. Some of the people whom you help start in the SCA will show the effect of your socialization of them into the Society for all of their time in the SCA. Think about this before doing anything. Do you want your Barony to imitate what you are about to do?
The Baron and Baroness of a group have no actual legally defined powers. On the other hand they can have as much power as their group is willing to grant them. Beware of the seduction of taking on more than you should – the Dark Side exists.
Practically you have the power to make local awards, create Guards and Court positions, change some local customs. We particularly insisted on the right of approval of events and we urge this on anyone else.
The more seriously you take your Oath of Investiture, the more heavily committed you will be to the job. Despite this, please remember that, although others are relying on you as a focus, real life comes first. Paying the bills, keeping your job, caring for kids and studies must take precedence over the SCA. Do not feel afraid to throw people out of your house when you are tired or to say that you cannot do something as you are already committed.
It is generally acknowledged that there are three forms of authority. These are the traditional, the legal-rational and the charismatic. Traditional authority is that held in the mundane world by the Queen, legal-rational is that held mundanely by a Member of Parliament and charismatic is that held by the leader of a social movement (say Bob Brown).
In the SCA our Crown and Coronet actually hold a legal-rational authority, deriving their power from a set of laws. You respect the person in the hat, not for any individual virtue that they may show, but because they hold a particular office by virtue of these laws. You hold traditional authority, having as much power as local traditions dictate and without any real legal backup in the society. Whether or not you can exercise charismatic leadership is up to you. This is the ability to lead by the force of your personality. The use of Charismatic authority is two-edged. If you use it and are shown to have “feet of clay” then people cease to respect you. The Crown or Coronet need not be respected, yet people will still obey them, a charismatic leader requires this respect in able to effectively lead.
In theory, you should be as objective as is possible at all times when an important issue comes up, but if you regard one side of the issue as being vital to the interests of the group, then you are derelict in your sworn duty if you do not try your hardest to push the viewpoint that you see as best for the group. This does not mean acting unfairly, but it does mean arguing the case as hard as you can.
As a Baron or Baroness, it is your job to think about the long term well-being of the group. This does not mean next month or even next year. You should be thinking of the directions the group will be taking over the next five years, how it will expand, what problems are foreseeable and what directions you wish it to head.
A monocultural group is one where only one thing is of importance. It does not matter if this is fighting (in any of its forms), costuming, partying or a concentration on just one period of history. This is, in the long term, unhealthy for the group. Baronies grow best if there are a wide diversity of interests in them, each contributing equally to their growth. This way newcomers have a wide choice of things to attract them, older members can move to another facet of the society if they become stale in their usual activities, and events have the richness that only a diverse set of activities can give.
Yes, when you are in the mundane world you are not the Baron and Baroness, you are the same as everyone else. People will still call you the Baron and Baroness and will defer to you to some extent, but it is only when you are in persona that you actually have that title. Only when you are at an event, a practice or a meeting then you have the right to command.
Yes and no. You are entitled to one and should insist on it when you wish. On the other hand you will be continually called on to exercise your role as “parents” (see below) and any action you make or anything you say – whether at an event or not – will always be interpreted by at least some people as coming from you officially.
Whether or not you hold an “open house” or social night is up to you. We have found that it is a useful way of getting people to talk to each other and to meet with people and answer their questions. This approach may not be a part of your style, that is OK. While such evenings are useful within the Barony, you do not have to host them yourself. Each Canton may end up holding their own, and only see you as an occasional guest. While useful, social nights are also a great restriction on your freedom and you have little control over the people who will enter your home. However, if your house is open to some members of the Barony, it must be open to all. Make sure you have specific “off limits” or privacy areas if possible for the rest of your household, and a definite time when visitors may be welcome.
There will be an increase in your phone bill. We get several phone calls each night about SCA matters and must frequently make others. These can sometimes be interstate or overseas. An answering machine is useful, but not essential. Make sure people know what is your latest time at night for accepting phone calls. Don’t let phone calls disturb your meal times or your studies and family commitments.
You are. Many people in the SCA are young, some are in the process of moving away from home. To many of these people you will end up as, at least, honorary uncle and aunt. You will be presented with problems that they do not wish, or are unable, to reveal to parents. You will be asked for advice on a range of personal problems. We see it as part of your duty to help as much as you feel you are able to (but no more than you are comfortable with). Many people just need someone to listen to them.
Note that you are probably not a trained counsellor and often the best advice and help you can give is to get people to see a professional (of whatever sort is called for). It is, however important not to just wash your hands of their problems as being irrelevant to the SCA. Baronies have been torn apart by small personal problems that have grown and encompassed everybody in what started as a solvable problem. If you can help resolve a person’s dilemma you are not only helping that person, but possibly helping the Barony as well.
In our modern Middle Ages, a ready access to a computer is essential. The best access to a computer is to have one yourself. The next best thing is to pay for, or borrow, computer time from someone else. Unless you are an expert secretary and have an excellent office regime which will allow you to keep hard copy material in an up to date fashion, computer access is the answer to your paperwork. Domesday reports, letters to Royalty, newsletter notifications and “From the B&B”s, the local Order of Precedence and other bits of necessary information are best kept and accessed via a PC.
You are in fealty to them. They owe you fealty. The fealty you swear outlines the expectations of you from the Crown, and your relationship to Them.
This means that you are in a direct personal relationship to the Crown which is renewed each reign. You have a right of access directly to the Sovereign’s ear and they must listen to you. If they do not at least give you a hearing on an issue, it is them that is at fault, not you. By the same token, you must listen especially hard when the Crown speaks. You have to obey their words and advise them. Obedience is not blind. If you see the Crown about to break a Law, or stumble over a precipice, it is your duty not to follow blindly, but to warn them of the consequences of their actions. Barons and Baronesses will thus not always be popular with the Crown.
If the Coronet is acting in a fashion that you regard as bad for your people, and you can always talk direct to the Crown. If the Crown is acting poorly, well they are only there for four months. Write to their successors if you can’t get immediate response.
Usually you should indulge Royal Whims if they are mostly harmless and add to the fun. Some of these (such as a famous “chocolate is period”) are actually, in the long term, harmful to what the SCA is about. They send a message to the populace that if you are powerful you can break the rules. Some, while meant in jest, can be hurtful and discourteous to some of your populace. The best thing to do with these sorts of whims is to ignore them if possible. If the Crown or Coronet is actually in the Barony at the time, try privately explaining why you do not think that their whim is a Good Idea.
Principality Events are not ours. We are only there to help them run smoother. Anything else that happens is between the autocrat and the Coronet. At other times, if Royalty are present at an event held in their honour, indulge them. It is their party. The same applies if Royalty is visiting for a normal event.
If Royalty arrive (or are invited to) a major local event (such as Birthdays, Balls etc), then the event is not theirs, it belongs to the populace or to local Royal representatives (your Investiture for instance). While you will invite the Crown or Coronet to hold a Court, the timing of this is up to the discretion of the autocrat and yourselves and must be fitted in where it can be put. Good Royalty understand this and usually ask something like: “What do you want us to do?”.
Make sure that your scribes get notice of any awards well in advance of the start of the event so that they may perform their work without stress. It is your job to make sure such liaison takes place. Ensure that a Lady (or Lord)-in-waiting is allocated to each set of Royals for the duration of the event and that they know exactly what to do. Ask the Royals if they have special needs or expectations from the help assigned to Them.
When Royalty come to visit the Barony, it is almost your duty to host them. They are generally happy with whatever you can provide, and are very grateful if they get well looked after. You need to have them nearby as you will have a lot of things to talk to them about – Courts, awards, the issues of the day. If you cannot host them, you will need to be at the place they are staying a fair amount of time to do all this, and without others around, or to invite them to your place for coffee and chatting time.
There are two main exceptions to this. If the visitors have a household member (or a squire or apprentice) in the Barony, and it is not a terribly formal visit, they may wish to stay with them. Knights and squires like to spend a lot of time together. In this case have Royalty over for a long evening or two (away from the squire / apprentice / household member). If you do not get on with Royalty (or they do not get on with you) it may be more polite to have them hosted out with someone than to turn the visit into a nightmare. You will still need to have a long session with them at some stage, but it may be best on a neutral ground.
Apart from a right of access to the Sovereign, one of the few privileges you have is to hand out Awards in Their name. It is a tradition in Lochac, dating from Twelfth Night AS XVII, for the Crown or Coronet to grant an Award at the event they are at and to either send the scrolls down to you first or let you know over the phone so that you can hand them out in Their name. This is usual for important events such as Baronial Birthdays, and possible for other events.
While we do not believe a Baron and Baroness would contemplate this idea, some actions of Royalty will provoke hot-headed comments from some of the populace. It is worth pointing out that the Laws of the West (Article IX, Section 6) state that: “No statement which suggests or advocates violation of fealty to a Principality or to the Kingdom shall be used by any person, group or entity in the West.” It then goes on to list a long set of sanctions and penalties (forbidden from combat, suspension from Office, branch suspension).
Even if you disagree with the current set of Royalty and think they are fools, remember that you are in fealty to them and that you owe them honour and courtesy. Never say anything within your Barony that you would not be prepared to say to their faces. *This can be difficult in casual conversation where peoples’ actions are often held up for inspection and become the subject of humour. If you believe they are doing something wrong, it is your duty and sworn oath to tell them so (politely). The reverse of this is that they are duty bound to listen to you and your arguments.
If you believe the actions of the Prince and Princess are wrong, and you have talked to them about this, it is your duty to go to the Crown and talk to Them. This can be done on the phone, by mail or by direct e-mail.
Be considerate of the Lord and Lady’s position in the Principality when dealing with them. If you are getting to know them for the first time, be especially attentive to their feelings, and be aware of any conflict they may experience with the Prince and Princess. Offer yourself as a sounding board if they need it, and help facillitate anything they may need if they are being invested in your Barony. Offer whatever services you or the Barony can offer to make their investiture or their visit comfortable and pleasant. With courtesy and respect, and much hospitality (the like of which you may offer to the Prince and Princess) you should find it easy to be on friendly terms. It may be a good idea to send a letter of introduction to the Lord and Lady if you do not know them.
At all times make the Prince and Princess aware that your actions are in service to Them, and that you wish to make Their business with you as easy as possible. This will make them at ease, as they may not know you just as you may not know them. As an established leader in a Barony, you have the advantage, and the Prince and Princess who do not know you, will be on their guard when dealing with you, unless you can win their confidence. Once you have gained their confidence, it is easier to work together with them for the good of your Barony, and hopefully will lead to strong friendship, and thus a visit to your Barony which is thought of with pleasure.
Yes. A voluntary fealty may be sworn by your Barony to you. The Laws of the West state (Article IX, Section 5) that: “No subject of the West shall be required to pledge fealty to any branch below the level of Principality, nor to any individual save the Crown of the West or the Coronets of the several Principalities.”
If you are a Peer, you may have other people in fealty to you as well as apprentices, proteges or squires.
Your Seneschal is the head of the Public Service. As such, let them get on with running things like Officers, meetings, reports and things like that. Trust them and make sure they can trust you. Make sure that you are providing a good source of inspiration while they provide the vital administrative backup. Talk to them often. Where you have several seneschals, talk to them all, but remember never to go against any instructions that Cantonal Seneschals have received from their Baronial boss. The Cantons work under the Seneschal’s instructions - not yours.
They need to keep you in touch with what is happening, but you should be able to pick that up at Baronial meetings. Let them get on with their jobs. Your task is to judge Arts and Sciences and dance, not run them. Never give an answer that is your Officer’s to give – always say “ask x – they are the (whatever)”. If the Officer is not contactable, it is the Seneschal’s job to give an answer – not yours.
You owe loyalty to all of your Officers (and they to you). It is your job to defend them and their actions to the Prince and Princess or their superior if necessary. Note that this does not preclude you from helping haul them over the coals privately later.
This is a thing that should only be done on the request of the officer, and must be acted on by the officer and Seneschal. This is No Man’s Land for Barons and Baronesses.
This is a subject best handled with kid gloves by your Seneschal. Respect the Seneschal’s decisions and support his/ her actions in regards to other officers burning out. If you have differing opinions about how to handle this, make sure you reach an agreement on the course of action the Senescah sees fit to take. Should your Seneschal be showing signs of burn out, it is your duty to protect that officer and the Barony by pointing out the danger signs and gently pressuring the Seneschal to take appropriate action.
These are not your meetings, but the Seneschals’. Let them run the meeting. You will have opinions, and they will have some precedence, but listen to the populace. Generally you should run with the consensus, unless it is clearly against something important you are trying to achieve. If the populace wish to do something, let them, even if it means major changes to the way things are done in the Barony.
Try and avoid them. In Hrolf’s survey of the SCA, politics were the thing that people most abhorred. On being interviewed, it was not necessarily the politics that they disliked, it is the discourtesy that such politics engenders. Politicisation of groups means disintegration and alienation and the loss of worthwhile people.
Don’t. You must always act in what you perceive as the best interests of the Barony. This rarely means rewarding your friends alone. One of you must be prepared to hear from and talk to every person among your people. You do not even have the luxury of openly disliking anyone. If someone is so bad that you cannot stand them in the Barony, and you have not started banishment proceedings, then you should ask yourself about the correctness of your attitudes. By the same token, there is no-one in the SCA who deserves immediate canonisation. You must be seen as being open and available for all to talk to and as willing to give everyone a fair hearing. You cannot really bar someone from your house as this often means barring them from the life of the Barony. The SCA are like family and, like relations, you cannot pick them.
Be diplomatic, some of them get very set in their ways and are used to dominating the local culture. It all boils down to you having land and a right to give instructions locally. With local Peers, these may be phrased as strong suggestions and may perhaps best be done privately if they may be awkward. Your Peers are a strong resource base and, by their oaths, should be willing to share their skills with the populace.
Oaths of fealty from your local Peers through you to the Crown is a good way to establish your relationship with them. Once you have a working relationship you can then encourage their influence to work for the good of the Barony, by speaking on Your behalf at events you cannot attend, and to deliver oaths of fealty from you to the Crown or the Prince and Princess.
Isolated groups have advantages and disadvantages. Your Barony will be forced more on its own resources, will rarely see Royalty and will progress slower in fighting. As a result of this it will develop a strong tradition in Arts and Sciences, an independent spirit and an ability to improvise. You will develop a distinct local style and set of traditions and have the potential to avoid many of the problems of the more cosmopolitan groups. Your people will have more loyalty to their group and more willingness to help the group generally. Do not squander this goodwill.
With respect and courtesy. We know that we keep saying this, but you are the representative of the Crown. As such you should start with people’s respect automatically. It is up to you to maintain this. Modern existence is, by its nature, discourteous and individualistic. It is up to you (with the help of most of your people) to try and help put some magic and romance back into life. Remember to try to act the part of a respected noble. It is hard to bow to a fool.
You are a landed Baron and Baroness. As such you are the direct representative of the Crown. As such all people in your Barony, regardless of their seniority should defer to the Crown through you. Disrespect shown to a landed Baron and Baroness by their people is disrespect shown to the Crown. Listen to these people as they have much experience to offer you, but do not allow yourself to be over-ruled on matters that affect the Barony as the final (and sworn) responsibility for its affairs is yours.
This usually happens after the whole group has been involved in a long period of very intense SCA activity. It is part of your role to try and prevent this happening. This should perhaps best be done by staying back from the organisational aspects (it is the Seneschal’s role after all) so that you can see when things are coming to a crisis. If it does happen, you can try gently encouraging their efforts and reminding them of what they have achieved. Make sure that those who have put in a lot of work realise that they are appreciated. If worst comes to worst, suggest that everyone “go slow” on SCA for a while until they recover.
This is the way to kill a group. Newcomers will disappear, old members will drop out, memberships will not be renewed It is in everyone’s interest to stop this happening, but those involved in the problem that causes the fall-out may be too close to see this. By your oath, you have no choice but to act to solve the problem. Your role may be to take people aside and talk to them. Point out the effects on the group. Most people have the whole SCA’s interests at heart and will try and reach an accommodation. If one person remains intractable and becomes destructive to the group remember that, as a last resort, you can apply to the Crown to have a person banished for a reign. As well, under Australian Incorporation, you can apply to the OziBOD to have them removed from the SCA permanently.
Insist on the right of approval for events. A representative of Royalty should attend every official event in the Barony, thus you must be there. Events thus must be timed to fit with your schedule as well as the autocrats.
One of you needs to be at every event – but not all meetings and practices.
Because you have to be there, it is customary for you to get into local events free. We used to worry about this as being unfair, but now we realise that we pay our event money in so many different ways. If you have children, their attendance cost is strictly up to the autocrat. If they want you to pay for them, do so.
As you personify the honourable and chivalric aspects of the SCA at events, it is up to you to look the part. This includes wearing the Coronets as much as you can – even at tourneys. If you wish to take them off, have some form of cap of maintenance to wear in their place. In the absence of the Crown, Baronial regalia symbolically reflects the majesty of the Crown so it behoves all Barons and Baronesses to wear regalia of some sort. When visiting other parts of the Kingdom, wearing your coronets at Court is a requirement of your position.
If you do not have a device passed, get it done now. While you (and you alone) are entitled to bear the device of the Barony, your personal device adds to the display and serves as an example to others. Personal banners of B&Bs are not displayed at Principality events. Make sure that the Baronial banner is displayed at all events. Banners are a major assistance to the atmosphere.
Anyone who is a member of the SCA Inc. can be a Baron or Baroness. If you are in the same house, only one of you need be a full member.
The more experience you have in the SCA, the better. This means a wide experience of as many facets as possible, not just a long time in one aspect. On the other hand, some very successful Barons and Baronesses have been teenagers when they were Invested. In Lochac, some of the more successful Barons and Baronesses have an Armed Services background, but this simply explains how they have readily understood the concepts of honour and fealty.
Couples is usually better than singles (singles as in a Baron or a Baroness only) and is strongly advocated in Ynys Fawr. This does not necessarily imply a couple who are married or de-facto, as long as they respect and can work with each other. You need to have similar aims and ideals. It is important that, if either is attached to someone else, this person is not an auxiliary Baron or Baroness. They can be privy to none of your affairs and must often be excluded. This is a potential source of friction.
It is unfair to both the individual and the group to have a single Baron or Baroness. For the individual, there is no backup or support and burnout becomes inevitable. For the group, such burnout – or even mundane inconvenience – can mean many events without a Presence.
The minimum length of time is two years (the same as an Officer). There is no legal maximum. From our experience as Baron and Baroness, and from looking around us and asking others, we would recommend an absolute minimum of three years and a preferred length of 4 to 5 years. A Baron and Baroness should be in place longer than their Officers, to give stability to a group, but should not be in office so long as to get bored and stale in the job (thus the suggested 5 year maximum). They should step down whilst still in favour with their Barony.
If you must go away for a while (going overseas for instance), you should leave a Vicar in charge. This is a temporary person whom you trust to speak with your voice, and to whom the Barony will respond appropriately. They do not wear a Coronet, but act at all times as your (and the Crown’s) representative. You should also appoint one if there is a major event that it is suddenly impossible for you to attend.
You only report to the King and Queen (you hold Their lands in trust) on the appointed year for Ynys Fawr. This happens only every two years, the next will be in March 1999 (see Article III, Section 17.5 of the West Kingdom Laws). Keep a diary! We did not, much to our regret. You must report on the Order of Precedence for the Barony (who has what Awards), the activities and practices throughout all of the Barony (Cantons and Colleges included), regular events (what they are, how successful are they), crises that have beset you and how you have coped, the state of Arts and Sciences, fighting etc.
Baronies have Cantons like cats have kittens. It will happen naturally. Care for them, and in the fullness of time they may reward you by becoming a Barony in their own right. A new group is a wonderful legacy to leave behind.
Universities have Colleges. You may find that their funding comes through the University and they are answerable to it for their money, not the SCA. They draw their members from all over and, if they are full members of the SCA, these members count as College members and towards Baronial numbers based on their postal address. Overall, the majority of SCA members first see the SCA while they are at University. It is thus important to encourage the growth of your College(s).
Yes, should you turn out to be an absolute disaster the populace can petition the Crown to have you removed (see Corpora VI.B.1.c). But this is extreme and almost unheard of (and Kings have told us that this requires a minimum of 80% support). People would rather stick it out and work on it rather than give up.
Less radically, Corpora says (VI.B.1.b):
“The Crown may suspend a territorial Baron and / or Baroness for the duration of a reign, for just and stated cause. Suspension would prohibit the use of baronial titles and arms, the conduct of baronial courts, and the presentation of baronial awards.”
The Laws of the West also state (Article III, Section 17.4) that: “The Crown, after consultation with the Kingdom Seneschal, may either confirm the current Baron and Baroness in their office or appoint a new Baron and/or Baroness at the Kingdom event at which the Baronial report is presented after consultation with the populace of the Barony as required by Corpora.”
If some people get an unfavourable answer from one of you, they may go to the other in the hope of a more positive response. If you discover this happening, stomp on it. This is one of the reasons you need to closely consult with each other.
Awards are a recognition by the group that the recipient belongs and is behaving appropriately. They help provide a “career path” and assist in making the SCA a form of “serious leisure”. Awards, whilst not in themselves a reason to do things, are a significant way by which an average member may be encouraged or rewarded for their efforts.
An award can be very significant to the recipient (watch their faces and you will see what we mean). Thus an award should never be trivialised or made slight of in any way. If anything, you should be overly serious and formal and should say exactly why this award is being given out. Not everyone will know all the details and the populace should be shown good examples being praised. Awards are given at Court (usually), and the Baron and Baroness should place the dangly over the head of the recipient, or hand the token directly to the recipient.
We give Baronial Awards to those who are competitive on a Principality basis. This does not mean that they would necessarily win, but that they would be considered to be serious contenders in a competition, be it for Arts and Sciences, combat or a job.
Do it. Ask the people to send you copies of theirs, so that you will know who is on their minds. The Crown will not give out awards if you make no recommendations.
This is one of your few perks of Office, enjoy it. Be solemn and point out the source of the Award.
These can only be made with the permission of their local Baron and Baroness. Locally we also have the non-award of the Freeperson of the Barony. This gives the recipient all the rights of a member of the Barony and can only be granted by you on the petition of the populace.
If they are not at an event, try and wait until they are. If you cannot do this, or they have left, pass it through friends. It can be good theatre to announce that an award has been made (say from the Prince and Princess) and then enjoin everyone to silence until the next event, when their friends are sure to make sure that they come.
If they would normally have been on your list of recommendations at this stage, put them on your list. Explain the situation to Royalty. When and if the award comes through, get one of their friends to accept the award on behalf of the deceased and have them pass the scroll and / or tokens on to relatives of the deceased that they may know that the deceased was cherished by us.
Not only do they make your job easier, but they make better theatre for all participants. Adjust the number up front to the size of an event. Engineers help you set up and take down for events (and this can be a lot of work) and may even be transport for the Regalia. Scribes do your scrolls and Ladies / Lords-in-Waiting free you to be an inspiration and help people enjoy an event (your jobs) without you having to worry about being fed. Guards and Retinue also serve to look after Royals when They visit.
Partly, service is its own reward. They know they have helped everything run smoother. Being a guard also means being up front and seeing what is happening through other eyes. This definitely includes watching the joy on the faces of Award recipients. There is also a degree of status that is attached to different positions. The Engineers are recognised immediately throughout Lochac (and are welcomed for their assistance). The Standardbearer, the Sergeant and the Schoental Champion also have precedence being a part of the chain of command in war.
To an extent, they represent you. They should be silent in Court and courteous and chivalrous to all. If they are not behaving as you would wish them to, speak to them (privily if possible). By agreeing to take on a job, they have agreed to accept its responsibilities.
They must volunteer. In the case of the Engineers, they must do this in writing. Feel free to solicit from among likely candidates, but the decision on whether to apply rests with them. One willing volunteer is more valuable to you than twenty conscripts. Try and be as diverse as possible in your choice so that all groups are represented in your retinue.
At all times treat your retinue with courtesy and respect. Thank them for their efforts. They have and need a right of closer contact with you than the rest of the Barony in order to perform their duties. They should assist you at all times, even before thinking of their own wishes. They must be able to look after their own needs beforehand and then be ready to assist you. This means that they should arrive at events in good time, preferably before you do.
Courts have several purposes in the SCA. Opening and closing Courts are exactly that. While we could gradually drift into (and out of) events, Courts mark a definite transition from the mundane to the SCA. During Court, which is above all else a place of official business, announcements are made, Officers publicly take up their jobs and awards are given out. Court establishes Royal or Baronial presence. They can be used to help create and mark out the “special place” that is the SCA.
You could just enter the hall at an event gradually and quietly, seat yourselves on the Thrones, and then get the Herald to announce commencement of Court. This is a bit like sneaking up on your populace. There are better ways to enter an event.
These are very formal. The people are ushered out, you seat yourself and they are then introduced to you in an order of precedence. You say a few words to them and they take their place at the sides. Grand Parades take ages – even if only armigers and above are presented (the rest coming in as “the populace of x”). Despite this, it is useful to hold them several times a year. They serve to show the hierarchy and social order, to highlight who has awards and offices, to remind each other of our names and they are absolutely superb for showing off your clothes. This is when the Herald blows everyone else’s trumpet - all award holders deserve their bit of personal glory. Whilst all who are present should enter a Grand Parade, there are people who have a serious aversion to this public introduction, and must be allowed to be unobtrusively seated beforehand or to leave the hall for the duration of the Parade. These people should not miss Court if they don’t want to, however. There will be people who will be unable to sit comfortably on the floor (due to injury or frailty) or to whom being asked to stand would be discourteous to them, and you must invite them to take a seat if they so desire.
Processing in is much quicker and less formal. If you have any largesse to distribute, this is the time to do it. Because it is less formal, some of the glamour is not there. Mix the two types of entrances around as is appropriate. When you enter into an event, you do not just come into a hall, shouldering your way through a chattering throng. Such disrespect would reflect badly on people’s attitudes to the Crown. A more suitable entry is: the Herald announces your presence, conversation stops and all stand and turn to watch you coming in accompanied by your retinue. Just before you come level with them, each member of the populace should bow, curtsy etc (as appropriate). Once you are in and seated, the Herald shall ask if the populace may be seated. Have them draw nigh and be comfortable. This form of entrance is called processing in and occurs when you enter a crowded room. Alternatively you could enter the hall gradually and quietly, seat yourselves on the Thrones, and then get the Herald to announce commencement of Court.
You can set up thrones away from the High Table and encourage people to come and discuss issues with you at any time you wish during an event. It is worth checking with the autocrat so that you don’t clash with anything specially prepared for you or the populace. You will discover that the thrones are quite comfortable and that these are great places to watch dance and entertainment from. If you are “in state”, you should have one of your retinue nearby or cued to attend you from time to time, and you will need the kneeling cushions for people to sit or kneel.
A good Court Herald is a pearl beyond price. They help the theatre build and can prompt you when you forget your lines. Court Heralds are usually made – not born – and so encourage anyone to “have a go” at unimportant events. Do not make mock of their efforts (and ensure that others do not) and make sure that you thank them. As you will soon discover, it is a very nervous thing being the voice of the King. A good way for them to start their apprenticeship is as a “caller” in Grand Parades. Allow your chief Herald for the event to be privy to all court matters as early as possible (the night before is good) and give that herald the authority to divvy out the work as they see fit, but in consultation with you, as it is your Court, not theirs. Thank them and count your blessings if you have one with a better memory than you.
You cannot live without them. They polish Coronets (if you ask politely), give you the right awards tokens when needed and make sure that you have food and drink. They may also be asked to help with maintanence of regalia, preparing for events, help you with newcomers, arrange your garb just before entrances, be lent out to visiting Royalty. Cherish them, thank them, and give them the time they need for themselves.
This varies. You will never be allowed to live down your mistake when one goes on and on. Run them from a couple of minutes to an absolute maximum of half an hour. The best can be done in ten minutes. Imagine yourself as one of the spectators sitting on a cold hard floor or bench, if you aren’t sure..
Court should occur at the start and the end of events. Have another in the centre only if there is a very good reason or a lot of business to transact. Closing Court is good for competition results and notices of upcoming events and should be very brief.
If opening Court is going to be more than ten minutes late, it is appropriate to consult with the Autocrat about any food to be served. If the food is time critical (not a stew or cold) then you may have to start the event and worry about Court later.
The exact time that Court is to be held is the choice of the highest ranked ‘pointy hat’ at the event. The autocrat should be informed of plans for timing of Court as soon as possible. This would preferably be at least a few hours before the event, if not the day before.
Make sure that these occur at the end of Court at feasts. Your Herald will generally handle the details. You should stand during the toasts to the Crown and the Coronet, but sit when you are mentioned. Do not forget our sister Barony of Rivenoak.
We are a feudal society, the Baronial forces are yours to command. The tactics to be used are up to you, unless you choose to delegate them. Have a firm line of command in case the person in charge is killed. Use tactics. Glorious frontal charges have a place in medieval warfare – usually among the losers. You are all there to have fun, but there is nothing like being a part of a well practiced army that beat individually superior forces due to the better use of tactics
Households may wish to fight together, let them, but make sure that they stay within your plans. Such things as individual challenges have no place in a war – they belong in a pas d’armes.
Keep your archers together and practicing unit tactics. Individual archers are assassins and were despised in medieval times and would be executed. Snipers did not exist on a medieval battlefield. Remember that a mass of almost untrained archers can do a lot of damage to a formed body of troops. If they are good archers, they are even more decisive.
These are important for the life of the group. Make sure you are prepared. Know who you are going to give awards to (and make sure your Herald knows), ensure new retinue know who they are, have ready any scrolls you may need.
The Regalia is yours and yours alone. Allowing others to sit in the thrones, place Coronets on their heads etc shows disrespect for the Office. The exception to this is for children, they are always spoiled.
Generally speaking, the Royal Presence is an area of three metres radius which surrounds Prince & Princesses, Kings & Queens which affords Them privacy in a crowd. This area is “out of bounds” to people not in the Royal Court; this often incudes Barons and Baronesses. To approach the Royals you must gain Their attention outside this imaginary boundary and await Their signal to approach. This boundary does not work the other way however, and They can approach anyone directly at any time. In this Barony we rarely set a Royal Presence around ourselves unless we announce it beforehand, at opening Court. However, during any Baronial Court, we strictly observe this practise of Royal Presence, and delineate it with a carpet rug in front of the thrones. Permission must be sought to approach the thrones, and when it is granted, a show of respect such as a bow is required.
If there are other Barons or Baronesses around, use them when you need it. This includes Court Barons and Baronesses. They can fill in for you in emergencies, act as your Vicar, act as Ambassadors, give you advice or be your General on the battlefield. If we become a March (or whatever name is chosen) this will give you another set of Royalty around to help when you need it.
When people are going to other groups, particularly distant ones, you can add to the theatre of their visit (and introduce them) by making them an Ambassador. This involves getting a scroll calligraphed for them to present in the Court where they are visiting. This may be a scroll addressed to a particular person, or it may be more general. If you can cook up a scenario beforehand (possibly with the Court Herald) you can make it very entertaining for all. DO NOT set up your ambassador with something embarrasing unless all parties are agreed.
If you get a chance to attend one of these, do so. All Baronies have things in common that you can discuss. This varies from local problems to major issues of the day, from dealing with Officers to declaring War. If there are several of you at any event, you should try to have a meeting, even if it is informal.
Probably the most important words you will ever use as Baron and Baroness. It is this formula that you will use while you are struggling to give a response to the idea (good or bad) that has been sprung on you, that you have had no chance to consult over or that you are struggling to politely refuse. They are words that, for all their triteness, indicate to the listener that you have heard what is being said to you and you will consider this and consult with others on it.
Due to the vagaries of fate, Barons and Baronesses have no actual standing in the Order of Precedence. When you are visiting people, the precedence granted you is a matter for the group you visit, remember that any honour they grant is not to you, but to the Barony you represent. We give visiting Barons and Baronesses the highest precedence of all present (unless Crown or Coronet are there).
People will give you things. This is nice and good. Accept them graciously. If the gift is alcohol or another beverage, it is good to share this with the populace so that the giver is better recognised for their deed.
You will give things to other people. If the Crown visit, you should give some form of “taxation” to them. Any other visiting nobles should also receive some memento of their visit. It need not be large and expensive, but should show some recognition of the recipient.
It is your duty to place a letter in every newsletter in your Barony. It should contain any exhortations you wish to make, any news you have to share and any recognitions of accomplishment you wish proclaimed.
On informal occasions and in letters (after the greetings) you should address other Barons and Baronesses as “cousin”. Treat them with a least as much respect as you would wish them to treat you. If they are visiting, provide seats and a Lady-in-Waiting for them. If it is inappropriate for them to be seated up front (say at Baronial Investitures), provide them a seat at the front and to the side. Provide for their banners to be hung. You do honour, not to the person, but to their Barony and dishonouring them reflects on you and your honour.
Talk to other Barons and Baronesses as much as you can. When you get the chance hold a Council of Landed Nobles at events where several of you are together. You have similar problems and will find sharing solutions useful. They are also a great place to plot wars.
We have a sister Barony in Rivenoak. If you ever get to America, try to arrange a visit there. They are not hard to contact. Make sure you are aware of any changes over there (new Baron and Baroness for instance) and that you send appropriate scrolls.
This Barony has re-instituted the old Lochac custom of giving tokens to all who visit our shores for an event. These are worn proudly by many people both on the mainland and overseas. Make sure you have enough of these on hand at all times. Treat these visitors well as they add flavour to events and carry our reputation with them when they leave.
This is the last duty you have to your Barony – ensuring a smooth transition to a suitable set of successors. It is your responsibility to ensure your “child” is placed in the best of hands and, if you think of it in those terms, you will realise how important this is.
We have chosen to do it by seeking expressions of interest, introducing these people to the populace, holding a poll (which we are the only ones to see) and guided by the wishes of the people, selecting our successors. The reason we have done it this way is to try and avoid some of the destructive politics that comes with a direct election. Your people should trust you to be fair and to not totally ignore their wishes without very good reasons.
Spend time training your successors and showing them what you do and why you are doing it, however, until they are actually Invested you are still responsible for the Barony.
Unless they are the first Baron and Baroness of a group, a retired Baron and Baroness receive no awards except the thanks of their people. There was a proposal to grant all successful holders of the rank an automatic Grant of Arms in recognition of the high level of work and commitment required. If you get a chance, push for this to happen. It may not be for you, it may be for your successors, but by the time you finish in office you will know that it is well deserved.
You are now in a position of being an “elder statesman”. It is no longer your Barony and you have no right to interfere in the decisions of your successors. They will probably consult you if they are in doubt, and you should speak to them privately if you feel that it is needed. Do not undermine their authority, the Barony is now theirs to care for.
At your leisure, at least one of you may wish to at least sample some of these books. They should aid you in your endeavours, all should be interesting. There are many more of interest and see us if you want a list.
de Pisan, Christine, translated Sarah Lawson (1985) The Treasure of The City of Ladies, or The Book of Three Virtues, London: Penguin Books. A (rare) female perspective on courtesy and chivalry.
Hoggett, Paul & Bishop, Jeff (1986) Organising Around Enthusiasms, Patterns of Mutual Aid in Leisure Organisations and Democracy Series, No. 2, Comedia Publishing, London. This is a book about clubs and groups, how they grow and change. It is an easy read. Hrölf has a copy.
Jones, Terry (1984) Chaucer’s Knight: The Portrait of a Medieval Mercenary Methuen, London, ISBN 0 413 57510 1. Excellent iconoclastic work. It describes many of the medieval and early renaissance attitudes to honour and courtesy. Understanding the world view of the personae of your populace will help you to understand them.
Machiavelli, Niccolė (1970) (translated Bernard Crick) The Discourses Pelican, Middlesex. Despite his bad press, Machiavelli wrote a description of how to run a state. Leave out the blood-thirsty bits and these are an excellent manual of practical politics.
Machiavelli, Niccolė (1961) (translated George Bull) The Prince Pelican, Middlesex.
Maurice, Emperor (1984) (translated George T. Dennis) Maurice’s Strategicon University of Pennsylvania Press, Philadelphia. This is probably the most comprehensive book available on practical tactics for battle and directly applicable to SCA combat. The tactics it describes were successful for hundreds of years until the state grew too weak to use them properly. Again, Hrölf has a copy.
Powers, Hilary (editor), The Known World Handbook SCA, Milpetas. The gospel - you need to have a copy
SCA Governing and Policy Documents. This contains the Corpora and the rules you must live by (but not the West Kingdom and Lochac laws). You need a copy in the house.
Tillyard, E. M. W. (1968) The Elizabethan World Picture Penguin, Middlesex. Shows how different from both the Medieval mind and the world-view of modernity the Tudors were.
Copyright 2002 by Cary J Lenehan, 16 Maweena Pl, Kingston, Tasmania, 7050, Australia. <lenehan at our.net.au>. Permission is granted for republication in SCA-related publications, provided the author is credited and receives a copy.
If this article is reprinted in a publication, I would appreciate 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.