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Seneschal-101-art - 4/23/08


"Seneschal-101" by Master Rhys Terafan Greydragon.


NOTE: See also the files: Bng-an-Officer-art, Grup-Historan-art, new-groups-msg, SCA-Grp-Drect-art, SCA-meetings-msg, Confrontation-art, Baronial-Lead-art, fundraising-msg.





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.


Thank you,

Mark S. Harris...AKA:..Stefan li Rous

stefan at florilegium.org



You can find more of Master Terafan's writings elsewhere in the Florilegium as well as on the House Greydragon website, http://www.greydragon.org/ .


NOTE: This is the handout for an introductory class on the office of the Seneschal given in the Kingdom of Atlantia. Some of the details here, such as the Curia Regis will not apply to all kingdoms.



by Baron Terafan Greydragon

Deputy Kingdom Seneschal for VA


Primary Duties and Responsibilities

        Legal Representative of the group

        General Health & Welfare of the ENTIRE group

        Coordination and Support of all other group officers


        Attending Curia Regis

        Relationship w/ Barons & Baronesses (if applicable)

        Warrants and Replacements

        Exchequer Duties (by default)


Legal Representative of the Group

        The Seneschal is "the" person who has legal authority

        Able to sign contracts

        In conjunction with the exchequer, able to encumber (commit) SCA funds

        Must carefully consider deputies, including autocrats.  It is only as a deputy to the seneschal are autocrats able to enter into contracts.  (They are empowered for a specific purpose, for a specific length of time)


Group Health & Welfare

        The NUMBER ONE responsibility is concern for the overall wellness of the group

        All decisions need to be made from this standpoint

        Personal feelings must sometimes be put aside

        Must focus on the "Big Picture"


Coordination and Support of all other group officers

        Seneschals are NOT "in charge" of the other group officers

        Seneschals must support and coordinate the activities of the other officers

        Seneschals may become a central point of contact if a group officer is not performing adequately

        Seneschals should provide as much "big picture" help as possible



        Quarterly Reports (every 3 months) are VERY important because they are used to compile the  Kingdom Domesday Report to the Society Seneschal.

        Seneschals should feel free to make sure that other group officers have completed their reports to the appropriate Kingdom officer.  Why?   

Kingdom Law - When an office is vacant, the seneschal of the group is responsible for filing any reports required from the missing officer.

        It is a good idea, and not "getting too deep in their business" to ask for copies of their reports.


Attending Curia Regis

        Curia Regis meeting are held at least ONCE PER REIGN.

        Read the Acorn carefully to make sure you know when/where they will be held.  

        Stay abreast of the relevant issues, talk to your group (or at least the officers) about the issues prior to attending, and be able to explain your groups feelings and desires.


Relationship w/ Barons & Baronesses (if applicable)

        You are not in fealty to the Baron/ess (if you are, you probably should NOT be)

        You report to the Kingdom Seneschal, they report to the Crowns

        They are NOT your boss, NOR are you theirs

        All of you are working for the greater good of the group.  

        You should be able to call and talk to them several times a week and feel comfortable doing so

        You should have the appearance of the being the #1 supporter of the Baron/ess.


Warrants and Replacements

        Seneschals play a key role in warranting ALL the other officers in the group

        Requests for new seneschal warrants must include the signatures of TWO other group officers

        When considering acceptable replacements, you must think of the greater good of the group and the ability of the individual to fulfill the duties and responsibilities

        When considering replacements, does the individual have traits and characteristics that will help him/her be successful

        When considerig replacements, does the individual have a good working relationship with the Baron/ess?  (if applicable)


Exchequer Duties (by default)

        Only baronies are REQUIRED to have a separate exchequer, in other groups, it is the seneschal by default if there is not one

        Exchequer duties pose the biggest danger because of the association with funds belonging to the group

        Failure to file accurate and timely reports can endanger the status of the entire group because  of the special nature of the SCA as a non-profit organization

        Seneschals should provide as much assistance as possible to the exchequer at report time.  

        Even seneschals who have separate exchequers should check to make sure that reports are being done correctly and on time.   Another set of eyes never hurts.

        I strongly recommend that if a group seneschal and exchequer live together, that they are both NOT on the signature card

        Exchequers are required  to submit written reports at meetings to the seneschal, who keeps a copy.


Attributes of good Seneschals

        Well organized

        Good communication skills

        Ability to see the "Big Picture"

        Arbitration skills

        Some leadership skills

        Ability to handle a wide variety of people AND situations


Kingdom Structure

        Kingdom Seneschal

        Regional Kingdom Deputy Seneschal

        Baronial/Shire Seneschal

        Canton/College Seneschal


Tips to succeed as a Seneschal

        Remember that each seneschal has a different level of responsibility (and a different level of experience

        The single biggest problem is lack of/failure in communication, not from intentional malice

        Group seneschals report to the seneschal in the kingdom structure, normally the Regional Deputy.

        Hold group Officers meetings

Þ    These are not intended to exclude any member of the populace.  If they want to come, LET THEM COME.

Þ    These are intended to prevent the populace from becoming bored while the officers hash out little details, plan and coordinate activities, and such

Þ    Use a year long calendar.   Remember the "big picture"

Þ    Baronial Seneschals need to coordinate (with canton seneschals) all the canton events so they don't conflict and you don't have all the canton events in the same month.

        Delegate activities to the appropriate officer so meetings are kept interesting.   Have dance sessions, personae tales, quick craft classes, a great recipe from the last feast, new armor standards, archery requirements, and so forth

        Run an interesting informative meeting.   Keep business meetings to once a month, NOT weekly.

Þ    SHORT officer reports

Þ    Old Business

Þ    New Business

Þ    Upcoming events/Activities.

Þ    Total Time should not be more than 1 hour unless you are planning "THE" big event.


Mailing labels  (or how to run a polling)

        Mailing labels MUST be ordered from Member Services by the Kingdom Seneschal

        What you need to provide the Kingdom Seneschal is:

Þ    The range of zip codes   (The Kingdom Seneschal can help with this)

Þ    Whether you want subscribing members and associate/family members OR just subscribing members

        Allow at least THREE WEEKS to get the labels



Copyright 2003 by Peter C Barclay. <terafan at greydragon.org>. 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 receives a copy. The best way to locate Peter's postal address, since he frequently moves, is through his website at: http://www.greydragon.org/contacts.html">http://www.greydragon.org/contacts.html


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.


<the end>

Formatting copyright © Mark S. Harris (THLord Stefan li Rous).
All other copyrights are property of the original article and message authors.

Comments to the Editor: stefan at florilegium.org