A branch of the Society for Creative Anachronism in Colorado, New Mexico, Wyoming, and El Paso

Adding wax seals to a scroll

Concerning awards, recognitions, and honors

Baron Teigr on skis

Whether you are new or have been playing for a while, it’s helpful to get a little more information about how our award system works, from a person submitting a recommendation to a Crown issuing an award.

The following was submitted by Baron Teigr, a knight and pelican, as well as the founding Baron of Aarquelle.

On Recommending People:

Anyone can recommend anyone for any award.  When you do, ALWAYS include your reasons, and even some examples for why you believe that person deserves to be recognized with an award of some kind.  The higher the award you are recommending, the more information you should present to support your beliefs.  Also, think broadly about how this person’s qualities enrich the Barony, Kingdom, or entire SCA.

When I write a letter of recommendation ABOUT someone, it doesn’t guarantee that whomever I’m submitting the letter TO will agree with me.  I’m just presenting my version of a gentle’s works and efforts to an Award-giver (King/Queen or Baron/Baroness.  I will never be privy to why the Award-giver chooses to give, or chooses to not give an honor that I have recommended.

Some things to keep in mind:

— Making a recommendation for members of your own group, household, family, guild, etc…  is perfectly acceptable, but is also noted as such by the Award-giver.

— The Award-giver is responsible for seeing the “big picture” of this gentle person’s good works and place in the context of the group as a whole.

— The Award-giver may know things, or hold opinions about that person that you don’t.  The Award-giver is a person, too.

— Making a recommendation for someone to receive a Peerage is a great, and noble thing, but remember that peerages are polling orders, and candidates must be discussed with the Crowns in the order’s circle— often many times— before a Crown decides to act, or not.

On Peerage Recommendations:

A woman in new regalia with a sword
Photo by Rachel Rodgers

Peerages are rare.  A Crown often elevates only a few gentles into those orders in a reign.  In the 58+ years of the SCA, with 300,000+ membership numbers issued, less than 15,000 peerages have been awarded— at least a few of which were given to the same person.  (I have two of them). That works out to roughly 1 peerage per 200 people.  Now, there are some glaring statistical errors involved with simplifying things this greatly, but I believe my point remains: peerages are rare.

On Requirements:

All awards, recognitions, orders, etc… have a charter on file with the heralds.  The charter states what a person must have done, be doing, etc… to qualify to receive the award.  In The Outlands, our custom dictates that the charter is not a mere checklist in that that once you have competed it, you get the award. Doing the things only allows you to be considered for the award by an Award-giver.

Let’s take the Thegn of the Iron Hart for example.  Its charter tells you what its members are, and what they do.

“There shall exist in the Kingdom of the Outlands an award, known as the Order of the Iron Hart, which may be given by the Crown to those persons who have demonstrated extraordinary skill in the fighting arts of traditional SCA-style weaponry, meeting certain minimum requirements including; proficiency in all weapon forms, with expertise in at least two.  Other qualifications shall include leadership, activity level and teaching.  Said individuals must also display unquestionable honor both on and off the field.”

Look at how much room for interpretation is there!  “Demonstrated extraordinary skill,” “Meeting certain minimum requirements,” ” Other qualifications shall include leadership, activity level and teaching”  These are very vague.  Judging a person as having fulfilled the requirements, and thus, worthy of becoming a Thegn is ultimately at the sole discretion of the reigning Crowns.

Having Received an Honor:

When the Crowns select someone to become a Thegn, whether anyone else agrees with Them or not, that person IS a Thegn— period.  It is done.  It is the same with all awards, orders, recognitions, etc….  An Award-giver has judged a gentle person worthy, the award is presented, and that’s that.

And then…:

Receiving an award isn’t the end.  It marks a gentle’s recognition for doing the things, and should only be the beginning of doing the things.  Continuing to do the things, and helping others learn to do the things are paramount.  Don’t aspire to become a Thegn, get the sash, and quit fighting.  That’s not cool, and isn’t in the spirit and intent of the charter.  I consider it disrespectful of the Award-giver and the SCA in general— but maybe that’s just me.

Three people toasting
Photo by Bree Pye

So, there you go.  All of the above are my beliefs, thoughts and experiences.  All of that and and four bucks gets you a cup of coffee.

I love talking about this stuff, so please come and find me if you wish for more.