Tuesday, January 22, 2008

A Good night for Heraldry

I have to admit that one of the things I really enjoy about being the Deputy Minister of Arts & Sciences for Mooneschadowe is getting really cool teachers in to teach classes. As much as I really do enjoy classes like "t-tunic making", (and I'm not kidding, teaching and learning the basics are as much about getting to know your teacher and classmates as it is learning the skill itself), its really fun when you get someone who has amassed a lot of experience and skill in a field. Not only do they bring a lot of knowledge to the class, but they usually have a lot of good stories.

This was the case today when His Lordship Etienne arrived at Mooneschadowe at my request and taught a class in "advanced court heraldry". To be specific, he steered clear of simply elaborating on what was already known to most heralds, and covered the basic principles needed to survive things that were not typical, scripted and/or planned in a court setting.

The class was great, and as much as I have to confess not entirely knowing what to expect,Etienne did not disappoint. He highlighted a lot of funny stories, and then went into a lot of situations where things could have gone better. On a side note, a lot of the situations were footnoted by comments like "true story...unfortunately".

I did take a lot away from the class, including some principals that may not be black-letter law, but were sound in my mind, and certainty well worth practicing.

1. Heralds never work alone.
There is truth to this, even thought I have not been practicing it at all, I fully plan on correcting this in the future. The point here is a two way process. The primary herald has a backup if he needs it for anything. And the backup--usually a younger and less experienced herald--has the type of front row, hand's on training that is really the only type of effective education for court heraldry. Even on the smallest courts, every opportunity should reasonably be made to extend this experience to a potential student. I did not think of this, and as I myself am pressing to learn, I do not know exactly how I will apply it. But none the less, this is the type of information that I do need to at least be aware of.

2. A Herald's Baton.
This wasn't covered in class, but I spoke with Etienne afterworlds and we talked at length about it. It turns out that at several points in history, the herald had been vested with a staff or baton that served as his instrument of signifying control towards the ends of managing court. Something akin to "passing the feather, and only the person with the feather can talk." But it was evidently a very common thing, and it worked as both a trademark of the herald, and a political tool that let him invoke his authority, and separate himself from it when needed. He pointed out that the tradition stemmed from, or was at least influenced by the protective wooden rolls that were used to carry written orders and commissions for heralds and officers in Rome and Greece. I am hoping to make use of this idea. A small, 24 inch baton would not be hard to make out of existing stock from a lumber store. I want to bore a hole in the bottom that will accept a rolled up piece of paper. It would be extremely formal, but the historical aspect would be awesome. I don't imagine it would be terribly difficult to make the head interchangeable with a modern set of screws and the like. according to Etienne, the nobles colors were usually painted on the head to help denote who you were heralding for. I don't think four heads with the colors of Mooneschadowe, Namron, Wiesenfeuer, and Northkeep would be very hard, and if I was willing to cheat, I bet I could get their devices put on as well... but anyway, I am getting ahead of myself.

3. Herald's power and authority
Etienne summed this up pretty well. As a court herald, you have as much power as the noble you are heralding for is willing to give you. That being said, if the noble is being interrupted and turns to his herald and says "shut him up!", the herald can then turn to the local guard unit, champions and whatnot and say "Get him!"

4. A herald's "resume"
We didn't cover this too much, but evidently their was some type of garment that was worn over the shoulders and had across the neckline the arms of everyone you have heralded for. That way, just by looking at you, someone could see your achievements as a herald. This looks like it will be the most difficult for me to do because it involves sewing, skill and time, all things that work against me in many respects. That and the fact it would requite me making a coat of arms for any group that I have heralded for....ug.

Their was a lot more, of course, but for me these were what stuck in my mind. As an aspiring herald, this is EXACTLY the type of stuff I am looking for.

Also, the class managed to get a lot of people interested, and I think (maybe) we might have another entry level candidate for local voice heralding. I'll have to wait and see, but I think this might just work out well for Mooneschaodwe.

Lord Ivo Blackhawk
Province of Mooneschadowe
Kingdom of Ansteorra
"God Save the King!"

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