Here are the various disclaimers.

The following bits and pieces are mostly excerpts from various letters written over the course of the past year to people who have asked me protocol questions. Some of it is from the first draft of an article to be published in the handbook regarding protocol currently under construction. This is why this article choppy. I've thrown in a few editorial comments here and there, but otherwise, these excerpts are pretty much as they were initially written. The information is helpful, despite the rough presentation. Since I don't know when I am going to get to writing a smooth article for the webpage, I thought that this would be better than nothing! :) Yours, Merouda.

Greetings unto all from the humble scribe Merouda Pendray. :)

As I warned in my previous posts, I'd like to open a discussion about the use of titles. I know I'm a little behind, but please forgive me. I read northshield-digest. If you aren't terribly interested in the appropriate use of titles, you might want to go on to the next message. :)

While I am not one to get in your face about things, if the subject is brought up, I'll take the opportunity to speak. Since we were talking about titles, and since I was creating an article about it on the Evergreen Herald web page I was building before REAL LIFE intervened, and since I just read the Middle Pages, it would seem the topic is timely. :)

Something that I see happening all the time is misuse of titles, probably born of a lot of reasons. I'd like to mention some of the most pervasive misuses. I think the subject is confusing, and when we hear someone say something that sounds good, we go with it, not always aware that we may be perpetuating a misuse. It is so easy to be confused regarding what is or is not appropriate.

[Title Stacking]

Probably the most frequent misuse of titles is the very typical practice of title stacking--you know, "Duke Sir" or "Baroness Mistress". I don't know a whole lot of peers who refer to themselves in this way; I think it is more a habit of "Being Referred to As". This one is rampant; I hear people say it, I see people print it, et cetera, et cetera. This is not a Medieval practice. In fact, it isn't really a modern one, for the most part; you'll never see Andrew Windsor referred to as "Duke Prince Andrew". In parts of our studied period, it was more usual to find a string of things BEHIND the person's name on those occasions when ceremony or official business made it necessary to trot out all the titles and honors; if you really want to use your name as an SCA resume, this would be a period way to do it ("prince Henry the eighth, by grace of god king of England france and Ireland defender of the faith &c'. Where as the most famous ... Prince Edward the thirde of that name his most noble progenitor some tyme king of England and fraunce & Lorde of Ireland &c'...", from Folger MS V a.86, folio 3r, regarding the statutes of the Order of the Garter, written about 1560).

In period, you used your highest title, and that title alone--a period Duke doesn't get any additional importance out of using the title of a mere Knight. When faced with someone who has a right to use several titles, the appropriate way to address him or her would be by using the title s/he prefers. If you don't know which is the preferred title, use the highest s/he is entitled to. If the person has a different preference, he/she will let you know. Remember, though, even in the modern era, actual peers don't need multiple titles; neither, then, should we.

[Stylings Used as Titles]

Something that is also happening a lot is using "stylings" as titles. Sergeant, Forester, Sheriff, and Constable are not titles. They are "stylings". When one receives this accolade, one is awarded "the right to style him/herself a xxxxxx". If Offa Dymmwhitte receives the Order of the Silver Oak, he gets three things: the right to a title (if he doesn't already have an AoA), the right to display a badge, and the right to style himself a Companion of the Silver Oak. This, we all know, doesn't mean that he should now start calling himself "Companion Offa Dymmwhitt". He's now "Lord Offa Dymmwhitt, Companion of the Silver Oak." That is how the Order of the Red Company and the Order of the Greenwood Company, the two martial Orders that are equal in precedence to the Silver Oak and the Willow, also work, except the styling is "Sergeant" or "Forester" instead of "Companion". If Offa's sister Ima gets invited into the Order of the Greenwood Company, her usage is "Lady Ima Dymmwhitt, Forester of the Greenwood Company"; if his brother, Ura, is invited into the Order of the Constables, he is now "Ura Dymmwhitt, Constable of Northshield", not "Constable Ura Dymmwhitt"--recall, Principality awards are non-armigerous, and so cannot convey the right to use "Lord" or "Lady" if the recipient does not have an AoA.

Those things are in Master Dmitrii's Middle Pages article; I thought I'd repeat them partly because not everyone is going to read the _Pale_, and partly because I'd already written them ::smile::.

Ever your servant, Merouda Pendray


Greetings unto the Hall, most especially THL, and L. A from the fat, shy, redheaded scribe Merouda Pendray. ;)

Now, A, isn't "humble" a nicer way to go? :) And please call me Merouda.

Gentles, I recommend me to you and again hope that you will know me to be using only the kindest and gentlest of tones in writing this missive. :)

Judging from the implications of several messages that have been bound in the last few digests I have read, I believe some folks may have misinterpreted me regarding my feeling about the use of titles. Just to be clear, there isn't anything wrong with using your titles or your alphabet soup or wearing your regalia or stating your relationships in the appropriate situation and in the appropriate manner.

Anyway, here is the dictionary definition of "humble." :) 1. Marked by meekness or modesty in behavior, attitude, or spirit. 2. Showing deferential or submissive respect. 3. Of low rank or station; unpretentious: a humble cottage. tr. v.-bled., -bling., -bles. 1. To humiliate. 2. To make lower in condition or station. [ME < OFr. < Lat. humilis < humus, ground.]

The American Heritage Dictionary and Electronic Thesaurus copyright 1986

I use the word in the "showing deferential respect" sense. :) You are all my gentle cousins and I am letting you know that I respect you. :) I like that little phase, humble scribe, because it serves much the same purpose as your use of "esquire" without running into the problem of "presumption of rank." I agree with THL and A that we often use convenient descriptors to give a synopsis of who we are, and that is fine. I prefer my synopsis to be pretty narrow, though, and referring only to myself, for reasons earlier mentioned. :).

[Presumptuous Rank & Esquire]

My objection steps in when we are talking about the presumption of rank. I believe that people who misuse titles aren't generally doing it because they are mean people who have a huge need to feed their egos; they are doing it because they want to show their pride or because it's communication shorthand or they are confused about SCA titles. Goodness knows, it is easy enough to get confused about the titles we use.

Something that is important to avoid in the SCA is the appearance of presumption. Now, if you introduce yourself to me as "Hi, I'm Lady Lydia, and I'm squired to Sir Beetlejuice", that's fine, that's a statement of your relationship. (Whether I'll be nonplused, encouraged, impressed, or made scornful by such an introduction is another matter, depending largely on the combination of your delivery and the filter of my personal perceptions.) If you introduce yourself to me as "Lady Lydia, Esquire", you have claimed a position of rank, and that is presumptuous within the context of the SCA. Recall that one of our rules is that we shan't use anything other than the recognized titles that we earned, if those titles we might want to use would imply rank of any sort. Everyone pretty much understands that this little SOP rules out things like "Emperor," but it also applies to things that are smaller scale, too.

Whipping out my handy electronic dictionary, I present:

esquire. n. 1. A candidate for knighthood in medieval times, serving a knight as attendant and shield-bearer. 2. A member of the English gentry ranking below a knight. 3. ARCHAIC. An English country gentleman; squire. 4. Used as a title of courtesy usually in its abbreviated form after a man's full name, esp. an attorney: Martin Chuzzlewit, Esq. [ME < OFr. esquier < LLat. scutarius < Lat. scutum, shield.]

The American Heritage Dictionary and Electronic Thesaurus. Copyright 1986

Definition 1 fits best for A's desired use (although only the members of the Chivalry know for certain whether or not A is a candidate!). Definitions 2, 3, and 4 make it something that has to be used carefully. Now, we all know that the dictionary is giving us a one line summary of the situation (like "Earth: Mostly Harmless" ;), and that the actual reality of the situation was vastly more complex. Nonetheless, one can understand that, given the fact that Esquire is a title and a rank, it presents a "presumption" problem.

I would even take this a step further and suggest that in a business letter, "Lord Ford, esquired unto Sir Zaphod" is probably inappropriate. Formal signatures require formal titles; your relationship to Sir Zaphod is very likely to be irrelevant to many things non-martial, and a letter to the MoAS might be received by someone who would be given an impression other than what you may intend. But that last thought is just mine; others might be comfortable with it. :)

Take care, gentles. I am, and ever shall be, your Servant, Merouda.


[ Presumed , Misused, and Abused Titles]

There are a limited number of titles available for SCA use. A list of these titles are available in a number of places--the Middle Kingdom's Pursuivant's Handbook contains the titles and should be available through your local group pursuivant or by purchase through the MK Information Officer. It is also online through the Ministry of Protocol webpage. Titles that imply some sort of status are considered presumptuous in the SCA. Thus, most people realize that you can't call yourself "Archduke" and so forth.

There is a more subtle application of this rule, however. In the Middle Kingdom and Northshield, there are several orders that grant the recipient the right to "style him/herself a {something} of the {award/order name}"[ed note: you can verify this by checking the Principality and/or Kingdom laws at the respective homepages for Northshield and the Middle Kingdom.] When receiving this right, the recipient has received EXACTLY what the words imply: the right to call himself a member of the order, not the right to a new title. Thus, the correct usage would be "Lord Joseph, Sergeant of the Red Company" or "Joseph, Sheriff of Northshield". To call yourself "Sheriff Joseph" or "Sergeant Joseph" or "Forester Joseph" implies that you have received a new rank. This is not so. Some of these awards are armigerous in that they carry an Award of Arms, others convey no precedence, but none of them grant the use of a title. Sergeant, Sheriff, Forester, Constable are not titles in the SCA, nor in the Middle Kingdom. Furthermore, the use of some of these "titles", both outside and inside the Kingdom, can lead to confusion: Is Joseph calling himself Constable because he misusing the stylization granted by the Northshield order, or is he calling himself constable because he is authorized to do some work on the list field but is not an authorized fighter?

While the temptation to use a "title" to indicate the receipt of a particular award is certainly understandable, it is incorrect within the SCA. We don't use period titles unless we earn them; those titles that we do use come from a particular list. Assuming any title not on that list is presumptuous.

Which leads us to another "title" misapplication: m'lord and milady. One generally sees these two in use as "titles" for non-armigerous individuals, frequently in various sorts of written communication. Certainly, the use of "my lady" and "my lord" are appropriate in many situations. However, to deliberately use this word as a "courtesy title" for someone you know to be lacking an award of arms is not only a misapplication of protocol, it is also cheapens the accomplishment of every person who has earned an award of arms. Thus, something along the lines of "My lady, could you direct me to the Porter?" is appropriate, while "Milord Ian Wainne, meet Duke Itt Ought" is not.

Bonus points for catching the error in that introduction; generally, the person of lower rank is presented to the person of higher rank, not the other way around. The usual way is "Duke Itte Ought, I'd like to present Ian Wainne" or something similar. I know of very few people who would get upset if "slighted" in this way, but it is a painless nicety that we should observe if we can. :)

And last thing for today, dear one, is the dreaded Don/Dona situation. There are those among the rapier community who believe that those who excel in this martial art should be recognized by a martial arts knighthood--something the SCA does not have. Failing that, then, in many kingdoms, including the Middle, you will find individuals who have been decreed by the rapier community to be "masters" of whatever organization the community in a particular kingdom takes. These gentles frequently begin to call themselves "Don" or "Dona". While I agree that there ought to be a mechanism for recognition of the martial prowess of a rapier fighter, I'm not sure that I agree with this solution, in part because of the confusion it can cause--and the occasional altercation caused by a rapier individual berating the use of Don/Dona by someone who does not practice this particular art. Anyone armigerous can choose to call himself or herself Don or Dona. Indeed, I, Merouda, based on my persona (that of a Tudor Protestant noblewoman living in the Lowlands, an area governed by the Spanish), have as much logical reason to call myself "Dona Merouda" (and I do like the way that it sounds ;) as "Don Uffda of Larvik, a Lapland Reindeer Herdsman" who has been "elevated" in the rapier guild for practicing a martial art unknown to his persona. So this is the point: Don/Dona can be used by ANYONE who has Arms and chooses to use it. People outside the rapier community CAN NOT be required to recognize it as a title of high rank. People within the rapier community CAN NOT require someone outside the community to stop using the title; they CAN NOT claim greater precedence among the general population based upon their status as "Don/Dona" of the rapier community. Now, none of this means that individuals considered by the rapier guild to be masters of the martial art are not worthy of respect or admiration or recognition. It just means that they can't claim exclusive use of the title "Don/Dona", as they chose to use an alternative title reserved for the use of individuals holding an AoA, and they can't demand higher precedence based on their guild standing.


[Forms of Address]

Oh, okay, here is how it goes ... There is a lot of confusion about Forms of Address versus titles. One is not the same as the other. A form of address, for a quick comparison, is more like an alternative for your name, a fancy pronoun. A title is like your rank and must be used with a name unless you are talking about someone who would be obvious to all--the King and Queen, for instance. You'll see and hear a lot of people saying something like "His Grace Jujubee" or something like that. This is bad form. It's like saying "he Jujubee" when what was meant was "Duke Jujubee." So here are some appropriate substitutions, to give you some examples, starring Duke Andrew, Baroness Bea, The Honorable Lady Helen, and Lord Bernard. Bernard might come up and say "Your Grace, I'm seeking Baroness Bea. Have you seen her?" Or he might say: "Duke Andrew, I seek Baroness Bea. Have you seen her excellency?" or he might say "Your Grace, I'm looking for Her Excellency, Baroness Bea." Lord Bernard does not say "Her Excellency Bea" in any of these examples. It's like saying "she Bea." So anyway, Andrew doesn't know where she is, and might reply, "I'm sorry, my Lord, I have not seen her. However, The Honorable Lady Helen tells me that she has spoken with Her Excellency today. Perhaps Her Ladyship knows the whereabouts of Baroness Bea." He could substitute the appropriate form of address in those places using pronouns or names, or he could substitute title and name in those places using form of address or pronouns. However, he can't use form of address+name. It's like combining a pronoun and a proper noun, something that would have been disdained as an improper combination in any English class.

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