Saturday, December 10, 2016

Secular Christmas Songs Suitable for the SCA

(draft December 10, 2016)

In England and Scotland (the focus of my studies), Christmas in the late Middle Ages and Renaissance had strong secular components.  Yuletide traditions such as the Lord of Misrule, wassailing, feasting, and the Yule log -- none of which have anything to do with the Christian religious Christmas -- were well established by the 16th century.  It is not surprising, therefore, that  a number of Christmas songs from this era lack any reference to religion but focus instead on the secular merry-making that accompanied the holiday.   I am providing here a brief overview of the research I have done in this area, as well as specifically identifying some secular songs for SCAdians who may like Christmas but are uncomfortable with overt Christianity.

I'll be adding songs as I uncover more, but I wanted to get an initial post up while it was useful for this year's holiday.

Research and Resources

The starting place for my research into secular medieval/Renaissance Christmas songs was a website called The Hymns and Carols of Christmas by Douglas D. Anderson, which compiles 20+ years of research into Christmas music.  This site provides a wealth of information, accompanied by explanatory articles, links to secondary and primary sources, and an endless supply of rabbit holes to fall into when I should be sleeping.

Among the splendid finds available electronically through Anderson's site:

Kele's Christmas Carolles (printed in London, probably between 1546 and 1552)

Edward Bliss Reed, ed., Christmas Carols Printed in the 16th Century Including Kele's Christmas Carolles Newly Inprynted. (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1932).

New Carolls For This Merry Time of Christmas To Sundry Pleasant Tunes. With New Additions Never Before Printed, To Be Sung To Delight The Hearers. (1661)

Edith Rickert, ed., Ancient English Christmas Carols 1400-1700 (London: Chatto & Windus, 1910) and also at:

Note also that many of these books contain only lyrics, and may not give the tune or readable modern music notation for the songs. 

Wassail Songs

The word wassail derives from the Anglo-Saxon phrase Wæs þu hæl, meaning "be thou hale."  Bands of singers and merry-makers would go from house to house in a town or village bearing good wishes.  In return, they received food and drink from the householders.  The drink was usually a sort of hot mulled cider, also called "wassail."  Wassailers could be rowdy, particularly if a householder refused to hand out the traditional treats.

Several period wassailing songs were written down, and survive to the present day.  Because the wassailing tradition is not related to the religious aspects of Christmas, wassail songs are entirely secular.

The Wassail Song ("Here We Come A-Wassailing") -- While firm dating of folk songs is often difficult, there is evidence suggesting that this song, first written down c. 1850, is actually far older.  At least one of the verses is identical to a snippet of a carol recorded during the reign of James I.

A Jolly Wassel-Bowl  - This lesser-known song is dated by Dr. Rickert to the 17th century.  It was sung to the tune of "Gallants Come Away," found near the bottom of the linked page.  You can find a midi of the tune here.

Wassail, Wassail, All Over the Town - Music for this song can be found here.  Also known as the "Gloucestershire Wassail."

Somerset Wassail ("Wassail and Wassail All Over the Town") - Despite the similarities of the opening lines, this not the same song as the Gloucestershire Wassail.

Boar's Head Carols

Boar was a traditional dish at medieval English feasts and, by the time of Henry VIII, it had become an established part of Christmas feasts.  Several songs celebrating the presentation of the boar's head as part of the feast have been recorded.  Most are not overtly religious in nature.

The Boar's Head Carol (Caput Apri defero) - This is the most famous of the boar's head songs.  It can be dated to as early as the 15th century.  It is also known as "The Boar's Head in Hand I Bear."  Other variants of the same song can be found here and here.

Tidings I Bring For You to Tell - This song tells the tale of a boar hunt and exhorts the diners to eat the boar that the singer killed.  It was first found in a late 15th century manuscript.  I am having some trouble identifying the music that accompanies the words; in the mean time, it can be put to excellent use as a recited poem.

The Borys Hede That We Bryng Here  - Dated to the reign of Henry VII.  A pdf of the music to which this is sung can be found here.

Revelry Songs

Come Bravely On, My Masters (1642) - A song about drinking, merry-making, and tasting "curious dishes that are brave and fine."  I am trying to find the tune to which this is sung, but it also be used as a recited poem.

Get Ivy and Hull, Woman, Deck Up Thine House  (mid 16th century).  "Hull" is another term for holly.  The words can also be found here.

I Am Here, Syre Christmasse  (c. 1461-77).  Omit the second and third verses, and the song becomes secular.   "Syre Christmasse" is an embodiment of the holiday, a predecessor of Father Christmas or Santa Claus.

Ding Dong Merrily on High  - This one is cheating but fun.  Although the words are 19th century, the tune is that perennial SCA favorite, Arbeau's Branle de l'Official.  Given the fondness of period  performers for setting new words to known music, it's not impossible someone would have put words to Arbeau's tune.

Drive the Cold Winter Away (before c. 1625)  Here's an interesting performance of the song.

The Old Year Away Is Fled (1642) - Skip the second verse, and the remainder is secular.  Anderson has these words set to "Greensleeves," but I've heard it performed to a different tune, which I'm trying to find.  Meanwhile, here's a version performed to Greensleeves.

Friday, December 9, 2016

Marguerite's Pelican Scroll, in Scots

I was so very pleased to do a Scots Pelican text for +dervish spin , who shares my love of wordplay.  The text is in very late 15th century/early 16th century Scots.  Definitions in the footnotes are based on the Dictionary of the Older Scottish Tongue and Black's Law Dictionary.

Brion, by rycht off armes kynge off the Est, and Anna, by the same rycht Quhene, to the justiciaris[1], schireffis, prouosts[2] and thir baillieis[3] and the reste of owr ministeris and faithfull subgectis to quhom thaise present lettiris sall cume, greitings.  Know that it is the intencioun of owr will that Marguerite inghean Lochlainn sall be and heirby is raisit and eleuaitit to the Ordoure off the Pellican, with all richtis, privelegis, frensches[4], essys[5], and fredwmys[6] appertinent thairvnto, to hawe and to hold the saim freelie, fully, paisibilly and withoutin perturbacion or distroubelance[7].  So we ordour yhow, and eche of yhow, firmlie and vnder threit off the appropriat penaltie, that yhow schold not imputt[8] ony wrang, greifance or injustis or impose ony impediment or vexacione on the forsayde Marguerite in the exercese off the said-foure richtis, privelegis and frensches, essys, and fredwmys, or permitt thais thingis to be imposit on hir in keipyng with the tenore off owr grant and intencioun declarit abuf. In testymony off quhiche matere we ordainyt thais owr letteris to be made patent and proclaimit in owr councel at Bergental on the thryd day off December in the fiftie-fyrst yhere off the Societe.

[1] Justiciars - one of two or three chief ministers of the Kings of Scotland.

[2] Provosts - in medieval Scotland, the head of a municipal corporation or burgh; the chief magistrate of a town.  However, it was amusing in the SCA context to tell several Masters of Defense that their provosts are now responsible for keeping Marguerite from being harassed or annoyed.

[3] Baillie - in medieval Scotland, a town magistrate.

[4]  Franchises - recognized legal freedoms or immunities.

[5]  Assizes - in context, the right to convene persons to conduct judicial-type inquiries.  Given that Marguerite's salons on SCA issues were one of the services specifically cited as a reason for her Pelican, giving her the official right to convene persons to conduct inquiries seemed particularly appropriate.

[6]  Freedoms - precisely what it says on the tin, albeit in cool Scots spelling.

[7]  Distroubelance - one of my new favorite words ever.  Defined by DOST as "disturbance, troubling, molestation."

[8] Imput - to impose upon, used both in the negative and the positive.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

King's and Queen's Bardic Competition: FAQs for 2017 Competition

East Kingdom Bardic Championship
(Updated 1/23/2017)

On February 11, 2017, in the Shire of Concordia of the Snows (, King Brion and Queen Anna will select their Bardic Champions based on a three-round competition. Competitors will be judged by Their Majesties and the current Champions, along with an advisory committee, on choice of material, artistic impression, audience impact, technical skill, and individual response.

Questions regarding the competition format or requirements should be directed to the current Queen’s Bard, Mistress Alys Mackyntoich, via email at Mistress Alys is not on Facebook, but Lady Aethelflied Brewbane, the King’s Bard is, and will answer questions arising in that forum.

*For the first time this year, we are asking those intending to compete to pre-register with Mistress Alys, the Queen’s Bard, by sending her an email at Emails must be received by midnight on February 6, 2017 if you wish to compete. The email need only contain your name and a statement of intent.*

Answers to Frequently Asked Questions:

Do I need to pre-register in order to compete?
Yes, for the first time this year, we are asking Bardic competitors to pre-register with the Champions stating their intent to compete. Those intending to compete must pre-register with Mistress Alys by February 6, 2017. Note that this is not the same as pre-registering for the event, although we encourage that as well.

How is the competition structured?
The competition will take place over three rounds with the following parameters.

FIRST ROUND: a documented period piece, a period-style piece OR a piece written on an SCA theme.

SECOND ROUND: a piece of a different type or style than that done in the first round. For example, if you performed a documented period piece for round one and wish to perform another documented period piece for round two, the two pieces should differ in some other way, such as mood (happy vs. melancholy), type of performance (poetry vs. song, prose vs. instrumental), etc.

THIRD ROUND: Their Majesties’ choice. Their Majesties will instruct the competitors on what they wish to hear, guided by their earlier performances, the skills which have been listed in their “resume”, and (possibly) a brief interview of the entrant. Performers will have a few minutes to prepare.

What is a "period piece"?
For this competition, a “period piece” is defined as an actual historical piece of poetry, prose or music, with appropriate documentation.

What is a "period-style piece"?
A “period-style piece” is an original or adapted work using documented period forms.

What is a "piece on an SCA theme"?
 A “piece on an SCA theme” is any work written about SCA persons, events, or culture, and does not require documentation.

Are there time limits on my performances? (UPDATED 1/23/2017)
Competitors will have a total of fifteen minutes of performance time split over the all three rounds. For the third round, Their Majesties may add additional time at their whim.

Do I need documentation in order to compete? 
ONLY IF you are performing a period or “period style” piece. For period or period-style pieces, please provide a brief executive summary, such as would fit on an index card. Any additional documentation, such as a paper explaining the period style in which the piece was written or documenting the source of the period piece, will be accepted happily and will be counted in favor of the competitor.

Example of acceptable documentation:  
“Now Is The Month Of Maying” by Thomas Morley is dated to 1595.  I found this piece in The Oxford Book of English Madrigals (Oxford University Press, 1978).

What are the judges looking for?
Both the King’s and Queen’s Bard this year prefer documented period pieces and period-style pieces, and encourage performers to try those forms. Their Majesties are looking for pieces that move them emotionally, and enjoy pieces that evoke SCA history and culture.  So, the whole performing arts spectrum will be represented in the judging.

Can I compete as an instrumentalist?
Yes, as long as vocal performance is also part of what you do. At least one of your first two rounds should involve some sort of vocal presentation, whether spoken word or song.

Can I use a group performance for one of the rounds?
Only individuals can compete to be King’s or Queen’s Bard. However, a group performance such as a choral song, recorder consort or a brief mumming may be offered as part of an individual’s body of work IF the exact role of the person actually competing is made clear. For example, when Lady Hextilda offers a group performance of a recorder piece, she states on her index card and documentation that she wrote the piece in a particular period style and is performing the alto recorder part.

What if I don’t want to be a Royal Bard but I want to get feedback?

Schedule permitting, there will be time between rounds for people to display their performances without competing for either Bardic position.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Alys's Simple Guide to Household Names


Mistress Alys Mackyntoich, OP, OL, OD

Household names are complex and difficult.  They are among the things that heralds and submitters most frequently get wrong.  This Simple Guide is intended to hit the most important highlights of creating household names.  It is not intended to cover every issue, only the ones that come up most commonly.  Likewise, a household name pattern not discussed here may simply be uncommon or not yet documented.

What is a Household Name?
A household name is a name that refers to a group of people instead of a single individual (order names also do this, of course). It may be a family group, a guild, a military unit, or something else. [December 2012 Cover Letter].

Who Can Register a Household Name?
Any individual with a registered personal name can register a household name. 
Household names can be registered jointly to two persons.
Note that every individual is limited to registering six names.  [Administrative Handbook, I.B].  This limit includes personal names and household names.  A person who already has six personal and/or household names registered would have to release one of those names to register a new household name.

How to Build a Household Name
Each household name must have two parts: (1) a designator from the list of designators approved by the College of Arms and (2) a substantive element that matches the way orders were named in period.  [SENA NPN.1]  A designator is necessary so that we can identify the item as a household name rather than as some other kind of name.
In the name Sisterhood of Saint Walburga, Sisterhood is the designator and Saint Walburga is the substantive element.

Matching the Designator and the Substantive Element
The type of substantive element must match the designator being used.  If an inn sign pattern is being used for the substantive element, then the designator must be one appropriate for an inn.
For example, Academy of Saint Gregory with the Dove was ruled unregisterable on the November 2013 LoAR because the designator and the pattern/substantive element did not match:
Submitted as Academy of Saint Gregory with the Dove, the documentation for this item combines multiple types of non-personal names. We require a household name to follow a single model of a particular type of group of people or place where they might gather. See the Cover Letter from October 2013 for more details.
The designator academy is rarely (at best) used in England before 1600 (a 1605 citation from the OED s.v. academy observes, "It importes no litle disgrace to our Nation, that others have so many Academyes, and wee none at all."). However, academies were common in Renaissance Italy. A few of these Italian accademias were named after saints, such as the 1593 Roman Accademia di San Luca and the 1485 Venitian Accademia di San Rocco. However, the combination of a saint and an object is not found. Thus, Academy of Saint Gregory would be registerable, but barring further evidence, Academy of Saint Gregory with the Dove would not.
In that case, the submitter consented to change the name to Society of Saint Gregory with the Dove, and the name was registered in that form.  [Lucien de Pontivi, November 2013 LoAR, A-East].

What Designators Can We Use for a Household Name?
A list of approved designators can be found in Appendix E of SENA, as well as in precedents found in Letters of Acceptance and Return (LoARs).  In addition, any period noun used to identify collective groups of people, if documented, can be used as a household name designator.
Examples of approved designators for households include (in English unless otherwise noted):

      Clan (Anglicized Irish, Scots)
      Clann (Gaelic)
      Maison (French)
      Manoir (French)
      Casa (Italian)
      Haus (German)
      Domus (Latin)

Picking a Substantive Element
The substantive element of a household name has to follow period naming practices in the appropriate language.  Not all substantive elements were used in all languages.  Nor were all substantive elements or naming patterns used in all languages.  Below are some examples of documented household name patters and substantive elements.  (This list is not exhaustive.  New evidence supporting different patterns of household names is being found as more information becomes available.).
        Household Names Based on Inn Signs
I cannot explain this better than Pelican already did:  “One popular kind of household names are the so called inn-sign names, derived from the names of charges used on signs found on inns and other buildings. These names take forms like House of the White Horse, Haus zum Wolf, or Hostel du Croissant. These types of names are found only in certain parts of Europe, and thus are only registerable in those places where this pattern is found. The pattern is known in English, French, Italian, and German. As of the moment, it is not known in Spain or Eastern Europe.”  [February 2013 Cover Letter].
Inn signs take a variety of forms, depending on the culture and language. 
1.      English Inn Signs
Not surprisingly, we have the most documentation for inn signs in English.  As a starting point, people considering household names in English review the patterns and elements found in these articles:
·        Mari ingen Briain meic Donnchada's "English Sign Names" (
·        Margaret Makafee's "Comparison of Inn/Shop/House names found London 1473-1600 with those found in the ten shires surrounding London in 1636" (
·        Juliana de Luna’s “English Sign Names from 1636” (
·        Juliana de Luna’s “Designators in Inn-Sign Names in Medieval and Renaissance England” (
Such names generally use the designators House, Inn or Tavern, either in the form House of X or X House. 
English inn signs take a variety of patterns.  Some of the most common patterns are set out below.  These patterns are found in one of the cited household name articles, unless accompanied by a specific citation to another precedent.
·        House of heraldic charge
·        House of animal / bird
·        House of color + animal / bird
·        House of color + other heraldic charge
·        House of creature/human + head
·        House of number + animal / heraldic charge
·        House of heraldic charge + heraldic charge
·        House of Winged + heraldic charge [Cuhelyn Cam vap Morcant, February 2014 LoAR, A-Meridies].
The pattern of using heraldic charges to form household names includes plural forms of the heraldic charge.  [See, e.g., Morgan MacDuff and Dawn Silverrose, November 2014 LoAR, A-Atenveldt].
Note that names based on English inn sign names cannot use heraldic tinctures as color terms.  They may use only the ordinary color term, such as Black, Red, Blue, etc.  [See, e.g., Eliseva bat Yisrael, June 2015 LoAR, R-Caid].  Thus, House of the Sable Bear is not registerable as a household name, but House of the Black Bear is.

2.      French Inn Sign Names
Information about inn-sign names in French can be found in Juliana de Luna's "Inn Signs and House Names in 15th Century Paris" (
Examples of these names in bynames also can be found in Aryanhwy merch Catmael's "French Names from Paris, 1421, 1423, & 1438" (  Bynames using the preposition a or aux are usually based on inn signs.  For example,
Designators that can be used with French inn sign names include:
·        ensigne de (the sign of)
·        hostel/ostel de (hotel of)
·        maison de    (house of)
Patterns found in the names of French inn signs include:
·        Maison de + saint’s name
·        Maison de + heraldic charge (including plurals)
·        Maison de + heraldic charge + heraldic tincture
·        Maison de + two heraldic charges
·        Maison de + literary reference
Examples:  la maison de l'Estoile (house of the star); hostel du Lion d'argent (hotel of the white lion)

3.      Italian Inn Sign Names
Some information about inn-sign names in Italian can be found in:
·        Aryanhwy merch Catmael's "Names from an Early 16th C Census of Rome: Household Names" (
·        Nicholas Eckstein's The district of the Green Dragon: neighbourhood life and social change in Renaissance Florence (
Designators found in Italian inn sign names include casa de (house of), taverna de (tavern of) and hostaria de (place serving food and wine).
Patterns for naming inn signs in Italian include:
·        Casa de + religious reference (both Christian and classical)
·        Casa de + heraldic charge
Examples: casa del Confalone (house of the banner); casa de la Minerva (house of Minerva)

4.      German Inn Sign Names
We have more limited information about German inn signs than we do about inn signs in other languages.  However, we do have information about some period patterns for such names.
We have clear evidence of inn signs depicting heraldic charges:
Cunrad zum Grifen (1297), found in Bahlow s.n. Greif(f)
Haus zum Eichhorn (1460), found in Bahlow s.n. Eichhorn
Wernher zum Rosen (1311), found in Brechenmacher s.n. Rose
Burchart zem Rosin (1295), found in Brechenmacher s.n. Rose
Walther zem Sterne (1255), found in Bahlow s.n. Stern
These examples support the pattern Haus zum + heraldic charge, as in the dated example of Haus zum Eichhorn (house of the unicorn).
We also have examples of inn signs named using the pattern heraldic charge + color, including zum schwarzen Beren (of the black bear) (1565).  [February 2013 Cover Letter]
Household naming follows the rules of German grammar.  Thus, to form “House of the Red Crows,” the proper structure is Haus zu den roten Krahen.  [Jakob Krahe, February 2014 LoAR, A-AEthelmearc].

           Household Names Based on Personal Names
Another common form of household name is based on the name of the individual owner, founder or inspiration.  The exact form of such names depends on the language and culture in which it is created.
In English, we have documentation for forming household names based on given names, surnames or a person’s full name.  Quoting from the March 2013 Cover Letter:
English household names are often derived from personal names. As with other household patterns in English, the pattern is X('s) House or House of X, not House X. Household names derived from people's names in English take a couple of forms. The most common household name uses the individual's full name, like þe hous of Julyane huxster or sir Henry Percy house (both period examples from Sharon Krossa's "A Brief, Incomplete, and Rather Stopgap Article about European Household and Other Group Names Before 1600" ( The same pattern is found using household as the designator.
Examples that use only given names, only surnames, or only titles are used in limited contexts. Examples of X's House with given names are found only for saint's names and legendary names, like King Arthur. For surnames, X's House or X House are mostly found in references to actual buildings rather than to people, though they may sometimes be used to refer to the people living in such a building. House of X seems to have been used largely to refer to noble dynasties (like the House of Lancaster and House of York. All of these patterns are registerable.”
A person’s full name may be used to form a household name in English and Scots.  In the July 2018 Cover Letter states:
Previous precedent stated that the only attested pattern for English household names using a person's full name was House of + given name + last name. [Brigit inghean ui Dhomhnaill. Household name House of Hammer Fall, 11/2014 LoAR, A-East] However, new data has now been found in English and Scots for inn-sign names using a person's full name, including Walter Chepmannis taveroun (1526) and the Eden Berys [Tavern] (1483). Based on this new data, as of the date of publication of this Letter, we hereby expand the 2014 precedent and expressly allow English and Scots household names in the form given name + last name + House. Further, the designators Inn, Tavern or Brewhouse (or any period spellings thereof) can be used instead of House in English or Scots inn-sign names based on a person's full name. Where the person's full name comes before the designator, it should be in the possessive form. This ruling applies only to English and Scots household names; the use of this pattern for household names in other languages must be documented.
In Old English, a household name can be formed from a personal name in the genitive form + hus.  For example, Aarones hus is dated to c. 1000 in the Oxford English Dictionary. [Birgir inn Blakki, March 2004 LoAR, A-Caid].
In French, Juliana de Luna’s “Inn Signs and House Names in 15th Century Paris” ( contains multiple examples of household names formed using personal names as the substantive element.  The article includes examples using the following patterns:
·        Person’s full name: la maison Eudeline de Macer; l'ostel de Y. Gregoys
·        Surname only: hostel d'Alegre; Housse Gilet
·        Person’s title: l'hostel d'Artois
In German, there is no evidence for the pattern Haus + surname.  [Faelan mac Flainn, June 2016, R-Lochac].
In Old Norse, household names can be formed from personal names.  The personal name in the genitive form is combined with a suffix such as –staðr (steading), -topt (a homestead) or -staðir (multiple steadings).  Although hús is a comparatively rare element in Old Norse, it has been permitted as a household name designator – in this instance, Spak-Hrafns hús. [Grímólfr Skúlason, August 2014, A-East].  For example, Bergstopt would be a household name based on the personal name Bergr (genitive Bergs) + -topt, thus, the homestead of Bergr.
In Gaelic, we have some evidence of households named after the person who was the head of the household.  See Sharon Krossa’s “Medieval Gaelic Clan, Household, and Other Group Names” (

         Household Names Based on Ancestor’s Name
1.      Gaelic
Medieval Gaelic clans were named after significant male ancestors (usually already deceased).  The basic naming pattern for clans in Gaelic was:
clan term + clan ancestor's given name (in genitive case & sometimes lenited)
The most common clan term was Clann, which is the term most commonly requested as a designator.  For other clan terms and discussion of the grammar of forming clan names, see Sharon Krossa’s “Medieval Gaelic Clan, Household, and Other Group Names” (
2.    Scots
Current data shows the following patterns for Scottish clan names in period Scots.
        (1)   For a Gaelic/Highland clan:  phonetic or semi-phonetic rendering in Scots of the Gaelic form of the clan name.  For example, clan Allaster, Clan Gregour.  Note that these examples use the given name of the clan ancestor.
        (2)   For a Gaelic/Highland clan: Scots language form of the relevant Gaelic family name or chiefly title.  For example, klan of Makdonel (1596).
        (3)   Clan + surname of Lowland family, e.g., clan Jamesoun (1540)
        (4)   Clan of the + surname of Lowland Border family, e.g., clan of the Ellots (circa 1597)
        Any of these patterns may be combined with a Scots place name.  Examples of this pattern found in 16th century Scots texts include Clane MacKane of Avricht, Clandowill of Lorne, and Clan MacThomas in Glensche.

3.    Welsh
In Welsh, groups of people can be named after the personal name of their common ancestor.  Per the April 2013 Cover Letter, patterns for creating a household name based on an ancestor’s name in Welsh include:
Plant + given name of ancestor 
Wryion + given name of ancestor
Gwely or Gafael + given name of ancestor
Each of these constructions has a slightly different meaning.  Wryion + personal name means literally “grandsons of personal name.”  Gwely or gafael refers to a group of descendants who share land.
For more details, see the April 2013 Cover letter and Tangwystyl verch Morgant Glasvryn's "Period Welsh Models for SCA Households and the Nomenclature Thereof" (

         Household Names Based on Place Names
In English, households, inns, taverns or halls named after places are incredibly common.  The pattern placename + house/hall is well established.  For example, the Middle English Dictionary gives examples of the Howse of Oseney (c.1460), Nottingeham castell (1152), and Fysshewykeshostell (1476), all of which are based on place names.
In both French and English, manors are named after places.  For example, we have evidence of le manor de Bromesgrave and le manoir de Asshewelthorp, as well as Manoir de Moulins (manor of the windmills).  [Jacquelin de Normandie, March 2016, A-Atenveldt].  Both of these would be acceptable household names based on place names.
In German, household names use either the adjectival form of the place name or an unmodified form of the place name.  Thus, for someone from Freiberg, the household name would be Haus zum Freiberger (adjectival form) or Haus zum Freiberg (unmodified form).  [See, e.g., Martelle von Charlottenburg and Eric von Charlottenburg, February 2012 LoAR, A-Atlantia; Andreas der Eisfalke, August 2010 LoAR, A-East].  No support has yet been found for the construction Haus von placename.

          Household Names Based on Saint’s Names
Saint’s names are frequently used to name houses or groups of people, making them an appropriate substantive element for naming a household. 
The current (October 2016) SCA heraldry rules allow you to make up saints as long as the root name of the person is real.  For example, the Company of Saint Kenrics Beard is a registerable household name, even though there was not a real Saint Kenric because: (1)  Kenric is a documentable period name; and (2) a beard is a documentable period heraldic charge.

         Household Names Based on Ship Names
Households may be named after ships’ companies, based on the name of the ship.  For example, on the January 2016 Letter of Intent, the household name Company of the Panther Fierce was registered with the following explanation:
As documented in the Letter of Intent, this household name follows the pattern of a Tudor ship named after a heraldic charge (Panther) and a 16th century surname (Fierce). Examples include the Falcon Lisle, named after Lord Admiral Lisle, and the Falcon Grey, which was renamed after its second captain, Richard Grey.  [Séamus Blaer de Maxwell, 1/2016 LoAR, A-Atlantia].

Documenting the Elements
When submitting a household name, documentation is required for more than just the naming pattern.  The submitted spellings of the designator and the substantive element also must be documented.  Thus, for example, when submitting the household name Bacoun Taverne, the spellings Bacoun and Taverne must be documented:
Bacoun is an English surname found in "An Index to the 1296 Lay Subsidy Rolls for Rutland, England" by Karen Larsdatter (
The spelling taverne is found in the Middle English Dictionary s.v. tavern(e) dated to 1393, 1400, 1432 and 1475.
One of the best resources for documenting particularly words and spellings to period is the Middle English Dictionary, which is available on-line ( and is searchable.

The Lingua Societatis Allowance
Under NPN1.C.2.c, “[w]e also allow the registration of translations of attested and constructed household names . . .  into standard modern languages appropriate to the submitting individual or branch, as described in NPN.1.A. We allow this because the meanings of these names would have been clear to the speakers of these languages, but may be unclear to modern speakers. The translation must be a literal, plausible and complete translation. Under no circumstances will translations of the meanings of given names or placenames be registerable under this rule.”
Under NPN1.B.3, household name designators may be registered in the original language or may take the lingua Societatis form.  Prepositions and articles must match the language of the designator.  For example, either Compagnia di Santa Lucia or Company of Santa Lucia is registerable for the meaning 'company of Saint Lucia', but Company di Santa Lucia and Compagnia of Santa Lucia are not; in each one, the preposition and article do not match the language of the designator.

How To Figure Out Whether Something Is A Period Heraldic Charge 
There is an SCA resource called the Pictorial Dictionary of Heraldry ( that will help you identify heraldic charges known in period.  It includes citations and pictures of period forms of heraldic charges.  Experienced heralds will also have access to period rolls of arms and armorials (collections of blazons or images).  A “Pic Dic” entry can be cited as reliable evidence that a charge is period.

Conflict-checking a Household Name
The only considerations for conflict checking are the sound and appearance of the substantive elements.  When doing a conflict check for a household name, the designator is considered “transparent.”  In other words, it is not counted at all for conflicts.  Thus, Order of the Black Swan conflicts with Company of the Black Swan, because both are non-personal names.
However, we do not do conflict by translation, so Order of the Black Swan does not conflict with Companie du Cigne Noir.  The substantive elements in these two names do not look or sound anything alike.
We also do not check personal names against non-personal names.  Thus, Company of the Black Swan does not conflict with Agnes of the Black Swan (a personal name using a surname based on an inn sign).
All non-personal names must be checked for conflicts and presumption against all other non-personal names.  This includes real world non-personal names.  Thus, the household name Free Company of Saint Lawrence had to be pended to be checked for conflicts and presumption against the Saint Lawrence River.  [Þora Sumarliðadóttir and Eadric the Potter, May 2015 LoAR, P-Drachenwald].  In that case, the household name was returned for presumption.  [Þora Sumarliðadóttir and Eadric the Potter, September 2015, R-Drachenwald].

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Texts adapted from the charters of Melisende of Jerusalem (plus value-added history!)

Just what it says in the title  :-)   Names redacted; they've already received the awards, but the scribes are still doing the backlog scrolls, so I'm doing my part to preserve what surprise is left.

Melisende (whose name is commonly recorded as Milisendis in Latin), is one of my favorite little-known historical figures.  She was a 12th century queen of the Crusader State of Jerusalem.  When her father died, he conveyed the throne of Jerusalem jointly to Melisende and her husband (Fulk of Anjou) .  Melisende was the key to Fulk's sovereignty, and, after a certain point, most of Fulk's charters are either issued jointly with Melisende or contain statements of Melisende's express consent.  After Fulk's death, Melisende ruled as queen and co-ruler with her minor son, Baldwin.  Their charters are also issued jointly, but all of the records indicate that Melisende was the true authority even after Baldwin grew into adulthood.  There was a great deal of tension between Melisende and her adult son over her continued exercise of authority.  In 1150, they resolved their disputes by splitting up the Kingdom between them, an arrangement that remained in effect until Melisende's death.

For information about Melisende and some of her charters, see here:

Unfortunately there's no current popular history-level biography of Melisende out there (that I know of).  I do recommend "Studies in the History of Queen Melisende of Jerusalem" by Hans Eberhard Mayer ( if you have a JSTOR account.  There's a lot of bad-to-mediocre historical fiction about Melisende, so be careful that what you are buying is history and not fiction.

Anyway, the texts:

It is in the custom of wise men to commend to the memory of writing their studies or works or whatever can be so disposed, so that it is impossible to erase it from the memory of moderns, and their successors may hold it virilely and imitate what their ancestors are testified to have done in the memory of the page of writings left behind.  Therefore, We, Omega and Etheldreda, King and Queen of the East, strive to dispose or arrange nothing in any way without memorializing the same in writing.  Let it be known, therefore to all, future as well as present, that having consulted with good persons of the realm, and being advised of the many works of [redacted] for the improvement of the arts martial in our realm, We do hereby endow the said [redacted] with the Order of the Silver Rapier, and strengthen the force of that endowment with all rights, privileges and liberties appertaining thereto.  We have further determined and established this endowment piously, strongly and sincerely, with the necessary impression of our ensigns manual, so that the said [redacted]  shall possess the said rights, privileges and liberties legitimately and peacefully and without disturbance.  So that this our endowment may be uncorrupted and immune from worldly disturbance, we caused our present letters to be read aloud before trustworthy witnesses.   Done upon [redacted] .


Lest with the space of times or years running their course the good works of a Crown slide equally from the memory of men, it is given over to be preserved by memorial letters and pages for its more certain notice and more firm efficacy. Therefore, desiring to inhere in all things to all their traces, We, Balfar, by right of arms King of the East, and Luna, by the same right the Queen, wish to make our will fixed and certain to all men, present and future.

Since the days of our illustrious ancestors, Vissevald and Embla, whose blessed memory shall enjoy eternal praise, the kings and queens of the East have honored those excel in the graceful art of dance with the symbol of the Muses.  Having heard excellent report of the grace and excellence of [redacted] , and willing and wishing that our realm shall be adorned in perpetuity with elegance and beauty, We do now by these present letters endow the said [redacted]  with the Order of Terpsichore, to have, hold and possess in perpetuity, without any contradiction, all of the rights, privileges and liberties appertaining thereto.

That all this may remain fixed, firm and undoubted, we have caused our will to be inscribed upon the present page, strengthened it with our ensigns manual, and caused it to be read aloud in our court.  Done upon 16 July, in Malagentia, in the thirty-fifth year of the Society.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Pension for a Retiring Vicereinne

I was pleased to be asked to work on the scroll for the retiring Vicereinne, Johanne i Visby.  I did the words and the calligraphy; my usual co-conspirator +Stacey Rothrock Steinfeld did the lovely illuminated capital.

Kenric and Avelina, King and Queen of the East, to our faithful Johanne i Visby, greetings and love.  Since all things which are done may be cut off by process of long time or the trouble of ambiguity or destruction of every kind of oblivion, we have commended to the present page our will in this matter.  In memory of the good and diligent service you have done as Vicereinne of Ostgardr, and willing and wishing that you should maintain yourself hereafter in the manner and station fitting your merit, we do hereby grant and endow unto you the fees, rents, profits, revenues, and gainage[1] from the lands of Brokenbridge, to hold the same hereafter freely, tranquilly, fully, wholly, honourably, well and in peace, for the term of your life.  That the present endowment may be held firm by all our successors, we have had the present page drawn up and have fortified it with the authority of our ensigns manual upon 10 September in the fifty-first year of the Society.

[1] Profits derived from agriculture