On Wednesday 05 March 2003 17:51, Shmi Skywalker wrote:
> And yes, the seneschal and i have been exchanging emails, but
> I'm still god-awfully nervous.
Relax! Regular shire meetings are generally quite informal. If you're
going to a dessert revel, then you have picked something that is likely
to be *extremely* informal. Go and have a great time! :-)
> Anyway, more to the point of my message . . . I've been thinking
> about my character and name and history and garb for the past week or
> so . . . Everyone seems to have excessively complicated names in
> different languages, etc etc.
By their choice. It's not a requirement.
Also, you can start with a simple name and then add to it later. For
example, I played in the SCA for several years as "Justin". Nothing
else. Then I added "the Carpenter" as a vocational surname. That became
"Tektonos" as I started to research Byzantine persona (they spoke Greek
during my period of study). Then a distinguished Herald gently pointed
out that "Justin Tektonos" was incorrect grammar, and I changed it to
"Justinos Tekton" on his advice.
Finally, last year, I actually sent it in to be registered. Because there
was no letter "J" in the Greek alphabet, it became "Iustinos Tekton".
But that's not my entire name. My entire name is, "His Lordship, Maistor
Iustinos Tekton called Justin". Ugh!!! Nobody can say that! Even I can't
say that unless I've had a couple of beers. [GRIN]
I say this so that you can see how a name evolves over time. Yours will,
too. You can also have more than one name, and you can choose a working
(temporary) name while you are just getting started. The only downside
of a working name is that people will get to know you by that name and
will have trouble remembering to call you by a new one that you pick
I go by "Justin" on all but the most formal of occasions, such as if
I am speaking in Court or am writing a letter in an official capacity.
You can be "whatever whatever whatever whatever CALLED something", and
that "something" part doesn't have to be something that would register
with the College of Heralds. There is, for example, a person named
"Lord Vincent von Murdoch called Cowboy". No kidding! He lives near Toledo,
in fact, and has been the person in charge of the Baron Wars event several
> I just want to be a lower-class peasant
> woman in Tudor England with a very simple name . . . probably
> something like Elizabeth Thorpe or Elizabeth Campden or something
> similar. Am I going to get shot down and told that I need a more
> unique name so people don't confuse me with other members?
To *register* a name, you will have to have a surname. Single-part names
like "Elizabeth" aren't allowed.
But you can most certainly start with "Elizabeth" by itself at your first
few meetings and events. Eventually, you either pick a surname, or some
of your friends may "assign" one for you. You may become known by what
you do, just as people did in the Middle Ages. So if you happen to be
really good at sewing, you could become "Elizabeth the Seamstress" or
something like that. You might also become "Elizabeth of Brackendelve"
if you happen to be known for your home shire. That, by the way, would
probably pass muster with the Heralds unless there's already someone
> And for
> that matter, the entire issue of researching the name and providing
> documentation to the herald so the name can be registered . . . I
> mean, how can I document a name like Elizabeth? Everyone was named
> it, and I'd figure that it's so common as to not even need
There's a good chance you're right. Someone who has more knowledge than I
do of heraldry can probably advise you better on this. But there is a list
of names that are so common in period that they need not be specifically
documented, so all you'd have to do in that case is document your surname.
> Same with any of the last names I'd pick. And I dont
> really want a coat-of-arms or whatever . . . I don't even see why a
> lower-class englishwoman would have one to begin with . . . Am I
> going to be required to make one for myself anyway?
No, you're absolutely not required, ever, to have a coat of arms (an
heraldic "device"). Nor are you actually required to register your name.
Doing so guarantees that no one else can copy it, though, so it's a good
As to the lower-class question...
The life of a peasant in the actual Middle Ages was, to put it bluntly, nasty,
brutish, and short. Life expectancy was around 35 years, if you were lucky.
People married young for a *reason*. It wasn't much fun to be poor.
That being the case, the SCA presumes that everyone who participates is of
noble or at least merchant-class bloodline, even though they are not titled
as nobility. In other words, one is presumed to be of such a bloodline that
one *could* someday rise to nobility. There are peasants .... out there,
somewhere ... doing the scut work, but we don't pretend to be them. When we
are doing dishes after an event (one of my favorite volunteer jobs, by the
way!), we are still noble people who are being magnanimous. Or we simply
suspend the "game" for that period of time, and do dishes as a modern
person helping out at an event.
This isn't to say that you can't be a peasant if you wish. You certainly can.
But no one will force this upon you.
As you are in the SCA longer, you are likely someday to receive an Award of
Arms, which in the SCA would make you "Lady Elizabeth ....". It is possible
for you to do peasant persona and yet still receive an AoA, but you'll have
some explaining to do if someone asks you about your persona's background.
Again, this isn't against any rules or anything. And you can always step out
of the "game" and say, "Well, my persona is a peasant and wouldn't have any
title or be a Lady, but, well, Their Majesties liked those scrolls I made
for Court and so they gave me an AoA."
We are, after all, the Society for *Creative* Anachronism. :-)
> And also, last question is that this Friday meeting/party is
> a 'dessert revel' (do i even know what that *means*?)
A "revel", in official terms, is a gathering of SCA folk in an informal,
unofficial way that is not an official business meeting or an official
At true "events", there are certain legal rules in place, such as what
officers have to be present, the signing of site waivers, and so on.
At "meetings", official business of the group can be transacted.
At "revels", it's just a group of friends who happen to all be interested
in the Middle Ages, rather than something governed by the SCA, Incorporated.
Now, that's the *official* story. In practice, meetings are very informal
and so the line between a shire meeting and a revel can become somewhat
blurred. It's entirely possible that your group will call this a "revel"
but will also have a short "meeting" the same evening at the same location.
That's okay. The Seneschal will open the "meeting", do the business that
needs to be done, and then close the "meeting". All the other times, it's
Gosh, that was long-winded. Sorry! I've been a Seneschal, at several levels,
for a very long time, so you get pretty familiar with these things. :-)
> so I'm supposed
> to bring a dessert or finger foods or something . . . I could just
> make cookies and leave it at that . . . I'd kind of like to make
> something vaguely period (but not overdo it; this isnt a feast after
> all) just because i'd feel awfully ridiculous showing up in a bodice
> with tupperware . . .
Actually, you would be very likely *NOT* the only one doing so! People in
the SCA often wear garb, even when not required, just for fun. And a
revel is informal. Nobody is going to expect high levels of authenticity
at a revel. So make your cookies, put them in Tupperware, put on your
bodice and gown, and go have fun! :-)
Garb is typically optional at business meetings and at revels, so you are
actually going "above and beyond" in all likelihood. Check with your
Seneschal to be sure, but I would be very, very surprised if this is not
the case. And remember, a *lot* of latitude is given to new people at their
first couple of activities. You'll do fine.
[I have this vision in my head of someone saying, "Elizabeth, you just don't
look authentic enough." This being while he grabs six cookies out of your
Tupperware container, puts them on his paper napkin, grabs his Diet Pepsi,
and heads back to the other room to watch the rest of Monty Python and the
Holy Grail on the VCR and big screen TV. [[[BIG GRIN]]]
Seriously ... NO WORRIES!]
> thanks for the help and sorry this is so long . . .
> ~elisa~ (elizabeth?)
Likewise, sorry my response is so long. You asked a lot of great questions.
Let us know if you need further information.
Maistor Iustinos Tekton called Justin (Scott Courtney)
Gules, on a bezant a fleam sable, on a chief dovetailed Or, two keys
fesswise reversed sable.
Marche of Alderford (Canton, Ohio) http://4th.com/sca/justin/
PGP Public Key at http://4th.com/keys/justin.pubkey