I was asked to contribute some “helpful hints” to this website, in the form of two of the classes I teach. So, the first thing he asked me to share with you is the condensed version of the “Courtly Graces for Newcomers (SCA 101)” class, to give you an overview of SCA etiquette, particularly the proper forms of address, so that you don’t inadvertently greet the King with “yo dude!”.
To begin with, every single person you meet in Artemisia was, at some point in the past 50 years, a brand new member, just like you. As a member of the SCA, which we count from when you start participating (not necessarily when you pay your membership fees), you are considered to be untitled Nobility, and as such are referred to as Milord/Milady. Since everyone was new once, Milord/Milady is *correct for everyone*!
As you progress in our Society, there are a variety of awards and titles you may achieve, discussing them all is why the class is an hour long. I’m just going to touch on the ones that generate the most questions, particularly coronets, or what we often call “brass hats”. There are several different awards that bestow coronets, and when you add to those the Crowns (worn only by the Kings and Queens), and the correct forms of address can be confusing, so here’s the secret- when addressing *anyone* wearing a coronet, “Your Excellency” is a correct form of address. If the person in question is the Crown Prince/Princess, or the King/Queen, you’ll hear someone call them “Highness” or “Majesty”, but if you call them “Excellency” first it’s okay, the worst they’ll do is politely correct you, so don’t sweat it.
The other folks you’re going to meet that have special titles are the Peers of the Realm, the Knights and Masters at Arms, and the Masters/Mistresses of the Laurel, Pelican, and Defence. The three different Masters/Mistresses, (or Dames, as many of our female Pelicans prefer) are identified by medallions, a laurel wreath, pelican, and swords, respectively. Until you see such a medallion, stick with Milord/Milady, or Excellency if they’re wearing a coronet, and you’ll be fine.
As for the Knights and Masters at Arms, they are much easier to identify at a distance, because the Knights wear a white belt, spurs, and gold chain, and the Masters at Arms wear a white baldric (a belt worn across the chest, from shoulder to hip, like a bandolier). Here is where some people have a hard time, because all Knights, regardless of their gender, are addressed as “Sir”; female Knights have the option of using “Dame”, but there aren’t any female Knights in Artemisia that do, as far as I know. Masters at Arms are addressed as Master, and I have to say I’m not sure how a female Master at Arms should be addressed, because I’ve never met, nor even heard of such a person.
The one remaining group of SCA members with a different title that you will meet in Artemisia, those who have been awarded the Order of the White Scarf. They’re almost as easy to spot as Knights, or folks who have coronets, because they wear a white scarf on their left shoulder. These fine folks are very good at rapier combat, and are addressed as Don/Donna (pronounced “don-ya”).
So now you know what to call anybody you might meet at any SCA function or Event, all that’s left is for you to come out and play with us! If you have more questions about any of this, or any SCA topic at all, feel free to contact me, or better yet come hang out with me at an Event, I’m the guy zipping around in the “Rolly Throne” (power chair)!
Yours in Service,
Morgan Blaidd Du (“blythe doo”), Loch Salann resident
Morgan Blaidd Du is a late-13th Century Welshman, who fled the English decimation of his homeland after the death of Prince Llewellyn ap Gruffydd (Llewellyn the Last). After years of roaming the world, he found himself in the Principality of Artemisia in Anno Societatis XXIV (24). In the years since he has lived in three different Shires and one Barony, served in multiple Offices, participated in a wide variety of activities, and been honored to receive several awards, including being named a Baron of the Court. As his body fails him in his twilight years, he has turned from martial activities to more esoteric pursuits, such as occasionally teaching.
Morgan Wolf is a Veteran, who happens to be disabled, due to genetics not military service. His disability derailed a planned career teaching college history, but has done wonders for his TV watching.