|The Role of a Baronage|
|A compilation of information and advice|
|by Modar Neznanich and Briana Etain MacKorkhill|
|©1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002,
2003, 2004, 2005, 2006,
©2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014
It has been asked, "What does it really mean to be the Baronage of a group?" That is a question with a complex answer. There is no "one right way" of doing the job. What is presented here is just one perspective on the position.
Definition of a Baron/Baroness
The Baron and Baroness are the local representatives of the Crown in a large SCA group, known as a Barony.
The role of a Baronage
Their role is to represent the Crown in all matters. This includes the pleasure and duty of speaking to the Crown for their populace and vice versa. (This is especially the case if the Crown is acting in a manner you believe is against the interests of the people who have been entrusted to your care.) It also includes advising the Crown on Awards. Locally you serve as the focus of Baronial attention and as a representative of your Barony to other groups.
Who can be Baron/Baroness
Anyone who is a member of the SCA Inc. can be a Baron or Baroness. However, the more experience you have in the SCA, the better. This means a wide experience of as many facets as possible, not just a long time in one aspect. On the other hand, looking at Baronies throughout the SCA, some very successful Barons and Baronesses have been teenagers when they were invested. In some kingdoms, many of the more successful Barons and Baronesses have an Armed Services background, while in others it has been individuals with civil backgrounds.
Traditionally, couples are usually better than singles (singles as in a Baron only or a Baroness only). This does not necessarily imply a couple who is married/living together. A Baronage couple can be two individuals who live separately, as long as they respect each other and can work with each other. They will need to have similar aims and ideals. It is important that, if either is attached to someone else, this person is not an auxiliary Baron or Baroness. These persons can be privy to none of the Baronial affairs and must often be excluded. This is a potential source of friction.
In some places it is considered to be unfair to both the individual and the group to have a single Baron or Baroness. The reason for this perspectives is because for the individual, there is no backup or support and burnout becomes inevitable. For the group, such burnout - or even mundane inconvenience - can mean many events without a Baronial Presence.
The next logical step is to look at, and know, what Corpora and the Kingdom Laws say about the position. [Note: check Corpora & Kingdom Law for changes since the writing of this article.]
SCA Corpora states:
B. TERRITORIAL BARONS AND BARONESSES
1. Appointment and Removal:
a. The Crown shall appoint a territorial Baron and/or Baroness according to the laws and customs of the kingdom when a branch is granted baronial status, and at such subsequent times as a new Baron and/or Baroness is required. The barony's opinion on the matter must be requested and received in writing, and the appointments must not be substantively opposed by the populace of the barony.
b. Territorial Barons and Baronesses are officers subject to the provisions of By-Laws V.C.2.b. The Baron and/or Baroness shall work with the baronial officers as circumstances dictate, and shall keep these officers informed as necessary for the efficient performance of their duties and effective liaison within the barony.
c. The Crown may suspend a territorial Baron and/or Baroness for the duration of a reign, for just and stated cause. Suspension would prohibit the use of the baronial titles and arms, the conduct of baronial courts, and the presentation of baronial awards.
d. The Crown may remove a territorial Baron and/or Baroness for just and stated cause; however, the Crown must request a written opinion from the populace of the barony before taking such action.
a. The basic duties of the Baron and/or Baroness are ceremonial in nature in reflecting the royal presence in the barony. The Crown may assign additional duties and responsibilities, according to the laws and customs of the kingdom.
b. Territorial Barons and/or Baronesses are responsible to the Crown and (if the barony is within a principality) to the Coronet. The Baron and/or Baroness shall work with the baronial officers as circumstances dictate, and shall keep these officers informed as necessary for the efficient performance of their duties and effective liaison within the barony.
c. The privileges, duties, and rights, ceremonial and otherwise, of the office of territorial Baron and/or Baroness are established by the laws and customs of the kingdom, and shall include the right to make such awards as the Crown (or the Coronet, if applicable) shall specifically delegate, and to establish and present non-armigerous awards specific to the barony. (See VI.A.1.f.4)
d. A territorial Baron or Baroness may hold any other Society office for which he or she is fitted and qualified, save only that of Baronial Seneschal, but must not allow the duties and responsibilities of such office and the office of Baron or Baroness to conflict.
SCA By-Laws state:
V.C.2.b. Eligibility for Office. Officers at all levels of the Society must be members as defined in By-Laws V.B.1-5, and must have immediate access to the corporate newsletter for their area provided by a subscribing membership at their residence. (Alternate access arrangements may be made on a case-by-case basis for people with post office boxes and for International Members.) This standard also applies to deputies designated as successors to officers subject to this provision, or assigned independent administrative duties. Deputies who only assist with specific tasks are exempt from the newsletter access requirement.
Calontir Kingdom Law states:
Article XIII. Territorial Baronages
XIII-100 A written petition to the Crown for a branch's elevation to Baronial status must be made by and reflect the support of the majority of the subscribing members of the Society within the proposed Barony. Consideration of this petition requires that it must not be substantially opposed by members of the proposed Barony.
XIII-200 The Crown, taking into Their consideration the wishes of the proposed Barony, shall invest the person(s) deemed most fit to represent the Royal Presence in the Barony as the Baronage, henceforth defined as a Baron and/or Baroness.
XIII-300 Territorial Barons and Baronesses, once titled shall retain said title and position until such time as they resign or leave their Barony, pursuant to relevant sections of the Corpora. Upon permanently leaving their Barony, or as specified in the Corpora, they shall resign their territorial title and shall be created a Baron/ Baroness of the Court by the Crown. A new Baronage may be created in accordance with the desires of the Crown, who shall consider the advice of the resigning Coronet, the recommendations of any remaining Coronet, and the wishes of the subjects of the Barony in question.
XIII-400 In case of an extended but temporary absence of the Baronage, he/she may, with the approval of the Crown, appoint a Vicar to fulfill the duties of the Baronage until their return. If there is both an entitled Baron and entitled Baroness within a Barony, the Coronet taking the leave of absence may remand their duties to the remaining Coronet.
XIII-500 Territorial Barons and Baronesses are the direct representatives of the Crown and shall speak with the Crown's voice in all matters pertaining to their Barony, unless otherwise specified by the Crown.
Personal Aspects of the Position
At all times the Baron and Baroness must attempt to be impartial, acting not from personal motives and desires, but for the good of their Barony. This can mean curbing what they may personally want to do until they have thought: "Is this what we have sworn to do?" It means that they must not show favor to any particular person or household, as all within the Barony have an equal call upon them. In a similar vein, at events, a Baron and Baroness must attempt to talk to as many of their populace as possible, not sitting remote behind a High Table but making sure that all are as happy as is possible.
To an extent, over time Baronies tend to reflect some of the opinions and attitudes of their Baron and Baroness. Think seriously about this before making decisions.
The more seriously the Baronage takes their Oath of Investiture, the more heavily committed they will be to the job. Despite this, please remember that, although others are relying on the Baronage as a focus, real life comes first. Paying the bills, keeping your job, caring for kids and studies must take precedence over the SCA. When people are visiting, the Baronage should not feel afraid to say they are tired and that it is time for visitors to go home. The Baronage also should not be afraid to let others know when they cannot do something because of prior commitments.
It is asked, "Is there a private life?" Yes and no. The Baronage is entitled to one and should insist on it when they wish. On the other hand, the Baronage will be continually called on to exercise their role as "parents" and any action they take or anything they say - whether at an event or not - will always be interpreted by at least some people as coming from them officially. Whether or not the Baronage holds an "open house" or social night is up to them. It can be a useful way of getting people to talk to each other and to meet with people and answer their questions. If this approach is not to be a part of the Baronages style, that is OK, too. While such evenings are useful within the Barony, the Baronage does not have to host it themselves. While useful, social nights are also a great restriction on the Baronages freedom and they will have little control over the people who will enter their home. However, if the Baronages house is open to some members of the Barony, it must be open to all. The Baronage should make sure they have specific "off limits" or privacy areas if possible for the rest of their household, and a definite time when visitors may be welcome. There will be an increase in the phone bill. The Baronage will usually get several phone calls each night about SCA matters and must frequently make others. These can sometimes be interstate or overseas. An answering machine is useful, but not essential. The Baronage must make sure people know what the latest time at night for accepting phone calls is. The Baronage shouldnt let phone calls disturb their meal times or their studies and family commitments.
Situational Aspects of the Position
Conflict of interest
The Baron and Baroness should avoid situations where they have a conflict of interest (e.g. items that affect them or their household personally). If such a situation exists, and they need to speak on it, they should make the conflict of interest plainly known. To avoid such entanglements, it is best if the Baron and Baroness do not belong to any personal household while they are in office. [They set aside any personal household connection while Baronage and resume it following their time as Baronage.] Their retinue becomes their baronial household for the duration of their tenure as Baronage.
Anything said to the Baronage, while they are acting officially, that has a bearing on other people, should be treated as confidential to anyone else unless they have received permission to pass information along. Of course, this does not apply to the other half of the Baronage, as they need to know as much as the one told does. This means that award recommendations, details of personal and SCA lives and other such items should not become topics of gossip for the Baronage - even to their best friends.
Try and avoid them. In any survey of the SCA, politics are the one thing that people most abhorred. On being interviewed, it was not necessarily the politics that they disliked, it is the discourtesy that such politics engender. Politicization of groups means disintegration and alienation and the loss of worthwhile people.
Don't. The Baronage must always act in what they perceive as the best interest of the Barony. This rarely means rewarding their friends alone. One of the Baronage must be prepared to hear from and talk to every person among the Baronys people. The Baronage does not even have the luxury of openly disliking anyone. If someone is so bad that the Baronage cannot stand them in the Barony, but their behavior is not such that banishment proceedings have been started against them by the Crown, then the Baronage should ask themselves about the correctness of their attitudes, to be sure it's not just a case of "bad chemistry between personalities". By the same token, there is no one in the SCA who deserves immediate canonization. The Baronage must be seen as being open and available for all to talk to and as willing to give everyone a fair hearing. The SCA is like family and, like relations, you cannot pick them.
Dealing with Surprise Questions
How should the Baronage respond to "surprise" questions? "I will take it under advisement," are probably the most important words ever used by a Baron and Baroness. It is this formula that they will use while struggling to give a response to the idea (good or bad) that has been sprung on them, that they have had no chance to consult over. They are words that, for all their triteness, indicate to the listener that the Baronage has heard what is being said to them and that they will consider this and consult with others on it. It can also be used when they are struggling to politely refuse an idea.
Barons and Baronesses being played off against each other
If some people get an unfavorable answer from one of the Baronage, they may go to the other in the hope of a more positive response. If it is discover that this is happening, stomp on it. This is one of the reasons the Baronage needs to closely consult with each other.
The Baronage does not have the power to banish anyone from your group. The Crown has the right to banish anyone from the SCA for one reign, but they are usually very reluctant to do this. For a person to be banned it would have to be shown that the person is one who is bringing the group into disrepute or disorder. Examples would be a person charged with certain criminal offenses deemed incompatible with the SCA or a person who is maliciously slandering and disrupting a group and causing people to leave. This is rare and would be subject to mundane legal challenge, so be sure of facts. If such an action is possible, make sure that all actions of both the Baronage and the baronial officers are well documented.
Ceremonial Aspects of the Position
As the Baronage personifies the honorable and chivalric aspects of the SCA at events, it is up to them to look the part. This includes wearing the coronets as much as they can - even at tourneys and other outdoor activities. If the Baronage wishes to take the coronets off, they should have some form of cap of maintenance to wear in the coronets place. In the absence of the Crown, Baronial regalia symbolically reflects the majesty of the Crown so it behooves all Barons and Baronesses to wear regalia of some sort. In some Kingdoms, when visiting other parts of the Kingdom, wearing the baronial coronets at Court is a requirement of the position.
Banners are a major assistance in adding to the ambiance of an event. The Baronage should make sure that the Baronial banner is displayed at all events. While the Baronage (and the Baronage alone) is entitled to bear the full device of the Barony, any member of the populace may use a Baronial Populace Badge.
[The Barony of Forgotten Sea uses for a Populace Badge, a white trident tree on a green background.] Additionally, if the Baronage does not have a heraldic device passed, they should do it immediately. A personal device adds to the display and serves as an example to others. The Baronage should encourage other members of the Barony to register a device and have a heraldic banner to display.
The Regalia of the baronial office is for the use of the Baronage and the Baronage alone. Allowing others to sit in the thrones, place the coronets on their heads, etc. shows disrespect for the Office. An exception to this can be made for children as they are made to be spoiled.
It is up to the Baronage to organize insurance for the Regalia, if such is needed. The regalia should be covered by the Baronages domestic insurance while they are in your home. However, some may deem it necessary to take out travel insurance for when the regalia is "taken on the road".
Baronial Guards, Champions & Retinue
Not only do they make your job easier, but they also make better theatre for all participants. There are various positions that members of the populace can be selected for. Amongst them (but not limited to) are:
|Baronial Fighter Champion (Warlord)|
|Baronial Archer Champion|
|Baronial A&S Champion|
|Baronial Bardic Champion|
Those that are present should be asked to stand behind the Baronage during all courts where it is feasible.
Interaction with Local Officers
The Baron and Baroness are the caretakers of the group. It is their job to oversee the officers that run the Barony. However, the Baronial Seneschal, not the Baronage, is the legal head of the group. The Baronage should let the Seneschal run things that fall under seneschal duties. This includes issues of mundane law. The Baronage should form a good working relationship with the Seneschal. The Baronage should trust the Seneschal and make sure the Seneschal can trust the Baronage. The Baronage should provide a good source of inspiration while the Seneschal provides the vital administrative backup. To accomplish this, the Baronage should talk to the Seneschal often. When a Barony has several seneschals, baronial and canton, the Baronage should talk to them all. However, the Baronage should remember never to go against any instructions that Canton Seneschals have received from their Baronial boss.
The relationship the Baronage has with baronial officers is very important. They need to keep the Baronage in touch with what is happening, but the Baronage need to let them get on with their jobs. The Baronage should keep their duties in perspective. For example, at an Arts & Sciences competition the Baronage might assist in judging, but not run the competition. That is the Arts & Sciences officers job. The Baronage shouldnt give an answer that is an officer's to give. It is recommended that the Baronage say, "Please ask X -- they are the (whatever officer)." If a particular officer is not available, it is the Seneschal's job to give an answer. The Baronage owes loyalty to all of their officers (and they to the Baronage). It is the Baronages job to defend them and their actions to their superior if necessary. [Note that this does not preclude the Baronage from helping haul them over the coals privately later.]
Baronial Meetings are not exclusively the Baronages meetings, but also that of the Seneschal and other officers. Let the officers have the time they need to handle the needs and duties of their offices.
When decisions are to be made in meetings, remember whom the Barony belongs to. The Baronage will have opinions, and they will have some precedence, but they should listen to their officers and to the populace. Generally the Baronage should run with the consensus, unless it is clearly against something important they are trying to achieve. If the populace wishes to do something, let them, even if it means major changes to the way things are done in the Barony. The Barony belongs to them.
The Baronage should provide a strong stabilizing force to the Barony. They should assist the officers in any way they can, and help ensure a smooth transition when officers change.
Interaction with the Populace
The Baronage are "parents" to the populace of the Barony. Many people in the SCA are young; some are in the process of moving away from home. To many of these people the Baronage will end up as, at least, honorary uncle and aunt. The Baronage will be presented with problems that they do not wish, or are unable, to reveal to parents. The Baronage will be asked for advice on a range of personal problems. It is part of the Baronages duty to help as much as they feel they are able to (but no more than they are comfortable with). Many people just need someone to listen to them. Note that in most cases, neither of the Baronage is probably a trained counselor and often the best advice and help they can give is to get people to see a professional (of whatever sort is called for). It is, however important for the Baronage not to just wash their hands of the persons problems as being irrelevant to the SCA. Baronies have been torn apart by small personal problems that have grown and encompassed everybody in what started as a solvable problem. If the Baronage can help resolve a person's dilemma they are not only helping that person, but possibly helping the Barony as well.
Relationships with local Peers can have a great impact on the Barony. The Peers of the Barony are a strong resource base and, by their oaths, they should be willing to share their skills with the populace. Usually there are few problems in this area. However, there can be cases where some of them get very set in their ways and are used to dominating the local culture. If a problem arises, remember first to be diplomatic. It all boils down to the Baronage having land and a right to give instructions locally. These instructions may be phrased as strong suggestions and may, perhaps, best be done privately if they may be awkward. However, always keep in mind that we are a volunteer organization.
If the Baronage is not locally senior, how should they relate with those who are? As landed Baron and Baroness, they are the direct representatives of the Crown. As such all people in the Barony, regardless of their seniority, should defer to the Crown through the Baronage. Disrespect shown to a landed Baron and Baroness by their people is disrespect shown to the Crown.
The Baronage should listen to their people as they have much experience to offer, but cannot allow themselves to be over-ruled on matters that affect the Barony as the final (and sworn) responsibility for its affairs belongs to the Baronage.
Interaction with the Crown
The Baronages relationship with the Crown is a special one. The Baronage is in fealty to them. (They also owe the Baronage fealty.) The fealty the Baronage swears outlines the expectations of the Baronage from the Crown, and the relationship to Them.
Fealty means that the Baronage is in a direct personal relationship to the Crown, which is renewed each reign. The Baronage has a right of access directly to the Sovereign's ear and They should listen to the Baronage. If They do not at least give the Baronage a hearing on an issue, it is They that are at fault, not the Baronage. By the same token, the Baronage must listen especially hard when the Crown speaks. The Baronage has to obey Their words and advise Them. Obedience is not blind, however. If the Baronage sees the Crown about to break a Law, or stumble over a precipice, it is their duty not to follow blindly, but to warn Them of the consequences of Their actions. Barons and Baronesses will thus not always be popular with the Crown.
It might be necessary to sometimes cope with bad Royalty. If anyone who is not the Crown is acting in a fashion that you regard as bad for your people, you can always speak directly to the Crown. If the Crown is acting poorly, there is little that the Baronage can do but advise them. If They do not change, remember that They are only there for a few months.
Royalty at Events
Kingdom Events held by a Barony do not belong to the Baronage. The Baronage is only there to help them run smoother. Anything else that happens is between the autocrat and the Crown. If Royalty is visiting for a normal event, the Baronage will need to invite the Crown to hold a Court. The timing of this is up to the Crown, the autocrat and the Baronage, but it should be when it best fits the days schedule. Good Royalty will understand this and usually ask something like: "When do you want us to do court?" Ensure that a Lady (or Lord)-in-waiting is allocated to each set of Royalty for the duration of the event and that they know exactly what to do. Ask the Royalty if They have special needs or expectations from the help assigned to Them.
When Royalty visits the Barony, it is almost a duty of the Baronage to host them. They are generally happy with whatever can be provided, and are very grateful if They get well looked after. If the Baronage cannot host Them, the Baronage may need to be at the place the Crown is staying a fair amount of time as there can be a lot of things to talk to Them about - Courts, awards, the issues of the day. Because of this, it should ideally be a place nearby, where others will not be around, or have Them stay at one place and invite them to your place to talk.
If the Crown is not able to attend a Kingdom Event held by a Barony, the Baronage may wish to hold a small Baronial Court at the end of the day to thank the populace for attending and to provide an opportunity for the event's autocrat to announce competition winners, present prizes, etc.
Generally speaking, the Royal Presence is an area of several feet radius, which surrounds Princes & Princesses, Kings & Queens, which affords Them privacy in a crowd. This area is "out of bounds" to people not in the Royal Court; this often includes Barons and Baronesses. To approach the Royalty you must gain Their attention outside this imaginary boundary and await Their signal to approach. This boundary does not work the other way however, and They can approach anyone directly at any time.
Some Mechanics of the Position
One of the Baronage needs to be at every event held by the Barony - but not all meetings and practices.
If the Baronage must go away for a while (going on a trip, extended family emergency, etc.), they should leave a Vicar in charge. This is a temporary person whom the Baronage trusts to speak with their voice, and to whom the Barony will respond appropriately. The Vicar does not wear a Coronet, but acts at all times as the Baronages (and the Crown's) representative. Many times, this gentle is the group's seneschal.
It is your duty to place a letter in every newsletter in your Barony. It should contain any exhortations you wish to make, any news you have to share and any recognition of accomplishment you wish proclaimed. An open line of communication between the Baronage and the populace as well as between the Baronage and the Baronial Officers is an absolute must. Meetings are one method of achieving this, letters in the newsletter is another.
It has been said, "Baronies have Cantons like cats have kittens." It will happen naturally. Care for them, and in the fullness of time they may reward the Baronage by becoming a Barony in their own right. A new group is a wonderful legacy to leave behind.
Privileges of the Position
What privileges does the Baronage have? Very few actually. The Baron and Baroness of a group have no actual legally defined powers. On the other hand they can have as much power as their group is willing to grant them.
The Baronage has the privilege of:
|1. Access to the Sovereigns.|
|2. Handing out Awards in the Crowns name (when asked).|
|3. Holding Baronial Courts.|
|4. Giving Baronial Awards.|
|5. Creating local awards.|
|6. Creating Baronial Guards and Baronial Court positions.|
|7. Being able to change some local customs.|
Many sets of Baronage also insisted on the right of approval of events. The reason for this is that a representative of Royalty should attend every official event in the Barony, thus the Baronage must be there. Events therefore must be timed to fit with the Baronages schedule as well as the autocrats.
It varies from Kingdom to Kingdom and Barony to Barony, but because the Baronage has to be there, it is customary for them to get into local events free. While some may worry about this as being unfair, realize that the Baronage pay their event money in so many different ways. If the Baronage have children, their attendance cost is strictly up to the autocrat. If they want the Baronage to pay for them, they should do so.
Courts have several purposes in the SCA. Opening and closing Courts are exactly that. While we could gradually drift into (and out of) events, Courts mark a definite transition from the modern world to the SCA. During Court, which is, above all else, a place of official business, announcements are made, officers publicly take up their jobs and awards are given out. Court establishes Royal or Baronial presence. They can be used to help create and mark out the "special place" that is the SCA.
When to have Courts
Court should occur at least at the end of an event. In some areas it is customary for a court to be held both at the start and the end of an event. Having another in the center of the event should occur only if there is a very good reason or a lot of business to transact. Closing Court is good for competition results and notices of upcoming events.
If a Court is going to be held before a feast and it will be more than ten minutes late, it is appropriate to consult the Autocrat and Feast Steward. If the food is time critical, then Court may have to be delayed until after the feast
A short Court during populace meetings is also recommended. This is an excellent time to present an award to an individual who might have missed Court during an event. It also helps establish the Baronial Presence and lends an air of medieval ambiance to the gathering. Additionally it provides a time for the baronial officers to make announcements and supply information to the populace. The atmosphere of a court helps guarantee the attention of those present.
Length of Courts
This varies. While a Baronage might never be allowed to live down the mistake of having a Court that went on and on and on, they should take as long as needed to handle what business there is. Run them from a couple of minutes to an absolute maximum of half an hour. Most should be able to be done in ten to fifteen minutes. On the other hand, while the Baronage may want to "speed things up" at a Court with a lot of things to attend to, they need to be sure to take the time needed to adequately thank all those who are receiving recognition at Court. This is the recipients moment, and they should be allowed to have it.
Entrance to Courts
Some Baronages prefer to just enter the hall at an event gradually and quietly seat themselves on the Thrones, and then get the Herald to announce the commencement of Court. However, many advisors recommended that the Baronage process in to Court because the display of "pomp" adds a ceremonial flavor, gives a more medieval ambiance to the occasion, and allows the populace to join in the fun.
If the Baronage is going to process into a Court, they do not just come into a hall, shouldering their way through a chattering throng. Such disrespect would reflect badly on people's attitudes to the Crown. A more suitable entry is: the Herald announces the Baronages presence, conversation stops and all stand and turn to watch them coming in accompanied by their retinue. Just before the Baronage comes level with them, each member of the populace should bow, curtsy, etc. (as appropriate). Once the Baronage is in and seated, the Herald shall ask if the populace may be seated. Have them draw nigh and be comfortable.
Some Kingdoms recommend that a Barony hold a "Grand Parade" several times a year. These are very formal precessions, handled in the following manner: The people are ushered out and the Baronage seats themselves upon the thrones. The members of the populace are then processed in and introduced to the Baronage in an order of precedence. The Baronage says a few words to them and they take their places (either along the sides of the Court, or in seats). Grand Parades take a long time to perform, even if only armigers and above are presented (the rest coming in as "the populace of x"). Despite this, it is useful to hold them. They serve to show the hierarchy and social order, to highlight who has awards and offices, to remind each other of our names and they are absolutely superb for showing off clothes. This is when the Herald blows everyone else's trumpet, instead of the Baronages. All award holders deserve their bit of personal glory. Whilst all who are present should enter a Grand Parade, there are people who have a serious aversion to this public introduction, and must be allowed to be unobtrusively seated beforehand or to leave the hall for the duration of the Parade. These people should not miss Court if they don't want to, however. Note: If there are people to whom being asked to stand for the duration of the parade would be discourteous to them (due to injury, frailty, etc.) or who will be unable to sit comfortably on the floor, the Baronage should invite them to take a seat if they so desire.
A good Court Herald is a pearl beyond price. They help the theatre build and can prompt the Baronage when they forget lines. Court Heralds are usually made - not born - and so encourage anyone to "have a go" at unimportant events. Do not mock their efforts (and ensure that others do not) and make sure that they are thanked. As a Baronage will soon discover, it is a very nervous thing being the voice of the King. Allow the Herald for the event to be privy to all court matters as early as possible and give that herald the authority to divvy out the work as they see fit, but in consultation with the Baronage, as it is the Baronages Court, not theirs. The Baronage should thank the herald and count their blessings if they have one with a better memory than themselves.
Guards & Retinue
It is very important to have Retinue (Ladies-in-Waiting / Lords-in-Waiting) and Baronial Guards. They make the Baronages job easier and they help provide better theatre for all participants. They also serve to look after Royalty when They visit.
There are a wide variety of services they provide. This can include preparing for events, setting up at events, help with maintenance of regalia, handing the baronage the right awards tokens when needed, make sure that the Baronage has food and drink, help with newcomers, arrange the Baronages garb just before entrances, be lent out to visiting Royalty and even polish Coronets (if asked politely). The Baronage should cherish them, thank them, and give them the time they need for themselves.
What do they get out of it?
Partly, service is its own reward. They know they have helped everything run smoother. Being a guard also means being up front and seeing what is happening through other eyes. This definitely includes watching the joy on the faces of Award recipients. There is also a degree of status that is attached to the different positions.
To an extent, they represent the Baronage. They should be silent in Court and courteous and chivalrous to all. If they are not behaving as the Baronage wishes them to, the Baronage should speak to them (privately if possible). By agreeing to take on a job, they have agreed to accept its responsibilities.
They must volunteer. The Baronage can ask for volunteers and solicit from among likely candidates, but the decision on whether to apply rests with them. One willing volunteer is more valuable than twenty conscripts. The Baronage should try and be as diverse as possible in their choices so that all groups are represented in the retinue, if possible.
At all times the Baronage should treat their retinue with courtesy and respect and thank them for their efforts. The retinue has and needs a right of closer contact with the Baronage than the rest of the Barony in order to perform their duties. They should assist the Baronage at all times, even before thinking of their own wishes. They must be able to look after their own needs beforehand and then be ready to assist the Baronage. This means that they should arrive at events in good time, preferably before the Baronage does.
Awards are a recognition by the group that the recipient belongs and is behaving appropriately. They help provide a "career path" and assist in making the SCA a form of "serious leisure". Awards, while not in themselves a reason to do things, are a significant way by which an average member may be encouraged or rewarded for their efforts.
How to Give Awards
An award can be very significant to the recipient. Thus an award should never be trivialized or made slight of in any way. If anything, the Baronage should be overly serious and formal and should say exactly why this award is being given out. Not everyone will know all the details and the populace should be shown good examples being praised. Awards are given at Court (usually), and the Baron AND Baroness should both be involved in each award presented (whether this is placing the dangly over the head of the recipient or handing the token/scroll directly to the recipient or speaking to the recipient).
Who to Give Awards to
Baronial awards are designed to be presented to individuals who have either performed service to the Barony or are showing skill in an area of endeavor. Many Baronies grant Baronial Awards to those who are competitive on a Kingdom basis. This does not mean that they would necessarily win, but that they would be considered to be serious contenders in a competition, be it for Arts and Sciences, combat, marshal activity or an office.
Giving Award Recommendations to the Crown
Do it. The Baronage should make recommendations of their own, but should also ask the populace to send copies of their award recommendations to them, the Baronage. This way the Baronage will know who is on the populaces minds and there is less of a chance of someone being missed. The Crown cannot give out awards if they do not get recommendations.
Passing on Awards from the Crown
This is one of the perks of the position of the Baronage. On occasion an award recipient will not be able to attend a Court when they receive an award. In some instances, the Crown will ask the Baronage to pass on the award. This is an honor to perform, and should be enjoyed. When presenting the award, the Baronage should be solemn, point out the source of the award, and give any good wishes the Crown had asked to be passed on to the recipient.
What if the person is not at the event or has left the SCA?
If they are not at a baronial event or activity where the Baronage is trying to pass on a kingdom award or present a baronial award, try and wait until they are. It can be good theatre to announce that an award has been made (say from the King and Queen) and then enjoin everyone to silence until the next event or activity, when their friends are sure to make sure that they come. If this cannot be done, or they have been missed several times, or they have left the SCA, pass it on through friends.
What if the person has died?
If the death occurred when the gentle would normally have been on the list of recommendations at this stage, the Baronage should go ahead and put them on their list of recommended people being sent to the Crown and explain the situation to Royalty. When and if the award comes through, get one of the deceased gentle's friends to accept the award on behalf of the deceased and have them pass the scroll and/or tokens on to relatives of the deceased that they may know that the deceased was cherished by us.
Wars and Battles
We are a feudal society; the Baronial Forces are the Baronages to command. If one or both members of the Baronage are fighters, then when the Baronial forces fight together, the tactics to be used are up to the Baronage, unless they choose to delegate them.
Alternately, if neither of the members of the Baronage is a fighter, or they are not able to participate for some reason, they may choose to delegate this responsibility. A logical choice is either a Baronial Fighter Champion, the Baronial Fighter Marshal or a Captain/Sergeant/Warlord/Etc. of the Baronial Forces.
A Standard-bearer for the Baronial Forces is also a nice addition, and may have precedence by being a part of the chain of command in war.
Visiting & Visitors
When away from their Barony, a Baron and Baroness are the readily identifiable and visible representations of it. Their words and deeds reflect most immediately upon the perceptions that all have of their people and Barony. Likewise they are the representatives of the Crown. As such they start with people's respect automatically. It is up to them to maintain this. Modern existence is, by its nature, discourteous and individualistic. It is up to the Baronage (with the help of most of their people) to try and help put some magic and romance back into life. The Baronage must remember to try to act the part of a respected noble. It is hard for people to bow to a fool.
When the Baronage is visiting another group, the honor that is done to them is not personal as honor to them but as the representative of the people of their Barony. Likewise, when they have visiting Barons and Baronesses and do them honor, they honor the visitors whole Barony. When visiting Barons and Baronesses are at an event, and it is appropriate, the Baronage should invite them to sit "in state" during court. Seats and a Lady/Lord-in-Waiting should be provided for them, if needed. If it is inappropriate for them to be seated up front (say at Baronial Investitures), they should be provided with a seat at the front and to the side of the populace seating, so they have a good view. Provision should also be made for their banners to be hung. The Baronage is doing honor, not to the person, but to their Barony and dishonoring them reflects on the Baronage and the Baronages honor.
Relations with other Baronies
The Baronage should talk to other Barons and Baronesses as much as possible. When there is a chance, a Council of Landed Nobles should be held at events where several Baronages are together. Baronages have similar problems and will find sharing solutions useful. The Councils are also a great place to plot wars, border raids, arts & sciences rivalry competitions and other fun activities.
On informal occasions and in letters (after the greetings), other Barons and Baronesses may be addressed as "cousin". They should be treated with at least as much respect as a Baronage would wish to be treated themselves.
Gifts and Presentations
People will give the Baronage things. This is nice and good. They should be accepted graciously. If the gift is alcohol or another beverage, it is good to share it with the populace so that the giver is better recognized for their deed.
The Baronage will give things to other people. If the Crown visits, the Baronage should give some form of "taxation" to them. Any other visiting nobles should also receive some memento of their visit. It need not be large and expensive, but should show some recognition of the recipient.
If there are other Barons or Baronesses around, the Baronage should use them when needed. This includes Court Barons and Baronesses. They can fill in for the Baronage in emergencies, act as your Vicar, act as Ambassadors, give the Baronage advice or be their General on the battlefield.
Preparations for Investitures and Annual Events
These are important for the life of the group. The Baronage must make sure they are prepared. They must know who awards are going to (and make sure the Herald knows), ensure new retinue know who they are, and have ready any scrolls that may be needed.
Duration of the Position
How Long Should the Baronage Hold Their Office?
The normal minimum length of time is two years (the same as for most local officers). There is no legal maximum. From experience the recommended maximum length is 4-5 years. A Baron and Baroness should be in place longer than their baronial officers, to give stability to a group, but should not be in office so long as to get bored and stale in the job. They should step down whilst still in favor with their Barony.
Cessation of Office
A Baronage can leave the office in two ways. Usually this is by retirement, but on very rare occasion by removal by the Crown.
Should a Baronage turn out to be an absolute disaster the populace can petition the Crown to have the Baronage removed. Provision for this is stated in Corpora (VI.B.1.d.). But this is extreme and almost unheard of. (Some Crowns have stated that this requires a minimum of 80% support.) People would rather stick it out and work on it rather than give up. Less radically, Corpora says (VI.B.1.c.):
"The Crown may suspend a territorial Baron and/or Baroness for the duration of a reign, for just and stated cause. Suspension would prohibit the use of baronial titles and arms, the conduct of baronial courts, and the presentation of baronial awards."
Usually a Baronage leaves their position because they feel it is time to retire. When the Baronage decides it is time to step down, they must address the issue of choosing successors. This is the last duty they have to their Barony - ensuring a smooth transition to a suitable set of successors. It is their responsibility to ensure their "child" is placed in the best of hands and, if they think of it in those terms, they will realize how important this is. The procedure can vary from Kingdom to Kingdom and Barony to Barony. It generally involves seeking expressions of interest in the position (applications) from individuals, notifying the populace of those applying, asking for letters from the populace on the candidates, and then holding interviews with the candidates (many times this will include the Crown). This process, guided by the advice of the populace, of selecting successors helps to avoid destructive politics that could arise,
Once the successors are determined, the Baronage should spend time training them, showing them what things are done by a Baronage and why the outgoing Baronage did them in a particular manner.
Remember, however, until the successors are actually Invested, the retiring Baronage is still responsible for the Barony.
So, you used to be the Landed Baronage. It is no longer your Barony and you have no right to interfere in the decisions of your successors. They will probably consult you if they are in doubt, and you should speak to them privately if you feel that it is needed. Do not undermine their authority, the Barony is now theirs to care for.
Discussions over many years with SCA Baronages, including Calontirs Baronies of Coeur dEnnui, Forgotten Sea (several sets), Lonely Tower, Mag Mor, Three Rivers and Vatavia (several sets); the Middle Kingdoms Baronies of The Flame, Tree-Girt-Sea (before it became a province) and Wurm Wald; the East Kingdoms Barony of Carolingia.
"A Guide for Barons and Baronesses" by Hrolf and Madelaine, Baron and Baroness of Ynys Fawr (Tasmania, Principality of Lochac, Kingdom of the West), A.S. XXX)
©1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003,
2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014
Baron Modar Neznanich (Ron Knight) & Baroness Briana Etain MacKorkhill (Sheryl Knight)
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