badge HeraldWith the proposed changes to Corpora clearly requiring that all awards given by SCA groups be registered by the College of Heralds, some groups may find themselves having to change their existing award names in order to meet the current heraldic standards and comply with the mandate of Corpora. Special Heraldic Contributor to the Gazette, Mistress Alys Mackyntoich has put together this helpful guide to understanding the basics of how Award and Order names are constructed as a primer to help understand period and SCA practices. Individuals are encouraged to consult a herald who specializes in names with any detailed questions.

What’s The Difference Between An Award And An Order?

Administratively, there isn’t one. Heralds call them Order Names for our administrative purposes and I will do the same in this Guide because typing “award or order” gets annoying. There may be a difference in a particular Kingdom’s culture, but that is not official. For example, some people think that an award can be given multiple times, but an order only once, but that is neither period practice nor written anywhere in law.

How To Build An Order Name

Each order name must have two things:

  1. A designator from the list of designators approved by the College of Arms
  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 an order name rather than as some other kind of name.

In the name “Order of the Silver Crescent,” Order is the designator and Silver Crescent is the substantive element.

What Designators Can We Use?

The current (November 2014) list of approved designators is found in Appendix E of SENA and in the May 2013 Cover Letter. The approved designators are:
Order
Award
Company

Whether “Fellowship” is another registerable designator is currently under review.

But What About Legion?

Legion is usable as a designator for household names. Unfortunately, it is no longer available for award/order names. [March 2010 Cover Letter]

scribePicking A Substantive Element

The substantive element of an order name has to follow period naming practices. Currently (November 2014), we can document the following patterns for naming orders:

Order of Heraldic Charge — for example, Order of the Maunche

Order of Heraldic Color + Heraldic Charge — for example, Order of the Silver CrescentOnly heraldic tinctures and the ordinary names for the heraldic tinctures can be used. So “Order of the Blue Tyger” or “Order of the Tyger Azure” is fine. “Order of the Teal Tyger” or “Order of the Sapphire Tyger” is not.

Order of Physical Descriptive + Heraldic Charge — for example, Order of the Crowned IbexThis category is very limited. It has been allowed only for adjectives describing clear visual modifications to the heraldic charge — thus, Crowned Ibex (period example) and Winged [charge] (SCA example).

Order of Two Heraldic Charges — for example, Order of the Unicorn and Maiden

Order of Abstract Quality or Virtue — for example, Order of Chivalry

Order of Saint’s Name — for example, Order of Saint Michael
For this pattern, one can also use pagan deities in place of saints. So, for example, Order of Artemis.

Order of Saint + Place name — for example, Order of Saint George of Rougemont

Order of Saint’s Object — for example, Order of Saint Georges Shield

Order of Person’s Name — for example, Order of Bellina
This pattern allows orders to be named after the given name of the founder or inspiration. We have yet to document order names based on the surnames of people.

Order of the Piece of Armor/Clothing — for example, Order of the Belt

Order of Place Name — for example, Order of Loreto

Order of Duke/King of Place Name – for example, l’ordre du Duc de Bourgongne

But . . . This Name Doesn’t Fit Your Patterns And It Is Registered!

There are a couple of reasons why a past registration is no guarantee that a similar name can be registered now. First, our body of research and heraldic knowledge changes over time. We find that things we thought were good period practice actually weren’t. We also sometimes find that things we thought were not period can be documented after all. Second, the applicable heraldic rules change over time. Sometimes those rules changes make it easier to register certain things, sometimes they have the opposite effect. Third, a particular group may be able to take advantage of a rule that your group cannot for various reasons.

Do We Have To Use Real Saints?

The current (November 2014) 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 order 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.

You’ll notice that there’s no apostrophe in “Kenrics Beard.” Whether or not an apostrophe + s is required to make something possessive depends on whether you are using the period form or relying on one of the rules that allows for use of modern English. Since this is intended as a “Simple Guide,” this is one of the issues on which you should consult a names herald.

How To Figure Out Whether Something Is A Period Heraldic Charge

There is an SCA resource called the Pictorial Dictionary of Heraldry that can be very helpful. 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).

Clearing Conflicts The Easy Way

Some order names are quite popular and have already been registered by other groups. However, the current (November 2014) heraldic rules allow a very simple way of clearing the conflict: adding the group name that is giving out the award. The Order of the Beacon of Carillion (registered 11/2012 LoAR) does not conflict with the Order of the Beacon of Endeweard (registered 9/2013 LoAR). [SENA NPN.3.C]