From Wreath: Unity of Orientation and Posture

Two years ago, I stood in front of the College at KWHSS and promised that within a few months I would have a definitive ruling on Unity of Posture and Orientation that would be comprehensive, easy to understand, and more permissive than previous rulings had been. I wrote my draft that month. And then a submission came through that required me to revisit the draft. This continued pretty much every month since that fateful Road Show. So I thank you all for your patience, and want to assure you that I’ve not been negligent in this goal.

SENA A3D2c reads, in part: “c. Unity of Posture and Orientation: The charges within a charge group should be in either identical postures/orientations or an arrangement that includes posture/orientation (in cross, combatant, or in pall points outward, for example). A charge group in which postures for different charges must be blazoned individually will not be allowed without period examples of that combination of postures.”

While the language seems simple, it makes a lot of assumptions about which types of charges will be in the charge group. The examples given in the rule have three lions in different postures, three pheons in different orientations, and a note about crescents, increscents, decrescents, and crescents pendant. The rule does not address how to compare the posture and/or orientation of dissimilar charges within the same charge group. So the question arises: What should be compared? My predecessors and I each struggled with the nuances of this question, but the consistent principle of all of our rulings has been the same:

If the charges in the charge group can be in the same posture, orientation, or arrangement that includes posture or orientation, they must all be in the same posture, orientation, or arrangement.

(Addendum from Blue Tyger: Also note that precedent states that the orientations of inanimate and animate charges are not to be compared – )

There are some basic categories of charge that have comparable postures and orientations. They are:

Animate Charges (Posture)

  • Standard quadrupeds
  • Quadrupeds that can be tergiant (reptiles, amphibians, moles)
  • Birds
  • Insects, arthropods, and other crawling critters with too many legs
  • Fish and other non-limbed aquatic life
  • Humanoids (including mer-folk)
  • Tailed non-humanoid bipeds (sea-creatures, wyverns, cockatrices, etc.)
  • Serpents

Inanimate Charges

  • Compact, non-orientable charges (suns, roses, roundels, annulets, etc.)
  • Compact, orientable charges (crescents, fleurs-de-lys, compass roses)
  • Long charges

Generally, charges in each of these categories are not comparable. Serpents cannot be rampant because they haven’t the requisite limbs, while bears cannot be nowed because they are not long or flexible enough, so a bear rampant and a serpent nowed may be in the same charge group despite requiring different terms to describe their relative postures. A sun is a radially symmetrical charge that has no orientable top or bottom, while a spear is a long charge that has a definitive top, bottom, and angular orientation. Thus, a spear bendwise and a sun may be in the same charge group despite requiring a specified orientation for only one of the charges.

Within each category, charges are comparable, and so must be in comparable postures or orientations. For purposes of this rule, defaults are disregarded; while the default postures of a lamb and lion are passant and rampant respectively, if they appear in the same charge group they must be in the same posture. For orientation, this is a bit more permissive; the default orientation of a sword is point up while the default orientation of an arrow is point down, but the assumptions of top and bottom are a default-based concept; as long as they are both in the same orientation (palewise, bendwise, fesswise, etc.) or in an arrangement that involves their orientation (in cross, in saltire, in chevron, etc.) then whether they are point-up or point-down is immaterial. If, however, there are two swords in the same charge group, they must both be oriented with the point either to chief or to base, to dexter or sinister, because they are identical charges.

There are two major exceptions to these categories. The first is if one charge in the category is in an orientation or posture that another charge in the same category cannot take on. For example, there are quadrupeds which are almost exclusively found as tergiant in period, such as lizards, tortoises, and frogs. If these charges appear in a charge group with another quadruped which is not found as tergiant in period (e.g., a lion) then they must either be tergiant (and thus not comparable) or in an identical posture to the other quadruped. In other words, a lion rampant and a tortoise tergiant is acceptable, but a lion rampant and a tortoise statant is not. As another example, a stag’s attire is usually found straight (and thus a long, orientable charge) but is also found in annulo in period. However, a sword (a long, orientable charge) cannot be in annulo. If a stag’s attire and a sword are in the same charge group, they must either be in comparable orientations, or the attire must be in annulo (effectively rendering it a compact, non-orientable charge and thus in a different category).

The second major exception is when an orientation of an animate charge is modified from the posture which is inherent to its orientation. Humanoids, sea-creatures, and most quadrupeds have postures with an inherent and immutable orientation (e.g., rampant or statant erect have the body palewise, passant and statant have the body fesswise). But some postures have orientations that are found to be flexible in period. We see, for example, eagles displayed fesswise and both tortoises and frogs tergiant fesswise. If two charges in orientation-flexible postures appear in the same charge group, they must be in the same orientation for purposes of SENA A3D2c.

(Addendum from Blue Tyger)

Also note this precedent, which states that there is not comparable orientation for animate vs. non-animate charges, so they may be in different orientations without violating these rules:

“…  An impressive collection of period armory was provided in commentary in support of considering the orientation of inanimate charges to be distinct from the posture of animate charges.  ”

From Wreath: Use of the herald badge, and subsidiary badges

From Wreath: Tabard Design and the Use of Trumpets

There has been some discussion lately on whether and how one may display the badge for the College of Arms of the Society for Creative Anachronism: “Vert, two straight trumpets in saltire, bells in chief, Or.”

Like any officer’s badge, use of the herald’s badge as a personal accessory such as a medallion or baldric marks the bearer as an officer of the Society for Creative Anachronism, and specifically a representative of the College of Arms. Determination for who may wear the badge is delegated by Laurel to the Principal Heralds of each kingdom, but if a person is a branch herald, a member of the kingdom heraldic staff, or is acting by appointment of any of the people named above, they may wear the trumpets as an indicator of their role and authority as a herald. Appropriate situations for wearing the herald’s badge include duty shifts as field or cry heralds, consultation tables, and official correspondence.

Unlike the anachronistic use of officer’s badges, heralds’ tabards are a historical garment with a long and proud tradition. When wearing a tabard, a herald is not a representative of the College of Arms, but is instead an officer of the person whose arms appear on the tabard. As such, the tabard should only bear the arms of the noble for whom the herald is speaking, and should only be used in contexts when the herald speaks for their Noble (e.g., court, important ceremonial moments such as the final round of Crown Tournament, etc.) The crossed trumpets badge should not appear on any herald’s tabard, nor should any badge; tabards should bear one set of arms alone, and they should be consistent on the front, back, and sides of the tabard.

For more information on the proper design and construction of a herald’s tabard, please see the class handout made by Bruce Batonvert and Magistra Astra Christiana Benedict:

And a clarifying quote from Wreath:

To clarify: the ruling is not to discard or modify existing regalia, but instead to provide guidance in creating new regalia. If you have ancient and venerable tabards with trumpets on them, by all means keep using them until they are no longer serviceable. But if you’re commissioning new regalia, this policy should help you and the artisan decide the form of the regalia and the appropriate armory.

From Wreath: No, You Can’t Have A Badge For Your Particular Heraldic Office

This month, we received a submission for a badge for the office of silent herald for a principality. The badge had previously been returned administratively in November 2018, due to the long-standing prohibition on registration for subsidiary officer positions under the auspices of a Society-level officer by anyone except said Society-level officer. The badge was resubmitted with no statement addressing the previous return, and it’s clear that there’s still some confusion on the issue.

To reiterate: Badges already exist for both the office of Herald and the office of Silent Herald. With the exception of a tinctureless seal for the principal herald of a kingdom, no territory may register a badge for a heraldic office. Existing badges for subsidiary heraldic offices, especially ones registered without association after the ban was put in place, should be either repurposed for other use by the territory or quietly released.

From Wreath: Pending for Redraw

On the December 2018 LoAR [Wreath] proposed a policy change to armory that was determined by Wreath to require a redraw prior to registration. Rather than returning armory for redraw by the submitter or consulting herald, who would need to interpret Wreath’s descriptions of the issue, instead the Wreath office will pend the submission, provide new emblazons for submitter approval, and run said emblazons through a fast-tracked “Letter of Pends for Redraw,” or LoPfR.

Commentary on this policy was overwhelmingly positive, and we are implementing this policy, starting with this letter. Nine pieces of armory were identified as requiring a redraw, and emblazons were sent out. Every submitter responded approving the revised artwork prior to the publication of this letter.

The process for pends for redraw shall be the following:

  • As soon as possible after the decision meeting where Wreath identifies the need for armory to be redrawn, either the Sovereign or an appointed deputy will create a new emblazon. Where possible, the existing artwork will be used; if necessary, artwork will be sourced as much as possible from period rolls of arms, as well as the Pictorial Dictionary of Heraldry (many thanks to Bruce Batonvert for permission to use his art).
  • Once the new emblazon is prepared and approved (if not prepared directly) by Wreath, the art will be sent to the submissions herald of the submitter’s kingdom, requesting that they reach out to the submitter for approval. A LoPfR will also be prepared, scheduled for release when the LoAR is published. If the submitter approves the artwork prior to the publication of the LoAR and LoPfR, it will be noted on the pended item.