Rapier Peerage Thoughts

This post concerns the proposal to create a peerage for rapier in the Society for Creative Anachronism (SCA).  The proposal is found here:

The Board of Directors of the SCA is soliciting commentary from the membership on this proposal, and this post is my current draft of my thoughts on the rapier peerage (I may revise it slightly if others convince me to change aspects of it). Comments on the proposal are due by December 1, 2013.  I implore all people to send in their comments, please.  If you agree with anything I say here [or if you don't], PLEASE send your comment (you are free to copy and paste from my post if you want!) - the more people supporting the peerage and, I think, my thoughts on them, the better.  :)

To send comments:  Please use the title "Additional Peerage Proposal" in the Subject line.  Email comments to comments@lists.sca.org or mail them to SCA Inc., Box 360789, Milpitas, CA 95036.  Again, they are due by December 1st, so the end of this month!!

Rapier Peerage Thoughts
Birke die Jägerin
Midrealm Rapier Fighter, Pentamere Regional Rapier XO

First: I fully support having rapier fighters become peers.  It takes a lot of skill and prowess to be a top-notch fencer, and they deserve recognition.  So I think a peerage of some sort for rapier fighters should definitely occur.

Second: There is the issue of whether a fourth peerage for rapier should be created, or whether rapier fighters should be allowed to join the Order of the Chivalry/Master at Arms.  I can see the arguments either way.

Arguments in favor of joining the Chivalry/Master at Arms:

Arguments in favor of creating a fourth peerage just for rapier:

This still leaves out the question on where to put archers, equestrians, etc, if we decide to let them into the peerage in the future.  I am strongly against any plan to put rapier, archery, equestrian, etc, all in a fourth peerage separate from the Chivalry.  This smacks of “separate but equal” treatment, in which all other martial activities are considered secondary to heavy fighting, so they can all have a peerage together but heavy fighting gets its own peerage all to itself because it’s “better.”  Heavy fighting and rapier are more similar to each other than rapier is to the other martial activities, since they are the two arts that are direct combat against opponents.  This is a separate issue than the one being currently discussed, but I think it is important to consider, as I can see archery gaining enough popularity to become peerage level in the future (the others are questionable due to level of activity).  I just want to make it clear that if we do make a fourth peerage for rapier instead of allowing fencers to be knighted, that I feel it needs to be a peerage only for rapier, and not the peerage for “rapier and later maybe other martial activities.”

Third, I will address the specific points put forth for the creation of a fourth, separate, peerage for rapier.

Name and Title

Proposed: Name: Order of the Masters of Defense. This name is patterned after the London Masters of Defense, a royally charted guild of teachers of fencing in England. The name is compatible with period naming practices for secular orders and is free of conflict with currently registered items in the SCA Ordinary and Armorial as of June 2013. The title for a member of the new Order would be Master or Mistress of Defense.

My thoughts:  I love the name of the Order – Order of the Masters of Defense is pretty great.  But I really hate the idea of the title of Master or Mistress of Defense.  I understand that in the period Masters of Defense guild that Master was the highest title, but I don’t like how it smacks of “separate but equal” again.  It feels like the Chivalry gets its own title, and everything else gets to be Master/Mistress.  Plus, I really wouldn’t want to be a “Mistress of Defense” someday if I got to peerage level in rapier – frankly, it sounds too much like a dominatrix to my modern ears.  The rapier peerage is a martial peerage, and it should be given a title that is martial, similarly to the Order of the Chivalry having the martial title of Sir/Dame.

My changes:  Make the title either Provost (for both genders) or Sir/Dame, because these are more known to be martial titles.  I know there are lesser positions currently using the title Provost, but they are below Peerage and not Society-wide, and therefore can be changed by the individual Kingdoms who use them.  Sir/Dame is reserved entirely for martial arts, specifically heavy fighting, and would note rapier fighters as martial artists also (edit: this would be a great compromise between those who want one martial peerage and those who want different peerages: have the rapier peerage be separate, but all martial peerages have the same title of Sir/Dame).  The livery and order name can note us as different from heavy fighter Knights.  Or change the title to another martial title, say Knight in other languages such as Ritter.  But I really like either Provost or Sir/Dame.


Proposal: Badge: Three rapiers interlaced in pall inverted proper. This badge is intended to be representative of the various aspects of weaponry included in the new peerage.

My thoughts:  None.  This is fine.


Proposal: Regalia: White or silver livery collar with badge of the Order depended from it. This form of regalia was in fashion throughout the later part of period, roughly contemporaneous with the appearance of swords identifiable as “rapiers.” It is gender-neutral, and is intended to be easily visible on the field of combat, much like the regalia of Knights and Masters at Arms. Note that white or silver livery collars without the peerage badge pendant would not be in conflict.

My thoughts:  I have several different thoughts on this.

About the white/silver livery collar itself:  I like the idea of the livery collar.  I don’t like that we have to also have the peerage badge on it, and that a plain white or silver livery collar could mean something else.  Knights don’t need to have anything on their white belt in order for them to be seen as Knights, or Pelican proteges anything on their yellow belt.  We should give the same consideration to the rapier fighters (again with the “separate but equal” icky treatment).  If anyone is currently using a white or silver plain livery collar, that’s their individual issue to sort out, just as anyone who wants to wear a white or yellow belt but isn’t a part of those Peerages can’t.

The Purple Scarf Regalia:  Other peerages have several items of livery each:  knights have spurs, white belts, gold chains, and a sword; laurels have the laurel wreaths, medallions, and cloaks; pelicans have cloaks and medallions/symbol of pelicans.  I think the rapier community should have several different items of livery, too.  In this manner, I strongly, strongly argue that a rapier peerage needs to have a scarf, too.  A colored cord or scarf tied to the upper left arm is synonymous with rapier fighter and has long history in the rapier community (red for cadets, white for White Scarves, bronze for Bronze Rings, various other groups having their own colored scarves).  To have a rapier peerage without a scarf seems highly disrespectful to our history as a community.  To my knowledge, purple isn’t a color used widely for scarves in the rapier community, and it is a color that was associated with high nobility in period, making it perfect for a peerage award.  So I put forth that, in addition to a white/silver livery collar (with or without the badge, I say), a purple scarf on the left upper arm also be made part of the official regalia of the rapier peerage.

And that’s what I have so far.  Any thoughts?

Thanks for reading. 

~Birke die Jägerin, Midrealm Rapier Fighter and Pentamere Regional Rapier XO

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