A Midrealmer's Experience in Aethelmearc Court

Not all Kingdoms use standardized Oaths of Fealty. Read about one Midrealmer's first experience in an Out-Kingdom Court. Having lived in the Midrealm all my life, my attendance at Out-Kingdom Courts has been rare. Because I had friends in Aethelmearc, I was aware that Aethelmearc didn't use standardized Oaths of Fealty; though I had never experienced this phoenomenon in person. At Pennsic XXXII, I got that opportunity. Being a herald, I know most of the Oaths of Fealty by heart, having pretty well committed them to memory. Because of this, it was a very odd feeling to be sitting in the barn during an Aethelmearc Court on Tuesday night of War Week and witness a Laureling.

The good gentle's name was Michael Alewright. The procedure was much the same as its Midrealm counterpart; among the people who spoke on Michael's behalf were Mistress Margaret Makafee and Count Jehan de la Marche. The interesting part was when Michael swore fealty to Their Majesties Aethelmearc; for the first time in my life, I could not quote the Oath of Fealty in my head. As I found out later, Michael had taken great care in writing his Oath of Fealty. He wanted to make sure it was just right. When speaking to him the next day, I got to hear his opinion of that oath. He said that he had wanted it to be something special, something personal.

Among the other awards received that night, Ailis Linne was accepted into the Order of the Millrind, and Roana D'Evereux was accepted into the Order of the Fleur d'AEthelmearc. Having been my second Aethelmearc Court, it was a very interesting experience; especially from the standpoint of this Midrealm herald.

Laurel, not Pelican

But the point of the story is still true.

From the court report posted by Giulietta da Venezia, Reporting Herald

Their Majesties invited Their Order of the Laurel to attend Them. They then called forth Michael MacPhe, called Alewright. Having heard the words of Her Grace, Meirwen uerch Owain, Sir Alonzio of the Peacemakers, Her Excellency, Dame Margaret Macafee, Her Excellency, Mistress Achren, and His Excellency, Count Sir Master Master Jehan de la Marche, Their Majesties created him a Companion of the Most Noble Order of the Laurel, and granted him arms by Letters Patent. Scroll by Margaret Makafee.

(No subject)

Actually, I wish to correct the good lady Caitriona - Master Michael Alewright was elevated to the Order of the Laurel at AEthelmearc Court. There was also a Pelican made that night - Mistress Miriam Megget.

Mistress Orianna Fridrikskona Companion of the Order of the Pelican AEthelmearc

AEthelmearc Court and Oaths of Fealty

A minor correction - Master Michael Alewright received a Laurel for his excellent poetry and bardic arts, not a Pelican.

AEthelmearc and (last I knew) the East do not have standardized oaths of fealty. Each peer is free to speak whatever oath he or she is comfortable with.

It is important to understand the difference between fealty and homage when creating an oath. Homage, an unconditional oath making one a vassal of the person to whom one has sworn, is usually inappropriate. It is generally not a good idea to pledge, for example, that you will put your duty to the Kingdom or Crown before all else. Fealty involves a conditional oath between equals (or nearly equals). It is entirely authentic and reasonable to swear fealty with caveats like "excepting what I owe to my lord/lady, barony, household, etc."

All of this applies to personal oaths - oaths as an officer or landed baron are different and can promise homage in the name of the office rather than the person, because the office has no existence outside the SCA. Even then, an oath can require that the royalty give something in return. The Baron and Baroness of the Debatable Lands have for years sworn an oath based on one used by the barons swearing to King John at the signing of the Magna Carta, which requires the king to respect the people and rights of the barony in return for the barons' support.

Others have written at greater length and eloquence on this topic. I recommend Master Ioseph of Locksley's web page at http://www.locksley.com/locksley/onfealty.htm for a better explanation.

Another custom some of the more impudent peers like me have is to swear to give the royalty our advice and counsel, whether asked for or not... :-)

Arianna of Wynthrope, OP, OL - Barony-Marche of the Debatable Lands - AEthelmearc

Oath of Fealty

I'm not sure how many people realize that the Midrealm Oath of Fealty comes from Tolkien. I hadn't read "Lord of the Rings" in years and nearly drove off the road when the reader of my book-on-tape version started to recite the Royalty's response to our Oath:

"This do We hear and shall never forget, nor fail to reward that which is given: Fealty with love, service with honor and oath-breaking with vengeance."

A few words have been changed, but it's easily recognizable.


Re: Laurel, not Pelican

Oops! Thanks for the correction. I've fixed this in the original article.