Mistress Godytha of White Raven, Laurel, Pelican, initiated the request just prior to the July 15 meeting of the Board in response to her removal from the position of Secretary of the Order of the Pelican in the Kingdom of An Tir by His Majesty, Uther and Her Majesty, Angharad VI during their reign.
The request reads:
Unto the members of the Board of Directors of the SCA,
I petition you to change the Corpora of the SCA to not allow non-residents of a kingdom to fight for that kingdom's throne.
Whatever the origins, historical or within the SCA, of the practice of allowing non-resident fighters to compete in crown lists, the responsibilities of reigning kingdoms of the SCA have developed to the point that I do not feel they can be performed as well by a non-resident as a resident monarch.
I therefore ask you to revise Corpora to reflect this change in the culture and practices of the Society for Creative Anachronism.
The move generated a brief firestorm of commentary on e-mail lists and blogs. A small group of proponents support the request, while others oppose it. Two issues are at stake: first, should royalty be required to reside in the kingdoms they rule, and second, should the Board of Directors be involved in regulating this.
”I wholly support changing the rules to prevent such things [as nonresident royalty],” said Duke Sir John the Bearkiller, Pelican, five-time king and once prince of Meridies. “The importance of having someone on the throne who truly represents the subjects of his/her kingdom cannot be emphasized enough. One of the great strengths behind the concept of reigning is that when you step down you have to live amongst the people who were once your subjects. A foreigner would not have to do that. It matters not whether the foreigner is a potential sovereign or consort. The crown is too important to be it in the hands of someone who last week was under fealty to a different kingdom.”
Count Sir Robert Glendon of Auk, former king of Meridies, agreed. “All Crowns should be residents of the kingdom which they intend to rule, no exceptions. At first blush, it seems Corpora is the only sure way to regulate it. If it's only in Kingdom Law, the same people who think it's okay will change it to allow the action while following, disagreeing Crowns will have to spend time changing it back. Corpora is the hard line and should be used, in this case.”
Duchess Angharad Bandaspus Drakenhefd, six-time former queen of An Tir, opposes the petition. “Duke Uther Schiemann der Hunt (five-time former king of the West and once of An Tir) plays regularly in An Tir. In fact, many thought he lived here. The laws of An Tir state that a participant in the Crown Lists must have lived here for a year, or have permission of the Crown to fight. Uther was granted permission by the Crown to fight because of his relationship with An Tir and the fact that he was fighting for me, a resident and five-time previous queen of An Tir. He fought in and won the Crown List. He had made a promise to be in An Tir for events at least twice a month. He lived up to this promise, plus some. We traveled to parts of the kingdom where they had never seen the Crown. We had a fun and fruitful reign. Our kingdom was enriched by the reign of one who loves An Tir, though he physically dwells elsewhere.”
Jarl Sir Skeggi Hrafensfuri, the king of An Tir who allowed Uther to fight in the Crown List, agreed. “A select few have taken it upon themselves to decide that the king’s word is not law within the lands of An Tir. I am a Royalist. That is why I play this game the way I play it. It is how I believe this game should be played and that is why I follow its laws and customs. Those who feel they can take it upon themselves to try and govern the Society, or those who wish to change Kingdom Law should become king and queen. The way it was intended.”
A great majority of those interviewed for this article, while supporting the view that nonresident kings and queens are a “Bad Idea,” agree that this should not be regulated by the Board.
“This should be left to the kingdoms to address as they see fit,” said Viscountess Giulia Isabella de Venezia, former princess of Northshield. “If your kingdom doesn't address it as you see fit — win crown and make it so.”
“A bond with the people and the Kingdom and its traditions makes for a good king and queen,” said Duchess Larissa Alwynn Clarewoode, Laurel, Pelican, former queen of Caid, Atenveldt and Ansteorra. “It should be up to the entrants, as well as the laws of the kingdom, whether or not [one] should enter a Crown List. In most kingdoms there is a law that states the entrants must be acceptable to the Crown. That law in itself should be protection enough when needed.”
Duchess Katerina O’Callaghan, Pelican, twice queen of Atenveldt, said, “Whether you agree with a residency requirement for your own kingdom or not, it is an important part of the fibre and diversity of the SCA to allow each kingdom to make and hold its own traditions."
Broader Issues Discussed
Apart from the petition itself, populace members voiced their opinions about the notion of foreign holders of a Crown, regardless of at what level this might or might not be regulated.
“I have never been in favor of foreign fighters competing in Crown or reigning,” said Duke Sir Christian du Glaive, twice king of the West and twice prince of Cynagua. “In my former kingdom and principality, the tournaments [are] open to all. However, to be a truly good king, one must have ownership of one’s fief and a true love for your people. There is a temptation to many that occupy the throne to reap the benefits and spoils, without putting in the sacrifices that are required for a truly good stewardship.”
Others agreed. ”I don't believe a new resident to a kingdom can truly understand the complexities of a new kingdom as well as someone who has lived there, if even only for a year,” said Duchess Malinda Angelanne Elkhaven, Pelican, twice queen of Atenveldt and one-time princess of the Sun. “I would imagine the populace would not feel a great attachment toward this fighter. Kings and queens only rule through persuasion, and it would be difficult, if not impossible, to persuade people you hardly know.”
Not everyone considers non-resident royalty a bad idea. “Drachenwald [has] a long-standing tradition of foreign kings,” said His Stellar Highness, Sir Brendan the Tired, Prince of Nordmark. “Mostly American military (or civilian contractors). This has not been a big problem over here, since Drachenwald is not made up by one country. It reaches from the northern parts of Sweden down to South Africa. In a kingdom that is 8,000 miles long, everybody is a foreigner! If a member of the SCA that wants to enter Crown Tourney can guarantee that s/he will remain in the kingdom for the entire reign, I don't see a problem. This is an international society, after all!”
Some Say More Rules Not Wanted
“What the SCA needs is less laws and rules, and more sharing of its history and traditions,” observed Larissa, with whom Duke Sir Alaric Sartiano von Drachenklaue, twice former king of Caid, agreed. “I’m all for tradition, like the open tournament in the West,” he said. “But I’m a king’s man. I’m for whatever residency requirements the king and queen say are necessary, whether it’s twenty years or one year.”
Duke Sir Ailgheanan mac Sithigh, thrice former king of Meridies, agreed. “I believe most kingdoms have clearly stated their position by addressing it in their Kingdom Law. I respect the right of each kingdom to decide for themselves these matters. In those lands where it is allowed, it is strongly a part of their traditions. I do not think that it serves the Society’s interests for the BoD to mandate requirements beyond what they already have within our governing documents.”
“I hope that the BoD will not make a decision that affects the entire SCA,” said Angharad. “This needs to remain with the kingdoms. We do not need to add one more layer of regulation to our game.”
From whence, to whence?
“This is not an attempt to make and end-run around the Crown of An Tir. I did go through the chain of command by talking with Their Majesties of An Tir, who chose not to agree with me,” Godytha said. “But there was just no other way to have this issue addressed in this kingdom, and I belong to a modern group called the Society for Creative Anachronism that allows me to approach the Board of Directors to stimulate discussion about this matter." In response to criticism of her motive, Godytha answers, “You have to have a personal stake in order to do something difficult, controversial or painful. If it had not involved me personally, I might not have felt it was worth the risk. Even if someone supported the idea, I'm not sure anyone not in the middle of it would have felt it worth the risk. Which works out to something of a Catch-22. If you care enough to take the heat, you need a personal involvement. If you have a personal involvement, your motives are attackable. I have no personal animosity towards Duke Uther or Duchess Angharad...There’s no question that a lot of people had a great time during their reign, and Angharad brought back a lot of old and good traditions."
“This has absolutely nothing to do with whether the king and queen involved were residents or nonresidents,” disagreed Angharad. “The current king and queen have upheld the decision. It is an issue that someone has who disagrees with the decision that was made.”
Many from An Tir chose not to comment, as these events are too recent and painful for some on both sides of the issue to discuss.
“My point was to get some discussion going, and I think that has certainly been done,” said Godytha. “Regardless of the outcome, there are good things coming out of this discussion, such as the handbook being written which will help guide future Secretaries of the Pelican. This just appears to be a situation where long-held traditions are incompatible with one another. I just hope that people on all sides of this issue see that the SCA is full of people who are trying to stand up for traditions that they feel are important.”