By Any Other Name

Essay 7 in a Series by Hector of the Black Height

I've spoken a great deal about the bestowed Peerages. What about the Rose, the Society-wide Peerage given automatically to those who have served as Queen or King Consort?

Obviously one cannot teach somebody to be Queen; or is it so obvious? We as a Society hold great expectations about our monarchs. How do they learn to be Kingly and Queenly, which includes dealing with the bureaucrats and the Peerage Orders and the politics and the inter-kingdom diplomacy? In part, the Crown has the Great Officers as resources, but they're busy performing their great offices. The Queen, at least, has the Order of the Rose to fall back upon.

The Rose is a repository of Royal "race memory". It's a collection of people the Queen can speak to who've also sat the throne, who've been there and done that. I have opinions about Royalty; I think most SCAdians with a little time in the Society do. My opinions are well-intended but they carry little weight because I've never sat in the big chair. The Order of the Rose is there to help the Queen (in particular) meet the needs of the big chair and the fancy hat while living within the expectations of the populace.

We don't have apprentice Queens, but we do have Crown Princesses. Like apprentices, squires and protégés, Crown Princesses are learning the ropes of a specific discipline within the Society. Unlike the dependants of bestowed Peerages, Crown Princesses are working within definite time constraints, in an on-the-job setting. They have about six months to learn and then they are not just Peers, they are the premier Peers of their Kingdoms. No pressure!

The job of Queen is an arduous one, and as recognition for hard work performed on behalf of all, the retiring Queen becomes a Countess or Duchess (for repeat offenders). She also becomes a Lady of the Rose, which in some Kingdoms is held in equal standing with the bestowed Peerages in that it is accompanied by a "Patent of Arms". In the Middle there is no patent that accompanies the Rose, but that bureaucratic distinction is of no lasting importance, in my opinion. Originally, retiring Kings were all -- or almost all -- Knights and therefore were Peers by letters patent. If the Queen wasn't already a Peer when she stepped down, there was the Rose as an equivalent, as well as the coronet of a Royal Peer. The Rose could have been just a consolation prize for Queens who weren't Laurels or Pelicans. Instead, the Rose has developed into a body of knowledge and accomplishment much like the other Orders. It serves the same function and performs a similar role in service to the Kingdom and Society. It just doesn't allow members to take dependants in as formal a manner as a Belt, Bush or Bird.

This same function is performed by the Royal Peerage as a whole. All our Royal Peers (Ducal, County and Viscounty) serve as examples of service and repositories of knowledge. Some have patents of arms; some do not. All are of high rank and station. They do not have dependants; such a station would be inappropriate when royalty is won through right of arms on a given day. Our Royal Peers may have men-at-arms, and ladies of their houses, though. What's the difference between a Viscount's man-at-arms and a Knight's squire, apart from the fashion accessory the squire wears? There may be profound differences; there may be none. The parties concerned set forth the details of the arrangement in their contract. The only difference in role between a Duke and a Laurel is that the Duke is expected to advise the Crown. The Laurel is expected to advise the Crown (the duty of all Peers), to teach and to take dependants. Like anyone else, the Duke can take dependants; Dukes just don't have the public license from the Crown to do so.

So now we see five complementary, often over-lapping groups of people working for the Society and its populace. The Royal Peers, the Order of the Rose (all of whom are Royal Peers) and the three bestowed Peerages all hold high estate within our culture. All work for the benefit of the Society; all have a wealth of information and experience to share. As King Reynard said to award recipients when he sat the throne of the Midrealm, "From those who receive great honours are great things expected."

In the final essay in this series I shall address the road to great honours.

On to Part 8 

Copyright 1997, 1998 Arthur McLean. All rights reserved.