Medieval society was highly structured with a system of ranks: kings, dukes, barons and lords. The SCA has a similar system of hierarchy. It is often difficult for a newcomer to tell if the person with whom he is conversing is “Somebody Important.” If you are in doubt, be courteous and polite, and address the person as “my lord” or “my lady.” These terms are widely used and acceptable to persons of all ranks.
People who wear crowns or coronets are “Somebody Important.” In many cases they are, or were, royalty. They won the rights to wear a fancy circlet on their heads. It can be difficult to tell someone’s rank because a person of a lesser rank might choose to wear a fancier circlet than someone of higher rank; it partly depends on personal taste. If you are in doubt of the rank, address the person as “Your Excellency.” For all ranks, the design of the crown or coronet can vary greatly from kingdom to kingdom.
- King and Queen: Chosen by tournament combat. As the rulers of the entire Kingdom, they can make or change laws except where the new law would conflict with the Society’s rules (the Corpora) or the laws of the governments responsible for the area. They are addressed as “Sire,” “Your Majesty,” “My Lord King/My Lady Queen.” Remember that it is courteous to bow or curtsy when speaking to them or passing by them.
- Prince and Princess: There are two types of Princes and Princesses– Crown and Territorial. The Crown Prince and Princess are heirs to the kingdom, chosen by combat in the Crown Tourney. They are addressed as “Your Royal Highness.” They hold these titles until their coronation as King and Queen. A territorial Prince and Princess rule over a Principality, a territory which is a subdivision of a kingdom. They are also chosen by combat. Their form of address varies from kingdom to kingdom.
- Duke or Duchess: They have served at least twice as King or Queen. Call them “Your Grace.”
- Count or Countess: They have served once as King or Queen. Call them “Your Excellency.” Some alternate titles are Earl (Jarl, Iarll) and Graf.
- Viscount or Viscountess: They have served at least once as territorial Prince or Princess. Call them “Your Excellency.”
- Baron or Baroness: They oversee a large local group called a Barony and act as representatives of the Crown. Address them as “Your Excellency.”
- Court Baron or Baroness: The title is a reward from the Crown, often for exceptional service. However, they are not the heads of territories as are the other barons and baronesses. Address them as “Your Excellency.”
There are additional elevated ranks in the SCA: the Chivalry, the Laurels, and the Pelicans. They are collectively knows as the Peers of the Realm. In many kingdoms the Order of the Rose is also Peerage-level and in some kingdoms the former royalty are called Royal Peers.
The Chivalry of the SCA consists of the Order of Knighthood and the Order of Mastery of Arms. Members are chosen by the Crown after consulting with the Chivalry for qualities of courtesy, grace and skill at arms. Knights swear fealty to the Crown and are entitled to wear a white belt. They wear a chain as a symbol of their fealty. Call them “Sir” (name). Mastery of Arms is for those persons who choose not to swear fealty and is equal in rank to knighthood. They wear a white baldric but do not wear a chain since it represents fealty. Address them as “Master” (name) or “Mistress” (name). In most kingdoms, spurs are limited to the Chivalry as one of their signs of rank.
Members of the Order of the Laurel are chosen by the Crown after consultation with the Order for great skill in the Arts or Sciences, for their willingness to teach others, and for using their abilities to benefit their kingdom. They are addressed as “Master” or “Mistress” (name). Their insignia is a laurel wreath, usually colored green on a gold background. “Dame” is an increasingly common alternative for female Laurels and Pelicans. Some female Knights also use the title Dame instead of Sir.
Members of the Order of the Pelican have given of themselves to their kingdom, usually for many years and without thought of reward. They are chosen by the Crown in consultation with the Order. Address them as “Master” or “Mistress” (name). Their insignia is a “pelican in her piety,” a pelican piercing her breast to feed her young with her own blood.
Members of the Order of the Rose are chosen from those individuals who have served their kingdom by ruling as Queen or Consort. In many kingdoms it is Peerage-level.
In each kingdom there are a number of different awards recognizing different levels of skill in the Arts or Sciences, fighting, or for hard work in behalf of the kingdom or a local group. Ask the local herald or a local officer about your kingdom’s various awards.
The term “lord” or “lady” may refer to anyone in the Society if you do not know their rank, but the title “Lord” or “Lady” is reserved for those who have received an Award of Arms (AoA) from the Crown. This is often the first award granted to a person. It recognizes service to the kingdom or a local group and entitles the person to bename) and to bear Arms.
TITLE RANK OR AWARD
King/Queen/Crown Rulers of the Kingdom
Princess/(Royal) Coronet Heirs to the Crown
Prince/Princess/Coronet Rulers of a Principality
Count/Countess Persons who have once reigned over a kingdom.
. The title is assumed at the end of the first complete reign.
Viscount/Viscountess Persons who have reigned over a principality.
. The title is assumed at the end of the first
Duke/Duchess Persons who have reigned over a kingdom two or more times.
. The title is assumed at the end of the second complete reign.
Master/Mistress Members of the Orders of the Laurel, the Pelican, Mastery of Arms and
Sir/Sir Members of the Order of Knighthood. Note that most women
. who are members of the order have chosen to use ‘Sir’.
Baron (of placename)
Baroness (of placename) Ceremonial heads of a barony
(Court) Baron Armigerous titles awarded at the discretion of the Crown.
Court) Baroness The word “Court” is often left out when referring to this title.
Lord/Lady Basic titles for persons who hold Arms by Award or Grant
“my lord”/ “my lady” These are general forms of address rather than titles.
“good gentles” They are properly used informally, or any time the speaker does not know
. another form that would be more appropriate for the listener.
Master of (job name) Alternates for ‘Minister of (job name)’. As with the standard designation for the
Mistress of (job name) office, these are not personal titles, and should in no case be
. abbreviated or prefixed to the officer’s personal name.