The Atlantian Rapier Guild Structure
The Atlantian “guild” structure is loosely modeled after that of the London Master’s of Defense. It has gone through several changes from its inception and is a mix of completely unofficial “internal” rankings and a Kingdom level armigerous award. Each rank is denoted by the wearing of a scarf, usually around the left shoulder or upper arm. As most of this is completely unofficial, no one is required to participate but there is currently an extremely high level of involvement amongst all authorized rapier fighters.
Note that these are not titles but ranks. Thus in proper use, they would appear after a gentle’s name and not before. If you want to be formal, I would be addressed as “Baron Aedan Aylwyn, Provost” and not “Provost Aedan” (and in my case, please NEVER “Don Aedan”).
The ranks and their requirements are:
Scholar: Denoted by wearing a blue scarf. Anyone with a valid rapier authorization in Atlantia can be considered a Scholar. We term the authorization process “playing the prize” and while it is similar to most other kingdom’s authorizations, we usually add a bit of a quick field ceremony at the end, welcoming the new scholar into the guild and “awarding” them with a scarf. This is typically done en mass, with all those new scholars (just authorized fighters) taking the Scholar’s oath together. The ceremony is witnessed by those other members of the Academie present, especially the Free Scholars and Provosts. If they are present at the event, we are also usually blessed with the attention of our Monarchs, especially our Queen and Princess.
Free Scholar: Denoted by wearing a gold scarf. The Free Scholar is advanced by the sponsorship of 3 Provosts. A prize playing is conducted at some event, usually against a representative from the Provosts, all other Free Scholars present, and then as many scholars as time permits. The prize itself is run as a showcase of the new Free Scholar’s skill at arms, the decision to “award” the title having already been made. After the prize playing is ended, the sponsors take time to extol the virtues of the candidate and pin on the new scarf. Although completely unofficial, as far as the SCA proper is concerned, the Academie has received great support and often participation from our Crowns for these prizes. As with the Scholars above, these events have received great attention and support from our Monarchs.
Provost: Denoted by wearing a white scarf with a blue center stripe and unicornate sea horse at either end. The rank of Provost is the only rank within the Academie that is “official” and is reflected in the Order of Precedence. This rank is a Kingdom level award, one of the Orders of Merit. Thus, it is armigerous (carrying an AoA) and a polling order. Provosts are chosen by Their Royal Majesties, based upon their service unto the rapier community, impact by teaching, leading and marshalling, skill at arms and generally setting an example for all to emulate. The exact wording of the award in our Kingdom laws can be found here.
NOTE: At their last curia in September, 2001, TRM Havordh and Mary-Grace did alter the Academie de Espee / Order of the White Scarf of Atlantia to carry with it a Grant of Arms. This is a new thing in the history of Atlantia and a great honor. All current members of the order were grandfathered in and given a GoA, if they currently only carried an Award of Arms. This affected just under half of the order.
The Provosts and the Academie d’Espee are signatories to the White Scarf Treaty. Please understand that the phrase Academie d’Espee is used to refer to both the award making a Provost and the Guild as a whole. The original award “the Order of l’Academie d’Espee” was created in February, 1993. At this time, it was denoted by a yellow scarf. The structure of the Ad’E started at the same time, with just the Free Scholar (then a blue scarf) and Provost (gold scarf) ranks. I believe the gentles that conferred with the Crown at that time and assisted in developing the award intended for us to be able to join the White Scarf Treaty when we were ready as a Kingdom. That event occured three years later in April, 1996. At that time, all of the then Provosts turned in their gold scarves and were awarded the White Scarf we currently wear. That is why those Provosts from before that date have the following 2 entries in their OP listing:
- Companion of l’Academie d’Espee (Closed)
- Companion of the White Scarf of Atlantia
That was also when the scarves were “shifted” and the guild settled into the current structure. All those who’d called themselvs Free Scholars became Scholars and we Provosts set about building an intermediate rank of Free Scholars in thier present incarnation.
Common misconceptions about the Academie
This is NOT an exact recreation of the London Masters of Defense. We use only 3 of their 4 ranks and paraphrases of their oaths. And that is where the similarity ends! We have no rank of Master (that would be slightly presumptuous, not to mention violately Copora on usurping titles). This is merely something that our early leaders in the rapier community put together to help give us a common vision and inspiration. The Academie is uniquely Atlantian in its foundation, purpose and direction.
Participation in the Academie is not mandatory. It is a great part of our culture but something you must want to be a part of, not forced into. There is nothing to prevent you from participating in rapier combat in this kingdom without wearing a scarf, swearing oaths or in any other way being involved in the Academie.
This is not some twisted plot to force everyone into an English persona. Let me repeat, much of the basis for the Academie d’Espee was taken from the London Master’s of Defense, but only to allow us to create something uniquely Atlantian in flavor. Just look at the first 15 Provosts made. You’ll find 4 English, 6 Irish/Scottish/Welsh, 1 German, 2 Italian and 2 French. And at that, one of the Englishmen (Nathanial) had a French persona until after he’d been a Provost for over 4 years. And then there’s the first WS ever made in Atlantia to consider. Although he’s modernized things, Geoffrey was still awarded the WS under his original persona name of “Godfrey de la Fosse”. English? Perhaps, but definately NOT from Elizabeth’s time by a few hundred years!
You do not necessarily have to participate in the Academie to become a Provost. To be picky, the Free Scholar rank did not even exist until after Atlantia joined the White Scarf Treaty, a little over 3 years after creating the award Order of the Academie d’Espee and the start of our structure. While membership in the Ad’E is not onerous by any stretch and we are not a rigid structure (giving you room to interpret things your own way), some folks do go their own route. Of course, once granted a White Scarf, we’ll consider you part of the Academie whether you participate or not! grin
Things the Provosts are/do NOT
We are not Don’s. Provost is properly more of a job description than a title. Thus, Geoffrey might sign “Master Geoffrey Gamble, Provost”. This is not intended as a slight against our siblings in other kingdoms, just an explanation of how we do things differently here in fair Atlantia. Anyone that knows a Don from any kingdom should know it’s an on-going job for them as well.
We do not take cadets or have red scarfs in the fashion in which they are known in other kingdoms. Some folks at ANY level may have personal students, but there is no single organized system to indicate this relationship. Free Scholars are viewed more along the lines of a journeyman to the entire guild. While they may have stronger ties with one person or household, it is in a sense the Academie as a whole that has awarded them the gold scarf.
We are not somehow slighted or “less than” White Scarves from other Kingdoms for only carrying an Award of Arms with this award. If you know anything about fair Atlantia, you would know that she does not have ANY awards beyond that of a Landed Baronage that carry Grants of Arms. The Atlantian WS award is on par with all of the other Kingdom level awards known as Orders of Merit. They all carry AoA’s and are polling.
I hope that my brief words have helped to shed some light upon how we conduct ourselves in my fair Kingdom.
Yours in Service,
Master Aedan Aylwyn