To Be A Scholar
The Academie d’Espee, Atlantia’s guild for rapier, is broken up into three tiers. What some might call the highest tier is comprised of members of the Companions of the Order of the White Scarf of Atlantia, commonly known as Provosts (Preboste, by the bye, is the Spanish word for Provost). We are known by wearing a white scarf with a blue stripe and a unicornate seahorse known as Spike on the left shoulder. One becomes a Provost through direct Crown recognition; i.e., the King & Queen award you a white scarf. Next comes the group of individuals known as Free Scholars. They are known by a yellow scarf worn on the left shoulder. One becomes a Free Scholar through the agreement and sponsorship of three Provosts. The largest group of individuals within the Academie d’Espee are called Scholars. They are known by wearing a blue scarf worn about the left shoulder.
How does one become a Scholar? Well, you have to fulfill three requirements. One, you must successfully play your prize, or as it is commonly called, authorize. You can authorize either in the epee forms or in schlager to be a Scholar. Anyone, at any official SCA event where authorizations are being held, can fulfill this requirement. This requirement is actually tended to by the rapier marshallate, which is a separate entity from the Academie d’Espee. Two, swear the Scholar’s Oath of the Academie d’Espee. You can swear this Oath any time, anywhere. Most people swear the Oath right after they authorize before the tourney starts. But, you can swear it in anyone’s presence, in private or public. Contrary to popular belief, this is not an Oath of Fealty. The Scholar’s Oath has slightly different interpretations to different people (as is only right and proper) but the basis is the same; be a nice person, be faithful to the Crown of Atlantia, and be a valued and contributing member of the Academie d’Espee. The Oath of the Scholar does not and should not interfere with any other Oath you might make, to a Peer or the Crown or anyone else you choose to give your fealty to. The Oath of the Scholar, really, is an affirmation of what is expected of every member of the Populace, with the exception of the Academie part. Three, get a blue scarf and wear it about your left shoulder or arm. It can be any shade of blue, it can have decorations on it, it can be made of any material you like. As long as it’ s recognizably blue and has some resemblance to something scarf-like, go for it! If you like your Lady or Lord can tie it on your arm. If you’re lucky, the Queen, Princess, or your local Baroness might attach it. Sometimes scarves are handed down from one person who held it to another they hold in high esteem. Those scarves sometimes develop quite a lineage. Wearing your scarf is important, because you should be proud that you’ve earned the right to wear it. Likewise, treat your scarf with respect, because if you show disrespect to your scarf you’re showing disrespect to the Academie d’Espee.
A side note; once you become a scholar, you (along with everybody else in the Academie d’Espee) are allowed to wear and display the badge of the Academie d’Espee. Heraldically, this is; Or, two rapiers crossed in saltire sable between four roses azure. In plain language, that means two black crossed rapiers (handles at the bottom). In each space of the crossed rapiers there’s a blue rose. The background is gold. You can see a picture of the badge on the Academie d’Espee website. You can put this on anything you like; a tabard, painted on your mask mesh, on your rapier hood, on your cloak, on your buckler, anywhere!
Who can be a Scholar? ANYONE. Nobleman, peasants, knights, their squires, Spaniards, pirates, gypsies, heavy fighters, archers, people who throw chickens, people who catch chickens, peers, non-peers, near peers, Dukes, Viscountesses, people who move in from other Kingdoms, people who have lived here all their lives, people outside the kingdom who happen to think that Atlantia is really cool, big people, little people, bald people, hairy people, fat, thin, skinny, even the French; ANYONE can become a Scholar of the Academie d’Espee. The Academie d’Espee by its nature is an inclusive group, and the strength of that inclusion lies in diversity.
And all those big muckety-mucks with yellow and white scarves? Never forget that they were Scholars once too, and all of them have fond memories of those times. Don’t ever refer to yourself as a “lowly” Scholar, because everyone who is in the Academie is or was a Scholar, and deuced proud of it. Scholars are the foundation of the Academie d’Espee; without them, there wouldn’t BE any yellow or white scarves. My opinion might be biased, but it’s my thought that the Academie d’Espee is the finest set of rapier fighters in the Knowne World, and Scholars are at its heart. Be proud of being a Scholar.
Why should you be a Scholar? Because by joining the Academie d’Espee, you will be joining one of the best groups of people around. Membership in the Academie forges a common bond with the other members, a bond that can lead to great friendships both on the field and off. You join in that great group of rapier fighters which is recognized throughout the Knowne World. It gives Atlantia strength both through the unity of the Academie d’Espee and the knowledge and diversity of its members. However, the Academie d’Espee is an optional group. You don’t have to be a member. You don’t even have to be a member of the Academie d’Espee to fight rapier; but if you do decide to join, we welcome you with open arms.
By Baron Alejandro Mateo Ramirez y Mendoza
Preboste de la Academie d’Espee