Court Heraldry 101

OYEZ! OYEZ! Pray all attend…

Medieval Heralds, as depicted on a mural. Pantheon, Paris (2019)

Court Heraldry 101
The Court Herald

For the second installment of this series, Arranging and Running Courts, please visit

Of the many types of heralds, the one most apparent to the observer is the Court herald. This is the herald wearing a tabard bearing the arms of their territory, standing next to the Sovereigns sitting upon the thrones. They are the ones conducting ceremonies, calling forth the presence of gentles before the Crown, reading announcements for the assembled populace to hear, and generally acting as the coordinator to keep things moving.

What makes a good court herald?

There are a few key skills that make a good court herald:

  • Organization – keeping track of information and assembling it into an entertaining and reasonable order.
  • Communication – being able to effectively convey and understand information with others, both in written and verbal forms.
  • Vocalization – mastering one’s own voice through tone/tenor, projection, pronunciation, and enunciation to apply to the business at hand. Sometimes this means being austere, sometimes this means being jovial, sometimes this means being loud enough to get the message over the din.
  • Adaptability – being able to make changes on the fly and react with purpose instead of panic.
  • Sensitivity / Observation – heralds handle a lot of confidential information. This requires knowing when to be discreet, “reading the room” to adjust for tone and tenor, and looking for non-verbal cues to initiate the next item of business.

These skills come in to play in various ways depending on the role the court herald is fulfilling. A herald can still be a great court herald without some of these skills, but they immensely aid in the success of this position and should be a constant source of improvement.

What exactly does a court herald do?

The court herald has many jobs to handle while on duty, and can be boiled down to four categories:

  • Voice of the Crown – Acts as vocal amplification, or surrogate representative, for official announcements and during ceremonies.
  • Master of Ceremonies – Arranges the order of business for court proceedings, to keep the flow of court moving and engaging to those present.
  • Wrangler of Cats (at least sometimes it will feel that way!) – Coordinates with the Crown, other heralds, scribes, Chamberlains, and the Chief Court/Guard Representatives to ensure each party knows what to expect.
  • Secretary – Reports all granted awards and business of import to be recorded in the Order of Precedence.

Each of these respective categories has their own unique set of duties and respective skills. The following is a breakdown on these, along with some helpful tips.

The Voice of the Crown

As heralds are trained to have vocal projection, the court herald is often used to speak as the Crown’s “voice” to make official announcements, and the like. To these means, the court herald is an extension of the Crown and speaks with the full authority thereof. When in this role though it is imperative that the herald regulates their tone or mood, wording choice, and the use of humor to best reflect the wishes of the Crown.  Again, this is where the trust of the Crown that you are working for is important. The herald is no longer representing themself but THE CROWN, and any blowback can and will land on Them. 

PRO TIP: When making announcements, it is highly recommended to use careful enunciation and pronunciation. These will aid in projection, and the end result: the targeted audience’s comprehension.

The Master of Ceremonies

The court herald collects business for the court (awards, announcements, official business, and the like) and arranges it into an ordered “script” that is both informative and engaging to the populace and those attending. Then, when running court, they keep the business moving from one item to the next.

PROTIP: For an extended look at Court Heraldry in action, or how to run a court, please check out the next course Court Heraldry 102.

Wrangler of Cats

While this aspect is usually more reserved for the Chamberlain and the Court and Guard Chiefs, it is important to the host court herald to work with the other heralds, and the Court and Guard, to ensure the needs of court are communicated and ready. The more heralds and Crowns there are present, the more complex the court gets. The more complex the court gets, the more this “hat” comes into play.

PROTIP: Making relationships with the “crew” who will be handling court, and determining the best way to communicate effectively and delegate tasks, will aid in the overall execution of court.

The Secretary

The court herald, in addition to collecting all court business, is also in charge of reporting the relevant business to the OP clerk to be updated in the official records. This means any awards/honors, reign changeovers, peerage offers, and other official business must be reported on an event report for EVERY COURT.

PROTIP: A well organized docket can make reporting an easy task. One can almost cut and paste it into the report form (in Caid at least).

While attending court, take the time to watch the heralds on duty and see if you can spot these duties in action. Observing experienced court heralds is an excellent way to start learning how to do it within your Kingdom.

Happy Heralding! 

© 2021 Stephanie Rendt-Scott. All rights reserved. Limited publication rights may be granted upon written request to the author.