Here Begins the Court of Their Majesties…
Court Heraldry 102
Arranging and Running Courts
For the first installment of this series, The Court Herald, please visit http://www.innofthetyger.com/courtheraldry101
Congratulations! You have decided to herald a court! Below is an outline of how to prepare for, and run, court.
PRO TIP: There are many approaches to the philosophy of court management. This is ONE. It may not work for you, but should at least give you the tools to understand the standard court proceedings.
The Most Extremely Ultimate Important thing about court heralding is that the court herald is NOT the star of the show. It is the court herald’s job to make sure that the real stars of the show – the Crown – shine the brightest. This is best done when you have the trust of the Crown for whom you are heralding. They are putting their trust in you to not only make Them look good, but to act and speak on Their behalf. You are an extension of Them – this should be apparent in that you are the only other person than the Crown entitled to wear the Territory’s armory (not badge, which can be worn by anyone). The term “Crown” is used throughout this article, but this really goes for any noble, regardless of rank or station.
The Week Before
The week before the event, reach out to the Crown or Chamberlain to discuss “The Plan”. This will include a list of any awards, announcements, or business They wish to include. If They do not yet have a plan, check back with Them in a few days. If They have a list, start your preliminary order of business (the docket, see below for an expanded explanation). This is a great time to find out if the Crown wishes to process in to court or start on the thrones, and how They plan to exit court (via procession, or remaining on the Thrones).
PRO TIP: Check the spellings of the recipients’ names. Get these back to the Chamberlain immediately so that scrolls can be created with accurate names! Also, check to see if the recipients’ have already received the awards for which they are being considered. If there are any that would be duplicates, advise the Chamberlain or Crown so They can decide how to proceed.
Check to find out if there will be any other heads-of-state that will be holding court at the event as well. Reach out to the local contacts to determine the herald in charge of that court, and coordinate efforts – who will go first, who will cover which announcements, who will make the cries for court, how you will communicate mid-court, how they want to start ceremonies – with the award text first or calling up the recipient first – and so on.
Also, put out a Call for Business on your local Social Media outlets – Facebook, Mailing Lists, etc. for any non-Royal business that needs to be included. These will include presentations, announcements, or official items like Officer changeovers.
As you are collecting the various items of business, and collaborating with other heralds, it will be important to arrange these items into some semblance of order. In the College, we call this the Order of Business, or for short “the docket.”
When you receive a request to include on the docket, there are several things you should keep in mind:
- Find out exactly what each item entails. It is your job as court herald to help filter out inappropriate items. Some business does not need to be done in Court, and in an effort to save time or protect against possible embarrassing events, they should be omitted. It is ultimately up to the Crown on which to include, but as the court herald, you will need to collect and convey this information.
- Find out exactly who needs to be called up, and how they preferred to be addressed. This will help you in calling out the right titles, name pronunciations, and the like.
- If an announcement needs to be made, but the requester does not want to be called into court, you as the herald can make it in their stead. Find out the exact wording they wish to use, and ask them to limit it to under a few sentences. This should include: What, When, Where, and Who to contact for further information.
As you prepare the Order of Business, there are a few other things to keep in mind:
- The order of awards should roughly increase in precedence as court proceeds. Some non-armigerous awards and honors can be scattered throughout as needed and some, by tradition, are reserved for certain times in court. As a general rule, Peerage elevations go last, or in some cases first. For multiple Peerages, split them between first and last.
- All items of one type (announcements, awards, presentations, performances) should not appear in a single block. Interspersing these items will better keep the audience’s attention and engagement.
- Check to see if there are groups of people who need to be called up together. Calling up friends to receive the same awards together can make a special memory, or calling up spouses together, even if they are getting different recognitions, can save time instead of having them come up twice.
- Check to see if there are special sneaky ways to catch someone for an award (Catching the event steward after they make an announcement, surprising another court herald for that event who is getting recognized, etc). This method can often save the time needed for the same person to need to approach the thrones multiple times.
PRO TIP: If you are using an outline for your docket, make sure to add blank lines throughout to make it easier to add in last minute items. For digital dockets, Google Docs are your friend. It allows for easier collaboration with other heralds!
The Day Before
Make sure you have packed your needed supplies: ceremony book with the needed ceremonies, tabard, tankard/goblet, comfortable shoes, jug of water (as a court herald, be prepared to go through at least a half a gallon in court), pens, notecards, cough drops, tissues, etc.
Check back in with the Crown to see if They have any last minute changes.
Do a final Call for business on all Social Media outlets.
Make any last minute adjustments to the docket.
Check back in with any other heralds to confirm any changes.
PRO TIP: Practice reading any applicable ceremonies OUT LOUD. Repeat troublesome sections if you find yourself stumbling over the wording.
The Day of
Before you leave home print out your finalized docket, if it is not hand written. Bring at least two copies. Double and triple check you have your needed supplies.
When you first arrive, check in with the Crown and/or Chamberlain – let them know you have arrived and are available, where to find you, confirm the timing of the day (when to set up court, when court will begin, etc.), and the location of court. Also, confirm who will be responsible for handling the award scrolls and medallions.
PRO TIP: Do a vocal warm up before attempting to make any announcements or run through court. This will allow you to loosen your jaw, tongue, lips, and vocal cords and improve your enunciation and projection. You can do damage to your vocal cords if you push them too hard, too fast.
An hour or so before court, put on your tabard and make an announcement to the populace that you are now accepting business, and state the location where they can find you.
Fifteen minutes before the start of court, and with the Crown’s assent, make an announcement to the populace of the start time of court, a final call for business, and request they start to draw nigh. Finalize any last minute additions to the docket, verify these changes are acceptable to the Crown, and coordinate these changes with the other heralds. Check with the Chamberlain to verify the attendance of any populace members that you may not know yourself, and make sure you have any necessary scrolls or medallions. If the Court and Guard will be handling these, coordinate with them to make sure the scrolls are in the correct order.
Use the facilities! This may be your last chance to do so before the end of court (in some Kingdoms this can be several hours).
When the start of court is imminent, and with the Crown’s assent, make a final announcement for the populace to draw nigh for court and then take your place.
To begin court, make an announcement for the populace to rise. If processing in, announce the Crown and any applicable entourage. You may want to use some more flowery verbiage to herald the parties in. “Here comes before you, the Dolphin Throne, Their Majesties, N and N, Protectors of the Crescent Realm…” sounds better than a list of names. Have fun with it, but make sure what you say is appropriate for all ages groups and complimentary to the persons whom it describes. If you have questions on this, ask Their Majesties or other Senior Heralds for guidance.
Open the court. This is usually done with an announcement like: “Here begins the court of Their Majesties…” or “Pray now attend and heed this, the court of So-and-So, Crown of the Kingdom of…” or some other wording that conveys whose court has begun.
Follow the business outlined by your docket, quietly notifying the Crown as to the next item of business before beginning. This allows Them a last chance to decide if it should be skipped or moved, or if They want to add something. This also allows Them an extra moment to mentally prepare Themselves for what’s coming (review award recipient notes, stand for a presentation, or the like). Some Crowns may not want the reminder before each item. They may only want to ask periodically, or be notified of the next few items at a time. As Their herald, you will work out what works for the group.
PRO TIP: To keep the flow moving steadily, you should be announcing the next item of business as the parties involved in the previous one are exiting. You should wait until the cheers or other ambient noise has died down enough to be heard, but don’t wait for any party to completely exit before moving on. Too much of a wait will cause court to appear to drag.
For Announcements, call in the appropriate announcing contact. You can do this by either welcoming them into court (“Their Majesties welcome before Them, Lady So and so”) or stating they have business and having the Crown assent to their presence (“.The Kingdom Seneschal has business before this court”). If you as herald are reading the announcement, you can begin as soon as the noise has died down enough from the previous item of business to be heard. Make sure you read slowly and clearly. Once you have finished reading the announcement wait a beat and then move on to the next item.
For Presentations, call in the group that wishes to make a presentation. If they provide a card with the contents, make sure to read it out for the audience. If not, pay attention to what you observe (either when items are held out, or what you can see/hear during the presentation), and call out the items. Either way, you can get creative with how you announce said items – checks for the travel fund can become “fuel for the Royal caravans”, various largesse items can become “handcrafted sundries pulled from the bounties of the Barony”, or other such poetic terms. Have fun with it, but don’t get too obscure.
For Awards, some Crowns like to have the entire ceremony read and then have the recipient called forward. Others like to have the recipient called into court and then have the ceremony started, so that They can witness the recipient’s reaction up close. Both have their merits. Make sure to give each ceremony equal reverence. While you as a herald may officiate innumerable award ceremonies, each one is the only time that recipient will get it. Make it special for them. Once you are done reading the ceremony, or the scroll (not usually both), hand any applicable scrolls and medallions to the Crown to hand off to the recipient. The Court and Guard may have these instead, based on the arrangements made with the Chamberlain before court.
When extorting cheers from the populace, first check with the Crown to make sure They are done speaking, or even want cheers at that time. With Their assent, you will lead the cheers with a simple introductory phrase: “For the newest recipient of the …” / “For the generosity of the Kingdom…”/ etc., followed by HIP HIP, to which the crowd will follow with “Huzzah” (your Kingdom’s traditions on this may vary). The HIP HIPs are usually repeated thrice.
Who you have no items left on the docket, make a quick aside announcement to the Crown, and ask if They wish to add anything. If They have nothing to add, make an announcement to the populace, pause in case an outside party may have business – a good example is “There being no further items to promote the welfare of the Kingdom…” – and then segue into the closing comments.
After the closing comments have been made, it is your job to lead the litany. This is only done in the final court of the day. In Caid, the Litany descends in precedence for those in attendance on the dais (Long Live Their Majesties, Their Highnesses, Their Excellencies, etc), then ascends in precedence of the territories represented (Long Live [Barony], Long Live Caid). This is immediately followed by an extortion of cheers (the three Hip Hips).
At the very end of court, you must release the audience. For opening courts, this is done after closing comments. For closing courts, this is done after the litany. For phrasing, use some manner along the lines of “You have Their Majesties permission to depart.” At which point the audience knows court is officially over, and everyone can go about their business.
Return any non-presented promissory scrolls or medallions in your possession.
Take off your tabard and take a much needed break off of your feet! Enjoy the rest of your day, until it is time to do it all over again for closing court.
At the end of the day confirm with the other heralds involved which herald will be submitting which reports. Sometimes it makes more sense for one to submit the entire report, other times it makes more sense to have each cover the items they presented in court. Make sure that you have the complete information that you need for your report before you leave for the day.
The Days After
After the populace has been released to depart, and the campsites have been packed away, your job is not quite over. In the few days after the event, your remaining tasks include: submitting the court report and following up with the Crown or Chamberlain.
The Court report needs to be sent to the Principal Herald or Keeper of the Order of Precedence, so that this information can be recorded into the OP. This should include: the recipients’ names, the respective award names, any relevant notes (designators for artwork, martial form, etc), the event name and date, the participating heralds’ names, and any other items of import relating to the Order of Precedence of the College of Heralds purview (heraldic rank elevations, Head of State changeovers, Peerage offerings, Crown List winners, etc). Some Kingdoms have special report forms, while others have other methods. Check with your local Principal Herald if you are unaware of the reporting guidelines for your area.
Your final check in with the Crown / Chamberlaine should include a recap of the awards that were presented to their intended recipients in court, a recap of the awards that were not presented (usually the recipient was not present), and, if you want it, a request for any feed back on your performance. This is an excellent way to improve your performance for the next court.
The Next Steps
After the event is over, and the reporting is done, what is left to do is to review your performance to figure out where improvements can be made – do you need to be louder? enunciate more? slow down? work on transitions? work on communicating with the Crown? work on pronunciations? Great resources for this are Senior Heralds, bards, and individuals whose judgment you trust.
© 2021 Stephanie Rendt-Scott. All rights reserved. Limited publication rights may be granted upon written request to the author.