Order in the Court!
Court Heraldry 104
For the first installment of this series, The Court Herald, please visit http://www.innofthetyger.com/courtheraldry101
For the second installment of this series, Arranging and Running Courts, please visit http://www.innofthetyger.com/courtheraldry102
For the third installment of this series, The Dais, please visit http://www.innofthetyger.com/courtheraldry103
The backbone of any court proceedings is called the Order of Business. When written out this is called, in short, the Docket. This document is an outline of every “thing” that needs to happen in court – from announcements, to ceremonies, to presentations, to performances, and everything in between – and allows all parties involved to know what to expect. This topic is discussed in some detail on the 102: Arranging and Running Courts article, and some of that information is repeated and expanded on here.
PROTIP: 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 find your own method.
In general, each court should have a unique docket outlining the business for that particular court. If there are multiple courts per day, or per event, each should have its own docket. Let’s take a closer look at what goes onto the docket, and in what order.
Court proceedings can be broken down into items of business, and every item of business that will occur in court can be categorized into one of five categories:
- Announcements – Court is the best time to reach a large group of people at the same time to convey information, as such there may be many announcements on the docket from varying sources. These should be succinct and hit the main points of interest including who to follow up with for more details. This should NOT be a paragraph or more of the full details of the topic, except in the instances of a Kingdom/Society Law change that needs to be read in court, but should rather be a couple of sentences with the key points and where to find more information if needed.
- Ceremonies – in general ceremonies are scripted or outlined acts, or series of acts, performed according to a traditional or prescribed form. These provide a standard course of action for regularly occurring events.
- Awards/Honors – Awards and Honors are a type of Ceremony meant to bring recognition to those who deserve it. These ceremonies convey the who, what, when, and why a person is being recognized. They can be non-armigerous or armigerous, but in order to be official and recorded in the Order of Precedence, they must be done “publicly” at a sanctioned society event, per Corpora mandate.
- Transfer/Creation of Power – Along with Awards and Honors, these items of business are a type of Ceremony, meant to emulate the traditional medieval pageantry of Coronations or official State business. This includes Investitures of officers or heads of state, or court and guard, and the Creation of Territories. This differs from Awards/Honors, as it is recognizing a transaction within the State rather than bestowing honors to the individual.
- Performances – Some courts will include performances, for varying reasons, ultimately for the enjoyment of the audience. These can be used as pre-court entertainment, or a reprieve in court business, or even to enhance an item of business or activity. In courts past, Caid has had Queen’s Art and Science Champion or Kingdom Bard competition performances throughout court. During the Regency, Caid also had some very heart warming performances meant to console the populace. While waiting for a delayed court to begin, there have been many instances of musical or bardic performances to keep the audience occupied.
- Presentations – This type of business is an exhibitory exchanging of gifts or largesse. Presentations will usually be made: among Heads of States, to the Heads of State from the Populace, or a general exhibition meant for the populace to enjoy (i.e. Presentation of scrolls done by the Scribes during the past reign). These are most enjoyable to the audience when there is a participatory element for them – even if it is only the herald narrating what is being presented.
- Staging items – Items of business that fall into this category are mostly “stage directions”, and would include Processionals, Officiating/Closing the court, Litanies, releasing the populace, and the like. These items are not always for public consumption, but rather to keep the herald(s) on track or segueing through items of business otherwise lacking a transition.
PROTIP: If there are an abundance of Presentation requests, and a dearth of time available for the general populace, consider suggesting a “Presentation Court” sometime after the main court has concluded. This type of court is limited to Presentations only, and will allow gentles to go about duties of the event and still allow a public venue for the sharing of gifts. A second/supplementary Docket would need to be made for this “separate” court.
Within these categories, items can have a hierarchy of importance, or precedent. For example, one could choose to do the order of Presentations from Territories based on the territorial OP standing – those that are newer go first and increasing in Precedence, or vice versa. This is not always the case, but is an option based on the preference of the Crown, or parties and heralds involved.
Once the business has been collected, how should it be organized?
PRO TIP: The Order of Business will need to be approve by the Heads of State involved, as it is THEIR court. It will aid in the organization to have a conversation with the Head of State before starting to arrange the docket to see if They have a preference to the order or if They wish to include/exclude any items that have been collected.
Every herald involved in court should be involved in creating the docket – it is best to have one lead herald, or two at most, arrange everything in one central repository. While not all heralds need to, or can be, privy to the full information, they should at least have access to a barebones or redacted version of the docket.
The easiest items that can be placed first will be the staging items.
Opening court will include:
- calling the court to order
- officiating the court
- opening statements
Closing court will include:
- the closing statements
- the litany (for closing court)
- the release (which all occur at the end).
These items will bookend every other piece of business.
There is no hard and fast rule to organizing business, but 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. The more variety, and the more audience engagement there is, the more the audience will pay attention. The same goes for which herald presents each piece of business. While it can be easier on the heralds to have blocks of business, it is more dynamic to bounce around.
This is not to say that multiple recipients for the same awards cannot be called in together. If there are a large number of recipients for a particular award, or a major dearth of available time for court, these individual ceremonies can be combined to recognized several at a time. It is recommended to to exceed 3-4 per instance. You can follow with 3-4 more immediately after finishing the ceremony for the first group by calling up the next group: “in like manner does the the Crown call before Them…”.
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 – or even certain courts. As a general rule, Peerage elevations go last, or first. For multiple Peerages, they should be split between first and last, or throughout court if there are more than 2.
Some tips to help planning:
- Check to see if the recipient is comfortable being called into court or otherwise publicly acknowledged. If they have anxiety, awards or honors can be done privately and then announced in court.
- As noted above, break large groups of recipients for the same award into smaller groups of 2-3. It may be tempting to call all of them in one large group, but that can detract from making it special for the recipient. With 2-3 in a block, it is easier for the Head of State to say special comment about each and give the recognition a personal touch. This does not apply to honors like Signums, or Court and Guard favors, or other times when a group needs to be recognized together as a whole.
- 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, as can calling up spouses together – even if they are getting different recognitions.
- Check to see if someone is being recognized by multiple Heads of State. Doing both awards back to back 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.
This will be expanded on in future installments, but some events will require a specific order of business, and others may have tradition thrown out the window by Royal Whim. As has been said before, and will be repeated again and again, the manner of court is at the Head of State’s prerogative and discretion. When in doubt, follow the Crown’s direction.
For a short example of a special case governed by tradition, the Royal Succession Events in Caid have set formats:
- Crown Tournament – Opening court will include the Invocation of the Lists, First Round Challenges, and the Presentation of Consorts. The final round is announced by Bellows, along with a herald for each final combatant. The Victors of the tournament are both presented with rosemary wreaths on the field, and are later presented with Coronets and other regalia of their new stations in closing court.
- Coronation Day – the first court is the “last court” of the Outgoing Crown (including usual business, granting Signums, releasing of the Court and Guard, and the Attendance of the Baronage), the middle court is the Coronation (which includes the Exchange of Power, the Fealties, the Investment of the Court and Guard, the Challenges, and the Presentation by the Golden Lances), and the last court of the day is the “first court” of the Incoming Crown (which will include Royal Patents, and any other business).
These events have some flexibility in terms of customization to fit personas, or new wording, or even some other minor adjustments, but ultimately all of the items of business are included as presented. It will help set the Docket to know these traditions ahead of time.
Ultimately, the goal of the Docket is organization. The more complex a court gets, the harder it can be to track all items of business without some sort of system. This is where the Docket shines. It is a visual timeline that all heralds can easily follow and execute. It is important to note that the docket itself can come in many different forms – some herald prefer an outline or spreadsheet, some prefer index cards or post it notes, some have other unique methods. No matter the preference, the system should allow for easy interpretation and execution for all parties, that can then be arranged to personal preference.
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!
Let’s take a look at some actual dockets used in Court in Caid.
Example One: a simple, single herald court docket. This example is redacted to remove recipient names, and as you can see it is a simple list of the items of business, each on their own line and sequentially in order, that anyone can follow. This outline can then be expanded for the acting herald’s preference (adding names, or inserting the ceremony text) as needed.
Example Two: a complex, multi-herald court. This court included Royals and sitting Baronage, including all past Baronage of this territory, on the dais. One herald (Trident) has their business marked with a Greek Psi, the other (Crescent) is marked with a crescent moon to help keep track of which herald was in charge of presenting each item. The heralds in this court also helped track which herald was presenting by using an indentation – all Royal business started at the edge, all baronial was indented by one tab space. This is a great example of diversifying business, both through the types of business, and also the herald presenting each item. Again, the recipients’ names were removed for publication.
PRO TIP: If you set your docket up right, it can be used to cut and paste award information into a Court Report for the OP. This will depend on the reporting guidelines for the Kingdom, but if the Docket includes the recipient’s award, name, and OP number these are easily transferred to most reporting forms.
The most important thing to remember about the Docket is that it should be organized, adaptable, and communicated in a manner that works best for those involved.
© 2021 Stephanie Rendt-Scott. All rights reserved. Limited publication rights may be granted upon written request to the author.