This is not a comprehensive lesson, but is meant to help you feel more comfortable in the presence of those we often refer to as Pointy Hats or Hats. These would be the people whose status in the SCA allows them to wear crowns or coronets, and include Barons and Baronesses, Viscounts and Vicountesses, Princes and Princesses, and Kings and Queens. Coronets and crowns usually have points of some type, so are easy to recognize.
The reverance is a bow or courtsy, and can be made as simple as you like. If you like, you can ask someone who has been in the SCA for a while to show you a way to make a reverance. You would make a reverance under the following circumstances:
- Someone with a crown or coronet is walking past or entering court.
- You are walking past someone with a crown or coronet.
- You are approaching someone with a crown or coronet.
- You are walking past the thrones or baronial seats, even if they are empty.
- You have been called up to court (we will get into details about entering court a little later).
DID THEY JUST CALL MY NAME?! EEP!!
If you have been called up to court, don't panic! Everyone has a first time, and if you watch, everyone does it differently. It is a good habit to get into approaching court the proper way. I cringe when I see someone who has been in the SCA for a while approach without the reverance. There is usually an aisle of sorts in front of the dignitaries holding court, with the audience sitting or standing along either side. If you are called up to the court, follow these simple steps, and don't worry at all if you don't get it perfect - few people do.
- Approach the center of the aisle.
- At the center, or about 10 - 15 feet before the dignitaries, make a reverance.
- Continue on to Their Highnesses, Their Majesties, or Their Excellencies, depending who's holding court, stop in front of the kneeling cushion and reverance them a second time.
This next section looks like a lot of things to remember, but it covers three different scenarios, so it isn't as bad as it first appears!
- If your presence in court is pre-planned by you because you need to make an announcement, there is no need to kneel. You will ask the dignitaries for permission to address the court, then step to the side and address the populace. Don't turn your back on your dignitaries!
- If you have been called up because you have won a competition, you will reverance the dignitaries, then face the person who called you up, usually the person running the competition. If they are calling up more than one person at a time, they may ask you to stand to the side for a moment.
- If this is a surprise to you, after you have reveranced in front of the cushion, you will kneel on it. If you are physically unable to kneel or to get back up again, you can quietly mention this to the dignitaries; they will understand and let you know that it's alright for you to stand.
- At this point (if this is a surprise to you), the dignitaries might take your hands, and you will kneel (or stand if you must) quietly while a scroll is being read out, or someone is otherwise speaking about why you are there.
- Once the scroll has been read, and/or you have been given your award or prize, you will stand (if kneeling), and reverance before you begin to leave the court.
- Take your first few steps backwards, so that you are facing the dignitaries until you are out of kicking range (remember what we said earlier about turning your back on the dignitaries?), then turn and begin to leave.
- You will reverance one last time, about 10 - 15 feet away from the dignitaries. Some people do their final reverance at the end of the aisle. Then you will return to your seat.
To simplify, both coming and going, your points of reverance are the center of the aisle, and in front of the kneeling cushion.
FORMS OF ADDRESS
Forms of address, regarding dignitaries:
Baron and Baroness - Their/Your Excellencies, His/Her Excellency
Tanist and ban-Banist (about to become Prince and Princess of a Principality) - Their/Your Excellencies, His/Her Excellency
Prince and Princess - Their/Your Highnesses, His/Her Highness
Viscount and Viscountess (have been a prince and princess) - Their/Your Excellencies, His/Her Excellency
Royal Prince and Princess (about to become King and Queen) - Their/Your Highnesses or Their/Your Royal Highnesses
Count and Countess (have been King and Queen once) - Their/Your Excellencies, Her/His Excellency
Duck and Duchess (have been King and Queen more than once) - Your/His/Her Grace
King and Queen - Their/Your Majesty, His/Her Majesty.
Some people, dignitaries and otherwise, prefer to be called by a title appropriate to the language of their culture. Alternate titles for such a purpose can be found at heraldry.sca.org/heraldry/titles.html
I hope this has helped. If you have any questions, please ask. There are many people in Cragmere quite able to help as well