Field Heraldry

-Taran of Windy Hill
Being a short treatise on the Art and Science of Heraldry as practiced inthese Current Middle Ages upon the Field of Honor and the Fields of War,with some small digressions of the author's into the life of a herault.


It has long been known of the Armourial function of the heraults withinthis our Society for Creative Anachronism, and much has been written uponthat very function, both within this Society and in the more generalworlds of Heraldry. Far less knowledge and study has been given untothat branch of the Science known as Field Heraldry. Yet the original andhistoric function of the heraults is seen to have been one of closeconcern with the chivalric, knightly, and warlike combat. The heraultswere sent to proclaim Tournaments, they organized the great combats ofthe day, and they acted as ambassador and staff officers throughout thewars of the times. Due to the myriad of Tourneys, Quests and Wars which have so much abounded in our Worlde these days, it can only be to a herault's credit that he devote some of his time to this study, that he may become proficient in the forms and practices appertaining to this branch of the Science.

The study of Field Heraldry itself may be divided between those practicesappertaining to the single combat, those involved in making announcementsto the populace there assembled, those involving the Melee large orsmall, and Heraldry in War.

In the first, for instance, the herault must needs play a large part inthe whole of the matter, whereas in the last he must needs be silentuntil called for. In addition, the style and practice of heraldrynecessary to the List of Chivalry is found to differ from that needed forthe fencing list or brawl. Finally, it will be seen that the office of aherault upon the field, just as it derived from the minstrels of theearly days, remains closely tied with such, and much of that office islinked to the goals of an entertainer.

The first of these, the instance of the single combat, is the mostpervasive of the herault's duties on the field, and may in truth betermed the area in which every herault has a chance to gain note andrecognition for himself without regard to rank or experience. For Courtassignments are few, and generally given to the senior heraults, and thesubject of Armory is generally undertaken by the Pursuivants for eachBarony and Shire, singly or in conclave, and the exercise of those skillsand studies is of an entirely different nature.

The Tourney

In any Tourney there should without exception be one senior herault, most often the Titled Pursuivant for the sponsoring group, who shall work closely with the Master or Mistress of the Lists, and to whom shall fall the task of apportioning to the various heraults present which bouts and lists each shall oversee. Upon arrival at a Tourney, each herault must make him or herself known by name and rank to this herault in charge, and should also make known any preferences concerning time, bout or type of duty prior to donning the tabard, for once this is done, the herault must as far as possible be wholly impartial and indeed have no preferences or opinions.

The matter of the apportioning of bouts and the calling of the fighters to the field shall be made the province of whosoever has charge of the Lists for the Tourney, but the herault in charge must needs keep a close eye on these matters, as it at times does happen that the worthy in charge of the Lists will have felt them to be the province of said herault, or may even be inexperienced in the office, and hence not cognizant of such matters at all. At the very least, this senior herault will likely need a loud-voiced lackey whose purpose shall be to call upon fighters to make themselves ready, and to make known whence said fighters are to proceed. It is oft a good idea to make known prior to the commencement of the Tourney the manner in which these and other matters of note to the combatants shall be made known, that said combatants will have cause to expect such announcements. A further item which the herault in charge and his list heraults must attempt to secure is the presence of sufficient numbers of list runners to carry from the list master or mistress to the list herault the information of who in next to vie in the lists, and to carry from the herault to the list minister the outcome of each bout.

These and all further matters pertaining to the opening of said Tourney having been settled to the satisfaction of the Tourney officialdom, by leave of the presiding noble lord or lady, the Tourney may commence. A herault may then, proceeding to the center of the lists field, raise the cry of "Oyez, oyez," and cry open the Tourney, saying, or words to the like: "My Lords and Ladies, now by leave of __________, may this __________ Tourney in __________ be declared open." Thereupon, the herault, or that herault assigned to that list field shall decry the combatants to the list fields, that the day's combat may begin.

The Single Combat

The Lists of Chivalry
Now commences that part of Heraldry upon the field which every herault regardless of rank must put into effect. The lines heretofore set down have been as introduction, and of note only to those upon whom the duties of herault in charge should chance to fall.

Let all who might have occasion to essay Field Heraldry, however, pay heed to these passages subsequent.

The herault in attendance upon the particular list shall ensure that notonly the combatants are present upon the field, but that a warrantedmarshal shall have been assigned, together with any deputies, to thatfield, and that he has full knowledge of his office, and of his part inthe commencement of each combat. For though the herault may employhimself during each combat as an additional marshal, and though eachherault should be fully cognizant of the workings and dictates of themarshallate, even unto being a warranted marshal, there must be adistinction and a deliniation between the herault and the marshal,especially as to their respective duties upon the field. For even thoughthe marshal may be subject to the kingdom and to his King, he ultimatelyis a representative of the Marshallate of the Society as a whole, whereasthe herault is the direct representative of his King and his Baron,speaking in their name to the populace there assembled.

When all matters pertaining to the commencement of the individual combathave been resolved, the herault shall station himself in the center ofthe list opposite the marshal and separating the combatants, and raisinghis voice to the crowd shall say, or words to this like: "Oyez, oyez, myLords and Ladies. Comes now onto this field of Honour __________ (andhere he shall name the name of the challenger, if such there be, andperhaps the armourial bearings if they be known) to challenge __________(and here he shall name the challenged and again perhaps any knownarmourial bearings) for cause that ______________ (and here the heraultshall name such cause for the combat as may have been agreed uponbeforehand)." If there be no cause for the combat but Honour and thevagaries of the lists, then the herault may use such phrases as he maydeem appropriate, even such as "...that they both may vie honourably forthe prize this day."

If there is no challenger or challenged, then the herault in mostinstances must needs name first that gentle who holds the higherprecedence.

One manner very period of making known the challenger, challenged, andcause of combat in the case of such existing which might perchance beadopted by some heraults is that of first ascertaining privily thechallenging party, and then demanding of each in turn, starting with thechallenger, who he is and why he cometh so armed and belligerent onto theField of Honor. This same may be very impressive if done well, butshould only be attempted when the press of the Lists does not dictate amodicum of speed in accommodating all the combats scheduled. Thenames and armourial bearings of both combatants having been made known,as well as the cause of combat, the herault should ascertain that thecombatants are ready to begin. They both of them being prepared, theherault shall cry the Honor of the Combatants to the Crown if it ispresent (or to the Crown's representative if the Crown be not present),to the assembled multitude, to those persons who most inspire thecombatants to Honor, and, lastly, of each combatant the other. In mostcases the herault shall then defer to the marshal, saying such as,"Marshall," or "My Lord Marshall, do thine office," and so saying, heshall stand aside and prepare for the opening of combat.

Should it be desired that the herault complete all in the closing ofcombat, the herault shall continue, saying to the combatants, "My lords,bear ye any steel for to do offense?" At this, the herault should receivethe assurances of both combatants that such is not the case. Finally,upon receiving such assurance, and with such suitable phrases as theherault may deem, he shall call the combatants to "Lay on!", and shallremove to a small distance, leaving the field to those most interested.During the course of the combat, be it long or short, the herault shallhave as his sole function the protection of persons assembled, in and outof the lists. He shall only cry hold if he perceives of danger which themarshals have not noticed, and he shall neither give advice nor submit anopinion unless specifically asked, and then only after some meaningfulgesture such as the covering of the herault's trumpets on his tabard orbaldric, which would serve to signify that the opinion or advice is thesubmission of the herault alone, and in nowise should be construed ascoming in any official manner in connection with the office of Herault.For in this as in everything, the herault must while performing hisoffice be accounted unbiased and impartial no matter the circumstances,speaking with the voice of and solely for the Crown.

Upon the conclusion of the combat, and the Victor if such there be havingbeen agreed on by the combatants and the marshals, the herault shallraise his voice once again to the galleries and cry the name of theVictor and if he so wishes the manner of the victory in whatever shortphrases the herault may deem appropriate. He shall then convey, eitherin person or by messenger if there be such, the results of the combatunto that worthy who keepeth the list records, and immediately thereaftershall decry the next combatants to the list field, so as to eliminate tothe greatest extent the delays and boring intervals which may so mar anotherwise brave and glorious event.

The Tournament of Fence

The practices of the herault upon the fields of a tournament of fencewill be found to differ from those aforementioned for the Lists ofChivalry. For on the one hand, the use of armorial bearings to delineatethe person had declined much by this period in history, and thereforeshall the herault not be calling the shields of the combatants. Anotherpoint shall be that the Marshals of Fence jealously guard their powersand prerogatives, and this is much as it should be, for the marshalswithin the list boundaries carry a much graver responsibility and part inthe conduct of the combat and the decision of its outcome than do theircolleagues upon the Lists of Chivalry. Though the combatants eachthemselves still bear the primary honour of deciding when and where eachis hit, yet does the marshal become frequently drawn in to rule as towhat he witnessed.

Thus it may come to pass, as it has recently, that the herault may bestserve his list by remaining without the list, at its entrance, and cryingfrom there the challengers onto the field and the victors off. However,should the herault be called to perform his duty upon the field, thenthere are some similarities to the combats upon the field of chivalry.The herault shall start by crying in a loud voice " __________ and__________," (and here he shall call the names of the two belligerents)"enter ye armed onto this field." After thus crying the names of the twoimmediate combatants, the herault should then warn the two following bysaying, or words to the like, " __________ and __________," (and here heshall call the names of the next two belligerents) "arm ye and makeready."

When the two combatants are upon the field, the herault may at times becalled upon to issue challenge by one to the other and return challengefrom the other to the one. This the herault should do in a loud voicethat the witnesses to the duel shall share in the game of it, and marvelat the daring, audacity, and wit of the gallants upon the field. When heshall have accomplished this, the herault shall then cause the two toraise their rapiers in salute to the Crown, to the crowd, to theirinspirations, and to each other. Then, desiring the duelists to pay heedto the marshal, the herault shall retire to the edge of the field or evenbeyond, for he must leave the combat to those interested, and to thosewarranted by the Marshall of Fence to adjudge it. When the combat hasbeen ended, the herault shall then move to the center, cry out who shallhave been victorious, and then begin again with the next challenge.

These, then, are the manners and procedures which should be followed forsingle combats upon the list field. Yet within most Tourneys are heldsmall melees of numbers ranging from two combatants on each side on up,though engagements of more than fifteen fighting men in an army are rarein Tourney.

The procedure to be followed by the herault for these engagements differssomewhat from those earlier described for the single combat.

The Melee

The procedures concerned up to the start of the combat are even the samefor the melee as for appertain for the single combat, even unto thecalling of the combatants to the field, though in this instance, theherault must perforce be unable to call forth by name. He shall insteadcry the style of combat, be it Holding the Field, Melee teams of aspecified size, or simply Last Man Left Alive, and he shall exhort allpersons desiring this glory to arm and attend upon the field.

When all involved in the specified combat have assembled upon the listfield, the herault shall advance again to the center of the field, andsaying such as "Oyez, oyez," or "Gentles attend," he shall cry the causeand manner of the combat, reciting such rules and conventions as shallhave been previously agreed upon by the marshals and the listauthorities. These may range from a simple challenge by one trainedgroup against another on up through time limits, resurrections, andrestrictions on the calling of holds. All these shall the herault cry,raising his voice not only to the assembled combatants, but also to theLords and Ladies observing, so that all may understand what is to pass.Having fulfilled this task, then unless it has been agreed upon that heshall perform the office of the marshal in closing the combat, theherault hereupon retires to the edge of the list field, crying "Marshal,do thine office."

In like manner to the single combat, it may be agreed upon betweenherault and marshal in the Lists of Chivalry that the former is tocomplete all matters pertaining to the closing of combat. If such bedesired and agreed upon, instead of retiring to the edge of the listfield, the herault shall continue, asking of the combatants if they beready to begin. Upon the affirmation of this, the herault shall in likemanner to the single combat ask and receive of the fighters theirassurances that they none of them bears any steel for to do offense.Then shall he call upon them to salute their opponents, and thecombatants having done this, the herault shall command them for thehonour of the Crown and the favour of their Ladies to "Lay on!", andshall move from the area of the combat as speedily as he may. Upon thefield of Fence, as has been said, the herault perforce must have themarshal give the combatants the office to start.

Even more so than during the single combat, in the melee the herault mustundertake the duty of a secondary marshal. It more often than nothappens that there are far more willing fighters than there are competentmarshals in the Grand Melees, and the herault must keep his eyes open todangerous situations, and his staff close about him for protecting andsignalling downed fighters or perhaps for keeping distant the over-zealous or combat-crazed warrior. To this end, it is as before statedparticularly appropriate if the herault is thoroughly familiar with themarshal's office. The herault must at all times remember that he wearsno armour upon his body nor helm upon his head. True it is that a deadherault is of no use to anyone.

As in the single combat, and indeed any Tourney activity, the finalaspect of the herault's duty for the melee is to cry the name or names ofthe victors. In the case of a team combat, as soon as the herault hasascertained the true victors from the marshals and the combatantsthemselves, he shall cry the names and affiliations as appropriate in aloud voice and, as before, shall immediately thereafter prepare for thenext combat.

Closing the Tourney

When all combats scheduled for the day have been completed, or perchancewhen approaching nightfall compels a cessation of the fighting, theherault shall move to the center of the list fields and as he cried openthe Tourney, so shall he cry the Tourney at an end, saying, or words likeunto these, "My Lords and Ladies, by grace of __________ and theAutocrats, I am commanded to call this __________ Tourney in __________herewith at an end." Thereafter the herault shall add any suchannouncements as the Autocrats may require in directing the assembledgentles to the site appointed for the revel or whatsoever is to follow.In this way shall each Tourney be opened and draw satisfactorily to aclose.

Some Variations

The Grand Salute

When it may seem to the herault in charge of the day that the press ofcombats at tourney are many and his heraults few, there is a way provenfor the salutes to Crown and crowd and lady love to be accomplished atthe start of the day. This way, moreover has the weight of history or atleast of romance behind it. This way is the grand salute.

True it is that the aforesaid salutes take up much of the heraults timein any list field, and a poor or inexperienced herault may make alluninteresting with his monotonous cries to "Salute the Crown", and"Salute the Crowd", and "Salute the one who inspires you." Then shouldthe herault in charge think himself of panoply and grand display. To dothis, he should call all the entrants in the Lists of Chivalry, all thegallant courtiers in the Tournament of Fence, all the heraults in theirtabards, and such marshals as he can find, and all in their panoply ofwar, and all onto the list field at once. Then shall this herault standtall and strong before them in his best tabard and cry the Tourney openin his strongest voice, saying, or words to this effect: "My lords andladies upon the fields of Honour, pay all Honour to the Crown of theEast" (and he shall indicate the direction of the Crown if it be notobvious). Then, upon such homage being given, the herault shall say suchas "Pay homage to those who witness these feats of Honour" (and theherault shall indicate the crowd there assembled). When this has beendone, the herault shall give speech like: "Pay all Honour to the one whoinspires you this day." Finally, after each has saluted his or her owninspiration, the herault shall cry open the Tourney with phrases asmentioned before, such as "Now by direction of _______________ do Ideclare open this Tourney of _____________ in the fair ________________on this ____ day of _________ in the year of our Society ______.Commencez vous." It must be remembered by the herault in charge thatere he or she embark on this course that the herault must acquaintgentles beforehand of this Grand Salute. The heraults upon the fieldmust know so as to call only for salutes between the combatants, thefighters and fencers must know to expect the panoply, so as to early armfor the display, and the Master or Mistress of the Lists must need knowso as to have the time scheduled. Finally, the Crown, if it is present,or the Baron or Baroness if there is such, must know so as to be there toreceive the homage of the parties upon the list fields. Still, thoughthe event may take a deal of extra work on the part of the herault, forpanoply and display there is little to equal the Grand Salute, and as apractical matter, the procedure may save time and effort, especially forthe heraults.

Shield Display

One method that has been tried successfully in several Baronies as amethod of calling combatants to the Lists of Chivalry is one in which asmall shield bearing the heraldic device of a combatant is utilized tocall him or her to the field. These shields, or else a blank shieldbearing the name of the fighter if he has no armoury, are placed on apole at the entrance to the list in such a way as to signify to thefighters themselves and the gentles assembled as well the combatantswithin the list and also those who will be next to challenge.

The particular method which we have used with great success in my fairbarony involves a long pole on a sturdy base with a short cross piece atthe top. There is space for one shield on each side of the cross pieceand four more shields may hang upon the pole. As these shield displayswere used in the style of tourney known in the cant of these times as the"bear-pit", we found these poles singularly effective. Each fighterplaced his or her shield at the base of the pole, surrendering it intothe care of the gentle in charge of that list. Each gentle was assistedby a field herault for that list. The shield upon the dexter side of thecross bar of the pole signified him or her who held that field, and thatupon the sinister the current challenger.

As each combat finished, the herault, to supplement the display, wouldcry out the name of the victor, the gentle in charge of the field wouldrecord the victory, the shield of the vanquished would be taken down,that of the victor would be placed in dexter, and the highest shield uponthe center pole would be placed to sinister. The herault would then callfor the new challenger to arm himself and enter the lists, and theshields below would each be moved upward toward the top. The vanquishedwould take his or her shield and place it in the keeping of the listmaster or mistress of his choice.

It can easily be seen that this system has numerous advantages. First ofall, it shortens to a minimum the time spent between combats, as eachfighter will readily know when it will be his turn to adventure himselfin the lists. Also, the degree of voice necessary in the herault of thefield is lessened, as that herault need only supplement the list poledisplay, and only to the general vicinity of his own list. Then too,each herault may, if he so desire, gain practice in the crying ofarmourial bearings, since he will have the display at hand and also, ifhis pursuivant be astute, a roll of blazons to match the shields close athand. Yet another advantage is that each entrant upon the Lists ofChivalry may choose the degree of fighting he or she shall attempt, as acombatant has only to remove his shield from the list poles to gain amuch needed rest. And finally, from the view of an advocate of heraldicdisplay, such a panoply of arms and armoury can only add to theatmosphere of chivalric combat, and perchance inspire in a breast or twothe desire to have its owner's armoury as well displayed.

Truly, when this method of heraldic display is combined with the GrandSalute heretofore mentioned, it can only be to the advantage of theheraults, the combatants, and the populace as a whole. Time will besaved by the elimination of the individual salutes, and such time may bespent in combat. The voices of the heraults will be spared to a muchgreater degree, and thus they may more fully enjoy the day and be greaterinspired to their heraldic duty. The populace shall be more please towatch the greater glory of the larger number of combats, and may bespared the monotony of a new and untried herault to the greatest degree.And the world at large shall be the greater impressed with the sense ofthe Age of Chivalry when confronted by the colorful display of itsArmoury.

A Herault for Each

Throughout the early history of the heraults, they have been closelylinked with minstrels, whether as colleagues or as rivals. Both seem tohave led much the same wandering life, with many a lord or knight havingone or more attached to his train. A number of royal accounts listpayments to the heraults of the train and payments to the minstrels inthe same categories. In fact, some thirteenth century Kings of Heralds(a more ancient version of the title King of Arms) are found in theaccount rolls of the times as receiving largess and being described asKings of Minstrels.

The medieval heralds would accompany their lords to each joust. One suchlord, Guillaume de Dole, is described as being accompanied by two hundredsuch. These heralds proclaimed the names of each entrant into the listsas he entered, including with each pronouncements laudatory comments.During each combat the heralds would cheer the combatants on and talkamong themselves of the combatants' merits. They were expected to knowthe characters and histories of the jousters, and would walk among theladies, answering their questions about each fighter. And after thecombat, each herault of the winning lord would of course feel it hisparticular duty to extol the bravery, chivalry, skill, and merit whichbrought his lord victory that day.

To this end a combat might be scheduled wherein each entrant to the listmight have his own herault to precede him. The heraults would enter ontothe list field from opposite ends, crying each the name of his bravecombatant, and telling the assembled multitude of the great number of hislord's victories past and present, of his great skill with weapons, ofhis chivalry, of his armour, and of the rightness of his cause. Ere theentrance of the principals into the list, each herault could harangue thepopulace and perhaps the other herald. Done well, this verbal contestcould take the form of a debate or argument in which each herault triesto convince the multitude of the worth of his own lord and of thespeciousness of the other herault's arguments.

Upon the closing of the combat, each herault would retire to a corner ofthe field and proceed to cheer on his own lord as much as possible. Whenthe combat was completed, the herault for the victorious lord would againextol the virtues of his lord, and might even make a show of demanding ofthe other herault pledges to ransom the armour of the vanquished, sucharmour to be held for ransom, as was done in historic times.

This variant on the closing of the single combat is of course not to beconsidered for every bout. It would take far too much of the oft scarcetime available in the lists, and moreover would consume too much of thescarce resource of well-practiced field heraults. Therefore should thismethod be considered for the opening combat of a tourney, or perhaps forthe combat to determine the final winner in that type termed the Single-Elimination. Perhaps also it could be made a part of a particularchallenge fought in an interim between the more normal parts of astandard tourney. However and whenever it were done, though, it isincumbent on all participants to know what it is the wish to do, so as tocreate the greatest panoply and display possible.

Crying the Field

When it shall become necessary that the heraults relay announcements tothe populace at large, the most normal way at a tourney is to have theherault in charge or some other loud voiced minion repair to the centerof the lists field and raise the cry of "Oyez, oyez" to command silenceand heed to the subsequent announcements. This course may not be to thebest of advantages in certain situations. If the list field area islarge, or the available heraults not up to the task through fatigue orother inability, or if there are frequent announcements which need to bemade, the herault in charge may desire not to suspend the events of theTourney to make his proclamations.

If this be the case, another method exists, less disruptive than theformer, for conveying information. This is to send a perhaps moregentler voiced herault around to the various areas of the Tourney fieldto make the same announcement five or six (or more) times, each time froma different place. Known as "Crying the Field", this method has severaladvantages over the traditional. The first, as mentioned, is that it isless disruptive of the activities of the tourney, since only thosepersons in the near vicinity to the herault need pay attention to thepronouncements. Secondly, the announcements are reinforced in the mindsof the populace since they perforce will hear each more than once.Thirdly, the procedure does not require a herault like unto the godStentor, the which heraults are few and far between. Finally, in a verylarge tourney site, it is the only way to insure that the populacebecomes informed as to events. At the Pennsic War, all announcements aremade by heraults "crying the field."

The Fields of War

In such a way shall the office of the herault be undertaken during thecourse of a day's Tourney. There remains, however, one aspect ofHeraldry upon the Field of Battle which, though least often undertakenshould nevertheless be discussed and perchance be more often performed,as it is perhaps the oldest and most period of the heraults' time-honoured duties. This is Heraldry as practiced upon the Fields of War.

During the time 1300 to 1480 AD which is the period of Heraldry in theSociety for Creative Anachronism, the great battles as well as thetournaments of Europe were conducted through the use of heraults asintermediaries. Indeed, the heraults of these times were considered asstaff officers of the military structure. One has only to consider how,in England, the hereditary Earl Marshal is the nominal head of theCollege of Arms, and to understand that in early medieval times theMarshal, along with the Lord High Constable, was the principal militaryofficer to realize to what extent the Kings of Arms, Pursuivants, andother heraults were military officers. Part of the function of thesestaff officers was to maintain the knowledge of the organization andstrength of each friendly or enemy force. Since much could be gleaned bya knowledge of the commanders of the various forces, and more especiallysince each Prince, Earl, Knight, Banneret, etc. was liable for a knownnumber of followers upon the field, a document which set down the namesand titles of the commander could have considerable use in ascertainingthe disposition of a leader's force and that of his enemy. It was tothis end that the great Rolls of Arms were initially created, and it wasdue to the need for persons knowledgeable in the new Science of Armourythat the medieval heraults, attendant upon the Kings and Princes upon thefield of battle acquired this responsibility for Armoury which theyretain today.

The heraults also carried messages between warring leaders, acting as theambassadors between the armies. During the battles, the heraults of eachopposing force would often observe the contest from a small distance,marking where each noble fell, recording any acts of cowerdice, and uponthe conclusion of each battle, numbering and identifying the slain andcaptured. When the slaughter had finally ceased, these heraults wouldset fair ransoms for all noble captives, and award the battle to thevictor. History and Shakespeare record that during the Battle ofAgincourt in the Year of Our Lord 1415 the French and Engish heraultsstood together, observing the progress of the battle from the arms onshields, surcotes, and banners, and keeping tally of the nobles, knights,and squires who were killed. After the battle, the Engish King Henry,fifth of that name, summoned before him the principal French herault, oneMontjoye King at Arms, and asked him to whom the battle belonged.Montjoye replied that the field belonged to the English and not to theFrench. Henry then learned from Montjoye the name of a neighboringcastle, and following the custom of the times named the battle Agincourt.

Much of this manner of Heraldry in War can be re-created, and thoughseldom done within this our Society, the next passages will deal with theheraults' parts should such re-creation ever come to pass.

In these sometimes sadly modern times of farspeakers, easy conveyance,and occasionally working postal services, the terms of War are invariableagreed upon beforehand. The herault, however, will occasionally findhimself called upon to carry messages and greetings between rival Lordsand Kings, either prior to the commencement of battle, or perhaps duringa temporary cessation such as might be called to tend the wounded and tocarry away the slain. Should a herault be given such a task, the item heshould most remember is that he speaks with his lord's voice and not withhis own. If the Lord is arrogant, so too should be the herault, and ifthe Lord is polite, then politeness is in order. Insults are rarely, ifever, offered through ambassadors, especially within this our Society,but should the Lord desire to send insults, then insults the herault mustdeliver. Common sense, however, dictates that the herault do all withinhis power to make clear that such insults are worded exactly as given tothe herault; he saying, for instance, "The Lord __________ charges me tosay unto you these words...". Presuming that the herault manages tosurvive any wrath engendered by the reception of his message, he may thenbe asked to carry a return message. Again, the herault should actthroughout these exchanges as if he were but an instrument ofcommunication between the two parties, and were no man of his own, savingonly that he look to his own skin to some degree as necessary with anagile limb.

This communication office of a herault may extend away from the Fields ofWar, and carry into the realm of the Tourney. It is certainly much inperiod, and lacks not in dignity and style to have one's well-consideredand well-devised challenge carried across the Field of Honour anddelivered will all the clear-voiced fire which a proper herault canmuster.

Beyond the ambassador's function, the herault must be content in War totake no part but that of waiting off the edge of the battleground untilcalled for. This was the historic office of the herault in war, and somust it be for the heraults of today. There are far too many weapons inthe hands of far too many perhaps combat-crazed warriors, and it is onlytoo easy for the herault to find himself caught perhaps by a flankingmovement or perchance being trapped between advancing armies and becomingseriously injured. Certainly during medieval times the heraults were notfound in the thick of battle, but instead gathered together from botharmies to observe, discuss, and record each battle from a position apart,remaining impartial and uninvolved with the slaughter.

Some Notes on Style

Before drawing to a close, it is perhaps useful to make some smallcomments on style and manners in field heraldry in general, whetherengaged upon the list field, crying the field, or any of the myriadduties that cause the herault to raise his voice in the King's name.

It may be said that the only capital crime that a herault may commit isthat of inducing boredom. The herault is perhaps the most visible personupon the field; he is certainly the most audible. As such the heraulthas a particular duty to maintain to the best of his ability theatmosphere of chivalric combat. The use of such phrases as "Listen up"and "On Deck" in the stead of "Oyez, oyez" and "Arm and Make Ready" canonly detract from that atmosphere which is the goal of every event withinthis our Society, and will immediately transmogrify the user from a fieldherault in an armourial tabard to a modern day announcer in a strangegarment. Therefore, whenever possible the herault should thinkbeforehand about what he must say, varying it in content so as to keep,as far as possible, repetitive announcements from becoming boring, andattempting always to reinforce, by his voice, words, and actions theatmosphere medieval that is so desired.

It also behooves the herault, whether on field or in hall, in tourney orin War, to be the foremost in manners. True it is that when the heraultspeaks the populace must listen, for the herault speaks with the voice ofthe Crown, but this does not mean that the Crown's voice should be raisedunnecessarily. Nor does speaking with the voice of the Crown give onelicense to insult, sneer, or cause discomfort to those who must listen.The cry of "Oyez, oyez" must not be raised without cause, and never inscorn. In many ways, the herault, representing the Crown as he does,must be the model of chivalry, courtesie, and honour.

To this end, the herault should not make it a point of pride to reachfrom one end of the field to the other with his voice when by doing so hewill disconcert and anger those near him. It were better by far to makethe announcement twice than to cause those near to be deafened and thosefar to miss some important part or whole.

It is also true by tradition within this our Society that the pun, andmore particularly the pun heraldic has been made the particularperogative of the herault. This does not mean, however, that the heraultmust make every word a pun, nor does it mean that he should make his punsto harm. The herault must instead use his humour as he does his otherassets of voice and manner, and that is to hold the interest of the crowdfor whom he is performing. Humour will pall as easily as will an oftrepeated phrase, and the herault upon the field, as in addition to as hisostensible duties, acts in much the fashion of a modern master ofceremonies who must keep his audience entertained while the moreimportant performers make ready.

Thus style, manners, and heraldic ability all become extremely importantto the herault upon the field. Good judgement of what to say and when tosay it are necessary, and a prospective field herault must give somestudy to the performing arts, to the dictates of chivalry and honour, andto the bounds of good taste. When he learns of these matters, the fieldherault will be the better, and will therefore be the more appreciated bythose who perforce must attend to him.

In Conclusion

These, then, are the functions of a herault upon the Field of Honour. Itshould be stressed that at all times the herault should strive for theproper division between his own office and the office of the marshal. Insome instances, and at some times, the herault may be requested andrequired to act as a marshal, but even in these circumstances the heraultshould keep divided in his own mind the two offices, as they are designedto be separate, and so must remain. The herault must also remark himselfupon the historic functions of the heraults. He must be some partambassador, some part military officer, and some part minstrel.

Above all else, though, the herault must never lose sight of the factthat ultimately he is his own man. He was not forced by circumstance ofbirth or social class to become herault, and as herault he is in fief tono man. He owes responsibility to the College of Arms, to his King, andto his Baron, and he should listen with respect to the requests andsuggestions of those he serves. But the herault is both serious studentand entertainer, and as such must be allowed to exercise a modicum ofindividualism while performing his office, lest the office and indeedthis our Society cease to lend enjoyment to the herault's life, andperchance these Current Middle Ages lose another promising enthusiast tothe realms of the modern. In order that he develop his own styles ofheraldic presence upon the field, the herault should look on thistreatise and works like unto it as well as the suggestions of hissuperiors and fellow heraults but as guidelines; to be studied withweight, considered in the light of their source, but not accepted withabsolute obedience. In this way the herault may grow to a degree ofexcellence in the Science and Art of Field Heraldry which is pleasing tohis superiors, to his peers, and most importantly to himself.


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Created Dec 8 1994 by Aaron Rice (
a Timpview High School student
in partnership with the
David O. McKay School of Education
Brigham Young University