The SCA Census of 2010 showed a few trends among the SCA populace. One indication was that there was significant support for peerage level recognition of rapier fighters (“65% for a Fencing peerage option”). Other weapons forms also held levels of support, but not as great as for the rapier community. (equestrian-56%, target and combat archery-54%) [ Census Summary of Results ]
The question of how to recognize non-rattan fighters was far less clear. Many thought that they should be recognized by the existing peerage orders, chiefly the Order of Chivalry. Others preferred the creation of a new order for rapier fighters. Others still believed that the additional peerage should recognize all non-rattan SCA martial arts.
The Census also indicated support for another hot-button topic, same-sex consorts in royal lists (AKA “Inspirational Equality”). The Board of Directors of the SCA chose to focus on that topic first, which was completed with a change in Corpora in December 2012. Because of the intense activity on the other question, the additional peerage question was delayed until 2012.
Additional Peerage Exploratory Committee
First, the Board of Directors sent out a call for resumes to fill a commission to explore the question of adding another peerage order. This Additional Peerage Exploratory Committee (“APEC”) consisted of representatives of all kingdoms and all stations as well as heralds and fighters. The committee was chosen by November 2012.
The APEC met, discussed and presented a report to the BoD in July 2013.
At the July 2013 Board Meeting, the Additional Peerage Exploratory Committee (“APEC”) proposed that the Board of Directors create a new Patent-bearing Peerage Order parallel to the Orders of the Chivalry, the Laurel and the Pelican. This Rapier Peerage would be for the related martial arts of rapier and all forms of cut & thrust in the SCA. [announcement by BoD dated 8/22/2013]
Following this announcement, the APEC’s report was considered by a second Review Committee, nominated by the Board of Directors. This committee was charged with working on the changes to Corpora necessary to create a new peerage order.
Public Commentary and First Board Vote
In an announcement dated 11/12/2014, the Board of Directors called for commentary on wording on creation of an additional peerage order for rapier and cut and thrust combat. This award would be known as “The Order of Defense”.
It seems that the commentary on this wording surprised the Board of Directors. Though the 11/2014 call for commentary was specifically for the wording of the new changes to Corpora, a sizable minority within the SCA sent in comments questioning the wisdom of the change entirely. In the two years the proposal was worked on, the groups supporting inclusion of rapier within the Order of Chivalry, or supporting a new, “omnibus” peerage for all non-rattan weapons forms, had become very vocal on Facebook. In fact, many knights of the Order of Chivalry spoke up in favor of inclusion of rapier knights, though the whole Order remained split. Debate raged through the winter of 2014-2015, and dozens of counter-proposals were offered.
Representative of the population, the Board of Directors also seems to have been split evenly among the three competing ideas. At the Board of Directors meeting of January 17, 2015, the BoD voted not in favor of the creation of the new order of peerage (the vote was 3 “yay” and 4 “nay”).
Quickly, the Society Seneschal explained the vote:
- the Board received commentary from less than 2% of the membership over the entire 3 years and all requests for comments on the rapier peerage issue. Many people wrote in more than once, but repeating an opinion doesn’t count as a separate opinion. However, it was not the lack of commentary that influenced some Board members to vote against the proposal; it was the fact that the small amount of commentary the Board did receive trended against a separate rapier peerage. The majority of comments received in favor of recognizing rapier with a peerage said that rapier should either be included in the Order of the Chivalry or in a new peerage that included all non-rattan combat. The result of such a relatively small number of people commenting is that the opinions the Board did receive were given greater weight – if a larger number of those who supported the separate rapier peerage had commented, a different result might very well have resulted. [announcement dated 1/19/2015]
At the same meeting, the BoD did vote for some related Corpora changes, removing the description of rapier as an “ancillary activity” and clarifying that combat for royal lists would be for rattan fighting only. Many interpreted these changes as a method to open the Chivalry to inclusion of rapier combat. Some crowns actively stated their intention to recommend the candidacy of one or more rapier fighters for knighthood, to test the question. Other Crowns scheduled meetings with the Chivalry of their kingdoms to discuss how to move forward. Many conversations sprung up calling for immediate recommendations for rapier knightings. The Board of Directors was forced to clarify their position:
- the Board did not open the Order of the Chivalry to inclusion of rapier fighters. There is a 1999 policy interpretation from the Society Seneschal (upheld by the Board at that time) specifically stating that the Order of the Chivalry is intended for rattan combatants only. It would take a new policy interpretation (which would need to be upheld by the current Board) or other Board action to change that fact. The Board’s intention in removing the “ancillary activity” language had nothing to do with making rapier knights. The Board removed the “ancillary activity” language because it was simply no longer accurate or true. [announcement dated 1/19/2015]
The Board of Directors again welcomed comments from the populace prior to an emergency session set for February 2, 2015. They received a larger body of commentary. While the commentary was similarly split it seemed to help the Board of Directors to reach a conclusion. At the emergency session, the Board of Directors voted in favor of the Corpora changes put forward in November 2014. (the vote was 6 “yay” and 1 “nay”)
- Due to the large amount of information surrounding the additional peerage for rapier and cut and thrust, the Board of Directors decided to participate in a conference call on February 2, 2015. The Board received a large amount of additional comments and suggestions in the two weeks following the January 17 quarterly meeting. This was considered in addition to the first Board call for commentary on this issue.
- At the February 2, 2015 special conference call meeting of the Board of Directors, the Board discussed the history of the APEC proposal process, the commentary received from the membership, and the various options available to the Board. The Order of Defense proposal was the result of many years of effort, and while the commentary from the membership opened the Board’s eyes to other options and possibilities, the Board decided at this time to reconsider the proposal to change Corpora to create the Order of Defense. During the call a motion was made and seconded to approve the changes to Corpora, and such motion passed 6 votes for and 1 against.
- Motion to approve the proposed changes to Corpora that will create the new peerage, Order of Defense, and direct Laurel Sovereign of Arms to submit such name and heraldry to the heraldic comment process, with the intention of opening the Order on May 1, 2015.
On the same evening as the announcement, Laurel published a Letter of Intent to Register the name, badge and regalia of the new Order. These were registered on the April 2015 Special Letter of Acceptances and Returns as:
- Order name: “Order of Defense” (originally submitted as Order of Defence based on documentation available in February – both spellings are “protected” and may be used interchangeably)
- Badge: “(Tinctureless) Three rapiers in pall inverted tips crossed”
- Regalia: “(Fieldless) A white livery collar” (The collar may or may not include the badge of the order)
Kingdoms also began the process of creating the new order within kingdom law, writing new ceremonies (and revising ceremonies for other orders of peerage to acknowledge the new order), and nominating up to the first three companions of the new order (the first three nominees may be inducted by the Crown as premiers, without first consulting the order)
Creation of the Order of Defense in Caid
On March 7, 2015, at opening court of Calafia-Gyldenholt Friendship Tourney 2015, TRM Mansur and Eilidh invited Baron Alexander Kallidokos, Master Laertes McBride, and Don Colwyn Stagghorn to be created the first three Masters of Defense of Caid. They were elevated together into the Order at Darach Anniversary on May 2, 2015.
On the event of the first Order elevations, the necessary changes to Caid Kingdom Law were announced (The Boke of Caidan Law, 17th Edition, May 2015).