The Arms of The Viceroys and Vicereines of Østgarđr

As we approach the 50th anniversary of Østgarđr, and indeed of the East Kingdom — because in the beginning, Østgarđr was the East — we’ve been looking back over our history, and in keeping with that project I thought I would catalog the armorial devices of the viceroys and vicereines of Østgarđr since the earliest days.


A.S. LI — Present

Suuder Saran is the sixth viceroy of Østgarđr.

He bears Per chevron inverted sable and purpure, a crescent argent and a flame Or.

Registered March 2013 under a holding name. (Image as submitted.)

Lada Monguligin is the fourth vicereine of Østgarđr.

She bears Gules, a sans-serif letter “M” inverted surmounted by a pallet couped argent issuant from a trimount vert.

This design is evocative of traditional Eastern European coats of arms. Polish armory is known for most often using red fields bearing gold or silver charges. Polish armory is also notable for many charges based on geometric shapes, which are derived from tamgas, a system of brands and badges used to mark property by medieval Mongols and related Eurasian nomadic cultures. Hungarian armory frequently feature gold or silver charges emergent from a green mountain on a red field. The central charge here is reminiscent of the trident featured in the arms of Ukraine. The society does not have a lot of Eastern-European armory, so this submission provoked some interesting commentary at the kingdom and society level, and in the LoAR.

Registered March 2013 under a holding name. (Image as submitted.)


A.S. XLVI — LI

Gui avec Cheval de Guise was the fifth viceroy of Østgarđr.

He bears Azure, a fleur-de-lys and on a chief embattled argent a hare courant contourny sable.

Guise is a town in northern France.

Registered May 1996 under the name Guy Cheveux de Guise.

Johanne i Visby was the third vicereine of Østgarđr.

She bears Azure, a chevron argent and in sinister chief a mullet Or.

Registered August 2008. (Image as submitted.)


A.S. XLI —XLVI

Alexandre Lerot d’Avignon was the fourth viceroy of Østgarđr.

He bears Per pale wavy purpure and argent, a serpent, glissant palewise and sinister facing, argent and a wolf rampant sable.

Registered September 1998.

Eularia Trewe was the second vicereine of Østgarđr.

She bears Argent, two chevronels purpure and overall a crow contourny sable.

Registered October 2006.

 


A.S. XIV —XLI

Ian of Clan Mitchell was the third viceroy of Østgarđr.

He bears Azure, climbing a bendlet indented Or, a cat passant bendwise argent orbed Or.

(Today we would blazon this beast as gardant.)

[Updated Nov 12: The cat’s name is Kiki.]

Registered August 1979. (Image as submitted.)

Katherine Gilliesfleur was the first vicereine of Østgarđr.

She bears Or, in saltire an arrow inverted and a dagger sable, on a chief azure three gillyflowers argent, seeded Or.

The gillyflower is a medieval ancestor of the modern carnation.

Registered December 1983. (Image as submitted.)


A.S. XII? —XIV

Cassandra of Bethel was the second viceroy of Østgarđr.

She bears Argent, a human eye lidded, chased vert.

Registered June 1972 under the name Cassandra of Beth’lem. (Image as submitted.)


A.S. X —XI

Vardak Mirceavitch Basarabov of Iloi was the first viceroy of Østgarđr, serving in this position for less than one year.

He bears Argent, a fox’s head erased sable and in chief three pine cones, stems to chief proper.

Registered April 1975. (Image as submitted.)


Updated Nov 12: Thanks to some feedback on Facebook, I’ve corrected a mis-colored field both above and in the combined “poster” version that shows all of the arms in chronological order as a single image.

Updated Jan 27: I noticed that I had incorrectly emblazoned Lada’s arms with a mountain rather than a trimount; this has been corrected.

The Østgarðrian Ladies’ Favor

The Østgarðrian Ladies’ Favor is a former martial award of the Crown Province of Østgarđr. It has fallen out of use in recent decades.

The Bylaws describe it thusly:

Bestowed by the Vicereine (if any) upon the person who has most distinguished him/herself both on and off the list field. She may, if she chooses, confer with the other Ladies of Østgarðr. The Favor is worn for one year and may be rebestowed on the same person.

Mordred Mjothvitner reports that he received this award for two consecutive years during the 1990s, and that it was given during the Provincial Champions event by the vicereine and her attendants.

A Geographic History Of The East Kingdom

In AS XXIV (early 1990), Lord Richard the Poor assembled a collection of maps setting forth the growth and evolution of the SCA branches that make up the East Kingdom. Covering two decades, the maps provide a visual reference for the kingdom’s growth from a few isolated groups in New York and Boston to dozens of baronies, cantons, and shires covering the region.

Originally hand-drawn and typeset in the days of dot-matrix printers, the book had fallen out of circulation with only a single copy available online, on the Æthelmark history web site. With Lord Richard’s permission, I am making the original work available for download here (45 MB PDF) and have converted it to a more web-accessible form.

Heraldic Registrations of the Canton of Brokenbridge

Brokenbridge is Østgarđr’s youngest canton, corresponding to Brooklyn, or King’s County.


Canton of Brokenbridge

The canton’s name was submitted in March 2006, and accepted in September.

The name is believed to reference one of the canton’s most iconic landmarks, the Brooklyn Bridge.

The documentation provides Old English sources for the two name elements:

Broken – from OE brocen “broken, broken up, uneven” (A.H. Smith, English Place-Name Elements A-IW) p. 52. Ex. Brokenborough (Brochenborge 1086), from Ekwall p. 68.

Bridge – from OE brycg “a bridge.” (see A.H. Smith above, p. 54). Ex. – Tonbridge (Tonebridge, 1086), Stalbridge (Staplebrig, 1086) from Ekwall, pp. 477 & 436.

(A similar branch name, the Bailiwick of Broken Bridges, was registered in August 1984 with the note that “Brokenbridge would be a more period form,” but was then released in December 1989 along with many other defunct branch names of the East.)


Vert semy of bees Or marked sable, on a pale argent in pale a coney rampant and a laurel wreath vert.

The canton’s arms were submitted in April 2006, and forwarded to the Society level in May, but then pended in September and not accepted until April of 2007. The pend was due to a confusion about the color of the bees’ wings: the submission form sent to Laurel blazoned them as “bees proper” but displayed bees with wings Or. (In the Society, bees proper have wings argent, body Or, with the abdomen marked with sable stripes.)

Curiously, the image that was uploaded to OSCAR didn’t match the version sent to Laurel — they both started from the same outline image, but the version on OSCAR had been colored differently, showing argent wings and four sable stripes rather than three. Because the image in OSCAR did depict bees proper, the issue was not flagged in commentary prior to reaching Laurel, at which point the September 2006 pend letter pointed out that the picture on the submission form they had received did not match the proposed blazon. The April 2007 LoAR modified the blazon to match the original submission image, “bees Or marked sable,” and accepted it for registration.


The arms are said to contain a rebus for another of the canton’s landmarks: the pale containing the coney can be read as “Coney Aisle,” or Coney Island. (I’ve also heard that the pairing of bees and rabbit provide a reference to “Bugs Bunny,” although I don’t know what connection that has to the canton.)

Heraldic Registrations of the Canton of Lions End

Lions End is Østgarđr’s easternmost branch, covering Nassau County.


Canton of Lions End

The canton’s name was submitted in July 1988, and accepted in October.

The note clarifies that the name does not contain an apostrophe:

Please note: Lions End is a place where lions go to meet. It is not what they sit upon when they sit down to eat. (I.e. it’s Lions plural not Lion’s possessive.) Lions was chosen during a naming binge to try to connect ourselves to our mundane geographic area, and is vaguely derived from Long Island (and various anagrams). The choice of the word End comes from our neighbors to the east An Dubhaigeainn (which translates to Abyss) and so we figured that before you get to the abyss you have to come to an end, and so “Lions End.”

Some additional commentary was added at the kingdom level to support this name, which received a mixed review in the LoAR when approving it for registration:

Although the analogue with Land’s End made on the letter of intent is not really accurate, the name is acceptable.

The distinction is routinely overlooked. For example, when the canton registered its arms in 1990 the acceptance was listed under the name “Lion’s End,” and only corrected sixteen years later. (Indeed as of this writing, the canton’s web site uses the apostrophe in the site’s title and home page, although elsewhere it uses the registered version.)


Azure, a bicorporate lion within a laurel wreath Or. (Returned)

The canton’s initial selection of arms featured a bi-corporate lion, an unusual charge featuring a lion’s head with two bodies attached to it.

It was returned in May 1989 with the note:

Conflict with the arms of John of Northampton, Mayor of London in 1381–­83 (“Azure, a bicorporate lion guardant crowned Or.”). As Crescent has noted, this is a frequently depicted piece of armoury. Indeed, it is almost the “defining instance” for the bicorporate lion in most handbooks.

Although the rules have changed since, at the time the Society’s rules for armory conflict included checking against the arms issued by other jurisdictions, including medieval England.


Sable, a bicorporate lion and on a chief Or, three laurel wreaths sable. 

A revised version of the device was submitted a few months later, and approved in May of 1990 without comment.

An attractive depiction of the arms is provided by canton’s heraldic banner.

The lion is an allusion to the mundane county of Nassau, which has as its armsazure, a lion rampant between seven billets Or,” which is derived from the arms of the European house of Nassau, “azure billetty, a lion rampant Or armed and langued gules.”


Sable, a bicorporate lion and on a chief Or, three laurel wreaths vert. (Error)

Due to a scribal transcription error around that time, the arms listed in the Society’s armorial database differ from the registration in the tincture of the laurel wreaths, which were listed as vert instead of sable. [Edited May 23: the correction was rolled out in today’s database update and it is now listed correctly as three laurel wreaths sable.]

As a result, a number of illustrations of the branch’s arms which were taken from that blazon have been drawn incorrectly, including the version that’s currently shown on the canton’s home page, as well as the East Kingdom wiki and other places.

Following the discovery of this error, the O&A is currently being adjusted to match the original registration.

[Edited June 17: Local oral history holds that the wreaths were changed to green because of a ruling at the time that all laurel wreaths must be vert. However, the lack of commentary in the LoAR which accepted the arms with sable wreaths, and the contemporaneous registration of numerous wreaths of other tinctures, suggests that this is post-facto mythologizing — this really was due to a simple scribal error during data entry.]


A bicorporate lion atop a billet fesswise Or.

The canton submitted a populace badge in mid-2013, which was registered that November.

It features the same bicorporate lion as in the branch arms, standing on a billet (the heraldic term for a rectangle).

According to Yehuda ben Moshe, canton herald at the time, the initial intention was to register just a fieldless bicorporate lion Or, which members of the populace had already begun using as an informal populace badge. However, this was found to be too similar to another registration, the holder of which declined to grant permission to conflict, and so they looked for something simple that could be added to existing badges and settled on a billet, which is another design element present in the aforementioned arms of Nassau County.


For the curious, the territory of Lions End was previously home to the Canton of Mandan, sometimes spelled Madnan, which was formed in October 1980, had its name registered in January 1983, went defunct in May 1985, and had its name released in a December 1989 purge of defunct East Kingdom branches, according to Lord Richard the Poor’s “A Geographic History of the East Kingdom” and the Society’s armorial records. The name may have been an allusion to “Madnan’s Neck,” a seventeenth-century name for the Great Neck region, derived from “Menhaden-Ock,” its native Mattinecock name, itself a reference to the small Menhaden fish then plentiful in the region.

The Lost Cantons of Østgarðr

The Crown Province of Østgarðr currently contains four cantons:

  • Northpass (established as Viking’s Hall 1983/12, renamed 1984/12, name registered 1985/05, full status 1985/05),
  • Lions End (established 1988/02, name registered 1988/10, full status 1989/03),
  • Whyt Whey (established 1989/08, name registered 1990/01),
  • Brokenbridge (name registered 2006/09).

But over the course of its nearly fifty-year history, it turns out there have been nine other affiliated branches, eight of them founded in a two-year period from 1979 through 1981.

These were generally short-lived, in part because of two changes in branch organization: firstly, the practice of new shires or cantons being initially granted only “incipient” status had not yet been made routine; nowadays a branch must demonstrate continued activity for a longer period of time before becoming recognized as a full branch; and secondly, most of these branches were associated with college campuses (which typically have transient populations) and the current practice of allowing a college branch to go dormant and be revived later was not as well established.

Most of the information below comes from “A Geographic History of the East Kingdom” by Lord Richard the Poor, supplemented by the records of the Laurel Archivist of the College of Arms.

  • Dark Canton (City College of New York, AS XIII-XV): formed 1979/01, name registered 1979/07, defunct in 12/1980; name released 1989/12.
  • College of King’s Heights (Columbia U, AS XIII-XV): formed 1979/01, name registered 1979/07, defunct in 12/1980; name released 1989/12.
  • Canton of the Iron Forest (Sloatsburg, NY AS XIV-XVII): formed 1979/11, name registered 1979/07; defunct in 1982/04; name released 1989/12. This region was subsequently organized as an independent branch under the name the Shire of Rusted Woodlands, name registered 1983/01.

All three of the above names were registered simultaneously and in bulk rather than via the usual process. The Laurel Archivist’s files contain only a letter from Baldwin Laurel, written in 1986, stating that “in July and October of 1979, Master Wilhelm registered the names of a considerable number of SCA branches,” and few other details are available.

  • St. Dunstan’s (New York University, AS XIV-XVI): formed 1980/03; name never registered; defunct 1981/05.
  • Canton of Blasted Heath (North Bergen, NJ, AS XIV-XVI): formed 1980/03; name never registered; separated from Ostgardr 1980/10; defunct 1981/05. Local oral history suggests that attempts to organize an independent branch here sputtered out, accounting for the fact that to this day this region remains part of the East Kingdom crown lands, not lying within the boundaries of either of its neighbors, Rusted Woodlands and Settmour Swamp.
  • Canton of Walking Dunes (Southhampton College, NY, AS XIV-XVI): formed 1980/03; name never registered; defunct 1981/05. The town of Southhampton is located within the current territory of Barony An Dubhaigeainn, which first registered its name as a shire in 1981/05.
  • Canton of Mandan (or Madnan) (Nassau County, NY, AS XV-XX): formed 1980/10; name registered 1983/01; defunct in 1985/05; name released 1989/12. (This is the territory of the current canton of Lions End, established in 1988.)
  • Canton of Black Ford (Fordham University, AS XV-XVIII): formed 1981/03; defunct in 1982/11; name registered 1983/01; name released 1989/12.

(The many names released in December 1989 were part of a wave of 37 defunct branches in the East Kingdom that had their names and armory released that month following a request by the Board to clear the backlog that had developed; see the the December LoAR for the list, and the accompanying cover letter for more details.)

One additional canton was formed subsequently to the 1979–81 wave:

  • Canton of Saint Pyr’s Well (Staten Island, NY, AS XX-XXV?): formed 1985/06; name and device registered 1985/10; formally recognized 1986/06; arms released 1991/12; name retained by Kingdom for possible future re-use.

The arms of Saint Pyr’s Well were Azure, a roofed well argent, between its posts a goblet Or, all within a laurel wreath argent.

Saint Pyr is a tragi-comic figure from Welsh history, a lax abbot who became so drunk one evening that he fell down a well and drowned.

 

Heraldic Registrations of the Canton of Northpass

In the spirit of the recent writeup of Whyt Whey’s registrations, here is the registration of Northpass. My thanks again to the office of the Laurel Archivist for sharing these files.


Canton of Northpass

The canton’s name was submitted in January 1985, and registered without comment in May.

The supporting documentation reads:

Name refers to the fact that the early Dutch settlers in New York used to call this area the northern pass.


Vair, two bendlets and in bend sinister a laurel wreath between two tygers passant to sinister Or.

The canton’s arms were registered in January 1987.

The original submission emblazon shows a style of vair known as “vair in pale,” with successive rows of vair bells lining up vertically beneath one another, rather than being offset as is more common; however, the SCA considers the two styles to be heraldically equivalent, so this is merely an artistic vair-iation. (The canton typically uses a more traditional style of vair in its current heraldic displays.)


A few other details of Northpass’s history are provided by Lord Richard the Poor’s “A Geographic History of the East Kingdom”: the branch was first organized as “Viking’s Hall” and changed its name in December 1984, before achieving official status in August 1985.

Heraldic Registrations of the Canton of Whyt Whey

The canton’s registration of a new device and populace badge have been forwarded by Blue Tyger Herald from the East Kingdom to the Society’s College of Heralds, and I thought this would be a good moment to look back at the branch’s previous heraldic registrations.

(My thanks to Baroness Shauna of Carrick Point, Laurel Archivist, for retrieving these records from the depths of the Society’s storehouse.)


Canton of Whyt Whey

The canton took shape in the heart of the Crown Province of Østgarðr in the mid-to-late 1980s. (See the writeup on Cunan by Alexandre Lerot d’Avigné for a brief history.)

Riffing on the mis-reading of Østgarðr as “cheese farm” and the century-old nickname for the brightly-lit midtown portion of Broadway, the initial proposal was to name the canton “Grate Whyt Whey”, but the first word was dropped during the registration process as being too ahistorical.

The name registration submitted in June 1989 for the Canton of Whyt Whey provides the following supporting documentation:

The name is English. It derives from Ostgardr — “Cheese Farm” — in the Norse, as was explained by Daffyd z Goury, regarding alternate and mis-spellings. The use of descriptive nouns for places is well documented (ex. Whitehaven, and Dublin). The vagaries of medieval spelling equate Wei, Way, Whey as far as usage is concerned— this is shown in The Oxford English Dictionary, dating to the early 1300s. The uses were either for the juice pressed from curds or for roads.

O.K. alternate spellings of Whyt: White, Wyte.

O.K. alternate spellings of Whey: Wei, Way.

These are all possibilities, by what the O.E.D. indicates for period spellings.

The College of Heralds was less amused by the punning, but accepted the registration in January 1990 with the comment:

After much discussion, we decided that this came under the “Rule of Toyota”. (Yes, this is a Canton in Manhattan…)

(The “Rule of Toyota” is shorthand for “we don’t think it’s a good idea, but if you want it we’ll let you have it” and references an advertising campaign of the 1970s that declared “You Asked for It, You Got It!”)


Argent semy of cockroaches sable, a pomme within a laurel wreath vert.

The initial design for the canton’s arms was submitted in 1991. As described in Cunan, “Some of the founding members were adamant about it having cockroaches, that most indomitable of local fauna, on it. Others were grossed out by the idea. The cockroach won.”

The green roundel in the center, known heraldically as a “pomme”, is a canting reference to the city’s nickname “the Big Apple.”

The College of Heralds found the semy of cockroaches unsettling and refused to register it:

This is being returned under RfS I.2., Offense. This general principle states that “no submission will be registered that is detrimental to the educational purposes or good name of the Society, or the enjoyment of its participants because of offense that may be caused, intentionally or unintentionally, by its use.” Given the universally negative reaction of the commentors to this semy charge, it is believed that a significant percentage of the populace of the SCA will find this device so offensive as to reduce their enjoyment of and participation in SCA activities.

A badge featuring a cockroach had been registered in 1981, although with some discomfort — it may be that the semy’s evocation of a field of scurrying roaches put this design over the top


Sable, a cockroach tergiant within a laurel wreath and on a chief embattled argent, a pomme.

Eight years later, the canton tried again, this time using a single cockroach instead of the semy.

In the intervening years, the College of Arms had accepted a registration of arms from Skallagormr Berserkr featuring a cockroach, noting that that a similar design appeared in Schrot’s Wappenbuch of 1581, blazoned a “beetle.”

Perhaps relying on that precedent, the canton submitted a new design, blazoning the central charge a “German beetle”.

The College of Heralds accepted the registration in August 1999, changing the blazon with the following note:

The primary charge was blazoned as a beetle; however, single cockroaches are now allowable charges. As their previous submission used cockroaches, we changed the blazon to match what we believe is their intent.


This device has remained in place since then, although it is rarely used; the only place I have seen it displayed is as part of a pennant with the arms of the Crown Province and each of the cantons which is flown in the Østgarðr encampment at Pennsic.

If the new arms are successfully registered this summer, this design will be maintained as the “ancient and honorable arms” of the canton in perpetuity.

Released and Returned Sea-horses of Østgarðr

The original branch arms of Østgarðr were registered in 1979, and there were a couple of failed attempts to change them prior to passage of the current device in 1984.


Østgarðr Branch Arms 1979-1984Per bend sinister purpure and Or, a seahorse rampant azure, crined, unguled and finned Or, orbed sable, gorged of a laurel wreath vert, grasping in its hooves a laurel wreath Or.

The branch’s first arms were registered in August 1979. (View submitted image.)

Originally submitted as “per bend sinister purpure and Or, a seahorse sejant azure, crined, finned, tailed and hoofed of the second, engorged of a laurel wreath proper,” during the 1979 “Heraldicon” effort to clear a two-year backlog of submissions the blazon was updated and the wreath being held in its hooves was added in order to satisfy the requirement for a prominent laurel wreath in each branch’s arms.

These arms were not retained as a badge and were released in 1984 when the current device was registered.


Argent, a bend sinister Or fimbriated purpure, overall a sea-horse erect azure, cried, unglued and langued Or, gorged of a laurel wreath vert. (Returned July 1981)

Argent, a bend sinister Or fimbriated purpure, overall a sea-horse erect azure, crined, unglued and langued Or, gorged of a laurel wreath vert.

A change of device was returned in July 1981. (View submitted image.)

The return noted “The fimbriation should be wider. You will have to add a large laurel wreath, as in your current arms. It would be a better idea to gorge the sea-horse with an Or laurel wreath than a vert laurel wreath, since the beast is azure. The Or bend sinister has poor contrast.”


Argent, a seahorse erect azure, on a chief vert a laurel wreath elongated fesswise Or. (Returned December 1983)

Argent, a seahorse erect azure, on a chief vert a laurel wreath elongated fesswise Or.

A second change of device was returned in December 1983. (The submitted image is missing from the archives, so I have guessed based on the blazon.)

The return noted “What is drawn on the chief is not a laurel wreath, but rather two laurel branches overlapped. Redraw as one or more standard palewise laurel wreaths. Three would look nice.”