April First Submissions

Every year on the first of April, the heralds of the Society for Creative Anachronism post mock submissions of historical names and armory. You can browse an archive of these letters via the College of Heralds Imaginary.

We generally attempt to adhere to the conventions expected for normal letters of intent, including source citations and armorial rules, but our standards for documentation and style are somewhat relaxed for this humorous purpose.

Below are entries I came up with this year; some of them appeared on the Eastern and Imaginary letters. You’ll notice that a majority of them reflect the East’s theme for the year: desserts. Continue reading “April First Submissions”

Name and Device for Engel der Pfau

Engel der Pfau is a skilled fencer with a flamboyant Landsknecht persona who recently became the rapier champion of our local group.

He decided it was time to register a device, and asked for “an angry, fighting, pissed off peacock, his tail plumes out” on a red and black field. Continue reading “Name and Device for Engel der Pfau”

Name and Device for Hrotger the Tervingi

Hrotger had been using his name for many years without registering it, but was inspired to do so when he encountered my post of simple field-only armory.

In comparison to the simplicity of his chosen armory, researching his chosen name was significantly more difficult, because documentary sources for Germanic peoples in the period immediately following the collapse of the Roman Empire are somewhat limited, and it is not a culture with which I have much familiarity — an interesting challenge, and a good learning opportunity. Continue reading “Name and Device for Hrotger the Tervingi”

Name and Device for Arthur von Eschenbach

Arthur had already selected a name and armory in consultation with another herald, Francesco Gaetano Grèco d’Edessa, so preparing his submission forms was a simple matter of illustration and onomastic research.


Per fess argent and sable, a cross gules and in chief two fleurs de lys sable.


Arthur” is an English masculine given name. It is attested to the sixteenth century, appearing in “The Dictionary of Medieval Names from European Sources” (S.L. Uckelman, ed. 2018).

English given names may be borrowed into sixteenth-century German names under the terms of the February 2015 cover letter. Continue reading “Name and Device for Arthur von Eschenbach”

Frequency of Last Names

Following up on my recent post with the most common first names in the Society’s armorial, here’s a list of the hundred most common last names registered to date.

It’s no surprise that last names are more diverse than first names, so this round up of the most popular bynames in the Society doesn’t have  anything that rises to the level of Bill, Bob, Mike, and Tom found in my recent post.

Still, there are clearly some entries here that are relatively common, and it’s an interesting mix of types, including locative, patronymic, descriptive, and occupational bynames. Continue reading “Frequency of Last Names”

Frequency of First Names

With over fifty thousand personal names registered in the Society’s armorial database, it comes as no surprise that a number of name elements are reused numerous times, while others are rare or unique.

I recently looked at the frequency of name elements by their position in a name, which allowed me to pull together the below list of the one hundred most common first names. Continue reading “Frequency of First Names”

Frequency of Branch Designators

As the herald of the Crown Province of Østgarðr, I am well aware that it is the only branch in the Society to bear that particular designator — a result of its distinctive history as the home territory of the earliest royalty of the East Kingdom — and I became curious as to what other unusual branch designators were to be found in the catacombs of the Society’s armorial database.

A bit of data extraction produced the following table: Continue reading “Frequency of Branch Designators”

An OSCAR Commentary Checklist

The SCA’s College of Arms processes around three thousand name and armory submissions per year, attempting to ensure that each is properly structured, historically plausible, and unique within the society. A distributed system of commentary allows the burden of this process to be shared among multiple heralds and minimizes the number of things that fall through the cracks.

By commenting on Letters of Intent, first at the kingdom level and then at the Society level, these other heralds help to catch problems, suggest additional resources, and highlight issues that need to be considered during the monthly decision meetings in which the senior-most heralds make the final determinations as to whether submissions will be accepted or returned. Continue reading “An OSCAR Commentary Checklist”

Name and Device for Bahja al-Azraq

Bahja had a name picked out and a lovely first draft of his device designed, but it needed a bit of adjustment to be registrable by the College of Arms.


Or, on a saltire between four rings purpure gemmed gules a pomegranate slipped and leaved Or seeded gules.

Although the original arrangement Bahja had sketched was problematic, we were able to retain all of the charges and the overall color scheme, while shifting them into a new layout which was free of conflicts.


Bahja is a Arabic masculine ism (given name) and al-Azraq is an Arabic masculine laqab (descriptive byname).

Both are found in “Arabic Names from al-Andalus” (Juliana de Luna, 2008).