Too long; didn’t read: A guide for heralds in charge of Crown or Coronet lists. Learn to herald a tournament.

Kingdom and principality lists are among the coolest ceremonial occasions in the Society. They combine the ‘specialness’ of ceremony with the joy of meeting combatants on the field of honour.

Our royals are chosen through combat, so we never know who is next til the tournament is complete.

To make the most of the occasion, a herald in charge acts as the ‘master/mistress of ceremony’. This checklist will help that herald plan the opening ceremony side, so it goes as smoothly as possible.

This guide applies to both Crown lists (for next King and Queen) and Coronet lists (for next Prince and Princess).

At least 2 weeks before the event

  • Contact the Seneschal for the list of entrants, if they have not yet been announced

  • Decide if you’re going to use a list tree (a wooden stand to hold small shields showing the heraldry of the fighters). if so, you will need individual shields for each combatant. This decision depends on
    • having a local list tree that someone can deliver to the venue
    • having heralds available to keep it ‘running’ through the tournament

    If you are using a list tree, ask the combatants if are bringing their own escutcheon (small display shield) for the tree, or if they need one painted up (if, for instance, they are flying and have limited luggage allowance). Again, this requires someone with time to cut and paint small shields for display.

  • Contact each couple, asking if they have arranged their own herald to boast them, or if they want help in finding a herald to do the job (Remind entrants that good patrons pay their heralds - a bottle of wine or a box of favourite treats is the current Drachenwald rate).

  • Check with available heralds to find volunteers to perform boasts.

At least a week before the event

  • Match up volunteer heralds with combatants to organise boasts.

  • Contact the seneschal, or the event steward, or the relevant royals, for a working list of Court times for the event. Who sets the schedule can vary: for example, the stewards can put a basic schedule out, but the royals may want to add another ‘slot’ for additional court.

  • Contact the royals to see if they have any specific heralding requirements for the event. Some couples have trusted heralds who attend them through their reign, others will want local help.

  • Ask what order the royals would like the entrants to process during the introduction of the couples. Typical choices are:

    • based on the highest rank of the combatant
    • based on the highest rank between the two entrants
    • ‘reverse order’, so those who have the fewest Society honours enter first

During the week before the event

  • Make any extra shields needed for the shield tree.

  • Work out who will herald each of the courts. The ceremony at the start and end of the tournament probably only needs one court herald. The main court may need two heralds (one to organise, one to alternate reading texts), plus a Chancery officer (a scribe) to manage any scrolls.

  • Contact the Marshal in Charge or the Minister of the Lists about the tournament format, to see what sort of field heraldry they need, and assign heralds to field heraldry duties. If possible, have two heralds per list field so that they can alternate (some MoLs will prefer to have a single herald for each round).

  • Work out the processional order as per Their Majesties preferences.

  • Ensure you have a current copy of the book of ceremonies (kingdom or principality). Read through the invocation of the lists to remind yourself how it runs. Highlight any points where you need to check with the royals about their preferences.

Friday of the event

  • Organise the choreography of the presentations at the start of the tournament.

  • If the weather is good and the procession is outdoors, so speak to the marshal in charge about making an entrance to the list field, for example, lowering one side of the list ropes, to allow access to the list field.

  • If the weather is poor, or uncertain, confer with the event steward about where to hold the procession indoors. It is totally miserable to take part in a ceremony standing outdoors in armour and good clothes with your banners getting soggy.

  • Identify an initial marshalling area where entrant couples should report immediately before the procession.

  • Put the list field heralds together with the Minister of the Lists and the Marshal-in-Charge briefly, to ensure that everyone understands the procedures for the tournament, including how the Minister of the Lists wants to receive results, and the timing of any scheduled water breaks.

  • Ask the royals for a brief meeting to ensure you and their court heralds have their court business in order.

  • Check that all entrants have small shields for the list tree, if using. If you have late entrants or someone has forgotten a display shield, some heavy cardboard and acrylic paints available can fill the gap in a pinch.

On the day of the event

  • Confirm starting time with the royals and the marshal in charge. Do not let this time slip.

  • Brief the heralds on any last-minute changes that came up as a result of the previous evening’s actions (withdrawn entrants, for example).

  • Set up the list tree if required. Lay out the shields for easy reach. Agree with the list minister about how the heralds running the tree will update it.

  • Once all entrants have arrived in the marshalling area, line them up in order, and brief them as a group on how the procession will work, e.g. which entrances they should use and where they should go after entering the list or other presentation area, where any retainers should retire to, etc.

  • Add some ‘usher’ heralds to any positions needed to guide entrants through the procession

Run everything! :)

After the event

  • Thank the many herald volunteers, the list minister and the marshal in charge who helped you make the occasion special. Make it public.

  • Send in your court report, and remind others to send in any reports.

Accessibility notes

Ceremony and public speaking is just plain scary for some people. Make sure the entrants understand their role in the ceremony and ask if they have any questions. Make sure novice heralds have their texts, and water to hand.

Ceremony length depends on the number of entrants. You need up to 5 mins to open court and welcome people, then 3-5 mins per person for procession, then closing remarks. So estimate of how long people will be standing through the ceremony, and remind heralds to keep a steady pace for procession entrances.

If you know there are some participants who cannot stand for long periods, provide an easy way for them to grab a seat discreetly.

Look after yourself

Being herald in charge is amazing fun, but makes for a full day.

Wear comfy shoes, dress comfortably, and make sure to eat enough.

Drink lots of water through the day, and save the alcohol til the end of the day. If you have trouble doing this for yourself, ask a friend to help you.

Bring throat lozenges!

Checklist compiled by Ysabella-Maria Vasquez de Granada, edited for web by Genevieve la flechiere

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