Thoughts on the SCA’s Rapier Peerage Proposal Being Struck Down

J.M. Aucoin . Fencing, SCA 1907 5 Comments

I rarely delve into the world of SCA politics, at least vocally and publicly. I typically just sit back and absorb what others think and say is happening and should happen, and then quietly concoct my own opinion. But I’m mixing it up a little in regards to the proposed Masters of Defense rapier peerage that was struck down by the SCA’s Board of Directors yesterday afternoon.

To start, I was surprised by a few things.

One, that it didn’t pass. I really thought it was going to be a done deal. Felt like most of my fellow EK fencers thought the same way. That perhaps led to…

…Two, that only 345 people sent in comments. That’s an appallingly low number and I’m disappointed that not more fencers took an interest in this. Pennsic rapier battles get a better turnout than the MoD vote. Awful, awful. Only 146 apparently voted Yes; a majority voted no and/or it should be part of the Chiv. So a 42%-58% split, but the feeling is a majority of folks want to see rapier fencers acknowledged as a Peer in some form or another. That’s good.

Three, that the BoD is asking the Chiv to poll rapier fighters…. kinda, maybe? There’s confusion on this matter. I really thought it would be an all or nothing for the rapier peerage, so this potential Option C was a “huh” moment for me.

I, personally, want to see the Chiv open up to more marshal forms. The fact that it hasn’t already is kinda baffling to me. I said thus in my email to the BoD — that I wish rapier was part of the Chiv, but I also said I was 100% behind a fencing peerage as my optimism that enough Chiv would be behind this notion to make it work wasn’t overly high. That sliver of pessimism is based more on other’s experiences than my own. My own experience with Chiv and heavy listers hasn’t been nearly as bad. Perhaps it’s because I’m from a younger generation of fencers who didn’t live through the toddler years and bullying from heavy listers. Anyways, not sure how the BoD took my email — probably the 200ish No/In Chiv category.

I’m also hearing mixed opinions on whether or not this BoD vote meant rapier combatants can now be considered for the Chiv or not. It’d be really nice if the BoD wrote up statements about their decisions, much like SCOTUS. An actual ruling/summary statement on their thought process would be extremely helpful, as we’re kinda left with a lot of fog to travel through right now. I’m not sure if they’re trying to take down roadblocks to make rapier Chivs happen or are just washing their hands of the matter. I’m also not sure if starting today, crowns can start naming rapier Chiv or this means another proposal needs to be written up, etc. And for those wondering, I’m getting my info from the following Facebook status found here.

Originally I was told that MoD was struck down but rapier could be put into the Chiv. When I heard this I was both bummed and excited, but I still scoffed internally a little and thought “That’ll be the day.” But a good night’s sleep makes me think the horizon is a little brighter than that. EK has many heavy/rapier cross-overs, and recent crowns have been very rapier-friendly, and not just in the “We tolerate you, little ones” way, but are very active in the fencing community. This is good. Very good, and hopefully they and the other cross-overs can be the necessary instruments to get those first few rapier Chiv’s made (y’know, if that’s what the BoD meant in their vote/rephrasing of stuff).

I also wonder which kingdom will be the first to induct a rapier Chiv?

I’ve heard some say “Who wants to be part of a group that doesn’t want us?” but I haven’t heard a single Chiv say they don’t want that outright to me. I only hear it from fencers. Maybe the negativity is an echo from the early days of fencing; maybe I don’t interact with enough Chiv; maybe I just interact with the good ones. No idea. I’m only hearing the negatives through the grapevine. But it sounds like there may be a stronger base for change in the Chiv than folks realize. It’s tough to tell from the outside, and maybe I’m being unusually optimistic, but I was impressed that there are current crowns and dukes who also want rapier in the Chiv. Those guys are OK in my book.

I’ve also heard “How are heavies going to judge fencers?” Again, we have multiple cross-overs that can be a good base of knowledge for the Chiv, especially until the first few rapier Chivs are made and can give more insight. Learn the game. Learn about the person. If you’re part of a polling order, get out and look for these people. If a name comes by for polling and you have no idea who it is, go ask people who do. Go talk to the actual person and watch them fight. Find out what else they’re doing to bolster their community. They were nominated for a reason. If you’re part of a polling order it’s your duty to search for these folks, or at least make an attempt to. If you’re not, you’re doing the SCA and your given order a huge disservice.

Both of these are more of a cultural issue than anything else. There’s really nothing keeping from these better changes to take place outside of “Well, we’ve always done it this way” and folks being close minded. Both of those are death sentences. Of course, I totally acknowledge that cultural issues are the biggest mountains to climb with most groups.

So, to summarize, I guess I’m a part bummed, part confused, and part cautiously optimistic. The lack of a fencing peerage isn’t going to ruin the fun that I have with my fellow SCAdians, nor am I going to lose much (if any) sleep over it. It’s a game, after all. However, there are rapier fencers worth of a peerage based on their skill with a rapier, and I’d like to see them recognized for that on a peer level. I also will like to see the SCA evolve into something even better in the future. Hopefully the near future.

Seigneur Remy Delemontagne de Gascogne, OSR
Captain of the Carolingian Caliver Company

aka. Justin Aucoin

EDIT: Here are the reasons behind why the BoD struck down the Master of Defense proprosal.

Andrew Coleman

Arthur Donadio

J.M. Aucoin

Author. Fencer. Sometimes actor. Full-time nerd. I write swashbucklers & historical adventure novels.

Comments (5)

  • Alain


    I too am bummed…but if I read the BODs letter correctly, ALL 7 of the director felt that rapier should be recognized with a peerage. They just differed in how/where rapier should be recognized…
    3 said with a rapier only peerage
    2 said within the Chivalry
    2 said as part of a general , non rattan martial peerage.

    The BOD also clarified that the Chivalry is Only for rattan fighters….I interpret this as…you must be an authorized rattan fighter to be considered for the Chivalry, but that your best skills might be elsewhere…if my interpretation is not completely mistaken, then several rapier fighters, archers, siege engineers, equestrians and thrown weapons practicioners could be elevated to the Chivalry…
    My experience has been that we recieve fairly general respect from the Chivalry right now.
    As bummed as I am, I will calmly and gently push for acceptance of my interpretation of the BOD statement…

    Don Alain Longship, OGR


    • J.M. Aucoin


      Thanks for your thoughts, Alain!

      I’m glad that all seven agreed that raper deserves peerage. That’s a huge win right there, for sure. 🙂


  • Jeff Childers


    I am going on 28 years within the SCA. I have been/am a fairly hard core participant being original from Ansteorra(the birth place of the White Scarf). I must add I have promised to learn the sport of fencing my love is heavy fighting so I am not invested in fencing save for my friends that love the sport and my own sense of honor and respect.

    So with that said I find myself frustrated because the idea that other activities should somehow have merit when deciding how the rapier peerage should be handled. All these other activities do not have the footprint that rapier does and considering that most have been around as long or longer that rapier giving those things any consideration is absurd.

    Rapier should have a unique and separate order. It should not be folded into any other peerage because gauging the merit of a duelist isn’t as easily done if one doesn’t participate in the sport. I have spent time watching the sport. I have become somewhat versed in mechanics of the sport but at a higher level you have to develop an eye through participation. The “Dons” just like any other order must perpetuate its own order.

    Unfortunately I think a certain peerage is afraid that with this move that eventually they will have to share crown with this 4th peerage. I believe that it is well founded. But if that is even a consideration and is a eliminating factor I believe is a monumental mistake. The SCA is about acknowledging those persons for achievement and skill that are an exemplar of the SCA as a whole.


  • Scotty / Lord Lucian Ro


    You need to offer a new post, since the Peerage has been passed! =)


    • J.M. Aucoin


      You got it. Will maybe work on something tonight. 🙂


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