Documenting an Individually Attested Pattern

Richenda du Jardin (mka Susan Wensel)


The core style of SCA heraldry has always focused on heraldic practice in England and France between 1200 and 1485. But what are you to do if your persona is not from England or France during that time period and you want arms appropriate to your persona? Or what do you do if you just really like Italian or Polish or Hungarian arms? You need to document an "individually attested pattern".

The Standards for Evaluation define individually attested patterns as:

Designs which follow period examples but do not fall within the core style rules in A.2 and A.3 may instead meet the style standards of the Individually Attested Pattern rules as explained in A.4.

Under the Individually Attested Pattern rules, all elements (including charges, arrangement, complexity, etc.) of the armorial design must be documented as appropriate for the armorial style of a single time and place within the temporal scope of the Society. Elements which would be considered a step from period practice under the Core Style rules may only be used under the Individually Attested Pattern rules when documented as being used in the time and place as the rest of the submission.

Non-European armorial designs often do not fit into the core style rules, and thus may need to use the Individually Attested Pattern rules in order to be registered.

So, what does this mean?

This means that you need to provide evidence that indeed the armorial style you want to use was practiced in period.

Evidence Requirements

In 2010, Wreath made a precedent defining how much evidence was require to "prove" a pattern:

At this time, we are clarifying the standards for armory documentation and for regional style exceptions, whether arguing for or against a particular heraldic practice, to the following:

Wreath based these standards on the standards used for names. Individual charges, like individual names, need only one demonstrated example of use in period to allow its use. Patterns require more evidence to prove they exist, so a minimum of three examples of the exact pattern or six examples of similar patterns must be provided.

Demonstrating the Pattern

Now that we know what we need to do, how do we do it?

  1. Identify the elements in pattern you need to support.
  2. Find examples to support the elements.
    • Matching examples
    • Bracketing examples
  3. "Bulletproof" your submission.

Identifying the Elements to Support the Pattern

The first thing you need to do is identify how the pattern you want differs from the core style supported by the Standards for Evaluation. Familiarity with English and French heraldry before 1485 will really help. Creating a checklist based on the style rules might help, but be aware that it will be incomplete -- use it only as a starting point.

Here are two case studies of submissions that needed to be documented as individually attested patterns. The first thing we are going to discuss is what are the elements of each pattern we need to document.

Finding Examples to Support the Pattern

Once you've identified the elements in your desired armory that you need to support, you need to find examples to support it. Ideally, you will have started with a style, such as 16th century Italian (as our examples are), and will be designing within in the style instead of creating a design and trying to justify it.

Remember, the precedent says you need to supply three matching examples or six examples of each practice. That means if you can find three examples that cover all of the elements you are documenting, then that is all you need -- so simpler is easier to document. If you can't, then you need to provide six independent examples of each element that you are using in your armory (and that can be a lot!). Independent means by individuals not of the same family.

Keep your examples to the point. If you are trying to prove a pattern affecting a primary charge, keep your examples focused on the primary charge. Use examples with secondary charges only if you can not get enough examples without them.

Now, back to our case studies. Both were documenting patterns from late period Italy, drawing support from Stemmario Trivulziano.

Bullet-proofing Your Submission

The last step in preparing your Individually Attested Pattern documentation is to "bullet-proof" your submission. Here's what you need to do:

  1. Set your submission aside for a couple of days then come back to it. Look at the patterns you need to support and the evidence you have. You will be able to review everything with fresher eyes and might see something you missed.
  2. Ask another herald to review your pattern and documentation. They might see something you missed.
  3. After you've sent in your submission, stay in touch with your kingdom submissions herald.

I can't stress this enough. One of the reasons College of Arms heralds are able to get submissions passed that other heralds can't is we stay on top of the process. If there are questions, people can get in touch with us and get the answers they need before the submission has to be returned. This could give you a chance to provide more evidence that you didn't realize you needed.

Case Studies

© 2012 Susan Wensel. All rights reserved.