Intro (or “So you’re foolish enough to be a Knight Marshal”)
Welcome. Odds are that if you're reading this missive, one of two circumstances have occurred. Either you have somehow just been talked by your seneschal into being the knight marshal of the group regardless of the fact that you don't what the knight marshal is supposed to do, or you are a vigorous do-gooder who volunteered for the job thinking that you can make fighter practice better, more well attended, and indeed, the closest thing to Valhalla this side of a James Cameron movie.
Regardless (or even irregardless) of which category you fall into, you've accepted the position and the responsibility. Sucker! I mean, Excellent! I know that you'll be the perfect person for the job. The purpose of this document is to provide to you, the sole repository of future fighting hope, a guideline for how to do your job. Specifically this is designed to be a guide for knight marshal's in the kingdom of Ansteorra, although some of the statements in here might be relevant for other kingdoms too, although it is not meant to be.
We feel that these points are fairly important, and deserve amplification. Odds are, as a knight marshal you too are a fighter, or on the rare occasions where you are not, know a fighter well. You know, personally, how much effort it takes to even get to the field. The time spent making armour, or the money spent buying it, or even the time and effort done to get it in trade. Not only that, it takes a lot of will and determination to continue coming out to the practice field and working on being a better fighter. Therefore, since you know all these things, you will understand how important it is to always remember rule #1. You are there to make things safer, NOT TO FAIL ARMOR. We'd like to emphasize that this is the wrong attitude to have.
There will occasionally arise situations where it is difficult to determine whether a piece of armour or weapon meets the rules. The knight's marshal's utmost responsibility is to make sure that all fighters are kept as safe as possible (within the realm of "I'm trying to hit the other guy with a stick"). If however, you deem a piece of armour or weapon is safe, and is not prohibited in the rules, you should permit it. A suggestion to the wearer/weilder of how they can more properly make said peice to conform to the rules would be a good idea.
If however, it is prohibited in the rules, even if you think it is safe, you cannot permit it. This is a tough one. But you must remember rule #2, you are a representative of the crown and the SCA. If something goes wrong, and someone gets hurt, not only will you feel responsible, in today's sue-happy environment you could be held legally responsible. It's extremely easy to see a lawyer questioning you saying:
"See. Right here in your own rules it prohibits this XXX. Meaning that your responsible people KNEW it was dangerous. Yet you felt you knew more..."
and so forth. So if its prohibited, disallow it. This can be tough, as you may have the privilege of Sir BendTheRules and his squire GetAwayWithStuff at your practice, and they'll give the "Well, we've always done XXX." or some equivalent. It is very tough in those situations, and ways of handling it are beyond the scope of this paper.
But it does lead into the third point. Set yourself up to succeed. KNOW THE RULES. As the knight marshal, it's your responsibility to know the rules of armoured combat, and to be able to help the fighters know them. Keep track of changes that are published in the Blackstar. Talk to your regional knight marshal if you have any questions. Stay informed, and stay consistent. Its much easier to tell Sir BendTheRules that "see, here in this part, the specifially prohibit making a fiberglass glaive" if you have a copy of the rules, and know them well.
At Fighter Practice
At a fighter practice, you, the all-powerful knight marshal, have 3 main responsibilities:
Additionally, if you have been authorized to do so, you might end up authorizing fighters and marshal's for certain activities. The amount of authority you have to authorize others will depend upon what the current Earl Marshal and Crown have to say, but currently there are 3 levels of Marshal's in Ansteorra. The levels are Field, Inspection, and Authorization martial.
The names are fairly indicative of the responsibilities. The field marshal is typically someone who's shown that they understand the basic safety rules of the field, and can spot armour problems. It is the lowest level of field marshal. Usually a person can be qualified to be a field marshal following a simple class.
The inspection marshal has the attributes of the field marshal, as well as a deeper understanding of the rules of weapon construction and armour construction, and is more qualified to inspect those items. Typically much more study is required to become an inspection marshal.
The authorization marshal has all of the attributes of the inspection marshal, as well as an understanding of the culture of Ansteorran and SCA armoured combat, a developed feel for analyzing the safety of combatants, and a commitement to making sure that armoured combat continues to be a safe and fun (if painful) sport for everyone. The authorization marshal holds a lot of responsibility about whom they permit upon the field, and the Crown and Earl Marshal typically do not bestow it lightly. An authorizing marshal is the only marshal who can authorize a fighter in general, or for special weapons (currently fiberglass spear and unpadded polearm).
At a Tournament (or melee)
More specifically, at YOUR tournament, you have a couple of responsibilities beyond what is necessary for the practices. First and foremost, you'll most likely be inspecting a lot of armour that you're not familiar with. Remember, you are there to make things safe, NOT TO FAIL ARMOUR. Be mindful of that. In addition to inspections, it is typically the Knight Marshal's responsibility to make sure there are sufficient marshals to run the field (2 marshals per field) during the tournament or melee. Note, that it is not required for you to specifically to be one of the marshals (I typically would rather fight in a tournament than marshal one) but if you unable to find sufficient authorized marshals to help out, you're the person ultimately responsible.
As for how exactly to marshal the tournament, once again, check the SCA and Ansteorran handbooks. Other tasks might include finding heralds to announce the fighters and call them to the field, authorizing new fighters so that they can compete in the tournament. Notice: In Ansteorra, fighters cannot compete in a tournament unless they are an authorized fighter. While it is certainly possible to authorized them for a tournament, and to perhaps authorized them for one day if you concerned about them, they MUST be authorized to fight in a tournament.
The last thing that you'll have to do is that after a tournament, you must fill out a Event Report. This form should be sent within 30 days of the event to the Earl Marshal and the Regional Marshal. If you want to give your seneschal a lot of extra paperwork just for fun, give them a copy too.
Once a month you will have to turn in a monthly report to your seneschal. The report from can be found on the Ansteorran Marshalate Page, and more specifically here. The form is fairly straightforward and takes all of about thirty seconds to fill in. It is absolutely critical that you turn this report in. Failure to do so can reult in the suspension of armoured combat activities in your group. Typically, the group's seneschal will have a date they want the report turned in by. Additionally, once a month you'll turn in the signed Consent to Participate and Release Liability forms to your groups seneschal. Most seneschal's when you hand these waivers to them will look at you like you're handing them your dirty underwear, but you must forbear and still turn them in. Ignore those looks.
The same form that you turned in to your seneschal, you turn in to the regional. Additionally, if there was an event (tournament or melee) that you ran. you turn a copy of that event report in to your regional within 30 days of the event.
the Earl Marshal
The only thing that you, the local knight marshal, turn in to the Earl Marshal is an event report within 30 days of the event.
If, God forbid, there is an injury during a practice, tournament, or melee that you are in charge of, it is your responsibility to
It is absolutely crucial that these things be done when an injury occurs. Although it can be sometimes difficult to determine whether something is an injury or not, if anyone goes to the hospital it is definitely and injury. And typically, its always good to let your superiors know if something went wrong at practice, so its probably a good idea to err on the side of caution here.
Conclusion ( or
“things to remember”)
This essay turned out to be much longer than I expecte when it was first requested of me. And in truth, there are quite a few more things that I could cover in depth. But this part so far covers the high points :
Thats it. Have fun. Keep swinging.
Centurion Jean Paul de Sens