What is a Consort?
by Duena Acacia de Navarre
One way the SCA expresses some of the more romantic ideals of the period is through the idea of consorts. A consort is someone who is formally associated with another person through a special relationship. This relationship is as varied as the individuals in the SCA, however what tends to be common is that there is a respect or admiration between the two individuals. The main reason that people have consorts is for support and inspiration. It adds to the pageantry and, like a household, it can allow you to do more as a team than as an individual.
There is a level of behaviour that is dictated by this relationship. This is where the honour and the ideals of chivalry really come into being for the SCA. As a consort, you represent someone else’s honour as well as your own. This means that how you deport yourself, how you dress, how you interact with others reflects well or badly against your good lord or lady’s name. In turn, how they do these things will reflect on your good name.
Consort in Practice
Representing someone's honour is most evident in SCA combat. Firstly the fighter will salute the person whose favour they bear before they engage. This publicly acknowledges their consort as their inspiration. During combat, the fighter determines whether or not the blow is a sufficient. If a fighter were to ignore blows, that decision would negatively effect their own reputation and their consorts as well. The role that the consort of a fighter plays in tournaments is an important one. Sometimes fighters can become unaware of their environment and get caught up in a situation. Sometimes they’re having so much fun; they don’t look after themselves and will continue to fight even though they’ve been injured. A consort can ask the fighter to remove themselves off the field. They would do this by calling their fighting consort aside and having a private conversation to check in.
Outside of a tourney field it is up to each person in the relationship to determine what being consorts actually means to them. Which is why if you are thinking of asking someone to be your consort that it would be worth while to talk about what each of you think a consort to be so that you can both agree about what your expectations are of the other person. Generally, the consort relationship displayed through the exchanging of favours and is an opportunity for pageantry and heraldic display. A favour is a token of your esteem that you give to your consort that is commonly worn to display your formal association with that person such as a glove, sleeve, arm band, belt token, garter etc. But the favour is only an outward display of the relationship.
Advice to consorts
If you are a consort to someone else then it adds to both the game and to the relationship if you do things to make that person feel special, to inspire them. We all love to feel that we matter to someone and this can be done in many simple ways.
- Make sure they have water and food.
- If it is a rose tourney, make sure if you win a rose the first rose goes to your consort.
- Ensuring that you dance with your consort at least once during the feast.
Through these examples of courtesy to those who we care about, we also become examples of courtesy to all.