Order of the White Scarf
The Order of the White Scarf of Ansteorra is a non-Armigerous award given in the Kingdom of Ansteorra for exceptional skill and abilities on the duello field of combat.
There shall exist in Ansteorra an order unto which the Crown shall select persons who have demonstrated all of the following qualities:
- Exceptional skill and chivalry in combat with weapons of the duello;
- Service to Ansteorra and its people;
- Knowledge of the courtly graces; and
- Obedience to the laws and ideals of Ansteorra and of the Society for Creative Anachronism.
This Order shall be known as the Order of the White Scarf of Ansteorra.
Companions of the order are entitled place the initials WSA after their names and to be styled and announced in procession as "Companion of the Order of the White Scarf of Ansteorra”. It shall be recognized tradition in Ansteorra to address members of the Order as “Don” or “Doña.” Companions of the Order shall be entitled to wear a white scarf about the left shoulder or above the left elbow.
Companions of the Order inducted prior to October 2018, shall take precedence after all nobility and peerage and before simple Grants of Rank. The Order of the White Scarf, Star of Merit, Iris of Merit, Centurions of the Sable Star, Arc d'Or of Ansteorra, and Golden Lance of Ansteorra are held to be of equal precedence.
Those created post October 2018, hold no precedence from this award.
The Order of the White Scarf was created as a Principality order by Tessa and Simonn, 3rd Coronet Princess and Prince of Ansteorra, under Salene of Mightrinwood and Theo of Mightrinwood, Queen and King of Atenveldt, in AS XIII (1979). The original name was "Cavalier of the Society for Creative Anachronism." That name was found unsuitable by the Herald's Office, and the name was changed to "Order of the White Scarf" by HRM Joselyn and Lloyd of Ansteorra the following year.
The White Scarf was the first award in the SCA specifically for rapier fighters. In October of A.S. XXI (1987), the Kingdom of the Outlands signed a treaty with Ansteorra to create their own Order of the White Scarf. Since then, ten other kingdoms have received permission to use the name "White Scarf" for their top-level rapier award. Further information may be found here.
October 13, 2018 Change to the Order by Jason Drysdale & Margherita de Mantua
These are the words of Their Stellar Majesties, read into law during their step-down court:
"The Order of the White Scarf holds a special place in the heart of Ansteorra. It has long held high standards as the pinnacle of the Rapier community. It not only recognizes prowess, courtly graces, and other qualities, but also has a special relationship with the Queen. With the introduction of the Masters of Defense, it is no longer the pinnacle of rapier combat, yet neither Their Majesties, nor the Order wish to see the standards for the order changed.
"In searching for a solution, Their Majesties have looked to other orders of high prestige. Both the Orders of the Rose and the Lions of Ansteorra are non-armigerous orders, whose prestige far outshines the simple precedence shown by their place in the Order of Precedence.
After long consultation with the Order, Their Majesties have decided to make the Order of the White Scarf non-armigerous as well. In all other aspects it will remain the same. It will keep its high standards, polling status, and special place in the heart and history of Ansteorra. Those who received it previously will keep their Grant level precedence.
"This however, creates an opportunity for something new. An order for those who have excelled in rapier or cut and thrust combat. Those who have surpassed the Sable Talon and are progressing towards the White Scarf and / or the Masters of Defense. It will be equal in precedence with the other Grant level orders. It is not a polling order, but will be awarded by the Crown through recommendations, similar to the Iris of Merit and Star of Merit. The name of this order shall be the Blade of Merit of Ansteorra, with a badge of “Sable, on a pale gules fimbriated, a rapier inverted Or”. The members of the order shall also be entitled to wear a ribbon paly, sable, Or, and gules.
At this time, their Majesties call forth the premiers of this order…
Gabriel of Maccuswell
Marie de Girau
Blazon: Sable on a pale argent between two rapiers, guards to center, proper, in chief a mullet of five greater and five lesser points sable.
Insignia: A white scarf worn about the left shoulder or above the left elbow.
(Click heading above for OP Link)
Trivia / Lore
There is an acknowledgement by the White Scarf community called 'The Little White Scarf,' which is an unofficial recognition of service to the Order.
Recollections and Stories
Forty-one years ago, when the principality of Ansteorra was holding court in an overcrowded tent on a rainy night, Prince Simonn and Princess Tessa called up Tivar Moondragon and made him the first (and ultimately, the only) member of the principality Order of the Cavalier. The insignia (which he had to make himself) was a white scarf.
We had no idea that it would soon be the kingdom Order of the White Scarf.
We’d have laughed at the notion that Lloyd and Joselyn would elevate it to a Grant level.
We would have been astonished at the idea that the Outlands would ask permission to use the same name and symbol.
We would not have believed that twelve other kingdoms would eventually open their own White Scarf orders.
We certainly didn’t expect it to change the SCA forever.
And since that day was when I decided to take the SCA seriously, I have no idea what my life would have been like without it. Or, in a real sense, who I would be. [For one thing, I would never have met Diane.]
To all my brothers and sisters of the White Scarf, thank you for being part of who I am.
Forty two years ago today, Tessa and Simonn named Tivar Moondragon the first (and only) Cavalier of the Principality of Ansteorra. The symbol was a White Scarf.
It was the first official recognition for “Swashbuckling” (rapier combat) in the SCA. It was soon superseded by the White Scarf of Ansteorra.
It wasn’t easy, just because he wore a White Scarf. There were Crowns and Board members who wanted rapier combat banned. For years, Tivar was the ambassador for fencing, fighting for his beloved rapiers at other kingdoms, and at Board meetings, showing the Known World that rapier could be both safe and fun, and helping it spread across the SCA.
It was followed by the White Scarves of Outlands, Trimaris, and ten other kingdoms. The White Scarf became a symbol of rapier excellence, growth, and acceptance that was recognized in every kingdom (even in kingdoms with no White Scarf, or no fencing). Many similar Orders were founded in other kingdoms, following the WS example.
This is the first anniversary of the White Scarf in which Tivar is not here to help us celebrate.
If you wear a White Scarf, …
If you wear a White Collar, …
If you wear a Golden Rapier, Bronze Ring, Meridian Blade, Blade of Merit, or any other elite recognition for rapier combat, …
If you wear a red scarf, or red collar, or any other symbol of striving to reach elite recognition for rapier combat, …
If you cannot even imagine an SCA in which rapier combat was at risk of being banned, …
If you ever picked up a rapier in the SCA to enjoy rapier combat, or watched a rapier tourney or melee with joy in your heart, …
… then thank Tivar.
42 years ago, Simon and Tessa called Tivar into their Principality court and created the first and only Cavalier of Ansteorra. There was no regalia, Tivar went home and made something inspired by Cyrano...a simple White Scarf for his left shoulder. As the play says, 'one does not take lightly the privilege of being a target".
And Tivar was a target. Back then, all rapier fighters were targets. This award eventually became the Order of the White Scarf, once Ansteorra was a kingdom. And it grew...and rapier spread...and new orders were made, both other White Scarf orders and those with different names. But the idea was the same....leaders of the community. Those who showed they were willing to be targets. Leaders of their communities across the knowne world....whatever they were called, they were the ones in front, showing how it should be done.
Today, a friend posted something about her 9 year old doing something, and her husband stepping forward to teach the kids something and entertain them. It did not matter that he stepped away from our game years ago....he was still being a Don. Whether it meant escorting a Queen, drawing steel for your kingdom, being an inspiration for those who follow, teaching the next generation (or the previous or current ones...we can all learn)....or entertaining a group of children...the people who became our leaders did so not because they happened to be deadly with a blade. Although that matters, too, and we all can think of examples of folks who are simply Death walking the field...
But what started all those years ago is a group of people who want to show others how it should be done. I did not want to get a White Scarf. I never wanted to be a Master of Defense. Those were sidebars to the actual goal.
I wanted to be a Don. To have my sisters and brothers think I belonged standing with them. Don't care what you wear on your arm or pinned to your doublet...these people are my family. And today I was reminded that while I miss those who have moved to other pursuits...they are still showing me how to do it the right way.
I hope that we all continue to do so. That we all remember that it is a privilege to be a target.
Thank you, Blayne, for the reminder.
Avery Shaw, MoD, Pel, Lion
by the hand of Conal II, 81st White Scarf of Ansteorra