What is the Baron and Baroness and what do they do? And how is this different from the Seneschal?
by Duena Acacia de Navarre
To answer your question it is important to understand that the SCA is a bit of a Schizophrenic organisation, we have to exist in the modern mundane world with all of its legal obligations and financial requirements, but we also want to play in a Feudal world with all of the pomp and circumstance of ruling royalty and peers of the realm.
In order to achieve this we have dual ruling structure. In the mundane world we are Australian Public Company, Limited by Guarantee. We have a Board of Directors registered with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission and we have public liability insurance, bank accounts etc. Most importantly we have official officers of the company, but instead of calling them presidents, branch presidents or treasurers we call them Seneschals and Reeves (which is more inline with what the position would have been called in period).
But let's face it, all this mundane legal structure is not what inspires us to play, so although it is important it purposely takes a backstage.
The real pomp and chivalry of our game comes from the feudal structure which we play, the King and Queen, the peers and gentry of the realm and most importantly the Baron and Baronesses who hold their lands and subjects in keeping for the King and Queen. It is these persons who control how we play the game and inspire us in feats of honour, courtesy and chivalry. They hold the centre stage at events and power they have comes from the respect and honour that we (their subjects) hold their position in.
So the answer to your question is that a Seneschal and other officers such as reeve are the official legal representatives of the SCA in your local group. Therefore they are responsible for all the day to day mundane decisions and record keeping which are required of any normal mundane institution.