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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 elseís 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 ladyís 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 theyíre having so much fun; they donít look after themselves and will continue to fight even though theyíve 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.

For example, if you are consort to a fighter then:

  • Do your best to watch them when they fight for you;
  • Acknowledge their victories and commiserate in their defeats;
  • Ensure that they are looking after themselves; and
  • Make sure they have water and food.

If you are a fighter:

  • Ensure that your consort has a comfortable place to sit in the shade and has everything that they need.
  • Make a point of saluting your consort,
  • If they canít watch your fight, let them know what happened
  • If it is a rose tourney, make sure if you win a rose the first rose goes to your consort.

You can both display consideration & courtesy through:

  • Being mindful of the favour that you wear, look after it and do not loose it
  • Seek your consort out and welcome them at events
  • Ensuring that you both have seats at the feast and laying out feasting gear
  • Taking turns to bear the load e.g. - wash up the dishes
  • Assisting in carrying any of the equipment
  • Making and exchanging of gifts which can be handmade or purchased. (Itís the thought that counts)
  • 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.

Misconceptions about Consorts

  • A consort does not have to be a boyfriend/girlfriend or husband/wife it can be just a friend;
  • A consort is someone that you respect and is not your personal slave
  • Consort donít apply just to fighters, you can be someoneís consort even if neither of you fight;
  • Consorts can both be fighters too;
  • Consorts are not permanent, they can be for only one day or one tourney, or they can last a lot longer depending on what you both have agreed to;
  • You can have more than one consort, again this is up to those involved and I would suggest that all parties agree to this; and
  • While it is a requirement of crown tourneyís for the consort to be of the opposite sex, it is not a requirement elsewhere in the society. (See Corpora: IV Royalty Section B Qualification 1.)