By Mistress Shishido Tora (Gozen).
While not part of any Kingdom law, it is customary for Peers to assume a mentoring relationship with a student who aspires to follow the example of their Peer in achieving a level of excellence in their chosen discipline within the SCA. Knights take Squires; Laurels take Apprentices and Pelicans take Protégés. Each have their own belts which indicate their status, and when new people are brought into the SCA this is something that usually is explained to them to avoid the embarrassment of wearing a colored belt indicating a student relationship. The relationship between the Peer and their Squire/Apprentice/Protégé is personalized to the individual and usually includes expectations from both sides. Within the equestrian community of the Known World, there is a special type of student —known as an Equerry.
Historically, the term Equerry was used to denote a senior attendant with responsibilities for the horses of a person of rank. Within the SCA, the term is used to denote a “student” of an Equestrian Peer or Grant Level such as a Lancer (Companion of the Order of the Golden Lance). The intent is to denote that the “student “is learning and being mentored in the ways of the horse and equestrian arts.
In 2000, Sir Jerald of Galloway envisioned taking a squire based on the equestrian arts. Aside from being a Knight, Sir Jerald was also a Viscount and the premier knight of An Tir. He also designed the arms of An Tir during his tenure as Black Lion Herald. Sir Jerald was an accomplished horseman and was very involved in the equestrian program of the SCA, competing throughout the Known World. He competed five times at Gulf Wars, where along with other members of the Lance of St. Anne, he held the field Tenant. He was an Equestrian Marshal in several Kingdoms and was Special Deputy to the Society Equestrian Officer.
Sir Jerald determined to establish a Peer-student relationship for himself and his “squires” that was not focused solely on rattan style fighting but on the skills of horsemanship in the tradition of the medieval knight. Sir Jerald, as a former Herald Emeritus, did research on the term “equerry” which he used to identify this type of squire for himself. He also wrote his own ceremony for taking an equerry:
I, Viscount Sir Jerald of Galloway, mindful of your Prowess, Chivalry and Dedication to the equestrians of the Knowne Worlde do hereby recognize within you a person of worth and a seeker of knowledge. I have chosen you as my personal Equerry.
As an Equerry you will demonstrate to the Knowne Worlde the Chivalry, Equestrian Skills, and Pageantry of the Mounted Warrior of the High Middle Ages.
Do you understand the purpose of becoming an Equerry?
Do you agree to continue the example you have set forth which has caused the notice and appreciation of myself?
Then it is my pleasure to bring you under my shield, joining your voice with mine so that our combined example might cause others to strive for greater excellence.
Bear this belt with pride, but not in vanity, allowing it to remind both you and others of your continued commitment to myself and the Equestrians of the Knowne Worlde.
As noted on the website for the Lance of St Anne, Sir Jerald took the first two Equerries ever created in the SCA on March 17, 2000 at Gulf Wars IX. His Equerries were THL Brenna Caitlin MacGrioghair of Renwick and THL Myra Elvey MacGregor, both of Trimaris. He presented his Equerries with a belt, gules and or checque with Jerald’s personal device –a battle axe–on the tip of the belt.
Sir Jerald passed from this world on September 19, 2007 in his home kingdom of An Tir. Besides his excellent example as a Chivalrous man, Sir Jerald continues to serve as an example and inspiration to many equestrians throughout the Known World. It was his desire that others continue this tradition and that Peers or recipients of Grant Levels awards who had achieved a level of equestrian excellence pass their knowledge onto others and further develop their equestrian skills.
Mu’allemah Yaasamiin al-Raqqasa al’Alaa’iiyiyya created a third Equerry in in the SCA in the Kingdom of Artemisia. In 2002, she took THL Philip de Lisboa as an Equerry to further his knowledge of Equestrian Arts. According to her, Philip serves as her equestrian retainer, looking after her needs as well as those of her horses, and is learning horsemanship from her. He also studied the equestrian martial arts from Yaasamiin. During the Equerry ceremony Yaasamiin was flanked by her King, 4 Artemisian Knights, an An Tirian Knight, and several Laurels and Pelicans who comprised the approximately 25 spectators who stood as witness. As she notes, “He did not fit the Protege nor Apprentice category….. I used the red and gold checky that Jerald used and put a cinquefoil on the tip of the belt where he put his battle axe. ” (A cinquefoil is part of her arms.)
The tradition of the taking of an Equerry was continued in Æthelmearc, when Viscount Alexander Caithness took his own Equerry. In 2014, Mistress Ysabeau Tiercelin took Lord Rhiannon Elandris of Glyndrvdwy as an Equerry at Ice Dragon. Following the tradition of Sir Jerald, she presented Rhiannon with a belt—gules and or checque–made by another of her apprentices, Lord Magnus de Lyons.
Last Year, the Society Equestrian Officer, Dame Arabella da Siena, took an Equerry. The tradition continues in our fair Kingdom; at this past Æthelmearc Kingdom 12th Night, Mistress Shishido Tora (Gozen) took an Equerry under the Order of the Golden Lance of Æthelmearc. THL Morien MacBain became the third Equerry of Æthelmearc, and was presented with a set of checky colored garters. The oath given by Mistress Gozen to her student closely followed the original ceremony of Sir Jerald as a tribute to his example.
We in the Æthelmearc equestrian community are proud to carry on this tradition, and to foster growth in a part of our SCA activities that takes so much from medieval knighthood.