The Gazette interviewed William Parris, OD, our new Earl Marshal.
Tell us a little about yourself and your background in the martial disciplines.
I am a second generation member of the Society, and I have spent my whole life amongst the incredibly active inhabitants of my local Barony, the BMDL. I started fencing over ten years ago, and have enjoyed diving fully into not only the fencing community, but the Kingdom as a whole. I was cadeted to Don Christian de Launey and squired to His Grace, Sir Christopher Rawlins. Over the course of several reigns, I was able to witness all the effort necessary in the management of local groups, Kingdoms, and even the Society. I have enjoyed participating in archery, thrown weapons, armored combat, and, of course, fencing. I have entered Queen’s Rapier Championships and Crown Tournaments, hosted martial scholas, and participated in wars, both foreign and domestic. With the introduction of the Order of Defence, I have been looking for ways for the Order to serve in greater capacities, and the newly remodeled position of the Earl Marshal seemed like a perfect chance.
Why were the changes made to the Earl Marshal position?
The Earl Marshal has, traditionally, been the senior Armored Combat marshal. They oversaw the other disciplines through their Kingdom deputies. In an effort to create a more consistent mechanic, the EM will now adopt a more purely administrative role, with each martial discipline, now including Armored Combat, being represented by a kingdom deputy. I will serve as liaison between each of those positions and the Society Earl Marshal, as well as coordinator for the implementation of new policies. Each discipline will be allowed to exercise as much independence as possible, enabling those with the most experience to serve as guides. I will, of course, remain as active as possible in each activity, to better serve as support to those kingdom marshals.
Will the Heavy Weapons Marshal position take on the traditional duties of the Earl Marshal? How will the position be different?
The Armored Combat Marshal will adopt many of the roles that had previously been assigned to the Earl Marshal. This will include revisions of policy, gathering of reports, and serving as a senior marshal for Crown Tournaments.
The Pennsic Marshal position is something new. What specifically will the person be doing?
Pennsic is a constantly evolving culture, and its governance requires great experience and focused attention. As Æthelmearc adopts greater degrees of responsibilities at Pennsic, the Pennsic Marshal will serve as the chief coordinator of our efforts. Development and management of battlefield activities is no easy task, and it will require a deft touch. I have great faith in our Kingdom’s ability to carry a lion’s share of the burden in providing a efficient and safe atmosphere for the citizens of Pennsic.
How much autonomy do the individual chief marshals have in the Kingdom?
While I have participated in many of the martial activities, I recognize a great wealth of experience beyond my own. One of my primary duties will be enabling the Kingdom Marshals to conduct their duties as freely as possible. I have no interest in telling any of them how to perform their tasks, and I feel the Kingdom will benefit from their individual passions for their offices.
What do you think the most positive aspect of this change will be?
This change in the role of the Earl Marshal sets precedent for leaders of any discipline to assume the office. All activities will enjoy full attention and support, along with the opportunity to serve the Kingdom in such a capacity. I am humbled to be a part of the change.
Anything else you’d like to tell our readers?
Accepting the responsibilities of becoming a marshal is a sacrifice, and I am deeply grateful to every marshal in the Kingdom. The great office of the Earl Marshal is made great by the untiring efforts of those willing to run inspections, host tournaments, marshal the lines, and complete the paperwork that allows the Kingdom and Society to continue preserving the magic that has drawn each of us in. I am grateful to the Kingdom Marshals and especially to Her Grace, Tessa and His Grace, Maynard for stepping forward and accepting the challenge of their new roles. If my term as Earl Marshal is to be well regarded, it is upon their shoulders that accolade should fall.