Laurel, Kingdom of Atlantia - Kingdom of Atlantia, SCA Inc
Atlantian Order of the Laurel

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

You've got questions? We've got answers! Please peruse the FAQ to see some of the questions the Order is most often asked.

If your question isn't answered here, try asking the Order!

Laurel Line

1. What is a Laurel?
According to Corpora a Laurel "...must have attained the standard of excellence in skill and/or knowledge equal to that of his or her prospective peers in some area of the Arts or Sciences. The candidate must have applied this skill and/or knowledge for the instruction of members and service to the kingdom to an extent above and beyond that normally expected of members of the Society.

The duties of the members of the order are as follows:
- To set an example of courtesy and chivalrous conduct.
- To respect the Crown of the kingdom; to support and uphold the laws of the kingdom and Corpora.
- If in fealty, to support and uphold the Crown of his or her kingdom.
- To enrich the kingdom by sharing his or her knowledge and skills.
- To advise the Crown on the advancement of candidates for the Laurel."

In addition, as peers, a Laurel: "must meet the following minimum criteria. Additional requirements may be set by law and custom of the kingdoms as deemed appropriate and necessary by the Crown.
- They shall have been obedient to the governing documents of the Society and the laws of the kingdom.
- They shall have consistently shown respect for the Crown of the kingdom.
- They shall have set an example of courteous and noble behavior suitable to a peer of the realm.
- They shall have demonstrated support for the aims and ideals of the Society by being as authentic in dress, equipment and behavior as is within their power.
- They shall have shared their knowledge and skills with others.
- They shall have practiced hospitality according to their means and as appropriate to the circumstances.
- They shall have made every effort to learn and practice those skills desirable at and worthy of a civilized court. To this end they should have some knowledge of a wide range of period forms, including but not limited to literature, dancing, music, heraldry, and chess, and they should have some familiarity with combat as practiced in the Society.
- They should participate in Society recreations of several aspects of the culture of the Middle Ages and Renaissance." .
2. What do the Laurels do?
Individually, Laurels are expected to provide leadership in the Arts and Sciences through continuing our research, teaching, and encouraging other artisans.

There are actually very few things that our Order does as a group. Their Majesties are required to consult with us before adding someone to our Order. We call this a polling. We spend a lot of effort to be appropriately informed on a candidate's qualities when we answer a polling, by paying attention to the work of artisans around us and sharing that information with other Laurels.

The only other group activity we have is sponsoring the Persona Pentathlon/Triathlon at the Kingdom Arts & Sciences Festival, which we have done since 2004.
3. How long do I have to be in the SCA to become a Laurel?
Laurels candidates are not judged on the length of time they've been in the SCA but on the quality and volume of their work. The time in the SCA varies dramatically: we have members who have shot from an Award of Arms to Laurel in as little as 2 years; for others it was a thirteen year journey. It takes time to build up a body of work and research and to get that work visible around the kingdom, and a more typical duration for focused artisans is six or seven years.
4. What do the Laurels look for in candidates?
There is no single check-list for defining the qualities of a Laurel. As we provide our opinions to our Monarchs, each member of the Order might look for different qualities. Our discussions are filled with many debates about this subject!

Among the things we discuss about candidates: the quality of the work; understanding of the period tools and techniques; the volume of the work; and the quality of the research. Some Laurels look for a candidate to have developed a single master work that shows the height of the candidates accomplishments; some Laurels point out that they never produced a master work. Some Laurels debate that a candidate should produce work at a good enough level that they could have earned their living in period with their art; other Laurels point out that this really doesn't apply in many cases.

Most Laurels look to see if the candidate has added something new to the art by: discovering and publishing some new fact; finding and making available new sources of information; expanding the practice of the art within our Kingdom; or delving into some art not practiced commonly. Simply re-producing what other Laurels have done before is not sufficient; building upon the work done previously by others is expected. Further, most Laurels compare a candidate's body of work to that of their own and other Laurels at the time they were recognized, with the expectation that new laurels should have done a similar volume of work.

Then there are the peer level qualities (PLQs): honor, courtesy, and chivalry are very important qualities in those we consider for our order. However, these can sometimes be hard to define. We look at how the candidate interacts with others: do they treat other people, of whatever rank, with courtesy? Are they honest in their dealings with others? Do they meet their commitments? Do they participate in other aspects of the SCA besides in just the Arts? Some candidates – and indeed, some Laurels – still have a few personality "rough edges" and we debate extensively on whether the quality and volume of the art outweigh PLQ concerns, or whether Peer Level Qualities are a pre-requisite before we even consider the candidate's art.

With all this in mind, each Laurel develops the criteria they use when giving advice to Their Majesties. There is no "one size fits all" answer to this question.
5. I'm told that I need to travel more to become a Laurel. Is this true?
No. And Yes. You don't need to travel just to travel.
The members of the Order of the Laurel are "polled" for their opinions of Laurel candidates. To receive a positive polling, candidates usually need to be reasonably well known across the Kingdom. This doesn't mean that the candidate needs to physically go to lots of other groups, although that sometimes helps one see and be seen. Many current Laurels found other ways to get their work seen, such as displaying their work on good research web-sites, sending their work to displays and competitions even when the artisan couldn't go, and even providing gifts of their art to people around the kingdom.

The main thing is that your work needs to be seen. Traveling to events around the Kingdom may help, but there are other ways to do it.
6. I'm a new Laurel / a Laurel new to Atlantia. How does the Order work in this Kingdom?
A few things about Atlantian Laurels which might differ from other Kingdoms:
- We have a focus on "recognizing" Laurels, not "elevating" them, with the idea that the person is already working and behaving as a Laurel before the ceremony.
- Atlantia uses the term "principal" for the person who manages the Order business, maintains the roster, and coordinates pollings. Principals are elected by the members of the order - a real VOTE.
- We have a "watch list," maintained by the Principal, which summarizes the recommendations and comments about candidates.
- Our Monarchs are required by law to consult with the Order prior to making someone a Laurel, and they do this through a polling. They are not required to follow the wishes of the Order as reflected in the polling, which is why it is called a polling and not a vote.
- The Principal is required by law to conduct an in-person meeting of the Order once per reign. Their Majesties (and maybe Their Highnesses) usually attend these meetings, but Their attendance is not required.
- One in-person meeting of the Order is always held at Unevent. This is a day of order and officer meetings, held the 1st weekend in December. It was originally developed so that members of Polling orders didn't spend all Twelfth Night in meetings. Over time, it has been extended to allow Kingdom officers time to communicate directly with their local officers. This is NOT a "garb" event.
- Most of our discussion of candidates is done through a yahoo-group email list or at events between individual Laurels.
- In-person meetings usually focus on "show and tell" and developing a list of names that we request Their Majesties poll for. While Their Majesties usually poll for the people we request, They are also free to add or drop names from that list.
- At the command of Their Majesties, Pollings are sent by the Principal to members of the Order. This is sent to the email list and other email or USPS addresses, as requested by the individual Laurels. Responses are private and are sent to Their Majesties only.
- Their Majesties may do a polling at an in-person meeting, but it is rare and done in very unusual circumstances, and strongly discouraged by Atlantian culture.
7. I think that Lord/Lady X should be a Laurel!
Great! Please tell us about it by sending in a recommendation. Use the "Make Recommentation" link to the left to submit a recommendation via the Kingdom Award Recommendation web site.
8. Why haven't you Laurels elevated Lord/Lady X yet?
To start with, while the Order provides our opinions on the readiness of candidates, the decision to add a person to our Order rests with Their Majesties. Their Majesties are required by law to ask the Order for opinions before adding someone to our Order; that doesn't mean they are required to follow our opinions. Atlantian monarchs usually respect the opinions of the Order and Their decisions are pretty consistent with the polling results from the Order. Still, each Monarch might have a different perspective on what constitutes a "positive" polling, and the decision rests with Them.

There are a number of reasons why a person may not have been added to our Order. Here are a few of the possible ones:
a) a majority of the Order doesn't consider the work or research to be Laurel-quality yet, or that the candidate has produced a sufficient body of work.
b) there are some questions about their actions with regard to courtesy, chivalry, or honor.
c) the ceremony is planned, but we have to get this person to an event that is on the Royal Progress, and due to just scheduling issues, this takes a while.
d) Their Majesties judged that the response from the Order was not sufficiently positive to warrant recognition.
9. I hear that all Laurels are stuck up Arts and Science snobs. Why?
Yep, Laurels as a group get that reputation. Sometimes a Laurel will give criticism in a less-than-diplomatic manner. Sometimes an artisan only wanted to hear praise, and got a critique instead. And some Laurels are just plain shy, introverted, or have trouble clearly expressing themselves to someone they don't know.

As a peer, we each have a responsibility to continue striving for high levels of courtesy. This is easier for some people than for others. Just because we've been made Peers doesn't mean that we are suddenly infallible.

There are over 100 Laurels recognized in Atlantia, and none is exactly alike in either friendliness or rudeness. The few incidents of destructive criticism or tactlessness probably overshadow many, many incidents of constructive criticism, helpfulness, guidance, and quiet kindness. So please don't assume that the stereotype of the group fits each of us as individuals.
10. I entered my art in a competition, and the Laurels hated it! Why should I ever do this again?
Because you really enjoy your art and you wanted to share your discoveries? Or you want to get better and someone might give you some suggestions?

There are a couple things in this statement to think about:
1) "The Laurels..." - assumes that Laurels all have exactly the same opinions. Not true! Our opinions, like our experience and knowledge, vary widely. And you probably heard from just a small sub-set of us.
2) "...hated it." This sounds like someone gave DEstructive criticism rather than CONstructive criticism. We strive to be helpful in our assessments of A&S projects, but occasionally something is communicated badly. If this was really very rude, let the Principal know who said what. If we have a consistent communication problem, the Principal may need to do some counseling.
3) Please realize that by putting your work into a competition you are making it available for critique. A judge is supposed to do just that: judge, and not everything is the best A&S entry they've ever seen. If you just want praise, entering a competition isn't the way to get it. If you want reasonably objective feedback, a competition is one approach to use.
4) Finally, if you enjoy the work you are doing, why would you let a few people's opinions make you stop? And if you don't enjoy it, why are you spending your "hobby time" on it?
11. What is an apprentice?
An apprentice is a student of a Laurel. The Laurel's responsibility is to provide guidance and teaching in the arts and sciences and on behavior in the Society.
12. What is an apprentice supposed to do?
That depends on the expectations established between the Laurel and the Apprentice when they began the relationship. Each relationship is different, because there two different people involved. Some Laurels give their apprentices specific tasks, timelines, and goals. Others Laurels just like to work on projects together, or just be available when needed to answer questions.
A consistent theme in working with apprentices is: apprentices should ask for advice and counsel on matters of research and handling people, and should ask for feedback on their work.
13. Becoming an apprentice means that I'm going to be a Laurel soon, right?
Wrong. Becoming an apprentice only means you've established a relationship with a particular Laurel. It is not an award. It carries no Precedence.

Further, while many apprentices aspire to eventually be Laurels, it's not true in every case. Apprentices and their Peers sometime have different artistic interests, and sometimes they are teaching each other.

The objective of the Laurel-Apprentice relationship is whatever that specific Laurel and Apprentice decide it should be.
14. Do I need to be apprenticed to someone to become a Laurel?
No. There are many Laurels who were never apprenticed.
15. How do I become an apprentice?
Some Laurels like to be asked to take an apprentice; others don't. Realize that for some peers, their household is really their extended family. You might be taken aback by someone saying "I want to move into your living room!" and that's how some Laurels might react to being asked to apprentice you. So the first rule is to get to know the person first.

Consider first asking a Laurel for advice on research and how to improve your work. If you interact well on this level, perhaps ask him or her to be a mentor to you, providing you with guidance in the art or Society. Find out his or her philosophies on peerage. If this is going well, the Laurel may invite you to apprentice. But I recommend that only after you are working together in the art should YOU ask to formalize the relationship as an apprentice.

Know that apprenticing can help open doors to you; it can also close them. Realize that by joining a person's household, you also are taking on their relationships: people who like your Peer will probably welcome you; those who don't like your Peer may avoid you. Finding a graceful way to dissolve the peer-apprentice relationship can be awkward. So get to know this Laurel and know what you are getting into before you apprentice.
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