The An Tir Handbook, 3rd Edition, May XXXIII/1998
Customs, Etiquette, and Playing the Game
By Duke Darius Corwyn
Royal Patronage was established during the reign of Darius I and is designed to fill a gap that exists for groups which are without a Baronial presence. The purpose of a Royal Patron is to provide smaller groups with a Royal Peer who is willing to act as a ceremonial head and advisor, and to link the group more directly to the Crown. A Patron acts as the liaison between the Crown and the branch in the same way a baron or baroness does for their barony. This is intended for incipient branches, full-status shires, ports, colleges, and strongholds, but does not include cantons, which fall directly under baronial supervision.
The roles of the Patron fall into three categories with plenty of room for individual tailoring. The Patron acts as a ceremonial figurehead for the group, is an advisor to the branch on diverse matters, and, most importantly, supports and facilitates the branch’s relationship with the Crown.
On the first point, one of the main purposes of the Patron is to increase the ceremonial dignity of the group’s events. Because of this, they are encouraged to hold court in their capacity of Patron, are permitted to form a modest retinue, and in other ways add to the general pomp and ceremony of the branch. The Patron acts as host to visiting dignitaries and Royalty, and presides over head table in the absence of Their Majesties. It is also possible for the Crown to empower a Patron to deliver awards to members of the branch on behalf of the Crown. This can be especially beneficial if the branch is in an outlying part of the Kingdom. There is no reason a Patron could not create letters and scrolls of praise and recognition, or bestow tokens or favors. The Patron may preside over a tournament to select defenders and other champions of the branch, though the victors would not be the personal champions of the Royal Peer, but rather champion/defender of the branch.
On the second point, regarding the role of advisor, the Patron should advise the members of the branch when appropriate or requested. Though they do not officially delineate policy for the branch, Royal Peers have a wealth of experience to draw upon, and can guide in the practical workings of branches. Their main motivation should always be to further the goals of the branch, and in some cases this means elevation to baronial status. For this reason, they should receive reports from the officers of the group, so they can keep apprised of the health and growth of the group. They are also therefore better able to compile their own report to the Crown.
The Royal Patron advises and assists the populace in matters of protocol and custom. They encourage classes and workshops to better educate the members of their branch and they attempt to create a feeling of belonging in the outlying branches of the Kingdom.
In the third point, the Patron’s capacity of representative of the branch to the Crown, we have the heart of the Patronage. They accept fealty from the populace of the branch, and in turn must swear fealty to Crown. In this capacity, the Royal Patron represents the branch in the meeting of the Noble Estate. It is through this Council that the Crown can heed the word of Its noble Peers and hear the voices of Their people. In a similar vein, the Patron carries the word of the Crown back to the branch.
As ceremonial head and protector of the branch, Patrons are encouraged to exercise their privilege and duty to field an army of warriors from the branch in service to the Crown in war; either for their Kingdom or against other branches. The patron must also see that all troops fighting under their banner are trained, safe, and comport themselves chivalrically upon the warfield.
The benefits to both parties can be manifold. The Royal Peer finds an outlet for their energies and knowledge and have a chance to aid in the growth and development of a branch, at the same time evolving a very special relationship. The branch has a unique opportunity to draw on the experience of someone who has held the reins of power. They have a spokesperson who represents them to the Crown, and serves as figurehead in the absence of the Crown. They have someone ‘on their side’ who acts as advisor and patron. This is also true on an individual basis within the membership of the group. A Royal Patron will likely have a much less intimidating aspect, and be approachable to individuals who have concerns or questions about the Society at large.
The Royal Peer can expect to receive the deference due to someone of their rank and station, and be accorded certain privileges which are decided between the branch and Royal Patron. The branch, in order to foster the good will of their Patron, could pay fealty to and support their Patron in times of war, adding ceremony and pageantry to the battlefield. They must keep their Patron advised of the goings on in the group, including copies of reports. If they wish, they may ask their Patron to pass on recommendations for members of their branches. The branch should be encouraged to create regalia to add to the flavor of court.
If a branch would like a Royal Patron, and there is no obvious candidate, they should approach the Crown for suggestions. Other branches with Patrons may also have useful insight. No Royal Peer will be compelled to accept this position and no branch will be compelled to accept a Royal Patron. Once a branch has reached a consensus about choosing a Royal Patron and that person or couple is in agreement, they should each send a petition to the Crown with copies to the Heirs if applicable. The Crown will review the petitions and make the final determination. If a Royal Patron/branch relationship is no longer suitable to the Crown, the branch or the Royal Peer, then the arrangement can be dissolved at any time with the appropriate notifications to the Crown.
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