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An associate is a student who is in a formal squire, apprentice or protégé relationship with a peer, usually with an exchange of fealty.

Members of the Order of Chivalry take squires.

Members of the Order of the Laurel take apprentices.

Members of the Order of the Pelican take protégés.

Members of the Order of Defense take provosts.

Being a fealty relationship, this involves some kind of contract, devised and agreed on by the two concerned parties. This often takes the form of the associate agreeing to take on whatever tasks his/her master/mistress sets before him or her, and the master/mistress pledging mentoring, sharing of knowledge and skills, and welcoming that associate as one of his or her family.

Unlike associates, who may be made only by Peers, anyone, regardless of personal rank, may take students.


(A "keeper" posting from the Steps, June 2006.)

[...] if you are in direct fealty to a Peer, that peer can swear fealty to the Crown for both of you -- the fealty trickle-down effect.

The other facets may be a bit more subtle. A good part of a Peer's job is to teach and guide their associates and give them lots of opportunities to shine. This may or may not exist in a student relationship. Both Peers and teachers like challenges, and to challenge themselves as well as those they work with.

Fealty contracts can be made; they can also be broken by mutual agreement to dissolve the relationship, or by one person not fulfilling their end of the contract. It's important to note that contracts are reciprocal. Contracts may also have time limits. In a fealty contract with me, you become an important part of my family or household--you do your best regarding your interests, you accept such tasks as are set before you as are reasonable for you, and you uphold the honor of us both. For my part, I challenge you, present you with opportunities to show your knowledge and skills and invite others to partake of them, and uphold the honor of us both. If you need protection, I am your shield; if you muck up, I expect others to tell me FIRST so we can discuss and resolve the issue at hand. (Woe betide the person who picks on my brother--that's MY job! ;) )


(A "keeper" posting from the Steps, June 2006.)

My laurel [Master Hector of the Black Height, Ealdormere] states that a peerage is the "crown's stamp of approval on an individual taking on dependants for the purpose of guidance, mentorship and mutual growth". Having a dependant is part of the job description of peers, and being a dependant gives that person the knowledge that there is someone they are accountable to and who is in their corner when the chips are down.

Essentially, any of the bestowed peerages are expected to take dependants and teach them. The coloured belts worn by Peers’ dependants signify bonds between Peers and non-Peers.

I would not define any of the three dependants any differently, except in the flavour of peer they are attached to. They are all engaged in a formal mentorship relationship to some degree or another. That relationship is as unique as the individuals in it, but the formality of the relationship is recognized and respected by the Crown and the other members of the peerage.


(A "keeper" posting from the Steps, Feb 2006.)

I am somebody's protege. Sometimes, that relationship is on the back burner because we are not romantic (though we are affectionate) and he lives a bazillion miles away; if he suddenly said that he will never return to the SCA, we would still be friends. And yes, the strength of our fealty is equally matched by our friendship.

Sometimes that relationship is on the forefront--usually, when he wants me to do something. Sometimes we have to talk our way through it, and sometimes life gets in the way and I can't do what he wants, and sometimes he has to invoke his feudal rights to remind me that I *can* do whatever is needful. (That doesn't happen very often...) He is not omniscient, but he does care about my growth and learning experiences.

When we gave each other our oaths before witnesses, we did so as equals, for we have (even now!) much to learn and teach each other, and others.

When I do something *excellently well,* it reflects on him. Likewise, when he does something fabulous, I get to be proud of him.

He is the peer. Lucky him--he gets to advise the Crown, advise his peers, and attend meetings.

I am the peer-in-training. Lucky him--he gets to hear what *I* think the Crown should be doing. In my capacity as protege, I am expected to think and advise and listen and learn from my liege lord--he has to hear from me. (And lucky me, I don't have any meetings...!)

While I could agree with you that there are some distinctly un-peerlike behaviors occuring among the peerages, I am also the first to say that I can't fix *it*.

Instead, I can point to myself, to my family, and even my peer and work on those behaviors that would enhance those around me. I'm not talking about peer-like qualities (a misnomer, and worthy of another post entirely). I am talking about becoming a better woman, a better mother, a better friend. This is well within my sphere of influence. I can teach, I can share, I can do.

I'm not out to fix the world. I'm not even out to repair the kingdom. I can leave a place better than I found it--even if it's picking up cigarette butts off the ground. Or leaving a room.


With respect to you all, I remain

Laurin, Protege to Steffano

(A "keeper" posting from the Steps, June 2006.)

What's an apprentice? What's a protege'? What's a squire?

How are they different from a student? From a man at arms? From that young gentleman who's always there when you desperately need help setting up the lists?

Please remember that this isn't the WORD FROM ON HIGH, this is the WORD FROM CAIRBRE.

For simplicity's sake, I'm going to refer to proteges, squires and apprentices as, "PSAs." (get over it, my other choice was, SAP and we all know how that would have gone over... ;-} )

Is a PSA a student? Yep.

Is a student a PSA? Not necessarily.

The difference comes in the type of education being sought. Anyone who is learning something from someone is a 'student.' That's one of those words that's very hard to quibble about. You can use the word, "student", as a proper noun and give them belts, baubles or important sounding titles, but they will still be someone who's learning something from someone.

So what's a PSA then?

Glad you asked.

PSAs are students studying to become Peers. (ARGH!!! I can hear the screams now...)

How many of you have heard something to the effect, "If someone is trying to become a Laurel, they don't deserve to become one." Answer honestly. Go ahead, the rest of us will wait.

A lot of us have heard that. A lot of us have heard that the earth was flat too. They're both about as valid.

Very few people have any problems when someone decides they want to become a Knight. Yet there's this bizarre pseudo-Victorian morality surrounding the Pelicans and Laurels that makes people believe it's somehow impure or unclean to deliberately strive to enter one of these orders. As I've said before, "get over it."

The nature of the specific relationships between Peers and their PSAs are as varied as the people involved. Some swear to keep the Knight's armor clean and always follow him into battle. Other's promise to spend hours at the bench cutting glass and making windows even to the extent of skipping events if necessary. Still others promise to autocrat a zillion events and hold an equal number of offices. The specifics of the oaths that define the relationships aren't particularly important to anyone other than the Peer and their prospective PSA. There can be fealties and homages, homages without fealties, fealties without homages, simple business contracts (very popular in period I might add, none of the silly 'My man is my Liege's man' for those glassworks in Venice) Figure out what makes the two of you happy and make that the covenant that binds one to teaching the other to become a Peer.

What is important is the idea that these prospective PSAs are asking someone in a specific position to teach the PSA everything needed to become a peer to the Peer. More importantly, a peer to the Peerage.

Think about this again, a PSA is asking someone to teach them to become a Peer of the Society for Creative Anachronism.

They are asking someone to teach them not only the specific skills germane to the Peerage in question but to teach them all of the other things that make up being a Peer. They're asking them to teach Peer Like Qualities. They're asking to be taught to play enough Chess to show some familiarity with period gaming and to do a Pavane if that's what the Queen asks for. The difference in the curriculum is simple; PSAs are asking to take the course work for the skills as well as the additional major in, "Peer Like Qualities." Simple, no?

In period, the concepts of PSAism (PSAitude? PSAiferousness?) had very little to do with how they're perceived in the modern SCA. Depending on when and where in period, being a Squire might well be the highest station someone could ever hope to attain. In other places, being a Knight wasn't much to talk about because of all of the Lords and Ladies wandering around the Court. (I'm using 'Knight' as a generic period term for our Peerage orders)

An apprentice might well be literally sold into the household of a skilled artisan and spend their entire life knowing they will never be a 'peer' of the master. Depending on who the master had as their patron or sponsor, that apprentice may well never even be allowed to have credit for works that surpassed the master's greatest.

Why does someone want to become a PSA?

Nobody needs to be a squire to learn to fight. Nobody needs to be a Knight to be a good fighter. Anybody who says you have to be a Knight to be the best fighter ever is simply wrong. The same holds true for artisans and craftsmen and the Laurels and the servants in regards to the Pelicans.

Nobody has to be a Knight to be King. Nobody has to be a Pelican to be the Kingdom Seneschal. Nobody has to be a Laurel to be the Kingdom Minister of Arts & Sciences. Anybody who tells you otherwise is desperately misinformed.

A reasonable modern world analogy would be a Doctoral Candidate. They're working to enter the highest realms of academia. They're not just learning how to be a good engineer or a decent cosmologist, they're looking for a mentor who can show them how to do fundamental research and then teach it to the rest of the world.

Those of you who are martial artists, think about that person with their 3rd or 4th Dan who are spending their life's savings to go to Okinawa, Korea, China or where ever to study with the Soke. They're learning to become the person who will carry the tradition on to the next generation of students. Not just the techniques, everyone with a Dan rank is a competent technician, that's the very essence of 1st Dan. They're trying to learn the things that allow the tradition to carry on, not just how to throw a punch or how to drop your center of gravity during a leg sweep.

The advantage the SCA has is that you don't have to have your Master's degree or your 3rd or 4th degree black belt to hook up with someone to teach you to build the future of the society. You have to have the desire, skill and interpersonal skills to find a teacher willing to pass on more than just how to bevel a piece of glass so the lead sticks properly.

There's nothing wrong with being a student. There's nothing inherently better with being a Peer. You can be both at once. Within the ethos of our modern SCA, being a PSA is more of a calling than an educational experience.

As always, YMMV


Becoming an Associate

(A "keeper" posting from the Steps, Feb 2006.)

I am curious about something. I was apprenticed / proteged [...]

But I did not seek them out. They approached me and said they felt I had reached a level which would benefit from direct tutelage. I was rather surprised they thought so, and I was honored they sought me out.

I have always assumed this was the way it was done everywhere. They choose you and it would simply never have occurred to me to seek them out and ask to be taken on as an apprentice or protege.

Is that an accepted practice? Does the apprentice/protege usually initiate the conversation here? I know the squires do it all the time, but that is somehow quite different to my mind.

Very curious to know,


(A "keeper" posting from the Steps, Feb 2006.)

I think it depends on the Laurel/Pelican. I know one Laurel who WILL NOT ask. I think at this point, that rule has so firmly reached the status of unshakeable law that she feels she can no longer make an exception. It has become slightly absurd even, because when she wanted one of my friends as an apprentice, and my friend wasn't catching on to the broad hints, the Laurel in question eventually sent over a mutual friend to TELL my friend to ask, if she was at all interested in being this laurel's appentice.

I also know one or two laurels who, while not offended by being asked, prefer to do the approaching, because they can take the potential rejection of being turned down better than they can deal with having to disappoint someone who looks up to them enough to ask, but that they don't feel is quite the right fit for that kind of relationship, for whatever reason.

My laurel just dropped really really REALLY big hints during a conversation about my ceremony for joining her household, until I finally looked at her askance, and asked her if she wanted me to ask or was she just trying to see if I was interested.

Speaking of advice...

what were/would you looking for from the relationship?  What do/did you want and what does/did your Peer want?

Again, depends, in this case very much on the person who wants to be an apprentice/protege.

Are you very independent and self-directed, but get distracted and don't always finish what you start? You may just need someone to guide you in the right direction when you're lost, and boot you in the butt occasionally when you wander off on some tangent.

Are you scattered and overwhelmed by choices? You may need someone to layout a path for you, or help you lay out one; someone to help you narrow down your choices to something manageable.

Are you pretty much sure of exactly where you want to go and how to get there, and disciplined enough to do it? You may not need a Laurel/Pelican at all. And the rest of us will look at you with envy and a sneaking sense of fear. ;) ...but you probably just need someone to cheer you on when things go well, cheer you up when they don't and occasionally point out things you may have missed, or should watch out for.

Do you want it to be a strictly mentor/student relationship? Or also friendship? Just in the SCA, or also mundanely?

Personally, I mostly fall in the first category of people-types. I have never had difficulty finding something to do that interests me, and am more than capable of going out and doing it without prompting. In fact, I really ought to remember to actually tell my Laurel what I'm up to more often. Which I'll probably have to do now, since I think she's on this list. :)

My biggest problem is that I'm easily bored and distracted and get excited by too many things, I'm not really scattered but my SCA to-do list is currently about 40-50 projects long, ranging from things that just need few final adjustments and finishing, to passing ideas I really want to do but haven't the time for right now. In fact, my list is so long occasionally I find a project I completely forgot I was even working on!

What I was looking for was someone who would cheer me on when I did stuff, but who I could trust to give me an honest opinion on the results. Someone who would remind me of projects I should finish sooner rather than later (when I'm not in school and putting all SCA stuff on hold anyway), make suggestions of projects she thinks I could do, that I may not have thought of, or thought might be beyond me and suggest solutions or suggest where I might find them when I get stuck on something.

I also wanted it to be a two-way relationship. I was looking for someone who wasn't just a mentor who helped me along in my chosen endeavors, but someone who was also a friend. Someone who was willing to be actively involved in my projects, and sometimes asked me to be involved in theirs.

I even got something I didn't know I was also looking for; someone who, besides being my mentor and friend in the SCA, was also a friend who wouldn't mind me sitting at her kitchen table and kvetching about man-troubles, or describing school projects so excitedly that normal people can't listen fast enough to hear, and she actually understands what I'm talking about. Because you can never have too many of those.

This is such a great question, because trying to explain something to someone else helps clarify it in your own head! Thank you!

Brighid Anraith

(A "keeper" posting from the Steps, Mar 2006.)

Well.. I've often thought of putting up a 'Personal/Help Wanted' ad on the lists.. ;)

Something along the lines of;

Creative Lady of strong Personality seeking Laurel to act as Mentor in the realm of Costume.

  • May lead to a more formal relationship.
  • Said Laurel needs be flexible of mind, capable of giving constructive

criticism and a well placed boot to the butt when procastinative tendencies take hold.

  • The Laurel in question ideally will be a fibre addict, have an interest

in many periods, and have a high tollerence for puns and other forms of wittisisms.

  • The Laurel should live near Lions Gate or be willing to travel within

reason for purpose of regular meetings.

Applicants may reply to this address offlist.



(A "keeper" posting from the Steps, Mar 2006.)

Well not speaking as a Laurel or Pelican, but as one of those other peers, I would say I've seen it done both ways.

Me personally? I consider it the first test of any squire I would consider. If they don't have the Caljones to come up and open discussions with me on the subject, then they probably wouldn't do well as my squire. I cut a wide swath sometimes and being associated with me means you are not going to be able to skate by as a wallflower. ;-)

As uncomfortable as this sounds, it's very much like dating. (Which, BTW, one should NEVER do. I've never once seen a situation where dating a student or squiring your wife turned out well).

But in a non-romantic way, you are forming a long term bond that is in all other ways very much like dating/marriage.

There really is no better analogy I can think of.

In Service,
Sir Daniel

(A "keeper" posting from the Steps, Mar 2006.)

Couple of things to think about from Dame Tamlyn.

Laurels tend to keep an eye out at Artisans' Displays (Kingdom and local level:-) and tend to gravitate towards those displays which are one of their areas of interest or in which they may be interested in learning more about.

Apprenti don't necessarily have the same exact interests as their Laurels - when I contract to someone I "by the best means I can teach and instruct or cause to be taught and instructed" of course a requirement I have of them is that they "shall not haunt disreputable taverns, nor playhouses, nor gamble such to cause loss and absent myself thereby from my mistress' service".-}

I've approached someone who originally was most strongly interested in scribal matters, but who is now more interested in archery... I won't know as much as him, but I'll certainly learn along the way and put him in contact with those he can learn from when we enter into contract.

It is far more important from the personal perspective that the relationship be with someone you can get along with and who can get along with you... Take an opportunity or several to talk with a Laurel who may be interested in what you're interested in... If nothing else it will make them easier to approach if you do decide you want to ask them if they would enter into a Laurel-Apprentice relationship, though several Laurels I know (including myself) will start with "student" relationships to see if they will work out (for a variety of reasons:-} before upgrading to an apprentice relationship.

I've found that usually the reason a Laurel doesn't take on such relationships is that 1) they are getting used to being a Laurel - probably shouldn't ask for a relationship in their first year until they get their feet under them, 2) they may feel that they can't adequately fulfill your specific needs, 3) they already have enough relationships in the works that they are unsure they can take anymore on without current relationships suffering, and 4) they have a set manner in which they take on apprentices or types of apprentices - this is harder to figure out and works along the lines of deciding whether you should be asking them or whether they will be asking you. Most people don't do well with cold calls so I would recommend finding out all you can about a particular Peer before approaching them - sort of like finding out what you can about a business you are interested in working for BEFORE you interview:-}.

(A "keeper" posting from the Steps, Mar 2006.)

There aren't enough active Laurels in the kingdom to take on many more apprentices than are already in service. There's a limit to how many of them any Laurel can handle at a time and do a good job of it, so my Laurel friends tell me. And I believe them.

It's not only time-consuming, it's a relationship wherein the peer and the student have to get along well for it to be a productive use of time and effort. That means knowing each other well before undertaking the relationship in the first place. And that creates its own limits above and beyond the Laurel's current number of apprentices.

Sister Guineth