In many (12 of 19) SCA kingdoms, fencers may be admitted into the Order of the White Scarf, if in the eyes of the Crown acting on the recommendation of the other members of the order, they have demonstrated a high level of expertise in the field of rapier and exemplify courtesy, chivalry, dedicated patronage to the arts and sciences and show continual service to local branches and the kingdom. They are given a white scarf to wear on the left arm or shoulder to signify their rank, and if they do not already possess one a Grant of Arms.
This is not a peerage order and was created decades before the Order of Defense was created. All the kingdoms in the Known World that have signed the White Scarf Treaty acknowledge the equivalency of order members from outside their realm. The Order of the White Scarf is the only massively inter-kingdom order.
The title commonly used is Don or Donna/Doña, but this may also used by any armiger as an alternative to Lord or Lady. In White Scarf Kingdoms and especially in the fencing communities of White Scarf Kingdoms, the title is reserved by tradition for White Scarves.
The Order of the White Scarf was originally created as an award in the Principality of Ansteorra in March of A.S. XIII (1979). It was intended to provide recognition for excellence in the growing population of rapier fighters in the principality. When Ansteorra became a kingdom in May of A.S. XIV, the order was released from the parent kingdom of Atenveldt to Ansteorra for its continued use.
White Scarves sometimes take new fighters under their wing. While names for these fighters vary they are most commonly referred to as Cadets and perform much the same function for their White Scarf as a Squire does to a Knight. Cadets commonly wear a red scarf, depending on which Kingdom they are in, as a symbol of their position.
White Scarf Treaty
The White Scarf Treaty is a unique document in the SCA, and the Order of the White Scarf is likewise a unique entity. The treaty was originally signed in 1987 between the Outlands and Ansteorra. The text of that document is here: http://www.avigne.org/sca/ws/treaty.shtml
At its most legalistic, the Treaty allows names and heraldry that might otherwise conflict to be registered. (Further elaboration or comment from the SCA College of Heralds would be welcome here.) The central feature of the treaty, however, is the clause which establishes equivalence between the orders across kingdom lines. The treaty is sometimes even called a treaty of equivalence.
What this means is that, unique among SCA awards, the White Scarf is recognized in multiple kingdoms without being recognized SCA wide by the Corporate documents (as are Awards, Grants and Patents of Arms, and Peerages both bestowed and royal.) Thus a member of the White Scarf of Ansteorra who moves to the Outlands is treated as a member of the order in the Outlands, and vice-versa. The same holds true of all White Scarf kingdoms.
With the creation of the Order of Defense in 2015, some kingdoms (e.g. Lochac) chose to close their Order of the White Scarf to any new members, but still recognised existing members and maintained upholding the treaty.
The White Scarf Kingdoms are, in order:
- An Tir
- Kingdom of the West*
* The Kingdom of the West did not actually sign the treaty but has functionally equivalent agreements in place.
Other Fencing Awards
Not all Kingdoms have signed the White Scarf Treaty. However, Kingdoms may have awards for fencing which are independent orders like any other Kingdom award; White Scarf Kingdoms may also have other awards for fencing or rapier combat.
Orders that carry a Grant of Arms
- The Bronze Ring in the Middle Kingdom
- The Dragons Steel in Drachenwald
- The Order of Thorbjorn's Hammer in Ealdormere (Awarded for Excellence, etc., in ANY Ealdormerean martial discipline)
- The Order of the Queen's Blade in Gleann Abhann
Orders that carry an Award of Arms
- The Order of the Golden Rapier (OGR) in the East Kingdom (note that at the time the East had no Grant Level Awards)
- The Meridian Order of the Blade in Meridies