A consort is a member of the opposite sex that has a strong relationship with another person. This could mean they are married or it could just be a very strong friendship. Both people are regarded as each other's consort.
Historically, the consort of a noble would normally be granted a rank or the honorific Lord or Lady just by being their husband or wife. For instance, the wife of an Earl is a Countess. The wife of the King is called the Queen. However, in modern society the husband of a Queen is not necessarily a King (cf. Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Phillip).
Consorts in the SCA
For some things, a fighter must have consort. For instance, during Crown Tournaments each fighter must have a consort. The victor wins the title of King or Queen by right of arms and his or her consort will become Queen or King for their inspiration, grace and beauty.
Elsewhere, the decision whether or not to have a consort or be one is up to the individual. It is something that can be either taken seriously, or not. For some, their consort could be their boyfriend/girlfriend, husband/wife, for others it's simply a friend. Two fighters can be consort to each other. Either way, to formalise the friendship, favours are commonly exchanged and worn to display the linkage and help rally the fighter during combat. During court, should one of the partnership not be present, then the other acts as his/her representative.
Because being a consort means different things to different people, before coming a consort a few things should be discussed. For instance:
- How long do you plan to be consorts for? (One tourney? Until one of you leaves the SCA? Whatever?)
- What are each of your expectations of your roles? (water bearing, being present at all tournaments).
- If the person you are to be consort to is in a relationship, does the other person know? (some people can become awkward about such things).
Note also that when it comes to something like a Crown tournament or Coronet tournament, consorts may need to meet other requirements. To enter a Crown Tournament, both the fighter and his/her consort must be SCA members to be eligible. They must also understand and meet the Kingdom Law and Corpora requirements for participating in the tourney, and be willing to take on the responsibilities of becoming king/queen or prince/princess.