A marshal is high-ranking royal military advisor. For some kingdoms, the Marshal is the chief of staff for the military forces (cf. the modern Field Marshal rank).
Marshals in the SCA
A marshal is in charge of all combat-related SCA activities. Depending on what type of marshal they are, their responsibilities may include being in charge of safety on the field (both tournament and war), carrying out armour inspection, authorisation of new fighters and keeping up-to-date with society combat laws.
Types of Marshals
Marshals exist in two forms for all types of SCA combat. First are the Field Marshals who are charged with maintaining safety and order on the field and performing armor inspections. Any individual in the society can learn to be a field marshal and does not need to be an active combatant to master the craft. It is, in the view of many fighters, important that anyone participating who does fight learn to be a Marshal. This serves two purposes, first it ensures an adequate supply of marshals at any event and second forces all fighters to keep current on rules and procedures. The second form of Marshaling is the Authorizing Marshal who will administer the qualification tests as required by the appropriate kingdom procedures before a fighter can recieve authorization to participate in tournaments and battles for their chosen style of combat. Authorizing Marshals can be chosen through a variety of methods but the predominate method seems to be appointment by the appropriate Kingdom level Marshal.
The kingdom marshal is commonly titled the Earl Marshal. In many kingdoms there are subordinate Marshals in charge of fencing and archery called the Kingdom Rapier Marshal (KRM) and Archer General respectively. Depending on the size of the Kingdom the Earl and Kingdom Rapier Marshals and Archer General may appoint regional assistants to perform in their stead when time or money does not allow them to travel to an event. Many local groups will also appoint a Knight Marshal (this individual does not need to be a Knight and will not be addressed as Sir if they are not a member of the Chivalry), Rapier Marshal, and Captain of the Archers to lead local activities. In smaller groups the Knight and Rapier Marshal as well as the Captain of the Archers may be the same person whereas in larger groups they will most likely be different individuals.
As well as referring to the activities of a marshal, a herald may also indulge in marshalling, which in his case means sorting out coats of arms and other blazons.