Laurel Ceremony for Farolfus filius Richardi

Here follows a Langobardic Elevation Ceremony written for Farolfus filius Richardi, aka Faraulf. Faraulf completed much of the primary research and translating, and I helped massage his figurative pile of post-it notes into an immersive ceremony.

This ceremony is written with the traditions and customs of Northshield in mind.

I have created some word soup about my most recent foray into ceremony writing for Faraulf son of Rikahard’s Laurel ceremony. This is a behind-the-scenes look at how this all came together. It includes some of my own thoughts and commentary about the ceremony itself and the process it took to get there. You can view the actual ceremony at the link above. I recognize that the text is kind of rambly - I want to get this out into the world sooner rather than later. I may edit it into a more cohesive document in the future but no promises.


Faraulf came to me with the general idea of a lawsuit for the basis of the elevation. He wanted it to be immersive and engaging but not over-the-top funny. It was also important to him that the accuser be able to save face by the end of the thing. As he describes it, he came to me with the equivalent of a napkin drawing so that I could make it sound nice. We workshopped this extensively, and it basically ate my brain for the entire month of May.

The creation of this ceremony was a little different than the process I have used for other ceremonies. I am used to being able to source dive on my own to find bits and pieces that make sense. However, much of the source material in the ceremony had only been translated into Italian, or had not been translated at all. I relied heavily on Faraulf to find those elements to add “flavor” to the ceremony.  

Theatre vs Heraldry

Finding the balance between good theatre and meaningful elevation was very difficult, to be honest. What I’ve discovered is that my initial thoughts usually tend towards the more farcical or humorous side, and that I needed to pull that back to something more sedate. I also discovered that some folks can’t tell the difference between my “good” ideas and my actual good ideas. Something to work on going forward, I think. 

Anyway, because of the way the ceremony ended up being structured, there were a couple humorous bits that made it through editing, primarily where the accusations or negative things were being addressed. This helped to indicate that they were not reflective of the actual feelings of the accuser and to reduce the overall negativity of those sections. The Serious Business Parts have much less levity and tend to have more legal wording involved. Effectively, I differentiated between truth and falsehood by altering the tone of the section accordingly. What’s interesting is that I didn’t do that intentionally, and only discovered that I’d done it as I was writing up my thoughts here.  Good job, self.

About the Players

We selected Mistress Hrodwyn OL to be the bad person, as she is well-regarded as a kind person. It would be very, very clear that this was theatre, not her actual opinion. The original plan called for a Snidely Whiplash-style mustache, if that gives you an idea of where we started. I decided to focus on the martial aspect of her concerns and, in fact, explicitly wrote that she has “no questions about artistic prowess or other qualities as a peer [and she supports] his admission to the Order in all [other] ways.” Hrodwyn is especially qualified to discuss concerns regarding martial prowess as she has been a heavy fighter for many, many years. Plus this gave the opportunity for the delightful statement of “he sold his horse to buy books!” (from the margarita-brain of Faraulf) which is one of my favorite lines in the whole ceremony. Overall, we achieved the goal of letting Hrodwyn come out of this with her reputation intact while playing into the narrative of A Very Concerned Peer Advising The Crown.

Since there was an antagonist, there must also be a good person to represent Faraulf in this matter. Baroness Caoilfhionn was an ideal candidate for this due to her friendship with Faraulf as well as her position as the Baroness of the Barony of Nordskogen. She was roughly analogous to the governors discussed in the texts.

Interpolating Historical Sources with SCA Tradition

Identifying a way to interpolate a Langobardic martial requirement into a non-martial peerage elevation was tricky but quite satisfying once it was done.. Faraulf came up with the idea that fighting does not necessarily need to be actual combat but could instead represent the actions and betterment of a person for the good of the populace. It was my job to figure out how to get that nebulous concept into actual words that made sense in the context of the ceremony. I struggled with that for quite a while until Caoilfhionn’s tidy little monologue regarding the letter of the law vs the spirit of the law came flowing out, nearly fully formed. Caoilfhionn made some edits/additions as well, for which I am grateful.


I am particularly pleased with the insertions of the sections of the actual Laws of the Langobards. They provided good context to the populace to explain what was going on, and also added good “flavor” for the ceremony without being overly burdensome. I’m a big fan of showing, not telling; however, this was so far away from the typical Peerage ceremony that giving a little bit of extra context would be beneficial for the understanding of the audience. I wanted the populace to come along with us for the ride rather than feeling like they were being dragged along behind us.

This is also why we decided to do an introduction for the ceremony, similar to “in fair Verona where we lay our scene” from Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. It was also compared to the opening crawl from Star Wars. I tried to make it have a similar in medias res vibe for the populace and so they would be able to immerse themselves with us right away.

Visual Component

I absolutely loved the visual component of this ceremony, where Faraulf stood with his supporters on the left of the stage and the attestors/speakers crossed over to add their physical support to their verbal attestations. I was also immensely amused that all of his Peer attestors were also Laurels in their own right. It made for excellent theatre and simplified the blocking substantially. I did map out the blocking for all the folks - you can see that here. I have to recommend either this method of blocking or doing it with legos on a table; a few times, I realized that person A was missing, or person B was standing awkwardly by themselves for a while.

I also loved the aspect where the speakers put their hand on the Axe to make their statement of truth. It's a little thing, but there's something about that Axe that just makes everything a little more special.

Commonalities Between Cultures

As an aside, it never ceases to amaze me how there is nothing new under the sun - there are so many commonalities between this Langobardic trial, the Anglo-Saxon petition, the Tang (Chinese) recognition of rank, and the Flemish/English guild rules. It’s quite useful for our purposes, as the Northshield standard elevation ceremony has many of those same elements. Finding ways to differentiate between the cultures and time periods is tricky. I was especially challenged with this ceremony: the AS ceremony I worked on was only a couple hundred years later in a related culture, but we had to find new, earlier sources than what I already had for virtually every aspect.

In the AS ceremony, each attestor essentially pinkie promises that they’re telling the truth and weren’t paid for their good words. In that case, they agreed to sign a written document to show their support. Here, the attestors will also (eventually) sign the peerage scroll, but due to logistics, that wasn’t possible to get done day-of. I liked that they swore on a relic (also a commonality with the AS ceremony). I found it challenging to shift my mindset enough so that I was using the new, Langobardic material, not pulling from the AS knowledge I’ve got stashed away.


The oaths were quite tricky. Due to his personal beliefs, Faraulf decided he was not comfortable swearing an oath. We decided that it was okay to refer to the statements as oaths, but they’re all just statements of validity or promises of future acts. 

Faraulf ended up writing virtually all of the oaths (and TRM’s response) by cobbling together bits of the various source texts. I helped by adding one line and insisting on adding the “they will obtain no joy from it but only ruin” part at the end of TRM’s oath.. The rest was all him, and truly, I’m glad he did that because these are some of the best and most moving oaths I’ve ever read. Even just writing about them is making me a little weepy. 

Scroll Text

Faraulf also wrote most of the scroll text, again by cobbling together a couple different sources. I made it sound a little better in English, but it was REALLY HARD to do because he only wanted to use one or two specific sources (due to the weirdnesses of Latin during that time). I’ve been assured that the Latin was very tricky and involved lots of discussions about grammar with Amary, the scribe who made his scroll. I donated orpiment and arsenic pigments to that noble cause because nothing says “I like you and support your admission to this Order” quite like a little lead and arsenic.

Non-English Languages

Speaking of Latin, we tried to avoid speaking non-English wherever possible, but found it useful to have a couple terms in there, and then immediately define them. Per Faraulf, “Most of the non-English words used in the script are Langobardic rather than Latin. They are actually words that did not have a clear and easy Latin equivalent, so the Latin text actually preserved the Langobardic word.” My Latin is terrible and so is my Langobardic, but we made it work.


I am quite pleased by the symbology of the cloak and the signet ring. Faraulf provided a couple of suggestions, of course, and I think they came together in a moving way. As Faraulf notes, finding the sweet spot between “vaguely Victorian hodge-podge SCA structure” and “actual period stuff” was difficult, especially in this section. I tried to come up with imagery that was evocative of Langobardic society and values but still hit all the right emotional notes.


Overall, I am so very, very happy with how this whole thing turned out. It was drafted in a much more collaborative way than I’m used to, but the immediate feedback and commentary was invaluable. Sometimes I felt a little useless because I couldn’t do my own research, but I know that my theatre and heraldry background helped to make the jumble of citations into something cohesive and special. It was a delightful and weirdly specific ceremony for someone with the same attributes. 

Faraulf, I am so incredibly proud of you and can’t wait to see what weird project you come up with next.

Please see Printable Ceremony linked above.


Please see printable ceremony, linked above.