So the more I’ve come to think about it, I think including rapier duelists into the chivalry is a bad idea. I know many of you support the notion that all combat activities should be included into the chivalry and dislike the notion of a separate peerage for rapier. Here is why I think what I do:
Within the laurels, there are many diverse arts, so diverse in fact that none are a master of all. When you are inducted into the laurel, it may be for one specific art or many different arts. But say you were inducted in based on one specific art, and then you take up another. How do you know how you will compare to the others out there. Arts and sciences being so diverse a topic, it would be ridiculous to have a peerage for each area of study, especially when new areas of study are found. Is an expert on Viking wire weaving going to know about 13th Century fonts or 16th Century Venetian glass? No, but they can hopefully base decisions about a person’s skill and knowledge on their research as well as interpretation.
When it comes to marshal activities, we have a much more defined set of activities. For combat against an opponent, in the SCA we have two different forms of adult combat: armored combat and rapier combat in all its forms. Mastery at one activity will not necessarily translate to mastery in the other. We have many people who enjoy both activities. Now yes, if rapier were included into the chivalry, like with the arts, you could have someone knighted for general combat, as opposed to specific form. You could also have divisions within the chivalry: one for armored, one for rapier. But the second option is much like what is being proposed; a separate order for rapier.
The current Prince of the East has made it one of his goals to be inducted into the Order of the Golden Rapier. He is a renaissance man: a top archer, a knight, soon to be a duke, he made the East Kingdom’s Pennsic Rapier Champions team, he’s an artisan; he can do it all and well. By including rapier into the Chivalry, he would have no goal for which to shoot for, as he’d already be included into the terminal award. Yes, he could still be inducted into a “lesser” award once peerage was granted to rapier. But how would he know where he is viewed? How would one know the difference between a knight trying out rapier for the first time, or a person knighted for their skill as a duelist? If we segregate the rapier fighters from the armored combatants within the Chivalry, how is that any different than a separate peerage?
Just my random thoughts…