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The An Tir Handbook, 3rd Edition, May XXXIII/1998

Customs, Etiquette, and Playing the Game

Apprentices and Men-at-arms


Apprenticeship; A Brief Look

By Maestro Eduardo Francesco Maria Lucrezia, OL, OP

In the Middle Ages and Renaissance apprenticeship was the first step up the corporate ladder of the Guild structure. An Apprentice was indentured by their parents or guardian to a Guild Master, or to a Masterís workshop, for a specific period of time in order to learn a craft. A contract was drawn up with terms such as length of apprenticeship (usually between two and ten years), room and board and hours of work specified. Often the parents would pay a fee to the Master or to the guild, either in money or in a symbolic gesture of a silver spoon. The terms of the contract were strictly enforced and if any were broken the aggrieved party could seek redress in a guild, civil or even a Royal court. If the contract ended naturally the Apprentice gained Journeyman status, the next step up the ladder. After they had been a Journeyman for a time they might seek entry into the guild as a Master. Not only did this require a sufficient amount of money to pay the entry fees into the guild, but they also had to pass a rigorous examination and present their masterwork (a piece of work they considered to be worthy of the guild) to a panel of guild Masters.

The above extremely simplified period process of how an Apprentice becomes a Master has found a place in the society, a Knight takes a squire, a Pelican takes a protégé and a Laurel takes an Apprentice. And as with the Knight/Squire and Pelican/Protégé relationships, the Laurel/Apprentice relationship is very personal and means something different to each person who undertakes the challenge.

I have been both an Apprentice and, in the years since I first received the accolade of the Laurel, have taken on several Apprentices. How these Apprentices have come to me has been as varied as their personalities. With the first, a relationship had developed over the years and it "just seemed natural". With another, a fellow peer approached me on her behalf. Others have asked me directly. When I decided to explore the possibilities of becoming an Apprentice, I asked Mistress Amanda Kendal of Westmoreland if she could recommend someone. She did: herself. Apprentice/Master relationships are started in many different ways. If you want to be an Apprentice or take an Apprentice you have many options open to you. Chose an approach which seems right for the moment or ask advice from a trusted friend.

The relationship itself is also individual to those involved. The following are a few things I think about when taking on a new Apprentice. The first thing which comes to mind when defining the relationship is that an Apprentice is a student and a Master is their teacher. This does not mean a Master can not learn from an Apprentice, nor does it mean the Master can not direct the Apprentice to someone more qualified in a specific area, but the teacher-student relationship is usually what sparks the relationship. A Master passes on the knowledge of the craft he has mastered. A Master teaches their apprentice the gentle art of courtesy and diplomacy. A Master guides an Apprentice in their search for identity within the society. A Master teaches an Apprentice about themselves and helps them see their potential. A Master is an advocate, a teacher, a friend and more.

The only thing I ask from my Apprentices is that they always try their hardest, do their best, and be specific in what they want to accomplish. These three things are enough to ensure their success in whatever endeavor they undertake.

Just as the Apprentice/Master relationship is unique, the apprenticeship ceremony which formalizes the relationship is unique. For some it consists of "Ok, youíre my Apprentice." For others it is a long process of sharing that naturally creates the relationship. For me an apprenticeship ceremony is the time when the Master and the Apprentice publicly sign a contract and swear their oaths of fealty. I feel it is important to do this in public, either at court or in a public space, so the populace, your fellow peers and the Crown can witness what you are undertaking and hold you to the oath.

Once the ceremony is completed, the contract signed and the oaths sworn the easy part is over. Now comes the years of teaching and learning and growing. Remember the relationship is two-sided. Everything the Peer undertakes reflects on the Apprentice and everything the Apprentice does reflects upon the Peer. When either makes a wonderful garment or paints a beautiful scroll it illuminates both. Or when one insults the King and all the Knights, both must take responsibility for the action.

Below I share with you the oaths sworn by my Apprentice Etan Moira MacNessa and myself when she became my Apprentice. These oaths were sculpted from several different period sources as well as the oath I swore to Mistress Amanda. The oaths were witnessed, signed and indented (scored down the center and ripped). Etan keeps my half of the oath and I keep her half of the oath.

Apprenticeís Oath

I swear to be true in my search for knowledge. To strive for excellence in all I do. To treat those of every degree with honor and respect and to strive to uphold the faith you have in me. May my words and deeds always reflect my honor and respect for you.

Masterís Oath

I for my part swear to provide support, opportunity and guidance for all your endeavors. To learn as much as I give to honor and respect you through word and deed and to defend you with all of my powers. May my bond be rooted in friendship; as a token of this I give you my badge so all may know in whose service you are.

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