The Academy of Saint Gabriel: Frequently Asked Questions for Heralds

What is the Academy of Saint Gabriel?

The Academy of Saint Gabriel is a group of about sixty volunteers who research medieval names and armory. Our primary purpose is to help members of medieval re-enactment groups like the Society for Creative Anachronism choose and use names and coats of arms that are historically accurate for the cultures they wish to re-create. Though our historical focus is similar to the SCA's-- Western culture between the fall of the Roman Empire and 1600-- we can often provide information about other cultures. The Academy is not a competitor to or a replacement for the SCA College of Arms.

More information about the Academy can be found in the Academy Charter and the Academy Member's Guide.

Can the Academy help with my client's name or device?

The Academy can help with names and devices in several ways. You can research names and devices using our archives of online articles, and there are several ways to search our past reports.

If you can't find the information you're looking for using these sources, then you have several options. Academy members often post informal questions to the list; you're welcome to join the Academy and ask your question. If you feel your client's question can best be answered by a formal letter from the Academy, please ask your client to write to us in person: we prefer to work directly with clients whenever possible, in order to reduce the chances of misinterpretation. If your client does not have web or e-mail access, however, we'll gladly accept your help in passing our letters along. We encourage you and your client to read our Client's Guide before writing to us.

Unfortunately, the Academy has limited resources, and we can't fulfill every request for a formal letter. Many of our clients ask us about specific names or devices. Sometimes we can easily find evidence that those names or device elements were used in the cultures the clients wish to re-create; when we can't, we try to suggest alternatives. We occasionally ask the following question in order to determine a client's priorities:

A client whose first priority is option A may not be very well served by a letter from the Academy. Luckily, there are many other places to turn for assistance. We've listed some other places to find help in designing and registering names and devices under Other Online Resources.

How do I research names and devices online?

Our Medieval Names Archive includes links to a wide variety of articles on medieval naming customs, organized by place and time period. If you're looking for information on names in a particular region, the Medieval Names Archive is a great place to start. We also maintain the Problem Names Project, which discusses common misconceptions about the use of particular names in the Middle Ages or the Renaissance.

Our past reports contain information about names, devices, and naming customs in many times and places. (Detailed information about searching Academy reports can be found below.) Since we're always learning more about names and devices, older reports may contain some mistakes; our later reports are generally more reliable. Please contact us if you find conflicts between reports or other errors.

How do I search past Academy reports?

Academy Reports are stored by report number. If you know the number of the report you're looking for, you can open it directly; for example, Academy Report 2000 is at

Our Report Archive is arranged in chronological order. You can use our report archive to pull up reports in a specific range, such as all reports from 2700-2800. The Report archive also has a search tool; this tool is very fast, but not very powerful. It only searches the information displayed in the table, so (for example) searching for the name Willewyn will not produce Report 2907 on Willewyn Glasswrytha, because that report is listed in the table under the report name Glasswright.

The advanced search tool is slower, but much more powerful. It allows you to search for words, parts of words, and combinations of words. When we write about a specific name, we enclose the name in angle brackets, so the advanced search tool also allows you to search only for words or parts of words enclosed in angle brackets.

How do I use an Academy report to document a submission to the Society for Creative Anachronism College of Arms?

If you submit a name or arms in the SCA, you can include Academy reports in lieu of photocopies of the sources that we've cited. This has been approved by the current Laurel Sovereign of Arms. Print out the entire report, including the headers, URL, and date of the report. As a courtesy to the heralds who receive the letter, please highlight our references to the form of the name which is submitted. Also, be aware that our opinions are not binding, and we cannot guarantee that the College of Arms will pass a particular name or device.

When preparing Letters of Intent for Laurel, submissions heralds should note that the Letters of Intent must include a summary of any Academy report used as documentation. When summarizing a report, include the report number and date, list the name or device elements and the times and places that the Academy found them used, and name the sources which the Academy used to support its conclusions. (The relevant sources can be found in the footnotes to the report.)

Where can I find other online resources for SCA heralds?

The SCA Heraldry web page includes both general articles on medieval names and devices and specific information about preparing names and devices for submission.

There are many mailing lists meant specifically for SCA heralds. SCAHRLDS has members from all over the world. There are also mailing lists for specific kingdoms. The members of these lists will be able to help you with documenting and submitting names and devices to the SCA College of Arms.

Other online groups which may be able to help include the newsgroup and the Livejournal SCA Heralds community.

How can I join the Academy?

Membership in the Academy is completely open to anyone who's interested in medieval names and armory. There are no requirements, but you'll get at least 100 email messages a week.

You can use either an e-mail interface or a web interface to subscribe to the mailing list and configure your subscription.

To subscribe using the e-mail interface, send a message to with the word subscribe as the subject of your message. Leave the rest of your message blank. (For more information about subscribing in a particular mode, such as digest mode, see the mailing list section of our Member's Guide.)

To subscribe via the web interface, go to and enter your e-mail address. The system will send a note to that address with an authentication code to access the subscription system.

More detailed information about our mailing lists and the various subscription options can be found in the mailing list section of our Member's Guide. If you have problems subscribing, contact the list administrator Blaise de Cormeilles at

Once you start receiving mail from the list, please send a short message introducing yourself!

Last modified 28 July 2006