by: Daniel de Lincolia (Tim McDaniel), (c) 6 July 1998

Ash-sheyk Da'ud defined the armory term "semy" in the draft "Glossary of Terms", distributed with the Laurel LoAR for May, 1996. I would like to expound on his text, to clarify things for conflict checkers.

Semy - An adjective meaning that something is strewn with identical charges. (It is from the French "semé", the past participle of the verb "semer", "to strew".) A field "Azure semy-de-lys Or" is blue with a pattern of gold fleurs-de-lys on it. "A bordure vert semy of rowels argent" is green and is charged with several (at least five and usually eight) white rowels evenly spaced around it. The charges that are so used are called "strewn charges" in these rules. When placed directly on the field, strewn charges are considered a separate charge group from any other charges. Strewn charges may be considered the primary charge group if there are no other charge groups present or if the only other charge groups present are peripheral charge groups. When placed on another charge, strewn charges are considered a tertiary charge group. Strewn charges are not considered a field treatment. Ermine spots in an ermined tincture are not considered strewn charges; the are considered part of a separate tincture.

In the SCA (I suspect in real-world armory too) a semy of charges is a group of charges, not a part of the field. Most rules in RfS X.4, the CD rules, give CDs for changing a group of charges. All of them specifically include strewn charges, if at all reasonable to do so. Addition or removal of a group includes them (X.4.b), as do changing tincture, type, number, or posture (X.4.d, e, f, or h, respectively), or using them as charges on charges ("tertiaries", X.4.i or j).

For example, "Argent semy-de-lys gules, a pale azure" is clear of "Argent mullety sable, a pale azure", by changes to strewn charges. One CD is by RfS X.4.e, "Type Changes - Significantly changing the type of any group of charges placed directly on the field, including strewn charges ..., is one clear difference.". The other CD is by RfS X.4.d, "Tincture Changes - Changing the tinctures or division of any group of charges placed directly on the field, including strewn charges ..., is one clear difference." RfS X.4.a, "Field Difference", therefore does not apply, since the fields on both arms are plain "argent".

A group of strewn charges can even be the primary group. Bruce Draconarius, then Laurel King of Arms, so ruled for Jon of the Mists (the cloud in chief was ruled a secondary charge; LoAR for September, 1992), and also for Ariane la Fileuse, (LoAR for July, 1993). For more information, see his Laurel precedents under "Charge Group". Da'ud ibn Auda implicitly ruled the same (Gabriel Eriksson Röde, LoAR for August, 1994).

Ermine is an exception, though. (Heraldry is an art form; there are always exceptions.) An ermined field is not treated as a "semy of ermine spots". It is treated as a plain tincture -- in RfS X.4.a.ii.b at least, a tincture different from all other tinctures, even similar ermined ones. Nevertheless, when bourne in a small number in a clear case, ermine spots are considered charges. "On an undivided field, there is a visible difference between Ermine (a field) and Argent, three ermine spots sable (a field with charges)." (Donal Artur of the Silver Band, LoAR for September, 1992; under "Difference -- Armory, Misc" in Bruce Draconarius's precedents).


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