Italian Laurel Elevation of Giata Magdalena Alberti

An Italian Elevation: Research and Implementation 

Giata Magdalena Alberti

Kingdom of Gleann Abhann A.S. L


elevation photo
Giata in gamurra and giornea holding fazzoletto and rosario.


Io, Giata Magdalena Alberti, questo giorno impegno fedeltà alla corona di Gleann Abhann e prometto di fornire il mio armi in tempo di guerra, la mia arte in tempo di pace, e il mio servizio nel momento del bisogno.  Prometto di difendere il mio bello regno contro tutti coloro che desiderano farle del male.  Con la parola, l’azione, e la forza.  Da oggi in avanti fino a quando la mia corona permette, Io sono obbligato ad essere fedele, mantenendo onore e cortesia sopra tutto.



On July 12, 2015 I was invited to join the Order of the Laurel, a group comprised of the premier artisans of the SCA. This is quite an honor for me as it is the highest award given in the SCA for excellence in the Arts and Sciences. Laurels attempt to inspire others to create beautiful and authentic historical works by teaching and example. Members of the Order of Laurel have reached exemplary levels within their fields, researching, practicing, and teaching their arts and sciences to others within the Society. These individuals are most frequently recognized by a medallion (or other regalia) bearing a laurel wreath.

After court ended I began looking for guidance on how to design persona appropriate elevation activities. As a historical “how-to” I have provided my findings and elevation modifications in this post. The historical examples I have chosen to focus on are the first century AD Capitoline games instituted by Emperor Domitian wherein the winner was crowned with a garland of oak leaves, the crowning of poet Francesco Petrarca (1304-1374) with laurel leaves (1304-1374) for his achievements in the literary arts, letters patent for the Ordine del Nodo, and Florentine processions.


There are many references to Knightly vigils, but I searched specifically for evidence of a examination or contemplation for those honored in the arena of the arts. In 1341 Petrarca was invited by Rome to be crowned in a ceremony, or coronation, called a Privilegium Laureationis (Foulke 39. Kirkham 132). En route to accept this invitation, he stopped in Naples to meet with King Robert who examined him ”continuously from midday to evening… for three days he put my poor abilities to the proof” (Foulke 40). At the end of the examination King Robert pronounced him Petrarca “worthy to receive the laurel” and gave him a purple mantle from his own wardrobe to wear as a tangible symbol of his sponsorship (Foulke 41). After this very vigil-like interlude, Petrarca then travelled to Rome for his coronation.

For our purposes in the Society a different sort of examination may be more useful for the vigil hours. I had long heard of the disputatio, or debate framework popular in the early Renaissance in Italy. A disputatio is definted as a formal discussion on a particular question by two or more people who take differing sides. The outcome of the discussion is a determinatio, or determination, of the correct answer (Murphy). Peter Cantor, a 12th Century professor in Paris said, “A teaching master has three duties: to lecture, to preach, and to dispute” (Murphy 102).


Francesco Petrarca, known to us as Petrarch, was crowned with a garland of laurel leaves by Roman Senators Orso dell’Anguillara and Giordano Orsini on Easter day in 1341. Foulke (41) gives us an account of the event:

“Twelve youths processed arrayed in scarlet, each fifteen years old and all sons of distinguished nobles and citizens, declaiming verses composed by Petrarch in praise of the Roman people. After them came six citizens dressed in green, and wearing wreaths of flowers of various kinds. Then the Senator strode forward, his head decorated with a laurel wreath, and after he had seated himself… Petrarca was summoned by trumpet and fife, and advanced clothed in a long garment and cried three times, “Long live the Roman people, long live its Senators, and God maintain it in its freedom!” and then kneeled before the Senator, who said, “I first crown merit”, and took the wreath from his own head and put it on that of Master Francesco, who declaimed a beautiful sonnet in praise of the brave old Romans, and the festival was ended with great praise of the poet, since the whole people cried, “Long live the Capitol and the poet!”. Following the sonnet Petrarca delivered a short speech describing the difficulties of the art of poetry and its reward, the laurel. In his diploma…[it read] ‘ the title and prerogatives of poet laureate are revived after the lapse of thirteen hundred years and he receives the perpetual privilege of wearing at his choice a crown of laurel, ivy, or myrtle, of assuming the poetic habit and of teaching, disputing, interpreting, and composing in all places.” 

The components of his ceremony are likely the inspiration for established Society ceremonial tradition; a procession of attendants and representatives of his affiliate households, a trumpet blown to summon him, the crowning with the laurel wreath, the presentation of the diploma, and cries of praise as his procession exits.  The coronation of poets with the laurel wreath as a ceremony lasted until the 16th century (Burkhardt 78).


“Se Dieu Plait” (If God Wills) was the motto worn by the companions of the Company of the Knot until they had performed certain specified feats of arms and piety. After he had accomplished the appropriate honor the knot could then be untied. Then, once he had visited a holy place and given a votive offering the companion could retie the knot and display it accompanied by the new motto: “Il a pleeu a Dieu” (God Has Willed It). My own oath will include the motto of my Kingdom, “Honor and Courtesy Above All”.

For an Italian oath, I found this wording in the ceremonial for the Kingdom of the West:

Qui giuro, Here I swear,

con la bocca e con la mano, with the mouth and the hand,

fedeltà e servizio fealty and service

alla Corona e al Regno della Gleann Abhann to the crown and Kingdom of Gleann Abhann

(giuro) di parlare e tacere (I swear) to speak and to be silent

di andare e venire to go and to come

di colpire e risparmiare to strike and to spare

di agire e non agire to act and not to act

con riguardo agli affari del Regno with regards to all the affairs of the Kingdom

sul mio onore on my honor

e sulle leggi della Corona and on the laws of the Crown

nel tempo del bisogno o in quello della prosperità in time of need or in that of prosperity

in pace o in Guerra in peace or in war

in vita o in punto di morte in life or at the point of death

da questo momento innanzi from this moment henceforth

e fino a che il Re lascerà il trono and until the King will leave the throne

o morte mi sorprenda or death surprises me

o il mondo giunga alla sua fine or the world reaches its end

così io giuro, So I swear, <name>


I decided that, although this is a beautiful oath, I wanted to translate the Gleann Abhann oath. My Laurel, Dredda, and mentor Master Nicolas helped with that:

I, (state your name), this day pledge fealty to the crown of Gleann Abhann and vow to provide my arms in times of war, my art in times of peace, and my service in times of need.  I promise to defend my fair kingdom against all who desire her harm, with word, deed, and force.  From this day forth, as long as my crown allows, I am bound to be faithful, holding honor and courtesy above all.

Io, Giata Magdalena Alberti, questo giorno impegno fedeltà alla corona di Gleann Abhann e prometto di fornire il mio armi in tempo di guerra, la mia arte in tempo di pace, e il mio servizio nel momento del bisogno.  Prometto di difendere il mio bello regno contro tutti coloro che desiderano farle del male.  Con la parola, l’azione, e la forza.  Da oggi in avanti fino a quando la mia corona permette, Io sono obbligato ad essere fedele, mantenendo onore e cortesia sopra tutto.


Scroll Text

Petrarca was given an official diploma at his coronation which established his legal privileges and prerogatives as poet laureate. This privilegium laureate domini Fransisci petrarche declared him a “great poet and historian” and pronounces him a Roman citizen with the rights to teach and compose (Kirkham 9). Similarly, the text of the letter patent for the Company of the Knot (Ordine del Nodo), as modified by Ursula Georges, explains the rights and privileges of its subject.


LATIN Lettera per Istituzione dell Ordine del Nodo
Letter Patent Text for Ordine del Nodo


Magnifica femina, et fidelis dilecta Giata Magdalena Alberti:  Nostra Societas fecit ordinem quemdam Laureae vocabulo insignitum in nobilibus et parilibus quibusdam Capitulis comprahensum, ad quem per nos assumpti sunt, et successive tantummodo assumuntur, quorum sit nobis nota in artibus et scientiis sollertia, et eadem sine discrepantia in quolibet operatione voluntas, inter quos, et de quorum numero te conditionis praemissae feminam connumerandam decrevit nostrae electionis Judicium, et facta Nobis nosceris fidelis socia.  LAUREA igitur sub cuius denominatione ORDO ipse sumpsit vocabulum, ecce tibi insigne donamus, et a te recipimus Juramentum in nostris manibus.  Suscipiens itaque LAUREAM ipsam, qui sicut frondes laureae figuraliter virescunt in perpetuum, sic Professores illius in scientia crescunt, ita ad multiplicandum tuam sollertiam, et ad tuum vigorandum de virtute in virtutem processum in opere incumbens tibi exhinde coronam laureae portes, quod potioris laudis consequaris augmentum, Sociis praesertim imitabiliter per exemplum, et in ipsis assignandis tibi ex parte nostra Capitulis contineri videbis.  Data Feriae Artium et Disciplinarum die 18 Septembris anno Domini 2015 et anno Societatis 50.

Magnificent woman and beloved subject Giata Magdalena Alberti : Our Society made a certain order, distinguished by the name of the Laurel, comprehended under certain noble and peerly Statutes, into which there have been and shall successively be admitted by us those whose skill in the arts and sciences and faithful willingness without discrepancy in any activity is known to us. Among these and of their number the choice of our Judgment has selected you as a woman possessed of the aforesaid qualities: know that you are made by us a faithful companion. Thus the LAUREL, under which denomination the ORDER itself takes its name, behold we give you its badge, and receive from you the Oath in our hands. Therefore, taking up the LAUREL itself, which just as the laurel leaves figuratively grow green forever, just so the professors of the Laurel grow in knowledge, thus for the multiplication of your skill, and to your strengthening, proceeding from virtue to virtue in work incumbent upon you, henceforth may you bear the wreath of laurel, and may you pursue that worthy sign of praise through imitation of the example of your Companions, and through our assignment of these same Statutes to you, you will see how to persevere. Given at the Kingdom Arts and Sciences Faire and 10th Year Celebration on the 18th day of September in the year of our Lord 2015 and in the year of the Society 50.


Italian Ceremonies

Florentines wore and displayed lilies to the point that Lucca Landini wrote they were all “imbued with the lily” (Plaisance 42). The Florentine celebrations often included mass during the day and fireworks or bonfires at night. During carnival the celebrations were replete with trumpeters, masks, and cheer (Plaisance 42). Ritual ceremony in renaissance Florence included items such as banners, painted cardboard shields, rugs, and gilded coats of arms hung as décor and carried in procession to give a festive air (Crum 60). When presenting themselves to their the Pope during diplomatic ceremony the owed reverences and a kiss to the letter were required before the letter could be presented.

During the Sforza investiture at Padua banners were hung all around, flowers and torches were used as décor for the processional path, and trumpets were sounded as they paraded through the streets (Cartwright 50). Sforza, being proclaimed Count of Padua, was invested with a cap and mantle, and the sword of state was placed in his hands. Afterwards, the Count and his ambassadors rode in procession to the basilica to give thanks to God (Cartwirght 51).

Venice was well known for its splendid public ceremonies. When the Princess of Ferrara was received in 1491, her procession into the city was described as a fairytale (Burkhardt 421). Candles were often carried as a symbol of honor, privilege, and faith (Muir 112). A group of young men who rowed from their parish to the ducal palace on the eve of the Feast of St. Mark handed out little flags as favors to the groups of urchins at the dock. They then walked in procession to the palace with their heralds blowing trumpets and their servants carrying trays of sweets and bottles of wine while singing hymns (Muir 141). Florentines followed the examples of Venetian ceremony and used wax seals as well as umbrellas, and swords to symbolize their sovereignty (Muir 113).



This underdress for women was worn as the first layer next to the skin and made of (fine linen, inexpensive cotton, or luxurious silk”. Usually unbleached or pearly white, the camicie were visible at the neckline, shoulder seams, and wristline (Frick 162, 304).

resurrection - ghirlandaio 1480s


A gamurra was a woman’s basic gown worn by women of all classes and made of a variety of fabrics (Frick 308). Often unlined, it was worn over the camicia. Until the 1450’s the sleeves were attached and made of the same fabric as the body of the dress. For everyday wear at home the gamurra was usually of a modest cotton, linen or thin wool but for special occasions these basic gowns could be of silk or fine wool and covered with an overdress. (Frick 162).


A sleeveless overdress worn during the summer, often made of damask or silk brocade (Frick 162). The winter overdress, called the cioppa, would have had long sleeves and could be of silk brocade or velvet (Frick 163). The overdress layer as a status garment would be decorated with embroidery, lace, appliqués, or pearls (Frick 163).


The cappuccio was used during the 14 and 15th centuries to cover the head and provide warmth to the torso. In the Portrait of a Woman with a Man at a Casement by Filippo Lippi the woman wears a sella alla francese and a damask cappuccio, also embroidered with pearls (Tinagli 52). Frick (2005) maintains that Florentine women wore cappucci on their heads but instead of rolled into a turban style they wore them as cowls to cover their face and neck and thus remain coperta e nascosta


Women wore cloth slippers (pianelle) inside of wooden clogs for walking in the public streets. Upper class women also wore shoes with wooden clog soles called chopine and leather soled shoes called zoccole.


Boulton, D’Arcy. The Knights of the Crown: The Monarchical Orders of Knighthood in Later Medieval Europe 1325-1520. 2000. Boydell Press: New York.  211-240.

Burkhardt. Civilisation of Renaissance in Italy.

Camera, Matteo. Elucubrazioni Storico – Diplomatiche su Giovanna Illustrissima Regina di Napoli. 1889. Tipograia Nazionale: Salerno. 169-171.

Cartwright, Julie. Beatrice d’Este, Duchess of Milan 1475-1497. Dent: Italy.

Crum, Roger. Renaissance Florence: A Social History. Cambridge University Press: NY. 2006.

Foulke, William Dudley (trans). Some Love Songs of Petrarch. Oxford University Press: London. 1915. pp 39-42.

Frick, Carole. Dressing Renaissance Florence. Johns Hopkins University Press: Baltimore. 2005.

Gibbon, Edward. The History of the Decline and Fall of the roman Empire Vol 8. Baudry’s: Paris. 1840. 255-7.

Kirkham, Victoria and Armando Maggi (eds.). Petrarch: A Critical Guide to the Complete Works. University of Chicago Press: Chicago. 2009. pp 9,132, 487.

Maxson, Brian Jeffrey. The Humanist World of Renaissance Florence. Cambridge University Press: NY. 2014. 103.

Muir, Edward. Civic Ritual in Renaissance Venice. Princeton University Press: NJ. 1981. 112, 113.

Murphy, James. Rhetoric in the Middle Ages. University of California Press: Berkeley. 1981.

Plaisance, Michael. Florence in the Time of the Medici.

Tinagli, Paola. Women in Italian Renaissance Art: Gender, Representation, and Identity. Manchester University Press: UK. 1997. pp 52, 66.


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