Unto the Heralds and Scribes of Northshield do Hrodir and Yehudah send warm greetings!

Get a cup of what you like to drink and sit back. This is going to get a little long. We have a particular “angle” from which we’re approaching the concept of same-sex monarchs, and we would appreciate your assistance in providing the correct flavour!

TL;DR: Guidance for titles and usage.

Names: Hrodir (/HRO-dihr/) and Yehudah (/yeh-HOO-dah/)

As heirs: Hrodir Fyrste (/FIERCE-teh/) and Yehudah Tarkhan (/tahr-KHAHN/)

As rulers: Hrodir Bek (rhymes with “heck”) and Yehudah Khagan (/KHA-gahn/).

Tarkhan, Bek and Khagan are Khazar titles; Fyrste is Norse.

Avoid: “princes”, “king”, “kings”, “sovereign and consort”, feminine titles even as a joke, possessive phrasing.

In other languages: try to find distinctive titles that reflect the spirit of the Khazar titles (see below); otherwise, transliterate the Khazar titles.

Linguistic details for heralds, scribes, and others who like words

As Heirs

We will use the names Hrodir Fyrste and Yehudah Tarkhan.

«Fyrste», like «prince», derives from the Latin concept of “first head”, «princeps». Old Norse translated the word; modern English borrowed the cognate «prince» from French via the Normans.

«Tarkhan» was actually a military title in Khazaria, but is one of the few documentable titles below reigning royalty but above territorial governor. There is a Turkic title, «Tegin», that we considered as plausibly Khazar and actually translates as «prince», but there’s no firm documentation Khazaria used it. Thus, even though Yehudah is not remotely martial in his activity, we decided to err on the side of documentable for the place and time.

As heirs, the singular «prince» is fine in a pinch for either, but we wish to avoid the plural «princes» since this is too easily confused with «princess».

For heralds, a possible boast when we are heirs might be:

“…for their Serene and Stellar Highnesses, Hrodir Fyrste and Yehudah Tarkhan, Heirs to the Gryphon Thrones…”

And for the “long-lives”

“Long Live the Heirs”

As Rulers

As rulers, we will use the names Hrodir Bek and Yehudah Khagan.

«Khagan», also spelled kagan, kaqan, and about a dozen other ways in Roman characters, derives from the Mongol word meaning “King of Kings” (e.g. the actual title applied to Genghis and Kublai), and was used in Khazaria to describe an office that began as sole monarch and evolved into the spiritual/cultural figurehead monarch.

«Bek» or «khagan bek» was the Khazar title for the military-administrative leadership position that evolved into national leadership, gradually sharing more and more power with the Khagan.

We strongly prefer not to use the English language «king» or «kings», nor the more generic «sovereign» and «consort». Scrolls in Modern English should use the titles already noted above.

Scrolls in Latin can use «augustus» for Yehudah and «caesar» for Hrodir. Avoid «rex» even in signature blocks.

Scrolls in old Norse can use «konungr» for Hrodir (or any of the five other words for king in Old Norse and related languages) but should transliterate «khagan» for Yehudah (unless you can think of something suitable, but avoid repeating «konungr»).

Scrolls in Japanese should refer to this page, courtesy of Baron Christoforo Alfonso Pallavincino da Firenze!

For those writing scrolls in other languages, the guideline is to use distinctive titles for each, favouring a military-related title for Hrodir and a spiritual/cultural leadership title for Yehudah where possible (while avoiding specifically religious-leadership titles like patriarch, bishop, etc).

When in doubt, transliterate our chosen titles, «Bek» and «Khagan». The latter, in particular, has a cognate in a wide variety of languages thanks to the Mongols.

The common division in which the Sovereign is seen primarily as a patron of the martial arts–especially armoured combat–and the Consort is seen primarily as a patron of the arts and sciences, does not really apply here. Hrodir is also a Laurel; Yehudah, while not a combatant, has long supported the arts martial as a herald of the field. We are both, jointly and severally, the patrons of the entire kingdom, all its subjects, and all their activities.

Avoid please the possessive language sometimes used between sovereign and consort (“King Aethelred and Aelfgifu his queen”), and avoid epithets like, “…of love and beauty…” If you simply can’t resist, Hrodir is Bek of Love and Yehudah is Khagan of Beauty, but really, for the most part, just don’t.

Until such time as it should once again prove true for this reign, avoid “Storm King” for Hrodir. Let’s not borrow trouble!

For heralds, a possible boast when we are rulers might be:

“…for their Dread Stellar Majesties, Hrodir Bek and Yehudah Khagan, Rulers of Northshield…”

Either order can be used (Hrodir first or Yehudah first).

For the Long Lives, in either order:

“Long Live the Khagan!” “Long Live the Bek!”

Scroll Exemplars as Rulers

“Let it be known that We, Yehudah Khagan and Hrodir Bek, Rulers of Northshield…”

“Hrodir Bek and Yehudah Khagan, Rulers of All Northshielders and Patrons of the Arts, do wish to recognize…”

“Hear now the words of Hrodir and Yehudah, Bek and Khagan, together rulers of the Great Kingdom of Northshield…”

“Yehudah Khagan and Hrodir Bek, of Northshield by right of arms and inspiration jointly rulers, to all our dukes and duchesses, counts and countesses, viscounts and viscountesses, masters and mistresses, barons and baronesses, lords and ladies, and all good and true subjects unto whom these presents should come, salutations and greetings…”


Cultural Background Details

The advent of a reign of two monarchs of the same gender would present challenges to SCA traditions, regardless of culture. In order to help alleviate some of these challenges, we and our chamberlains have done some research into a specific culture in which such an arrangement was actually normal. As such, we will be basing our reign on the precedents of Khazaria, focusing on about 300 years from 750 to 1050.

The ethnic Khazars were a Turkic people, but Khazaria was a multicultural kingdom which absorbed influences from Byzantium, the Norse (via Kiev, which began as a Khazar city), Judaism (the royalty and some degree of the Khazar nobility converted to Judaism before the kingdom fell!) and Islam. Sitting astride the Silk Road, they had contact with China as well, and archaeological evidence includes dragon motifs. As such, Khazaria is ideal for Hrodir (norse) and Yehudah, who was already a Khazar Jew.

Khazaria was ruled under a dual-king system common in Turkic kingdoms, derived from Mongol practice, in which a Khagan was the spiritual and cultural leader while the Bek evolved to be the military and administrative leader. In historical practice, the distinction was somewhat akin to that of the Japanese Emperor and Shogun. In SCAdian terms, they map reasonably well to Consort by Right of Inspiration and Sovereign by Right of Arms. We consider this to be sufficiently SCA compatible that we will be using these titles upon our accession: Hrodir Bek and Yehudah Khagan.

Finding good titles for our heirship was tougher, particularly for Yehudah—most of the titles we know of for Khazaria are more on the military side under the Bek than anything that would imply an heir to the Khaganate, even though evidence suggests that both offices became hereditary.

For Yehudah, we’ve decided that Tarkhan (a Khazar word) is probably closest. The Hebrew Yehudah ha-Nasi (the prince) would be inappropriately presumptuous, as there is very famous individual in Jewish history who used and is remembered by that style.

For Hrodir, the Norse style Hrodir Fyrste is preferred. While not used specifically by Khazars, it’s a plausible word to be used by the Norse in Khazaria for someone thought of as a prince..