In my years in the SCA, I have known several kingdom seneschals. One thing that always impresses me about the problems of their office is that as much as 90% of what they have to contend with is of a trivial nature. The following story was told to me by Master Johannes the Black of the Athanor and I offer it both for its entertainment value and as a cautionary tale.
At one time, there was a landed baron in Meridies whose territory I shall refer to as Barony B. The people of Barony B had given their Baron discretionary power to spend up to $25 of baronial funds for things he felt would be of benefit to the Barony.
One day, while the Baron was in a discount department store, he saw a set of specialty cake pans on sale for twenty-three dollars and ninety odd cents. "Aha!" thought the Baron, "Those cake pans can be used to make a subtlety appropriate to our upcoming event." So thinking, the Baron purchased the cake pans and applied to the reeve for reimbursement. Little did the Baron know that this impulsive act would ignite near civil war in his territory.The Baron, you see, had forgotten to figure sales tax into the purchase price of the cake pans. When the tax was added to the total, it came to $25.34!
The folk of Barony B immediately broke into two camps. One camp maintained that the wicked Baron had intentionally exceeded his authority and he must not be allowed to get away with it lest he be tempted to further tread upon the rights of the people of the Barony. The other camp maintained that the good Baron had made an honest mistake and as it's only 34 cents for crying out loud! The Baron should be reimbursed the full amount.
The controversy raged for several months with the very existence of Barony B hanging in the balance. Both camps were too entrenched in their positions to even consider compromise. Finally, the populace of the Barony wrote to the kingdom seneschal to ask for his arbitration in the matter.
The Kingdom Seneschal at that time was Master Thomas Megatherium of Castle Leviathan called the Wordsmith. Master Thomas is a wordsmith both mundanely and societively; his wit is quick, keen and can be quite acerbic. Master Thomas read the missive from Barony B with incredulity then framed his reply. I, of course, do not know the exact text of Master Thomas's letter to Barony B, but I am told that it went something like this:
"I am very sorry to hear that there is a problem in your barony that is interfering with its proper operation. The letter I received, however, seems to have a typographical error in it. According to the letter the problem revolves around 'cake pans'."
"I am sure you would not trouble the kingdom seneschal with such a trivial matter as cake pans. Please let me know what words should be substituted for the words 'cake pans' in your letter and I shall be glad to use the full resources of my office to resolve your problem."
The folk of Barony B were a contentious lot, but they were not stupid. They settled the matter among themselves and the Kingdom Seneschal heard no more of it. I am told, however, that to this day the words, "cake pans", will elicit a twitch from Master Thomas.