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Greetings all and Happy New Year from the Ice Dragon Pent Staff!
We’re just popping in to remind everyone that there are 95 days left before Ice Dragon! It’s not too late to start working on those Pent entries! Make a Pent entry your New Year’s resolution. You’d complete it in the first quarter of the year and have another 9 months to tell your friends about it while they are still clearing their clutter and making those trips to the gym!
Please take a minute to look at the Ice Dragon Pentathlon page on Facebook and watch for further announcements. We have some new and categories and opportunities this year that should offer a little something to everyone from beginner to master craftsman. Here are just a few of the ways to be a part of the fun…
**In the culinary category we have added a new subcategory just for breads! Hit those cookbooks, do your research and get creative. Your trial and error work should be delicious.
**Historic Combat is new this year. There are so many avenues to explore here. Research the texts and use your imagination to being some aspect of period combat alive for our judges. This category is for entries of artistic endeavor showcasing a martial art of SCA period and/or used currently within the Society. Entries in this category can take a variety of forms. The format is limited only by the entrant’s creativity and safety considerations.
**Don’t forget the 5-in1 Project category. Any ONE item that can qualify for entry in a minimum of 5 of the above listed main categories. This item may also be cross entered into ONE main category to count toward the grand Pentathlon Prize.
**From our Baron and Baroness of the Rhyddeich Hael we offer the special theme prize category. This year Their Excellencies have chose the theme “All Things Welsh” This is one more opportunity for people to use their imagination and creative skill without boundaries.
*Have you ever thought about being a judge, but didn’t know where to begin? We have a opportunities for shadow judging. Learn the ropes first hand from a seasoned Pentathlon judge in real time and space.
**Would you like to take part but aren’t sure how exactly? Offer to help on our new docent staff. Enjoy the added bonus of seeing all the entries hours before we open the doors to the rest of the populace.
We’re looking forward to a nice turnout for 2017! Come to the Ice Dragon event and find your fun, so many ways to participate and so many people to enjoy!
Over the next several weeks, more information will be forthcoming on this Group/List, as well as in the AEstel, and on the Facebook Page. Questions can be directed to me by email.
I remain in Service,
Our sixteenth A&S Research Paper comes to us from Lord Drake Oranwood of the Shire of Rusted Woodlands, who examines the work of the Elizabethan songwriter Thomas Campion, and uses his texts as a way to look closely at the role of women in that complex society. (Prospective future contributors, please check out our original Call for Papers.)
The Double Bind: Thomas Campion and Elizabethan Women
The role of women in Elizabethan society is something that quickly called attention to itself from my first studies of Elizabethan popular songs. In developing an Elizabethan persona, I become quite fond of lute songs, as exemplified by John Dowland and his less-celebrated colleague, Thomas Campion. The more of these pieces I learned, however, the more troubling I found the attitudes about women that peeked through (between the lines, as it were). It is no secret that women lacked social equality with men throughout the Medieval and Renaissance period. Still, these pithy bits of popular entertainment provided a surprising window into the conflicting, contradictory, and inescapable demands to which women, particularly young women of the upper classes, were subjected. These quandaries of inequality have existed throughout history, of course, but the writings of the 16th century (written primarily by men) rarely articulated it as such or gave it a name. In the twentieth century a term emerged for this sort of paradoxical dilemma and the strain it places on its subjects: the double bind, which describes “a situation in which a person is confronted with two irreconcilable demands or a choice between two undesirable courses of action.” (Oxford English Dictionary)
In this article, I will examine primarily two songs from Campion’s first songbook, A Book of Airs (1601). These two songs can, if juxtaposed together, be read as telling the story of an Elizabethan relationship first from a man’s perspective, then the woman’s contrasting one. This tale may serve to shed a light on the double bind faced by women Campion observed, and the different constricting forms it took. During Elizabeth’s reign, the power and entitlement men held over women, the conflicting roles and demands placed upon women of status, particularly in matters of sexuality, metastasized into ever more beautiful but suffocating forms.Song XII.
Thou art not fair, for all thy red and white,
Yet love not me, nor seek thou to allure
My love hath vowed he will forsake me
Had I foreseen what is ensued,
Dissembling wretch! to gain thy pleasure
That heart is nearest to misfortune
Our exploration begins with “Thou art not fair”, a fairly typical love song of its time (and indeed many others), but which has a few features of particular interest to us. A male lover’s plea for his lady’s favor, it begins as many such pieces do with sharp accusation:
Thou art not fair, for all thy red and white,
With classic Elizabethan word-play, Campion opens with a heavily loaded phrase: “Thou art not fair”. By punning on the word “fair”, our suitor is actually accusing his lady-friend of falling short of two ideals about English women, both of them double binds. He is calling her ”unfair” in the sense that she is denying him what he is entitled to as a man (and we shall explore that point in detail shortly). He is additionally suggesting she is not “fair”, meaning beautiful according to the standards of the day. But with “for all thy red and white” and “rosy ornaments”, he adds a third, literal, meaning to “fair” that illuminates those standards of beauty: she is not pale-skinned (or less so than she appears). He is accusing her of wearing makeup, which by the end of 16th century had become a special sort of insinuation.
Of course, most cosmetic formulations to create this alabaster skin, along with rosy lips and cheeks, were highly toxic and damaged the skin (and when lead was part of the mixture, the brain) with prolonged use. Elizabeth herself, as she aged, suffered from her constant use of cosmetics in public, and thus relied on them ever more heavily, which in turn subjected her to an increasing level of subversive mockery. In living up to men’s expectations of beauty, English noble women found themselves increasingly suspected and accused of being painted impostors wearing false fronts to disguise their bodies’ decay. By late in the reign, literary jabs at noblewomen for their made-up paleness were fairly common. Campion, ever the wit, made use of the trope elsewhere, for example in “I care not for these ladies” from this same songbook:I care not for these ladies,
That must be wooed and prayed:
Give me kind Amaryllis,
The wanton country maid.
Nature art disdaineth,
Her beauty is her own.
For when we court and kiss,
She cries, “Forsooth, let go!”
But when we come where comfort is,
She never will say no. If I love Amaryllis,
She gives me fruit and flowers:
But if we love these ladies,
We must give golden showers.
Give them gold, that sell love,
Give me the nut-brown lass, …
Campion contrasts the upper-class “ladies” in question with the more accessible earthiness of Amaryllis, whose “beauty is her own” (i.e., not painted on), and whose body, tan from outdoor work, is far more readily available, with much less fuss, to men. Ladies’ makeup is a protective coating which makes them artificially beautiful, and less attainable, and the suitor of “Thou art not fair” mocks his lady’s (likely compulsory) use of it, hoping to lower her defenses:Thou art not sweet, though made of mere delight,
Not fair nor sweet, unless thou pity me.
I will not soothe thy fancies: thou shalt prove
That beauty is no beauty without love. Yet love not me, nor seek thou to allure
My thoughts with beauty, were it more divine:
Thy smiles and kisses I cannot endure,
I’ll not be wrapt up in those arms of thine:
Now shot it, if thou be a woman right,—
Embrace, and kiss, and love me, in despite!
Lowering her defenses is indeed his aim, and he will carp at her until she bestows her “pity” on him. A classic trope of male entitlement (still widespread today, but rife in songs of the period) is the notion that a woman’s beauty holds such power over a man that it is cruelty beyond measure for her to tempt him with “smiles and kisses” but withhold sexual favors. Her “beauty is no beauty without love,” and note the ascending scale of the demands: “Embrace, and kiss, and love me, in despite!” Thus the suitor makes plain one end of the greater double bind we alluded to earlier—male entitlement. A desirable woman is hateful if she rejects a man’s sexual needs.
No thought is given in the piece to what the woman in question wants, or whether it is compatible with the man’s sense of entitlement; this is a commonplace of the genre. As Theresa D. Kemp observes, “The modes and genre of courtly love…rarely image an inner life or subjectivity for the lady; she is merely the object of the speaker’s desire.” (Women in the Age of Shakespeare, p. 3.)
So, what if she acquiesces to the fervent plea, and gives herself to the poor fellow (as he appears to imagine himself), instead of taunting him with her supposedly deadly power? It is one thing for the low-born Amaryllis to freely enjoy the delights of the flesh with a man, but quite another for a “red and white” painted (and doubly bound) lady to do so. In “My love hath vowed,” Campion unspools the fate of a girl who makes this choice and faces the consequences of yielding to a man’s sexual entitlement. His telling suggests empathy for her plight, and yet surely this would have served as a stern warning and cautionary tale to any young woman of the day who heard it.
My love hath vowed he will forsake me
In contrast to the supposedly romantic sparring of the previous song, here we discover the aftermath of a consummated tryst. This young woman’s lover wastes no time “forsak[ing]” her on learning of her pregnancy, and, she is “already sped” from the scene of her shame. Her confession—that she gave him her “maidenhead”—is startlingly explicit for Elizabethan songs, which referenced sex constantly, but always veiled in coded language and wordplay. (“Maidenhead,” while used a few times by Shakespeare, appears in no other extant lute song of the period.) There is “danger” in “playing” indeed: she has been ruined socially. This, then, is the other side of the double bind of men’s sexual entitlement: a pregnant, unmarried noblewoman has no bright future in this society.
The Elizabethan age was a period of great change, and a number of scholars mark Elizabeth’s coronation as the true beginning of the English Renaissance. To the extent that term “renaissance” means “rebirth”, however, it cannot be said to have been a step forward for women in Europe, and this was as true in England as anywhere. In a world led exclusively by men, the rise of a woman to the supreme power might suggest the possibility of new equalities, but English society at large responded to this development with, if anything, a hardening and tightening of attitudes about power. In the decades prior, social changes had already been working to make life for high-born English women increasingly constricted and binding, more like a vise than a corset.
Crucially, the role of upper-class women had been shaped increasingly by concerns around wealth and inheritance. The jaws of the vise predated this era: the 14th-century establishment of primogeniture (the eldest male heir would now always be first in line for inheritance), and Henry VIII’s abolition of England’s monasteries in 1536 as part of the Reformation (eliminating convents, the one option for women to have an independent livelihood and life of the mind, outside the sway of men to a greater degree than secular life afforded). By Elizabeth’s time, an unmarried woman generally could not own or run a business on her own, and if married, all property was in the husband’s name. The only alternative to marriage was now domestic service.[vi] (Elizabeth herself famously avoided marriage, and the attendant loss of power and status, despite constant public pressure for an heir—and, of course, her choice not to provide one would end the Tudor line and her legacy of power.)
Had I foreseen what is ensued,
In late sixteenth-century English society, then, upper-class women were valued exclusively for their marriageability even more than before. This required them to be as beautiful as possible (as evidenced by the obsession with paleness and cosmetics), but also, crucially, chaste. In a world where a high-status family used daughters to secure wealth, and a wealthy family used daughters to secure status, the assumption of virginity was essential to those transactions. Our song’s heroine has learned this lesson the hard way, through the “pain” of pregnancy and being shunned by society. She reflects how “maids” (in the parlance of the day, virgins) should anticipate “their own undoing,” but do not consider the consequences until too late.
Dissembling wretch! to gain thy pleasure
Moving from regret to anger, Campion affords his heroine the clarity to cast (legitimate) blame on her suitor, who as she has already hinted, was eager to “vow and swear” his love in order “to gain [his] pleasure” of her. She reminds the audience, lest they forget, of the loss of “the treasure / Which so long I held so dear”: her virginity. But note the harsh language with which she accosts her seducer: he is a liar, a thief, and ultimately a coward, content to evade the consequences of his wants, as she cannot.
It is intriguing that, for once, Campion spares a thought to acknowledge a man’s culpability in the double bind and the plight of this friendless woman. It is noteworthy in particular that (in the lady’s voice) Campion calls the man out for being untrue to her, both before and after getting his “pleasure”. This would appear to be a very conscious reversal of a ubiquitous trope of the time: that it is women who are false, lacking in honesty and courage. At the heart of each of the double binds faced by the Elizabethan woman, is the Elizabethan man’s constant suspicion of her. The cosmetics she wears to present the image that patriarchal society demands, of pristine youth and beauty, becomes proof of her inherent wily deception and falseness. And the man who demands that a girl remain a virgin until marriage, but who sings joyfully of a man’s sport in using his persuasion and power to take that virginity from her as he feels entitled, will ever wonder whether his fiancée, or his bride, is the virgin he takes her to be. If the Elizabethan woman’s power—the only one afforded to her—is her beauty and sexual allure, then every man’s fear is that she will make use of that power to satisfy her wants, rather than her husband’s. This fear appears to have the effect of drawing the vise ever tighter around the women of the age, with constant reminders that the risks in the game of sexual license and deception are not equally shared, but fall almost entirely on women. Thus does “My love hath vowed” conclude, with a doleful reminder and warning:
That heart is nearest to misfortune
Our heroine sees the entitlement double bind clearly, and speaks now to her countrywomen, warning of the “feigned tongue” of men who risk nothing, to entrap women who risk everything for these moments of pleasure. The attendant “shame of loves betraying” has been her “undoing”, and she hopes others will follow her example going forward to “cleanly shun” such exploits.
Thomas Campion devoted over 10% of his creative output—14 songs out of 119—exploring a woman’s perspective, which was highly unusual for a writer of his day. If Campion, in his own essays, claimed not to place particular value on his mostly light-hearted English lyrics (Latin was the language for serious writing), he nevertheless slipped into them some sharp observations about the society he lived in. Certainly he knew well the double bind of the Elizabethan woman: ever primed and encouraged to be the target of male gaze and yearning, but subject to men’s harsh judgment whether she refuse, or respond in kind; ever pressed to be beautiful and alluring, but virginal; her life, freedom, and sexuality suborned in the service of men’s ambitions. In his songs it is hard to miss the dilemma, bound tightly (and pulling in opposite directions) around every noblewoman in England, up to and including Elizabeth herself.
 Philip Rosseter, Campion’s closest friend and a skilled lutenist, published this first book under his own name, but devoted the first half to Campion’s songs. After this Campion went on to publish subsequent songbooks under his own name. Campion was unusual as an Elizabethan songwriter who wrote his words and music together (the common practice was to add the tune or more often the lyrics later, which is why most lyrics for songwriters like John Dowland are considered anonymous). Rosseter, however, is generally credited with helping Campion with tunes and arrangements. The depth of their friendship was such that Campion, who died a bachelor, bequeathed what paltry wealth he possessed entirely to Rosseter, wishing it were more.
 Karlsson, Katarina A. ‘Think’st Thou to Seduce Me Then?’ Impersonating Female Personas in Songs by Thomas Campion (1567-1620). (p 74) Thesis. University of Gothenburg, 2011. Kållered: Ineko AB, 2011. ResearchGate. ArtMonitor. Web.
 Kemp, p. 26.
 Kemp, p. 19-36.
Filed under: A&S Research Papers, Arts and Sciences Tagged: a&s, Arts and Sciences
If you are interested in requesting time for business on the Court docket at Kingdom 12th Night, please email me as soon as possible as the event is this weekend.
We have been so pleased with being able to spend so much of 2016 as Royalty of Æthelmearc.
We are looking forward to the next four months and all of the things that we can do together as a Kingdom to lift each other up and continue to show the Known World how brightly Æthelmearc shines.
So take these moments to reflect and plan those goals for the new year, whether they be artistic, science, service, or prowess.
We look forward to seeing you at Carnivale (12th Night) and throughout the
Marcus & Margerite
Greetings and Good Tidings from TRH Timothy and Gabrielle,
We are pleased to share that Her Excellency Mistress Antoinette de la Croix and Lady Shirin of Susa will be serving our glorious Kingdom in the Office of the Sylvan Signet.
This was a tremendously difficult decision to make, as all applicants for this demanding position were highly qualified and each and every one of the would have served Æthelmearc exceptionally well.
We would like to thank Mistress Jenna MacPherson, Her Ladyship Isabel Fleuretan and Her Ladyship Renata Rouge for applying for this demanding position, and making our decision so very difficult.
Thank you to Mistress Antoinette and Lady Shirin for accepting the appointment and we very much look forward to working with them in the coming months.
In Service to Æthelmearc, Timothy and Gabrielle, Prince and Princess
Left to right: Lady Shirin, photo by Lady Aine ni Allayne, Mistress Antoinette, photo by Mistress Rhiannon y Bwa.
Note: Per the outgoing Signet, Baroness Alexandra dei Campagnella, the new Signets will be taking on the office at Coronation on April 22nd.
I’m looking for the Jewel Thrones: the ones with the big bas-relief carved escarbuncle with a big red jewel right in the middle.
I’ve been told various things about where these might be, and that they might currently be under repair, though nothing definitive.
If you have them please drop me a note to firstname.lastname@example.org and if you think you know who might have them, please also send me a note.
Yvan Wolvesbane discovered the SCA while he was in the Navy. His first assignment on a ship was a great adventure for him. When his was off duty he explored. Imagine how surprised he was when he climbed a ladder to go on deck and stepped into a fight practice!
The ship was a successful little shire. The Shire even had permission to have little events on board. His attempt at medieval clothing for his first event was to pull the blanket off his cot and pin it on backwards as a cloak. The blanket was stamped NAVY of course. Rather deeply. The ink had soaked through. When he told a shipmate he had not chosen a name, someone laughed and said it was written on his cloak! YVAN was a name that stuck for his entire career in the Game.
Reading was a great passion with Yvan. There he discovered that choosing a persona was going to be a difficult decision. He found the fascination with working metal and the fearlessness in battle that comes with believing that death is followed by waking up with your friends in Celtic cultures fascinating. The Norse focus on fighting, travel, entrepreneurship, and farming was very, very appealing too. He discovered that the culture in the around early Cornwall was a delicious blend of the two.
After his discharge, Yvan bought a Harley and traveled wherever his whims took him for several years. But he never missed Pennsic. He managed to take his armour and tent as well as his garb along with him on the bike, a pole arm sticking out on each end. When there were fewer rules there he used his bike as a tent pole. Once! In a storm that year his tent fell over him! After that the bike was usually a quiet companion in his tent. His first air mattress exploded when Yvan hopped into bed. Every year after that for a long time he broke his bed at Pennsic. These are stories that will make you laugh for hours.
For him, fighting and metalwork were both arts. Arts requiring study, research, skill acquired by practice, and creativity. Making armour for fighting and tools for the forge were just as interesting to him as using them. His helmet and his forge were prized possessions. Not only did he work at the forge, he found joy and passion in sharing his knowledge with anyone who showed interest. In 2015 he was inducted into the Order of the Maunche.
“Yvan Wolvesbane was a charismatic and honorable man who will be missed by everyone who knew him. Sail off on your Death Ship, my friend, to Valhalla. I will meet you there when I come to the Blessed Isle.” Mistress Brid nic Shearlais
Filed under: In Memoriam
The Rapier Pennsic Champions Coordinators have announced the tryout and selection process for both the Single’s Team & the Melee Team. Below is the selection committee’s email, originally sent out to the EK Rapier email list.
Greeting unto the East!
Preparations for the rapier champions teams are already underway in order to give everyone plenty of time to plan for next year. Here are the pertinent details.Selection Process
We will be running tryouts again for both teams. We like how much this allows us to see people in action, how much it makes us travel, and how it gives so many people more excuses to fence.
Go sign up! The form is here: Pennsic EK Rapier Champions Signups 2017
While only ten of us can take the champions melee field at Pennsic, Eldrich believes that the East Kingdom has many more fencers worthy of being called champions and who could contribute to the team’s success. Therefor, there will be a round of cuts around May down to approximately twenty-five semi-finalists. These semi-finalists will be asked to serve as an expanded champions team whose role will be to practice and train in the final months before ten of them will represent the East Kingdom on the field at the champions melee battle at Pennsic. The primary goals are to encourage local training and exercises among the most likely candidates and to provide a dedicated group for the final team to practice with without requiring everyone to travel half-way across the Kingdom on the same weekend.
If you have any questions or wish to volunteer your event or practice to host one of the tryouts, you can email either of us directly at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org .
P.S. – Please help share this message with your local fencing communities. Thanks!
Filed under: Pennsic, Rapier Tagged: Pennsic, pennsic 46, pennsic war points, Rapier
Here is the news we have promised and you have all waited with such grace and patience.
We have searched high and low throughout this vast kingdom for a gentle to lead our fencers into war. We are pleased to announce that we have found what we have sought.
Enemies of the East beware for an army of fencers come before you! Their leader is fierce of blade, strong of hand and one helluva dresser!
The next Rapier General of the East – Don Remy Delamontagne de Gascogne
The rest of his illustrious staff:
East Kingdom XOs: Dona Sorcha Dhocair & Gallant Xavier the Sinister
Champs Coordinator: Don Lupold Hass
Yours in service,
Princess Honig and Prince Ioannes
Filed under: Announcements, Pennsic, Rapier Tagged: pennsic 46, Rapier, rapier champions
Mistress Arianna of Wynthrope interviewed Master John Michael Thorpe about his new Guild Hall. Here’s his original announcement, posted on December 15, 2016:
I have been thinking for a while about how best to promote the growth of medieval and renaissance material culture (The tangible items that are part of the daily experience of the people and cultures that we as members of the SCA try to emulate). My personal view is that we can greatly enhance our shared experience as members of the society, as well as make it more authentic if we promote the idea and practice of producing period items using period (or as close as we can approximate) tools and materials and using them as they would have been used. Æthelmearc has guilds both at a Kingdom and local level, as well as artisans, and hobbyists (and just people who are interested in learning how to do something, or saw something cool that they want to try in a book) so after briefly bouncing the concept off of Their Majesties and Their Highnesses, and basing the concept on the Guild Hall in the Medieval City of York (Jorvik) where all of the guilds would meet. I have created the Æthelmearc Guild Hall as an informal organization.
This organization will be dedicated to communication between artisans of all genres, whether it be cooking, ceramics, metals, tailoring whatever. The Guild Hall will be run by and for the artisans, outside of the structure of the formal A&S community, answering as the medieval guilds did directly to the Crown. As we grow more members we can decide as a body how formally or informally we as a group want to do things, but the first step is to set up a forum where we can all communicate. Facebook is the easiest way to do this so I have created a public group.
All who are Æthelmearc subjects and are interested in the material trades are welcome to join. The usual prohibitions on mundane politics and being a jerk apply. Until this is up and running I will retain the right to ban anyone who is acting like a jerk so be nice
Master John Michael Thorpe
Thank you for agreeing to this interview, Master Thorpe. What prompted you to create the Guild Hall, and what do you hope people get out of it?
One of the things that I have been noticing consistently in my 32 years in the SCA is that there is a real dearth of material culture evident. While you see newbies invariably outfitting themselves with various props that to their mind signify that they are in the SCA version of what was called “Theater Space” when I was working as an actor, the cheesy Chinese-made, junk vendor-supplied “dagger” comes to mind… (yes I had one or three as well when I was new) the use of objects that were commonly used in period as part of our daily life while we are at events is lacking. When I see people making things as A&S competition entries, so many times they are using modern tools and modern materials in modern ways to make something that in their interpretation looks like a period item. Additionally, there are people who are working on making things that were done by artisans in the middle ages. Some of them are working together in groups, whether they be Kingdom guilds, local group guilds, or just a weekly “stitch and bitch,” and some are working alone. There is not really a single group where (for instance) the threadworkers, the cooks, and the metalsmiths communicate to organize ways of increasing their visibility, building an event together, or looking for artisans who can help them figure out something outside of their discipline. I initially considered applying to the Æthelmearc Gazette to become a “trades” correspondent after my term as Kingdom Chronicler was over as a means of helping to increase the visibility of the trades, but ultimately decided that a better role would be organizing within the guild structure.
What kinds of things do you consider “material trades?” What was your reason for choosing that particular group of activities?
The things that I consider “Material Trades” are things like Carpentry, Joinery, Blacksmithing, Leatherworking, Weaving, Goldsmithing, Bookbinding; pretty much anything that produces material goods that was practiced as a profession in our period of study. Technically, even bread baking and sausage making were guild-controlled activities in some medieval cultures (It was illegal in medieval England, for instance, to bake your own bread according to some accounting records if I remember correctly). My focus, both in the SCA and mundanely, has been making things. I am known mostly for my metalwork, but I have experience from an early age working in leather, wood, metal, plastic, and glass. My attraction to the material arts has been the fact that when you make something tangible, it has not just a physical form, but if it is a recreation of a period item and it is made well and used in a period manner, it brings a measure of authenticity to that which it touches. It is easy to assess the tangible merits of an item, (is it well crafted, does it look finished) and the functional merits (if it is a tool, does it perform the task that it was meant for well, and without injuring the hand that wields it?) but there is another dimension (intrinsic?) – using a good reproduction to perform the task that the original would have been used for in the manner that the original would have been applied lends an element of authenticity to what we as a society are trying to do, and as such elevates what we are doing beyond just another “Ren Faire.”
Why was it important to you that the Guild Hall be “outside of the structure of the formal A&S community?”
I really want the Guild Hall to be something run by and for the tradespeople, and something that is dedicated to promoting the material arts. The Ministry of Arts and Sciences is a very well-meaning group, but their focus is providing a reporting structure for verifying that people do arts as part of their local culture, and organizing specific activities. I want to take a more encompassing approach. As the type of people who are most likely to drive what I am looking for (myself included) are not the type given to rigid deadlines and quarterly reports, I want to have the freedom to let the Guild Hall grow in whatever direction fits the community.
You say that material culture is “often lacking” in the SCA. What do you feel we need but don’t have? How would you like to fix that lack?
I see a lot of people who are wearing their garb like a costume, often without the accessories that would complete an outfit in period (myself included), and using modern substitutions for items that would have been in daily use in period. This can be because they are not aware of what the item would have been, or there is not a proper period piece available that they are aware of, or there is not sufficient awareness of the role that a given item played. Also, and I am guilty of this as well, camping events have very modern items and furnishings scattered pretty much everywhere, unless you are in an authenticity-high setting like Enchanted Ground. One thing that helps to establish the illusion is replacing modern items and processes with the proper period equivalents, and the easiest way to make that happen is to provide encouragement and education for people to make the pieces. Not just a one-off A&S competition entry, but individually or as groups people producing all sorts of goods.
I am all for people learning their craft well enough to do it professionally if that appeals to them. I [have] an unattainable goal [of] events like Ice Dragon having all of the merchant spaces filled with people making all or most the merchandise that they sell,and all of that merchandise being reasonably documentable. But on a practical level, I want to help spread the knowledge of how material goods were produced and used, and encourage people to do that as a regular part of what we all do.
One of the things I have noticed is that awareness of the methods and tools used to craft common items, and the aesthetics common to period items, is often missing. I see people using power tools to knock huge chunks of material down into something that loosely approximates the shape of something they have seen photographed face on in a book. I have found that it is often easier to create a proper period form of something if you recreate the tools that would have been used and try to use the materials that the original was made with. Many times if you approach a task as you think a period tradesman would have, the tools and material guide you to a period form as that is the path of least resistance. For instance, if you try to bull a gothic arched window frame out of plywood with power tools it will look clumsy and unfinished no mater what you do, and will not be strong. On the other hand if you rive green oak splints and steam them into form with pins and tenons to hold them top and bottom you end up with a marvelously light and graceful yet extremely strong form with all of the right geometry. You can take that insight to almost all of the trades.
What do you mean when you say the Guild Hall would “answer directly to the Crown?”
When I started the Royal Guild of Æthelmearc Metalsmiths, I read a lot about the medieval guilds, particularly the Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths. Virtually all guilds were established by Royal charter and were charged by the King to maintain the standards of quality of goods and services, but also to collect or provide a tax or a tithe to the Crown. When I established the Royal Guild of Æthelmearc Metalsmiths, our charter was signed by Malcolm I and Tessa I. It pledged to serve and advise the Crown and populace of the Kingdom of Æthelmearc . I have included His Majesty and Their Highnesses in the initial Guild Hall Facebook group (I couldn’t directly include Her Majesty, I assume due to privacy settings, but I tried) so that they would have direct access to the members both to observe what level of activity the Guild Hall members were engaged in, and to have a direct link to suggesting ideas or projects that would enrich the Kingdom as a whole.
Do you envision the group expanding beyond Facebook to in-person meetings, or even hosting events?
Absolutely! When the ideas that this grew out of initially formed, I was talking with Master Angus (OL East, housewright work), Master Simon de Okewode (OL Æthelmearc, pottery and metalcrafts) Master Erwilliom MacFergus (OL Æthelmearc, metal crafts) and a few others about starting a “Trades Company.” It would be sort of like the Tournament Companies, doing event space inside of events that had workshops set up, with only documentable tools and processes being used, starting out at a 25-foot authenticity level, and evolving over a period of time to “sight and feel” authenticity of tools, processes, and materials. Life intervened and we all got extremely busy, so that never came into being, but the Metalsmiths guild efforts to hold events within the events of local groups have a good track record, so I would like in the future to find groups that have events with enough room that we could add a Guild Hall meeting and trades demonstration as an additional attendance draw.
Do you expect the Guild Hall to end up with a formal structure – perhaps the “apprentice/journeyman/master” structure of medieval guilds?
At some point that will likely happen. I want to avoid the term “Master” for anything involved in a ranking system as that term is already formally linked to Bestowed Peerages, and the term “Apprentice” is already in use to describe the pledged vassal of a Laurel, so at some point I am sure that the Guilds will sort out some sort of universally acknowledged means of addressing who is an experienced mentor, who is a novice, and who is well on their journey, but I have no strong desire to push it. If people are merely looking to add a new title to their alphabet soup, they are probably looking in the wrong place
For those who don’t already know you, could you provide a brief SCA resumé?
I initially joined the SCA in Myrkfaelinn in 1982, and fought heavy until a motorcycle accident wiped out my left knee. After that I was kind of fringy until, as an RIT student in 1986, I stumbled on a Thescorre fencing practice at RIT. I made myself a fencing sword hilt because what was available at the time commercially was junk. After I moved back to Ithaca, I continued fencing, and made my second rapier hilt under the careful tutelage of Master Roberto di Milano (Mac the Armorer).
I started making swept-hilt fencing rapiers in 1991 back before schlager was an experimental weapons form, and as they got more accepted and eventually became the main fencing weapon of the SCA, my business making them kind of grew. At that point I was still focused on the rapier world. I became a rapier marshal, then group rapier marshalI, and eventually Seneschal of Myrkfaelinn. At one point early on, I entered an A&S competition at Sergeants and Yeomen’s, had a bad judge, and swore off any and all A&S involvement in the SCA. Mundanely I had been working as a bench goldsmith on and off since I had worked up from being the polisher at a wholesale jewelry repair trade shop.
Around the time I became Seneschal of Myrkfaelinn, I approached Don Ivan ap Myrddin about becoming a cadet. He told me that, because of politics, I would never become a White Scarf, and took me as a protegé instead. He told me that to become a candidate for Pelican, I would have to broaden my service beyond Rapier. Since I was already mundanely a goldsmith and bladesmith, the metal arts seemed like a good fit, so I started teaching and demonstrating metalsmithing in the SCA as well as researching period practices. Part of that service was setting up the Royal Guild of Æthelmearc Metalsmiths and organizing multi-Kingdom metal symposiums. Long story short, I got a Laurel for metalsmithing, metallurgy, and jewelry manufacturing, and abandoned the Pelican path. Oh, and for a couple of years I was heavily involved as a musician in trying to bring back European dancing to events, and helped organize a couple of dance events.
Master John Michael Thorpe currently lives in the Barony of Delftwood. Despite his claim to have “abandoned” a service path, he has served as a rapier marshal at the local and deputy Kingdom levels, as a local chatelain, and as seneschal for both Myrkfaelinn and Delftwood. He just stepped down as Kingdom Chronicler this fall.
King and Queen’s A&S and Bardic Champions will take place on February 11th in the Barony of Concordia of the Snows.
There is a wonderful new website for the event: www.kqchamps.org. Details about the formats and requirements of both competitions can be found on this site. Please read all of the information carefully if you intend to compete. Questions about each competition can be directed to its respective champions.
Please remember that entrants for both competitions must register their intention to compete before the event. Registration information and deadlines can be found on the website. Please note that A&S research papers also have an advanced submission deadline.
Judges are still needed for the A&S competition! If you are willing to volunteer your time, please e-mail here .
Remember, there will also be a Youth A&S Display at the event! Please see the website for more details.
Filed under: Announcements, Arts and Sciences, Youth Activities
Duchess Siobhán inghean uí Liatháin recounts her trip to a textile seminar in Finland, including a visit to an archaeological dig!
Back in October, I found myself truly emerging myself in history. I had flown to Finland to participate in a weekend-long seminar that focused on ancient textiles, techniques, and materials from the coasts of the Baltic Sea. I was surrounded by archaeologists and history enthusiasts like myself, all there to learn from those who have had their hands on the “real deal” and learn ways to create the items ourselves. And even though this seminar was amazing, it did not hold a torch to what happened to me 2 days prior.
One of my hostesses in Finland was the amazing Mistress Joutsenjärven Sahra. Lovers of Tablet weaving may know her as one of the co-authors of Applesies and Fox Noses – Finnish Tabletwoven Bands. One morning she asked me if I would like to visit an actual archaeological site where Iron Age items had been newly discovered. I just about fell out of my seat with excitement and a resounding YES PLEASE came quickly from my lips.
The drive to the site was not long but it was long enough for her to tell me that the place where we were going had been discovered in 2013. It is known as Ristimäki Hill in Ravattula village near Turku. The small hill was on private farm land and it was the farmer who noticed that there might be something in the ground that was not put there naturally. An archaeological team was called in and they were shocked at what they had found. What was discovered on this small hill was the remains of a late 12th century-early 13th century church. The church is, so far, the oldest in Finland and also the only one dating from the period before the creation of a Finnish parish system.
As we parked our car and started to walk the dirt road to the hill, I questioned whether we would get in trouble for walking on the private farm land. She told me that the site was protected by the Antiquities Act. This meant that visiting the site is possible within the framework of the Act and the Finnish “everyman’s right” (or in Finnish: jokamiehenoikeus). As long as we stuck to the road and did not disturb the site or surrounding area, we were allowed to visit. 200 meters down the road we turned left and there I was, standing in the middle of history.
Looking around, I saw taped off areas and tarps covering the ground. There was a team digging in few of the sites as well. I asked Sahra if they work all through the winter, as I pulled my wool jacket tighter because it had started to drizzle cold rain. She said no, they will soon stop digging and cover all open areas with tarps. I asked if security then comes and looks after the sites and I was shocked to learn that there was no security. The digging is donation-based and there was not enough money to pay for security. The archaeologists have to hope that no one comes and disturbs the sites. I also learned that publication is also donation-based and that even if they find amazing things in the ground, if there isn’t enough money to research it and publish, then it can sit in storage for months or even years.
Taking all that in, I walked over to where most of the people were and watched them carefully scrape and dig in the ground. Sahra also said that most of the people at this site were volunteers, probably from the local collages. There is one archaeologist in charge of the whole site, but everyone else is a volunteer. Just as I was thinking about how cool it would be if I could volunteer, there was a commotion in the digging area I was standing by. Sahra came over and asked a volunteer, in Finnish, what was happening, and she was told that they had just found a female bronze spiral apron. I just about fell over!
Here I was…in Finland because I love to recreate Finnish Iron Age aprons, and one was being discovered before my eyes. There are no words to properly describe my feelings but I can say I cried from being overjoyed. Sahra explained to the volunteers that I have made reproductions of aprons and because she said that to them, they brought up some of the spirals for me to look at. I was blown away at this opportunity I was given. I stood there staring at history and the source of my passion. It was magical.
I could not thank Mistress Sahra enough for taking me to this place and letting me experience this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. The memories will stay with me for a lifetime.
If you want to read more about the excavation (sorry, it’s mostly in Finnish) you can go to www.ravattula.fi
All photos by Duchess Siobhán.
If you love embroidery, please save the weekend of March 31-April 2, 2017, because you won’t want to miss the Academy of St. Clare of Assisi: MORE Stitches in Time!
This weekend-long, embroidery-only event drew stitchers from five Kingdoms the first time it was held, and we are anticipating even more in 2017.
Activities will begin Friday night (March 31) and run through Sunday morning (April 2). This year’s event offers:
Saturday morning classes will include these topics:
MORE morning classes are in the works! (Details will be posted to the event website soon!)
On Saturday afternoon, attendees may choose to attend one of these intensive “kit” classes:
Please note that “kit” classes require pre-registration and pre-payment. This enables the instructor to know how many kits to prepare in advance. Instructions for preregistering for “kit” classes will be emailed to you when we receive your event registration.
Want more info?
Visit http://www.eg.bucknell.edu/~acg/Events/SiT.html for details!
P.S. — If you are planning to attend, mail your event reservation by the end of December and save $5.00. The event registration price increases by $5.00 after January 1.
The Æthelmearc Herbal and Apothecary Guild would like to announce that they have a Facebook page and a quarterly newsletter!
The newsletters are posted on the group’s Facebook page. Volume 2 was posted at the beginning of December and includes articles on the history of gardening, the use of flowers in food, and a list of herbals ranging from early Chinese and Eqyptians to renaissance Italians and Spaniards.
Interested parties are invited to join the discussion on the guild’s Facebook page, which is managed by Lady Maggie Rue (mka Jen Sadler).
By Lady Elska á Fjárfella, round table host.
At the Æthelmearc Fall Æcademy, the Brewer’s Guild was invited to host a Brewer’s Round Table as it was blessed with a wet site. Initially scheduled in the main class room, we quickly packed up and invaded the quiet, out-of-the-way Troll table as it was a wee bit noisy (had nothing to do with us…).
With about a dozen brewers ranging from novice to Laurel and from all parts of our kingdom, we proceeded to have an informative and tasty round table on the topic of Fall fruit, in any shape or form.
Many had brought tasty samples of fruit-flavored beverages. Madoc Arundel graced us with a Belgian Tripel, and he later confessed he thoroughly enjoyed the citrus melomel brought by novice brewer Cristina Inghean Ghriogair, who supplied us with several choices, ranging from blackberry wine made with baking yeast (from a traditional family heirloom recipe) and dandelion wine to plum wine, apple citrus, and a raspberry cordial sampled together with dark chocolate. Her favorite was the mixed fruit rum someone had contributed. Leioolfr Grimr shared a blueberry cordial sweetened with beet sugar, or cherry, he did not quite remember…
My contribution was an example of how using fruit can throw a learning curve. I brought two bottles of red currant mead, based on a red raspberry mead recipe. Substituting one-to-one currants for raspberries made for a rather tart mead, which I personally did not quite like. Back sweetening with a little honey made all the difference, I thought. It was interesting to find that some people liked the tart original, some preferred the sweetened, and most wondered if downscaling the currants to lower the tartness might also lessen the currant flavor, which nobody wanted to mess with… so, surprising to me, the consensus was to not mess with the recipe , and make those dry wine lovers happy!
We traded some secrets, such as where to get grape juice in bulk (many local vineyards growing their own grapes sell plain grape juice, ready to ferment), shared some tips (freezing whole fruit helps free up the fruity goodness, and using a masticating juicer is not ideal as it is difficult to ferment apple sauce), and, as always, we had a great time.
Thank you Æthelmearc Æcademy for inviting us, and thank you all for coming!
From Master William de Montegilt, Kingdom Bard:
Good greetings to the wonderful bards of Sylvan Æthelmearc! Their Majesties desire a competition be held at Kingdom XIIth Night to choose Their new Bardic Champion. The rules are simple: Anything goes, with two exceptions. The songs titled “Song of the Shield Wall” and “Born on the List Field” will not be considered. Tune your instruments (if you use them) and learn the words! So saith William.
The Æthelmearc Gazette does not endorse any vendors or products. This article is intended solely for entertainment purposes, and is entirely Arianna’s fault.
Christmas is less than two weeks away, and you say you haven’t found the perfect gift for your SCA friends and kids? Never fear, the Gazette has some great gift ideas for the medievalists in your life!
Medieval knight hoodie: look like you’re in armor even when you’re not! Bonus: keeps your nose warm! $49.99 from ThinkGeek.
Medieval battle T-Shirt: Show your love of medieval combat, art, or both! $31.65 from Zazzle.
Unicorn tapestry T-shirt: for those more interested in gentle pursuits. $20.10, also from Zazzle.
Knights of the realm wall sculpture: 13″ wall-mounted sculptures of armored men in two different designs. $35 for one or $60 for both from Design Toscano.
Lancelot and Guenevere shower curtain: make your bathroom look like an illuminated manuscript! $56.95 from CafePress. They have other medieval designs ranging from images out of the Unicorn Tapestries, to castles, weaponry, and scenes of armored men. Search on “medieval shower curtains.”
Medieval chess set: Figures include medieval knights, kings, horsemen and towers. $99.50 from Wal-Mart.
Throne: want to feel like lord of your own castle? This medieval-inspired full-size throne chair is $749 from Design Toscano plus another $97 shipping.
Glass top dragon coffee table: If you’re going to have a medieval throne, you absolutely must have a medieval coffee table to go with it. $397.86 from Wayfair.com.
And for the kids in your life, we have some more great options!
Playmobile Knights play box: start your little ones early with this set of knight and king figures. Comes with weapons (including a functional crossbow), a throne, and a carrying case. $19.99 from Kohls. If you’re feeling generous, Playmobile also offers a castle for $100.
Go Fish for Art: your kids can play Go Fish with famous renaissance art like the Mona Lisa instead of regular playing cards. $10.99 from Jet.com
Make-it-youself unicorn hobby horse: Feeling inspired and ready to do some sewing? Download this pattern to make your child their very own unicorn hobby horse. $9 from Whileshenaps on Etsy.
Knight wall art: You can decorate your kid’s wall with a 25″ x 28″ knight graphic. $17.00 from Stateofthewall on Etsy.
Knight and shields toddler bed set: Keep your little one dreaming of knightly deeds with this sheet and blanket set. $25.99 from Target.
Knight-themed books: Medieval historian Ewart Oakeshott wrote a series of books on knights and their armor, weapons, and battles. This is one of several from which you can choose. $13.95 from Barnes and Noble.
Happy medieval shopping, everyone!
Sadly, the town of Pittston, PA (in the Barony of Endless Hills) suffered a great loss this week when a car demolished their statue of Christopher Columbus, necessitating the removal of the statue until it can be replaced.
Lord Cormacc mac Gilla Brigde from Endless Hills stepped bravely into the void until the northeast Pennsylvania cold forced a retreat.
Greetings unto the populace of this great East Kingdom.
The East will hit the 50-year mark in 2018. This results in a really tight window for bids to be received and reviewed by the Council of the Exchequer.
Had it not been for the desire of several people to run such an event, this momentous occasion could have passed by without any acknowledgment at all.
Considering that this event is unique in its nature it will likely have more detail than the standard East Kingdom event bid form. http://seneschal.eastkingdom.org/docs/EK50YearEventBid.docx
Submit all details and costs on the form or in additional attachments. Include any and all information so that the council has a complete picture of your event and bid.
Your bids are to be sent to the Kingdom Exchequer and Seneschal as well as Their Majesties and Highnesses. The deadline to receive bids is January 15, 2017.
Ignacia, Kingdom Exchequer
Mercedes, Kingdom Seneschal
Filed under: Announcements, Events, Uncategorized Tagged: EK 50th, Exchequer, seneschal
The following was shared with the Gazette by Meister Ulric von der Insel, Baron Bridge.
It is with humility and reverence that we, Ulric and Clothilde, Baron and Baroness Bridge do announce the rediscovery of the Great Patrimony bestowed upon us in days gone by! Much like the noted Donation of Constantine, whereby the Papal States were formed and which in NO WAY at all might be a forgery, Bridge was the recipient of the Largesse of the Great Heart of Saint Kenric of Blessed Memory, which, also, is in NO WAY a forgery at all! The document was rediscovered and read to the delight of all assembled at the barony’s 43rd birthday. Much as with the miracle of saints’ blood still staying wet over the centuries, herein was a miracle of Saint Kenric that the ink even appeared wet upon the scroll! Here it reads verbatim as follows:
Post Script: This document is in no way a forgery
This was read by myself – Meister Ulric von der Insel, Baron Bridge – on Sunday December 4 at Bridge Birthday 43. The document was discovered after long laying forgotten in a chest. (Note: It’s a forgery patterned after the famous Donation of Constantine, by which the Papal States were granted to the popes in perpetuity by Emperor Constantine. Really, it’s just for instigation and fun!)
Filed under: History Tagged: Barony of Bridge, Kenric and Avelina