SCA news sites

Flashback – First episode of the podcast – wow we called it SCACast

PainBank - Thu, 2015-05-14 07:40

hmmm… so it has been quite a long time and a crazy flashback to the past is here.  You can check out our first podcast episode, when we were still trying to figure everything out.  Hopefully getting these posted up will reinvigorate us to get back into posting new episodes and interviews.


Richard and Kith

Categories: SCA news sites

Featured Blog: Laurencia of Carlisle

AEthelmearc Gazette - Wed, 2015-05-13 21:58

Looking for a period way to cover your jars and containers to keep the contents in and the bugs out? Try the waxed linen jar covers featured this month in Across the Ages, a blog about life in the late 14th century.

Across the Ages is the blog of Bonnie McCarthy Martin, known in the Society as Baroness Laurencia of Carlisle, an Æthelmearc subject and an English woman of the late 14th/early 15th century.

The blog also features class handouts and a photo gallery. Take a trip Across the Ages today!


Categories: SCA news sites

Jim’s Self Storage at Pennsic

East Kingdom Gazette - Wed, 2015-05-13 19:48

Baroness Theodora Brynnissa, called Treannah reporting:

For anyone who has a storage unit at Jim’s Self Storage

Many of you may be aware that Jim had been very ill last year, sadly he has since passed away. He was a kind man who was always very good to his Pennsic customers, and he will be missed.

The new owner is named Brian, and is trying very hard to keep things moving along as smoothly as possible, however if your usual method of corresponding with Jim was email, he does not have access to the old email account and asked that you use his address moving forward.

Filed under: Pennsic

Court Reports from Celebration of Rapier and Spring Crown Tournament

AEthelmearc Gazette - Wed, 2015-05-13 08:23

Documented from the Scrolls of the Reign of Timothy & Gabrielle II, King and Queen of Æthelmearc: the Business of Their Majesties’ Court at A Celebration of Rapier, 1 May Anno Societatis L, in the Shire of Herontir. As recorded by Their Silver Buccle Herald, Kameshima-kyō Zentarō Umakai, with the assistance of Drotin Jorundr hinn Rotinn, Golden Alce Herald.

photo by Steffan Wolfgang von Ravensburg

Duchess Dorinda Courtenay was invited before Their Majesties to answer the summons bestowed upon her. Duchess Líadain ní Dheirdre Chaomhánaigh recalled meeting Dorinda at her first event, before she had even earned the title of Lady Dorinda; even then she exuded nobility, and since then has been a champion of the ideals of the Society. Master Iago Benitez, who once sponsored Duchess Dorinda as his cadet, found himself unable to explain Her Grace’s service as one would be unable to explain what is good about sunshine. Duchess Anna Blackleaf expounded upon Her Grace’s dedication and worthiness, declaring them above question or reproach. Sir Kadan Chakhilghan Ger on Echen, who Dorinda appointed as Captain of her Guard during her first reign, credited her with the example that he followed on his path to the Chivalry. Being moved by such glorious testimonies, Their Majesties did create the Order of Defense in the Kingdom of Æthelmearc and created Duchess Dorinda its Principal Companion.

Their Majesties invited the Ladies of the Rose to present a livery collar of white, the regalia of the Order of Defense, that it might start its journey with Duchess Dorinda and be passed to each successive member of that Order made in Æthelmearc. Baron Fergus and Baroness Helene then came forward and presented another collar, from which hung a medallion bearing the badge of the Order, that Her Grace might bear once the ancestral collar had been passed to its next recipient. Countess Elena d’Artois and Lord Aaron the Swift draped a cloak about Her Grace’s shoulders. Proclaiming that a Mistress of Defense should not be unarmed, Their Majesties called for Don Po Silvertop, on behalf of the Order of the White Scarf, who presented Her Grace with a weapon appropriate to her new station: a pie server, which he then proudly proclaimed had been wielded by every companion of the Order of Defense of Æthelmearc..

photo by Ysabeau Tiercelin

Their Majesties next called for Don Anias Fenne, who bore into Their Court an item from Æthelmearc’s past: a rapier borne in the days when Æthelmearc was but a Principality. Given the nature of the Order of Defense, Their Majesties received Her Grace’s oath as a Mistress of Defense upon that historic blade. A scroll illuminated by Mistress Ysabeau Tiercelin and calligraphed by Duchess Líadain ní Dheirdre Chaomhánaigh upon wording by Duchess Líadain, Kameshima-kyō Zentarō Umakai and THL Ursula of Rouen was read in proclamation of the Court business. Finally, Don Diego Miguel Munoz de Castilla was invited to present a gift to Duchess Dorinda on behalf of the newly created Order: a handmade book, blank but for one page emblazoned with Her Grace’s armory, the pages of which would be filled with the armory of future inductees.

There being no further business, Their Majesties’ Court was closed.

Documented from the Scrolls of the Reign of Timothy & Gabrielle II, King and Queen of Æthelmearc: the Business of Their Majesties’ Court at Crown Tournament, 2 May Anno Societatis L, in the Shire of Hartstone. As recorded by Their Silver Buccle Herald, Kameshima-kyō Zentarō Umakai, assisted by Lady Ariane Desiree des Cedres called Cedar.

At the conclusion of the tournament:

photo by Steffan Wolfgang von Ravensburg

Their Majesties called forth Their Excellencies, Count Sir Magnus Tindal and Countess Etain ingen Dalaig. Their Majesties congratulated His Excellency on his victory in the day’s tournament and crowned him Magnus Tindal, Prince of Æthelmearc. They then handed His Highness the Princess’s Coronet, which He placed upon Her Excellency’s head and crowned her Etain, Princess of Æthelmearc.

Later that afternoon, accompanied by Their Highnesses:

The children of the Kingdom were called forth, and sent with Lady Mairin O’Cadhla to amuse themselves during Court.

The Ladies of the Rose were invited into Court to expound upon the admirable displays of chivalry shown upon the field, and after much discussion and deliberation, they had decided to honor THL Blue Star to bear the Shield of Chivalry. THL Beatrix Krieger, the bearer of the Shield, gave her advice to Blue Star regarding what she had learned while carrying the Shield about what it truly meant, then passed it to him.

The Ladies of the Rose, however, could not contain their praise to one individual. They further called THL Marek Viacheldrago and Torstein Vigdisson and commended them for their extremely chivalrous and honorable behavior upon the field, and especially Torstein’s bravery in his first Crown Tournament.

Kameshima-kyō Zentarō Umakai, Silver Buccle Principal Herald, asked for a moment in Their Majesties’ Court to discuss the contest that had taken place during the Procession that morning. Baron Robert O’Connor, Sycamore Herald, joined Silver Buccle, and the two of them proudly announced that Mistress Mathilde Bosvyle de Bella Acqua, White Conye Herald, was most impressive while announcing Their Excellencies, Sir Maghnus de Cnoc an Iora and Brehres Gwendolyn the Graceful. She was presented with a mug engraved with the date and event. Silver Buccle and Sycamore thanked Lady Lasairfhiona, the day’s autocrat, who had suggested the idea, and they hoped that it would be repeated in future Crown Tournaments.

While he was in Their Majesties’ Court, Kameshima- kyō reminded Their Majesties that his term as Silver Buccle was ended as of that day. He then begged Their Majesties to return the title and responsibilities of Silver Buccle Principal Herald, that he might continue to serve the Kingdom for another two years. Their Majesties agreed and reinstated him as Silver Buccle. He then addressed the populace and informed them that the Silent Heraldry program in Æthelmearc was restarted, and Lady Ariane Desiree des Cedres, called Cedar, had been formally appointed the Silent Heraldry deputy for the Kingdom.

Corrina Tender was Awarded Arms for her unending enthusiasm and devotion to the Society, including traveling several hours to serve the populace and guard the royalty, and encouraging fencing within the College of Cour d’Or. Scroll by THL Eleanore Godwin.

Lord Aidan Ransford was Granted Arms and created a Baron of the Court for his decades of dedication to the Barony of Delftwood, often serving as its “Army of One” on the field, assisting Their Excellencies with any project that requires it, and being a constant force for the Barony. Scroll by Baroness Helene al-Zarqa.

Their Majesties invited Duke Sir Titus Scipio Germanicus and Countess Anna Leigh before Them, that they might assist in the completion of a piece of business left from their reign. They then asked Her Highness, Princess Etain, to attend Them, and presented Her with the scroll commemorating her elevation to the station of Countess, induction into the Order of the Rose, and awarding of Arms by Letters Patent. Scroll by Mistress Sthurrim Caithness.

Her Majesty then called forth Sir Wulfstan Huscarl and all those who had assisted in the creation of the list barriers that had been created for the day’s tournament. She shared with them the appreciation of the populace, thanked them for their many, many hours of labor in the name of the Kingdom, and declared them all to be Her inspiration for the day. She presented a token of inspiration to Sir Wulfstan, with a promise that more would be collected and distributed to each person who had worked so hard to make Their Crown Tournament the day of pageantry They had hoped it to be.

Those scribes who had contributed efforts to the day’s scrolls were asked to stand and be recognized.

Lady Gwendolyn of Hartstone was elevated to the Order of the Keystone for being a driving force for support for her Shire, organizing demos, workshops and practices, arranging practice sites, and tirelessly recruiting new members with boundless reserves of patience. Scroll by Meisterin Felicitas Flußmüllnerin.

There being no further business, Their Majesties’ Court was closed.

Categories: SCA news sites

From Kempe to the Congress - 5 medieval articles in the news - Tue, 2015-05-12 23:48
We bring you five articles from the last couple of days about the Middle Ages. Do you like this format?

New evidence supports Margery Kempe's accountSome scholars have suspected that Margery Kempe's account of her religious life and pilgrimages were made up, but a letter from her son has just been uncovered...

Archaeological finds at Littlemore Priory

Update on the Mass Grave discovered in ParisThe total number of human remains uncovered in the basement of a Paris supermarket reaches 316 according to an update from the New York Times

Local media on the 50th International Congress on Medieval StudiesTime again for the congress! Will you be there?Yes, Ill be there!No, I'm not going
Photo by Denis Gliksman/Inrap
Categories: History, SCA news sites

Waiver Policy for all Marshal Activities / Politique de formulaires de décharge pour toutes les Activités Martiales

East Kingdom Gazette - Tue, 2015-05-12 22:20

En français

Greetings all,

It has come to my attention that we do not sign waivers at practices across the Kingdom. This is not acceptable. It must be done at EVERY practice. Below is the waiver policy and the waiver form.

I expected this to be adhered to strictly. Should any practice not follow the waiver policy, henceforth, the unbelted marshals shall be subject to having their warrants removed and chivalry sanctioned via suspension of fighting privileges (because I do not have the authority to suspend the marshal power of the chivalry).

I apologize if this appears heavy handed. It is a serious insurance issue and cannot be ignored.

The procedure is as follows for ALL practices falling under the Earl Marshal and must be done at each practice: Blue cards should be checked by the Marshal in Charge and the number logged with the SCA name and mundane name. Anyone who does not have a blue card must sign a waiver at each practice. You may use individual forms or a roster waiver at your leisure. The waivers should be held for the Waiver Deputy and not sent in to the office of the Earl Marshal.

The Kingdom waiver policy can be found here:

Waiver forms can be found here:

Yours In Service,
Baron Sir Jibril al-Dakhil, EKEM

En français
Traduit par Behi Kirsa Oyutai


Il est venu a mon attention que nous ne signons pas de formulaires de décharge aux pratiques au travers du Royaume. Cette situation n’es pas acceptable. Il faut que ce soit fait à CHAQUE pratique. La politique des formulaire de décharge et les formulaires sont disponibles ci-dessous.

Je m’attendais à ce que l’on adhère strictement à cette politique. Dans le cas où une pratique ne suivrait pas les politiques établies, les maréchaux n’étant pas élevés aux rangs de la chevalerie verront leurs certifications révoquées et la chevalerie sera sanctionné par la suspension de leurs privilèges de combat (parce que je n’ai pas l’autorité de suspendre le maréchalat des membres de la chevalerie).

Je m’excuse si ceci apparaît comme étant sévère. Cela représente un sérieux problème vis-à-vis de nos assurances, et de fait, ne peut être ignoré.

La procédure va comme suit pour TOUTES les pratiques ayant lieu sous l’autorité du Earl Marshal et doit être complétée à chaque pratique: Le Maréchal en Charge doit vérifier toutes les Cartes Bleues et noter le numéro avec le nom mondain et SCA du participant. N’importe qui n’ayant pas une Carte Bleue doit signer un formulaire de décharge à chaque pratique. Il est possible d’utiliser des formulaires individuels ou un formulaire avec une liste, selon votre préférence. Les formulaires de décharge doivent être conservés par le Député aux Formulaires de décharge et ne doivent pas être envoyés au bureau du Earl Marshal.

La politique de formulaires de décharge du Royaume est disponible ici (en anglais) :

Les formulaires de décharge sont disponibles ici:

Au Service,
Baron Sir Jibril al-Dakhil EKEM


Filed under: Announcements, Fencing, Heavy List

Memories of Pennsic IV

East Kingdom Gazette - Tue, 2015-05-12 11:08

Queen Brekke and King Asbjorn on a sunnier day – the wedding of Arastorm and Aelfwine

Countess Brekke Franksdottir and Sir Michael of York recorded their memories of Pennsic IV, famous for its mud and rain, at the request of the Gazette.  Comments have been turned on for this article so others may add their own memories.

Countess Brekke
Pennsic IV was hosted by the Midrealm and held on a farm in Ohio over Labor Day weekend in 1975. It was the first Pennsic longer than 2 days and the first with really bad weather throughout.

As I recall, the site was a field on the side of a hill, with parking below on flat ground, near the road. The top of the hill was relatively flat, and that’s where we were camping, with woods behind the encampment, a fairly long hike to the cars, and the plains below for field battles. I vaguely recall the porta-pottie being essentially a large truck with two sides: Men, and Women, and only one private stall, at least on the Ladies’ side.

Sir Michael instructing the next generation of Pennsic fighters at a recent event. Photo by Lord Trentus Nubianus

Sir Michael
The site was a farm field – someone called it “the back 40 (acres)”. It was in the middle of nowhere and would have been a lovely site – except that the rain made the soft earth really muddy. If you weren’t at the top of the hill or able to find some kind of grassy hummock to stand on – you were standing in mud. In some places it was a few inches thick, in others – it was a foot deep.

Countess Brekke
As Queen of the East, I did have an obligation to be there (and the two previous were fun), but I lived in Manhattan at the time and did not drive. Master Frederick of Holland and his lady Nicorlynn of Caer Wydyr offered me a ride with them, so we set out Thursday morning to arrive in Ohio Friday. We pulled off to a rest stop Thursday night, and slept under the stars – something I had never done before and was somewhat nervous about. (I thought it might rain. There was not a cloud in the sky.)

It was, however, a lovely evening and night, and we continued west to our destination after breakfast in the morning. We arrived on site, found a camp site on the hilltop, and dropped off our gear. The Mid had set aside an area for Royals to camp. The Mid royalty and I camped there. I set up my very modern, bright blue nylon tepee and started a fire. Asbjorn arrived later and camped with friends a little way down the hill. Flieg and Lynn set up their canvas tent – very shortly thereafter named “DON’T TOUCH!” It was canvas and would leak anywhere anything came in contact with the canvas.

Sir Michael
Asjborn and I arrived when the sun was out – the last sun we’d see for a couple of days. Just before our arrival, there had been a tremendous storm burst accompanied by high winds. We found our camp-mates holding up or crawling out from under a sodden tent made from a large cargo parachute that had collapsed in the rain and high winds. It was the pattern of the war – mud, rain, wet people.

Countess Brekke
The rains came. And came. And stayed and invited friends. Also they invited any rain cloud within the entire US, nay the Western Hemisphere, to come to their party and RAIN on us. And they did. I had dug a fire pit and gotten a fire going. It went out fairly quickly. Water runs downhill. Into my fire pit (and everyone else’s, too). And into the parking lot, which was on a flat surface below the hill. No fire. No hot meals. (Not good.) And after making sure the ground was sufficiently saturated that no one could start a fire, the water ran down the hill and into – and over – the parking lot. And people kept coming. And setting up. In the rain. Close the site? There was nowhere else around the people could stay, and many had been traveling on a very thin shoestring. This was 1975, the SCA was only in its 10th year, and many members were still in college, or just didn’t have much money. I remember one family even brought their cat. They arrived Saturday and could not just turn around and go home; they were exhausted after traveling all night through the downpour. And they needed to rest before going home, at the very least.

Duke Akbar and Duchess Khadijah had sent their infant son to “Camp Grandma”, a decision I’m sure they NEVER regretted, and set up camp – a large tent with a long entry way and a brazier which contained one of the few fires I saw on site. I asked how he had managed to start it, and he replied, “I poured a libation to the Gods over the coals and applied a fire stick to it. You have to appease the gods.” It was a memorable reply.

The paths became a quagmire very quickly. One young lady lost a “paten” (it was a Dr. Scholl’s sandal) in the muck, and neither of us could dig deeply or widely enough to find it. (She told me of the incident years later – THE QUEEN tried to help her find her missing shoe! I have no memory of it, only of her telling me about it years later. Someday, an archeologist is going to wonder about the strange object he found in a field in Ohio…)

Sir Michael
The first night of the war, one nice gentleman loaned a friend his large thick foam mattress – so she would have a comfortable bed up off the ground. He slept on the floor on the other side of the tent. When they woke the next morning, she was soaked and he was dry – the spongy mattress had soaked up all the water. Asjborn never took off his boots and leggings, and I never took off my sneakers for the entire time we were there. When he did take them off – later – there was so much mud in the creases of his leggings that it filled a bathtub with caked mud. I threw my shoes out – they were brown and smelled of manure even after they’d been through the washing machine.

Countess Brekke
We did hold the war. There was rain and lightning just before the start of the field battle – but the lightning died away – so we fought in the rain.

Sir Michael
I remember standing at the top of the hill just before the field battle – in armor – helmet, shield, et cetera. We all talked about whether it was a good idea to fight in a lightning storm. Then we realized we were out in the open anyway, so it probably didn’t matter. Luckily, the lightning faded away and we fought under cloudy stormy clouds. It was a rout for the East – we were way outnumbered.

Countess Brekke
The woods battle was a battle for the flags of the East and the Mid, and the East had just adopted a new badge, a Blue Tyger. Asbjorn asked me to make a flag for the battle. Blue Tyger with lots of fussy little lines or Purpure, an Eastern Crown Or in a Laurel Wreath Proper, Fimbriated Or. Which one sounds easier to make quickly? I’ll give you a gentle hint; I chose the latter. I was familiar with the design, could draw it easily, and embroider it in place. *I used a crown of three points, as I didn’t have much time to make it. (The Queen’s Banner – the first one, the one a Duchess described to me as “wearing a rose in my crotch”, had not yet been approved.) Asbjorn took one look at it and swore that the Mid would not get its hands on THAT banner, no matter what! (“Why didn’t you make a Tyger?” he asked. Because I couldn’t even draw it, was the answer, which I didn’t give.)

At the start of the battle, the King of the Mid exited in one direction. Asbjorn, not usually one to avoid a good battle, went directly opposite – taking with him the best fighters of the East.

Sir Michael
We’d set up the war points so that for the woods battle each King and each Prince was worth a war point, as was the banner. At the start of the battle, the goal was to go find someplace to hide in the woods. Asjborn took his band and deliberately ran deep into the woods and kept moving – thus avoiding capture. Before leaving with his small group, Asbjorn told Prince Aonghais to “stay out of trouble” and not engage the Midrealm. Unfortunately, Aonghais was not able to do that and his band was forced to fight. Aonghais was the last man standing and as he died he fell against a sapling – which threw him forward – face first into the mud. He was wearing his brand new pig-faced bassinet – which got stuck in the mud and began to fill with water. It took his entire band of fighters to get him out of the mud before he drowned.

Countess Brekke
The Mid didn’t get our banner. Nor our King. I’m not sure if we got theirs. We didn’t shoot the archery point – due to the rain. I do know we lost the war, for the fourth straight year, but I think, in general, we all had fun, even with being flooded out.

Sir Michael
I remember getting home after Pennsic IV and taking my bow and arrows out of the van. They’d never been taken out and were under some other blankets that never got taken out of the van – they had mud on them. There was mud everywhere.

Countess Brekke
I also remember Duke Andrew of Seldom Rest ordering me into his truck (he had several others there warming up already) because I was “turning blue”. That’s when I really learned just how good an insulator wool is; he made me take off my (cotton) underdress, and just put the woolen overdress on alone. Instant Warmth!

Sir Michael
It got so wet and crazy that wearing clothes actually made you colder – because the cloth held the moisture and evaporation makes you cold. So Asbjorn and I and some others took to wearing loin-cloths – letting the rain wash the mud off, letting the breeze dry our skin, and keeping our clothes for the cooler evenings.

I can’t remember whether it was a specific war point, but there actually was an Arts-and-Sciences exhibit. I remember watching Duke Cariadoc in a clean, dry, long white Arab robe and turban dance a galliard in the mud. The judges gathered round to watch his footwork. In the middle of his demonstration, he fell backwards into the mud, bounced right back up onto his feet and kept going. It was just what you did – fall over – get muddy and get up and keep going.

Countess Brekke
Sir Aelfwine and Lady Arastorm arranged for Her Grace the Duchess Diana Alene of Tree-Girt-Sea to have a medieval bath over the weekend.

Sir Michael
Aelfwine could create fire anywhere – he’d brought half of a 55 gallon drum to use as a grill, but instead, lined it with a blanket and sheets and filled it with warm water. I was sent to invite Her Grace to come for her “bath”. I still remember the look on her face when she turned towards me and said “My Bath?” By the time I got her to the bath (carrying a towel and soap) it was surrounded by squires (facing-outward – being arranged by Arastorm) holding up a privacy screen. Rumor has it that a few other ladies partook of this same hot water bath. I heard they lined up just to wash their hair.

By the afternoon of the second day, people were bored with the mud and the rain. Asjborn was worried people would get cranky so had me organize crowd-entertainment. All we could find was a long rope, so an impromptu tug-of-war was waged. Everybody got muddy – the losers slightly more muddy than the winners. Someone provided more humor by obtaining Asjborn’s loin cloth and hanging it like a pennant from the top of Duchess Diana’s tent.

To be honest, the rain was never really drenching – it was just relentless. And the mud got everywhere and the rain washed it off – so that only your legs were covered all the time. I can’t figure out how we managed to eat without getting everything covered with mud. I can’t figure how we had hot meals – fires were hard to keep burning and yet there was food and drink and good humor all around despite a gloomy acceptance of being covered in mud.

Countess Brekke
Pennsic IV brought out the best in many of us. Duke Andrew of Seldom Rest, the autocrat (may his soul find peace), probably didn’t sleep the entire weekend of the event. He went around preventing hypothermia as he could. And as people left, he and Cariadoc towed their cars, which were restricted to the lower level of the site by our contract, out of axle-deep mud. He and Duke Cariadoc did an awful lot of towing, sometimes needing two tractors to get the mired cars out. And people helped each other. “Come over here and share my pot of soup” was frequently shouted out. People who could start fires of any sort shared them with those who needed to cook a hot meal. Folks shared a lot of Stone Soup. People shared tents – a necessity, as many blew down, never to rise again in the high winds.

Sir Michael
I remember that parking lot – and the tractor – it had a burned out clutch. It had to be parked facing down-hill or else you would not be able to start it. Andrew drove it through the parking area dragging a long chain with a hook on the end. Cariadoc would find the next car that was ready and look underneath to see where to connect the hook. As Andrew drove by slowly, Cariadoc would hook the car and stand back – and the chain would tighten – Andrew would step on the gas and the car would be towed, tires spinning as its driver gunned his engine too – spraying and swerving as it was dragged to the pavement. Cariadoc unhooked it as Andrew turned the tractor around and they went back for the next car. The two of them did this for hours. Sometimes when I tell this story, I don’t mention the tractor – I just tell people that Andrew wrapped the chain around his body and just dragged the cars out himself (he was a very big man).

As I was arriving at the lot to get Asjborn’s van towed out, I came across a very dispirited Laeghaire (later made a knight, later King of the East) standing in a muddy puddle up to his knees and clearly wearing what was his last set of clean clothes. He was completely bespattered with mud all over the front side – his car had sprayed mud, lurched and he’d fallen face first into the mire.

When I got our car to the parking area little while later (it was a gas-station about 1/2 mile away), I found Laeghaire standing there – squeaky clean – wearing the same clothes – and steam was rising off him. He pointed to the self-service car-wash and shouted gleefully “All the hot water and soap you want for 25 cents!” He got into his car with three others, and the windows steamed up and they drove off.

Pennsic IV may not have been the wettest or the stormiest or most dramatic Pennsic, but it was the most muddy. Everyone had some story about the mud, some story about the rain, some story about a tent collapse, some story about how everyone helped everyone else. Because of the people, it was a lot of fun – and I remember it fondly.

Filed under: History Tagged: Pennsic, Pennsic IV

Æthelmearc Kingdom Work Day & Martial Practice

AEthelmearc Gazette - Mon, 2015-05-11 22:07

His Majesty Timothy wants to ‘Paint Pennsic Red’!

Join us on Saturday, May 23, 2015 10am ’til 6pm at Emmanuel United Church Of Christ, 326 Market St New Berlin, PA 17855
225 Water Street, New Berlin, PA 17855

Come and spend the day sewing, silk screening and painting banners, baldrics & favors.
Come along with your favorite stitcher/crafter and enjoy a day of rattan/rapier combat & camaraderie. We’ll wrap up shop at 6pm and have a pot-luck picnic. Please bring a covered dish to share. The grill will be out & something tasty will be cooking.

Sewing and crafting held at the Church.
Martial practices held 2 blocks away at 225 Water St.
Picnic supper at the Church.

TEXT: 570-975-5830

From the North, East and South – Make your best way to the intersection of PA Route 45 and U.S. Route 15 in Lewisburg; at this intersection, head west on Route 45, approximately 5 miles, towards Mifflinburg and State College. Turn left onto Dreisbach Church Road. Look for the big church sign. Continue traveling into New Berlin to the intersection of Market& Vine Streets (only stop sign in town). The UCC Church is directly across the street.

OR Turn Right at the intersection, follow Market St. for one block, turn Left onto Union St. Travel 2 blocks south to the corner of Union & Water Streets.

From the West – Follow Route 45E towards Lewisburg. Turn Right onto Dreisbach Church Road. Look for the big church sign. Continue traveling into New Berlin to the intersection of Market & Vine Streets (only stop sign in town). The UCC Church is directly across the street.

OR Turn Right at the intersection, follow Market St. for one block, turn Left onto Union St. Travel 2 blocks south to the corner of Union & Water Streets.

Categories: SCA news sites

Six elevated to Peerages at Rowany Festival - Mon, 2015-05-11 10:45

Gunther Canon reports that at Their recent Rowany Festival, Their Majesties Kinggiyadai Khagan and Altani Khalighu Yeke of the Kingdom of Lochac honored a number of Their Subjects by offering them entry in the various Orders of the Peerage.

read more

Categories: SCA news sites

The Birth of a New Peerage in Æthelmearc

AEthelmearc Gazette - Sun, 2015-05-10 22:00

On May 1, Anno Societatis 50, Æthelmearc saw the birth of a new peerage as Duchess Dorinda Courtenay was made the first Æthelmearc Mistress of Defense.

Photo by Steffan Wolfgang von Ravensburg

At an event beginning in the early afternoon, she met all challengers to prove herself worthy, as commanded by Their Majesties:

“BE IT KNOWN to all that profess arms that We, Timothy and Gabrielle, by right of Arms, King and Queen of Sylvan Æthelmearc,  do honor and invite all to whom these words come – that We commend Dorinda Courtenay, Member of the Order of the White Scarf, Duchess of the Kingdom of Æthelmearc, and Vigilant for the Society’s Order of Defense to play her Master’s Prize against all who might wield the Rapier in its subtile mysterie at these weapons, viz:

Duchess Dorinda playing the tossing game.
photo by Ysabeau Tiercelin

rapier, rapier and dagger, rapier and parry item, case of rapier or longsword. Each Gentle being offered three passes of their choice. We would also provide gaming challenges for those who are not able to meet Her Grace on the rapier listfield. These words are to give notice that Our said Vigilant will be present beginning at 3:00 p.m. on the First day of May, at the appropriately entitled ‘Celebration of the Art of the Rapier’ to perform and do her utter most for the achievement and bearing away of the prize.”

Duchess Dorinda did indeed meet all comers, to the satisfaction of Their Majesties. There was much fencing, and then the populace repaired to a wondrous sideboard prepared by THL Ian Kennoven, with the centerpiece being a sugar paste rapier with escarbuncle guard.

Their Majesties processed into court and addressed the populace. King Timothy proclaimed, “From the day We won Crown, We had hoped the Board would make this decision, the right decision, and We are thrilled to be able to do this today.”

A video of the entire elevation can be seen here:

The oath, based on the London School of Defense Masters Oaths:

I, Dorinda Courtenay, do swear to be true to my Kingdom, to be a loyal subject to my Crown, and to serve my Queen with life and property.

I pledge to work with other Masters to further the rapier community, and to refrain from teaching suspect peoples including murderers, thieves, drunkards and quarrelers.

I promise that in any game, prize or play at weapons to give true judgement without favor or hatred, and to be merciful when I have the upper hand except in self-defense or in service to the Crown.

I pledge to give aid, strength and help to all masters, provosts and scholars, and to consult all Masters to advance others so that this Order, the fencing community, and the Kingdom may prosper.

Thus I do swear.

The cheers that rose in Court were soon to be echoed around the Known World as many Kingdoms created their first Masters and Mistresses of Defense and a new peerage was born in the Society.

Duchess Dorinda with her scroll. photo by Ysabeau Tiercelin

Above, THL Fiora d’Artusio, Don William Parris (Gazette Fencing Editor) and Mistress Irene von Schmetterling at the event. Don William said “In a historic time, with worthies being chosen all over the Society, Æthelmearc set a high bar with Her Grace, Dorinda.”

The scroll was illuminated by Mistress Ysabeau Tiercelin and calligraphed by Duchess Liadain ni Dheirdre Chaomhanaigh with wordsmithing by THL Ursula of Rouen, Duchess Liadain and Kameshima Zentaro Umakai.


Categories: SCA news sites

Order of Defense Premieres tapped in Atlantia - Sun, 2015-05-10 08:15

Cian Triton, Principal Herald, reports that Their Majesties Logan and Esa of the Kingdom of Atlantia announced the kingdom Premieres of the Order of Defense at Their April 11, 2015 Coronation. Those chosen were Master Aedan Aylwyn, Master Alan of Gravesend, and Master Giacomo Vincenti.

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Categories: SCA news sites

Q & A: East Kingdom Exchequer

East Kingdom Gazette - Sat, 2015-05-09 19:29

This is one of a series of Q&A articles with East Kingdom Officers. The Gazette wishes to thank Maestra Ignacia la Ciega, East Kingdon Exchequer, for answering our questions.

Please describe your job responsibilities. The job responsibilities of the Kingdom Chancellor of the Exchequer encompass several areas.  The most obvious is the managing of the kingdom funds and financial reporting of those funds.   Working to ensure all the groups in the kingdom are in compliance with the Society and East Kingdom policy, procedures and laws is another large responsibility.   Of course there is always the need to respond to an assortment of inquiries and requests from the various groups, individuals and from Society.  There are many responsibilities that fall within the very broad areas listed above.  I will not bore everyone with those details.    

What do you enjoy about this activity? I enjoy working with numbers and with puzzles,  so digging in a report to find the reason it is not adding up correctly  is fun and rewarding.   These is a logic to numbers that is always consistent and predictable, two things I tend to favor.   I like having a reason to meet people from different groups and having a common footing area of focus to start conversations.   I also find I do like to fill a need when there is a need, and the exchequer positions are an absolute need, for without them we would no longer exist.    

Do you have a goal for your term? My biggest goal right now is simple.  I would like to have all the groups in the East doing complete and consistent reporting each quarter.   There are several things that can help make that happen, like having more training available and having several more deputies to work with the various groups to help me ensure we are staying in compliance.   I would also encourage more people to show appreciation to the exchequers in the local groups, they do amazing amounts of work that no one ever sees, so we all can enjoy our hobby of living history.        

Are you currently looking for any deputies?Yes, I would like several more deputies.  Aside from the regional deputies that do reviews of the reports as they come in, training deputies would be very helpful.  The Tir Mara region is one area that a deputy would be a big help, especially since I do not speak any French.  Some of the regions are very large, so for those regions a second deputy would be very welcome.  Training deputies – I would like a couple of those as well.  There is always a new exchequer that wants training or an experienced exchequer looking to understand something more than they currently do.  Training materials are always in need of updating, so that is also in the shadows waiting for someone to take it on.  I recently took on an administrative deputy, his first project is to organize the exchequer warranting process and files, and then he is also working on the book review scheduling.          

What was your first event?  And what made you stay?My very first event, was Bjorn’s Ceilidh, in Concordia of the Snows.   The local members made an effort to interact with people they did not know (or recognize as I later discovered).  They were so willing to talk about the things they did and showed a lot of enthusiasm when talking about it.  The effort people put into engaging in conversation went a long way in getting me to come back at the beginning.   That quickly changed to seeing friends and learning or teaching new things.     

Which people made an impact on you in the SCA and why? I have to say that Baron Emerson G. True was one of the first people that had an impact on me.  I was on the group’s discussion list and had attended only one A&S meeting and one event.   Fabric was needed for the next meeting so I said I was willing to go to the store or meet someone there in order that we have it for the meeting.  Emerson was the person that I met up with for that outing.  He encouraged the pomp and circumstance, and was the reason I became the Baronial herald shortly after joining the group.   Baroness Lucia and Baron Baltasar (then he was Soichero)  both encouraged me to try  a variety of different things and they both took me under their wings as I did that.  The first event I was a steward for, was their investiture.  Which lead to my running many more events over the years.

Could you share with us a moment – or several moments – that describe what makes the SCA special for you?There was one particular year at Pennsic when My lord and 3 of our ‘sons’ were all actually fighting.  We were on the fighting field with 2 of our ‘daughters’ sending the men off to war.   It was one of those moments when it feels like you are really there in that place and time.  I was giving each of them a piece of my clothing (not an entire sleeve) to remind them of my love and telling them to stay safe and come back to me.  Knowing that they would be with a dearly beloved Knight, the Baron and the King meant they would be in the company of proven warriors but also that they would be in the deepest of the fray.    I have had many very personally special moments over the years.  Some that make my heart truly sing, have been those times I have created a scroll for someone dear to me, and the personal touches and research done show so completely when they see it.  Knowing that the person is so touched by what you have created for them, not for the courts or for the kudos, but simply for what it means to them personally.    Most recently, in my current position, I was very touched after doing an online training session with an exchequer.   The session started with the person feeling like they could not manage the spreadsheet we use; they were very confused, and the stress was apparent in the voice.  By the end of the 1.5 hour session I could hear the confidence in the voice and knew the exchequer was feeling very capable of dealing with the position.  Of course there were profuse thank you’s but it really was they change in the voice and the confidence that made the entire thing very special for me.  

In service to the keeping of the coffers. Ignacia

Filed under: Interviews Tagged: Exchequer

New USA Knight talks strategy - Sat, 2015-05-09 17:03

The May issue of New Hampshire Magazine offers an interview with Evan Ringo, a member of the Society for Creative Anachronism, a competitor in the Armored Combat League, and a new member of USA Knights. Rick Broussard conducted the interview.

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Categories: SCA news sites

Almond Milk

AEthelmearc Gazette - Sat, 2015-05-09 10:48

by Caleb Reynolds.

Milk was an important ingredient in medieval cookery. The problem with animal milk (milk from cows, goats, and sheep) was that it had a very limited shelf life. Also, the taste and quality of milk changed with the seasons and with the feed of the animals. Add to that the fact that animal milk was prohibited on fast and lean days. To get around these issues, medieval cooks turned to other sources for milk. Almonds, as well as hazelnuts and walnuts, can be turned into a milk-like substance.

Like animal milk, almond milk can by churned into butter, can thicken sauces and carry fat soluble flavors. Since it contains no animal products, almond milk could be enjoyed on fast and lean days and during Lent. Almond milk also had a more consistent flavor than animal milk and does not spoil easily. It could be made as needed and any excess could be stored for several weeks. While it was an ingredient in many dishes, almond milk was also consumed just like animal milk; by the glass. It was recommended, by physicians, as “blessed with qualities that were very close to the healthy human temperament” [1] and was prescribed for those who were sick or had digestive problems.


From Du fait de cuisine:
28. And again, flans of almond milk: according to the quantity of flans which you are making take the quantity of almonds, have them well and cleanly blanched and washed and then have them very well brayed; and take very clean fair water and let him strain his almond milk into a bowl or a cornue which is fair and clean according to the quantity of flans which he should make….

From Le Viandier de Taillevent:
Take peeled almonds, crush very well in a mortar, steep in water boiled and cooled to lukewarm, strain through cheesecloth, and boil your almond milk on a few coals for an instant or two.

The redaction from A Boke of Gode Cookery
1 cup ground almonds
2 cups boiling water
Combine almonds and water. Steep for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Sieve the mixture to remove coarse grains OR (preferably) blend mixture in electric blender until grains are absorbed. Yield – 2 cups almond milk.

The redaction from Medieval Cookery
2 cups blanched almonds
3 cups hot water
Grind almonds until fine, almost like flour. Pour hot water into almonds, mixing well. Allow to soak for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Pour through a fine strainer into a bowl, discarding solids (they can be used again with more water, but the resulting almond milk will be thinner and won’t work as well in recipes)


My method is as follows:
1 cup whole, blanched almonds
2 cups boiling water
Grind the almonds by hand, using a mortar and pestle: grind until you end up with a gritty paste. This will take a while, but the finer the paste is, the better the end result will be. Once you have achieved paste, set two cups of water to the heat and bring it to a rolling boil. Once you have a rolling boil, add the almond paste and take the water off of the heat. Let the mixture steep for ten minutes, stirring every few minutes. After ten minutes, Strain the mixture through cheesecloth, make sure to squeeze all of the liquid from the cloth. Be careful, the liquid will hot. Cover the almond milk and let it cool on the counter. Once cool, feel free to drink the milk or use it for cooking. In a sealed container, your almond milk will last about a week on the counter, or up to three weeks in the ‘fridge.


By following this method you will end up with something with the taste and consistency of almond-flavored skim milk, and while it can thicken a sauce like milk or cream, it doesn’t do it as well or as quickly. Also, the almond flavor doesn’t cook out. Further, almonds have no sugar, so almond milk isn’t sweet like cow or goat milk[2]. Modern, mass-produced almond milk is not the same thing as our period product: they are vitamin fortified, with extra fat, sugar and emulsifiers added to give them the flavor, and mouth-feel, of cow milk.

A purely modern method would be to put a cup of blanched almonds in a bar blender with two cups of hot water and blend until smooth. The bar blender will whip air into the mixture and pulverize the almonds, releasing more of the drupe’s[3] natural emulsifiers, thickening the liquid. Like modern almond milk, the bar-blender method would give you almond milk closer in mouth feel to cow milk than what you would attain with hand grinding the almonds.

You can use the same method to make milk from hazelnuts, walnuts, or pecans, but I do not know of any documentation for pecan milk before the American revolution.

[1] Master Chiquart, Du Fait du Cuisine
[2] I’ve never had sheep milk before.
[3] Almonds are drupes, not nuts.

A Boke of Gode Cookery. Almond Milk 2000. James L. Matterer. Accessed on November 7, 2012 , 10:12 am.

Chiquart, Maistre. Du fait de cuisine. Translated by Elizabeth Cook. Accessed on November 7, 2012 , 10:15 am.

Le Viandier De Taillevent: 14th Century Cookery, Based on the Vatican Library Manuscript. Authors Taillevent, James Prescott. Translated by James Prescott. Contributor Biblioteca apostolica vaticana. Edition 2, illustrated. Alfarhaugr Pub. Society, 1989.

Medieval Cookery, Almond Milk Daniel Myers, 9/15/2006. Accessed on November 7, 2012 , 9:42 am.

Scully, D. Eleanor, Scully, Terence. Early French Cookery: Sources, History, Original Recipes and Modern Adaptations. University of Michigan Press, May 7, 2002

Scully, Terence. The Art of Cookery in the Middle Ages. Woodbridge: The Boydell Press, 1995.

Scully, Terence, ed. Le Viandier de Taillevent. An Edition of all Extant Manuscripts. Ottawa: University of Ottawa Press, 1988.


Categories: SCA news sites

Retainers Wanted for Their Majesties

AEthelmearc Gazette - Fri, 2015-05-08 21:34

Their Majesties, Timothy and Gabrielle. Photo courtesy of Her Majesty.

There is a new Facebook group available for those who would like to retain for TRM Timothy and Gabrielle for the remainder of Their reign, titled Royal Retainers Reign 36. If you would like to be added to the group, please contact Lady Rowena Moore aka Sue Klinger O’Donovan ( or Her Excellency Dame Bronwyn aka Joann Witcoski ( so that you may be added to the group and the list of Retainers. The direct link to the group can be found here.

Categories: SCA news sites

"Authenticity is the goal" for East Kingdom SCA family - Fri, 2015-05-08 12:34

Since the late 1980s, Astrida and Stephen Schaeffer of North Berwick, Maine have lived parallel lives: modern careers and family life and the life of a 14th century family as members of the Society for Creative Anachronism. The Schaeffers discussed the SCA with Jeanne McCartin of (photos)

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Categories: SCA news sites

Escrimeurs : Annonce importante pour Pennsic

East Kingdom Gazette - Fri, 2015-05-08 07:57

Cet article est maintenant disponible en Français. Veuillez cliquer sur le lien ci-dessous.

Fencers: Important Announcement Regarding Pennsic / Escrimeurs : Annonce importante pour Pennsic

(English Translation: The following article is now available in French. Please click on the link below.)

Filed under: Announcements, En français, Fencing

Information importante pour ceux qui vont à Pennsic et qui prennent des médicaments devant demeurer au froid.

East Kingdom Gazette - Fri, 2015-05-08 07:47

Cet article est maintenant disponible en Français. Veuillez cliquer sur le lien ci-dessous.

Important Pennsic Announcement Regarding Refrigerated Medication / Information importante pour ceux qui vont à Pennsic et qui prennent des médicaments devant demeurer au froid.

(English Translation: The following article is now available in French. Please click on the link below.)

Filed under: Announcements, En français, Pennsic

Fencers: Important Announcement Regarding Pennsic / Escrimeurs : Annonce importante pour Pennsic

East Kingdom Gazette - Thu, 2015-05-07 15:34

En français

Greetings Rapier Combatants of the East!    There was some misunderstanding with the Battlefield scheduling for this year’s Pennsic War, and if you have submitted a class or tournament, you should resubmit it immediately!  We greatly apologize for the difficulties, but they are, apparently unavoidable.  You have through this Saturday (May 9th) to resubmit your class or tournament for scheduling.      In Service,         Master Frasier MacLeod, KRM, East


En français par Ekaterina Solov’eva Pevtsova

Salutation aux Escrimeurs de l’Est!
Il y a eu de la confusion avec l’horaire du champ de bataille cette année pour Pennsic. Alors si vous avez offerts vos service pour donner une classe ou organiser un tournois, vous devez immédiatement envoyer à nouveau ces informations. Nous sommes grandement désolés de cette situation mais il semble que ce soit inévitable. Vous avez jusqu’à ce samedi (demain, 9 Mai) pour envoyer à nouveau les informations pour votre classe ou votre tournois.
Au Service,
Maître Frasier MacLeod, KRM, Est.

Filed under: Announcements, En français, Pennsic Tagged: a&s

It’s Not Wrong to Filk (‘Cause it Feels so Right)

AEthelmearc Gazette - Thu, 2015-05-07 14:33

by Gwendolyn the Graceful, Brehyres

In my article about the different types of bardic music found in the SCA, I touched on contrefait, and said I would devote an entire article to the topic. This is a complex and often controversial issue within the SCA bardic community, particularly the sub-category known (some would say incorrectly) as “filk.”

First, some definitions:

Contrefait (contrafactum, or contra facta) is the period term for the practice of taking an existing tune and writing new lyrics to it. In period, the source tunes were often church music, since what was sung in the church was known to everyone, but secular tunes were used, too.

Broadsides were also composed the same way: by writing lyrics that could be set to popular music of the day (and sometimes more than one tune. It was not unusual for a broadside to list a number of “excellent tunes” to which one might sing the words). (“The Star-Spangled Banner” is one of the most famous Broadsides in the U.S…..) Broadsides were also a product of the world after the invention of the printing press, when it was easier to distribute music and lyrics.

Filk is used in the SCA to mean the same thing as a contrafactum, with one big difference: In the SCA, specifically, filk almost always refers to the use of a modern tune with lyrics that make little to no attempt at sounding period. They are often highly self-reflexive commentaries that poke directly at the “Anachronism” part of “SCA.”

For that reason, among others, the term “filk” is controversial, and in fact, offensive, to some.

“Filk” was supposedly a typo once upon a once, when someone trying to put a “folk music circle” into a con program misspelled it. The misspelling stuck. So “filk” as it is used outside of the SCA is not confined to rewritten lyrics to an existing tune. In the Sci-Fi-Fantasy Convention circuit, “Filk” is a catchall term meant to include any and all music of interest to the subculture.

But in the SCA, “filk” is also considered by many to be a prejudicial and derogatory term. I believe the other major reason it is viewed as pejorative is that “filk” in the SCA has become synonymous with works that are not as serious, or not as appropriate, or that otherwise “break” the medieval experience for other listeners. They are almost always set to popular or well-known modern songs. Very few of them are really “about” historical topics, or if they are, they often address those topics in self-consciously modern terms. Because of all that, the perception over time has been to think that filk music is somehow “lesser” than original music or even lyrics set to period tunes.

Now, I think it’s unfair to paint all “filk” with the same brush. I prefer to invoke Sturgeon’s Law when it comes to this sort of thing. It’s not that all filk is frivolous or scans poorly or doesn’t sufficiently change the source material as to count as new; it’s not that all filk uses aggressively modern music or that it is always self-reflexive or self-indulgent. I think it’s as simple as this: there’s a lot of it, and 90% of everything is crap.

There are different sub-genres of “filk,” according to the type of original source material, the topic of the lyrics, and other factors. I actually take my definition of filk in both SF con and SCA contexts one step further, by saying that a truly great “filk” really does at least one of these two things, and usually both:

  1. It uses the audience’s familiarity with the original song to inform both the new lyrics and the subject matter being depicted;
  2. It specifically addresses subjects that are meaningful to a subculture, such as a fan of a particular book, show, or movie, or, in our case, topics that are uniquely meaningful to the SCA’s subculture.

To my thinking, this differentiates “filk” from “contrefait” for our purposes because for the most part, using a period melody does not presuppose a familiarity with the original song (though it did, in period), whereas “filks” that take modern tunes usually do rely on that exposure.

Songs like this are often humorous and fall under the heading of parody, but not all are meant to be funny. However, almost all contrefait with a modern melody do pick the original tune for some reason that puts an ironic twist of some kind into the new lyrics. The catch is that that’s often easier said than done. One of the criticisms of SCA bardic performance in general is that there’s a low bar to entry. “Filk” gets its own unfairly poor reputation as one of the “lowest” bars for songwriting, because you’ve already got a tune, and you’ve already got a basis for the lyrics, depending on what prompted your choice. On the other hand, it can be deceptively difficult to do artfully.

The best way I can discuss this is with some examples. I’ll use my own work, simply because I have the right to reproduce it. All the songs I’ll be talking about have melodies that should be well-known to the reader, or are easily available if you’re unfamiliar with the tune.

My first example is a filk that uses audience familiarity with an original (modern) song to inform both the new lyrics and the subject matter in the song (point #1 above). Compare the original lyrics (left) to the rewritten ones (right):

Oh, they built the ship Titanic                          Oh, the jester came into the hall
To sail the ocean blue                                     To entertain the crowd
And they thought they had a ship                     And he thought he’d sing,
That the water couldn’t go through                   But the noise was much too loud
but the Lord’s almighty hand                            So he dove into his trusty sack
Said the ship would never land                         To answer his king’s call
It was sad when the great ship                         It was sad when the jester lost
went down.                                                     his balls.
Oh it was sad! It was sad!                                Oh it was sad! It was sad!
It was sad when the great ship                         It was sad when the jester lost
went down.                                                     his balls.
Husbands and wives                                        Nobles and Knights
Little children lost their lives                             Never had such a fright

It was sad when the great ship went down.        It was sad when the jester lost
went down.                                                     his balls.

Obviously, they share the same scansion and rhyme scheme, and the verse and chorus share the same structure. Several lines of the chorus aren’t different at all. But that’s about all they share. However, if a listening audience member knows the Titanic song, they’ll automatically know how to participate in the chorus.

Lines or lyrical phrases that remain the least changed from the original source to the “filked” lyric are often referred to as “hooks.” In a lot of filks, it’s clear or at least relatively obvious which lines may have been the hook — in other words, which lines struck the filk lyricist as a reason to use the song as a platform for the new sentiment. Here’s one that I wrote years ago with really obvious “hooks”:

You must remember this                          You must remember this,
A kiss is still a kiss                                   The gath’ring you can’t miss
A sigh is just a sigh                                  Has fun for you in store
The fundamental things apply                   The two-week long Medieval tour
As time goes by                                       Of Pennsic War.

And when two lovers woo                          And when two armies fight,
They still say, “I love you”                         Their ranks swelled up with knights
On that you can rely                                 And squires and scouts galore,
No matter what the future brings               You learn what heraldry is for
As time goes by.                                       At Pennsic War.

Moonlight and love songs,                          Bardics with filk songs
never out of date                                       bawdy, sweet or droll,
Hearts full of passion,                                Classes and parties,
Jealousy and hate                                      the classic swimming hole,
Woman needs man                                    The two-mile hike
And man must have his mate                     from the parking lot to troll
That no one can deny.                               That everyone abhors.

It’s still the same old story,                        It’s still the same old story
A fight for love and glory,                           A fight for love and glory
A case of do or die.                                    And friends forevermore,
The world will always welcome                    We’ll live the Dream each year
lovers,                                                      together,
As time goes by.                                        At Pennsic War.

Once again, the original lyrics provide the rhyme scheme, the scansion, the structure, and in this case, some key lyrical “hooks” that twist the original song and give it a different context and meaning. However, this song also introduces an element of Filk Objective #2: It discusses a topic which is of significance to members who are already part of the subculture. I would say that this filk doesn’t completely fulfill that objective, because while it’s more meaningful to members of the SCA who have experienced Pennsic, it’s not impenetrable to people who have not. Unfortunately, it’s also not very good, so it fails in the cleverness department, in my opinion. It’s a fairly trivial song that doesn’t really deepen either the original or the new lyric.

My final example is one that is not an SCA song, per se, but one that really exemplifies the properties of an effective filk song. The tune to this is “Something There” from Disney’s Beauty and the Beast:

There’s something sweet                              There’s something here
And almost kind                                           Not of our kind
But he was mean and he was coarse              Yes, it’s a lifeform that is
And unrefined                                              As-yet undefined
And now he’s dear                                        Just what it wants
And so unsure                                              We’re not quite sure
I wonder why I didn’t see it                           But there is something there
there before.                                                that wasn’t there before.

She glanced this way                                    It came this way
I thought I saw                                            We thought we saw
And when we touched,                                 It took a tentacle
she didn’t shudder at my paw!                      And stuck it down his craw!
No, it can’t be…                                           No, it can’t be…
I’ll just ignore,                                             We can’t ignore
There may be something there                      But there is something there
That wasn’t there before                               That wasn’t there before.

New, and a bit alarming                                Ew, this is so disgusting!
Who’d have ever thought that this                 Who’d have ever thought that this
Could be?                                                    Could be?
True, he is no prince charming                       It’s ripping out his stomach
But there’s something in him                         And before you know it
That I simply didn’t see                                 The crew’s down to only me.

Well, who’d have thought?                             I’ll get away
And who’d have known?                                I’ll get back home
And who’d have guessed                               And when I do
They’d come together on their own?               I’ll tell them everything I know

We’ll wait and see                                         We’re not alone
A few days more                                           And safe no more
There may be something there                       Because there’s something there
That wasn’t there before.                               That wasn’t there before.

First, this definitely presupposes a familiarity with the original song and the context of the original song as a montage of Belle and the Beast starting to fancy one another. The new lyrics then use that bouncy melody to relate the plot of a movie that could not be further from Beauty and the Beast. Note also that this lyric never explicitly mentions what it’s about. It relies on the listener catching on. Thus, listeners who are unfamiliar with Beauty and the Beast or the plotline of Alien might be able to appreciate the clever lyric, but certainly won’t get much out of the song.

As you can imagine, it’s deceptively difficult to write a contrefait of this type that really hits home on all levels. The downfalls of filk are many, but some of the most common problems include:

  1. choosing a tune that is not easy to sing a capella or in a bardic context. A lot of modern music (especially popular or musical theatre music) is difficult and really challenging to sing without an accompaniment, or relies on the ability to “hear” the instrumental support, which one can’t necessarily bring to a bardic circle.
  2. forcing lines to fit into the scansion or rhyme scheme of a song. Often lyricists, especially beginning lyricists, will “lose track” of the scansion as they are writing the new lyrics. (This is not limited to the SCA, in fact, and was famously lampooned in the Tom Lehrer song, “Folk Song Army”) The best way to avoid this is to lay out the original lyrics next to the new ones, to make sure things track as much as desired.
  3. picking a tune that isn’t as well-known as desired. If you’re counting on your audience recognizing the song, make sure it’s recognizable.
  4. being so obscure or subtle in one’s references that the audience doesn’t understand what the song is supposed to be about.
  5. picking a tune or setting lyrics that are aggressively modern. In the SCA context in particular, successful “filks” either blend in with the medieval ambience or they are best reserved for a context in which they won’t jar the listener. Sometimes this can work as a conscious choice, as when the artist wants to be anachronistic for humor or irony. Unless you know your audience well, be careful that it doesn’t fall flat.

As with any performance, the usual principles apply:

  1. The material chosen must speak to some emotional grip on the audience;
  2. The performance must move the audience to that emotional place;
  3. The audience must be able to see, hear, and understand the performance.

Without these factors, it doesn’t matter if the tune is “new” or “used” or the lyrics are clever or banal.

As for using (modern) contrefait, it’s absolutely valid, depending on the venue and purpose of the performance. In my opinion, they’re more appropriate for small gatherings, post-revels, late nights, or if you really know your audience wants that kind of contribution. It’s merely a question of the right selection for the right occasion!

More on that…in another article!

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