SCA news sites

A Wish List for Heralds & Scribes

AEthelmearc Gazette - Wed, 2017-03-15 11:23

Noble Cousins!

Would people in your area like to learn more about designing and executing beautiful scrolls, serving as herald in court or during a tournament, how to design premodern names and heraldic devices, how to incorporate your armory into your clothing and equipment, or how to participate in the name and armory review process?

Or maybe you would just like to hang out for a day with a bunch of interesting people from across the kingdom and even a few other kingdoms? The preferred time is after Labor Day this year and ideally not in the same month as Æcademy.

Heralds & Scribes is a fun and fairly easy event for which to serve as autocrat. I am about to give you a wish list. However, a lot of different sites can be made to work.

Basically, you need to secure a site with plenty of classrooms and provide lunch. Typically, the more classrooms the better. The scribes particularly like to have a scriptorium where they can practice calligraphy together. Scribes also like to have a display area for samples of their work. It would be good to have a display area for heraldic objects as well. Ideally, several of the classrooms should accommodate projection equipment. The scriptorium and at least one of the classrooms should accommodate “messy classes” where scribes actually practice their art. Built in internet access is nice, but we can probably find people with hotspots.

Beyond the various classroom areas, there should be a commons area for people to hang out and eat lunch. The most recent collegium had heraldic activities running from 10:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m., the last two hours of which were devoted to a Q&A session with a College of Arms officer followed by a general meeting of the Æthelmearc College of Heralds. The event staff cleaned and restored the other classrooms during this period.

Who to contact:

Note: There will be a staff change with at least the office of Silver Buccle this Spring. However, please do not let that deter you. Please provide the new staff people with an excellent site for this Autumn! Please send in event proposals as soon as you can.

Thank you very much for considering my request.

In service to Æthelmearc, Sólveig

Categories: SCA news sites

Stories from Gulf Wars XXVI: Day 1

AEthelmearc Gazette - Tue, 2017-03-14 09:31

Countess Elena d’Artois, Mistress Illadore de Bedegrayne, and Baroness Beatrix Krieger report from Gulf Wars in Gleann Ahann.

From Countess Elena:

Monday’s Rapier Town Battle was brisk. Our side was outnumbered by 10, but we still emerged victorious through the plans and strategies of our general, Doña Miriam d’Hawke [of Trimaris]. Since our side won the war point in the first two iterations of the scenario, we fought the third round to the last man. Great teamwork [was] displayed by Master Anias Fenne and Duke Titus Germanicus, holding a group from flanking us and turning the tide to roll the enemy’s edge. Kudos to Kara Burkhart, Robert Hawksworth, and Lord Nicolo Loredan da Venesia, [who] especially did a great job screening so that we were able to help our buddies achieve the victory condition.

Thanks to Lady Racheldis of Swansmere for serving as marshal today for the rapier field.

From Baroness Beatrix:

Today was the Town Battle. We were small in number but very, very good. We killed many; we united with parts of Trimaris and Atlantia on one of the bridges to hold our foes off as they tried to push through our line. We repelled them as best we could and reinforced small buildings all throughout the battle. Our chivalry crossed and pressed them at the river, and together our army held them at bay for as long as we could. We could not keep the hordes from overrunning us, and while Ansteorra and their allies were victorious, Æthelmearc fought with great skill, courtesy, and with tremendous honor.

Tomorrow: field battles after opening ceremonies.

From Mistress Illadore:

Today saw Æthelmearc fighting with Trimaris, apparently highly outnumbered on the heavy side in the Town Battle. Our fighters fought valiantly and enjoyed the target rich environment. On the rapier side, Æthelmearc won the day!! Alright, alright, we had help. The Rapier Town Battle included finding the right chest inside the “town” and getting it out through the front gates of the fort, best two out of three.

Click to view slideshow.

After the Town Battle, much of the camp enjoyed the first of [several planned] meals based on the Opera of Bartolommeo Scappi’s, with the main entree being roast chicken with pomegranate sauce. Peach pie was for dessert. [Ed. Note: Mistress Illadore is the camp cook for Gulf Wars.]


Baroness Kelda wrangling chickens for dinner


Categories: SCA news sites

Spring Coronation: The Menus and Schedule

AEthelmearc Gazette - Mon, 2017-03-13 15:55

Lord Andrew of Thescorre announces his planned lunch and feast menus for the Spring Coronation of Timothy and Gabrielle, which will be April 22 in Thescorre:


  • Hard-boiled eggs
  • Pickles
  • Cheese
  • Tasty Maghmuma (beef pie)
  • Another Maghmuma (chicken pie)
  • A Vegetable Dish (gourd soup)
  • Aqras (cookies)
  • Peach drink


1st Course

  • Cold Dish of Beans
  • Fresh Yogurt 
  • Cucumber
  • Flatbread (Nabatean Water Bread)
  • Olives
  • Figs

2nd Course

  • Another Barida (chicken with mustard sauce)
  • Pomegranate sauce
  • Dressed Carrots
  • Rice and Beans

3rd Course

  • Sikbaj (roasted beef)
  • Bazmaward (rolled sandwich)
  • Tardin (thin lamb patties)
  • A Turnip Dish
  • Greens

4th Course

  • Judhaba of Bananas 
  • Halwa Mahshuwwa (cookies stuffed with nuts)

Coffee, tea, water and grape juice served throughout. 
All dishes subject to change to to cost or availability.
Gluten-free and vegetarian versions will be available. (Prior notification of allergy/dietary needs are greatly appreciated.)
Any questions or allergy concerns should be emailed to the cook.

Preliminary schedule for the day:

  • 9 am site opens
  • 10:30 am Last Court of Their Majesties Marcus and Margerite, followed by the Coronation of Timothy and Gabrielle
  • 12:00 to 1:00 lunch
  • 1:00 Lists open for heavy and fencing tournaments on the lawn (weather permitting); gaming and other diverse arts in the hall; Their Majesties Timothy and Gabrielle sit in state 
  • 4:30 First Court of Timothy & Gabrielle
  • 6:30 Feast
  • 9:00 site closes

The event Facebook page is here.

The official announcement is here.

Categories: SCA news sites

Pennsic Singles Rapier Champs Tryouts Announcement

East Kingdom Gazette - Sun, 2017-03-12 09:00

East Kingdom!

This year, similar to last year, I will be running a series of Pennsic Singles Rapier Champions Qualifier Tournaments. All of these will be single-pass, double-elimination, bring-your-best tournaments, to select the best rapier fighters in the East for our Champions team. The current plan is to re-fight double-kills once, and then have dead count as dead. Additionally, losses will be forgiven in the finals. These considerations may change or be elaborated upon, as the tournaments progress.

The events at which I currently plan to run these qualifiers are:

*Mudthaw (March 25)
Balfar’s Challenge (April 22)
War of the Roses (May 26-27)
Southern Region War Camp (June 10)
Northern Region War Camp (June 30-July 2)
*Great Northeast War (July 7-9)

For Mudthaw, I plan to run a singles tournament and additionally consider the results of the traditional Mudthaw cut-and-thrust tournament for Champs.

At GNE, I plan to run both a normal tournament and a Cut-and-Thrust tournament, because we will be less pressed for time.

This year, Rapier Singles Champs will be 17 fights, two of which will be cut-and-thrust. The East gets 8 of those fights, of which only four may be MoDs. Given that one of those fights goes to the King’s Champion (me) and another goes to the Queen’s Champion (Master Lottieri Malocchio), this leaves six slots, of which only three may be Masters of Defense.

This means that more than last year, winning does not necessarily guarantee a slot on the team. However, my choices for primaries and alternates will be strongly informed by the results of these tournaments. Good luck, and may the best, most courteous rapier fighters win!

His Highness, as many royals before him have done, has also asked that those who wish to be champions seek him out, in order to demonstrate to him their prowess.

Please feel free to forward this message to any local lists or other social media, in order to get the word out.

In service,
Don Lupold Hass,
Pennsic Rapier Champions Coordinator,
King’s Rapier Champion of the East,

Filed under: Pennsic, Rapier

Ædult Swim II: Its Origins and Future Plans

AEthelmearc Gazette - Sat, 2017-03-11 20:16

Photo courtesy of Lord Mikus.

By Baroness Katja Davidova Orlova Khazarina.

How do you top a fight practice that draws over 400 fighters and fencers from 12 kingdoms?

You do it again, and this time draw over 500 from every single SCA kingdom except three (Avacal, Atenveldt, and Calontir).

And His Highness Timothy’s goal is to offer even more activities, draw more SCAdians, and completely fill the site next year!

Click to view slideshow.

If you’re not martially inclined, you may be wondering just exactly what was that really huge martial practice in Abhainn Ciach Ghlais that every fighter and fencer you know has been talking about?

Over the weekend of February 18 and 19, Ædult Swim II helped over 485 fighters and fencers to take hands-on classes, authorize, and otherwise play with friends they normally see only annually at Pennsic or other large wars. (Roughly 100 to 150 nonmartial SCAdians also attended the event to take a scribal class, support their fighters or fencers, or just hang out with friends and enjoy the unseasonably warm weather.)

Master Raeve teaches a rapier class. Photo by Baroness Katja.

The practice took place at the Milton Shoe Factory, a huge three-floor building built in 1907 that boasts 14-feet-high ceilings. While both fighting and fencing last year were confined to the 120-foot by 300-foot second floor, this year  fencing moved up to the third floor to give both activities more room. A last-minute addition, the Scribal Tour added a stop at the practice and offered a Visconti workshop on the third floor, separated from the fencing classes and bouts.

The Gazette talked to Prince Timothy to find out what inspired the first practice last year, how it differed this year, and where he hopes it will go…

Q: Where did the name “Ædult Swim” come from?

A: The name originated from my youth. We lived in an apartment complex as a kid, and the community pool had a 15-minute period every hour where the adults got to use the pool. For whatever reason, this seemed like a good name, even though in hindsight, I think it might discourage the very people I most want to benefit from the event.

Q: What inspired you to create this practice/event?

A: When I moved to Æthelmearc, I found there was a disconnect between many of the isolated pockets of newer fighters and the more-experienced fighters. Neither group really seemed willing to travel to meet with the other. It is a cultural thing in this geographic area that I still don’t understand. I spent a couple months traveling to far-flung practices to work with folks and rapidly realized that there were far more people than I could possibly adequately work with.

Duke Malcolm thanks his opponent after an energetic bout. Photo by Baroness Katja.

I talked to a bunch of friends in the Chivalry and tried to get them to come out and help teach. We had a BBQ/practice in ACG in April 2013. With a few weeks’ notice, and with the promise of a dozen or so Chiv willing to work with folks, we ended up with about 75 heavies, 14 of whom were Chivalry as I recall. We kept doing regional musters during our last reign, with much the same response. Those less-experienced fighters who wanted to learn, traveled. I remember folks from Morgantown, VA coming all the way to Syracuse to a regional on a Sunday during a snowstorm.

Countess Ariella faces an opponent on the rapier floor. Photo by Baroness Katja.

The global nature of Ædult Swim was a direct response to actions that happened between the East and Middle Kingdoms a few years back. The animosity between the East and Middle monarchs, and by extension their Chivalry, had gotten so bad that quite literally the two monarchs had one of their knights (who is mundanely an arbiter) host a joint chivalry meeting to discuss their issues. One of the things suggested (by Duke, now King) Edmund of the Middle was that an annual joint East/Middle fight practice would help us get past decades of animosity. Duke Eliahu ben Itzhak and I were invited as former East and Middle monarchs in the hopes that we could help moderate. Once this item was put on the table, I realized how perfectly located my shire was as a half-way point between the two kingdoms.

King Marcus strides out onto the floor to play. Photo by Lord Sa’d al’Nizari.

Q: What was involved in getting people to come to the first Ædult Swim? I recall you mentioning it at the end of a couple of your Courts.

A: I spent the six months prior to the event browbeating, cajoling, begging, and pleading folks to come. We caught lightning in a bottle when I had the good fortune to take a business trip to Dallas, and I managed to convince the then-king and prince of Ansteorra to make the trip. Those two, Dukes Sven and Lochlen, were the tipping point. At that point, we were able to use the “all the cool kids are coming” (type of) marketing to get folks to come out. Dukes Sean and Timmur from Artemesia also agreed to come out, and that opened the floodgates.

I had asked several members of the fencing community to set up the rapier half of it and they all dropped the ball. With about two or three weeks left, I asked Countess Elena d’Artois le Tailleur, who was amazing. She got all the folks she did with almost no notice, even though it was competing against a major event of interest to the Atlantian fencing community. I cannot possibly praise her efforts enough.

(Last year’s attendance included 260 heavy fighters, 75 fencers, and 40 royalty from the Known World. Lord Christian Goldenlok’s article on it is here.)

Q: What did you want to do differently this year and what do you want to add next year? You had mentioned adding A&S classes in the various small rooms on the site.

A: The first year had a stiff learning curve, as I hadn’t anticipated many issues that we had. First, pretty well everyone entered the door within a 15-minute span of time. (Editor’s note: the site stairwells are narrow, and the only elevator, the freight one, was not working.) The line at troll was atrocious. We had six or eight folks at Troll and it was still a disaster. We got around that by asking for donations to pay for the site. Once our exchequer told me we would be able to ignore the nonmember surcharge/membership discount (this year), it only made it that sweeter.

A scribe enjoying the Visconti workshop. Photo by Baroness Katja.

The next part of our learning curve was the Saturday evening dinner. I spent half my time, and Lady Greer Wallace from ACG spent all her time, on Saturday collecting money from folks and tracking them down. THL Ariadne Flaxenhair of Dragon’s End and Sir Cunen Beornhelm set it up as a web-based document this year, which eliminated 90% of that chaos.

This year, we made some changes to simplify things. We added a second floor. The heavy fighting will occupy the entire floor we had last year, and the fencers will have the next floor up. (There was a $2 entry fee last year; several people graciously offered donations to make the practice a free event this year.)

(The event) has grown beyond my very limited organizational skills, and next year we will have a new autocrat, Lord Leo Dietrich. He and his staff are already planning next year. Mistress Alicia Langland spent her Saturday this year wandering around planning where we can put more artisans next year. It should be a blast!

As for next year, I am hoping to move it back a couple months, into the late April to early June timeframe, and with the help of Mistress Alicia, greatly build on our arts offerings. If anyone wants this in your event rotation next year, please private message me typical dates in your late spring calendar that I need to avoid. Also PM me the contact info for your kingdom calendar officer, so we can get it up early and block of dates.

Q: The first Ædult Swim had a number of fighting classes announced beforehand and only a few fencing ones. This year, there was full roster of fencing and cut-and-thrust classes, but no formal fighting ones announced beforehand. Why?

Baron Eric Grenier de laBarre carefully watches a cut & thrust authorization. Photo by Lord Mikus.

A: We had a side room on the main fighting floor where we did have some small, structured classes ongoing this year, but not as many as we did at Æ Swim I. The heavy classes will be much more formal next year. I found the informal nature didn’t work out this year.

Q: What kind of specific heavy classes do you want for next year?

A: It’s more of what classes do folks want. I had about 35 or 40 requests to teach last year and I told people to just announce them and folks would come. But it was too damn loud in the heavy section. Interestingly enough, at the first one, we actually considered the playing of music a la “knights tale” during the practice. I am so glad we didn’t, I had no idea how bad the acoustics were.

Q: Besides those you already mentioned, who else do you want to thank for their help with this event?

A: There are so many people to thank I am certain I will be missing some.

Without doubt, this could not have happened without the support of Gabrielle. Every time I get an idea, she lets me run with it, knowing folks will have fun, even though most times it throws our family in chaos for the week or so immediately before and during the event. When you see her next, please say thanks.

Sir Diablu happily greeted many friends at the event. Photo by Baroness Katja.

THL Alianora Bronhulle and Baron Ichijo Honen, you greatly exceeded my very high expectations for the dessert. It really was the crown jewel in what was a spectacular weekend.

Baroness Aemelia Soteria, you ran a smooth and efficient MOL/troll. You, Baroness Oddkatla, Baroness Rynea, Baroness Oddkatla, Baroness Ellesbeth, Baroness Euriol, THL Astrid, and Lady Bella,  Countess Allanda, and others pretty much eliminated that bottleneck this year! Thanks. Bella also worked her tail off at the MOL/Troll and was the one who hooked us up with the hotels

Mistress Antoinette de la Croix, your scribal workshop was a nice touch of arts to a weekend of carnage. Thank you.

Tommaso, for your kindness and generosity.

Meghan Beck for providing two venues that made all this possible.

My usual, stalwart crew of enablers, Silvester Burchardt, Ron Cudworth, Austin Smith, Lou McBride, and Elena de la Palma.

Megan and most of all, next years autocrat, Leo, thank you for covering for my complete lack of any appreciable organizational skills.

Also Mistress Fredeburg von Katzenellenbogen carved a block print that went out to those who donated. It is stunning. When I can breath, I am sending mine out to be framed.

Thank you for all the help. I love our society.

One final thing. I would like nothing more than to fill every inch of the building we were in. Bring friends…

To see many of the uploaded videos and photos shared from this year’s event, see the Facebook event group here.

Categories: SCA news sites

Ædult Swim: The Cake

AEthelmearc Gazette - Sat, 2017-03-11 12:56

By Baroness Katja Davidova Orlova Khazarina.

After a long, happy, sweaty day of friendly fighting and fencing at Ædult Swim on February 18, approximately 200 SCAdians left the Milton Shoe Factory site to enjoy a meal at the nearby historic Hotel Edison in Sunbury.

Although some may have preregistered for the meal due to the lure of prime rib and post-revel camaraderie, a highlight of the evening was not on the menu nor at the bar.

It was a cake. A really amazing cake.

A massive 60-inch-long, 31-inch-wide, 31-inch-tall castle of chocolate, yellow, red velvet, and strawberry creation that induced many of the attendees to gawking and snapping photos before diving into their respective slices with relish. Hand-painted sugar banners representing all 20 kingdoms decorated its sides.

As a special request by His Highness Timothy to celebrate the second Ædult Swim, THL Alianora Bronhulle and Baron Ichijo Honen created the cake as their largest project yet for their six-month-old bakery in Winchester, VA, Edible Elegance by Erin.

“I, personally, have been making cakes like this for almost 15 years… I will say that this is the largest and most intricate cake I’ve ever done,” Her Ladyship said after the meal.

Click to view slideshow.

The cake was comprised of 32 layers, she said, weighed over 250 pounds, served 350, and contained:

  • 16 dozen eggs
  • 30 pounds of sugar
  • 60 pounds of powdered sugar
  • 14 pounds of butter
  • 20 pounds of shortening
  • 2 pounds of cocoa powder
  • 25 pounds of flour
  • 2 pounds of gelatin

How long did the cake take to bake? Fourteen hours.

The walls and towers, all of pastillage, required 10 days of drying.

And it took Her Ladyship and His Excellency a day to make the banners, plus three more days to draw, paint, and dry the kingdom arms.

Plus, driving the cake from their bakery to the Hotel Edison? Three hours.

“We love a challenge, so we would consider doing SCA-oriented desserts for any occasion. HRH Timothy asked us to do this one, suggested a castle as the starting point, and turned us loose with full creative license. He had no idea what he was getting until he walked in at the dinner.”

Her Ladyship thanked her baking crew: Sarah Piecknick, Vikki Farra, Jessica Walker and Brett Bernard. “Without them, this cake would not have been possible!”

For the past half year, the fledgling business has been selling baked goods at the local farmers markets while their bakery shop is still under construction. (A GoFundMe campaign to support the bakery is here.)

Categories: SCA news sites

Mudthaw Announcement

East Kingdom Gazette - Sat, 2017-03-11 10:10

The schedule for Mudthaw had changed significantly from what was originally published in the event announcement. Due to all the wonderful things happening at Mudthaw the morning is quite hectic and, in particular, Marshal Activities will be starting earlier than is traditional for this event.

We strongly recommend Pre-registering (you have until 3/15/17 to do so) if you will be participating in either Heavy Weapons or Rapier combat, since this will allow you to process through Gate much more quickly.

If pre-registering isn’t possible for someone participating in those activities, we would then encourage them to arrive early. Gate will open at 9:30 am in order to help facilitate getting fighters and fencers to the field on time.

Mudthaw Schedule
9:00 – Merchant setup
9:30 – Site Opens
10:00 – Merchants Open – Merchant Row – Side hall
10:15 – OGR meeting – Corner Table, Main hall
10:30 – A&S Entries Open – Main hall
11:00 – Morning Royal Court – Main hall
11:30 – Artisans’ Village Opens – Main hall
11:30 – Armored Combat Tournament begins – outside/back parking lot
11:30 – Cut & Thrust Tournament – outside/back parking lot
12:30 – Athena’s Thimble – Corner Table, Main hall
12 noon – Youth combat starts – outside/back parking lot
12:15 – Heavy Rapier/Pennsic Champs Qualifier – outside/back parking lot
12:30 – A&S Competition Begins – Main hall
2:00 – Pennsic Rapier Melee Qualifier – outside/back parking lot
2:30 – Artisans’ Village Closes
2:30 – A&S Judging Closes (please pick up your entries)
3:30 – All Marshal Activities End
3:30 – Main Hall Reset for Court
4:00 – Baronial Court & Baronial Investiture – Main hall
4:30 – Evening Royal Court – Main hall
5:00 – Merchants Close
6:30 – Main Hall Reset for Feast
7:00 – Feast – Main hall
9:00 – Feast Ends
9:30 – Site Closes

** Please Note: Their Majesties will be holding a half-hour Afternoon Royal Court, outside by the List Fields, sometime mid-afternoon. **

Baroness Treannah, Mudthaw Co-Autocrat

Filed under: Announcements, Events

Post-Contest Comment Analysis of K&Qs A&S Champs Competition 2017

East Kingdom Gazette - Fri, 2017-03-10 17:11

The Gazette thanks Mistress Bronwen Rose of Greyling for this thoughtful article. 

This article discusses commentary from this year’s King’s and Queen’s Arts and Sciences Championships, where twenty-seven bold A&S entrants brought their A-game to the Barony of Concordia in February. (K&Q’s Bardic Championships were held concurrently but are not discussed here.) When looking to improve any repeating event, some thoughtful post-event contemplation and information-sharing is helpful. As a part of that post-contest analysis, here is a summary of written judges’ comments that may be helpful to future K&Q’s A&S competitors and judges.

This year’s contest featured face-to-face judging using score sheets that can be found at under General Rubric and Research Paper Rubric. The contest format, organization, and scoring were developed by the Kingdom Champions, Mistress Lissa Underhill and Master Magnus hvalmagi, who built on the experience of Champions, entrants, and judges from the past several K&Q’s A&S Championships.

Numerical scores averaged 17.8 of a possible 25 points, but numbers tell only a small part of the story. Some judges gave in-person verbal feedback, and organizers expect this to be standard going forward. Written comments were also given to every entrant on Feedback forms. These comments remarked on successful strategies and suggested ways to make entries more understandable, relevant, and comprehensive.

Feedback form comments give a good idea of what the judges were looking for and what future participants may expect. To keep the true flavor of the written feedback, direct quotes from the forms are reproduced below in italics although identifying info has been removed. Judges’ comments have been organized into some common themes to provide guidance for artisans not able to attend the event and those who have aspirations to enter it next year.

Delight was evident. “I wanted to sit down with a knife and fork and eat. ♦ Crazy-good project. ♦ Thank you for entering. You showed great courage to put yourself and your work out there. ♦ You did a wonderful job of thinking outside the box to come up with solutions in the process. ♦ Super fun! Huge project. Massive undertaking especially with your tools. Love it! ♦ We appreciate you traveling to us and taking the risks—it shows you care about your art and are reaching out to others with your knowledge.”

Judges were excited by excellence in technique, great workmanship, home-made tools, and elegant experiments. “Gorgeous execution. ♦ Great level of detail. ♦ You show a clear understanding of medieval aesthetic. ♦ Making and showing your tools is also great. ♦Your skills are exquisite! ♦ You made the “thing” to make the “thing”—and then you made the “thing.” We were so excited! ♦ Your enthusiasm is contagious and your knowledge of subject matter is thorough.”

Feedback frequently gave specific advice to entrants about improving their entry.

Describe as clearly as you can what would have been done in period. Also describe what you have done. Try to include images of period examples that you used for inspiration. Photos of your work during the phases of construction help people visualize what you have done to create the work before them. “Be clear about what materials were used in period and whether or not you used those materials. ♦ Include photos of the extant items you are trying to reproduce. ♦ Document process as you go—process photos. ♦ Try to recreate an extant example and include a photo of that for comparison. ♦ Pay close attention to details in your inspiration piece. ♦ Compare your creations (i.e. how did they work?). ♦ The in-process ‘failures’ are wonderful. Please keep them. Your explanation of the process is vivid and exciting and absolutely brings your project to life.”

Historical Background is vital to your judges and spectators who want to understand your work. Imagine you are telling a friend what you’ve found out about the construction and importance of your entry in its time and culture. “Give some historical context. ♦ In your documentation please include more references on what you are emulating. ♦ We would like you to describe how [this] was used, significance, the historical impact, in the time period. ♦ Provide documentation for more of the ingredients.”

Sources help your reader follow your journey to your conclusions. “Try including in-text citations to improve your documentation and/or annotated bibliography. ♦ It would be very helpful to link your “works consulted” more explicitly into the body of your documentation. ♦ Great sources!”

Go deeper. Find ways to make your work broader, more thorough, more period-focused.

  • Find more source material “Look at additional translations. Try multiple batches and/or find another source
  • Investigate a related culture. “Have you considered comparing a similar [item] as interpreted by different countries?”
  • Work towards understanding more period processes. “Try experimenting with period methods. Use more period materials. Try working with a quill. Wed like to see some work done in a period manner using original artwork.
  • Aim for the stars:Challenge yourself with additional ornamentation, be it in accessories or trim. We would love to see a more complex final piece to highlight your skills. Keep practicing and improving. You are going in the right direction by focusing on the details and process.

Get some help from researchers, artisans, editors, scientists, and other experts around the SCA. “Society” is our first name–so ask around–there’s bound to be someone who has interests and experiences related to what you’re doing. It’s a big Kingdom and its people can be amazingly generous with their help.

  • For practical help look around for info on who’s good at something related to your interests—i.e. pottery, metalwork, dyeing, languages. Ask locally and at events. Ask at workshops and classes. Ask around on Facebook’s SCA East Kingdom and SCA Library of Alexandria “For additional [help] see if you can find a mentor. Get more references from practicing experts with experience in your field to help you make better choices.
  • For written documentation ask for pointers from experienced researchers and librarians. They really are there to help. “Discuss your research with librarians or research experts to better support your decisions and your next steps and to enlarge your knowledge base. Understand the chemistry involved. Focus on scholarly research.
  • For proofreading, find an intelligent, motivated friend who doesn’t know all about your work. (!) Get your friend to read your written documentation aloud to you so you can hear what you said instead of what you were trying to say. (This is all-but-impossible to do for yourself.) “Get people to read [your work] aloud for you. Connect with people who can help you with your documentation and prepare for next competition. Show more examples to make points clearer.
  • Find an editor, an experienced writer, or teacher to help you organize your thoughts and express them clearly so you and your readers have more fun. It is not simple to write a clear and comprehensive account of what you did and how that fits into medieval life. If somebody offers to help you, don’t be shy. Contact them right away and see if they have the time and skills to benefit your project. “Your work should be more analysis rather than just doing a report. Provide a clearer and earlier hypothesis in your research paper. We would have liked to see a more specific thesis statement with supporting conclusions.” You’ll know your written work is hitting the mark when you read “Paper was well-organized and easy to read. Clear and accessible to the non-professional. The graphic work was excellent. Depth of knowledge is very evident. You explain it very clearly in person. Practicality and usefulness is impressive.

Consider contest strategy.

  • Read the rules and documents of the contest carefully. Put yourself in your judges’ place: try scoring your entry using the contest score sheet. If you can’t find a specific score sheet for the contest you plan to enter, use the K&Q’s A&S rubric from this year. Scoring your own entry will help you see your work in a different light.
  • Edit your entry. Bring only items representing your very best work AND directly contributing to the “story” you are presenting. Focus your documentation on your entry today. “Target documentation on what specifically you are presenting. Tie your documentation to each pieces in a clear and concise manner. Pictures are good but only show ones that support the pieces you have.”
  • Presentation is important. An A&S Contest is about much more than a score. Most of the people who will view your work are not judges so try to make your work easily accessible to a spectator. “Work on presentation. This didn’t impact your score but would jazz it up.” Try to devise an eye-catching and intriguing display. Think about background, arrangement, illustrations, diagrams, or cards like you see in a museum with a few words in large print to label the items in your entry for the casual observer. What kind of excitement might you spark in a spectator?
  • Ask an experienced judge or competitor to go over your work with you a few weeks before the contest.
  • Look for the A&S Consultants table at an event near you. This is a brand new Kingdom Arts and Sciences initiative planned to connect you with experienced A&S judges to discuss your work. They’ll be there to provide insight and guidance. Use them.

Judges and populace simply cannot wait to see what the future of these researchers and artists will bring. “We have seen lots of growth and look forward to future projects! ♦ You are clearly passionate about your topic. ♦ Enthusiasm was plain to see. Keep going. ♦ We look forward to seeing more of your work. ♦ Rock on! ♦ Your excitement is inspiring. ♦ You have promising skill and we would love to see future work. ♦ Can’t wait to see what you show us next time.”

Entrants, spectators, royalty, and judges all seemed to have a rockin’ good time. Let’s do it again next year. Between now and then, let’s fan the fires of enthusiasm and vigorously support the artisans and researchers around our Kingdom. It’ll be exciting to see who enters the contest next year and what beautiful and fascinating knowledge they bring.

Filed under: Arts and Sciences Tagged: King and Queen's Champions

Scarlet Apron Competition Returns with Family Meal Theme

AEthelmearc Gazette - Thu, 2017-03-09 20:12

Lady Elska, winner of the 2016 Scarlet Apron competition, with its organizer, THL Edelvrouw Lijsbet de Keukere. Photo by Lady Àine ny Allane.

Cooks of AEthelmearc! The time has come to season your skillets and muscle up your mixing arms – The Scarlet Apron demands a new champion be chosen, so that it may dress a new breast this  year!

Join us at noon on Saturday, May 20, 2017 at Æthelmearc War Practice, and show your mettle as an entrant in The Scarlet Apron Food & Cooking

Cooks of all experience levels are welcome and encouraged to enter – whether you are new to the SCA or medieval cooking, or you are a veteran of the event kitchen, there is room at our table for you!

This year’s competition theme is “Family Mealtime,” for which entrants are encouraged (but not required) to work with someone in their family – however they choose to define it – to create a medieval version of a modern meal that frequents their dinner tables at home (i.e. lasagna, a roast with trimmings, chicken nuggets and fries, etc.).

These meals must be sourced from reliable cooking texts, which may be from anywhere and any time in SCA period. If using multiple sources from different cultures, it must be plausible that the combination of dishes being served would have been seen on the same table at the same time (for example, it is plausible that many
recipes from English and French texts could have been found on the same menu, depending on what time period it was; Likewise, it is not as plausible that a recipe from ancient Rome found its way to the same table as an Elizabethan English dish, and so would be an unfavorable combination for this competition).

Entries should contain an entrée and at least two side dishes, and be accompanied by a brief documentation form for each dish (to be provided – coming soon!).  Presentation counts, so plan on dressing up your table and your service so it is pleasing to the eye!

Pre-registration is required to participate.

There will be an announcement once the web site has been updated for this year’s competition, including a new registration form. In the meantime, start planning your entry, and send any questions to Edelvrouw Lijsbet de Keukere (Keirin Lazauskas-Ralff) on Facebook Messenger (preferred method) or via email.

We are so excited to see what you bring to the table this year!

Yours In Service, Lijsbet

See last year’s competition description here.

Categories: SCA news sites

Greetings From the New EK MoL

East Kingdom Gazette - Wed, 2017-03-08 15:34

It was with much gratitude for the amazing work done by Mistress Sabina Lutrell that I assumed the office of East Kingdom MoL on Saturday at the Black Rose Ball.

I am looking forward to working with the Martial, Marshal, and MoL communities in the coming years and welcome any comments or suggestions that any of you have for making the office work for you and for the fighters and fencers of the East. You can reach me through the Kingdom MoL Email account or speak to me in person at the upcoming Coronation or Crown Tournament events.

You can now download new copies of the various authorization-related forms from the EK MoL website at your convenience.  I encourage anyone with blank authorization forms in their possession to destroy them or alter them to show the new address.

All new completed forms should be sent to:

PO Box 1168
Westbrook, ME 04098

As I stepped up, I left the office of Northern Regional MoL vacant and I am actively looking for volunteers or suggestions of people to take over that position. The position of Central Region Deputy MoL is also vacant and I am actively recruiting for that position as well.

I am very pleased that THL Andreiko Eferiev has agreed to remain in his position as Deputy Kingdom Minister of Lists and am looking forward to working with him and the regional deputies, Baroness Ellesbeth Donofrey and Lady Matilda Fossoway,  to continue to uphold the excellent standard of service to the East set by my predecessor.

I would like to take this opportunity to remind all MoLs that annual reports are due.  You can file your annual report by filling out this form on the East Kingdom MoL website.

I am very grateful for the warm welcome that I have received so far from the Martial and MoL communities.

Warm Regards, Baroness Mylisant Grey, OP
East Kingdom Minister of Lists
Filed under: Announcements Tagged: MoL

Kingdom Ministers of Arts & Sciences Seek Successor

AEthelmearc Gazette - Wed, 2017-03-08 11:34

Master Fridrikr Tomasson and Mistress Orianna Fridrikskona, Kingdom Ministers of Arts and Sciences

We will be formally calling for résumés and applications for Kingdom Minister of Arts & Sciences in the next Æstel.

Our term ends in January, 2018, but we would like to have our replacement in place by Pennsic, if at all possible. If you are considering applying for the job and want to know our thoughts on the job, please contact us

In service, Fridrikr & Orianna

See the Æthelmearc A&S policies here.


Categories: SCA news sites

10 New Youtube Videos for Medieval Lovers - Volume 2 - Mon, 2017-03-06 22:06
We found 10 more new videos on Youtube about the Middle Ages.

Rediscovered: Medieval Books at Birkbeck 

This video introduces University of London - Birkbeck's small collection of four medieval books: three fifteenth-century manuscripts and one printed book. The books had been forgotten, and unstudied, for many years, until they were rediscovered in late 2015. The books are very different: a French book of hours, an Italian book of statutes, an Italian book of classical wisdom, and a Venetian printed book of the history of the Trojan War. Professor Anthony Bale and Dr Isabel Davis talk about the books' story and introduce some aspects of the books' iconography and meaning.


Friendships from a Medieval Perspective

Anotenella Liuzzo Scorpo at the University of Lincoln spends 60 seconds to talk about friendships in the Middle Ages.


Pisa: The city at the end of fourteenth century 

A 3D reconstruction of Pisa by Professor Michele Berretta of the University of Bologna.


Transformations of the Knight's Hall at Häme Castle 

Created by the University of Turku, Transformations of the Knights’ Hall is an augmented reality application located in the Häme Castle in Finland. It is designed as a museum guide experience describing the changes in one of the castle’s halls during past centuries. According to research the Knights’ Hall has assumed several different roles during its history: the residence of the head of the castle was there in the late medieval times, then around 18th century it has been used as a granary when the whole castle was decayed into a mere depot, and in the 19th and 20th centuries the castle acted as a prison. After 1950s the prison period ended and the castle was renovated. The hall got its present appearance, where remains of some of the old structures can still be seen.


Lutherfestdagene: The Reformation - a curse for church art? 

A debate held at the conference on The Reformation and the Arts Around the North Sea, organized by the University Museum of Bergen and Bjørgvin diocese. The participants are Professor Andrew Spicer (Oxford), Associate Professor Henning Laugerud (University of Bergen) and Henrik von Achen (Bergen University Museum).


The Wealth of Anglo Saxon Mercia 

The foundation of the power of Mercia - the dominant power of Anglo Saxon England - was its access to wealth. Their vast reserves of land in the fertile English Midlands and Mercian control of the Port of London funded the war bands which allowed the Kingdom to become the dominant power. This wealth is seen in the famous Staffordshire Hoard. Historian and Author, Dr John Hunt, describes this rise to power in his book Warriors, Warlords and Saints: The Anglo-Saxon Kingdom of Mercia.


Staffordshire Hoard at The Potteries Museum and Art Gallery 

More Anglo-Saxon with this video promoting the Staffordshire Hoard at the Potteries Museum and Art Gallery in Stoke-on-Trent.


University College Dublin Centre for Experimental Archaeology and Material Culture: Making, Understanding, Storytelling 

Fly over some of the work being done by University College Dublin to understand the archaeology of Ireland.


Project Runway Medieval Style 

So cute! Grahamwood Kindergarten CLUE students created medieval style garments for our very own Project Runway Medieval Style.


Alfred the Great: I'll Make Anglo-Saxons Of You King 

Alfred sings to his army about why they really need to get better if they're going to defeat the Danes. The students of the Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic department of Cambridge University hold their Yule Play every year. To see more of their medieval-themed songs and sketches, check out their Youtube channel.


Click here to see our first set of medieval videos

Categories: History, SCA news sites

From the Chancellor of the Exchequer

East Kingdom Gazette - Mon, 2017-03-06 08:09

From the Chancellor of the Exchequer:

The term of office for the East Kingdom Chancellor of the Exchequer will expire in June 2017.  Applications are now being accepted for this office.  The initial term for this office is two years.  There is the option to request an additional two terms at one year each.   Please note that I am NOT going to be requesting the last additional term.  Having served 3 years in this office, I now need to place my attention elsewhere.


Applicant letters of intent, resumes and questions are to be sent to these three addresses/offices.

Kingdom Exchequer

Kingdom Seneschal

Their Majesties and Their Highnesses


The duties and requirements of the office include:

  • Managing SCA assets.
  • Maintain current membership in the SCA for the duration of the time in office.
  • Serve as a member on financial councils.
  • Is responsible directly to the Crown, but also reports to the Society Exchequer.
  • Will disburse funds in accordance with East Kingdom and Society Financial Policies.
  • Safeguards and maintains records of the monies of the Kingdom and supervises the finances of the Kingdom.
  • Receives monies allocated by East Kingdom Law or donated.
  • Disburses the monies of the Kingdom in accordance with East Kingdom Law.
  • Makes a report of the Kingdom finances on a quarterly basis to The Crown and Kingdom Seneschal.
  • Supervises the Lesser Office of Kingdom Archivist.
  • Supervises the Lesser Office of Kingdom Chamberlain.
  • Supervises the Lesser Office of Kingdom Pennsic Steward.
  • Is responsible for maintaining the financial records of the kingdom, supervising the finances of the kingdom, and assembling financial reports and submitting them to the Society Chancellor of the Exchequer in a timely fashion.

Additional descriptions, expectations and or detailed requirements of this office can be found in CORPORA & SCA governing documents, Society Financial Policy, EK-LAW and East Kingdom Financial Policy.


In service,

Maestra Ignacia la Ciega, East Kingdom Chancellor of the Exchequer



Filed under: Announcements Tagged: Exchequer, kingdom officers

Officer Interview – Kingdom Siege Marshal

AEthelmearc Gazette - Sat, 2017-03-04 19:09

THL Rosalia Iuliana Andre, photo by Karen Guth

In our continuing series of the Gazette’s Officer Interviews, THL Rosalia Iuliana Andre answered the following questions regarding her involvement in the SCA, the siege program and her thoughts on  siege activities in the Kingdom.

How long have you been in the SCA and what was your first event? 

I joined the SCA in the summer of 2003 when I started at the University of Pittsburgh. My first event was the Coronation of Henri. It didn’t take long to get involved in the College of Cour d’Or where I held both the office of Chatelaine and then Seneschal while I was at university.

What has made you stay? 

I came to recreate medieval activities. I stayed for the people. So many of my current friends within and outside the Society came from those first few years.

How did you become interested in siege activities and then became the Kingdom Siege Officer? 

I fully blame His Excellency Sir Maghnus de Cnoc an Iora for a harebrained idea of building an arbalest and His Grace Christopher Rawlyns for encouraging my interest in siege. We began with one engine, fairly quickly growing to a battery of three, with a crew of more than a dozen. Recently we added a human powered trebuchet to the mix. I enjoy the effectiveness and the challenge of siege and want to help more people try it out. When the call for letters to the office came out several years ago, I knew that I could really take on that goal and introduce more people to siege.

What is the role of the Kingdom Officer for Siege? 

This office is responsible for warranting siege marshals, collecting information about siege activities in the kingdom and passing them on to the Society Deputy for Siege, making sure that Æthelmearc is not in conflict to updates to the siege rules from the Society Deputy for Siege, sharing those updates, and promoting siege activities in the kingdom. The Kingdom Siege Marshal also rotates as the Pennsic Siege Marshal in Charge.

Do you have a general philosophy about your job? 

Keep it fun! There are always going to be tedious aspects to any job, but make sure to still have fun doing it.

How would someone get involved in Siege activities? 

Start by finding an event that has siege activities, and talk to the people with the siege engines. We always love to talk about what we do. Can’t find an event? Email me and we can brainstorm ways to get you connected with people near you. (She can be contacted at )

What is an example of something you think the general populace should know about Siege, but don’t? 

Many people think that siege only serves to support fighters in battles. Recently, at Pennsic especially, there have been Siege and Combat Archery only battles. They provide an entirely different challenge! Some of the scenarios require precision, accuracy and finesse, while others demand speed and mobility. They’re great fun!

Æthelmearc Siege at Pennsic

Where do you see the Siege program going in the SCA or the kingdom – Are there any changes coming? 

We recently started a Siege Marshal in Training sequence for gentles interested in becoming a marshal but not necessarily having the experience of being an engineer. It’s challenging to grow a marshal community without a solid core of marshals. I also want to encourage a youth tabletop siege component, but am still working out what that would look like.

What is the best part about Siege activities in the SCA?

Bridge battles are the BEST! Also, fighters don’t usually call “light” when they’ve been hit. (They usually call us some other things…)

Anything else that you think people should know? 

This fun fact: The official title of Æthelmearc’s Kingdom Siege Marshal is the Brigadier of Siege Weapons.

Siege Photo from website

Categories: SCA news sites

Kingdom Website Transfer Alert

AEthelmearc Gazette - Fri, 2017-03-03 16:29

Greetings unto Æthelmearc from your Webminister, Lady Amalie,

The time has come for our Kingdom Website to transfer to a new home on the Internet.

We are projecting the website transfer will take place next week sometime after Tuesday, March 7. This could start as soon as Wednesday, March 8. We want to ensure that the process goes as smoothly as possible so we are working on having all hands on-deck from our web-related officers and the our new webhost company.

What will be affected:

– The Kingdom Webpage will be down at this time.
– Any sites that are hosted on the Kingdom Server will be down at this time.
– All Kingdom Email Forwards and any group/officer site related email forwards will be down at this time.
– The Kingdom File server will not be accessible at this time.

What is not affected:

– All webforms will be accessible if you have the direct link. (If you need the direct link, please let me know and I can get the link to you.)
– The Kingdom Announcement and Discussion lists will be active and working.

What people need to know about Kingdom/Group/Officer sites:

– All information was backed up 3 weeks ago on our end. Another backup will occur before the switch takes place. Please do your own backup as well.
– Passwords/logins to Cpanels, and other hosted sites, should remain the same.
– All email forwards will transfer to the new server as they are currently configured. They will be active when the domain servers update. (This could be up to 48 hours after the switch, but most likely will not take that long.)

Good stuff that will come of this server switch:

– The Kingdom email issue will be resolved. There will no longer be issues with Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail, Live, MSN, or Outlook email addresses for forwarding (or elsewise).
– There will be an improvement in website loading speed.
– Bandwidth issues, that have not happened often but have been seen recently, will no longer happen.

If you have any questions or concerns, please message me on Facebook at Peri Nelson-Sukert or email me.

Thank you very much (in advance) for your patience and your support.

In service to Æthelmearc,
Lady Amalie Reinhardt
AE Webminister

Categories: SCA news sites

Arts & Sciences Research Paper #17: Early Quilting and Patchwork: A Short Introduction

East Kingdom Gazette - Fri, 2017-03-03 11:21

Our seventeenth A&S Research Paper comes to us from Mistress Sarah Davies of the Barony of Bergental, who introduces us to the surprising world of historical quilting, where we discover some familiar friends and some quite unfamiliar new ones! (Prospective future contributors, please check out our original Call for Papers.)

Early Quilting and Patchwork: A Short Introduction

Silk quilt by Mistress Sarah Davies. Photo by Master Henry McQueen.

The word “quilt” summons a host of images:

  • Thrifty pioneer housewives cutting up worn clothing to piece elaborate patchworks for their families.
  • Album quilts raffled off for a worthy cause.
  • Wholecloth petticoats worn by colonial dames who danced with George Washington, then carefully preserved in a museum.
  • Brightly colored feed sack quilts during the Depression.
  • Community quilts telling the story of a town from its founding to the Bicentennial.
  • Inexpensive versions of patchwork quilts sold in department stores for families wanting that “country look” in the bedroom.
  • Cherished art quilts hanging in museums or going for high prices at auction.

The popular image of the quilt is of the quilt is modern, calico, and as all-American as an apple pie.  If the word “medieval” ever comes up, it’s because someone made a Game of Thrones quilt with appliqued dire wolves in the border.

The problem with this familiar stereotype is thatit doesn’t begin to reflect reality.  Patchwork and applique may be most associated the United States, but quilts themselves are anything but modern. Quilted carpets were prized on the steppes of Central Asia, quilted garments padded Crusader mail and protected Elizabethan fencers, quilted coverlets graced Tudor bed chambers, and quilted heraldic tapestries hung in Hungarian throne rooms. The evidence is scattered and sometimes hard to recognize, but quilting and patchwork were hardly alien to medieval Europe.

The Earliest European Examples
Quilted Armor
Domestic Quilting and Patchwork
A Cloth of Honor and a Pillow
Later Developments
Henry VIII: Quilt Owner
SCA Uses

Further Reading
Where to Examine Historical Quilting Firsthand


“Quilt” and “patchwork” are so strongly associated that most people think that a quilt must be patchwork, and a patchwork must be a quilt.  Not only is this not true, it confuses two very different types of needlework.  A more accurate description would be as follows:

  • Quilting is a type of padded embroidery that takes two layers of fabric sandwiched with padding of some sort, then stitched together in a decorative pattern.  The word derives from the Latin culcita, a padded mattress similar to a modern futon.  Equivalents in European languages include  coltra (Italian), colcha (Spanish and Portuguese), coite  (French, later superseded by courtepointe), and culte (the Netherlands).
  • Patchwork or piecing is a type of sewing that takes several different types and colors of cloth, cuts them into geometric pieces, and stitches them back together in a decorative. Most are lined to protect the seams, but they do not need to be padded or quilted.
  • Patchwork quilts are quilted bedcovers consisting of a pieced upper layer, an inner padding, and a plain backing held together by geometric or decorative stitching.

Most early quilts were whole cloth (non-pieced), usually of fine linen or imported silk.  The first tantalizing hints of what might be medieval patchwork date from the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, with one surviving artifact that might have been both pieced and quilted.  Even then, it’s not at all clear that this item was intended for a bed, as evidence suggests it was more likely intended as a cloth of honor for a royal throne room.

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The first known quilted object is a quilted linen carpet dating from around the first century of the Common Era.  It was found in a Siberian cave tomb, and the central motifs (primarily animals, with abstract spirals on the borders) are wool appliques stitched into place with couched cording on the raw edges, while the background is diamond quilted in a coarse running stitch.

Whether the Siberians developed quilting on their own or learned it from outsiders, its advantages in such a cold climate are obvious: warmth without bulk, strength without stiffness, and easily adapted to multiple uses.  It was also unusual enough that it could be traded for luxury goods along the Silk Road and other trade routes running across Central Asia down to the Mediterranean trade ports.

This seems to be exactly what happened.  The next known quilted objects were both trade goods, and were both found in archaeological digs.  One, a quilted slipper that seems to have been cut down from a larger object (a bed quilt or carpet), was actually found in a rubbish tip along the Silk Road.  It was likely made around the eighth or ninth centuries CE, and is a very typical “Turkish slipper” with a low vamp and tilted toe.  It is of linen padded with cotton or linen tow, backed with more linen, and quilted in the backstitch with coarse linen thread.  It was almost certainly intended for indoor wear, as the sole is made from the same quilted item as the rest of the slipper.

The other early quilted object, a quilted wool funeral pall dating from the fifth or sixth centuries, is more problematic.  It was found in a Merovingian tomb in the 1990’s, and unlike the slipper, it seems to have been made in Europe, or at least for the European market; it is of wool, not linen, and is quilted with cotton thread and stuffed with cotton thread, both imported from Egypt.  Without further examples, we can only speculate as to its origins, but the pall’s existence, and the use of expensive imported materials in its construction, suggests that there might have been a quilting industry, at least on a small scale, either somewhere in the Mediterranean Basin or perhaps in Merovingian France itself. Without further examples, we can only speculate.

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The Earliest European Examples

Unfortunately, there is almost no evidence of quilting anywhere near the West for the next several hundred years.  There are a handful of references in tax records to silk quilts being sent by the bale to local rulers, but these are exclusively Asian.  There is only one written reference to a quilt in a European record and one painting showing what might be a pieced or quilted item, with no physical evidence until the early fourteenth century.

The written reference is a French poem from the 12th century, La Lai del Desire. This little chivalric romance, only a few hundred lines long, includes a description of a bridal bed covered with a “quilt of two sorts of silk cloth in a checkboard pattern, well made and rich: “Sur un bon lit s’ert apulé / La coilte fu a eschekers / De deus pailles ben fais e chers”. (Lais inédits des XIIe et XIIIe siècles, ed. Francoise Michel, Paris, 1836: 18-19.) The word coite is used so casually that it’s clear that the author simply assumed that his audience, wealthy, sophisticated, and used to the very best, would not need to be told what a coite was, or how it was made.

The painting, by the school of the Italian artist Cimabue, is more intriguing.  Dating from around 1275-1300, this small, elegant panel painting shows the Madonna and Child seated on a low couch, flanked by Saints Peter and John the Baptist while two sweet-faced angels hold up a piece of fabric behind the Madonna as a sort of floating cloth of honor.  The cloth of honor, which is so strikingly different from the usual brocade or cloth of gold seen in such paintings, was hailed by art historian Roberto Longhi as a “stupendous, decorative invention,” and it’s not hard to see why.  Black and white gyronny patterns alternate with blocks of red in what is almost certainly an attempt at showing a patchwork cloth of alternating red brocade and black and white pinwheels.  Whether this cloth was actually quilted is not clear, as the greenish highlights on the red are probably intended to depict a brocade pattern and not stitching.  However, it’s very clear that something that we’d call a patchwork quilt was not out of the question in the SCA period.

Madonna and Child with Saint John the Baptist, Saint Peter, and Two Angels c. 1290. National Gallery of Art. Samuel H. Kress Collection 1952.5.60.

As tempting as it is to conclude that the little Cimabue painting indicates a thriving patchwork and/or quilting industry in the late thirteenth century, however, there is still no definitive evidence for this.  Spanish silk weavers, steeped in the Moorish decorative tradition of geometric patterns, produced magnificent brocades that bear such a strong resemblance to patchwork that least one quilt historian assumed that a brocade cope from the 1200’s was patchwork.  The same may well apply to a mid-fourteenth century fresco by Florentine artist Taddeo Gaddi of The Marriage of the Virgin.  This homely scene, which includes a groomsman giving St. Joseph a congratulatory slap on the back, shows a geometric textile of red, green, orange and white hanging from a roof…and though it certainly looks like a quilt, and could easily be a quilt, it could just as easily be a piece of Spanish brocade.

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Quilted Armor

Fortunately for historians and SCAdians alike, more definite evidence for both quilting and patchwork begins to appear around the year 1300.   Professional armors specializing in quilted gambesons and other forms of padded armor begin to crop up in court records.  The French court had a “courtepointier,” or quiltmaker, while a few decades later someone known only as “Niccolo de la Coltra” worked in Padua as ‘the master of quilts.” These professional quiltmakers were far from unique; professional quilt and quilted armor guilds were active in Bologna, Rome, Florence, Venice, and Genoa by the fourteenth century, often in association with cotton guilds. Southern France was another center of the European quilting industry, particularly whole cloth white quilts.

The primary product of these quilted armorers were closely fitted padded armor intended to be worn on the upper body, either over or in place of steel armor.  They were known as jacks, arming doublets, coat armor, jupons, aketons, or haketons depending on area and period, and their construction was strictly regulated.  One Italian guild required that jupons be padded with linen or cotton tow to the depth of three fingers’ breadths on the shoulders and two fingers’ breadths upon the torso for maximum protection. Aristocratic versions were often made of rich fabrics such as heavy velvets or silk brocades, then padded so heavily in the chest that their wearers were compared to greyhounds.  Less exalted versions, made of linen padded with cotton or wool, were lighter, cheaper alternatives to metal armor, so they became a popular option for foot soldiers, sappers, or archers. There were even jacks where small steel plates were sewn inside the padding, then layered with more cushioning for extra protection.

Several such pieces have survived, most in surprisingly good condition.  The most famous include the “Black Prince’s jupon” in Canterbury Cathedral, the coat armor of Charles VI in Chartres, the doublet of Charles de Blois in Lyon, and a curious German tunic that layers linen, padding, and small steel rings for extra protection.  Less famous but arguably more interesting is the Rothwell Jack, a rare piece of armor worn by a common foot soldier or archer.  Unlike its aristocratic kin, the Rothwell Jack is so crudely made that it was probably thrown together on short notice, either by a sailmaker or possibly its original owner.  Its materials, over twenty layers of raw wool and coarse linen stitched together heavy linen thread, are equally humble, and again indicate that it was made by a non-professional.  Although local historians long claimed that the Jack belonged to John of Gaunt, it almost certainly belonged to one of his archers, as the right armscye is all but worn away while the left is largely intact.

Quilted armor disappeared late in the SCA period thanks to the invention of firearms, as quilted armor was useless against a bullet or other small projectile.  However, protective garments of quilted linen were still popular among court tennis players, as in a 16th century painting by Francesco Becaruzzi, while quilted doublets of leather lined with silk were used as fencing jackets by the wealthy.

There is also an abundance of artistic evidence for quilted clothing and armor during the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries.  The best known is Hans Memling’s The Chasse of St. Ursula, but there are several funerary sculptures, particularly in Germany and Switzerland, showing knights wearing quilted gambesons or jacks.  There is also a tiny Italian ivory of The Flight into Egypt showing St. Joseph wearing a quilted tunic that might have begun as coat armor, although it equally could show a peasant tunic quilted for warmth.

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Domestic Quilting and Patchwork

There is less somewhat less physical evidence for domestic quilting during the early Middle Ages, while aside from La Lai del Desir, there is nothing in writing about patchwork until a French memoir of 1507.  However, there are a handful of extant quilts and two pieces of patchwork that hint at a much richer tradition that has been lost to war, wear, and time.

The oldest known actual whole cloth European quilts are three trapunto, or stuffed quilts from Italy.   Two, the so-called Guicciardini quilts, were probably made for a Florentine wedding in the 1390’s (and may have originally been a wallhanging), while a third seems to have been an actual coverlet.  All are made with the same materials (linen top and back, cotton padding, linen thread) and with the same technique (dark brown backstitched outlines on the decorative motifs, running stitch on the backgrounds).  The iconography and the motifs are so similar that these items were all but certainly made in the same workshop, while the designs and the captions on the Guicciardini quilts are in an otherwise rare Sicilian dialect.

The Tristan Quilt (detail). Victorian and Albert Museum, Museum no. 1391-1904.

The Guicciardini quilts, one in the Victoria & Albert Museum in London, one in the Museo di Bargello in Florence, have been the subject of scholarly controversy for nearly a century.  They seem to have been made for a wedding between two powerful Florentine families around 1394, but whether they were originally a set of two quilts for two beds, one quilt for an enormous ceremonial bed, or a huge wallhanging is not known.  Some scholars, notably Arthurian specialist R.S. Loomis and quilt historian Susan Young, believe they were designed as a set, but recent analysis by Sarah Randles indicates that they were probably one huge piece that was cut apart and reassembled into two quilts for reasons that made sense at the time.  The piece in the Bargello belonged to Guicciardini descendants as late as the 1920’s, while the section in the Victoria & Albert was acquired around the turn of the twentieth century.  The iconography, a Sicilian retelling of the story of Tristan and Isolde depicted in large squares similar to the panels on a modern comic book, seems strangely inappropriate for a wedding gift, especially if the quilt(s) was indeed intended for use on the bridal bed.

Less well known is the third quilt, which was owned by the Pianetti family.  This piece, only half of which was extant when it was last photographed, once again showed Tristan and Isolde, only in central medallion surrounded by heavily stuffed fleur-de-lis.  The border shows allegorical figures feasting in vineyards and gardens, but there are no captions so the meaning is not clear.  It was last seen in 1938 and has vanished without a trace, leading to the tragic but unavoidable conclusion that it might have been lost during the massive destruction of World War II a few years later.

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A Cloth of Honor and a Pillow

Quilt historians assumed for decades that the Guicciardini and Pianetti quilts were the only surviving medieval quilts.  However, a startling discovery around 2000 in Budapest challenges this assumption.  Archaeologists excavating the old Tekeli Palace found a silk textile depicting the arms of the Arpad and Angevin dynasties encased in mud at the bottom of a rubbish shaft.  The Anjou Textile, as it is now known, was wet-cleaned and disinfected by conservators to remove mud and bacteria, then examined for clues to its construction and original purpose.  The mudball had been found alongside coins dating between 1390 and 1427, while physical analysis of the actual cloth indicated that it was at least a few decades older than the coins.

The Anjou Textile. Budapest History Museum.

Close examination revealed that this textile was pieced and appliqued in red, white, blue, and golden silk, while its age indicated that it was likely made not long after the Cimabue painting with the patchwork cloth of honor.  Stitch patterns on the cloth and a few bits of cotton padding and linen thread clinging to the wrong side clearly indicated that the Anjou Textile had originally been quilted in a diamond pattern at least twenty or thirty years before the Sicilian whole cloth quilts.

Most striking of all, Hungarian court records from the reign of King Charles Robert reference a large order of red, white, and blue silk from Italy, while the king’s Great Seal of 1331 clearly shows a patchwork cloth of honor that is all but identical to the Anjou Textile.  As unlikely as it may seem, the evidence indicates that there is a strong possibility that the Anjou Textile was pieced and quilted no later than 1331, and probably about ten years earlier.

As important as the Anjou Textile, it is not the most elaborate piece of early patchwork.  That honor must go to the Impruneta Cushion, one of the most remarkable surviving pieces of early needlework, regardless of technique.

This small pillow, only one foot square, was found in an Italian tomb in 1947.  The little town of Impruneta, about fifteen kilometers south of Florence, had been bombed in 1944 during the Allied advance up the Italian peninsula.  It wasn’t until 1947 that the town had the money to check on the tomb of its fifteenth century bishop, Antonio degli Agli, which had been knocked open when bombs struck the pilgrimage church of Santa Maria dell’Impruneta.

Bishop Agli himself had suffered little damage during the attack, but the most significant find in his tomb was the tiny cushion that had been placed under his head by his grieving niece, Deinara, when he died in 1477.  The cushion, which seems to have been one of the bishop’s favorite possessions, turned out to be not a simple pillow but a dazzling piece of early patchwork, with elaborate star and checkerboard patterns on the front and a simple but striking geometric pattern on the back.

The Impruneta Cushion, with the back also visible. Photo by Sailko, under Creative Commons licensing.

Analysis by an early conservator known only as “Signor Clignon,” supplemented by a thorough conservation/stabilization by the Tuscan state conservation agency in 1990, revealed that no fewer than thirty different types of silk lampas, brocade, damask, satin, and velvet were used to piece the front of the cushion.  The actual pieces ranged in size from approximately 1.5 inches to perhaps a quarter inch square, and were so finely and accurately stitched that conservators speculated the makers used stiff paper or pasteboard to stabilize the shapes during construction.  The seams, which had been repaired at some point during Bishop Agli’s lifetime, were all reinforced with couched cording.  The back of the cushion was pieced of inch square pieces of wool arranged in concentric squares.  This not only produced a noticeable sense of movement, but is all but identical to the modern patchwork pattern known as Trip Around the World.  Just as on the front, the seams on the back were reinforced with couched cording.

Italian scholars believe that the cushion was made between 1425 and 1455, as it was clearly used before being put in Bishop Agli’s tomb.  As carbon dating would require destroying a large section of the cushion itself, it is not possible to give a more precise date unless Agli family records surface mentioning the cushion.

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Later Developments

The Renaissance brought increased trade with the Eastern countries where quilting originated. The Ottoman Empire had a native tradition of quilted bedcovers and caftans; surviving examples from the courts of 16th and 17th century sovereigns such as Suleiman the Magnificent and Selim the Grim are worked in the running stitch on silk broadcloth and brocade, lined with cotton to get around the Qu’ranic prohibition against silk garments.  Court etiquette dictated that clothing be presented to foreign ambassadors, so it is possible that European diplomats posted to Constantinople returned with quilted caftans in their baggage.

This was the time when European countries established colonies and trading posts in Asia. India had a strong native quilting tradition and quickly began producing export work in cotton and silk (the very word calico, later the name of the favorite quilting cotton, is derived from Calcutta). Portugal in particular imported “pintadoe quilts” from its Indian possessions, as well as palampores and unquilted spreads that were later worked up into “colchas” on the Iberian peninsula. Several of these Indian/Bengali quilts have survived, including one in the collection of Hardwick Hall in England, almost a dozen in the Museum of Antique Arts in Lisbon, and a half-circle cape in the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Indo-Portuguese Quilted Cape. Metropolitan Museum of Art, Accession Number 23.203.1.

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Henry VIII: Quilt Owner

By the sixteenth century, silk and linen quilts were quite popular in wealthy households throughout Europe.  Among the best examples of this is the 1547 death inventory of England monarch Henry VIII.

Henry VIII’s inventory provides a unique look at quilts in aristocratic households.  He owned over one hundred quilts and quilted coverlets, including two quilts assigned to his bath, sixty “holland” quilts of fine linen for bedding, and approximately forty quilts of various types of silk.  One of the quilts, a green sarcenet coverlet worked in roses, pomegranates, and fleurs-de-lis, may have dated from early in Henry’s marriage to his first queen, Catherine of Aragon, or even been part of her trousseau when she married his brother Arthur.  Other quilts were “payned” (pieced) in color combinations such as purple and white, green and white, and five or six colors such as tawny, green, yellow, blue, crimson, and white.  There were even two “quiltes of canvase to cover cartes,” presumably part of the equipment used to move the royal household on Henry’s frequent progresses.

Many of these quilts likely either Indian imports or European copies of expensive Indo-Portuguese work, such as the Indo-Portuguese silk quilts, but the “holland” quilts of fine linen stuffed with wool were likely made in Northern Europe.  Four or five of these would be used as actual bedclothes, while a silk quilt, often very elaborately worked with metal or silk threads, would be used as a bedspread.

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SCA Uses

There are several uses for quilts and quilted objects in the SCA. The most obvious, and common, is armor. Although quilting was used for both gambesons and jacks, padded linen jacks cannot be made list legal. However, a finely quilted jack would look spectacular in court. A better choice for a heavy weapons fighter would be a gambeson or a quilted tunic worn over armor in cold weather. The only caution would be to use only cotton batts – synthetic batts do not breathe, and armor made from them could cause a fighter to overheat and suffer a heat stroke. Most pre-quilted fabric is made with polyester batts and should be avoided for this reason.

Another good choice would be quilted bedding, either pillows or bed quilts.  Most fabric stores offer basic quilting classes, by either hand or machine. Machine quilting is obviously not period, but it’s possible to quilt a whole quilt in a day by machine. Virtually all modern quilts are made of cotton broadcloth or calico – again, not period, but washable, cheap, and very practical for camping. And Indian bedspreads are so close to palampores that a quilted version would make a fine addition to any campsite.

One warning: quilting is addictive. The calicos used for modern quilting are among the most beautiful cottons being made today, and who can resist beautiful fabrics? So don’t be surprised if what begins as a single gambeson, or a way to use up scraps, turns into a full blown obsession!

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Further Reading

Colby, Averil. Quilting. HarperCollins, 1972.

Evans, Lisa. ‘”The Same Counterpoincte Beinge Olde and Worene’: The Mystery of Henry VIII ‘s Green Quilt”, in Medieval Clothing and Textiles 4, Robin Netherton, Gale R. Owen-Crocker, eds. Boydell Press, 2008.

—. “Anomaly or Sole Survivor? The Impruneta Cushion and Early Italian ‘Patchwork'”, in Medieval Clothing and Textiles 8, Robin Netherton, Gale R. Owen-Crocker, eds. Boydell Press, 2012.

Von Gwinner, Schnuppe. The History of the Patchwork Quilt Origins: Traditions and Symbols of a Textile Art. Schiffer Publishing, 2007.

Where to Examine Historical Quilting Firsthand

Colonial Williamsburg in Virginia
Historic Deerfield in Massachusetts
International Quilt Study Center & Museum in Nebraska
Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York
Shelburne Museum in Vermont
Victoria & Albert Museum in London

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Filed under: A&S Research Papers, Arts and Sciences Tagged: a&s, Arts and Sciences

Lady Adelyn Idesborne Invites You to the Tournament of the White Hart

AEthelmearc Gazette - Fri, 2017-03-03 00:33

Hello, and may I extend my sincerest welcome to all who are planning on attending the 20th Anniversary Tournament of the White Hart! For those of you who may not know me, I am Adelyn and I am the 20th Lady of the White Hart.  I would like to share with you some of the reasons why this tournament is so special to me, and why I hope that you will give it the opportunity to be special to you, as well.

As you may be aware, my husband, Lord Christian Goldenlok, fought for my honor last year, and through populace vote we were selected to be this year’s Lord and Lady of the White Hart. I was beyond honored, and very sentimental about this wonderful election. To truly explain why, we must go back in time…

Lord Christian and Lady Adelyn, the 20th Lord and Lady of the White Hart

It all started when I was very young, long before I had even met Christian Goldenlok. I grew up with a great love of literature. According to my mother, I started reading when I was only about 3 years old. I really don’t even remember learning how to read, but I do remember reading everything I could get my hands on. Tales of chivalrous knights and adventurous young heroines quickly became my favorite, and as my ability to read often outstripped the age-appropriate materials available to me, my mother soon turned to her friend Joy, who reviewed children’s and young adult novels for magazines. She introduced me to the Alanna of Tortall series—a series of four books by Tamora Peirce where an 11-year-old girl defies her father and convinces her twin brother to trade places with her so that she can go to the capital to be trained in being a knight. From the moment my eyes touched the first page, I was enthralled. From that moment on, I dreamed that I too could find a way to get wrapped in the adventures of a medieval world, where I could dress in armor and fight, or dress is silks and be wooed, or learn the methodical teachings of sewing or weaving or leather-working.

As time elapsed, I continued to read, and enjoyed my time spent in those fictional worlds, but always wanted more. When I was about 13, I had to write and illustrate my own children’s book for a school project.  I wrote about a 13-year-old girl who got sucked through a time-warp and spent the rest of her days in Medieval England. I continued to get older, and continued to dream of an adventurous life—I thought about going to a Renaissance Faire, but was disappointed with the idea that I and so many others would just be dressed in blue jeans and sweaters; it just wouldn’t feel real.

Then, one day almost 10 years after my 13-year-old self wrote that book, I was talking with a new friend I had made at church, a man who would become my husband. He was telling me about a group that got together once a week, dressed in real armor, and for-real beat each other. I was intrigued (and also very shy). I went for four weeks in a row, with a book in hand. I sat in the corner, “reading” my book, and watching the fighters before I really worked up the courage to start talking to people. It was several more weeks before I got the nerve to ask to try on a set of loaner armor to try my hand at armored combat.

It was so much fun! I couldn’t believe the joy that small group of heavy fighters brought to my life. It was around this time Christian asked me to be his girlfriend. It was only a month after we started dating that he said he wanted to take me to an event—a tournament. I was scared. I told him I wasn’t ready to fight in a tournament. He laughed and said I didn’t have to. It was a laid back tournament, one where there was a lady’s gallery, and a lot of people just watched the fighters.  He said he wouldn’t fight so that he wouldn’t leave my side.  My next concern—I didn’t have anything to wear. Christian had already thought of that. He had already spoken with Lady Barbaia of Sable Maul, who had agreed to lend me some garb.

We were going. I was so thrilled.  I was impressed that this new man in my life had put so much thought into taking me to my first SCA event, my first real medieval adventure. We showed up at the Cabell County 4-H Camp, and from the moment I entered my first SCA site I was transported. Not only was being in this place a dream come true, it was a pretty damn romantic first event, as well.

Let’s fast forward again to last year.  Lord Christian and I were now engaged and were returning to the Tournament of the White Hart, the anniversary of our first event together, and my first event.  This time he was fighting for my honor. I had come out of my shell enough to talk to approximately eight people instead of two. At the tournament’s culmination, the White Hart populace voiced their inspiration and named us the Lord and Lady of the White Hart!

I was so humbled and so honored because White Hart is so special to me. White Hart was a celebration of the way Christian and I had grown in our love for each other. It was also a celebration of the way our love had grown for our friends new and old in the SCA and the society in general. White Hart was also a celebration of the way we had grown as individuals. In short, the Tournament of the White Hart means so much to me because it is always a celebration. It isn’t just a celebration of prowess, it’s a celebration of chivalry, honor, inspiration, and above all, of love and of growth. It isn’t just a celebration of the love we have for our consorts, it is a celebration of ideal love. To me, it will always be the best and truest representation of what chivalry and honor in medieval times is supposed to be.

I believe this year will prove to be another wonderful year at White Hart. For me, it will mean my first White Hart with my new husband.  It will mean another year of growth and love to be celebrated. Not to mention, it is the 20th anniversary of the event, and I have some inside information about the amazing things that the autocrat and feastocrat have been doing. It’s going to be epic. White Hart is hosted by the Shire of Port Oasis, in Huntington, WV.  The amazing Autocrat of this year’s Tournament is Lord Sasson della Sancta Victoria. Lady Astridr Vigaskegg will be in charge of the incredible feast to follow the tournament. I can’t wait to be able to indulge in the feast!

It will also be a time of great celebration for Christian and me, because not only will I be serving as the Lady of White Hart, I will also be doing so while pregnant with our first child! We have been waiting patiently to publicly share the news, and thought that advertising for White Hart would be the perfect opportunity!

Baby Goldenlok!

In closing, I invite you to come celebrate with us. Join Christian and me as we celebrate with each of you as the Lord and Lady of the White Hart. Join us in celebrating each other. Join us at White Hart to celebrate growth. Join us at White Hart.



Categories: SCA news sites

Of Boiling and Seething: A reevaluation of the common cooking terms in connection with brewing

AEthelmearc Gazette - Thu, 2017-03-02 10:45

By Unnr in elska á Fjárfella (Susan Verberg, 2017) of the Dominion of Myrkfaelinn in the Kingdom of Æthelmearc.

Recreating medieval brews in our modern times is a fun and tasty way to connect to our historic past. Unfortunately, having a deeper understanding about the chemistry involved in fermentation does not necessarily translate into an easier interpretation of medieval recipes. Our modern brewing methods and sanitary measures evolved, and the language and terminology used in brewing changed over the years as well. The arcane language of early medieval recipes often makes modern interpretations approximations at best, and modern brewers with their own interpretation of the same recipe make variations which sometimes differ slightly and sometimes differ quite a lot. For instance, in my own work to recreate two mead recipes, numbers 9 and 10 in V: Goud Kokery which is part of the 14th century manuscript Curye on Inglysch, I initially used the editors’ suggestions on how to interpret recipe 10 To make fyn meade & poynaunt. After half a dozen or so mediocre variations, and a deepening puzzlement on the sequence of steps in the recipe, I realized the editors’ interpretation has practical issues. Expecting something was off with the technique, instead of tweaking the recipe to make it fit our modern conceptions, I delved deeper into the practices used during our time of study to track down where it went off track.

The first step was to look into the source of the fermentable sugars in mead – the honey – which at the same time located the source for fermenting yeast. Medieval honey would have been available in different states and different grades. The highest grade honey was life honey, which is the honey that drips out first without any assistance and is highly regarded both in brewing and in medicine. Life honey is honey which is completely untreated, and held in such high esteem that in medieval Dutch cooking and brewing recipes it had its own term: ‘zeem’. The translation for ‘zeem’ is given as ‘ongepijnde honing’, unhurt or unprocessed honey and also as ‘maagden honing’, or virgin honey. Unfortunately, true to medieval practice, the word is used interchangeably for life honey and high quality processed honey, and it is up to the reader to interpret which ingredient is meant. (openlaszlo) What makes life honey so special, and literally alive, is that even though honey is antibacterial, it is a welcome host for osmophillic yeast strains like Saccharomyces rouxii, Sacharomyces var. osmophilus and Sacharomyces bisporus var. mellis. (Rasmussen, 21)

Osmophillic yeast is able to thrive in highly concentrated sugar solutions, and is best for the fermentation of honey solutions with sugar concentrations above 15%, but generally does not produce alcohol as well as the common beer and wine yeasts. If sugar concentrations are below 15%, the wine and beer yeast varieties of Sacharomyces cerevisiae are the best choice for optimally fermenting honey. (Rasmussen, 21) When processing life honey temperatures exceeding 154 º Fahrenheit / 68 º Celsius (Hagen, 148) will kill ambient yeast and heating honey to facilitate flow often does not produce life honey. Also, like the term ‘zeem’, the term ‘life honey’ is sometimes used for true honey that is alive and will start fermentation, and sometimes for honey of the best quality. If the life honey asked for in a recipe is to be truly boiled, then it does not need to be alive honey and you should not sacrifice your labor-intensive honey-yeast starter to literally emulate the medieval recipe. One thing to keep in mind when fermenting with osmophillic yeast: as the starting sugar concentration or density is high, it will have a slow start, especially compared to pitching modern concentrated yeast.

Processed honey is graded depending on how it is removed from the comb: with unprocessed life honey being first grade, second grade is what would easily be leaked out and strained when breaking up or crushing the comb cell structure (equivalent to our centrifugally-extracted honey), third grade is extracted by washing the leaked combs in heated water whereby the leftover and crystallized honey dissolves but the wax is not melted, and then a waste grade is created by squeezing the washed combs with a twisted bag press to get the last little bits of liquid out (often used for servant grade). This is not recommended by the Reverend Charles Butler, who warns in his 1609 beekeeping treatise Feminine Monarchie: “& some (which is worse) doe violently presse it out. But by these means they shal have no fine & pure raw hony, howsoever afterward they handle it.

Leaking can be facilitated with heat, and as long as the radiant temperature is kept below 154 º F the ambient yeast will survive. Leaked honey is used in recipes calling for volumes or weights. Honey from different bio-regions or different seasons (a wet spring, a dry fall, etc) can have different sugar concentrations, and when using volumes or weights, can lead to slight differences in sugar concentration, as the Digby recipe Mr. Pierce’s Excellent White Metheglin confirms “When it is blood-warm, put the honey to it, about one part, to four of water; but because this doth not determine the proportions exactly (for some honey will make it stronger then other) you must do that by bearing up an Egge”.

Washing can be facilitated by agitation by hand, which also keeps the water temperature in check to make sure it is not hot enough to melt wax (upwards of 144 ºF or 62 ºC). Coincidentally, if honeycomb is warmed enough to dissolve the sugars but not enough to melt the wax, the ambient yeast is able to survive to start fermentation. As the sugar concentration of washed honey is unknown – not enough honey will make weak mead which spoils much quicker, while too much honey can inhibit yeast growth giving competitors a chance – it is advisable to use a hydrometer to check gravity (the amount of sugar in solution); either with a modern glass hydrometer, or with the egg float test, which basically does the same thing but with a renaissance flair.

A honey solution made by boiling scraped honeycomb. The swirls are from particulated bees wax. The position of the egg showing about 20 mm or the size of a medieval groat coin above the surface indicates enough dissolved sugars for a circa 12% alcohol mead.

The next step is to look into the cooking process: how exactly did the honey become must. Many medieval recipes advise to boil the must. Since the source of medieval water is most often rather suspect, up to the point of deadly, this is not per se a bad thing. For the flavor of the honey, it would be better to boil the water first, and add the honey when it is blood-warm to then start fermentation. Alcohol’s preservative properties combined with the antibacterial effect of honey makes for a safe product to drink, much safer than surface water, even without boiling. According to Feminine Monarchie, heating above temperatures which would hurt the skin “The best way is to put it into an oven after the batch is forth, but not before you can abide to hold your hand upon the bottome, for feare of overheating the hony” is known to damage the honey. Maybe, even though in cooking recipes the word ‘boil’ is most often meant as a roiling boil, in brewing it might mean the process of cooking? Unless refermentation during warm weather is meant, to confuse the matter even more! As Hugh Platt in his 1594 Jewell House of Art and Nature complains “If any sweete Wines happen to reboile in the hot part of the Summer, as manie Vinteners to their great losse have oftentimes felt”.

The word ‘seethe’ or ‘seething’ is even vaguer. Does it mean simmering, or being at a boil but not bubbling? Or does it mean the process of heating, which could be anything from above room temperature to near boiling? For instance, the recipe To Make Mede in the 14th CE Curye on Inglysch cookbook uses both ‘boil’ and ‘seethe’& thanne take that forseid combis & sethe hem in clene water, & boile hem wel” but after all that the combs should still be intact enough to be pressed out “After presse out thereof as myche as though may”. This indicates the water temperature did not actually exceed 144° F or 62 ºC and melt the wax. Thus instead of translating the following quote to “take the previously mentioned combs & simmer them in clean water, & boil them well”, should it perhaps be “take the previously mentioned combs & heat them in clean water, & cook them well”? Since the latter interpretation matches the Feminine Monarchie’s technique “set it in some vessel over a soft fire, and stil keep your hand in the vessel stirring about the honie and the wax, and opening the wax piece-meale until the hony and not the wax shal be molten,” and it makes sense, I think this would be the correct interpretation. And as ambient yeast survives heating to 154 ºF /68 ºC this would mean the must is still viable for spontaneous fermentation, without the need for adding barm or lees from a previous batch.

Back to the two recipes, interpretations of the translation is re-evaluated. The reason I work with both recipes is that recipe 10 looks back to recipe 9, even more so in the re-evaluation than I initially had thought.

The two original recipes and the proposed alternate interpretations:

9 To make mede.

Take hony combis & put hem into a greet vessel & ley thereynne grete stickis, & ley the weight theron til it be runne out as myche as it wole; & this is called liif hony. & thanne take that forseid combis & sethe hem in clene water, & boile hem wel. After presse out thereof as myche as though may & caste it into another vessel into hoot water, & sethe it wel & scome it wel, & do therto a quarte of liif hony. & thanne lete it stone a fewe dayes wel stoppid, & tis is good drinke.    (Hieatt & Butler, 150)

Literal Translation:

9 To make mead.

Take honey combs, and put them into a big vessel & lay in there big sticks, & lay the weight on it until it runs out as much as it would; & this is called life honey. & then take those mentioned combs & simmer them in clean water, & boil it well. After press out of it as much as you can & cast it into another vessel into hot water, & heat it well, & scum it well, & do thereto a quart of life honey. & then let it stand a few days well closed up, & this is a good drink.

If the honey combs are literally simmered and boiled, the wax will melt into the sugar solution. Interestingly, while the combs are quite bulky in their solid state, once they are melted within the sugar solution there is not a whole lot left. In one of my experiments, the combs were boiled in clean water and poured through a cheesecloth filter while hot, and in another experiment the combs were boiled, the must was cooled down first, and then poured through a cheesecloth filter. Filtering the waxy must while hot particulized the hot wax, which then solidified in tiny particles which mostly stayed suspended in the must. During fermentation a thin film of wax particles formed on the surface, which created quite a nice surface protection. After bottling, the wax particles would form a haze around the neck of the bottle (shake well before pouring) and while sipping there was a distinct sensation of lip balm around the lips. Many of these issues were negated by filtering the wax must after cooling it down, though the sensation of lipbalm never completely went away. For the amount of wax comb that went into the must and the insignificant amount that was recovered during filtering, the indication is that most stayed in solution with the sugars. Boiling the wax to dilute the honey does not coincide with the available information (as in, there should be comb structure left to be pressed) plus, the wax adds a significant (although not unpleasant) taste to the must.

Boiling the wax comb and honey to make the must. From the 4 scraped frames of honey comb only about an inch worth of black gook was recovered. Most of the bright yellow wax disappeared during the boil.

Current Interpretation:

9 To make mead.

Take honey combs, and put them into a big vessel & lay in there big sticks, & lay the weight on it [of the combs] until it runs out as much as it would; & this is called life honey. & then take those mentioned combs & heat them in clean water [not hotter than your hands can take], & cook it well. After press out of it [the combs] as much as you can & cast it [the liquid] into another vessel into hot water, & heat it well, & scum it well, & do thereto a quart of life honey. & then let it stand a few days well closed up, & this is a good drink.

The second recipe:

10 To make fyn meade & poynaunt.

Take xx galouns of the forseid pomys soden in iii galouns of fyn wort, & i galoun of liif hony & sethe hem wel & scome hem wel til thei be cleer enowgh; & put therto iii penyworth of poudir of peper & i penyworth of poudir of clowis & lete it boile wel togydere. & whanne it is coold put it into the vessel into the tunnynge up of the forseid mede; put it therto, & close it wel as it is aboue said.    (Hieatt & Butler, 150)

Literal Translation:

10 To make fine mead & poignant.

Take 20 gallons of the previously mentioned pomys cooked in 3 gallons of fine wort, & take 1 gallon of life honey & simmer it well & scum it well until it is clear enough; & add to it 3 pennyworth powder of pepper & 1 pennyworth powder of cloves & let it boil well together. & when it is cold put it into the vessel of the barreled up previously mentioned mead; add it to it, & close it well as it is said before.

The suggestions by Hieatt & Butler are as follows:

The word ‘pomys’ translates as apples (p. 207). [This exact word only shows up once as part of V: Goud Kokery; variants from other recipes are ‘poumes’ and ‘pommys’ which both refer to a softened apple dish.]

The ‘forseyd pomys sodden’ evidently refers to a recipe the scribe has omitted (p. 150)

Fyne meade and poynaunt V 10, spiced mead. Despite the initial directions, no recipe calling for cooked apples actually occurs in the vicinity of this one. The quantity of spices called for would work out to something like 2 oz. of pepper and ¼ oz of cloves: this would not make a very spicy drink, considering the 34 [edit 24] gallons of other ingredients. (p. 188)

The immediate issue with recipe 10 is the translation of the word ‘pomys’. From its similarity to the word ‘pommys’ it seems self evident it would refer to apples (linguistically via the French word ‘pomme’ for apple). The word ‘pomys’ in modern times could translate to ‘pomace’ or apple pressings, the apple solids left over from the making of cider, or apple juice. To my best knowledge, the word ‘pomace’ is never used for the juice, always for the leftover solids from pressing, so I am inclined to forgo the option of it meaning juice, or the must from recipe 9.

Another issue is the meaning of the word ‘tunnynge’, which I’d like to address first. The word ‘tunnynge’ can be interpreted as either a measurement (a ‘tun’ or a barrel of 252 or 265 gallons, a defined unit of volume in the 14th century) or an action (tunning). My first trial used the tun as a measurement and found that it adds too much volume to the amount of honey & malt for a proper ferment. The recipe instructs “put it into the vessel into the tunnynge up of the forseid mede” which at first reads like it barrels up twice: “put it into the vessel into the tun of the previously mentioned mead”. My current interpretation is “put it into the vessel into the tunned up previously mentioned mead”, or, use a transporting vessel (see image below) to move the wort/must and add it back “put it therto” into the barrel of the mead made with recipe 9. This would indicate recipe 10 is not a stand alone recipe, but instead uses the mead made in recipe 9 to make something else, called fyne meade and poynaunt. This would basically make a braggot, except instead of adding honey & spices to ale to re-ferment (as a typical period braggot), it adds wort (malt) and spices to mead (akin to a modern braggot, or malted mead).

“The Brewer” by Jan Luyken (1649-1712). The vessel mentioned in the recipe could be used to transport from the boiling vat to the fermenting tun or barrel.


Back to the pomys. Hieatt & Buttler assume “the ‘forseyd pomys sodden’ evidently refers to a recipe the scribe has omitted” as “despite the initial directions, no recipe calling for cooked apples actually occurs in the vicinity of this one”. When the directions in recipe 10 are interpreted as if ‘pomys’ meant apple, to make a spiced apple wine sweetened with honey and wort/malt, the ratio of solid apples and fermentable sugars to liquid does not seem to add up. To properly ferment a certain amount of apple solids, it would need to be at least submerged, which combined with the direction to cook it “soden in iii galouns of fyn wort” makes for apple sauce consistency. If enough water is added to create an acceptable cooked apple wort the amount of fermentable sugars is too low for a proper ferment, and if the water ratio is balanced for a proper short mead ferment, the must is so dense it is difficult to get a good ferment (and have liquid left over at the end, the apple solids suck it up like a sponge). This recipe had a tendency for the apple sauce to create a pancake at the surface which then would get pushed up by fermentation gasses, straight out through the airlock, which necessitated stirring the must back down every other hour or so until primary fermentation slowed down. In other words, the recipe does not make sense, it does not work well, and the resulting brew would spoil prematurely on a regular base, indicating an unbalanced recipe. Combined with the interpretation that recipe 10 could be a back ferment of recipe 9, similar to a modern braggot, it puts the translation of ‘pomys’ to apple in serious question.

Before fermentation (L) and after fermentation (R). One quart of apple solids added to one gallon of water, with appropriate honey and malt. Cooking made the apple fall apart and most of the available liquid became absorbed.

What could be meant instead? If “the forseid pomys sodden” is to be taken literally as something cooked from the previous recipe, then let’s look back to see what fits. The bulk honey from recipe 9 does not come from leaked honey but from washed out wax comb: “& thanne take that forseid combis & sethe hem in clene water, & boile hem wel”.  When the alternate interpretation for ‘seething’ and ‘boiling’ is used, the directions to “heat them in clean water, & cook them well” would generate left over wax combs, which are then “presse out thereof as myche as though may”. If the alternate interpretation is not used, and the must is literally simmered and cooked, then the wax would have melted and there’d be nothing left to be pressed, strongly indicating lower temperatures than the melting point of wax. The wax comb from recipe 9 is both cooked and pressed it would fit the description of “the forseid pomys sodden” of recipe 10 perfectly (Magnus).

Current Interpretation:

10 To make fine mead & poignant.

Take 20 gallons of the previously mentioned pomys [the squeezed combs of recipe 9] cooked in 3 gallons of fine wort, & take 1 gallon of life honey & heat it well [below 154 ºF, and the ambient yeast will survive] & scum it well until it is clear enough; & add to it 3 pennyworth powder of pepper & 1 pennyworth powder of cloves & let it cook well together. & when it is cold put it into the vessel of the barreled up previously mentioned mead [add it back into the barrel the 20 gallons came out off]; add it to it, & close it well as it is said before.

Twenty gallons of pressed comb cooked in 3 gallons of malt seems like a too small ratio of solid to liquid. Unexpectedly, I found from experience that boiling comb in a sugar solution does not generate a significant amount of melted wax and as the combs are probably also somewhat wet, even after manual pressing, they could conceivably have some crystallized honey remnants left to add to the must. When the combs are boiled in the wort/must, the scum floats to the top, just like with clarifying honey, and has to be removed “scome hem wel til thei be cleer inowgh” at the same time. And while Hieatt & Butler thought the small quantity of pepper and cloves “would not make a very spicy drink”, adding boiled wax combs to the mix significantly changes the taste of the mead (mead made with honey in which wax has been boiled has a very distinctive spicy, earthy taste).


The translation of the two Curye on Inglysch mead recipes by Hieatt & Butler, even though not completely understood, theoretically makes sense. It took some dedicated experimental archaeology, so to speak, to come to the conclusion that the modern interpretation did not add up and a different way of thinking was needed. Instead of looking at individual recipes as singular snippets, sometimes it’s necessary to see a recipe within a broader historical context. For example, the cooking technique called “blanching” historically meant soaking in cold water until the almond skins came off, while in modern times it means pouring boiling water over them until the almond skins come off. While the end result seems the same, almonds soaked with the modern method tends to make dry crumbly marzipan, while cold soaked almonds makes great sticky marzipan, just like grandma used to make. I learned not to assume just because a word or technique had a modern equivalent, it therefore historically meant the same. While seething and boiling might actually mean simmering and boiling in one recipe, when dealing with brewing recipes, I now tend to double-check (Is there wax involved? What happens to the life honey?). When emulating a historic recipe, I look for similar recipes and check if there are nuances to the techniques and ingredients used; it might explain something I did not even realize might be questionable. And just because something was written down eight hundred years ago does not make it infallible: people make mistakes, especially with the older texts, the artisans were not the scribes; translators made errors, as recipes would be translated and republished (no medieval copyright), and some people are just better brewers than others.

When interpreted within a broader context, the two Curye on Inglysch mead recipes work surprisingly well and work well together. Recipe 9 makes good basic mead and includes detailed albeit cryptic information on the processing of the comb, which is omitted by many later period mead recipes. For now – until new information presents itself – recipe 10 seems to be meant as an addition to a barrel of mead made with recipe 9, to back sweeten and spice up mead with boiled beeswax comb, for just that special occasion. And who’d have thought that…

Want to read more? Check out my (newly updated) brewing paper Of Hony, a collection of Mediaeval Brewing Recipes, listing 46 period mead recipes, on at:


Butler, Charles. The Feminine Monarchie. 1609. Oxford: 1623. Transcription by Susan Verberg.

Digby, Kenelme. The Closet of the Eminently Learned Sir Kenelme Digby Knight Opened, 1669

The Project Gutenberg EBook of The Closet of Sir Kenelm Digby Knight Opened. Anne MacDonell (ed.), 2005

Hagen, Ann. A Second Handbook of Anglo-Saxon Food and Drink: Production and Distribution. Norfolk, UK: Anglo-Saxon Books, 1995.

Hieatt, Constance B. & Butler, Sharon (ed). Curye on Inglysch, English culinary manuscripts of the 14th century (including the Forme of Cury). Early English Text Society. London: Oxford University Press, 1985.

Private communication with Peter Olson (East Kingdom brewing Laurel lærifaðir Magnus hvalmagi).

Rasmussen, S.C. The Quest for Aqua Vitae. SpringerBriefs in History of Chemistry, 2014.

Verberg, Susan. Of Honey, a Collection of Mediaeval Brewing Recipes. 2017.



Protz, Roger. The Ale Trail. Eric Dobby Publishing, 1995, p. 30

All photography © by Susan Verberg.

Categories: SCA news sites

Pen vs. Sword Needs Teachers!

AEthelmearc Gazette - Wed, 2017-03-01 22:28

Pen vs. Sword is rapidly approaching (March 25) and we NEED teachers!!  Right now I have 8 confirmed classes on the scribal side.  Fencers, are you going to let the Pen win this year??

If you would like to teach a class, any class that can be somehow connected to either the rapier arts or the scribal arts, PLEASE contact me!  I’m on Facebook at Moniczka Poznanska, or you can email me.

(See the event announcement here. The Facebook event page is here.)

There may be bribes, there might be chocolate involved.

With many thanks in advance,
Moniczka Poznanska
Class Coordinator
Shire of Angels Keep!!

(Come to the Keep.  We have cookies!)

Categories: SCA news sites

Kingdom Arts & Sciences Special Deputies Named

East Kingdom Gazette - Wed, 2017-03-01 17:16

Greetings all from the Kingdom A&S Minister, Master Philip White.

You all may remember how impressed I was with this past year’s King’s and Queen’s A&S Champion’s Competition. Mistress Elysabeth Underhill and Master Magnus Hvalmagi organized an activity highly praised by the entrants and judges alike.

We want to build on their success as we plan for future A&S Champion’s Competitions. We also want to take advantage of what worked at the Kingdom competition and make it easy for other groups to use throughout the year.

To those ends, Mistress Elysabeth and Master Magnus have agreed to work with me as Kingdom A&S Special Deputies.

In particular, their roles will be to:

1. Refine the judging rubric and publish this spring
2. Refine the competition rules and publish this spring
3. Run the next King’s and Queen’s A&S Champion’s Competition, including registering entrants and organizing judges

If you are interested in helping with any of these tasks please contact them. They will be gathering feedback from the populace as well as recent A&S Champion’s Competition judges and entrants.

Our goals are:

1. Set expectations early for the next competition
2. Help artisans plan in advance and understand those expectations
3. Train more judges
4. Build consistency

We hope this will make the process easier and more enjoyable. We also think that this fosters learning and teaching throughout the year in addition to the competition.

These roles and goals are specific to the administrative aspects of the competition. The Champions will be chosen by the Royalty in the manner of their choosing.

We will be working together with Lady Sofya Gianetta di Trieste, Queen’s Champion of Arts and Sciences, and Lady Raziya bint Rusa, King’s Champion of Arts and Sciences.

In addition to their roles representing the Kingdom, they will advise and assist the A&S Office in these administrative tasks associated with the competition.

Your Servant to Command,


Filed under: Announcements, Arts and Sciences Tagged: a&s, a&s champions, A&S champs, Arts and Sciences, champions