SCA kingdoms and branches
Two of the first members of the Barony of Carolingia, Tabitha of Windmoor and Wescott de Gwhite, shared their memories of with the Gazette of the first weapons created in Carolingia using nothing but rumors of what was required.
Tabitha of Windmoor :
Swords have a story all their own. Dan (Daniel de Tankard) had told us that SCA swords were made of rattan. The council set to work locating a rattan source. Poring through the Yellow Pages (no internet yet), we turned up The Rattan Store on Rte.9 in Wellesley. Dan, Patri and I set out from my dorm to find the place. Yes—we walked up to Rte. 9 and walked along it toward Natick until we found the place (no GPS either). The store sold rattan furniture from the country we still called Burma (Myanmar).
After much talk with the manager, we persuaded him to order us a dozen uncut lengths of the light weight, ridged canes that looked kind of like bamboo from his supplier. Patri opined that it looked too light and brittle to use as a blade, but Dan assured him that rattan was what was used, though he admitted that he had never seen an SCA weapon or combat, only heard about it.
Dan drove out when our order came, bungeed it to the roof of his little yellow car, and brought it back to Cambridge where Doug, Patri, Carl, and anyone who could lend a hand made crude short swords of it.
Wescott de Gwhite:
All of our armor was designed and built to work well against the smaller, lighter bamboo. Patri made a beautiful shield from a piece of Homosote (cellulose wall board), covered in fiberglass and painted with a coat of arms. I made detachable basket hilts that could swap out the bamboo blades quickly, and I fumigated my MIT dorm room making up a fiberglass helmet from scratch. Garb was also fabricated, although it was pretty simple by today’s standards.
We arrived Saturday early afternoon at the event, looked around quickly and realized that we were in trouble. The real rattan swords were a LOT bigger & heavier than our gear was designed for. They were using steel freon tank helmets, which had big dents in them! They offered to lend us use of some swords, but that the padding in the armor was an awful lot lighter than what they wanted to fight in.
They allowed that Patri could wear it if he wanted to. They said the helmet would never do, which I took exception to. I had built it with a lot of overkill for the bamboo, and thought it would probably still work OK (for a while). Lord El said they wouldn’t allow Patri to use it unless he “tested” it first.
El set it upright on the ground and grabbed a large two handed sword. He took a big swing and tried to come down right on the crown. I’m sure he was convinced it was going to shatter, or at least crush, but he didn’t hit it quite square, and it basically flexed a bit & bounced into the air. He was clearly disappointed, and insisted on another attempt to hit it more solidly. He succeeded, but the result was
I believe Patri fought in a total of 3 bouts. Thanks to his fencing background, he managed to hold his own reasonably well. I think he lost two & might have actually won one. At that point, the helmet was showing signs of impending delamination, and it was retired. Every place Patri’s shield had taken a solid blow to the edge looked like someone had taken a good bite out of it.
Filed under: History, Interviews Tagged: Carolingia
The following information has been forwarded to the East Kingdom by Baron Sir Jibril al-Dakhil, Earl Marshal of the East Kingdom, on behalf of the Society Seneschal.
Greetings Unto the East Kingdom: Below is the Society’s Guidelines
In reviewing the official website of the Pennsylvania Department of Health and Human Services and the recent statute with other officers and agents of the SCA, I have determined that this statute will not impact on Heavy Combat or Rapier Combat by minor children of the age of 16 or 17 nor youth activities.
An adult volunteer responsible for the welfare of a child or having direct contact with children you will need clearances beginning July 1, 2015; if approved as a volunteer before July 1, 2015, the volunteer has until July 1, 2016, to get an FBI clearance. Volunteers responsible for the welfare of a child or having direct contact with children can include:
In determining if a volunteer is responsible for the welfare of a child, only a volunteer acting in lieu of or on behalf of a parent, will need clearances. It is important to note that in SCA combat and youth activities, the parent of the child is effectively required to be present and that the marshal merely officiates over the safety of the heavy and rapier field. The rules set forth in the Seneschal’s Handbook regarding Youth Activities, including Youth Combat, the SCA, its officers and agents do not maintain care and custody of a minor child; unlike Boy Scout Leaders and coaches, SCA volunteers do not have care and custody of minor children. As the Seneschal’s Handbook (part of the SCA’s Governing Documents) indicates that no officer or agent may, under color of authority, may be in loco parentis (in the place of the parents):
X. DEALING WITH MINOR/YOUTH-RELATED POLICIES
As no officer or agent of the SCA may provide care, guidance, supervision or control of children in an official capacity. no volunteer acting in an official capacity by and for the SCA is covered by the “new” Pennsylvania statute by virtue of the fact that our volunteers are not “acting in lieu of or on behalf of a parent”; however, if the SCA volunteer has direct contact with children because they provide routine interaction with children as an integral aspect of their volunteer position, e.g. Youth Officer or Youth Marshal, the individual must receive an FBI background check in excess of the standard SCA background check.
While some may question the concept of the “routine interaction with children” language, the Pennsylvania State Department of Health and Safety indicated that consideration should be given to what the volunteer’s role is within the agency. Is their contact with children regular, ongoing contact that is integral to their volunteer responsibilities? Clearly contact with youth is anticipated by Youth Officers and Youth Marshals; however, those individuals that do not have direct contact with children as an integral to their volunteer responsibilities, e.g. Marshals, Heralds, Gate Staff/Watch/Constables, Arts and Sciences Officers, Exchequers and Seneschals, need not obtain a clearance. Furthermore, there is a proposed amendment to clean up this language of this law by changing the definition of “direct contact” to mean that an individual provides care, supervision, guidance or control of children –AND- has routine interaction with children. The current definition in law uses the word “or” instead of “and”, but changing the definition will significantly narrow the universe of volunteers required to obtain the background checks (Youth Marshals and Youth Officers would be exempt), but this has not yet been enacted.
All prospective Youth Officer and Youth Marshal for Aethelmearc and the East Kingdom must obtain the following: Report of criminal history from the Pennsylvania State Police (PSP); and Child Abuse History Clearance from the Department of Human Services (Child Abuse). Additionally, a fingerprint based federal criminal history (FBI) submitted through the Pennsylvania State Police or its authorized agent is required if the position the for is a paid position and the volunteer has lived outside Pennsylvania in the last 10 years.
From now until July 24, 2015:
Beginning July 25, 2015:
Volunteers who are not required to obtain the FBI Clearance because they are applying for an unpaid position and have been a continuous resident of Pennsylvania for the past 10 years must swear or affirm in writing that they are not disqualified from service based upon a conviction of an offense under §6344 to be placed in the custody of the Kingdom Seneschal.
If a volunteer is arrested for or convicted of an offense that would constitute grounds for denying participation in a program, activity or service, or is named as a perpetrator in a founded or indicated report, the volunteer must provide the administrator or their designee with written notice not later than 72 hours after the arrest, conviction or notification that the person has been listed as a perpetrator in the statewide database. A volunteer who willfully fails to disclose information as required above commits a misdemeanor of the third degree and shall be subject to discipline up to and including termination or denial of a volunteer position.
Individuals who reside in another state or country may serve as a volunteer for no more than 30 days as long as they provide clearances from their state or country of residence. If the individual will be volunteering for more than 30 days, they must obtain clearances as outlined above under “Which clearances are needed.” Volunteers who reside in Pennsylvania do not have a provisional period and must obtain clearances as outlined above under “Which clearances are needed.” As Pennsic is less than 30 days, there is no need to have any volunteer from another state have a background check in excess of what is required in their own home state.
While Youth Marshals and Youth Officers should apply for a background check through the Department of Human Services, the monitoring and maintenance of Background Check Clearances, the responsibility for maintaining Youth Marshal and Youth Officer background checks should be monitored and maintained by the Kingdom Seneschals. I will leave it to the respective Seneschals to determine the method for maintaining and monitoring the clearance status in a reasonable manner for at least 3 years.
All Child Abuse clearance information is confidential and may not be released to other individuals. The Kingdom Seneschal must monitor and must maintain the paper work related to the background clearance; however, this information is confidential and can only be shared with another officer for an official purposes. As such, it should be up to the individual to obtain a background check and then submit the clearance to the appropriate Kingdom Officer. Upon submission of the clearance, the marshal or officer submitting to the check can either chose to tender the results to the Marshal or Seneschal (if they pass) or not tender the results (if they do not pass). Every individual who tenders the results should be reimbursed. In terms of maintaining the results of the check (whether the individual in question passes or does not pass), such results must be considered confidential.
Respectfully submitted this 1st day of July, 2015.
Filed under: Pennsic, Youth Activities
Greetings unto the East Kingdom,
Pennsylvania Child Protective Act
After a productive conference call with the Society Seneschal and the Society Earl Marshal I am confident that we will have written guidance in the next few days, for dissemination, that will allow for full participation by the East Kingdom in Pennsylvania in all activities under the Office of the Earl Marshal. I do not want to paraphrase or misquote anyone, but I will say that everyone can rest assured that this should not cause a disruption for more than a few more days and once we have the written guidance we can return to business as usual with direction of who must and how to comply with Pennsylvania law.
Baron Sir Jibril al-Dakhil,
Filed under: Pennsic, Youth Activities
Greetings to all from Ryan Brigantia, Principal Herald of the Kingdom of the East.
We have recently discovered that the “Ask a Herald” link on the EK homepage was not properly forwarding requests. We are working to retreive any requests which may have been backlogged at this time. I know you have been patient in awaiting responses to your inquiries but I must ask for a little more time.
Filed under: Announcements, Heraldry
From Ryan Mac Whyte, War Herald for the Kingdom of the East for Pennsic XLIV.
Greetings and every good thing to all to whom these letters come.
As we approach the coming campaign to… um… become closer to our fair friends of the Midrealm by acquiring lands adjacent to their lands, the Kingdom’s eyes turn Westward.
In just over a month the War Arrow shall be broken and the Horn shall sound. The populace of the known world shall gather on the field of Pennsic to bear witness.
In order to facilitate Opening Ceremonies an organizational meeting of the Kingdom War Heralds will be held in EK Royal at 4pm on Saturday August 1st. Following the War Heralds’ meeting at 5pm will be a organizational meeting for all those East Kingdom Territorial Heralds who will be leading their Provinces, Baronies, and Shires in opening ceremonies. I am STRONGLY encouraging all groups who wish to be represented in the procession to send a representative to this meeting. As the principal participants of the War are changing this year the ceremony will be unlike any before it.
Opening Ceremonies will be starting at 9am on Sunday August 2nd. The Royal procession will be stepping off from EK Royal at approximately 8:45am. I am asking that all groups be present and ready to go at 8:30am.
Filed under: Announcements, Heraldry, Pennsic
Greetings all, Recommendations to be considered for the first polling of Brennan & Caoilfhionn will be accepted through the end of Sunday 7/12. Recommendations received after that time will be considered for the 2nd polling. Please remember that you need not be a member of an order to recommend someone you consider deserving. If you know someone you feel strongly about, please recommend them via http://surveys.eastkingdom.org/index.php/945932/lang-en Thank you, and we look forward to hearing from you. In Service to the East, Brennan and Caoilfhionn
Filed under: Announcements
A&S Research Paper #1. ‘A smoke of cameryke, wrought with blake worke’: An overview of monochromatic embroidery in Early Modern England during the reign of Elizabeth I
Greetings, and welcome to the East Kingdom Gazette’s new feature: A&S Research Papers! Our first article comes to us from Mistress Amy Webbe, of the Shire of Barren Sands, who is presenting her article on monochromatic embroidery. The paper was presented initially to the East Kingdom Embroiderer’s Guild, the Keepers of Athena’s Thimble. Thank you, Mistress Amy, for starting off the new feature so well! (Prospective future contributors, please check out our original Call for Papers.)
‘A smoke of cameryke, wrought with blake worke’: An overview of monochromatic embroidery in Early Modern England during the reign of Elizabeth I
A woman’s coif, circa 1600, accession number 1996.51. Image from the collections of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.
Abstract: Monochromatic embroidery in counted forms was prevalent throughout the medieval Islamic world. Subsequent contact with southern European cultures introduced this form into mainland Europe, where it spread throughout Christendom. The arrival of the Reformation in England 1534, and the accession of Elizabeth I in 1558 allowed this art form to develop in uniquely English ways, establishing a unique aesthetic specific to the time and place. This paper will examine the aesthetics and techniques of monochromatic embroidery during the 16th century, focusing primarily on England, where this style of embroidery enjoyed its heyday.
1. Historical Overview of Monochrome Embroidery
Monochrome embroidery, that is, embroidery using only one color of thread, is likely to be as old as needlework itself. It is easy to imagine our ancestors with leftover dye, and using it on a bit of thread that could then be used on an undyed garment, embellishing their clothing with something small. In “the Old World”, the earliest extant pieces that feature this sort of singlecolored thread, on an undyed or white ground, are found in what was considered “the Islamic World”. Islamic tradition cautions against the representation of living things, believing the power to create life is unique to God. Islamic embroidery, therefore, is often restricted to geometric patterns, and these are sometimes worked in a single color, and in double running or pattern darning stitches, such as fragment EA1984.168 at the Ashmolean Museum. Fragment of an embroidered Islamic textile, Mamluk period (1250-1517), accession number EA1984.168. Image from the collections of the Ashmolean Museum.
Textile fragment 27.168.8 from the Metropolitan Museum of Art contains some simple stepped and geometric figures that closely resemble what we may identify as “modern” blackwork. Fragment of an embroidered Islamic textile, 13th or 14th century, accession number 27.168.8. Image from the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
In contrast, extant European embroidery of the same time period is frequently ecclesiastical in nature, depicting many religious icons and figures, and polychromatic. What survives from prior to the Renaissance is a collection of altar cloths, copes, chasubles, miters—all items that would have been used and preserved in churches. English embroidery in particular had a famous period of embroidery, known throughout Europe as “Opus Angelicanum”, or “English Work”. This was characterized by the skillful use of color and shading, used particularly to denote people.
Monochromatic embroidery in Europe is mainly unknown from extant examples at this point in time, although a passage from Chaucer is frequently cited to show evidence of a history of English “blackwork”. A common translation reads:
Her smock was white and embroidered on the collar, inside and outside, in front and in back, with coalblack silk; and of the same black silk were the strings of her white hood, and she wore a broad band of silk, wrapped high about her hair. (NeCastro, 2011.)
However, this raises more questions than it answers. It has been posited that this statement is “proof” of a history of regular monochrome work existing in England prior to the 16th century, but one must ask the following questions with regards to the Chaucer reference: Are there pictorial examples or extant pieces to coincide with this reference? Is a 14th century smock of the same construction as a 16th, with a separate collar? What would the “collar” of the smock refer to? Are the “strings” on her hood perhaps ribbon, and the decoration on her “smock” ribbon as well? An alternate translation from the Liberius.org site reads:
White was her smock, embroidered all before/And even behind, her collar round about,/Of Coalblack silk, on both sides, in and out;/The strings of the white cap upon her head/Were, like her collar, black silk worked with thread.
This gives a slightly different interpretation, that may seem more plausible—that of these garments being made of black silk that was then embroidered. This also fits with the characterization of the Miller’s Wife as being a creature of fantastic taste and conspicuous consumption.
The end of the feudal system in Europe allowed workers to have more time and more money; workers could specialize in trades, and it is likely that this, combined with a more earthly focus after the Black Death, created an environment in which personal decoration was more accepted. The introduction of printed papers also meant patterns and images could be shared and traded, and this may also have contributed to a development of the culture of embroidery, particularly in the area of black on white embroidery, which may be an attempt to mimic woodcut illustrations. The influence of the Reformation also likely played a part, which we will consider later.
Although popular history holds that Catherine of Aragon brought the fashion for “blackwork” with her from Spain, there are no known extant pieces said to be the work of Catherine herself, and even her portraiture does not reflect this embroidery in great quantities. Some Spanish portraits hint at a bit of black decoration around the neckline, but this is not definitive, due to a lack of extant examples. Also, pieces housed in Spanish museums are frequently labeled as being of Italian origin. It seems as equally likely that Italian contact with the Islamic world may have been the connection, as many existing pieces share characteristics with each other, regardless of provenance. This may be expected under the universality of “Christendom”, as headed by the Pope in Rome. Henry VIII himself was even named a defender of the faith, a “fidei defensor”, by Pope Leo X, in 1521, and one could argue that this relationship accounts for the apparent similarities between European pieces in the first half of the 16th century.
A note on black dye: Prior to the discovery of the “New World”, black dye was often obtained from oak galls, which contained large quantities of tannin. However, this dye was extremely acidic, and would often eat away at fibers; many of the extant pieces we have today from England have disintegrating black silk needlework due to the dye being used. This was well known, and the Doge of Venice even went so far as to ban their use on wool fabrics. (Smith, 2009). This problem was solved somewhat by using a “provisional” natural dye as the base—first woad, then indigo, and later logwood. Logwood was under Spanish control as an import from the New World, and this may account for the reports of the higher quality of Spanish silk being much desired.
Beginning in the 16th century, we begin to see monochromatic embroidery represented in art. The paintings of Hans Holbein contains several images that seem to reference a geometric, “pixelated” style of embroidery. The Hans Holbein painting Darmstadt Madonna features a figure wearing a dress that many would argue reflects monochrome embroidery done in a simple linear stitch. And indeed, it does certainly appear to be so. However, almost no extant pieces exist from Germany at this time, so one cannot state that unequivocally, no matter how talented we presume the artist. Paintings of Jane Seymour done by him and attributed to his workshop show at least two different styles of what appear to be embroidered ruffles, although only one really represents this strictly geometric style. The archaeological record only minimally reflects this: Smock 2003.76 at Platt Hall of the Manchester City Galleries, dating from the mid 16thcentury England, does use what appears to be a double running stitch for the border of its neckline and down the sleeves, but this is supplemented by use of detached buttonhole embroidery. Shirt T. 112-1972 at the Victoria and Albert Museum also uses geometric styles and seems to imitate the styles common in Italian fashion of the time. Embroidered English man’s shirt, ca. 1560, museum number T.112-1972. Image from the collections of the Victoria and Albert Museum.
A portrait of a young Mary I by Master John hanging in the National Portrait Gallery in London features what appears to be geometric red embroidery on the white linen clothing. Portrait of Mary I, 1544, Item NPG 428 in the Primary Collection. Image from the collections of the National Portrait Gallery.
German modelbuchs from the time also feature geometric borders, that seem to be similar to painted examples.
It goes without saying that all art is influenced by the culture around it, and as that culture changes, so does the art reflect that change. Embroidery is no different, and following Henry’s break with Rome in the 1530s, we begin to see an “Anglicanization” of culture. Art and architecture both simplify. This is immediately obvious with the iconoclasm of the Churches; although the Church of England retained some simplified versions of ornament. Gone are the embroidered chasubles of the Bishops; in its place are simple white garments. The effort embroiderers may have spent glorifying the church now is spent glorifying themselves, and by the end of Elizabeth’s first decade of rule, in 1568, many aesthetics are becoming unique to the island, continually shunning anything Popish, be it embroidery, or Princes. As the reign continues, increased sumptuary laws sought to control the appearance of luxury, influenced, no doubt, by the Puritan element and their disdain of the sin of “pride” (Kirtio, 2012). This contrasts with embroidery on the Continent, which retains many of the geometric influences, and even expands into additional forms of counted embroidery, such as voided work.
So what, then, does this monochrome embroidery created during the reign of Elizabeth I look like?
In the simplest terms, the style of Elizabethan monochromatic embroidery reflects the flowers of the English countryside, and the animals in an English garden.
Many familiar flowers and fruits are represented. One can find roses; pansies and violas; pea pods; strawberries; pears; grapes; gillyflowers (carnations); cornflowers; borage; honeysuckle; foxgloves; columbines; lilies; pomegranates. The skill of the embroiderer, however, does mean that some motifs are more challenging than others to decipher. Additionally, all manner of small animal can be found peeking out amongst the leaves of the embroidery, and even some more fanciful creatures have been depicted. One can spot bees; worms/caterpillars; fish; birds; butterflies and dragonflies; small mammals and household pets; and even the occasional phoenix or tiger.
The fascination with the natural world, be it flowers, insects and all manner of mammal and bird, is prominently displayed in most of these pieces. Many of the flowers featured would have been commonly found in the Elizabethan household’s kitchen garden, and it is easy to see that inspiration for many of the floral motifs used in these embroideries could have easily been found by looking out the kitchen window; however, images would also have been widely found in modelbuchs and “herbals”, such as Thomas Trevelyon’s “Miscellany”, which offered pictures of more exotic plants and animals, both old world and new.
In general, monochromatic embroidery during the reign of Elizabeth I, and continuing under James I, can be classified into several design “families”, based on final presentation: curved vines; lozenge patterns, diapered, and bands. It is important to recognize that many of these embroiderers were working “in a vacuum” in a sense. They would see what was becoming popular and fashionable, and replicate it as best they can. It seems unlikely they would have been engaging in a systematic study of the proper execution of these items—they would have been mimicking the styles within the limitations of their own skill and knowledge. (Please note the term limitation is used only in the sense of a narrow field of focus, and not as a disparagement of skill or execution.) The artistic expression of each embroiderer must also be taken into consideration—each individual will have a skill level and preference that is unique, and this must be considered when attempting to “classify” styles of monochrome embroidery. In the absence of widespread print or digital media, each embroiderer would need to determine for herself the best way for her to communicate the style.
Curving bands are some of the common layouts, and often this vinework is done in a metal thread, which contrasts nicely with the black embroidery, but one can easily find examples of curving vinework done only in the same black thread, although often with more elaborate stitching. It is interesting to note that these appear to be worked in two ways: in some extant pieces, it is very easy to see that the motifs were drawn on first, and the vines worked around them; on others, the regularity of the vines seems to suggest they formed the outline of the embroidery, and motifs added later. These curving designs usually terminate in a single flower or group of flowers; animal motifs are interspersed among the curves, and designs are often supplemented with little curlicues coming off of the main vine.
Lozenge designs are also quite common. This is when the embroidery is broken into a grid. As with the curving vines, this grid may be worked with either metal or silk threads. The motifs are then worked into the voids in the grid. This grid may leave rhombus and diamond shaped voids; hexagonal voids are seen in at least one example (Nightcap 198-1900 at the Victoria and Albert Museum); and some are simply constructed on a squared grid. The void in the grid is filled with one image large image, often a flower, but occasionally a bird or mammal.
Diapered items also appear quite regularly, with the term “diapered” referring to the pattern consisting of repeats of small, identical figures. These repeats can be of one single design repeating, or a pattern of designs repeating. For instance, Coif and Forehead cloth 2003.63/2 at Platt Hall shows a simple flower and leaf design that is executed precisely throughout both pieces. In contrast, Coif and Forehead cloth 2003.64/2, also at Platt Hall, feature a more elaborate repeat—a three-armed strawberry bush with gold metal thread cinquefoils is alternated with small bees, also enhanced with metal thread. The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust has an even more fanciful coif that features stylized fish interspersed with crescent moons. Several of the embroidered jackets we have are done in this diapered style, although at least one, at the Bath Fashion Museum, could be argued to have a lozenge design (1.03.137).
Bands are stripes of design that run at least the half-width of the garment. Many of the extant smocks and shirts we have of English (and even Italian) design use bands in lieu of “broader” embellishment. These bands may incorporate curving vinework within the confines of the band, or use a geometric pattern within the confines of the band. This does not seem to be a common design aesthetic for headgear (although there is at least one example), and this may be due to the three dimensional nature of the pieces altering the layout of the of the design.
There are other consistencies throughout the fashions of monochromatic pieces during this time. One of the most unusual for the modern eye to grasp is the sheer density of the designs. While a modern eye may see white space as a necessity to “set off” the image, the Elizabethan eye seemed to see white space as a blank to be filled. The design even travels off of the edge of the piece, being worked right up to the margins. This is done both with embroidery and with metal accents. Spangles, or “oes”, small disks of metal, are frequently applied to the garments worn on the head and jackets; metal bobbin lace was often applied as well, even after an item has been elaborately worked.
Fills stitches can also be considered as closing up the white spaces; geometric patterns can be used for effect to create a variety of densities; stitches like detached buttonhole and trellis may fill in a shape completely, and seed and speckling stitches give a variety of shading to a piece, which may mimic the woodcut template from a Miscellany. Once again, it is important to remember that stitches may vary within a given household, or “shop”. The difference between a seed and a speckle may be merely in the hands of the embroiderer carrying out the work.
Many stitches can be used to execute monochromatic embroidery. We frequently see stem stitches being used in outlines, but one can also find buttonhole and blanket stitch; ceylon stitch can be used for vinework; back stitch and/or double running appear both as outline stitches and fills. Speckle and seed stitches are just two of the many ways of filling a figure. As previously mentioned, even denser stitches like trellis and buttonhole variants are seen.
A note on “Spanish work”: John L. Nevinson points out that Spanish work and black embroidery are distinctly identified on the registry of New Years Gifts. Two items from 1577 show the difference:
“By Fowlke Grevell, a smocke of camerick wrought abowte the coller and the sleves of Spanysshe worke of roses and tres, and a night coyf with a forehed clothe of the same worke.”
“By Julio, a cushyn cloth and a pillowbere of cameryk wrought with black worke of silke.”
Whatever “Spanish work” is, it seems distinct enough in the minds of the records keeper to be listed separately.
A note on double running: Many of the extant pieces that appear to be double running are in fact a back stitch, as a glimpse at the reverse shows. (Coif 2003.63/2, Platt Hall). While double running pieces do exist, they are by no means in the majority of extant pieces, and it is interesting to consider how this stitch came to be so closely associated with “blackwork”. Joan Edwards points out that prior to the 1950s, double running was not considered a “blackwork” stitch. Mrs. Archibald Christie counts it among canvas work stitches; Louisa Pesel includes it in “Far Eastern” stitches; and Mary Thomas associates it with Assisi and Romanian work. Jane Zimmerman points out that double running only became known as the “Holbein Stitch” in the 1800s, and the term was popularized by the Royal School of Needlework only in the 20th century. It seems likely that the 20th century association of double running and blackwork, due in part to its revival in the 1960s and 1970s, is responsible for this.
It is possible that artists each put their own “spin” on monochrome embroidery. Hans Holbein, Hans Eworth, George Gower, Lucas Horenbout, Master John, and Cornelis Ketel, all represent monochrome embroidery differently from each other in paintings. Now, it is possible that since, for example, Holbein painted the wealthy elite, that all of their clothing may have been embroidered by the same group of embroiderers who did the same thing. The artist may be accurately reflecting the work as done in an individual household or shop. However, different artists seems to interpret monochrome embroidery different across their paintings. The works of Hans Eworth show a blackwork which matches the rest of his paintings, and yet, is different than that of George Gower, and different again from Hans Holbein.
Linen (processed from the flax plant Linum usitatissimum )is the primary ground for this embroidery, and the thread itself is mostly silk (from the silkmoth Bombyx mori) . There are some examples of monochrome jackets worked in wool, and this may be due to several factors: wool is less expensive, and a jacket would require many more yards than a coif; perhaps wool is thought to be more durable; and it is possible that, due to Elizabeth I’s emphasis on the English wool market, that it was a matter of patriotism and access. The silk thread used appears to be both flat silk (unreeled), and spun silk. It is unknown if the appearance of flat or spun may be artifacts of the stitches and the embroidering—some of the stitches could put a twist in the thread during their execution; likewise, some stitching may untwist or give the spun silk a flattened appearance. It is probably likely that both were used, depending on access and the needs of the embroiderer at the time. Once again, there was no “how-to” manual, and individual households made decisions that met their needs.
While there certainly were professional embroiderers in late 16th century England, George Wingfield Digby points out that coifs and nightcaps are most likely the work of private hands, as these items were “intimate”, being mostly worn at home and in the presence of family members (although not slept in, since that would destroy the fine embroidery). The line between professional and “amateur” is a blurry one; Digby chooses to use the term “domestic”, rather than amateur, because the skill level between the paid embroiderer and the private lady can be so hard to distinguish. Elizabeth I’s ladies-in-waiting were known for their skills in needlework and embroidery, and Elizabeth herself often embroidered gifts as a young woman.
A note on cultural significance: As we have discussed earlier, the Reformation in England directs energies away from ecclesiastical decoration, and concentrates more of self-decoration. Attempts to flout sumptuary laws and “rise into place” were often accentuated by elaborate embroidered items, showcasing the flamboyant in an attempt to gain Royal favour. Items embroidered with black silk appear in the New Year’s Gifts Records as early as 1561. In every year on record during her reign subsequent, there are always many embroidered items, including “black silk” and “black worke” embroidered items. Lisa M. Klein points out that the value of these embroidered pieces may not be based solely on their intrinsic and monetary value. She argues that gifts of needlework are often a part of a complex social exchange, in which exceptional embroidered items (either done by or paid for by the giver) are given with the hope of a return favor from the Queen. The giving of these high-end luxury items may place an obligation upon the Queen that she would feel compelled to repay, although this was not always the case. Klein observes that this “shows women as active participants in cultural exchange, using their material objects to forge alliances…subjects as well as the queen were able to manipulate the occasions of gift-giving to promote self-interested social relations” (Klein, 1997). Elizabeth I herself is known to have embroidered gifts of book covers for her father Henry VIII and his wife, Queen Catherine Parr, and it is therefore likely that Elizabeth would have understood the subtle messages involved in exchanging embroidered gifts.
Seemingly simple, the art of monochromatic embroidery as expressed by the English embroiderers during the reign of Elizabeth was surprisingly diverse and complex. From it’s humble geometric origins in the Islamic empire, “blackwork” crossed a continent and found a new home on the plain shores of small island. Under a Virgin Queen, it grew into a magnificent form of art, worn by the top tiers of society, showcasing a new “purely English” identity. It would be outshone in the coming centuries by polychromatic masterpieces, but for a brief time, monochrome embroidery took center stage as the pinnacle of a craftsperson’s skill.
At the Clothworkers’ Centre of the Victoria and Albert Museum:
At Platt Hall, Manchester City Galleries (the Gallery of Costume collection is not currently available online:
Arnold, J. (1988). Queen Elizabeth’s wardrobe unlock’d . Leeds: W. S. Maney and Son, Ltd.
Arnold, J. (2008). Patterns of Fashion 4: The cut and construction of linen shirts, smocks, neckwear, headwear, and accessories for men and women c. 1540-1660. London: MacMillan.
Beck, T. (1974). Gardens in Elizabethan embroidery. Garden History, 3 (1), 44-56.
Brooks, M. M. (2004). English embroideries of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries in the collection of the Ashmolean Museum. London: Jonathan Horne Publications.
Carey, J. (2012). Elizabethan stitches: A guide to historic English needlework . Devon: Carey Company.
Digby, G. W. (1963). Elizabethan embroidery. London: Farber and Farber.
Edwards, J. (1980). The second of Joan Edwards’ small books on the history of embroidery: Blackwork. Surrey: Bayford Books.
Hentschell, R. (2008). The culture of cloth in Early Modern England: Textual constructions of a national identity. Hampshire: Ashgate Publishing Limited.
Jaster, M. R. (2006). ‘Clothing themselves in acres': Apparel and impoverishment in medieval and early modern England. Medieval Clothing and Textiles, 2, 91100.
Kirtio, L. (2012). ‘The inordinate excess in apparel’: Sumptuary legislation in Tudor England. Constellations, 3 (1).
Klein, L. M. (1997). Your humble handmaiden: Elizabethan gifts of needlework. Renaissance Quarterly, 50 (2), 459493.
Morrall, A., & Watts, M. (eds). (2008). English embroidery from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1580-1700: ‘Twixt art and nature. New Haven: Yale University Press.
Nevinson, John L. (1938). Catalogue of English domestic embroidery of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. London: His Majesty’s Stationery Office.
Nevinson, J. L. (1940). English domestic embroidery patterns of the 16th and 17th centuries. The Twenty-eighth volume of the Walpole Society, 28 (1), 114.
Nunn-Weinberg, D. (2006). The matron goes to the masque: The dual identity of the English embroidered jacket. Medieval Clothing and Textiles, 2, 151174.
Quinton, R. (2013). Seventeenth-century costume . London: Unicorn Press Ltd.
Reynolds, A. (2013). In fine style. London: Royal Collection Trust.
Smith, G. (2009). The chemistry of historically important black inks, paints, and dyes. Chemistry Education in New Zealand, 12-15.
Victoria and Albert Museum. (1953). Elizabethan Embroidery. London: Her Majesty’s Stationery Office.
Wace, A. J. B. (1933). English embroideries belonging to Sir John Carew Pole. The Twenty-first volume of the Walpole Society, 21 (1), 4366.
Filed under: A&S Research Papers Tagged: a&s, Arts and Sciences, Embroidery
Greetings to the Families of the East Kingdom,
Due to the child protection laws going into effect in Pennsylvania on July 1st, all formal youth activities in the state of PA must cease until the SCA makes a definitive ruling on how this law effects our youth activities. Family activities with parental supervision may still occur in PA. I will make a more specific ruling about Pennsic in the coming days. Please contact me with any questions.
Baroness Leonete D’Angely
Filed under: Youth Activities
Greetings Unto the East Kingdom,
Youth Play and Combat
If the youths are old enough to be in any of the youth divisions and are conducting sword fighting at an SCA event – a cornerstone of which is sword fighting – then it needs to comply with the requirements of youth combat regardless of whether the weapons are constructed at home or commercially constructed. This includes proper armor, technique, safety and a youth marshal. The youth marshal shall then determine if the “nerf” sword complies with standards for the appropriate division before any contact between youths.
Yours in Service,
Filed under: Youth Activities
Greetings Unto the East Kingdom,
Pennsylvania Child Protective Act
In the event that legal guidance is not provided that indicates what, if any, provisions of SCA and East Kingdom laws needs to be changed to bring us in full compliance with Pennsylvania law is not given before July 1, 2015, I am left with no alternative but to suspend all activities under the office of the Earl Marshal of the East Kingdom that allows participation by anyone under the age of 18 in the state of Pennsylvania and to bar any East Kingdom marshal from participating, as a marshal, in the state of Pennsylvania where anyone under the age of 18 is allowed to participate in any marshal activities.
The sanctions faced for failure to comply with Pennsylvania law include civil and criminal prosecution. Anyone who supervises or comes into regular contact with persons under the age of 18 are subject to these sanctions. This affects all marshals as well as all chivalry. It is imperative that this issue be resolved immediately, considering that provisions of the law are already in effect.
Yours in Service,
Filed under: Pennsic, Youth Activities
The first King and Queen of the new Kingdom of Avacal were crowned on Saturday, June 27th, A.S. L, in the Shire of Bitter End (located in central Alberta, Canada).
The SCA’s newest Kingdom is comprised of the Canadian provinces of Saskatchewan, Alberta, Northwest Territories, Yukon Territory, and the eastern portion of British Columbia.
This video of the crowning of King Albrecht and Queen Nasheeta was posted to YouTube by Ryan Schriml.
And this photo of a good omen was provided by a friend of today’s East Kingdom Gazette Editor:
Filed under: Tidings Tagged: Avacal
This is a recurring series by Mistress Alys Mackyntoich on whether certain names currently can be documented to period based on existing evidence. There are a lot of names that people think are medieval, but actually aren’t, and others which people think are modern, but in fact are found in the SCA’s period. If you would like to suggest a name, send an email to the Gazette.
Period or not… Gemstone Names
I was asked by an East Kingdom Gazette reader whether “gemstone” names were used in period. Broad questions like this are always somewhat hard to answer, because different cultures adopted different naming styles at different time period. What I can say is that, in some times and places, parents named their children after gemstones.
Some examples of gemstone names are below. Note that these are only examples. Not finding a particular time period or culture among these examples does not mean that additional research by a specialist in that language will not turn up evidence of a particular gemstone name.
The names Ruby and Sapphire are found as female names in late period England. Pearle appears in late-period England as a male name.
The Italian word for “emerald” is found in records as a male name, Smeraldo, and as a female name, Smeralda.
Interestingly, “diamond” seems to be the most popular gemstone for period names. There are 13th and 14th century English examples of Diamanda as a female given name. Diamond appears as a male given name in 16th century England. Diamante is found as a female given name in 16th century Germany and 13th century Italy.
 Ruby [no surname]; Female; Marriage; 16 May 1581; Saint Andrew, Plymouth, Devon, England; Batch: M00183-1 (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:N2ST-Y8J).
 Sapphire Hill; Female; Marriage; 26 Jun 1638; Morval, Cornwall, England; Batch: M05293-1 (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:N2LL-XXY); Sapphira Norkin; Female; Burial; 12 Oct 1635; St. Dunstan, Stepney, Middlesex, England; Batch: B02857-4 (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:JCV2-13P).
 Pearle Neale; Male; Marriage; 25 Jul 1621; Saint Andrew By The Wardrobe, London, London, England; Batch: M02232-1 (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:NK7B-JZB).
 Names in 15th Century Florence and her Dominions: the Condado by Julia Smith (SCA: Juliana de Luna) (http://www.s-gabriel.org/names/juliana/condado/mensalpha.html).
 Late Period Italian Women’s Names: Florence by Julia smith (SCA: Juliana de Luna) (http://medievalscotland.org/jes/Nuns/Florence.shtml).
 Diamanda is found in Feminine Given Names in A Dictionary of English Surnames by Brian Scott (SCA: Talan Gwynek) (http://heraldry.sca.org/names/reaneyAG.html) dated to 1221 and 1349.
 Diamond Diamonde; Male; Christening; 08 Aug 1563; Stoke by Nayland, Suffolk, England; Batch: C06314-2 (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:NB4D-QR6).
 Diamante Garniche; Female; Christening; 05 Apr 1573; Evangelisch, Frankenthal, Pfalz, Bavaria; Batch: K98429-2 (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:NK7M-1P2).
 Feminine Given Names from Thirteenth Century Perugia by Josh Mittleman (Arval Benicoeur) (http://www.s-gabriel.org/names/arval/perugia/perugiaFemAlpha.html).
Filed under: Heraldry Tagged: names
As our attention is drawn away on land with the Great Northeastern War, Pirates will be using this time to strike at us from the seas! Who will save us in this time of need? Who can we call upon to watch our backs? Well have no fear,…..
“Under 5’s” to the Rescue!!!!
Come one, Come all, Join us at the Thrown Weapons Field (Barn if raining) as we cheer on the next generation of Scadian heroes! Watch as they defend our shores during the Great Northeastern War from invading hordes! Armed with nothing more than 3 foam Thor hammers, watch as they send the enemy packing.
At this coming Great Northeastern War, The Youth will set us free!!!!
Requirements: Must be under 5 years old. *small 5’s will be allowed if they understand that they will only be able to participate in one tourney (under 5 or youth)*
Location:Thrown Weapons Field (rest of range will be closed during tourney) Barn if Raining Time: 3:00pm on Saturday July 11th. For more information please contact BodenHedebry@gmail.com.
Filed under: Events, Youth Activities Tagged: events, Youth
I am pleased to announce that the following individuals will be doing me the honor of serving on my command staff for the upcoming Pennsic War:
East Kingdom XO: Don Borujin Acilaldai, “Don Jin,” Tir Mara Western Regional Rapier Deputy
Additionally, Lord Remy will also be overseeing the Melee Champions team, in addition to his responsibilities as an army XO.
I am looking forward to serving alongside these stalwart men and women in the coming weeks as the East Kingdom prepares for this most glorious War that awaits us.
Yours In Service,
Filed under: Fencing, Pennsic
Originally posted by the Ealdormere Gazette.
On Sunday, August 2, from 2 – 4 pm, in AS15, the Chatelaines of AEthelmearc are once again hosting a Newcomers Social. All newcomers to Pennsic (or to the SCA in general) are invited to attend. The organizers are hopeful that several kingdom Chatelaines and members of the royalty will be in attendance. This will be a casual affair, and an opportunity for newcomers to ask questions and get to know people from around the Known World. Light refreshments will be served.
AS15 is one of the Pennsic University tents, and is located between the Lost & Found and the Dance Tents.
Filed under: Announcements, Pennsic
Not a combatant, but looking for a way to help out around the battlefield at Pennsic this year?
Baron Nicholas of Windreach, also known as “Signal 1″ or the guy in the castle tower with the flags and the official battle time, is looking for recruits to learn his position.
If you are interested in this challenging and important position at Pennsic, please feel free to contact Nicholas directly at PSCsignal1@gmail.com
Filed under: Uncategorized
Paladin’s Pantry as reprinted from the Æthelmearc Gazette
An interview with Morien MacBain, the founder of Paladin’s Pantry. The Pantry is a charity rapidly having an effect across the Known World, providing donations for food banks at the ends of larger (and now smaller) SCA events.
Wow, tough one—right for the existential throat! I’m Morien MacBain, and like many Scadians, I tend to define myself through my associations and my activities. I have the honor to serve some very worthy gentles; I am squire to Count Sir Jehan de La Marche, now fostered to Baron Sir Graedwynn mab Teyrnon, I’m also protege to Her Grace Mistress Tessa the Huntress, and Equerry to Mistress Shishido Tora Gozen (that’s like a squire, but for mounted combat). I also have the honor to be the captain of the White Company, and the founder of Paladin’s Pantry. I am also a man richly blest with the women in his life.
What is Paladin’s Pantry?
When/How did it get started?
How does it work?
What’s the deal for Pennsic this year?
What have some of the results been in the past?
Master Brandubh O Donnghaile ran the drive at Gulf Wars this year. He reported “This year was the first time that Palladin’s Pantry was active at Gulf Wars; though Morien couldn’t attend he made contact with the autocrats, publication staff and local food pantry for the food drive. The week started slow with a few bumps, but once camps started to tear down, donations poured in. The local food pantry filled up their pickup truck twice with all the donations, and were very pleased with the donations not just of food items, but also of camping gear.”
We’ve gotten some odd donations (macrame lemons spring to mind–no idea what those were in aid of), and some astonishing feats of generosity as well. I remember a 22-lb Virginia ham; I wonder who went home from the food bank with that monster? Overall, I’m always sure it’s going to be a disaster, and then the gentles of the SCA just rain down largesse, and we end up with mountains of charity. It’s quite a moving and hopeful sign, and never ceases to astonish.
Do you need volunteer help? How should people contact you?
Do you have a favorite story about the Pantry?
Anything else you can think of?
I also want to add a sincere vote of thanks to the most noble populace of the Barony-Marche of the Debatable Lands, especially their illustrious Excellencies Constance and Liam, who have been the cornerstone of the drive since its inception. Vivat!
Baroness Constance Glyn Dwr has enjoyed working with the Pantry. “The first year Morien told me what he was doing, I was all in from that moment on.” she says. “I knew how busy everyone is during pack up at Pennsic and figured people couldn’t spare the time to drag their extras to a location point that might be far from them. So I grabbed our armor wagon and just started walking around calling out for donations. I don’t know how many trips I made that first year but I we were overwhelmed with people’s generosity. A lot of people hadn’t heard what we were doing until I went by calling it out, so it helped get the word out for the next year. The second year we did it, which was lastlast year, several members of our camp helped out with the wagon collections, people were so excited to get to help it was really awesome to see.
“This year it was my husband’s Baron Liam’s idea to take it to Blackstone Raids, where we also had a wonderful turn out.
“It’s so very heartwarming, to see some SCAdians who themselves don’t have a lot sometimes, chasing me down to give me items for the pantry. I have heard so many times ‘I’ve been there, and want to give back.’ It’s things like that, that keep me going, pulling that wagon around.
“We’ll be collecting at the BMDL camp again this year, so look for our device which is a green field with two white crossed swords with an apple chief.”
Paladin’s Pantry is the embodiment of what we are as SCAdians! Plan to help us – and others – at Pennsic this year.
Filed under: Pennsic, Tidings
Paid pre-registration for Pennsic 44 will REMAIN OPEN until 11:59pm on Saturday, June 20th!
Pré-inscriptions payées pour Pennsic 44 va rester ouvert jusqu’à 23:59 le samedi 20 juin !
Filed under: En français, Pennsic, Tidings
Baroness Ygraine of Kellswood, East Kingdom Archery Scorekeeper, reported the following to the Gazette.
I am delighted to report that Master Rupert the Unbalanced has this day
Shooting a recurve handbow, his 3 qualifying Royal Round scores are: 122 on
Based on the reports of achievements that have reached me (there may be
Filed under: Archery
Greetings to the Kingdom of the East from Queen Etheldreda and King Omega!
The generosity of the East Kingdom is without renown. We ask for a bit of that generosity now so we may continue to give small tokens in court to newcomers to our society. This is an important tradition in which newcomers are called into court and given a small token to thank them for their attendance and give them something to remember the event. We have been blessed with many new faces this reign, with each event having no less than 6 new people at Our Courts! This means that our supply of newcomer tokens is running low.
The tokens range from veil pins to small boxes. They are simply meant to say ‘Welcome’ and should not be large, expensive gifts, but rather small mementos of things useful to a new SCAdian.
We also have a lack of Burdened Tyger medallions and Tyger’s Cub medallions. We have a plethora of all other medallions but could use both of these types of medallions. The medallions can be painted, embroidered, carved from leather, or made of metal.
Finally, our toy chest coordinator has already placed a call out for more toys so we can continue to bring joy in court to the smallest members of our populace.
Thank you so much for your generosity! We truly appreciate those who donate time, skills and materials so worthy gentles can continue to be recognized!
In Service to the East,
King Omega and Queen Etheldreda
Filed under: Announcements