AEthelmearc Gazette

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Bardic Profile: Morien MacBain

Sun, 2015-05-24 12:42

Hello again and welcome back to my series of profiles of our talented bards. Last time Alianora Bronhulle took the stage. This time, I’m sharing the words and thoughts of THL Morien MacBain, fighter, poet, and SCAdian par excellence. Morien received a well-deserved Sycamore at War Practice, so what better time to highlight his work? Congratulations to His Lordship! – Gwen

What’s your full SCA name (and anything else you typically use to introduce yourself)?
Hello, I’m Morien MacBain.

What attracted you to the bardic arts?
I remember all the wonderful bardic circles we had at every event back in the 80’s when I started. It was mostly SF con-suite filk (Star Wars/Star Trek/ Darkover/Dorsai/etc.) and the SCA originals (Catalan Vengeance, Song of the Shield Wall) and Rudyard Kipling by way of Leslie Fish (Cold Iron, and so on), and tall tales about drinking, woods battles, and drunken woods battles. Boy, those were great nights around the fire! Plus, I was an English major and later an English/History grad student, so I was swimming in poetry all the time, so when I started producing my own poetry, I had a good working knowledge of lots of period forms and examples to draw on.

How long have you considered yourself a bard / scop / scyld / minstrel / term-of-choice?
I’m not sure any of the really cool labels really fit me. I’m a poet and storyteller, I suppose. I don’t recite epics from memory, or play an instrument, and I’d say my singing voice is a decent baritone, but nothing to get worked up about. I suppose I started singing fairly early on my Scadian career, probably around ’88. I started writing poetry in a period vein around ’95, and most of the stories, songs, and poems I’m really proud of I wrote between ’98 and 2002, which is a bit sad, now that I think about it. That being said, my production has really picked up lately after that long dry spell, and  I wrote my first decent sestinas just a year or so ago, so I’m happy about that.

What’s your primary form (singer, storyteller, poet, etc.)? Do you play any instruments, and if so, which?
I used to play piano, keyboard bass, saxophone, lap dulcimer, and I made a stab at learning to play the Celtic harp, but I was mediocre or worse with all of them.  I can usually trust my voice, so I stick to that. I’d say most of my work these days is as a poet, but I usually perform as a singer/storyteller. I don’t like bardic contests, though, and tend to avoid them. I like to complete, but I like to do it with weapons. I don’t like competing against someone else’s art.

Where can we find your work?
I tend to post my poetry on Facebook. I suppose I really should start a blog and post it there, so it will all be in one place. I was very pleased a couple years ago to hear one of my stories being told around the campfire at Pennsic (in first person, as though the events had happened to the teller and not to me), and later one of my songs. I’ve entered the folk tradition! I just stood there in the road outside the circle of the fire, and felt kind of immortal, and part of Pennsic on a new level.

What sorts of pieces do you enjoy producing? What attracts you to that style?
I enjoy writing marching songs. Even when I set out to write or re-write a ballad, it tends to get those boots in there. There was a lot I didn’t enjoy about army basic training, but singing on the move every day was great, and I suppose that stayed with me. As far as poetry,  I mostly work in English sonnets, ottava rima, rhyme royal, Chaucerian couplets, and ballads (so mostly English language forms from the 14th to 16th Centuries), with occasional forays into ghazals, troubadour poetry, acrostics, alliterative verse, shaped verse, and novelties. I tend to stick to forms that are tightly structured, although I intend to write a play in blank verse at some point, just to see how it feels.

Describe a favorite performance of your own in the SCA. What makes it a highlight for you?
I really love singing “The Green Fields of Pennsic”, especially around the fire somewhere, usually after a couple beers, and people get their feet stomping, and their faces are glowing in the orange light. I wrote it many years ago, and it still seems fresh to me. It’s right in the center of my vocal range, naturally, as wrote it to sing myself.

Describe a performance by someone else that inspired you in the bardic arts. How did that performance guide you to improve your own art? What did it prompt you to do?
The late Lord Morgan Caer Graeme was a huge influence on me. He was at the first day event I ever went to, and he played his guitar and sang there after the fighting was over, so he was the very first Scadian bard I heard. Eventually, I joined in and sang too, taking my turn. Over the years, I learned a lot about confidence, breath control, song selection, projecting your persona, and the joy of the thing from watching him. It saddens me to think I’ll never hear him again.

What projects are you working on now?
I’m getting very interested in Spanish verse forms lately. I did a bicycling pilgrimage across Spain in 2011, and that sort of sparked it. We visited the site of a famous chivalric deed of arms in Ospital de Orbigo (on the Camino de Santiago, near Leon).  There’s a period account of it entitled El Libro del Passo Honoso por Suero de Quinones. As far as I can tell, there’s never been a published translation of the book into English, so I’m going to try that. Once it’s done, I’ll get people with actual Spanish skills to authenticate what I’ve done, and then I plan to try to write a version in verse (in English, but using period Spanish poetic forms). I’m also looking at doing work in an ancient Arabic form called the Ghazal. It’s all about longing, distance, the ways in which physical love and spiritual love get tangled together, and an elusive beloved who might be a beautiful woman, or God, or in some way both at once. I’ve tried it in the “freer” modern form, but I have high hopes for doing something worthwhile in a more strict period version.

Who are some of your favorite influences, either for your own research and composition, or for performing within the SCA?
I find the following works to be immensely useful in my work:  The Compleat Anachronist #44, The Troubadours, by Sylvan Glen’s own Mistress Lia, and #67 Ars Poetica Societatis, edited by Elizabeth Morris and Terry Sheehan. I suggest picking up the cheap Dover editions of The Cavalier Poets, Haiku, Selected Poems of Rumi, The Garden of Heaven: Poems of Hafiz, and all their one-dollar specials Dover does of Kipling and Yeats. Find a recording of Leslie Fish’s Cold Iron album if you possibly can. Also, go on Amazon and score copies of Through the Glass Window Shines the Sun: An Anthology of Medieval Poetry and Prose and Come Live With Me and Be My Love: A Pageant of Renaissance Poetry and Painting, both edited by Pamela Norris.  While you’re on there, bag a used CD of Sting’s Songs from the Labyrinth (not David Bowie’s songs from Labyrinth, which are totally cool, but not the same). If you’d like something with a little more academic heft, try English Lyrics Before 1500, edited by Theodore Silverstein. For extra credit, grab The Service of Ladies by Ulrich Von Liechtenstein (Yes, the guy in the movie, but not really.), edited by Kelly DeVries, and the Penguin Classics version of Li Po and Tu Fu. Amazing stuff!

What other types of performance do you particularly love to see / hear?
I love campfire bardics, Middle Eastern dance, Spanish guitar, and flamenco.  I also camp near the Chalk Man pub, so several nights each war I get to hear their house band (which keeps changing its name, but will always be Revelwood to me).  It’s glorious stuff!

What advice do you have for someone who wants to be a bard? 
Read a great deal, and listen to great poetry read aloud, both in its original language and in translation. Give yourself permission to write garbage. Caffeine for composition, preferably late at night. Sing along with the radio in your car, and be honest about what you can sing, and what you can’t. Don’t make yourself crazy when it comes to alternating stressed an unstressed syllables in iambic verse. Get the syllable count within one of your target (one syllable the more or one the less), speak it with confidence, and let in the innate iambic bounce of English to carry you through! It worked for Shakespeare. Also, fake being more drunk than you are; it helps.

Is there anything you want to add?
Yep.  In my opinion, a good SCA song is like a good punk song. Four verses, two minutes, two and a half tops. If people like it, you can do another one. If they don’t like it, they only have to tough it out for four verses!

Also, don’t be offended if everyone doesn’t immediately hush for your performance.  Sometimes they will, but not always. The Mandarin word for this background interaction that frames your performance is renao. Don’t get worked up over it.

A sample of Morien’s poetry:

The Silver Stag
(heroic couplets in the manner of Chaucer’s Prologue to the Canterbury Tales, written for the Siege of Glengary)

Æthelmearc’s colours blaze from ev’ry hill,
But still her children travel with a will,
To seek a beast of glory and of grace;
No noble heart can curb from such a chase,
But warlike hunters range for worthy prey,
That never blade nor bow can hope to slay,
But thrives amidst the fury of the lists,
And renders flanks as white as any mists
That deeds of merit may thereon by writ,
And feeds alone all those who seek for it
With courtesie, prowess, and fortitude.
In fatal field must man seek honor’s food;
No fox, no fowl, nor any course leman
Yields up such meat to feast the soul upon.
This creature does the soldier sore entice,
And make of Æthelmearc a Paradise.
One realm alone can such a glory own,
It’s Sylvan Glen our Silver Stag calls home.


Categories: SCA news sites

On Target: Making Cheap Archery Butts

Sat, 2015-05-23 19:14

THL Deryk Archer. Photo by Lady Katherine Tantzel.

Welcome to the second installment of THLord Deryk Archer’s column on making archery targets.

One of the issues beginning archers face is acquiring appropriate butts, which are the backing behind most targets. A professional-style Saunders mat can cost over $100 dollars, and may not be easily available lately as the factory has stopped making them. But there are less expensive alternatives!

This time I want to show you how to make a cheap archery butt. You will need:

  • 2 large cardboard boxes
  • 2 smaller cardboard boxes
    • Flat-screen TV boxes are ideal. You can get one “dumpster diving” at stores like WalMart or Taget; often they are happy to let you take their cardboard since it’s less trash for them. Look for ones that have hard Styrofoam inside, as that will help fill the target with additional padding.
  • A plastic political sign leftover after election day, or additional cardboard
  • Packing tape or duct tape

Open one of the large boxes, then cut the second large box into panels sized to fit inside the first large box and slide them inside the first box.


You can clean up your streets by gathering plastic “Vote for Tom” signs left over after election day. Cut the sign to size and slide it inside the first box alongside the sheet cut from the second box.

Next, cut the other small box in half and put the two pieces in sideways, making a “T” matrix or lattice. This will brace the sheets of cardboard and plastic you put in front of them.

Break up the foam from the TV boxes and use it as filler in the cavities formed by the small TV box.

Tape the box closed, add a target face, and you’re ready to go.

This makes a cheap archery butt for the beginner who doesn’t have a lot of cash. In addition, if you are doing a walking range, the box is light-weight and easy to carry compared to a traditional straw mat.

You can tie your butt to the ground or hang it from a tree.

After this butt is shredded by arrows, you can reuse its cardboard and styrofoam as filler for your next target.

I would love to hear from other archers, so please feel free to contact me on Facebook at Til next time, shoot safe, shoot often.


All photos not otherwise marked are by THL Deryk.

Categories: SCA news sites

Event Report: Æthelmearc War Practice XXVI, Canton of Steltonwald, May 14-17, A.S. 50

Fri, 2015-05-22 08:21

Mistress Arianna of Wynthrope reports on the multitude of goings-on that took place at Æthelmearc War Practice.

This year’s Æthelmearc War Practice, hosted by the Canton of Steltonwald on May 14 – 17, was slightly dryer and much warmer than last year, leading to good fighting and fun. As always, the event was packed with both martial and peaceful activities.

Heavy Fighting

Lord Christian Goldenlok vs. Sir Óláfr Þorvarðarson. Photo by Lady Àine ny Allane.

Heavy combat kicked off Friday with the Gage Meet ‘n’ Beat, which saw participants testing their mettle against the members of the Kingdom’s Grant level award for fighting. The weather was warm but pleasant and fighters enjoyed the opportunity to learn from some of the best unbelted fighters in the Kingdom.

On Saturday morning, the 10-man unbelted melee tournament had six teams fight a round-robin competition that was won by members of the household of Woodland Watch, who were undefeated. Afterward, Woodland Watch’s 10-man team fought a melee against the Chivalry.

Video courtesy of Baron Richard Larmer 

Later there were bridge battles and open field battles with the Kingdom Warlord, Sir Steffan Ulfkellson, devising training scenarios for the fighters. About 150-175 fighters participated in the day’s combat, which ended with pickup fights just before the afternoon rainstorm hit.

Photo by Lady Àine.

On Sunday morning a group of about 20 fighters braved the rain to compete in the Kingdom Rattan Champion’s Tourney. Once two simultaneous round robin tournaments were done, there were two semi-finalists from each list: Sir Thomas Byron of Haverford, Baron Vladisla Nikulich, THLord Tegrinus de Rhina, and Sir Ariella of Thornbury. After defeating Baron Vlad, Sir Byron ended up facing his wife, Sir Ariella, in the finals, since she had bested Lord Tegrinus. This led to much amusement by the populace, including a few slightly ribald jokes, but the finals were fiercely fought.

Video by Mistress Arianna of Wynthrope 

Sir Byron ended up the winner and was proclaimed Kingdom Champion, accepting the regalia from the outgoing Champion, Sir Arnthor, who had been knighted the previous morning.


Friday night offered a rapier tournament called “There Can Be Only One.” This Highlander-themed tournament debuted at Ian’s Inn in the Shire of Ballachlagan two years ago. At War Practice, six teams of two fought a round-robin style tournament. As the sun faded over the hills, one team remained undefeated: Master Lodovick of Grays Inn and his cadet, Lord Jacob of Dunmore – but there could be only one! These two then had to fight each other in two out of three passes with the only killing blow being a cut to the neck. Master Lodovick won the tournament.

Saturday had roughly 40 fencers from four different kingdoms participate in various melee scenarios that were loosely based upon battles and skirmishes of the Great Pilgrimage, later to be known as the First Crusade. The warm up scenarios consisted of last man standing open field battles which represented the advancement to Constantinople and Emperor Alexius’ forces attempting to slow them down. This was then followed by a regicide battle where opposing forces had unlimited resurrections to attack and defend the unarmed “kings.” Later the Siege of Nicea, a dispute over the Orontes River, made for an interesting tower and bridge battle where the fencers attacked and defended bridges full of choke points and kill pockets.

Photo by Zyla of Sebastion’s Place.

After lunch, the fencers reconvened with some capture the flag scenarios. After six hours of rapier battles the fencers dropped with smiles on their faces. The marshal in charge, THLord AElric Ravenshaw, reports, “There were no major issues in calibration and all kingdoms involved celebrated with great camaraderie.”

Many fencers also attended the vigil for Don Orlando di Bene del Vinta, where he “Played the Prize” for his Master of Defense.

Another item of note on the rapier field: Lord Durante de Caravaggio challenged Don Mark le Gabler for the Sylvan Iron Ring and won the fight along with possession of the ring. The Iron Ring passes from fencer to fencer; the current holder may be challenged by another fencer at any time, and if he or she loses, the ring passes to the winner. Don Mark held the ring from July of A.S. 49 until Lord Durante won it from him this past weekend. The Iron Ring Challenge was created in 2006; you can see a list of the holders here.

Youth Fighting

The Kingdom Youth Champion’s tournament drew a dozen enthusiastic and energetic fighters ranging in age from 6 to 14. Thanks to King Timothy, the youth fighters had the honor of fighting within the same list barriers as had been used at Crown Tournament two weeks earlier. The youth fighters were the second group to ever use these new list railings and flags, which were made by members of the Shire of Hartstone as a gift to the Kingdom.

His Majesty addresses the youth fighters before the tourney. Photo by Mistress Arianna.

After round robin tournaments for division 1 and divisions 2 and 3 combined were completed, the finalists were Ian and Henry in the division 1 list and El Tigre and Ulf in the division 2/3 list. The finals were fought best two of three, with Henry and Ulf proving victorious.

Ian vs. Henry in the Division 1 Finals, which were won by Henry. Photo by Arianna.

El Tigre fighting Ulf in the Division 2/3 finals, which were won by Ulf. Photo by Arianna.

After the tournament, Her Majesty Queen Gabrielle gave each fighter a token, and recognized El Tigre for his chivalry with a ring from her finger, while the marshal in charge, Mistress Arianna of Wynthrope, bestowed her token for chivalry on Aodhan. All of the populace observing the tournament marveled at the courtesy and camaraderie of the youth list. Youth fighting was capped with melees that included throwing axes and javelins.

Mistress Arianna wishes to thank all of the marshals and MoLs who assisted with the youth tournament: Sir Thorgrim, Lord Peregrine, Lady Ceindrech, Lord Aodhan, Lord Weasel, Lord Brillo, THLady Zoe, Baroness Elizabeth, and Baron Rodrigo, as well as the list runners, Lady Ida and the young girl whose name was, alas, not recorded.

Thrown Weapons

Photo by Lady Valentina.

Thrown weapons marshal Lord Aidan Gunn reports that the thrown weapons range was pretty laid back this year, with about 20 to 25 throwers over the course of the event, of which 8 were new people who came to the range for the first time. There were 2 spear targets and 7 wood butts available for throwers. One of the wood targets met its demise at the edge of a heavy axe, cracking down the middle with the first throw and finally splitting in half.

Lord Aidan wishes to thank Lord Haldor Bildrr, Lord Robert Bakere, Master Charles of Alden, and Leo and Collin from the East Kingdom for their help on the range.


The Archery range, run by Maistir Brandubh O Donghaile, offered several challenges at which the winners got their choice from the cooler of delicious things. The range was open Thursday afternoon and all day Friday and Saturday.

Photo by Master Alaxandair.

Around 80 archers participated across the weekend. The afternoon rains did scare many archers away, but youth archer Bijon of Sylvan Glen stayed through the rain to complete his challenge for the opportunity to raid the goody box.  The grass was short but still ate up arrows, so many sad archers left the range with quivers much lighter than when they arrived.

Arts & Sciences

The event also featured over 40 classes on topics as diverse as fiber arts, blacksmithing, music, illumination, costuming, and equestrian arts. Some of the more interesting class titles included “Poisons! Assassins!,” “So You Think You’re Japanese in Court,” and “20 Songs That Should Be in Your Bard Book.”

On Saturday afternoon, numerous gentles displayed their creations in the Great Hall, including the entries shown below. Those who could do so stayed to educate the populace on their arts; perhaps the most interesting was THLord Ambros Kyrielle, who taught those stopping by his display how to draw the labyrinths that he famously creates in chalk all over the pavement of Cooper’s Lake at Pennsic.

Armor by Lord Enzo de Pazzi. Photo by Master Fridrikr Tomasson av Knusslig Hamn.

Loom by Lady Alfrun ketta. Photo by Master Fridrikr.

Lady Edana the Red’s metal casting. Photo by Master Fridrikr.

County scroll for HRH Magnus Tindal by THLady Ismay Ponde. Photo by Master Fridrikr.

Embroidered slippers by Mistress Gillian Llewellyn. Photo by Master Fridrikr.

Ceramic tiles made by Lord Ian Campbell. Photo by Master Fridrikr.

Lord Otto Boese’ leatherworking. Photo by Master Fridrikr.


In a short court Friday evening, King Timothy and Queen Gabrielle sent Baron Robert of Sugargrove on vigil for the Laurel and THLord Arnthor inn Sterki on vigil for Knighthood.

Saturday began with a brief morning court where Don Orlando di Bene del Vinta was sent to “Play the Prize” for his Master of Defense, while Their Majesties bestowed Æthelmearc’s fourth Writ for the Order of Defense upon the Kingdom’s Rapier Marshal, Baron Benedict Fergus atte Mede.

As the final piece of business at morning court, THL Arnthor was knighted on the field to the acclaim of the populace.

King Timothy dubs Sir Arnthor. Photo by Lady Àine.

At Saturday evening court, Their Majesties welcomed Brennan, the newly invested Crown Prince of the East, who presented gifts to the King and Queen. Prince Brennan also warmly greeted Prince Tindal, as they had become friends during their last reigns. Their Majesties bestowed Golden Alces and Sycamores on numerous deserving gentles, and invested Their new Youth Combat Champions, Henry and Ulf, thanking Their outgoing Champions, Stephen and Otto, for their service.

Henry and Ulf are invested as Youth Champions. Photo by Master Alaxandair O’Conchobhair.

Baron Robert of Sugargrove was elevated to the Order of the Laurel for his skill in woodworking, making the Kingdom thrones, and Don Orlando di Bene del Vinta was inducted as Æthelmearc’s second member of the Order of Defense.

Baron Robert of Sugargrove is made a Laurel. Photo by Lady Valentina.

Don Orlando is made Æthelmearc’s second Master of Defense. Photo by THLady Sophie Davenport.

The surprise of the night was when Their Majesties called forward Mistress Cunen Beornhelm and presented her with a Writ of Summons to the Chivalry, which his Majesty remarked that he had wanted to do for many years. Once elevated, Mistress Cunen will become Æthelmearc’s third female knight.

Mistress Cunen Beornhelm receives a Writ for the Chivalry. Photo by Master Alaxandair.

After Kingdom Court, the Baron and Baroness of the Debatable Lands, Liam and Constance, held a brief baronial court where they inducted several deserving gentles into baronial orders, and then announced to their populace’s sadness that they will be stepping down as Baron and Baroness next winter. The baronial election process will begin with nominations in June.

Event Wrap-up

As always, Sunday featured the Pick-a-Prize Raffle run by House Tuatha Fieran with proceeds to benefit the kingdom, and breakfast was served both Saturday and Sunday mornings in the Great Hall by members of the Shire of Gryffyn’s Keep.

Sunday morning’s rain gave way to sun so event-goers were able to pack their tents in reasonable comfort, happy to have experienced a fun event courtesy of the Autocrat, Lady Cionaodh Gunn, and her enormous staff of volunteers.

This report was compiled with assistance from a great many people, including THLord AElric Ravenshaw, Maistir Brandubh O Donnghaile, Master Fridrikr av Knusslig Hamn, Lord Aidan Gunn, and all of the photographers credited above.

Categories: SCA news sites

Retainers for Their Highnesses

Thu, 2015-05-21 18:47

photo by Steffan Wolfgang von Ravensburg

Greetings Æthelmearc from Meisterin Felicity.

I am looking to create a list of people interested in retaining for Their Royal Highnesses, Tindal and Etain, over the course of their tenure. I welcome experienced retainers, as well those who would like to learn what this is all about. I am happy to train! Also, if you can’t commit to long term assistance but see that TRH are traveling to an event in your area and can help, please contact me as well.

On behalf of The Heirs to The Sylvan Throne, I thank you.

Felicity, writ in Delftwood.

Categories: SCA news sites

A Knight on Vigil

Wed, 2015-05-20 11:48

Sir Finnvarr de Taahe has published a new e-book on Amazon titled “A Knight on Vigil”.

From the Amazon blurb: “What does it mean to style oneself a knight in these modern times? Why do so many organizations bestow this warrior’s title on their best members? Why is the symbolism of knighthood so attractive? Finnvarr de Taahe, who has borne the rank of knight among medieval re-creationists for over four decades, has pondered long and hard on these questions. In this volume he offers his thoughts on why people want to be knights, on chivalry and the virtues, and on courtly love. This volume will be of interest to anyone who wishes to understand the mindset of the medieval knight and use it as a guide to excellence.”

The Gazette asked Sir Finnvarr why he wrote the book.

“At the last Pennsic war, I was standing in front of my camp talking to another Knight about the vigil that was being held elsewhere on the site. He said to me ‘it’s too bad there is no book you could give to the Knight on vigil’.

“The struck me as a very good idea. And I felt I had some qualifications to write such a book. I have been a Knight for over 40 years, and the scholar of chivalry in my academic role for about 20. (I am a Professor of medieval history.) And like most members of the SCA chivalry, I have thought long and hard about why and how I can call myself a Knight.

“One of the most interesting medieval books about chivalry is a series of questions without answers about what constitutes chivalric behavior. I took this as my inspiration. I thought that the Knight on vigil needed more than answers provided by somebody else: he or she needed some provocative questions to wrestle with before taking on his or her new role.

“I think I succeeded in asking some good questions and providing a certain amount of background on medieval chivalry to help the candidates come up with their own answers. Some of the issues I featured in the book were the different kinds of historical Knights, the relationship between prowess and courtliness, and between chivalry and love.

“This is not the first time I have written about chivalry in the SCA. Twenty years ago I wrote a book of chivalry, which I hope to reissue in the near future with a beautiful cover. Like the new book, it’s not just me talking about my ideas. The book of chivalry was the product of an online discussion on the Middle Kingdom email list of the time. I hope that some of the readers of the Knight on vigil will read the other one when it’s available, even if the recent creation of a new martial peerage means that it is now a historical document. It has the advantage of reflecting a large number of different points of view of society members at that time about chivalry and peerage at large.”

The book can be ordered here.

Categories: SCA news sites

In Search of Fall Æcademy Hosts

Tue, 2015-05-19 13:10

Greetings unto the most talented and erudite Kingdom of Æthelmearc from Mistress Alicia Langland, Chancellor of the Æcademy!

Good Gentles,

Though spring has only just arrived, it is time to start thinking ahead to the fall.

 Fall Æthelmearc Æcademy is scheduled to be held in Region 2, which includes the following groups: Barony-Marche of Debatable Lands, Gryffyns Keep, Hunter’s Home, King’s Crossing, Riversedge, Silva Vulcani, Steltonwald, Stormsport, and Sunderoak.

The preferred date is November 14, 2015. Bids are due June 1, 2015. If you reside in Region 2, I hope your group will consider submitting a bid.

Please contact me ( if you would consider submitting a bid. If you have questions or need help with putting together your bid, please let me know; I will be delighted to assist!

Yours, in Service,

Categories: SCA news sites

Something’s Brewing in the Vayle…

Mon, 2015-05-18 20:15


Oh yes indeed, something is brewing in Sterlynge Vayle, something that will prove to be an intoxicating combination of alcohol, mayhem, and edged weapons. Do not fear for anyone’s life, though. It’s just the annual event, Axes, Ales and Arrows! Plus, a bonus Sunday Regional Muster at the very same site!

Baroness Marianna Maria Pietrosanti supervises archery. Photo credit Michele Broton.

Axes, Ales, and Arrows

May 22-24, 2015

The Shire of Sterlynge Vayle has been home to many people over it’s decades of existence, and many wonderful events have been held in her borders. A Long Time Ago – or not as long as some might wish – they hosted an event called “Axes and Ales”. A member of their populace, Lady Briant Huntington, served as head organizer for this popular event, until one day, she left on a pilgrimage. Over a decade has come and gone since her departure, and the remaining members have become restless to find out what has happened to their shire-mate. A Quest has set before them and any who would dare to join them as they again hold Axes, Ales, and Arrows! (Hey, you didn’t think we were only going to have axes to protect us did you? We aren’t completely crazy!)

Who is this mysterious Nest person, and what fate has she forced upon the sweet, biddable Lady Briant?

The weekend’s tournaments in Thrown Weapons and Archery will all be on the theme with a goal of helping us find out just what happened to Lady Briant. Baroness Anastasie deLamoure will be organizing the weekends Thrown Weapons activities, and Baroness Mariana Maria Pietrosanti is planning some awesome Archery activities. There will be a brew tasting, as well as an evening Bardic circle. There are no plans for heavy or rapier activities but if marshals are available those so inclined may fight to their hearts content.

The event site is Evenmarch – 233 Doolittle Rd, Harpursville NY 13787, 4 miles north of Windsor (which is Exit 79 on NY Route 17/I-86) and 6 miles south of Harpursville (Exit 6 on I-88 – to 79 “East”). The Entrance for camping will be on Doolittle Road.

A tasty dayboard will be served that all may be refreshed during the day. Before departing join us for a grand feast showcasing the journey of Laird Perote Campbell and his staff as they recount their adventures heading to the Holy Land in search of Lady Briant and her search for the sacred thigh bone of Saint Ignacio .

For more excellent information on the event AND for the address, which is the location of Sunday’s Muster, please see the event announcement in full at the Hey! Event! page:

Axes, Ales, and Arrows!

Or, see the muster page at

Regional Fight Practice Facebook page

Categories: SCA news sites

Their Sylvan Majesties Invite You to Help Paint Pennsic Red (and to Fight, Fence, Feast, Craft and yes, Screen-Paint, while doing it!)

Mon, 2015-05-18 13:27

Unto the glorious kingdom of Aethelmearc do TRM Timothy and Gabrielle send greetings.

This Saturday, May 23rd, the Shire of ACG is holding a fighter practice and Aethelmearc workshop. We will be working on Champions baldrics for Pennsic, put some of the finishing touches on the glorious new list field as well as a few other projects that We have in mind for the kingdom.
The workshop and practice will run all day in New Berlin PA.
I (Timothy), intend to put my helmet on for the duration of the day. providing competition and instruction to any who desire it. If I can hold my sword, and someone wishes to learn, I will instruct. If I can stand, and someone wishes to spar, I will give it my all.
I invite any and all of my brother Knights to join me.

It is our fondest desire that some of our kingdom’s many elite fencers can make the journey and work with those who desire to better themselves.
Plus, we have the workshop. Come help us take the known world’s breath away. It is our desire for everyone who journeys to Pennsic to know full well that they stand on our Kingdom’s lands, and her colors are Red and White. Bring your consort and any friends who can help with these tasks, make a day of it.
We promise you won’t be disappointed.

For more information, please see the Aethelmearc Gazette’s previous post on May 11th concerning this workshop at Æthelmearc Kingdom Work Day & Martial Practice.

Their Royal Majesties of Aethemearc, Timothy and Gabrielle. Photo courtesy of Jim Bubb.

Categories: SCA news sites

Battle of Clontarf II: A Walk In The Park

Fri, 2015-05-15 14:12

In glorious Lazybrook Park, Tunkhannoc, Pa, The Barony of Endless Hills held its second annual Battle of Clontarf on the Saturday before Mother’s Day, being the 1001st anniversary of this historic Irish vs Viking battle. Please enjoy the following photographs of the beautiful event site and participants, courtesy of lady Jinx (Michele Broton).

The Brute Squad enforces the court attendance of a reluctant participant, Lord Perote.

Sir Murdoch Bayne and his Lady Rioghna gift tokens of admiration for exemplary list behavior.

Heavy list


Perote’s Zule (Baronial Service) award.

Giving thanks.

None could stand against the Power of the Farce. Oops, Power of the Force, that is.

Frienemies, in the Fencing List

Kids and parks are a natural combination.

Baby duty!

Lady Aesa is named Archery Champion of Endless Hills by Baroness Barbary Rose.

Wearing a poppy flower in her hair to honor Veterans, Maggie pets the Baronial Beagle, Sophia. Maggie serves in the National Guard, just like her father.

The children in attendance reaped bounty in the form of toys, a water balloon fight, and squirt guns on this too-warm day.

A Scotts Targe Shield is awarded to THL Bluestar for his chivalric actions in the heavy lists.

Archers compete for the Baronial Archery Championship.

Archery List

Categories: SCA news sites

Pennsic Needs Princes! Disney Princes, that is…

Thu, 2015-05-14 21:16

The current gamut of Disney Princes. Could YOU reliably play a prince for a few hours?

This post is shared from the East Kingdom Facebook list:

Pennsic needs Princes! No, no, it’s not that Adam Brennan (Prince of the East) is insufficient, but they need DISNEY Princes for the Children’s Fete. (There are usually many Princesses, though the organizer would be glad of more – she’s trying to not have overlaps.)
Anyone interested in being a period Disney Prince (or Princess) for the Children’s Fete should PM me and I’ll connect you with the organizer.
It’s about 4 hours and you don’t have to be there for the whole time. I went as medieval Merida last year and it was a hoot. Loved every minute of it. I strongly suggest it!

Contact Monique Bouchard (Aneleda Falconbridge) on Facebook to volunteer or for more information. For a better idea of what happens at the Fete, please see last year’s Pennsic Independent article.

Categories: SCA news sites

Featured Blog: Laurencia of Carlisle

Wed, 2015-05-13 21:58

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

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

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


Categories: SCA news sites

Court Reports from Celebration of Rapier and Spring Crown Tournament

Wed, 2015-05-13 08:23

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

photo by Steffan Wolfgang von Ravensburg

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

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

photo by Ysabeau Tiercelin

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

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

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

At the conclusion of the tournament:

photo by Steffan Wolfgang von Ravensburg

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

Later that afternoon, accompanied by Their Highnesses:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Categories: SCA news sites

Æthelmearc Kingdom Work Day & Martial Practice

Mon, 2015-05-11 22:07

His Majesty Timothy wants to ‘Paint Pennsic Red’!

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

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

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

TEXT: 570-975-5830

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

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

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

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

Categories: SCA news sites

The Birth of a New Peerage in Æthelmearc

Sun, 2015-05-10 22:00

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

Photo by Steffan Wolfgang von Ravensburg

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

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

Duchess Dorinda playing the tossing game.
photo by Ysabeau Tiercelin

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

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

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

A video of the entire elevation can be seen here:

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

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

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

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

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

Thus I do swear.

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

Duchess Dorinda with her scroll. photo by Ysabeau Tiercelin

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

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


Categories: SCA news sites

Almond Milk

Sat, 2015-05-09 10:48

by Caleb Reynolds.

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

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


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

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

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

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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Categories: SCA news sites

Retainers Wanted for Their Majesties

Fri, 2015-05-08 21:34

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

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

Categories: SCA news sites

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

Thu, 2015-05-07 14:33

by Gwendolyn the Graceful, Brehyres

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

First, some definitions:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

As with any performance, the usual principles apply:

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

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

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

More on that…in another article!

Categories: SCA news sites

Who Are the Heralds, and What Do They Do?

Wed, 2015-05-06 14:44

Unto the Kingdom of Æthelmearc, greetings from Kameshima Silver Buccle!

Those of you who were at Crown Tournament this past weekend may have seen a number of people in heraldic tabards. You may have even recognized the designs on some of those tabards as being the badges of the awards of Æthelmearc. Ever wonder what those mean, and what those people wearing those tabards do? Maybe you might even be interested in becoming a herald yourself, and having one of those to call your very own? Well, read on!

Silver Buccle Principal Herald: The Principal Herald is responsible for overseeing all heraldic activities within the Kingdom, including education, submission and registration of names and devices, keeping the Order of Precedence, etc. Unlike in most Kingdoms, in Æthelmearc the Principal Herald is also the primary Court Herald for the King and Queen, responsible for conducting the business of Their Majesties’ Courts. (In most Kingdoms, the Principal Herald has a deputy who is responsible for conducting Court, which means that skill in vocal heraldry is not a requirement for the job of Principal Herald. If a future Principal Herald does not want to conduct the business of Kingdom Court, such a deputy could certainly be named.) Once every three months, Silver Buccle must submit a report to the Laurel Sovereign of Arms (the head herald of the SCA) detailing the heraldic activities within Æthelmearc.

Silver Buccle’s tabard bears the arms of the Kingdom because when they are wearing that tabard, they are speaking as the Voice of the Royalty. Silver Buccle is the only person other than the King and Queen who is allowed to wear the Kingdom Arms.

Deputy Titles and Positions: When each new Principal Herald assumes the office, they have the option to change the duties or title of any deputy. However, the Æthelmearc College of Heralds has traditionally used the following titles for the following deputy offices, and why mess with what works?

Regional Deputies: Silver Buccle has a Regional Deputy in each of the 5 Regions of the Kingdom. (Not sure which region you live in? Look here.) These Regional Deputies are responsible for overseeing heraldic activity in their area, encouraging the interest and education of new heralds in their area, and reporting activity within their area to Silver Buccle to help create the quarterly report to Laurel. In addition, the Regional Deputies may be given “right of first refusal” to conduct Courts in their region when Silver Buccle cannot attend. The Regional Deputies are Millrind Herald (Region 1), Gage Herald (Region 2), Scarlet Guard Herald (Region 3), White Horn Herald (Region 4) and Fleur d’Æthelmearc Herald (Region 5).

Sigil Herald: Sigil Herald is the emergency deputy to Silver Buccle. If Silver Buccle is for some reason unable to fulfill the duties of the position, it will fall to Sigil to fill in until a suitable replacement can be named by the King and Queen. Usually, Sigil is either the previous Silver Buccle, or someone who is very strongly interested in being the next Silver Buccle.

Garnet Herald: Garnet Herald is responsible for managing the submission process for names and armory within the Kingdom. Garnet (with the help of their deputy,

Cornelian Herald – the job is usually too big for one person!) collects all the submissions made to Æthelmearc every month and creates an Internal Letter of Intent which is available for heralds within Æthelmearc to comment on. Garnet and Cornelian then decide whether items should get returned in-Kingdom for further work, or get listed on an External Letter of Intent which is sent to the Sovereigns of Arms for further commentary and, ultimately, registration or return.

Golden Alce Herald: Golden Alce Herald is responsible for keeping the Order of Precedence (or “OP,” available here.), which is the listing of all the awards that subjects of Æthelmearc have received from royalty here and abroad. This information is crucial for anyone who wants to recommend someone to Their Majesties for an award, and is available in several different orderings to help you find exactly who you’re looking for, what awards they’ve received and when they got them.

Keystone Herald: Keystone Herald is the Education Deputy, responsible for encouraging new people to come and learn the basics of heraldry, as well as offering opportunities to experienced heralds to broaden their knowledge of the heraldic arts. Keystone is responsible for organizing heraldic classes for the Æthelmearc Heralds & Scribes Symposium and Æthelmearc Æcademy.

Sycamore Herald: Sycamore Herald is the Tournament Deputy, responsible for organizing heralds to assist with the Crown Tournament, Queen’s Rapier Champion Tournament, and any other tournaments that would benefit from the pageantry of heraldic announcement.

Seedling Pursuivant: Seedling Herald is responsible for maintaining the Shield Trees that we use during Crown Tournament. This job involves regular maintenance to the physical tree hardware, as well as creating new shields for new entrants to Crown Tournament, or entrants who have recently registered arms with the College of Arms.

Jewel of Æthelmearc Herald: Jewel of Æthelmearc Herald (or “Jewel Herald” for short) is the Consultation Deputy. Depending on where Jewel and Garnet decide to draw the line, Jewel can be responsible for organizing and executing Heraldic Consultation Tables within the Kingdom, or if that is an obligation that Garnet would rather handle, Jewel will serve as the primary point of contact for those gentles who cannot attend a consultation table and would rather receive help in designing and documenting their name and armory through online means.

Silent Heraldry Deputy (no title at present): The Silent Heraldry Deputy is responsible for organizing Silent Heraldry (ASL interpretation) for Kingdom Courts, as well as educating other heralds who have an interest in learning this skill. After many years left vacant, the Silent Heraldry position was recently re-introduced in Æthelmearc, and we hope to see the program grow and flourish.

Golden Thorn Herald: Golden Thorn is the College Webminister, responsible for maintaining the College’s Web presence and working closely with Golden Alce Herald to maintain the online OP. Depending on how much of the work Golden Thorn wants to undertake directly and how much they want to delegate, very little heraldic knowledge is actually necessary to do this job, though it does require being a warranted Webminister.

College Exchequer (no title at present): The College Exchequer is responsible for maintaining the financial records of the College. This generally involves receiving and depositing checks from consultation tables, issuing a check to the Laurel Sovereign of Arms office periodically, issuing reimbursements to Æthelmearc heralds for expenses related to their heraldic duties, and issuing a report to Silver Buccle Herald and the College Financial Committee. Much like the College Webminister, this position does not actually involve any heraldic knowledge, though it does require being a warranted Exchequer.

At Crown Tournament, Their Majesties Timothy and Gabrielle renewed my term as Silver Buccle for another two years. With the beginning of this term, I would like to help people who have an interest in learning and growing into these positions to do so. If you have any questions about any of these positions, or you read one and thought “Hey, now, that’s the job for me!” contact me via email at

In Honor and Service,

Kameshima Zentarō Umakai


Silver Buccle Principal Herald, Kingdom of Æthelmearc

Categories: SCA news sites

Aside or Astride?

Tue, 2015-05-05 16:40

The debate goes on – Did women in period ride astride? Or did they ride aside? The answer, unequivocally, is yes. Sort of. Here’s why:

Wife of Bath from the Ellesmere manuscript of the Canterbury Tales, c. 1410.

In some illustrations, such as Chaucer’s The Wife of Bath, the woman is shown riding astride. For practicality’s sake, this was likely the most common way for a woman to ride. Her skirts, long and full as they were, would drape gracefully down to cover her legs, thereby protecting her modesty. She was seated firmly in the saddle, facing forward, and fully capable of controlling her mount. It is also likely that women rode astride for centuries, although it may not have been considered entirely proper or genteel.

Many other period illustrations show women sitting aside, or sideways on the horse, with both legs to one side. This is, of course, technically, riding sidesaddle, since you are sitting sideways on the saddle. But the period definition of sidesaddle does not match today’s definition of sidesaddle. Here is where the “sort of”, above, comes into play.

Anne of Bohemia is generally thought to be the person who brought the period version of sidesaddle to England. This meant that instead of sitting the horse with a leg on each side, women sat sideways, on a pad, or in a man’s saddle, or, more usually, on the horse’s croup (rump) behind a man, with both feet hanging to one side. Sitting sideways behind a man is known as riding pillion. Somewhere along the way, a woman who was riding by herself, sideways in the saddle, may have realized that it would be a bit more comfortable if she put her foot in the stirrup.

Sidesaddle – Hermes Museum

Thus came the invention of the planchette (plank). The planchette was a board, suspended from straps, on which a lady sitting sidesaddle could rest her feet.

The period sidesaddle also began to be fitted with a side rail, running along the off side of the saddle seat to give a bit of security. There is also evidence of a “seat belt” type of strap, fastening over the thighs to help keep her in the saddle.

A woman using this type of saddle was more or less sitting in a moving chair, facing to the side of her horse. If she was not being led by a groom, she had to twist her upper body around to face forward so that she could control her horse properly. There was also a very real danger of the rider toppling over backwards if the horse acted up or took a misstep.

Catherine de Medici, (1519-1589), being an avid rider, and, apparently, none too happy with the restrictions that the period sidesaddle placed on her, is popularly credited with being the first woman to drape one of her legs over the pommel (or horn) of a man’s saddle, thereby giving herself something to grip for balance, as well as the ability to face forward and control her own horse properly – the early beginning of what we think of today as a sidesaddle rider.

Unfortunately, de Medici’s concept does not appear to have caught on with the ladies for quite some time, as the “chair” saddle with planchette and back rail seems to have endured until well into the 1700’s. It was, in fact, used in certain areas much later than that.

Queen Victoria’s sidesaddle – Museum of Leathercraft

The sidesaddle continued to evolve, with the center pommel of the man’s saddle eventually migrating to one side of the saddle, usually, though not always, the left side, and a second pommel being added to the other side of the saddle – apparently to give the thigh something to rest against.

A woman in this type of saddle could walk, trot, and canter a well-trained horse safely, and ride long distances in relative comfort and security.

In the late 18th century, there was a third pommel or horn added – the leaping head (or leaping horn). This was below the primary horn, and gave much better “purchase” or grip, since the leg which was crossed in front of the rider could grip around the main horn, and the thigh of the other leg could be pressed up into the leaping head. The pommel on the off side of the saddle, never particularly useful in the first place, began to disappear sometime around the early 1900’s. And the true sidesaddle rider was born – a woman who could ride a less than manageable horse, could gallop and leap fences with her gentleman companions and be safe, stylish, and modest doing so.

Sidesaddles continued to evolve up into the mid 20th century, with the seat becoming flat, rather than dipped, and the pommels becoming wider and flatter than the older saddles.

The pictures below are of a sidesaddle that I built several years ago, using a purchased, 1930’s tree.

Riding a modern sidesaddle is every bit as safe as riding an astride saddle, and, in some instances, even safer. If the saddle fits the rider and the horse properly, it is also quite comfortable, and very elegant.

So, to say that a woman in period was riding sidesaddle would be somewhat inaccurate. She was riding sideways in the saddle, but the true sidesaddle seat, wherein the rider is facing forward, with one leg hooked over a pommel or horn in front of her, did not really evolve until much later.

— THL Meadhbh inghean ui Bhaoighill

Woman shown riding astride in the depiction of Herr Wernher von Teufen (fol. 69r) from the Manesse Codex, c. 1300-1330.

Categories: SCA news sites

Lake Augusta Renaissance Festival -Demo

Tue, 2015-05-05 12:25

Greetings Good Gentles One and All,

Preparations are busily underway for the Second Annual Lake Augusta Renaissance Festival. Fear not, for though the word “Renaissance” may cause pause, last year, this demo successfully introduced approximately 600 of the general public to our dream. Two hundred Scadians from all over the Known World came to the banks of the Susquehanna River to play last year and we trust such will occur again this year. Their Sylvan Majesties Timothy and Gabrielle will be in attendance, making this a Royal Progress. You won’t want to be anywhere else come the 20th of June except in the Heart of Æthelmearc – the Shire of Abhainn Ciach Ghlais.

Fighting at last year’s demo. Photo by Jinx.

For additional information go to the Kingdom website for the event which can be found here or like us on Facebook – Lake Augusta Renaissance Festival.

Illumination display at last year’s demo. Photo by Jinx.


Categories: SCA news sites