Covering the Kingdom of Æthelmearc of the SCA
Updated: 38 min 48 sec ago
The NEW Æthelmearc Kingdom Arts and Sciences website is up! You can see it here.
The Kingdom Minister of Arts & Sciences, Master Fridrikr Tomasson av Knusslig Hamn, and his Deputy, Mistress Orianna Fridrikskona, are excited to offer this great new resource to Æthelmearc’s artisans.
“The new A&S website is designed to make information gathering easier,” said Master Fridrikr. “We have a new calendar page, more space for images of Arts and Sciences from around the kingdom, [and] new areas for artisans to share their work. It is streamlined and user-friendly. I hope that everyone will go and look at it, and that the artisans and scholars of Æthelmearc will use the website to share their work with the kingdom.”
Mistress Orianna continued, “Our monthly message will be there as well as information on A&S activities both around the Kingdom and in some of our neighboring Kingdoms. We are also hoping to start a regular focus on individual areas of study, so watch for those.”
The site was built by Lady Amalie Reinhardt and THLady Desiderata Drake, for which the Ministers of Arts and Sciences are very grateful.
Mistress Arianna of Wynthrope reports on the bardic merriment of A Kingdom for a Stage.
The Kingdom for a Stage event was small but packed with music and theatrical entertainments. Baron Liam macanTsaoire and Baroness Elizabeth Arrowsmyth autocratted the event which featured storytellers, singers, a puppet show, and performances by the Debatable Choir and Delftwood’s Commedia group, i Got Woodi.
For the heraldic brag-off, each of the five competitors had to select a volunteer from among the attendees. The heralds then had 10 minutes to learn as much as they could about their “bragee”, after which the bragging began. Each herald spoke on the virtues, real or imagined, of their bragee. Lord Justin Lymner praised the good works of Baroness Elizabeth Arrowsmyth as an autocrat and royal retainer. Baron Janos Meszaros, whose subject was THLady Anlaith ingen Trena, spoke of how good things come in small packages, and cited Her Ladyship’s skills with atlatl and paintbrush. Master Dagonell Collingwood spoke of the many contributions of Master Alaric MacConall as a musician, exchequer, and seneschal, then lamented that in archery, Master Alaric “shoots like a 12-year-old” (an in-joke which is explained in the video below). Mistress Arianna of Wynthrope boasted about the many accomplishments of Her Excellency Helene al-Zarqá, Baroness of Delftwood, as a fencer, bard, and member of i Got Woodi, but then noted that Her Excellency apologized for bringing Delftwood’s weather to the Debatable Lands. Finally, THLord Kieran MacRae extolled the virtues of Lady Lijsbet de Kuekere, most especially as a cook and member of i Got Woodi.
Baroness Constance and Master Kameshima judged the two best entrants to be THLord Kieran and Master Dagonell, so they were then given another task as a run-off: to do a second heraldic brag, both of them on the topic of Baron Liam. It was a close contest, but in the end, the judges chose THLord Kieran as the winner. His prize was a baronial t-shirt, ironically with a Celtic design that he himself created.
Over the course of the day, there were classes in singing technique and about pilgrimage songs, numerous storytellers and singers, and an impromptu puppet show put on by Kaden, the 7-year-old son of Lord Hrafna-Erlender inn Raudi and Lady Aibell ingen Chernachain, with help from his dad. In addition, Baroness Constance Glyn Dwr set up her Baroness’ Bower for folks to hang out and do hand crafts like knitting and embroidery, complete with yummy snacks.
The Debatable Choir performed a concert of five songs as recorded in the video below.
Then the Delftwood Commedia Troop, i Got Woodi, consisting of Baroness Helena al- Zarqá, Mistress Felicitas Flußmüllnerin, Lord Justin Lymner, Lady Lijsbet de Kuekere, and Lord Fridrich Flußmüllner, performed a play in which Capitano kidnaps the servant girl who is in love with Arlecchino. Capitano asks her to marry him but she declines, and calls to Arlecchino for help. Unfortunately, Arlecchino couldn’t seem to figure out that she had been kidnapped, so she ended up having to rescue herself by tricking Capitano into loosing her bonds. She then beat Capitano so he fell to the floor, after which she returned to her beloved and friends. It was noted that Baroness Helene had successfully written a script that permitted Lady Lijsbet, who is currently on crutches with one foot in a cast, to spend the entire play sitting in a chair.
While the bardic activities were occurring, there was a delectable all-day sideboard prepared by THLord Jorundr hinn Rotinn with assistance from a large crew of experienced cooks. It was noted that the theme of the feast was “carrots” as His Lordship had gotten a really good deal on a large basket of them… The onion soup was so good that one lady was heard to exclaim that she would marry it if she could. Fortunately, her husband was amused rather than offended.
His Excellency, Baron Liam, thanked everyone who attended, and especially those who jumped in to help with clean up. He plans to make the event even bigger and better next year.
Heraldic brag videos courtesy of Mistress Ts’vee’a bas Tseepora Levi. Choir video courtesy of Mistress Arianna of Wynthrope with thanks to THLord Kieran for manning the camera.
The Barony-Marche of the Debatable Lands invites you to a regional muster celebrating Archery, Thrown Weapons, Youth Fighting and Arts & Sciences at the Castle home of Sir Byron and Sir Ariella on April 12th. This is the day after Æthelmearc Coronation. The muster will begin at 10:00 in the morning and continue until 5:00 pm.
The archery and thrown weapons ranges will be open at 10:00 am and archery from the towers, led by THL Deryk Archer, will begin at 1:00 pm.
The main archery goal this day is to shoot and submit rounds for the Gwyntarian Winter Challenge which closes later that week. There will also be training if we have enough marshals. The Barony’s loaner gear will be there.
Please bring something for a pot luck. We’re going to be there all day, so let’s eat. Pop, water, plates, bowls, and utensils will all be provided.
We also ask that you dress in garb for the day.
The Castle address is 755 Stonegate Drive, Wexford PA 15090.
In service to the Barony-Marche and the Kingdom,
Mestari Urho Waltterinen
The Coronation of TRH’s Timothy and Gabrielle is but two weeks away.
There will be dancing to celebrate. Dances will be taught and enjoyed.
But to make this most memorable occasion more memorable we need the skilled musicians of the Sylvan Kingdom to play for the dancing to honor the new King and Queen.
If you are both willing and able to play for the dancing at Coronation on April 11, please contact me as soon as you can so I can provide you the set list and other necessities to make your participation easier.
Looking forward to hearing from you soon!
THL sionn, the lost
Mistress Illadore de Bedagrayne has been summoned by the Crown of the West to be put on vigil as one of their premiere members of the Order of Defence. Her elevation will occur on May 1st.
Mistress Illadore originally hails from the Barony-Marche of the Debatable Lands, which she once served as seneschale. She received her White Scarf from Malcolm and Tessa at Pennsic XXXV and a Court Barony from Christopher and Morgen in 2007. She was elevated to the Order of the Laurel for her cooking by Isenwulf and Rosalinda in 2011. She served as 12th and 27th Queen’s Rapier Champion of Æthelmearc, as well as commander of the Southern Watch. She is also a past Rapier Champion in the West Kingdom.
Due to her real-life work, Mistress Illadore has moved around a lot since 2007, living in Atlantia and the West Kingdom (twice) where she was instrumental in bringing Rapier to prominence. However, she has always called Æthelmearc home, in proof of which she served as camp cook for the Æthelmearc royalty and entourage at Gulf Wars two weeks ago.
A common thread among SCA members is our fascination with the idea of Knighthood. Many of us got our first taste of the medieval world reading about King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table, or the exploits of Richard the Lionheart, or maybe the tragic but noble self-sacrifice of the Song of Roland. Even the least martial among us has probably thought about what it means to be a knight. Mistress Arianna of Wynthrope interviewed several members of Æthelmearc’s Order of Chivalry to find out how they view their role as Knights of the Society.
The Chivalric Virtues
When asked what being a knight meant to them, many of the knights of Æthelmearc referenced the Chivalric Virtues. Curiously, there is no real agreement, even in the scholarly world, as to what those virtues are.
The tale Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, written around 1400, has Sir Gawain bearing a shield with a pentangle representing five knightly virtues. Duke Guillaume de la Belgique of the Kingdom of Caid, who writes frequently on chivalric topics, lists a set of six chivalric virtues. Count Sir Garick von Kopke of the Kingdom of the Outlands wrote an essay on chivalric virtues in which he lists eight knightly virtues from Le Ordene de Chevalrie, The Ordination of Knighthood, a 12th or 13th century anonymous French poem, and the 13th century work by Raymon Lull, Libre del Orde de Cauayleria, The Book of the Order of Chivalry. Most comprehensively, the Midrealm’s Middle Wiki states:
The Seven Knightly Virtues are much written about and there is no one authoritative list of them. Some historic accounts have four virtues, others have six. Even for those that list seven, those seven differ greatly. As Knights and Chivalry are important to the SCA, so does Chivalric Virtue play a part in our Society. Some of the commonly referenced Knightly Virtues are:
It might be agreed that these virtues can be used to describe a person who is good and noble. But beyond that, what does it mean to be a knight in the SCA, where our Chivalry are not called upon to literally spill their blood in defense of the realm?
Duke Malcolm Duncan MacEoghainn, who was knighted by Æthelmearc in 2000, put it this way: “The short answer is it means I am expected to be everyone’s exemplar of the ideal at all times. You see, everyone has a visceral, almost instinctive concept of “Knight.” Our culture is inundated with the imagery and we all grow up hearing stories of King Arthur and Knights in Shining Armor. I would venture to say that there is no one that you could interview anywhere that does not have SOME concept of “Knight” and what a knight is supposed to be or how they’re supposed to behave. Our culture has created such a mythos around “Knight” that the word has come to be more of a concept of behavior rather than just a man.”
Duke Malcolm noted that there are a lot of expectations placed on the Knights of the Society. “When I put on my belt, everyone who looks upon me has an expectation of me: that I am a great fighter, that I am Noble, that I am Chivalrous (which also has an incredibly diverse definition) – that I am all these things, and many others, all the time. Along with this, any time anyone sees me that knows me as a Knight, expects that, not just in the context of the SCA world, but also in all their dealings and in all their interactions with me. Those of us who identify as Knights are held to that standard and are subject to the internal judgment of all we encounter.”
Duke Maynard von dem Steine, who was knighted by Æthelmearc in 2000, had a similar attitude. “To me, being a knight means putting others’ needs before your own. As a Knight, you represent the Crown and the Kingdom as well as the Society, so when you put that white belt on, you have to remember that you’re expected to live up to every kid’s expectations of what a Knight is, keeping the seven Chivalric virtues in mind at all times. A knight is the hand of the King, doing the King’s justice and following his word.”
Duke Eliahu ben Itzhak, who was knighted by the Midrealm in 1983, agrees that knighthood is not something one can put on or take off. “Most knights don’t consider themselves only knights on weekends, they don’t take it off with their garb, chain and belt. It’s inside, part of who they are. There are some exceptions who wear the accoutrements of the knight but I would not call them a knight because it’s not inside them, not part of who they are.”
His Grace continued, “For me, Knighthood as a concept is the single best embodiment of the virtues I was raised with. I’m Jewish by background; I was raised with virtues of courage, honesty, and service, so chivalric virtues were the cultural ones I grew up with. My models were biblical stories of Hebrew warriors, and tales of knights. In many ways, those were the same thing.”
“My father said, to be a mensch, you need chutzpah and rachmones (courage and compassion). For me, that’s a knight. Knights may be admired for their prowess, but they are loved for their kindness. I’ve heard it said of a lot of knights, “Wow, that guy can fight, but he’s a real ass…” I prefer “Yes, that fellow can fight, but he’s a really nice guy.” People remember the knights who take the time to be kind, teach people things, be gracious. I may have had memorable exploits of prowess that I and other knights recall, but what most people remember is when I was generous with my time, kind, helpful, or compassionate.”
Sir Thorgrim Skullsplitter, who was knighted by Æthelmearc in 2009, also feels that being a knight is not something you do only at SCA events. When considering candidates for the Chivalry, he said he looks for people who are chivalrous both in and out of garb. “I like to see how candidates for the chivalry behave in their real lives, not just in the SCA when they think people are watching. Do they live up to those virtues 24/7?”
Being a knight is not about how hard you can hit, but about whether you stand up for people who need protection, who are being bullied or treated with discourtesy. – Sir Thorgrim
Sir Thorgrim continues, “The Knightly Virtues align well with the Boy Scouts’ creed, which I very much hold to. Prowess is not as important as being a good person. Without those other virtues, a fighter is just another thug.”
While every knight interviewed espoused the ideals of chivalry, they also acknowledged that it can be a struggle sometimes to maintain those levels of behavior every day. Duke Malcolm said, “To be a Knight is to strive to be that, and understand that it’s a sysiphic ordeal. Each day you awake and each day you rededicate to the purpose. Each day you do your best to be the best influence you can on those you encounter. No matter how hard you train, you can always train harder. No matter how much kindness you show, you can always show more. No matter how supportive you are, you can always give more. “
Viscount Bear the Wallsbane, knighted by the East Kingdom in 1989, agreed. “Of course we fail; we’re human. But true Chivalry get back up, dust themselves off, and try again and again.”
Aspiring to the Chivalry
There are, seemingly, as many opinions about what it takes to become a member of the Chivalry as there are knights and masters at arms. Interestingly, none of the Chivalry interviewed talked about technique or even general skill level. Instead, their emphasis was on commitment to fighting, but also on participating in all aspects of the Society.
Viscount Bear said “If you want to be a knight in the SCA, you have to dedicate your life to the pursuit of that white belt. Hit every SCA event you can, and fight as often as you can, not just to gain in prowess, but also to become known among the Chivalry. The Knights want newer fighters to hunt them and challenge them. I was disappointed to see several big name Dukes at the Delftwood Muster in February just standing around waiting for someone to challenge them, but hardly anyone did. I had to urge the younger fighters to go after them.”
His Excellency continued, “As far as candidates for the Chivalry, prowess is the most important element to me.” When asked about melee combat vs. tournament fighting, Sir Bear said, “That’s an area of disagreement within the Chivalry: whether a fighter’s primary skill area has to be tourney fighting. We’ve made knights whose abilities were primarily in melee combat, but I go by Corpora which explicitly says that a prospective Knight must be the equal of his or her peers in tournament combat. On the other hand, we’ve had some knights who started as primarily melee fighters but then improved their tournament skills over time.”
Duke Maynard looks for people who are persistent and work hard. “In candidates for the Knighthood, I look for people who are hungry, who are trying to learn. Anyone can be a knight. When I began in the SCA, I never imagined myself achieving everything I have accomplished. I had a couple of friends who had much more natural talent than I did as fighters, but I kept working at it while they dropped out. In my opinion, those who have to work hard to become good fighters are often better knights than those who have natural talent, because they’ve had to not only analyze their technique, but also maintain a certain work ethic that they can then pass along to other fighters.”
His Grace also stressed the importance of having the right attitude. “When I was squired to Duke Christopher of York, he didn’t really teach me specific shots so much as a way of thinking about fighting, including having the confidence that I could win fights. I teach my own squires that same mental preparation, including analyzing both their opponents’ fighting and their own, but also believing in themselves. So much of fighting is mental rather than physical.”
Duchess Rowan de la Garnison, who in 1998 became the first woman knighted by Æthelmearc, agrees that perseverance is key. “When I joined the SCA, I had this wench persona and was kind of a party girl. But as a kid I used to play knight errant and attack things with sticks, beating up all the boys so I could be Queen, so I guess it was kind of natural that I took up fighting. It took me three tries to qualify as a fighter, but I just kept plugging away at it. I only got serious about fighting a few years later, when I started going to more tourneys and to practices 3 times a week.”
Her Grace echoed Viscount Bear’s thoughts about hunting the Chivalry, both to improve and to become better known. “I was told to always challenge the Knights if I wanted to get better. When they beat me, I asked them to show me the shots they used to kill me so I could learn how to throw them myself. That’s what up and coming fighters need to do: show that you want it. Target the Chivalry, get on the field early, stay late, then ask for feedback from those you fight so you can learn.”
Duchess Rowan had the same experience as Duke Maynard, in not being the most naturally talented fighter but achieving a white belt through perseverance. “I had been a fighter for over ten years when I was knighted, so my path was always about persistence, about plugging away and figuring out how to improve. Once I got serious about my fighting I started working out, and learned the body mechanics that would allow me to increase the power in my shots so people would take them. As a woman with less upper body strength than the male fighters, I couldn’t just use brute force, so good technique was vital.”
Some women have trouble being aggressive, but those who get past that can be just as good as the men. – Duchess Rowan
She also had some advice on what fighters can expect as they improve. “The way the Chivalry fight you will change over time. When you’re new, you might be happy to be able to block a few shots before they kill you. As you get better, you might start to kill a knight or two, but when they get to know you and take you seriously as a threat, they’ll bring their “A” game against you. At that point, you will actually start losing more often against the chivalry. Don’t get discouraged – everyone hits plateaus, so it’s important to keep learning everything you can. At some point, eventually something will just “click” and your fighting will go up a level, sometimes quite suddenly.”
As the first female knight in the Kingdom, Duchess Rowan remembers that it was tough breaking through some barriers. “When I started fighting (in the 1980s), there was some discrimination against women. Some Kingdoms, like the Midrealm, even had rules forbidding women from fighting as late as the mid to late 1970s, and there were male fighters who refused to fight women because they felt it was unchivalrous to hit a woman. Other men refused to take our blows because they weren’t willing to admit that a woman could hit them hard enough to kill. These days there’s a lot less bias against female fighters – they’re not coddled but more accepted as equals.”
Her Grace continued with some advice specifically for female fighters who seek the accolade. “Duchess Elina of Beckenham, who was knighted about a year ago by the Midrealm, wrote a terrific book called The Armored Rose that explains the differences not only in body mechanics, but also in mindset between men and women in the martial arts. Duchess Elina’s book offers great advice for women on how to add power to their blows using their own natural movement styles. There are so many issues that women fighters face which men do not, beginning with the fact that women are trained from childhood to be nurturing and not to hurt other people. Just getting past their concern about injuring their opponents is a big hurdle for some women. In addition, women are more likely to have to take breaks in training, whether because of issues with their menstrual cycles, or because they get pregnant and have children.”
I think the most important attribute for a knight is ethics. – Sir Thorgrim
Sir Thorgrim prefers to focus on character rather that skill. “To me, prowess is not all. Of all the knightly virtues, I believe only prowess can be learned as an adult. All the others, you acquire as a child from your parents. Call them your moral compass.” He continued, “I will take a fighter as a dependent in a heartbeat if they possess the other knightly virtues; I can always teach them prowess. Some in the Chivalry may feel that prowess is the most important thing, but I do not.”
When asked about the path to knighthood, Duke Eliahu also was less interested in talking about the fighting itself than in the philosophy he wants to see in candidates for the Chivalry. “I tell people there’s a difference between wanting to be knighted and wanting to be a knight; wanting to receive the accolade and wanting to be worthy of the accolade; wanting to be seen as a knight and wanting to live as a knight.“
He continued, “It’s appropriate to have the goal of becoming a knight, of living as a knight, being on the path of knighthood. Goals can be way points or end points. If the knighthood is seen as an end point, that’s not appropriate – they don’t understand what knighthood is.”
His Grace went on to explain how fighting is more about a process than a product. “I’m an adjunct professor of design and marketing. I teach both fighters and design students to work the process to get a good outcome. If you focus on the result, you’re less likely to get a good product. Art, design, fighting, whatever – work the process. “
He also emphasized the importance of individualized training. “The way I teach is to try to make it as individual as possible, see where someone is in their knowledge and ability, and help them find a path to success and improvement. What are their strengths and weaknesses? I push people to get better at their weaknesses rather than work on their strengths. I wouldn’t give someone advice until I understood where they are and what they need. I may give technical fighting advice to start if they aren’t getting it, thinking and strategy and movement. But being a knight takes too much work and has too many challenges for someone who doesn’t love fighting. If they want to be there, I won’t be able to stop them.”
Duke Malcolm similarly emphasized the soul-searching that aspirants to knighthood should do. “What advice would I give a fighter who seeks to become a Knight? That honestly would depend on who is doing the asking, but if it were being asked by someone whom I’d never met and knew nothing about, my first bit of advice would be to ask “why?” Why does she/he seek the white belt? Does she want to be that good of a fighter? Does he want to be acknowledged as one of the best fighters? These are the two most common responses, but in all truth, my advice is to sit down and think very long and hard about exactly *what* it is they seek, and why. If they truly have determined that they want to be a “Knight” and not just “the kick-butt” fighter, then the advice alters to guide them there. If they really want to be a Knight, then the advice is for the person to know to their core what being a Knight is – to them – and live it. It is said that you have to be a knight before you become a Knight. It’s true. Once you live it, you’re already there.”
It’s Not Just About the Fighting
Sir Thorgrim emphasized the importance of service and relationships in the SCA. “At one point I trained with fighters who had prowess as their goal, but over time I found that service to the fighting community was a better path for me. Originally I was squired to Duke Rurik Longsword, and I learned most of my technique from him. Later, I squired to Sir Kadan Chákhilgan Ger on Echen. Obviously, he and I have very different body types, so our relationship wasn’t so much about him teaching me technique (except some footwork) as it was about having the right attitude and philosophy about fighting. In particular, he taught me about the importance of family and friendships within the SCA, and I’ve tried to foster those kinds of relationships with my own dependents.”
Duke Maynard also felt that relationships are key. “It’s important not to take the SCA and rank within it too seriously. When the regalia comes off, we’re all equals and the titles don’t matter. Friendship is really the foundation of the Society for me.” That said, His Grace did not feel that a fighter must be a squire to become a knight, though it can help. “Your Knight can be an advocate for you in the order, and can also push you to practice when you might not feel like it.”
His Grace also wants to see candidates for the Chivalry who are well-rounded participants in the Society as a whole. “As a general rule, those who aspire to Knighthood should also take an active role in their shire or barony – be involved in service, get to know people who are not fighters. You can’t be a peer of any type if you don’t have at least a basic understanding of all the elements that make up the SCA: garb, heraldry, history, and so on.”
Having a diverse background and knowledge of all aspects of the SCA makes me a better peer and a better knight. – Duke Maynard
Duchess Rowan also felt that knowing more than just fighting is important. “We especially want to see service – go wash dishes, mop an event hall, help take down list ropes, marshal and train other fighters. When we discuss candidates, it’s really common for people to ask “What else does he do besides fight?” Pick up an art. Many fighters get into armoring, brewing, leatherwork, or blacksmithing. You can be knighted for being a hot stick as long as you’re reasonably well-rounded, but a solidly competent fighter who isn’t spectacular on the field can also be knighted if they have a really complete package of service, arts, and courtesy.”
She also likes to see fighters who can lead troops on the field or generate enthusiasm among the fighters in their area. “Because we choose our Kings and Queens by combat, we expect our Chivalry to be leaders, not only good individual fighters. You need to prove that you can be a leader on the field of battle, and learn to be at least a little charismatic so others will follow you. We look to the next generation of Chivalry to bring others into fighting, to build enthusiasm in their fighting communities.”
After You’ve Been Knighted – Continuing on the Path
Once you do receive the accolade, the journey continues with new responsibilities.
Sir Mord Hrutson the Green, who was knighted by the East Kingdom in 1993, commented from Gulf Wars, “We all try to be chivalrous; we all succeed in one form for a brief moment. We all fail in another – sometimes for longer times. For instance, I am sore and tired today. I don’t feel too much like fighting. Yet, my king will be on the field today. Fealty, oaths, chivalry require that I be there.”
Sir Thorgrim explained how his approach to fighting has changed since he was knighted. “Since becoming a knight, I’ve felt much less urgency about fighting in tournaments. I don’t have a huge desire to be King, and I believe I’ve proven myself in the list field. My primary interest now is in training new fighters and helping to build Æthelmearc’s army through melee work. I can have a greater impact that way, building enthusiasm among younger fighters. When I became a regional commander, I went from being responsible for training 20 people to 120 people. I love seeing these younger fighters’ passion.”
Sir Bear’s focus has also changed since he is now medically prohibited from fighting. “I consider my role to serve as an inspiration and to teach, not just my squires, but everyone who’s interested. I also try to instill the chivalric values in my squires, including support of the Kingdom. Right now some of them are annoyed with me because I’ve told them they all need to take up archery so they can shoot in the Pennsic War Point. This Pennsic in particular, Æthelmearc will need all the war points it can get, and our job is to support the Kingdom in every way we can.”
Duke Maynard talked about how the SCA has changed his life outside the Society. “I found that the SCA, and especially being a knight as well as having been King, made me a better person in real life. I’m a better manager and a better public speaker. I’m more confident. As a knight in the SCA, I feel responsible for helping others. As a group, the Society has the ideal of what everyone should be – chivalrous and courteous – and that ideal carries through to real life, so I find myself more courteous to the people I work with, too.”
Duke Eliahu feels that one of the roles of the Chivalry is to be, like all peers, the problem-solvers in the Society. “Every organization has people with institutional memory, people who know how to get things done. In the SCA that’s the peers and the officers. The peers can fix social problems, hopefully recognizing them before they become big problems and blow up. The best servants of the Crown and Society get things done in a way that is professional, without causing additional drama.”
His Grace also mused on the issues faced by Chivalry as they age. “Being a knight and getting older is increasingly a challenge for a lot of people. A knight who was physically gifted but not very technical will see their ability decline, and if they don’t replace that with strategy, technique, and wisdom, eventually they can’t do what they did when they were younger. Some of them stop fighting and drop out of the SCA, which is a shame.”
SCA fighters need to understand that the real fight is about controlling the bout, not about a trick or technique. – Duke Eliahu
Duke Eliahu recounted how he realized 15 years ago that his fighting style had not kept pace with developments in the field. After some consideration, he went to some of the best technical fighters he knew and asked them to help him start over. “I worked with Duke Ragnvaldr and Duke Brannos (of the Midrealm) to relearn how to fight. They taught me how to stand, move, breathe, throw blows, everything. I practiced once or twice per week plus some pell work to make the new style automatic. If I hadn’t done that, I would no longer have been on the path, I would have been sitting down on the path.” Eliahu says he also organized what he learned from them into a teaching methodology so he could pass it along to others. “It was frustrating sometimes, but also exciting because at every practice I was learning something new,” His Grace said.
Duke Malcolm summed it up: “Knighthood is more than just a meaningless word that references some particular achievement in a 45+ year-long running social organization. To me, being a Knight means making a commitment to a way of life. The Code of Chivalry isn’t a checklist or even something that is the same from one moment to the next. Like the Zen concept of Beginner’s mind, it is by its very nature unable to be specified beyond ‘Doing what is right.’ The hard part is defining that ‘right’ and living up to it.”
The A.S. XLIX Festival of the Passing of the Ice Dragon has come and gone. For those who missed it, your ever-vigilant Gazette reporters have the scoop on all that went on at the event, held on March 21 in the Barony of the Rhydderich Hael.
The day began with a morning court at which the most notable piece of business was the surprise Their Majesties had in store for Mistress Shishido Tora Gozen: a perfect Laurel ambush.
Mistress Ysabeau Tiercelin, who headed team G, reports: “When their Majesties let the Laurels know that they planned to give Gozen a writ during their reign, I asked if we could do a surprise vigil for her at Ice Dragon. They graciously gave permission and the Secret Laurel for G team sprang into action. Between a secret Facebook group, her household (who took her off the email list just long enough to notify people), and all the Æthelmearc equestrians, it is a testament to honor that no one spilled the beans.
“We set the stage by telling all the equestrians that we had been allotted a special space at Ice Dragon since I had “forgotten” to reserve our normal equestrian salon space, and everyone was encouraged to bring their equestrian works of art to display (thus neatly solving the problem of having her works there for the vigil). Her protégé and equerry made vigil favors of Master Huon’s cookys in linen bags with horse charms, a tooled leather vigil book with Japanese horse was ordered from abroad, and a Pelican/Laurel brooch was commissioned from Crafty Celts. The problem remained of how to get her into morning court without raising suspicion. Luckily, I had not been able to finish her Pelican hitatare (Japanese coat) for her last elevation, so that provided the perfect excuse – she was told that it was finally finished and their Majesties had agreed to present it in court. All was ready.
“Then came the heart-stopping moment when she emailed after having driven 20-odd hours back from Gulf Wars to let me know that she was tired and might not drive up until the morning of the event. “No problem,” I replied, thinking precisely the opposite, “Just make sure to be there for morning court, since their Majesties wanted to do the hitatare presentation then since it was not quite ‘important enough’ for the main court at night.” Thankfully, arrive she did.
“The “Equestrian Encampment” looked beautiful, and being riders with hearty appetites, it never occurred to her to question the plethora of food we had set out. She worked hard to set up the displays, still not suspecting.
“We sat together through court, me with the folded hitatare under my arm. We were called up together, and I asked leave to address the populace. I explained that her “backlog hitatare” was finally finished and held it out to their Majesties, with the embroidery toward them, asking them to do the honor of putting it on. His Majesty played his part to perfection, and circled slowly, revealing to the audience that the pelican was encircled with a laurel wreath. Oohs and cheers began to rise, the Laurels crept stealthily toward the front at a gesture from his Majesty, and Gozen began to look puzzled as this was all going on behind her back.
“Gozen,” said his Majesty, “perhaps you would like to see your hitatare.” She turned around then and the look on her face when she realized just what was happening was worth the entire two months of planning (as was the smack she gave me when I whispered, “You realize we just had you set up your own Laurel vigil”). Of course the hitatare was then whisked away since she could not wear it with the Laurel wreath until after the elevation at second court. The members of the Order of the Laurel then escorted Gozen to her vigil area.”
After morning Court, gentles scattered to the many activities that Ice Dragon offers.
Ice Dragon’s usual rattan bear pit attracted an array of enthusiastic fighters from novices to knights. Lord Horatius as marshal-in-charge was assisted by numerous other marshals overseeing bouts and directing traffic into each of the four lists.
Duke Maynard von dem Steine was the victor, but it was noted that he was most gracious about the bouts he lost, making the day for many of the less experienced fighters.
The rapier list featured two tournaments, a single elimination and a reverse bear pit, where the loser stayed on the field after each bout. The rapier combat was marshaled by Lord Wolfgang Starcke (who also served as Deputy Autocrat for the overall event), with Lady Aemelia Soteria as MOL.
His Excellency Don Benedict Fergus atte Mede defeated Lord Michael Gladwyne to win the single elimination, wounds-retained tournament with forty people participating, and Lord Jacob of Dunmore beat out second-place finisher Lady Fiora d’Artusio to win the reverse bear pit, which had fifty participants. There were about ten White Scarves fencing, including Duchess Dorinda Courtenay, who was the first recipient in Æthelmearc of a Writ for the Order of Defence. According to Don Will Parris, every battle was hard fought.
THLady Zoe Akropolitina marshaled the youth list with assistance from the Kingdom Youth Marshal, Sir Thorgrim Skullsplitter.
Seven youth fighters competed in the tournament, which was won by Olf from Stormsport.
THLady Govindi Dera Ghazi Khan organized the Salons, which were held in the upper level balcony areas. They ranged from baronial salons (Delftwood) to households (Yama Kaminari) to the Kingdom History display, to salons for particular activities and guilds (scribes, heralds, and brewers). Many of them offered food or arts displays.
The event featured numerous merchants with such wares as fiber, weapons, fabric, soap, jewelry, garb, and leatherworking supplies. Lady Miriel du Lac served as merchant liaison to keep all of the merchants organized.
The tavern was ably run by Lord Bovi Davidson, with entertainment organized by Master Dagonell Collingwood of Emerald Lake. Lord Bovi received the Order of the Keystone at morning court for his service to the Rhydderich Hael.
The sideboard offered drumsticks marinated in Goya Mojo sauce, BBQ pork chunks, and roasted root vegetables, plus cheese, pickles, oranges, hard boiled eggs, and rolls. Lord Bovi said he chose simple modern fare since the kitchen would be expected to serve 600 gentles and he had found the period turnovers he did two years ago to be really good but too much work. He focused this year on simple and portable: “Brown, hot, and plenty of it!” he joked with one of his “most amazing crew,” who he credited for the meal’s success.
Ice Dragon Pentathlon
As always, the Arts and Sciences Pentathlon was a big draw with entries in categories like embroidery, brewing, scribal, woodwork, and costuming. Tiarna Padraig O’Branduibh was the Pent Coordinator, with Baroness Alexanda dei Campagnella organizing the judges, of which there were many.
There were entries in individual categories, as well as some groups and individuals who entered the Pentathlon, which required them to compete in at least five different categories. Entries were judged on Documentation, Authenticity, Creativity, Workmanship, Complexity, and Aesthetics.
Overall Pentathlon Winners
Group: The Shire of Silva Vulcani
As the day wound down, Royal Court was held in a different room from usual at the front of the second floor.
At the start of Royal Court, Their Majesties welcomed Prince Steinnar of Ealdormere. His Highness was pleased to announce that the Lupine Kingdom will ally itself with Æthelmearc at the coming Pennsic War, to the great joy of Their Highnesses Timothy and Gabrielle as well as the populace.
Numerous gentles received recognition from the Crown. The highlights included five talented artisans who were inducted into the Fleur d‘Æthelmearc:
There were two Writs given for the Order of the Pelican, with elevations to be at a future date to be determined:
Their Majesties then inducted Mistress Shishido Tora Gozen into the Order of the Laurel for her skill in making equestrian accoutrements. Mistress Gozen’s many virtues were recounted by Master Tigernach mac Cathail for the Pelicans, THLord Rhiannon Elandris for the Order of the Golden Lance, Prince Timothy of Arindale for the Royal Peers, Mistress Ysabeau Tiercelin read a letter from Viscount Alexander Caithnes for the Laurels, and Sir Bear the Wallsbane for the Chivalry. Mistress Gozen, now a double peer, was presented with a brooch from the equestrian community, and finally… she was able to wear her hitatare. Her scroll, based on the Tale of Genji, was illuminated by Mistress Una de St. Luc and calligraphed by Mistress Daedez of the Moritu.
Royal Court culminated in the bestowing of this reign’s Jewel of Æthelmearc on Mistress Cori Ghora, Kingdom Seneschale, as the populace roared their approval of Their Majesties’ choice.
Rhydderich Hael’s Baronial Court followed with several local awards, and culminated in the announcements of the tournament and Pentathlon winners as noted above.
Congratulations to the event autocrat, Lord Magnus de Lyons, and his staff on another successful Passing of the Ice Dragon enjoyed by over 600 gentles. May the Ice Dragon die swiftly and spring arrive with haste!
This report was written with contributions from Don Will Parris, Mistress Ysabeau Tiercelin, THLady Zoe Akropolitina, Baroness Katja Davidova Orlova Khazarina, Tiarna Padraig O’Branduibh, and Mistress Arianna of Wynthrope.
Exciting things are about to happen in the office of the webminister. We are ready to launch the brand new Kingdom of Æthelmearc website that we have been working on for quite a while. This new site will fix the things that broke a while ago with an update at our hosting company. During this transition time we ask you all to be patient since with all new things we will experience some growing pains.
We welcome your suggestions on the site improvements and if you catch any bugs in the system please let us know by emailing email@example.com. Also if you have any questions please don’t hesitate to email me.
With this new site we hope to bring more of a face to our various officers as well as organize the content a little bit better. We will also feature new sections such as social media links both for official groups and various interest groups around the kingdom and the knowne world. We also will feature a section for graphics that can be used for your creations such as machine embroidery files for the escarbuncle and other emblems and badges in the kingdom. Another new feature will be a searchable archive of past documents and policies as well as current ones for those who need them.
Again thank you for you patience and suggestions.
Sincerely The Honorable Lady Phelippe “Pippi” Ulfsdotter
Gentles wishing to make favors or other items for Her Highness Gabrielle to give as gifts during Her reign are invited to use the information below, sent to the Gazette by Dame Bronwyn MacFhionghuin.
Embroidery Pattern For Her Highness Gabrielle
Use this embroidery design when making items for soon-to-be Queen Gabrielle to officially gift. Place this design on anything you wish: belt favors, pouches, needle cases, pin cushions, drink covers, etc. Use whatever materials you like (linen, silk, wool, cotton), red background with white & gold threads. Reduce or enlarge the design as needed. The pattern is designed to use a chain stitch for escarbuncle and crown, and stem stitch for parfume drop.
Before you start, I suggest washing the fabric – red has a tendency to bleed.
Then do some test stitching to determine stitch size, how many strands of floss, etc. I counted stitches, but the number of stitches may change if you reduce or enlarge the pattern.
Do the escarbuncle first; then finagle the placement of the crown and drop if need be.
The completed Escarbuncle & Crown with Parfume Drop can be stitched directly onto the fabric for your finished piece, or cut into a rondel & appliquéd onto anything you want.
If you want, you could add a bead or pearl in the center.
For the base of the crown, make 2 rows of chains, slightly curved per the pattern, just above the escarbuncle. At each end, there are 3 chains up with a horizontal chain toward the center from the second chain. In the very center there are 3 chains up with 2 horizontal chains from the second chain. Between the end & the center on each side, place just one chain at the halfway point.
Surround the Escarbuncle & Crown with a stem-stitched Parfume Drop.
At this year’s Spring Æthelmearc Æcademy, we’re moving classes OUTSIDE! Classes will be held under covered picnic pavilions or in rented tents, so you can make it loud … make it dirty … make it FUN!
Teacher registration is now open; please register your class here.
The event will be held on Saturday, JULY 4th, and will be hosted by the Shire of Stormsport in conjunction with their Annual Army Muster and TRM’s Equestrian Championship Tournament. (Which means that in addition to classes a-plenty, there will also be as much heavy fighting, archery, fencing, thrown weapons, youth combat and equestrian activities as one might wish!)
Additional information can be found on the Kingdom website as well as on the Æcademy website here.
War Practice will be here in less than two monthes, and one of our best activities is we have to offer to the people of Æthelmearc and our guests is an excellent roster ot classes.
There are many talented teachers and artisans in the kingdom who have a great deal to share. If you’ve ever wanted to teach a class, or if you’d like to do a trial run before Pennsic or the next Æcademy, here’s your chance.
If you would like to teach a class, please send me the following information for the website and site booklet:
Name of Teacher
Students learning Book Binding from Master Michael Alewright
Please include your legal name and e-mail address, and your preferred time for your class, as well as any special requirements you may have. The schedule will be filled on a first-come, first- served basis, so the earlier you volunteer, the more likely it will be that I can accomodate you.
Space is available from 9am-8pm on Friday and 9am-6pm on Saturday in one of three large tents (with tables and chairs), the upper bathhouse (also with tables and chairs, plus electricity and access to water), and the Great Hall.
Please send your request to me by 30 April:
Thanks in advance for you generous offers, and feel free to cross-post this announcement anywhere you think there may be interest.
-Aidan ni Leir
As a companion to our story on the Queen’s Guard, Mistress Arianna of Wynthrope interviewed former royal retainers to learn what the job of serving the Crown entails.
As our Kings and Queens travel among the populace, you may have noticed that they are almost never alone. Typically there is at least one gentle tagging along behind, often carrying a basket, goblet, cloak, or fan. During courts, they are standing behind the thrones, fanning the royals if it is warm or offering them libations to keep their throats cooled. These good folk are retainers, and while their job may look simple, doing it well it is not. Some experienced retainers explain why.
What do retainers do?
Master Tigernach mac Cathail, who has served as a retainer for multiple royalty including Timothy and Gabrielle, Malcolm and Tessa, and Andreas and Kallista, says, “A retainer is like a butler and personal secretary all rolled up into one. They take notes and gather contact information regarding gifts that are presented for personal thank you letters. They remind the Monarchs about Their schedule. A retainer may have to fetch items or locate individuals with whom the monarchs would like to speak.” Master Tigernach continued, “One of the general rules I also go by is to try to keep Their Majesties’ hands free. They shouldn’t be carrying things or doing things that the retainer could be doing.”
Baroness Nuzha bint Saleem, who was head retainer for Khalek and Branwen, commented, “Your utmost purpose is to keep the royalty comfortable and safe – not the way the Queen’s Guard keeps the royalty safe, [but in] the simple little things that you would do for your family. You wouldn’t let your mother or your sister eat something they’re allergic to. You wouldn’t let your brother remain stuck in an uncomfortable conversation. You’d always make sure they had space at the dinner table and a place to sit if they came to your home. It’s the same for royalty at events.”
Indeed, one of the problems that SCA Royalty often have is that since they were not born nobility in the real world, they are unused to having ‘servants’ and may be uncomfortable with others fetching and carrying for them. Master Tigernach observed, “Sometimes this involves educating new sets of royalty. Often they don’t like someone waiting on them and want to do things for themselves. However, [retainers are] part of making the Kingdom look good.” He joked, “I let King Andreas dig his own sump in Æthelmearc Royal, and told him to enjoy it, because it was one of the last things we would let him do [that Pennsic].”
Many past retainers think of their role as stage managing the theater of the SCA. Baroness Boudicea Ravenhair, called ‘dicea, who has also served as a retainer for numerous Crowns, noted, “In my experience, retaining is the heart of the performance art in the SCA. Retainers are stage managers, set dressers, props, make up, dressers, handlers, house managers, special functionaries, concessions, catering, directors, prompters, and stage ninjas. They are the people who hold the space for the royalty to make magic with the populace. Roles are based on needs and filled with skills. SCA theater is a gift that everyone involved works to create together.”
Baroness Nuzha agreed, “Remember that this is not your show, it is theirs. You are a roadie, not the main act. You have done a good job if people see the beauty and the smoothness with which the show happens, but none of the effort.”
The best retainers anticipate the needs of their King and Queen without smothering them. Master Tigernach remarked, “There is a balance to taking care of the royalty and handling the little things, [without] going overboard. The final say is always up to Their Majesties, and you have to work out the line with them.”
Anyone can be a retainer
Unlike the Queen’s Guard, who are generally appointed by the Queen in consultation with her Captain of the Guard, anyone can volunteer to serve as a royal retainer for an event. Mistress Euriol of Lothian, who has retained for Timothy and Gabrielle as well as Malcolm and Tessa, remarked, “I encourage new people to retain. It is important [to understand] that if there is a general call out to become a retainer, then it is intended for everyone. If you show up to an event, volunteer to retain. If you know you’re going to an event in advance, reach out to the Head Retainer or equivalent and make the offer.”
Mistress Euriol noted that retaining can be a broadening experience for those who sign on for an entire reign. “Those that are considered part of the regular staff may go to events they may not regularly go to. Carpooling is great way to get to know people better. Finding crash space is a good way to make new friends.”
If you would like to serve as a retainer, however, there are some important things to remember. Baroness Nuzha says, “Read their whims, check for their allergies, [and] don’t wear, feed them, or have them around any of the things they’re allergic to. Don’t dote. That gets tiresome. Just BE present. BE aware. Notice if they seem uncomfortable or tired or hungry or thirsty.” In addition, Her Excellency points out that discretion is vital for retainers. “You should stay the heck OUT of their conversations. You are there to make them comfortable and to help them do the things they need to get done. You are not there to butt in or acquire knowledge to use for gossiping. You are most likely NOT their confidante. Do not assume the role unless it is asked of you.”
I encourage new people to retain – Mistress Euriol of Lothian
Retainers’ roles differ depending on the circumstances. Master Tigernach noted, “Being a battlefield retainer is different than being a regular retainer. During breaks [in the fighting] you have to bring food and drinks onto the field. You may also have to help with the armor, although a squire usually takes care of that.” He continued, “For court, the retainers process in behind the guards and champions and may have to carry stuff. During court they will stand behind the Thrones on their shift and keep Their Majesties’ glasses full.”
At events with hot weather or a lot of physical activity, like Pennsic and War Practice, retainers need to ensure that their King and Queen remain hydrated and healthy. Master Tigernach said, “For some monarchs you have to almost push [fluids] on them. I know with King Malcolm, I didn’t bother to ask if he wanted something to drink most of the time. Instead I would just put [a cup] into his hands. It’s important that retainers take care of themselves, too. They need to make sure they stay hydrated and rest if needed.”
Serving Royalty with children
Many of Æthelmearc’s Kings and Queens have reigned with small children in tow. These children have their own needs that retainers are often asked to assist with, and each set of royalty had their own way to accommodate their children. Mistress Katryne (Kate) of Bakestonden, who served Morguhn and Meirwen as well as Andrew and Alexandra, commented, “We had an approved list of retainers to watch the child. But if said child wanted mommy or daddy at any time, [we would] bring the child even if it was in the middle of court or a meeting.”
However, not everyone is suited for royal babysitting. Mistress Euriol noted, “Depending on the Royals, those who take care of any children may not be considered a retainer, but may considered separately from that function. There are also retainers who are not comfortable taking on a role with children.”
What does the Head Retainer do?
Mistress Euriol explained, “Head retainers organize the retainer schedule and recruit people to retain. They step in to fill a hole in the schedule. They may do some of the errands that may be more sensitive in nature. They also set the expectations of the retainers’ duties in general and what might be needed for a specific situation.”
Master Tigernach agreed that being head retainer requires organizational skills. “You [maintain] the spreadsheet with all the contact information for retainers. You also need to keep track of the schedule for the event and the schedule of retainer shifts. You have to share information with the Captain of the Guard. The Guard usually help at the beginning and end of events to unload and load gear. The head retainer or reign coordinator had the schedule and I would get that information to help figure out my shift.”
Mistress Kate recalls coordinating with autocrats and royalty liaisons before events. “There were lots and lots and lots of emails, phone calls, and spreadsheets with all of the contact information. [There was] a sheet for main contacts, then a sheet per event, and we did a lot of localized retainers per region so we had a contact sheet of available retainers per region per event.”
Baroness Nuzha noted, “If you are the head retainer, it is your job to make sure that your retainers are taken care of, as well as the royalty.” She recommends that all retainers have a backup and know their limits.
Baroness ‘dicea commented, “Retaining [for] royalty isn’t fun and games. It is pretty hard core larping. Royalty have ideal images of what is great about their kingdom that they want to reflect back to the populace. The retainers are supporting this theatrical presentation. Everyone has a role in every situation. It is not about rank or value, it is about the image of having people to pour drinks for guests, it is [about] the image of having a Herald. Royalty and their entourage are putting on a play within a play, setting aside other roles to make this part shine brightest.”
Mistress Kate concurred. “We retained by the saying: Service is love made visible.”
Need to schedule a meeting at War Practice?
War Practice will be here in less than two months. If you are an officer who would like to hold a staff meeting, or you represent an order or a guild who would like to hold a meeting, you will need to send me the following information so I can book you a space:
Name of group/order/guild
SCA and legal name of the officer/representative
E-mail address of the officer/representative
Preferred day and time requested
Amount of time requested
Space is available from 9am to 8 pm on Friday and from 9 am to
Please send your request to me by 30 April:
E-mail: Helen.pinto (at) Comcast (dot) net
Thanks for your co-operation and feel free to cross-post this
-Aidan ni Leir
Let our foes beware! As the East Kingdom Gazette reports here, there is no hiding from our mighty king!
Do you have questions you have always wanted to ask a Peer? Here is your chance to ask away!
We are going to pick ten questions from the populace at large, and do a series of articles. We will solicit answers from all of the peerages for each question. We think it will be interesting to see how answers differ among the peerages (or if they are the same!).
Reply by comment here, or comment on our Facebook page. Ready, set, ask!
The Kingdom Authorizations Clerk, THLady Ursula of Rouen, sends this announcement.
Unto the fighters, fencers, and riders of these Sylvan lands does your Kingdom Authorizations Clerk send warm Spring greetings!
As Spring is a time of rebirth and rejuvenation, change is in the air! I have relocated from the Shire of Misty Highlands to the Shire of Sylvan Glen and with that relocation comes a new address!
All authorization forms should now be sent to:
Danielle M. Duvall
The online forms will be updated in the very near future. To ease the transition, I have left my old PO box open for the time being and will have forwarding service soon. Please use the above address whenever possible going forward.
Note: This is not my physical address and I encourage you to share this address far and wide to make sure that authorization forms get to me as quickly as possible.
Thank you for your continued patience through this very hectic transition.
At Æthelmearc court today at Gulf Wars, Their Majesties Titus and Anna Leigh gave the second Æthelmearc writ for the Order of Defence to Don Orlando di Bene del Vinta. Their Majesties asked that all those from various Kingdoms who had been given a writ so far come to the front to witness the presentation, creating a stirring moment for the new Order of Defence peerage.
The ceremony can be viewed here.
The wording of the writ:
Baron Edward Harbinger, Æthelmearc’s Archer General, recently announced a new website for the Kingdom’s archers. Mistress Arianna of Wynthrope interviewed him about what the new site offers.
I have felt that the archers of Æthelmearc needed a place to call their own. I remember when THLord Cétach Fitzgibbon had it up and running years ago. It was a good place to go and find information about archery and further your knowledge in general. We haven’t had an archery page in about 7 years, and I feel participation may have gone down for it.
Q: What did you feel was missing from existing online archery venues?
Other venues weren’t going to help us find out who our more experienced archers are, like the Scarlet Guard. There wasn’t any other listing of who the members are until the new Order of Precedence was created, which wasn’t around when we started creating this page.
Q: How do you anticipate it helping the archery community in Æthelmearc?
I’m hoping that this page can become a repository of information to help the archery community. We have information on different kinds of shoots and targets. There will be a link to the most current rules once they have been passed. There is a listing of past Kingdom Champions as well as Scarlet Guard members. I’m hoping people will want to submit articles on bow and arrow building as well as quiver and arm guard patterns…..anything to help out the less experienced archers. There is also a map with events that have a strong archery influence to help plan out the eventing season. We are hoping to get more submissions of pictures to post. I feel that seeing pictures of people having fun shooting, and letting people know that it is handicap friendly and available to our youth will help stimulate growth in our community.
Q: Who else was involved in its development, and will anyone else be helping to maintain it?
I have had some help setting up this site from Master Alaxandair Ó Conchobhair and Mistress Maria Cristina de Cordoba. They have been instrumental to this happening and teaching me how to maintain the site.
Q: Will it be used to record Royal Rounds eventually, or will that site remain separate?
As this is a personal site, the Royal Rounds will remain on the Kingdom Scorekeeper’s site.
Q: What else do you plan to include on the site over time?
I would like to see all types of leatherwork shown (especially as I am a leatherworker). I would like to get more articles on designing shoots and targets. Photos are always appreciated. I will be writing some articles myself but will gladly take submissions from others. I’m hope that our more experienced archers will join me in helping to spread our knowledge to the populace at large.
I want to set up this site for the use of Archer Generals who come after me. I talked about this with the former Archer General [Master Urho Waltterinen] and he had told me to go ahead, but not to expect anyone to take the lead after me. That is why I have made this a personal site. I will maintain it, and will seek to get input from the Archer Generals who come after me, but it is truly for the archers of Æthelmearc; it is their page, a place they can show their pride in their martial art form.
Being royalty in the SCA comes with a number of perks. In Æthelmearc, one of those is the Queen’s Guard. How does the Queen’s Guard work? Mistress Arianna of Wynthrope interviewed several past Queens and members of their guards to find out.
What is the Queen’s Guard?
The Queen’s Guard is typically composed of gentles from around the kingdom who engage in one of the many martial arts of the Society and serve the Queen. Heavy weapons, rapier, combat and target archery, thrown weapons, equestrian, siege, even youth combatants have been members of the Queen’s Guard.
How are the Queen’s Guards chosen?
Each Queen uses her own criteria to choose members of her guard, but there are some common rationales among our past Queens.
Duchess Morgen of Rye said, “I looked for people who were enthusiastic and talented in whatever martial art they were pursuing. I tried to include people who represented diversity in martial activities and to include some youth.”
Countess Elena d’Artois explained, “We knew we would be traveling a great deal so we started with a base of two rattan, one rapier, one thrown weapons and one archer in each region. We looked for people who were up and coming and just about ready for one award or another. It was fun to get to know them and then be the ones to bring them up in front of their friends and recognize their excellence. In addition to prowess we also focused on character. We looked for people who were good examples of those qualities we aspire to. Additionally, they had to be people who we trusted to be nearby when discussing things of a delicate nature and not share them outside of the room.”
Countess Elena’s rapier captain, Don Corwyn Montgomery, explained, “In the course of our recruitment, we went with the multiclass characters (to quote D&D) in which we had individuals who participated in armored combat, rapier combat, combat archery, target archery, and thrown weapons.”
Duchess Branwen ferch Gwythyr said, “I wanted to make sure I had people from all regions and from all areas of martial interest, but since I was also planning to fence and to fight, the proportions were going to be a bit different. I was going for something like 1/3 fencers, 1/3 heavies, and 1/3 archers/thrown weapons people/equestrians, and equal groups from all regions.”
Her Grace continued, “I got recommendations from people I knew for the various regions, because during our first reign, I pretty much knew almost no one outside of my own region. Once I had a starting list, I went around and asked them face-to-face as much as I could. I tried to get a good list going during our minority, partly to take pressure off the autocrats at events we attended, and partly so we could have a chance to practice fighting and fencing together before coronation. A few times, I scoped out the field at events we attended and then asked people to join on the spot.”
Duchess Líadain ní Dheirdre Chaomhánaigh commented, “Being that both of my reigns were Pennsic reigns, I did my best to create a large Guard as the burden of service is greater from a time perspective for those serving at Pennsic. I spent a significant amount of time seeking suggestions for possible candidates, as well as observing various martial activities and individual actions to find members for my Guard.”
Duchess Morgen agreed, “For Pennsic, realistically, you need a lot more people. Covering an event is very different than covering morning to night for 10+ days. Fortunately, lots of people are willing to step up to help. Unfortunately, Pennsic can be so crazy, there were many times I wished we could give folks more interesting duties than being on guard during order meetings or teas.”
Countess Kallista Morgunova remarked, “The captains were asked to look for candidates as guards that were new or maybe up and coming or that just wanted to be more involved. We wanted men and women from all areas of martial activities. We looked for people that took the role serious but that wanted to have fun but be part of the pageantry.”
Lord Silvester Burchardt, who will be Captain of the Guard for Princess Gabrielle once she is crowned as Queen, said “I worked with Their Highnesses, Master Tigernach, and Dame Bronwyn to formulate a list of people that each of us thought would be willing, able, and/or interested in being a guard. Some of the choices were to ensure that each of the various martial activities were represented, some were people that we knew enjoyed serving in this capacity, some were people that inspired us personally, and some were people we felt would be inspired themselves by the invitation. Her Highness sends out invitations to as many or as few as pleased Her from that list [and] informs me which have accepted. I’ll be coordinating them mostly through FaceBook and e-mails, but I was fortunate enough to have face-to-face conversations with a few at the regional muster yesterday and hope to have a dress rehearsal/meet and greet at Ice Dragon.”
What does the Queen’s Guard do?
Lord Silvester commented, “The duties of the guards are a combination of figurehead “protectors” and traffic cops. We’re playing a game where we live in an idealized medieval realm where no one would ever even consider doing harm to the Royals, so the concept of “lay down your life” is happily off the table. Setting reality to the side, I feel the guard is still expected to appear to be ready, willing, and able to defend the Queen’s person from harm, even to the point of their very lives. From the perspective of “traffic cop”, we need to control the flow of people coming up to Her Highness or even the Royal Couple so that they don’t get bogged down, while making sure that people who have legitimate business with The Crown get their chance to speak. This is where we will rely heavily on the reign coordinator and head retainer to keep us informed of scheduled audiences, populace free-access sessions, etc.”
Duchess Liadain noted, “They should first and foremost continue to participate in their martial endeavors. At no time did I want someone serving a Guard shift instead of participating in a tournament.”
Duchess Branwen echoed that sentiment: “If we were at a fighting event, and I decided not to be on the field for some reason, I tried to make sure that none of my guards during the battles were people who could be on the field, because I wanted them to be out there fighting if they were able. The same went for tournaments in which archers or thrown weapons people or equestrians might be competing.” She continued, “For court, depending on the court, the shifts were usually shorter, so people could rotate in and out regularly and allow them to sit down. They stood two in front of the dais and two at the back of the hall (if we had enough, if not, just in front of the dais). Part of their job was looking official, and the other part was walking people up, making sure no weapons were on anyone not in fealty to us, and helping people ascend the dais if there were stairs.”
Duchess Liadain added, “Off the field and while on duty it was my expectation that the Guard join me as I travelled throughout the day. They were not to act as ‘retainers,’ carrying items, but with weapon in hand ‘stand guard’ and contribute to setting the stage to create the royal presence. Guards were expected to comport themselves appropriately to their station while on duty, which was generally scheduled in advance by my Captain of the Guard. We also asked that they help assist with assembling/disassembling thrones as well as helping to unload the morning of the event and pack up at the end along with the rest of our retinue.”
Countess Kallista noted, “Before we stepped up, Andreas met with the Captains and discussed expectations. Some were in regards to how court would run others were in regards to my “safety” at events and on the battlefield. In medieval tradition, no live steel within 10 feet of the Queen. Guards were to be aware of the situations that I was in and what I was doing so that if a something strange arose they would be able to deal with it. Mostly the guards were there to make the Kingdom look good. They kept court running smoothly and followed me everywhere. They fought beside me and stepped in when conversations need to be carried out in private or ended.”
According to Duchess Morgen, in court, “Probably the most important things for “the look” is for guard not to fidget. Most important for the guards themselves is to not lock their knees and to get shifted to a new position in court about 10-15 minutes in and then rotate out after 20-30 minutes maximum.”
If the Queen is a heavy fighter or fencer, as so many of Æthelmearc’s Queens have been, members of the Queen’s Guard in those disciplines may also be expected to form a unit that defends and works with her during battles at events like Gulf Wars, War Practice, and Pennsic. This can be an interesting balancing act – if the Guards do their job too well, the Queen doesn’t have much fun.
Duchess Morgen said, “Given that I am a heavy fighter, it was important to have a good number of skilled heavy fighters for the field.”
According to Countess Elena, “My rattan captain, Lord Madison Morai, asked me if I wanted to be safe, or have fun. My answer was to have fun. He worked with the rattan fighters on unit tactics in preparation for Gulf Wars. For one rattan battle we had an all female unit and dove in with enthusiasm. Fortunately for us it was a resurrection battle. We died gloriously and gained some land for our side, but died nonetheless.”
Her Excellency, now a Companion of the White Scarf, also recalls participating in her first fencing battles as Queen: “On the rapier field I was so new that the group we fielded intentionally used me as bait. I was wearing my queens’ white scarf and had amazingly beautiful armor that Doña Sasha had made for me, so as I distracted and intimidated [our opponents], the experienced rapier fighters killed all that came after me.”
Duchess Liadain commented, “As a heavy fighter myself, I always gave my Guards who were heavy fighters leave to join the field with their regular units as I felt this was a greater benefit to both the individual as well as the army. Interestingly enough, most chose to fight with the Queen’s Guard upon the field.”
Duchess Branwen said, “On the field, we worked together, and their job was basically to keep me alive. As I’m sure many of them could tell you, that doesn’t always go as planned, and I never blamed them for that – if I was on the field, I wanted to be on the field.”
Don Corwyn commented, “The guard will be hard pressed to keep up with an energetic queen, whether she is fighting on the field or shopping at Pennsic.”
What does the Captain of the Queen’s Guard do?
Generally speaking, the Captains organize the guards into shifts, advise and train guard members in their duties, and monitor their activities, especially during courts.
Doña Gabrielle de Winter, Captain of Queen Anna Leigh’s Guard, explained, “I am careful to try and be clear in what is expected from the guards — tell them exactly what it is that they need to do, and roll with the punches, because we are all human and we make mistakes. As long as people LOOK like they know what they are doing, people in court are really not going to notice anything.”
Lord Silvester noted, “The Captain of the Queen’s Guard is mostly ceremonial and the rest is about personnel management – scheduling the invited and spontaneous volunteer guards to ensure that Her Majesty doesn’t take a single step without at least one guard within a few feet while also maintaining the security of the royalty room during events, coordinating with the reign coordinator and head retainer to regulate who has access to Her Majesty when and ensuring that all of the guards know the roles expected of them. This is my first time as the Captain of the Guard and I know many of the invitees have never served as guards, so it’ll be a bit of a learning experience for all of us.”
Countess Elena said, “We chose two captains – rattan and rapier. The rattan captain was someone who we wanted to showcase so that he would get better exposure for his leadership and organization. The rapier captain was someone who had “been there, done that” so we had someone who knew many people in the kingdom and had experience in many areas of leadership and excellent organizational skills.”
Don Corwyn said, “I was very fortunate to share the rank of captain with Lord Madison Morai and several guardsmen who rose to the role of lieutenant. Without them, I could not have met the challenge of the duties. With them, we did an amazing job together.” He continued, “The aspect of being captain most do not consider is organizing guard movements for Court and as escort. Anyone who has had experience with stage productions or marching band will relate to planning movements of individuals that seem natural and expound upon the magic of making a medieval moment happen, not only for the populace but also for all of the individuals of the Royal Court, to include the guardsmen themselves.”
Duchess Branwen commented, “Both reigns, I had someone in mind ahead of time for captain. I wanted a separate captain just for the fencing guard, so we had someone to be in charge for training. The captain had to be there 90-100% of the time, or find a capable stand-in if they couldn’t make it.”
Countess Kallista remarked, “The Queen’s Guards were something Andreas took very seriously. He felt that tradition and propriety should be upheld in regards to guarding His Queen and Kingdom. When choosing a captain we looked for people that were loyal to the Kingdom and the traditions of the SCA.”
Duchess Morgen noted, “The captain needs to be someone close enough to you to work well with [you], and who can be organized so that there’s no need to micromanage. It should be an opportunity for a non-peer to have a leadership role. We worked out a system to post four guards for court and one for walking around.”
How do members of the Queen’s Guard benefit from the experience?
Duchess Liadain observed, “I believe that serving on the Queen’s Guard helps individuals foster new relationships, create lasting bonds, [and] learn new skills. Some of my very best friends were guardsmen that I barely knew [at first], but after a year together for a royal reign, [they] became family.”
Countess Kallista commented, “We felt that it was important to give people opportunities to be part of the grand theatre of court and to be able to view things from behind the scenes. Guards also get to experience things that many people in the SCA don’t normally encounter or are even aware of.” She added, “They were loyal and funny, strong and brave, and made me smile when I just wanted to cry. The hardest part of stepping down was releasing them. To this day many will step back into their role and I will find myself shadowed by or standing shoulder to shoulder with a dear friend that once wore a guard’s baldric.”
According to Duchess Branwen, “[Guards] get to know other people in the guard, and get to see what being part of a reign is like. I think it builds Kingdom community. It’s very easy to only know people in your home group. Being part of a guard means that you’ll hopefully meet people from all over. It [also] potentially gets you exposure. I wouldn’t treat it as a way of getting awards; for one thing, when I’ve been on the throne, I’ve tried to avoid giving awards to people for whom that’s an obvious goal. I’d rather see people do things that they enjoy because they enjoy them, and recognize that. However, it’s definitely a way that you can get people seen who you feel deserve recognition.”
If you are asked to join the Queen’s Guard, Duchess Branwen said, “I very much recommend being honest about your ability to commit if asked, because it is a guaranteed 5-10 months of being very active. Some people feel that they cannot say no to the Queen, and [that’s not the case].”
Don Corwyn noted, “Consider how many individuals you have seen in the Royal Guard [who] truly threw themselves into the role and went on to do great things. The Royal Guard that is truly devoted to bringing joy to the Queen will find a rewarding relationship that will continue to give long after the reign has ended. Such influences are shared, as evidenced by the rapier enthusiasm that infected Queen Elena to the point that she is now Doña Elena. This was a gift of her Guard, but to her Guard, they consider it a gift to them.”
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