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Medieval silver coin hoard found in Cheshire

History Blog - Mon, 2017-03-13 23:57

A medieval coin hoard was discovered January, 28th 2016, by metal detectorist Malcolm Shepherd in a field in the Beeston parish of Cheshire. He reported the find to the Portable Antiquities Scheme. Finds Liaison Officer Carl Savage examined the find and estimated based on the dates and types of coins that the hoard was deposited around 1498-1504.

The hoard is composed of a select group of 26 coins: 9 silver groats of Edward IV, 14 silver groats of Henry VII, one Edward IV penny, one Edward II farthing and one double patard of Charles the Bold of Burgundy. Silver groats were made of .925 fine silver, meaning they had a silver content of 92.5%, the sterling standard. This was a comparatively large denomination at the time of deposition. The owner deliberately picked silver-rich groats for hoarding, eschewing the smaller denominations that were in wide circulation.

One of the Edward IV groats, minted in 1480-83, held additional meaning to someone beyond its value as currency. It is perforated to the right of the crown at 2 o’clock on the coin face. That indicates the coin was worn as a pendant, as jewelry or maybe a good luck charm.

One penny and one farthing snuck in past the 24 higher denomination coins, and the Edward II farthing was worth collecting anyway because it was at least 190 years old when the hoard was buried. Those farthings turn up in hoards deposited as late as the early 1500s and are known to have remained in use in England until 1544 when all the silver coinage was taken out of circulation as part of King Henry VIII’s Great Debasement of the currency. Henry’s new debased coins were only 25% silver, meager indeed compared to the old groats.

One side-effect of the Great Debasement was that British coins were no longer accepted as currency in other countries because their precious metal content was so low. This had once been established policy, as evidenced by the double patard of Charles the Bold of Burgundy in the hoard. Edward IV and Charles the Bold signed a monetary alliance in 1469 which allowed English groats to circulate in the Burgundian Netherlands and Burgundian double patards (.878 silver content) to circulate in England. Double patards crop up fairly often in late Medieval English hoards, and three individual ones found in Cheshire are recorded in the Portable Antiquities Scheme database. They disappear from the English archaeological record after the 1530s, victims of the Great Debasement.

Last month, a coroner’s inquest determined that the Beeston Hoard qualified as treasure. Coins more than 300 years old with more than 10% precious metal content are classed as treasure, so assistant coroner Dr. Janet Napier’s decision was pretty much a foregone conclusion. As usual, per the terms of the Treasure Act, the next step is to assess the value of the coins which will be a kind of finder’s fee split between the finder and the landowner, to be raised by whichever institution wishes to acquire the hoard.

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

Spring Coronation: The Menus and Schedule

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

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

LUNCH

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

FEAST

1st Course

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

2nd Course

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

3rd Course

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

4th Course

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

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

Preliminary schedule for the day:

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

The event Facebook page is here.

The official announcement is here.


Categories: SCA news sites

Nerd Party at the Getty with Dr. Irving Finkel

History Blog - Sun, 2017-03-12 23:54

Dr. Irving Finkel, world-renown cuneiform expert, Assistant Keeper of Mesopotamian tablets at the British Museum and author of the thoroughly delightful book The Ark Before Noah: Decoding the Story of the Flood, is bringing his enormous brain and limitless enthusiasm for ancient Mesopotamian history and culture to the United States. On April 1st, (no, this is not a clever months-in-advance prank; I deserve neither such praise nor such censure), Dr. Finkel will be giving a lecture at the Getty Villa museum in Malibu. The topic will be the Ark before Noah: the ancient Babylonian Flood stories that predate the version in Genesis.

Dr. Finkel’s translation of a previously unknown Babylonian clay tablet from around 1750 B.C. recounting the Akkadian version of the Flood myth starring Atra-Hasis as the Noah figure revealed a treasury of engineering details about the construction of the great ark found on none of the other surviving Atra-Hasis tablets. It was round, for one thing, and made of woven and coiled palm-fiber ropes slathered with bitumen. There was enough detail in the tablet to allow for an attempted recreation of the ark on a much reduced scale, of course. A wonderful documentary was made about the attempt.

In the lecture, Dr. Finkel will talk about the tablet, his translation and research. It will be held at 2:00 PM in the auditorium of the Getty Villa in Malibu. Tickets are free and can be booked by phone or on the Getty’s website. The auditorium opens at 1:30 and seating is first come, first served.

April 1st is a Saturday. Make a weekend of it, because on Sunday, April 2nd, Dr. Finkel will be back at the Getty Villa being even cooler than he was the day before, if that’s possible. You see, in addition to being able to sight-read cuneiform and write grippingly about ancient tablet inscriptions, Dr. Finkel is also an expert on the Royal Game of Ur, a stone, shell and lapis lazuli board game from 2600 B.C. that was discovered in the Royal Cemetery of Ur in Iraq by archaeologist Sir Leonard Woolley during the 1926-1927 dig season. It is believed to be a race game where the aim is to beat your opponent to the finish line, like backgammon which may be a descendant of the Royal Game and/or its older Egyptian cousin Senet.

Much of what we know about how the game was played comes from, you guessed it, a cuneiform tablet also in the British Museum. This tablet was inscribed in 177-176 B.C. by Babylonian astronomer Itti-Marduk-balatu, who was kind enough to sign his work. By then the game was thousands of years old and the way it was played had changed. It was also used for divining the future, which is why an astronomer would be an appropriate person to explain the whole system. The front of the tablet has a diagram explaining how to use the central squares to tell fortunes.

As curator of the British Museum’s enormous 130,000-piece clay tablet collection, Finkel has had opportunity to research Itti-Marduk-balatu’s instructional.

This extraordinary board game, played for a good three thousand years over half the ancient world with unceasing enjoyment, has bewitched Irving Finkel of the British Museum since boyhood. Tutankhamun of Egypt played it, as did Assyrian king Assurbanipal. Due to Finkel’s extensive research of an ancient cuneiform tablet containing original rules, we can see why the game endured. In this illustrated talk, he describes some of the remarkable discoveries and heart-thumping adventures of a lifetime’s fascination. Halfway through a magnum opus on the subject, he offers fascinating insight into board game history and the lives of the Assyrians. Be prepared to sit on no more than the edge of your seats.

I CAN’T BE ANY MORE EXCITED THAN THIS ALREADY, GETTY PEOPLE!

Or so I thought. Then I read this next bit in the press release.

Join Dr. Finkel either before or after the talk for a friendly tournament featuring the ancient game of Ur. Learn how Ur was played, compete against your friends and family, and make your own version of a game.
1:00-2:00 p.m. and 3:00-4:00 p.m.
Villa Education Studio/Court
This is a free, drop-in program.

Pardon me while I get a paper bag to hyperventilate into. This is so insanely cool. All you Californians, California-adjacents and California-bound must get to the Getty Villa the first weekend in April. Anyone who plays the Royal Game of Ur with Irving Finkel must report back and I will write you up like superstars you are. (Get pictures!)

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

Pennsic Singles Rapier Champs Tryouts Announcement

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

East Kingdom!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Filed under: Pennsic, Rapier

Colossal statue, maybe of Ramesses II, found in Cairo

History Blog - Sun, 2017-03-12 00:55

A team of Egyptian and German archaeologists have discovered the head and bust of a colossal statue, possibly of the Pharaoh Ramesses II, in a soggy pit in Matariya, a working class neighborhood of northeastern Cairo. The quartzite statue is 26 feet high. The lower part of the head, the crown, the right ear and a part of the right eye have been recovered. There is no cartouche identifying the pharaoh, nor any other inscription on the pieces of the statue that have been found, so archaeologists cannot be certain it was meant to represent Ramesses II. His temple was close to the find site, however, and he did love to make gigantic versions of himself, so he’s the leading candidate.

Matariya’s mud roads and hastily erected buildings are perched above what was once the ancient city of Heliopolis. A center of religious devotion since the predynastic period, Heliopolis was deemed the home of the sun-god Atum, later Ra, and many successive pharaohs built or added onto temples there. The 18th dynasty king Thutmose III (r. 1479–1425 B.C.) built a temple that was the original home of two of the most famous obelisks in the world: the so-called Cleopatra’s Needle in Central Park, New York, and another so-called Cleopatra’s Needle in London. Tutankhamun’s father Akhenaten (r. 1353–1336 B.C.) had a temple built to his monotheistic iteration of the solar god, Aten. The solar temple built by Ramesses II (r. 1279–1213 B.C.) was so massive it was twice the size of the temple of Karnak.

The German-Egyptian team have been excavating the Matariya site since 2012. It’s a race against time to stay ahead of construction, especially since a lot of isn’t legal so they aren’t troubled with zoning and proper permits. The site is also contaminated with industrial waste, rubbish and ever-growing piles of improperly disposed construction rubble. The difficulty is compounded by the fact that the ancient remains of Heliopolis are below groundwater level. Moving large objects like architectural features and colossal statuary, or even life-sized statuary, for that matter, out of the water to high and dry ground is challenging, hence the use of the bulldozer to fish out the head of the colossus.

“We used the bulldozer to lift it out. We took some precautions, although somewhat primitive, but the part that we retrieved was not harmed,” said Khaled Mohamed Abuelela, manager of antiquities at Ain Shams University.

Egyptologist Khaled Nabil Osman said the statue was an “impressive find” and the area in the working class neighborhood of Matariya in eastern Cairo is likely full of other buried antiquities.

The top section of a life-sized limestone statue of Pharaoh Seti II, grandson of Ramesses II, 2’7″ long was also found at the Matariya site. Archaeologists hope to find more fragments of both statues as excavations continue. Conservators will work to piece them back together. If restoration is possible and more evidence is discovered identifying the colossal statue as Ramesses II, the huge sculpture will be moved to the entrance of the new Grand Egyptian Museum which is projected to open sometime next year.

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

Ædult Swim II: Its Origins and Future Plans

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

Photo courtesy of Lord Mikus.

By Baroness Katja Davidova Orlova Khazarina.

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

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

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

Click to view slideshow.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tommaso, for your kindness and generosity.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Categories: SCA news sites

Ædult Swim: The Cake

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

By Baroness Katja Davidova Orlova Khazarina.

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

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

It was a cake. A really amazing cake.

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

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

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

Click to view slideshow.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Categories: SCA news sites

Mudthaw Announcement

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

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

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

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

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

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

Baroness Treannah, Mudthaw Co-Autocrat


Filed under: Announcements, Events

Blenheim Palace flowerpot is a Roman sarcophagus

History Blog - Sat, 2017-03-11 00:59

A 1,700-year-old Roman sarcophagus has been discovered on the grounds of Blenheim Palace where it was being used as a flowerpot. An antiques expert who was visiting the estate on other business spotted the beautifully carved bas-relief on a planter filled with soil and tulips and bolted to a lead cistern. He recognized the carving as a Dionysian scene likely of ancient Roman origin and remembered a previous sale of a garden planter that turned out to be a Roman sarcophagus, because it seems estate appraisers in England glean sarcophagi in the hedgerows

He brought it to the attention of palace staff who determined it was the front of a white marble sarcophagus carved around 300 A.D. The quality of the carving is extremely high. An inebriated Dionysus is supported by a satyr and surrounded by his drunken followers, including the demigod Hercules and Ariadne, who saved Theseus from the Labyrinth and Minotaur only to be abandoned by him after a night of revelry with Dionysus on the island of Naxos. Close to the edges of the scene are two large lion heads facing outward.

While there are no records in the Blenheim archives to pinpoint when the artifact entered the palace collection, experts believe it was acquired in the 19th century by George Spencer-Churchill, the 5th Duke of Marlborough and great-great grandfather of Sir Winston Churchill. The duke was an avid collector of art and antiquities, much of which would eventually be sold to pay off his many, many creditors. Installed as a basin to collect water from a natural spring near the estate’s Great Lake, the sarcophagus managed to survive the great sell-off. In the early 20th century it was moved to a rock garden. That’s where it stayed for a century until its recent rescue from tulipmania.

It’s the Grand Tour that started all this in the 18th century. When the sons of wealthy families returned from their post-university voyages through France, Italy and the other history-rich countries of continental Europe, they were laden with art and antiquities they’d collected along the way. Sarcophagi were a popular choice, the larger and more elaborately carved the better. Their shapes made them convenient receptacles and using an ancient sarcophagus as a garden planter became fashionable in upper class households. By the second half of the 19th century, replicas of classical-style urns and sarcophagi were found in gardens all over Britain. To this day antique forms remain popular planters.

The Blenheim Palace planter is 6’6″ long, but the front panel with the relief is the only part remaining of the original Roman sarcophagus. The base, sides and back are missing, replaced with stone stand-ins that allowed the carved fragment to be seen in a facsimile of its original context. Just by itself, the fragment is six feet long, 2.5 feet high, six inches thick and weighs 550 pounds.

The palace called Nicholas Banfield of Cliveden Conservation to remove the ancient piece and transport it to their lab for cleaning and conservation. They cut the bolts connecting the planter to the cistern, liberating it from its prison. The marble surface was cleaned with nothing but water and soft wooden picks to chip away at the calcified crust left by more than a century of use as a water feature. The restoration took six months and now the sarcophagus fragment has gone on display inside the palace.

“We are delighted to have it back and the restoration work undertaken by Nicholas is very impressive. Now it is in a consistent indoor climate away from the natural elements we are hoping it will remain in good condition and survive for many more centuries to come,” said Kate Ballenger, House Manager at Blenheim Palace.

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Consider contest strategy.

  • Read the rules and documents of the contest carefully. Put yourself in your judges’ place: try scoring your entry using the contest score sheet. If you can’t find a specific score sheet for the contest you plan to enter, use the K&Q’s A&S rubric https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B6FxAc78rj92ampicDVYRWxnRGc/view from this year. Scoring your own entry will help you see your work in a different light.
  • Edit your entry. Bring only items representing your very best work AND directly contributing to the “story” you are presenting. Focus your documentation on your entry today. “Target documentation on what specifically you are presenting. Tie your documentation to each pieces in a clear and concise manner. Pictures are good but only show ones that support the pieces you have.”
  • Presentation is important. An A&S Contest is about much more than a score. Most of the people who will view your work are not judges so try to make your work easily accessible to a spectator. “Work on presentation. This didn’t impact your score but would jazz it up.” Try to devise an eye-catching and intriguing display. Think about background, arrangement, illustrations, diagrams, or cards like you see in a museum with a few words in large print to label the items in your entry for the casual observer. What kind of excitement might you spark in a spectator?
  • Ask an experienced judge or competitor to go over your work with you a few weeks before the contest.
  • Look for the A&S Consultants table at an event near you. This is a brand new Kingdom Arts and Sciences initiative planned to connect you with experienced A&S judges to discuss your work. They’ll be there to provide insight and guidance. Use them.

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

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


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

66 statues of Sekhmet found in Luxor temple

History Blog - Fri, 2017-03-10 00:37

An international team of archaeologists has unearthed 66 statues of the lion-headed goddess Sekhmet in Pharaoh Amenhotep III’s funerary temple complex in Luxor.

The discoveries were made during excavations by the German mission in the area between the courtyard and the hall of columns in the temple. The excavation was originally made to search for the remains of the wall separating the two sites.

Some of the discovered statues represent goddess Sekhmet in a seated position, others depict her while standing and holding in her hand the symbol of life and a scepter of the papyrus flower, said mission head Professor Horig Suruzaan.

She pointed out that all the discovered statues are made of Diorite rock.

Built on the west bank of the Nile in ancient Thebes, the funerary temple of Amenhotep III has been brutally ravaged by forces natural and human. Amenhotep III (1386-1349 B.C.) was an ambitious builder and his hometown of Thebes was the recipient of his most ambitious project: a temple complex so massive, it would dwarf the great temples of Karnak and Luxor on the east bank of the Nile. From front to back, it was seven football fields long and covered 350,000 square meters (3,767,000 square feet). For reference, Vatican City is 441,107 square meters.

All that remains above ground of the great halls, colonnades, courtyards filled with hundreds of statues are the Colossi of Memnon, the two colossal statues of Amenhotep III that flanked the entrance to the temple. An earthquake a century after it was built was the first to inflict major damage. More earthquakes, big ones in the 8th century B.C. and 27 B.C., and Nile floods did worse. Once the blocks started tumbling down, the looting of building materials followed. For centuries subsequent pharaohs treated the crumbling temple like a quarry. “The House of Millions of Years,” as the temple was known in Amenhotep’s time, was little but sugar cane fields and sand 3,400 years later.

Armenian archaeologist Hourig Sourouzian has working to conserve and explore the site since 1998, leading increasingly complex and well-funded excavations of an area that was long believed to be of limited archaeological interest. She suspected there was more of the great temple to be found underground, and boy was she right. The site is incredibly rich in archaeological material underneath a thin surface of desert and sugar cane. Impressive finds like dozens of statues of deities, sacred animals carved in alabaster, the pharaoh and his wife Queen Tiye, a beautifully carved colossal head and a 42 foot-tall colossus of Amenhotep III.

Statues of Sekhmet, fierce goddess of war and healing, are by far the most numerous. So many have been found (about 150 by my count, including the 66 just announced) that archaeologists think that Amenhotep III may have erected them as offerings to invoke the goddess’ healing powers towards the end of life when he was ill, possibly with arthritis. The team also discovered another statue, a finely carved and polished black granite statue of Amenhotep III as a young man.

All of the statues are of great artistic and historical value and will be conserved as part of the Colossi of Memnon and Amenhotep III Temple Conservation Project which aims to rebuild some of the temple’s structures and statuary above ground to convey in some small measure the lost grandeur of a temple that, even in utter ruin, still drew crowds of tourists as late as the Roman era.

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

Scarlet Apron Competition Returns with Family Meal Theme

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pre-registration is required to participate.

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

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

Yours In Service, Lijsbet

See last year’s competition description here.


Categories: SCA news sites

Only surviving view of Renaissance Lisbon street identified

History Blog - Thu, 2017-03-09 00:32

Most of Lisbon was at church when the earthquake hit. It was November 1st, 1755, All Saints’ Day, and the devout were at mass. The first shock struck at 9:40 AM with an estimated magnitude of 8.0 on the Richter scale. It lasted no more than six minutes, according to eye-witness accounts, but wreaked immense havoc in that time. Fissures as much as 15 feet long opened on the city streets. Almost all of the stone churches, particularly vulnerable as the tallest structures in the city, collapsed, killing the worshippers within. Aftershocks and 10:00 AM and noon compounded the destruction.

Then came the fire. The candles in the churches and chapels are believed to have started dozens of small fires all over the city. The three massive tsunamis that struck the city in short succession after the quake only added to the devastation. They didn’t even have the decency to help put out the fires. Fed by the destruction of the quake and the impossibility of dousing the flames, the conflagration spread throughout Lisbon, burning for five days. By the time it was all over, 85% of Lisbon was in ruins, tens of thousands were dead and millions of pounds in trade goods were lost.

The city was rebuilt with notable efficiency, but its medieval downtown was irretrievably lost, including its main commercial thoroughfare, the Rua Nova dos Mercadores. There was little surviving evidence of what Lisbon had been. Paintings of the city were typically distant panoramic views, not the details of individual streets.

One very salient exception survived and was rediscovered in 2009 (pdf) by Annemarie Jordan Gschwend and Kate Lowe hanging on the walls of Kelmscott Manor in Oxfordshire. Kelmscott was briefly home to both William Morris, of Arts and Crafts Movement fame, and the pre-Raphaelite painter and collector Dante Gabriel Rossetti. Morris and Rossetti leased the country estate for a time, and the latter lived there for a few months in 1871 and then off and on for two years (1872-1874). He left abruptly after a falling out with Morris, leaving much of his treasured art collection behind in his haste.

An avid collector of Old Masters when they could still be had for a song, Rossetti trawled the print shops, art and antiques shops of London for bargains. On April 3rd, 1866, he wrote to watercolorist George Price Boyce that he’d made an offer on a wonderful piece and hoped Boyce would stop by the shop to give it a look.

It is a large landscape with about 120 figures of the school of Velasquez — not by the great V. himself. I must needs feel pretty
sure, though it is so fine it almost might be but in abundance of interest as to subject & in grandeur of landscape, nothing could
well be more delightful.

His bid was accepted. In a letter to Edward Burne-Jones a couple of months later, Rossetti was considerably less circumspect about the authorship of his new treasure, calling it “the undoubted and stupendous Velasquez.” He was wrong both times. The painting was neither by Velasquez nor by his school. He did get the peninsula right, at least.

Rossetti is known to have altered his Old Master paintings, overpainting them, “restoring” them, cropping them so they’d fit in his rooms which were crammed to the gills with paintings already. He took a drastic approach to the not-Velasquez. Some time between the purchase in 1866 and his departure from Kelmscott eight years later, Rossetti cut the wide panorama in two and framed them to hang as companion pieces. Yup, another one for the “because people are crazy” file. I mean, he’s so enthralled with the “120 figures” depicted in the piece but then he chops it in half? Nuts.

The view of Lisbon captured in the painting gives it international significance. The Rua Nova dos Mercadores was Lisbon’s largest road and the commercial center of the city. There are records of it going back to the 13th century. By the 16th century, Portugal was the capital of a global empire and the Rua Nova dos Mercadores offered every kind of luxury import — cotton textiles from India, silks from the Far East, Ming porcelain, exotic medicines (rhino horn, bezoar stones) — in a dozens of shops. Records from 1552 count 20 textile shops, 11 bookstores, six porcelain shops and nine drug stores occupying the ground floors of the 90 or so buildings lining the street.

The architecture of the street — the iron railing, the portico with 149 columns, the tall narrow houses with flat roofs at each end and peaked roofs in the middle — was one of the key pieces of information that allowed Gschwend and Lowe to identify it as Lisbon’s Rua Nova dos Mercadores.

Here’s a virtual recreation of the street as it was before the earthquake.

There was a lot more business going on that just road traffic retail. The iron fence in the midground of the painting was a sort of velvet rope. Within its protective confines, merchants, bankers and assorted salesmen made deals and talked shop without having to rub shoulders with the hoi polloi. The painting depicts these wealthy traders and money men dressed in black cloaks and hats, a look known as the Spanish style, mingling behind the iron fence, while in front and to the side street vendors, children, farmers, labourers, performers, assorted foreign types and slaves hustle and bustle.

The high proportion of Africans in the picture was another of the key features that identified it as a depiction of pre-earthquake Lisbon. Lisbon was unique for a European city of its time for its large number of black people, mostly slaves, imported from Portuguese bases in western Africa. For more than a hundred years, Portugal dominated the slave trade and transported thousands of them to Lisbon itself. By 1551, an estimated 10% of the population of 100,000 was black. In 1578, about 20% of the 250,000 Lisbonites were black.

It’s not just the multicultural population in the picture that underscores Portugal’s imperial reach. Even the animals attest to it. In the second half of the painting, you can see a dog mauling a bird in the bottom left corner. Look closely at that bird. It’s a turkey, a New World bird that Portugal introduced not just to its capital, but to India, Africa and the Far East as well.

The global empire captured in the details of Rua Nova dos Mercadores will be the focus of a new exhibition at Lisbon’s Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga. The Global City: Lisbon in the Renaissance aims to recreate some of the Lisbon obliterated in the earthquake. The Rua Nova paintings will be displayed in Lisbon for the first time (that we know of), and will be accompanied by precious objects and artworks from all over the empire, like an intricately carved snake-themed ivory salt cellar base from Sierra Leone and a Processional Cross once owned by Catherine of Braganca made out of a narwhal tusk and containing the relics of Saint Thomas Becket. All told, the museum has assembled an unprecedented group of 249 pieces from 77 lenders from private collectors to public institutions.

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

Greetings From the New EK MoL

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

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

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

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

All new completed forms should be sent to:

EKMoL
PO Box 1168
Westbrook, ME 04098

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

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

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

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

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

Kingdom Ministers of Arts & Sciences Seek Successor

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

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

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

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

In service, Fridrikr & Orianna

See the Æthelmearc A&S policies here.

 


Categories: SCA news sites

The last days of the Romanovs

History Blog - Wed, 2017-03-08 00:20

Marking the centennial of the Russian Revolution this year, The Hague Museum of Photography is hosting an exhibition of pictures capturing the last days of the Romanov family before their execution by Bolshevik soldiers. The photographs were taken by Pierre Gilliard, a tutor to the Romanov children and an intimate friend of the family.

Pierre Gilliard was born in Vaud, Switzerland, in 1879. He became a teacher and, Swiss tutors being all the rage in aristocratic circles, in fall of 1904 accepted a position as French tutor to Duke Sergei, the son of Duke George of Leuchtenberg who was Tsar Nicholas II’s cousin. The family spent their summers at the Duke’s datcha at Peterhof on the south shore of the Gulf of Finland. Peter the Great built the Grand Palace of Peterhof, known as the Russian Versailles, while working on the construction of St. Petersburg, but he preferred his little maisonette of Monplaisir to the grandeur of the big house. Tsar Nicholas II avoided the giant formal palace too, spending the summers with his beloved family in the charmingly oxymoronic Cottage Palace.

Tsarina Alexandra and the Duchess of Leuchtenberg were close friends and during the summer of 1905 the two families socialized often. That’s when Gilliard first met the imperial family. In September of 1905, Gilliard picked up two new pupils: the Grand Duchesses Olga and Tatiana, Nicholas and Alexandra’s eldest daughters, then 10 and eight years old respectively. In his memoirs he described them and their mother as polite and considerate and his pupils clever, albeit very much behind where he thought they should be in their command of French.

The third daughter, eight-year-old Grand Duchess Maria joined her sisters’ lessons in 1907, and Grand Duchess Anastasia followed in 1909. Gilliard continued to tutor Duke Sergei until 1909, after which he focused on his imperial students. He taught the girls in the Alexander Palace at Tsarskoye Selo five times a week as long as they were in residence, and when the Grand Duchesses failed to make as much progress as Gilliard, the Tsar and Tsarina had hoped, he joined the family during their months-long summer sojourns at Livadia Palace in the Crimea.

It is a testament to how trusted a member of the royal household Gilliard had become that he was given the responsibility of tutoring the Tsarevitch Alexei. The heir to the Russian Empire was a very sick little boy, afflicted terribly by the hemophilia that Queen Victoria’s genes had spread throughout the royal families of Europe. (Alexandra’s mother was Princess Alice, Victoria’s favorite daughter.) His illness was a state secret and hidden from everyone. Gilliard was one of a very small inner circle who knew how sick he was and from what.

So close was he to the Tsar’s family that he chose to join them in exile after the February Revolution and Nicholas’ abdication in August of 1917. The family and a select group of the most loyal family and retainers were first confined to Tsarskoye Selo for five months and then sent to Tobolsk, Siberia, where they lived in the Governor’s Mansion. It was no Grand Palace, but it was downright luxurious compared to what was to come. When the White Army got too close to Tobolsk in April of 1918, the Romanov’s were moved to Yekaterinburg. They were imprisoned in Ipatiev House, the home of local industrialist, and were subjected to a million petty indignities by their Bolshevik guards.

Gilliard went with them as far as he could. He made it to the train platform at Yekaterinburg, but then, for some unfathomable reason, the Bolsheviks refused to let him out of the train and told him he was free to go. He didn’t go. He remained in the city hoping to catch a glimpse of the imperial family, a glimpse he never got. The Tsar, Tsarina, Tsarevitch and Grand Duchesses were shot and bayoneted to death on July 17th, 1918.

In Gilliard’s memoirs, Thirteen Years at the Russian Court, he wrote movingly about what a loving, close family they were, all the more so under the extreme duress of their last days. He describes entering Ipatiev House on July 25th after the fall of Yekaterinburg and the Bolshevik announcement that the Tsar, and only the Tsar, had been executed while the rest of the family was in a “safe location.”

I went down to the bottom floor, the greater part of which was below the level of the ground. It was with intense emotion that I entered the room in which perhaps – I was still in doubt – they had met their death. Its appearance was sinister beyond expression. The only light filtered through a barred window at the height of a man’s head. The walls and flour showed numerous traces of bullets and bayonet scars. The first glance showed that an odious crime had been perpetrated there and that several people had been done to death. But who? How?

I became convinced that the Tsar had perished and, granting that, I could not believe that the Tsarina had survived him. At Tobolsk, when Commissary Yakovlev had come to take away the Tsar, I had seen her throw herself in where the danger seemed to her greatest. I had seen her, brokenhearted after hours of mental torture, torn desperately between her feelings as a wife and a mother, abandon her sick boy to follow the husband whose life seemed in danger. Yes, it was possible they might have died together, the victims of these brutes. But the children? They too massacred? I could not believe it. My whole being revolted at the idea. And yet everything proved that there had been many victims.

The Soviets continued to deny having slaughtered the imperial family until 1922. Gilliard stayed in Siberia for three years, helping magistrate Nicholas Sokolov investigate the murders. He married Alexandra Alexandrovna Tagleva, Grand Duchess Anastasia’s former nanny and one of the loyal few who went into exile with the Romanovs in 1919. They returned to Switzerland in 1922 where Gilliard returned to his study, becoming a professor of French at the University of Lausanne in 1926. He and his wife both interviewed Anna Anderson, the woman who claimed to be the Grand Duchess Anastasia, and concluded she was a fraud. Gilliard wrote a book debunking her claims, but there was so much mystique around the alleged Anastasia that plenty of people bought her ludicrous story until DNA evidence proved once and for all that she was a mentally ill Polish factory worker by the name of Franziska Schanzkowska. He also debunked the first of many Alexei impostors.

An avid amateur photographer, Gilliard took many pictures of the family at leisure — Alexei playing with his dog Joy, the Grand Duchesses putting on a Moliere play, the Tsar shoveling snow — and on official occasions. The original negatives are now in the collection of the Musée de l’Elysée in Lausanne. For the new exhibition at the Hague Museum of Photography, more than 70 enlarged gelatin silver prints have been made from those original negatives. I hope they digitize them all because there are a lot of sad, grainy, copies-of-copies of Gilliard’s pictures out there. It would be wonderful to be able to see the last happy days of the Romanovs in high resolution. The exhibition runs through June 11th of the this year.

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

The Colosseum after antiquity

History Blog - Tue, 2017-03-07 00:49

The Colosseum is the most visited monument in the world today. The great amphitheater built in Rome during the reigns of the Flavian dynasty emperors Vespasian and Titus (72-80 A.D.) is an icon of ancient Roman engineering and bloodlust, but it has outlived the empire that created it by 1,500 years. The Colosseum saw many changes in its long post-antiquity lifespan, its architecture altered by activity both human and seismic, dedicated to a wide variety of uses from cemetery to shopping mall to fortress. That rich later history is overshadowed by its ancient resume, and the millions of tourists who flock to the Colosseum every year hear a lot more about the gladiatorial combat of the 1st century than about the butchers’ stalls of the 11th.

A new exhibition seeks to correct that oversight. Colosseum. An Icon is the first exhibition to tell the full story of the Flavian Amphitheater, from the gladiators to the butchers and beyond. It covers the numerous attempts at repair and restoration, how the space was repurposed over the centuries, the construction of brick buttresses in the 19th century to keep the outer walls from collapse, how it became a favorite subject of artists from the Renaissance through the Grand Tour era, launching it as the iconic representation of the city of Rome and ancient Roman grandeur. That image spread even wider when moneyed travelers brought back fine marble miniatures and micromosaics of the Colosseum as souvenirs in the 19th century.

The exhibition also illustrates the profound shift in attitude towards the amphitheater from Christians in general and the Papacy in particular. The last recorded games were held in 523 A.D., an animal hunt celebrating the consulship of Anicius Maximus, and already then the Colosseum was very much reduced. The top gallery had collapsed, entrances were impassable, the hypogeum flooded. Neglect, earthquakes and the failure of the unmaintained drainage system took an enormous toll on the building. Travel writers in the Middle Ages thought it was some sort of pagan temple and associated it with nefarious demonic goings-on.

That demon-haunted reputation clung to the Colosseum well into the Renaissance. Renown goldsmith Benvenuto Cellini had a raucously occult experience at the amphitheater in the 1530s which he recounts in his memoirs.

We went together to the Coliseum; and there the priest, having arrayed himself in necromancer’s robes, began to describe circles on the earth with the finest ceremonies that can be imagined. I must say that he had made us bring precious perfumes and fire, and also drugs of fetid odour. When the preliminaries were completed, he made the entrance into the circle; and taking us by the hand, introduced us one by one inside it. Then he assigned our several functions; to the necromancer, his comrade, he gave the pentacle to hold; the other two of us had to look after the fire and the perfumes; and then he began his incantations. This lasted more than an hour and a half; when several legions appeared, and the Coliseum was all full of devils.

As late as 1594, the Popes were still renting the Colosseum out to glue makers and contemplating converting the whole structure into a factory with residences for the workers in the top galleries. That changed in the Jubilee year of 1675, when Pope Clement X declared the Colosseum a sacred site of martyrdom for all the Christians said to have been condemned to death in the arena. (There is little evidence that Christians were martyred at the Colosseum, btw, and the stories of martyrdom in the amphitheater only began circulating in the Renaissance.) Clement had ambitious plans to dedicate a church to the martyrs inside the Colosseum, asking the great polymath Gianlorenzo Bernini to design it. It was too expensive, though, so Clement just had a cross installed in the arena instead.

The idea didn’t die with him. Twenty years later, architect Carlo Fontana was enlisted to design a prospective Church of the Holy Martyrs inside the Colosseum. Again, the church never happened, but he studied the amphitheater in great detail for this project and wrote a book about its architecture, ancient history, current condition and the proposed church that was published posthumously in 1725. (Random History Blog connection: Fontana’s original architectural drawing of the church in the Colosseum is in the collection of the wonderful Sir John Sloane’s Museum in London.) The architectural model and several of Fontana’s drawings are on display in the new exhibition.

The major restoration of the Colosseum, which is still ongoing, discovered many objects and remains from its later life which are will be part of the exhibition. An abundance of butchered animal bones and cooking utensils were found, a testament to the butchers, eateries and private residences which rented space in the ground-level vaults through the 12th century. Of course they unearthed ancient sculptures and architectural details galore. They will join one of only two surviving statues of the 160 that adorned the arches of the second and third-floor arcades when the Colosseum was first built.

The restoration also discovered traces of the Colosseum’s life as a fortress for the powerful Roman noble Frangipani family. Restorers found holes bored into travertine blocks on the top tier of the southern wall. The holes held beams that supported a wooden walkway used by Frangipani soldiers as a lookout station. The find was announced Monday at the press conference about the new exhibition.

Colosseum. An Icon opens Wednesday, March 8th and runs almost a full year until January 7th, 2018. It’s at the Colosseum, in case that wasn’t clear.

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

10 New Youtube Videos for Medieval Lovers - Volume 2

Medievalists.net - Mon, 2017-03-06 22:06
We found 10 more new videos on Youtube about the Middle Ages.

Rediscovered: Medieval Books at Birkbeck 

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

 

Friendships from a Medieval Perspective

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

  Medieval

Pisa: The city at the end of fourteenth century 

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

 

Transformations of the Knight's Hall at Häme Castle 

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

 

Lutherfestdagene: The Reformation - a curse for church art? 

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

 

The Wealth of Anglo Saxon Mercia 

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

 

Staffordshire Hoard at The Potteries Museum and Art Gallery 

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

 

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

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

 

Project Runway Medieval Style 

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

 

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

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

 

Click here to see our first set of medieval videos



Categories: History, SCA news sites

From the Chancellor of the Exchequer

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

From the Chancellor of the Exchequer:

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

 

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

Kingdom Exchequer

Kingdom Seneschal

Their Majesties and Their Highnesses

 

The duties and requirements of the office include:

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

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

 

In service,

Maestra Ignacia la Ciega, East Kingdom Chancellor of the Exchequer

 

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Filed under: Announcements Tagged: Exchequer, kingdom officers

Unique Lodz Ghetto photos at the MFA, Boston

History Blog - Mon, 2017-03-06 00:32

The Lodz Ghetto was the second largest (after the Warsaw Ghetto) of more than 1,000 ghettos created to corral Jews in cities as the first step in the “cleansing,” ie, extermination, of European Jewry. Conditions were appalling by design, so that the overcrowding, disease and starvation would do the Nazi’s murderous work for them. Starting in 1942, ghetto residents were regularly deported to concentration camps. Chelmo, the first extermination camp with a gassing system (trucks, not chambers), opened in December of 1941 just 30 miles from Lodz; its first victims came from the Lodz Ghetto, 70,000 of them in 1942 alone.

Because the Lodz Ghetto was uniquely productive — its factories produced uniforms and other materials for the war effort — it lasted longer than any other World War II ghetto, from 1940 until 1944. In August of 1944 it too was liquidated; everyone was rounded up and sent to their deaths, most of them to Auschwitz-Birkenau. By the end of the war, more than 200,000 Jews had passed through the Lodz Ghetto on, their way to almost certain death at Chelmno and Auschwitz. When the Red Army liberated Lodz on January 19th, 1945, only 877 survivors, 12 of them children, emerged from their hiding places in the ghetto. Out of the 223,000 Jews who lived in Lodz before Hitler’s invasion of Poland, just 10,000 survived the war.

One of those survivors was Henryk Ross, a Polish Jew who before the war had been a journalist and sports photographer. He was employed as an official photographer for the Jewish Council, aka the Judenrat, ostensibly a self-governing body which administered the day-to-day operations of the ghetto and enforced Nazi orders. Working for the council’s the Department of Statistics, Ross’ job was to take pictures of the ghetto factories, demonstrating their productivity, and of the registered workers for their identification cards.

Ross and the other Department of Statistics photographer, Mendel Grossman, secretly took unauthorized photographs of the horrors all around them. Ross captured the deportations, destruction and deprivations — barefoot workers pushing carts of human excrement out of the ghetto (there was no plumbing or sewage), public executions, children torn from their parents during the Sperre, the September 1942 mass deportation of almost all of the children under 10 to Chelmo where they would be murdered. He also captured small moments of daily life, even happy ones, amidst the nightmare, like young lovers kissing behind a shrub and a children’s birthday party. The variety and range of Ross pictures underscored the class divisions that persisted even in so extreme a context. His photos show the contrasts of ghetto life — the workers, the destitute, the well-fed and well-dressed elite.

In the summer of 1944 when it became clear the Nazis were winding down operations in the ghetto and preparing for the final slaughter, Henryk Ross saw the writing on the wall. Not expecting to survive, he buried 6,000 negatives. His wife and a few select friends helped him, so they knew where Ross’ photographic treasure trove was hidden should he die. As it happened, Ross was not deported to the extermination camps. He was one of the 800 Jews ordered to clean the ghetto. Of course they Nazis were going to kill them all once the clean-up was done — they had eight mass graves dug already — but the Soviets arrived before they could get to it.

After the liberation of Lodz, Ross dug his negatives back up and found that more than half of them had survived. He later said of his fateful decision: “Just before the closure of the ghetto I buried my negatives in the ground in order that there should be some record of our tragedy, namely the total elimination of the Jews from Lodz by the Nazi executioners. I was anticipating the total destruction of Polish Jewry. I wanted to leave a historical record of our martyrdom.”

He certainly got his wish — his pictures were used as evidence in the 1961 trial of Adolf Eichmann — but he left a broader historical record than that, documenting the realities of life and death in the ghetto.

Ross’ collection of photographs and film was donated to the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) in 2007. The AGO has collaborated with the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (MFA) to organize an exhibition of Henryk Ross’ Lodz Ghetto photographs, plus film of the Eichmann trial and Lodz artifacts like identification cards from the ghetto, notices and announcements. Memory Unearthed: The Lodz Ghetto Photographs of Henryk Ross debuted at the AGO last year. It will open at the MFA on March 25th and runs through July 30th, 2017.

The AGO has created an exceptional website with more than 4000 images from the Henryk Ross collection. You can search by keyword and create an online collection of your own for the price of a free registration.

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History