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The AEthelmearc 300!!!

AEthelmearc Gazette - Sat, 2017-09-02 14:04

Greetings unto the Populace of AEthelmearc from Master Anias Fenne! As the memories of War begin to fade, and the weather begins to turn cooler, let us not let our learned skills fade or our fire and passion for the fight begin to cool and sputter as well. As such, I am announcing the beginning of a Kingdom wide, long, tournament series designed to test your mettle, prowess, and persistence. I introduce to you…. The AEthelmearc 300!!!

Per the rules listed below, the shortest time that this tournament series can take will be over the course of two years, with the possibility of it being longer. There will be copious prizes awarded over the course of the series, with the ultimate final prize to be more than worth the effort! So please join in and test your self against the best this kingdom has to offer.

The first leg will be held at the approaching Harvest Raid in the Shire of Heronter on Sept. 30th. The more participants we have, the better the prizes, and First prize for this leg will be a handmade steel buckler crafted by myself! So come, join us, and let us work together as a kingdom to test each other and hone our prowess!

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

The Aethelmearc 300 (AE300) is an on-going rapier tournament series to be hosted three times a year at various events through out the Kingdom of AEthelmearc. Each leg of the tournament lasts until the first person reaches fifty points or the allotted time has elapsed. All fighting will immediately cease at that time. There will be significant prizes awarded for each individual leg of the series, with the number of prizes dependant on the number of fighters.

The AEthelmearc 300 will end when one fighter emerges from the list with three hundred points. There will be prizes for the top several finishers in the overall standings, and the top prize has yet to be officially confirmed… but let me assure you, it will be a prize worth fighting for!


  1. The tournament must have a minimum of six fighters to be held.
  2. There will be one list per 8 fighters.
  3. There will be one prize awarded for each list in the leg of the tournament series.
  4. Chivalric behavior is expected at all times during the tournament. MIC has the right to remove a fighter from a leg of the tournament for infractions of the rules.
  5. A win is 1 point. No points for losing.
  6. Winner holds the list until defeated or a double kills occurs.
  7. Wounds are retained.
  8. Double kills = no points and both fighters retire from the list.
  9. All defeats will be reported to the MOL immediately before returning to the queue.
  10. Knocking down list ropes, poles, etc. more than twice is a loss.

If no fighter reaches 50 points at an event there is no winner and no prize is given. Points will still be tallied and added to any previous points earned.

Any questions or comments may be directed to the AEthelmearc 300 Coordinator: Master Anias Fenne at: aniasfenne@hotmail.com

Categories: SCA news sites

Extraordinary mosaic found in ordinary Roman villa

History Blog - Fri, 2017-09-01 23:49

Archaeologists and community volunteers have unearthed an extraordinary Roman mosaic floor in the remains of an otherwise modest Roman villa in Boxford, West Berkshire. The mosaic dates to the late 4th century, about 380 A.D., when incursions from Saxons, Picts and Irish were on the rise and the usurper Western Roman Emperor Magnus Maximus (r. 383–87 A.D.) was withdrawing troops stationed in Britain to reinforce his army in his home base of Gaul. Other villas in Britain have been found with handsome new mosaics laid around this time, however, so it seems some of the rural villas at least were prosperous and secure enough to invest in new art. (Urban population, on the other hand, cratered and richly appointed town houses from this period are rare.)

The villa itself was not one of the huge luxury country estates. It had a farmhouse, a bath and a medium-sized villa of no special architectural interest with one big exception: a spectacular mosaic floor. The excavation team was only able to unearth less than half of it before the close of the dig, and the fraction that has been revealed is already breaking new ground in the art history of Roman Britain. The mythological themes depicted include imagery that hasn’t been found before in Britain. That iconographic variety has inspired one expert to call this the most important Roman mosaic unearthed in Britain in the last 50 years. The figures and flourishes aren’t as finely drawn as those in the fanciest homes and public buildings — the owner must not have had access to or been able to could afford the services of the greatest artists — but the subject matter makes the mosaic unique in the British art historical record.

The central panel, which has not been fully uncovered yet, depicts scenes from the life of the her Bellerophon. In one he is borne aloft by the winged stallion Pegasus as he attacks the chimera. Another scene is believed to depict King Iobates offering Bellerophon his daughter Philonoe’s hand in marriage as a reward for his successful killing of the chimera. If the provisional identification can be confirmed when the rest of the mosaic is excavated, this will be the only known mosaic depiction of this particular scene from the Bellerophon mythos ever discovered from Roman Britain.

Another rare element on this mosaic is an inscription. Experts haven’t deciphered it yet, but first impressions suggest it may be related to the scenes from the life and acts of Bellerophon depicted in the central panel. The thick bottom border of the mosaic contains more significant iconography. There’s a Cupid in a medallion in the middle, a telamon and an atlantid (bemuscled male versions of caryatids used as architectural features) in the corners, set in medallions of their own tilted diagonally. All three figures stretch outside the confines of their medallions, the corner figures performing their mythologically correct functions by holding up the borders of the central panel. This extension of the bodies outside the edges of their framing devices is extremely unusual in Roman mosaics.

Between the Cupid and the atlantid is an outline drawing of a man in a thick cloak wields a club against a centaur, likely a depiction of Hercules, clad in the skin of the Nemean Lion, battling Nessus. Technically Hercules killed Nessus with a poison arrow (a key plot point), but their battle was often depicted as hand-to-hand combat in artworks from antiquity well into the modern era. I’m thinking it could be Theseus vs. Eurytus. Mythological accounts describe that fight as hand-to-hand. The iconography could work too, at least from what I can see in the pictures. Hercules wasn’t the only hero with a club. Theseus had a particularly good one, the bronze club with which he’d killed its former wielder Periphetes, the cyclopean son of Vulcan. He was frequently shown holding the club in vase decorations and mosaics. I can’t see a lion head on the garment — unless those lines on his left pectoral muscle are meant to be a lion head? — and without that key evidence it could just be a cloak, another accessory common in portraits of Theseus and many other heroes.

The site has been excavated in short summer seasons as part of the Boxford History Project since 2011, led by professional archaeologists from Cotswold Archaeology and staffed largely by volunteers. The last three seasons, funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, have unearthed masses of tile, pottery fragments and the walls of multiple buildings, including the small villa. The team has reburied all of this year’s finds for their own safety and conservation. They will return next year and pick up where they left off excavating the mosaic.

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

Chancellor Minor Application Deadline Extended

East Kingdom Gazette - Fri, 2017-09-01 19:58

Greetings to the Populace of the East Kingdom,

While I have loved serving the youth and families of the East these past four years, my time as Chancellor Minor is coming to the end, and I am still seeking a successor. The deadline for application for the position has been extended to September 15th.

What does the Chancellor Minor do, you ask? Well, according to Kingdom Law:

10. The Kingdom Chancellor Minor:
a. Assists parents of children in integrating children’s activities into local and Kingdom events. The Kingdom Chancellor Minor will not be responsible for, nor in any way encourage autocrats or the Society to provide, baby-sitting services.
b. Prepares, maintains, and disseminates such materials as further the objectives of the Office.
c. Works with the Kingdom Chatelaine in accomplishing these goals.
d. Encourages youth in the culture and customs of the Society.
e. Works with the Kingdom Youth Earl Marshal and the Kingdom Youth Rapier Marshal to coordinate youth martial activities.

In addition, with the help of a deputy, the Youth Clerk, the Chancellor Minor is responsible for making sure that all those who work with youth are properly warranted and background checked through society.

The candidate for this job should be someone who:
– Enjoys working with both children and adults
– Communicates well via email and in person
– Has basic spreadsheet and document skills
– Has or is eligible for an SCA background check
– Has approximately 2 hours per week to dedicate to reaching out to seneschals, deputies, and youth officers about activities, initiatives, and answering any questions.
– Can fulfill the duties of kingdom officers laid out in EK Law section E.

In order to apply, candidates are asked to submit a letter of intent to myself, the Prince and Princess, and the East Kingdom Seneschal. Ideally, an SCA resume and and modern resume would be included. Any questions can be directed to me at chancellor-minor@eastkingdom.org.

Yours in Service,
Mistress Leonete D’Angely

Filed under: Announcements, Youth Activities

Cast Iron Chef Competition Needs Volunteers

AEthelmearc Gazette - Fri, 2017-09-01 18:04

Greetings from the Cast Iron Chef coordinators!

Every year, we rely on many hands to keep the tournament running smoothly, and this year is no different. If you are so inclined, we are looking for volunteers to assist us with the following tasks:

  • Setting up the pantry shelter, judges’ area, and wash station (preferably done Friday evening)
  • Digging the fire trench (preferably Friday evening, but Saturday morning/afternoon is fine, too)
  • Building the initial fire for cooking (Sunday morning)
  • Running fire wood when we get low (Sunday)
  • Putting pantry items out on shelves (Sunday morning)
  • Monitoring the water cooler to make sure it stays full (Sunday)

The event is scheduled for Shoot in the Wildwood, September 1 @ 5:00 pm – September 4 @ 11:00 am, in the Barony of Delftwood.

Please let me and/or Sebastian know if you think you can help us out in any way to get the tournament ready for our cooks. Thank you so much in advance!

THL Lijsbet

Categories: SCA news sites

Announcement of a new Badger Herald / Annonce d’un nouveau Héraut Badger

East Kingdom Gazette - Fri, 2017-09-01 14:55

En français

Unto the Populace of the East, and specifically the Crown Principality of Tir Mara, does Malcolm Brigantia send greetings.

I want to announce a change in officers for the Crown Principality.  I have appointed to the role of Badger Herald, the Tir Mara Regional Deputy and primary point of heraldic contact for the Crown Principality, Behi Kirsa Oyutai.  We have worked together numerous times, and I know she is passionate about her work, and enthusiastic to serve.  I am looking forward to Kirsa’s new service to the Kingdom and Crown Principality.  This appointment is effective as of this missive.

I want to take a moment to thank the outgoing Badger Herald, Lord Diarmaid O Briain, for his service.

The East Kingdom College of Heralds continues to be one of the finest in the Knowne World, and I have outstanding deputies who make it so.  Thank you all for your continued hard work.

Malcolm Bowman, Brigantia Principal Herald

En français – traduit par Behi Kirsa Oyutai

À la population du Royaume de l’Est, et spécifiquement aux gens de la Principauté de Couronne de Tir Mara, moi, Malcom Brigantia, envoie mes salutations.

Je désire annoncer un changement parmi les officiers de la Principauté de Couronne. J’ai nommé au rôle de Héraut Badger, le Député Régionnal de Tir Mara et premier point de contact héraldique pour la Principauté de Couronne, Behi Kirsa Oyutai. Nous avons travaillé ensemble de nombreuses fois, et je sais qu’elle est passionnée par cette tâche et enthousiaste de servir. J’ai très hâte de constater les accomplissements de Kirsa dans son nouveau rôle au service du Royaume et de la Principauté de Couronne. Ce changement est effectif immédiatement.

Je souhaite prendre un moment afin de remercier le Héraut Badger sortant, Seigneur Diarmaid O Briain, pour son service.

Le Collège des Hérauts du Royaume de l’Est continue d’être un des plus renommé dans le Monde Connu, grâce aux excellents députés me secondant. Merci à vous tous pour votre continuel travail acharné.

En Service,
Malcom Bowman, Héraut Principal Brigantia

Filed under: Announcements, En français, Heraldry Tagged: brigantia, herald, Tir Mara

Arts & Sciences Research Paper #21: Symmetrical vs. Asymmetrical “Offset” Lacing on Front-Laced Women’s Gowns in Western Europe, 1450s-1550s

East Kingdom Gazette - Fri, 2017-09-01 10:42

Our twenty-first Research Paper comes to us from Lady Elena Hylton of the Barony of Carolingia. She examines over 100 paintings to explore the question of how lacing holes on women’s gowns were arranged over the course of a century – and discovers a surprising difference from the conventional wisdom!  (Prospective future contributors, please check out our original Call for Papers.)

Symmetrical vs. Asymmetrical “Offset” Lacing on Front-Laced Women’s Gowns in Western Europe, 1450s-1550s

Style of Domenico Ghirlandaio. Costanza Caetani. 1480-90, London, The National Gallery.

Table of Contents

Lacing is perhaps the most common type of clothing closure seen in the later medieval/early renaissance period in Western Europe and is used frequently in modern recreations of women’s historic clothing. However, lacing holes can be spaced along a garment in two ways, symmetrical or asymmetrical (also called “offset”)

Figure 1. Two arrangements of lacing holes. Image courtesy of Lady Elena Hylton.

Spiral lacing (where a single lace is wound in a spiral through the lacing holes) is a popular method seen throughout the medieval period and later, but many people also assume that the only method to secure such lacing is by offsetting the lacing holes (asymmetrical lacing). This offset arrangement is often thought to be the only “period” option for lacing and is frequently cited in modern costuming blogs and clothing texts as the best method. The Medieval Tailor’s article “Kirtles 3 – Lacing” states that “You will notice that the holes are staggered with the exception of the first and last holes.” [1] One book claiming to describe all of Tudor women’s dresses states that “It is also worth looking at the alignment of those eyelets. They are not parallel across the opening, but staggered; they are not designed to be laced across like shoes, but in one long continuous spiral.” [2] This equivalency of spiral lacing and offset/asymmetric lacing holes is very common in popular advice, and most likely caused the belief that because spiral lacing does seem to be one of the most common forms of lacing in many periods that therefore all women’s lacing in the renaissance period should be offset. While the occasional modern text does show spiral lacing with symmetrical lacing holes (such as Thursfield’s Medieval Tailor’s Assistant) these seem to be in the minority, with the conventional advice to be that all lacing should be offset. [3]

Figure 2. Vittore Crivelli. Madonna and Child with Two Angels. 1481–82. New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Looking at paintings in several periods, this popular advice did not seem to fit with what I observed as many paintings seemed to show spiral or other types of lacing (such as ladder lacing) across symmetrical holes, as in Crivelli’s Madonna and Child with Two Angels (fig. 2) (see fig. 3 for images of different types of lacing seen in paintings of the period).

Figure 3. Four types of lacing. Image courtesy of Lady Elena Hylton.

I decided to conduct an analysis of Western European paintings from the 1450s-1550s to determine the frequency of symmetrical versus asymmetrical lacing styles on women’s front-laced gowns. I selected the time period as that was where I originally noticed the disconnect between the advice and the paintings, and because it covers a wide range of styles of gowns (“Cranach” gowns, multiple Italian styles with substantial variations, Tudor, and more across all of Western Europe) which had all been grouped together under the umbrella of “medieval and renaissance” and therefore assumed to be offset. Out of a sample of 101 paintings showing such gowns, asymmetric lacing holes/rings, while often present, were substantially less common than generally assumed.

To achieve an unbiased sample set I examined the works of approximately five hundred European artists from 1450-1559 across various online catalogs and museum galleries, including the National Gallery of Art (US), the Colonna Gallery of Rome, the Victoria & Albert museum, the National Gallery (UK), LACMA, the Rijksmuseum, and others. I searched for paintings based on time period and location and then manually determined if the paintings met my criteria (listed below). To ensure unbiased results, I did not use any examples I have found outside of those I came across using this method. While this meant that I excluded many paintings I know of showing front lacing, I believed that adding individual paintings could alter the results. By limiting the paintings counted to only ones found from the full collections, I believe the results show a representative sample set of the frequency of the various lacing styles in period.

I searched collections by time period (1450-1559), by object type (painting), and location (Europe) and then went through the results and logged paintings when they met the following criteria [4]:

  1. Female subjects
  2. Lacing appeared to run at minimum from bust to waist.
  3. Lacing was visible and in the center of the front of the dress.

Out of my initial set of approximately five thousand paintings, this left me with 101 paintings across the 109 year span of time, for an average of 9.266 paintings per decade (see Appendix for full list of paintings analyzed). I then organized the paintings by decade and by lacing style. I did not sort the paintings by location as while that is an essential factor to determine if an individual gown from a specific time and place is more likely to have been symmetrically vs. asymmetrically laced, this project was looking at overall trends in popular Western European culture. [5] While I did not purposefully exclude any paintings on the grounds of them showing allegorical scenes (which often may not show fashions actually worn in period), the majority of clearly allegorical scenes showed looser, draped clothing and therefore were automatically excluded by not showing front-lacing women’s gowns. Likewise, it is true that paintings are not photographs and should not always be assumed to be exact representations of the actual clothing worn in period. However, there is clearly a large number of highly detailed paintings showing visible depictions of the lacing going through symmetrically-spaced holes seen across multiple schools and styles of art and following the trends in the changing fashions (see figs. 2, 5-9). Especially for times and places where no extant gowns exist, examining detailed paintings seems to be the best method for determining an accurate historical recreation.

Figure 5. Giorgio Schiavone. Detail of The Virgin and Child. 1456-60. London, The National Gallery.

Figure 6. Hans Memling. Triptych of Adriaan Reins (detail of central panel). 1480. Bruges, Memling Museum.

Figure 7. Master of the Legend of Saint Lucy. Detail of Virgin Surrounded by Female Saints. 1488. Brussels, Musées Royaux des Beaux-Arts.

Figure 8. Domenico Ghirlandaio. Portrait of Giovanna Tornabuoni. 1488. Madrid, Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza.

Figure 9. Style of Domenico Ghirlandaio. Costanza Caetani. 1480-90, London, The National Gallery.

Different lacing looks (the lines created by the lacing cord) can be created depending on if the lacing holes/rings are symmetrical versus asymmetrical, and depending on the method of lacing used (spiral, ladder, or other), so I analysed both the lines created by the lacing as well as the relative position of any visible lacing holes/rings on the garment (see fig. 3 above). [6]                                        

Figure 10. Percentage of Lacing Styles, 1450s-1550s. Image courtesy of Lady Elena Hylton.

Out of the 101 paintings meeting my criteria, 62 showed symmetrical lacing, 23 showed asymmetrical, and the remaining 16 were unclear. This shows a clear trend towards favoring symmetrically laced options overall, contrary to the prevailing idea that offset lacing was the preferred method throughout the entire medieval and renaissance periods. 

Individual decades varied dramatically however. Breaking down the number of paintings by  decade we see several trends emerge.                                                        

Figure 11. Frequency of lacing styles by decade. Image courtesy of Lady Elena Hylton.

Asymmetrical lacing does make up the majority of examples found in the 1450s and 60s, but from 1470 onwards the trend veers substantially towards favoring symmetrically laced gowns overall (see fig. 4 for numerical data).

Decade Symmetrical Asymmetrical Unclear Total Results 1450s 1 3 0 4 1460s 1 2 1 4 1470s 8 1 5 14 1480s 16 3 0 19 1490s 9 2 3 14 1500s 7 2 0 9 1510s 5 1 2 8 1520s 6 6 3 15 1530s 4 3 2 9 1540s 2 0 0 2 1550s 3 0 0 3

Figure 12. Frequency of Paintings Showing Front Lacing Gowns by Decade

It is interesting to note that this change occurs when the gowns go from being laced completely closed (as seen in the medieval fitted gowns up to the 1450s/60s, fig. 5) to the style where the lacing is often left open, revealing the layer below (seen mostly in the 1470s and later, fig. 6). You do see a resurgence of asymmetrical lacing in the 1520s and 1530s where it matches or comes close to the frequency of symmetrical, but it then dies out again by the 1540s.

Figure 13. Total Paintings Found Showing Visibly Front Laced Gowns. Image courtesy Lady Elena Hylton.

While the paintings are not broken down by location, these trends do tend to be somewhat consistent across both the Italian and Northern Renaissance schools, despite the differences in gown styles. For example, in the 1480s Italian fashion shows a distinct style quite different from the Northern European style regarding waist seams, waist height, and sleeve style, with the Northern European styles sharing more similarities with the 1460s and prior styles. However, both fashions do see a switch to predominantly symmetrical lacing in the 1480s as seen in the works of the Master of the Legend of Saint Lucy and Hans Memling (both considered Northern European painters) as well as many paintings by Domenico Ghirlandaio, Vittore Crivelli, and Sandro Botticelli (of the Italian school) (see fig. 6).

In conclusion, while asymmetrical lacing is certainly a documentable option for many styles of gowns in the 1450s-1550s, it is by no means the only period option, nor even the most common option of lacing hole placement seen in extant paintings of the period. The overwhelming numbers, 62 examples of symmetrical to 23 examples of asymmetrical (especially considering the absence of enough extant gowns to have a similarly large sample size for study), refute the commonly held belief that “offset is best” for the entire late SCA period in Western Europe.


  1.  Cynthia Long, “Kirtles 3 – Lacing,” The Medieval Tailor, accessed January 9, 2017, https://medievaltailor.com/kirtles-overview/kirtle-lacing/.
  2. Ruth Goodman, How to be a Tudor: A Dawn-to-Dusk Guide to Tudor Life (New York: Liveright, 2015), 21.
  3. Sarah Thursfield, The Medieval Tailor’s Assistant (Marlborough: Ruth Bean Publishers, 2001), 54.
  4. Not all collections allow their online catalog to be searched automatically for all of these categories. When such automatic sorting of search results was not possible I determined if the paintings met the criteria manually through a broader search of the catalog.
  5. There were several reasons for this. Not all museums detailed the location of the artist beyond “Europe” or “Northern Renaissance,” and also there is sometimes a disconnect between the painter’s native home and the location where the painting was found. As such, trying to break down the 109 paintings by location as well seemed like it would require too many personal judgements to be valid. As the popular advice is not generally limited by location, I choose not to break my results down by location either.
  6. Many of the paintings I initially examined do not show visible front lacing on women’s gowns, especially in certain periods. In several instances the vast majority of women in paintings from a decade did not have visible front lacing. This project was designed to examine the frequency of symmetrical versus asymmetrical front lacing options and did not count any gowns not showing visible front lacing.

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Crivelli, Vittore. Madonna and Child with Two Angels. 1481–82. New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Ghirlandaio, Domenico. Portrait of Giovanna Tornabuoni. 1488. Madrid, Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza.

Goodman, Ruth. How to be a Tudor: A Dawn-to-Dusk Guide to Tudor Life. New York: Liveright, 2015.

Long, Cynthia. “Kirtles 3 – Lacing.” The Medieval Tailor. Accessed January 9, 2017.

Master of the Legend of Saint Lucy. Virgin Surrounded by Female Saints. 1488. Brussels, Musées Royaux des Beaux-Arts.

Memling, Hans. Triptych of Adriaan Reins (central panel). 1480. Bruges, Memling Mseum.

Style of Domenico Ghirlandaio. Costanza Caetani, 1480-90. London, The National Gallery.

Thursfield, Sarah. The Medieval Tailor’s Assistant. Marlborough: Ruth Bean Publishers, 2001.

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Appendix: Full List of Paintings Examined, Listed by Decade and Lacing Style


Cosmè Tura, Terpsichore, 1450s

Jean Fouquet, Melun Diptych: Virgin and Child Surrounded by Angels, 1452
Cosmè Tura, A Muse, Calliope, 1455-60
Giorgio Schiavone, The Virgin and Child, 1456-60


Giovanni Bellini, Portrait of a Woman, 1450 – 1470

Cosmè Tura, Pietà, 1460
Piero della Francesca, Madonna del Parto, 1460s

Francesco Benaglio, Virgin and Child, 1465. Symmetrical, but may be hooks of some sort instead of lacing rings.


Workshop of Andrea del Verrocchio, Madonna and Child, 1470
Piero della Francesca, Madonna of Senigallia, 1474
Sandro Botticelli, Portrait of a Young Woman, 1475
Attributed to Domenico Ghirlandaio, Lucrezia Tornabuoni, 1475
Andrea del Verrocchio, Madonna and Child, 1470-1480
Master of the Prado Adoration of the Magi, The Presentation in the Temple, 1470-1480 Though challenging to see, the young, shorter girl in the back shows symmetrical lacing when viewed closely.
Master of the Legend of Saint Ursula, Legend of St Ursula, the Church and the Synagogue, 1475-82
Master of the Saint Godelieve Legend, The Life and Miracles of Saint Godelieve, 4th quarter 15th century

Domenico Ghirlandaio, Announcement of Death to St Fina, 1473-75

Master of the Life of the Virgin, Visitation, 1470. Under close inspection of a high resolution photo, the gown of the woman in red to the far right appears to be symmetrical, but the image is not clear enough to determine it with certainty.
Master of the Life of the Virgin, The Birth of Mary, 1470 Front lacing is visible but it is unclear if symmetrical or asymmetrical.
Carlo Crivelli, Altarpiece for the Cathedral at Ascoli Piceno: Madonna and Child, 1473 Closures are symmetrical, but may not be lacing.
Leonardo da Vinci, Portrait of Ginevra de’ Benci, 1474-78. This is debated if it shows symmetrical or asymmetrical due to the 3/4 profile causing the image to be seen at an angle.
Sandro Botticelli, Profile Portrait of a Young Lady (Simonetta Vespucci?), 1476. Appears to be symmetrical lacing, but could also be trim.


Master of the Legend of Saint Lucy, Legend of St Lucy, 1480
Hans Memling, Triptych of Adriaan Reins (central panel), 1480
Domenico Ghirlandaio, Portrait of a Young Woman, 1480s
Vittore Crivelli, Madonna and Child with Two Angels, 1481–82
Vittore Crivelli, Enthroned Virgin and Child, with Angels and Saints Bonaventure, John the Baptist, Louis of Toulouse, and Francis of Assisi, 1482
Sandro Botticelli, Venus and the Three Graces Presenting Gifts to a Young Woman, 1483-1486
Both the woman in green and the woman in white show straight lines of lacing across the bust.
Hans Memling, Triptych of the Family Moreel (right wing), 1484
Antoniazzo Romano, Annunciation, 1485
Style of Domenico Ghirlandaio, Costanza Caetani, 1480-90,
Domenico Ghirlandaio, Study, 1486
Domenico Ghirlandaio, Birth of Mary, 1486-90. Entered under asymmetrical as well because both styles are seen.
Domenico Ghirlandaio, Marriage of Mary, 1486-90
Domenico Ghirlandaio, Birth of St John the Baptist, 1486-90. While the front-laced gowns are all either symmetrically laced or not visible, there is a side laced gown that is offset.
Domenico Ghirlandaio, Herod’s Banquet, 1486-90
Domenico Ghirlandaio, Portrait of Giovanna Tornabuoni, 1488
Master of the Legend of Saint Lucy, Virgin Surrounded by Female Saints, 1488

Master of the Baroncelli Portraits, Baroncelli Portraits, 1480-1490
Hans Memling, Diptych with the Allegory of True Love, 1485-90
Domenico Ghirlandaio, Birth of Mary, 1486-90. Entered above as well because two women show symmetrical where one other shows asymmetrical.


Crivelli, Carlo, Madonna and Child, 1490. Difficult to see, but the lacing is clearly spiral laced through symmetrical holes upon close examination.
Davide Ghirlandaio, Portrait of Selvaggia Sassetti, 1490
Alunno Niccolo’, Our Lady of Succour, 1490
Workshop of Domenico Ghirlandaio, Portrait of a Girl, 1490
Lorenzo Costa, Portrait of a Woman with a Pearl Necklace, 1490
Carlo Crivelli, Saint Catherine of Alexandria, 1491-4
Bernardino del Signoraccio, Madonna Enthroned with Saints, 1495
Sandro Botticelli, Judith with the Head of Holofernes, 1497-1500
Juan de Flandes, Portrait of Joan the Mad, 1496-1500

Agnolo di Domenico Mazziere, Portrait of a Young Woman, 1490
Master of the Virgo inter Virgines, Virgin and Child with Sts Catherine, Cecilia, Barbara, and Ursula, 1490

Leonardo da Vinci, Madonna Litta, 1490-91. This shows two sets of symmetrical lacing over the breasts, one of which is unlaced allowing Mary to nurse. An interesting concept.
Giovanni Ambrogio de Predis, Portrait of a Woman in Profile, 1495-9. While there is front lacing, it cannot be seen if it is symmetrical or asymmetrical.
Juan de Flandes, Herodias’ Revenge, 1496. This may be front laced, but it also may be trim on the center front of the bodice.


Gentile Bellini, Portrait of Caterina Cornaro, Queen of Cyprus, 1500
Bernardino di Betto (Pinturicchio), No. 5: Enea Silvio Piccolomini Presents Frederick III to Eleonora of Portugal, 1502
Raffaello Sanzio da Urbino (Raphael), Portrait of Maddalena Doni, 1506
Andrea Solario, Salome with the Head of Saint John the Baptist, 1507-09
Girolamo di Benvenuto, Portrait of a Young Woman, 1508
Lucas van Leyden, Card Players, 1508-10
Francesco di Cristofano (Franciabigio), Head of the Madonna, 1509

Unknown artist, Profile bust of a lady facing left, 1500.
Follower of Jan Gossaert (Jean Gossart), The Magdalen, early 16th century


Master of the Holy Blood, Lucretia, 1500-1520
Anonymous, Woman with Unicorn, 1510
Vittore Carpaccio, Portrait of a Young Woman, 1510
Lucas Cranach the Elder, Portraits of Henry IV of Saxony and Catherine of Mecklenburg, 1514. Only visible under extreme magnification, but the lacing is clearly symmetrical when examined closely.
Hans Holbein the Younger, Portrait of the Artist’s Wife, 1517

Lucas Cranach the Elder, A Princess of Saxony, 1517

Lorenzo Lotto, Judith with the Head of Holofernes, 1512. Due to the position of the front lacing it cannot be determined if it is symmetrical or asymmetrical.
Hans Holbein the Elder, Portrait of a Woman, 1518-20. The front lacing could be interpreted either way due to the 3/4 profile putting everything on a slant.


Andrea Solario, Salome with the Head of Saint John the Baptist, 1520-24 (the artist had painted a similar work by the same name approximately 15 years earlier).
Lucas Cranach the Elder, Ill-Matched Couple: Young Man and Old Woman, 1520-22
Jan Mostaert, The Expulsion of Hagar, 1520-1525
Lucas Cranach the Elder, The Bocca della Verità, 1525-27
Lucas Cranach the Elder, Ill-Matched Couple: Young Widow and Old Man, 1525-30
Workshop of Master of the Magdalen Legend, The Magdalen Weeping, 1525

Lucas Cranach the Elder, Portrait of a Young Woman, 1522
Bernardino Licino, Portrait of a Woman, 1524
Attributed to Francesco Torbido, The Holy Family with Saint Catherine, 1525
Paris Bordone, The Venetian Couple in Love, 1525-30
Lucas Cranach the Elder, Ill-Matched Couple: Peasant and Prostitute, 1525-30
Lucas Cranach the Elder, Martin Luther and Katharina von Bora, 1526

Lucas Cranach the Elder, Portrait of a Woman, 1525
Lucas Cranach the Elder, Portrait of a Woman, 1526
Jan Provost, The Coronation of the Virgin, 1524. This could be symmetrical lacing, but it could also be trim.


Girolamo da Santacroce, Christ and the Woman of Samaria, 1530s
Ambrosius Benson, Virgin Mother, active 1520s-1540s. You can actually see the ladder lacing used here as the ladders are done on the outside.
Lorenzo Lotto, Portrait of a Lady as Lucretia, 1530-32
Lucas Cranach the Elder, Saxon Princesses Sibylla, Emilia and Sidonia, 1535. Also listed under asymmetrical as both lacing styles are seen here.

Lucas Cranach the Elder, Ill-Matched Couple: Young Girl and Old Man, 1530
Lucas Cranach the Elder, Portrait of a Young Woman, 1530
Lucas Cranach the Elder, Saxon Princesses Sibylla, Emilia and Sidonia, 1535. Also listed under symmetrical as both lacing styles are seen here.

Lucas Cranach the Elder, Portrait of Princess Maria of Saxony, 1534
Master of the Female Half-Lengths, Three Musicians, 1530. While under close observation this appears to be symmetrical (the top lacing runs parallel to the trim), the arm cutting across provides enough room for doubt that I am not counting it.


Lorenzo Lotto, Portrait of Giovanni della Volta with his Wife and Children, 1547
Lucas Cranach the Elder, Portrait of a Young Girl, 1540

Asymmetrical: None


Paris Bordone, Portrait of a Woman, 1550s
Tiziano Vecellio, Girl with a Fan, 1556
Follower of Titian, Portrait of a Woman (perhaps Pellegrina Morosini Capello), 1558-62

Asymmetrical: None

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

Museum acquires rare sufragette banner found in Leeds charity shop

History Blog - Thu, 2017-08-31 23:48

The People’s History Museum (PHM) has acquired a very rare suffragette banner that was made in Manchester in the early 1900s and will now return to its native city again more than 80 years of exile in Leeds. Created by premiere Manchester banner maker Thomas Brown & Sons, the banner celebrates the founding of the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU) by Emmeline Pankhurst, one of the fiercest and most committed suffragette leaders, in her home at 62 Nelson Street, Manchester, in 1903. The date of its manufacture is not known, but the banner glows with the colors of the WSPU campaign: green signifying reform, white purity and purple dignity. The green, white and purple weren’t adopted as the WSPU’s official colors until 1908.

The WSPU marched and assembled under their banners, but unlike many of their sisthren in the cause, they took an explicitly militant stance. Sick of failed attempts to extend the franchise by ostensibly allied politicians, the WSPU took as their motto “deeds not words” and hit the streets. They tied themselves to railings, blew up mailboxes, went on hunger strikes when they were arrested and refused to eat even under threat of force-feeding. They made a very effective nuisance of themselves until World War I broke out in 1914 and the WSPU suspended all its activities.

As far as researchers have been able to determine, the banner was taken to Leeds in the 1930s by Edna White. It was sold to the charity shop after her death and this rare textile treasure remained in the shop, unrecognized and unappreciated, for 10 years. The charity shop put the banner up for auction on June 20th of this year where it was bought by a private collector.

The People’s History Museum, which has the largest collection of trade union and political banners in the world and a top notch textile conservation studio to ensure their long-term health, wasted no time. They reached out to the collector and agreed on a buying price for the banner. They then raised most of the money in grants from the Arts Council England/V&A Purchase Grant Fund and the Heritage Lottery Fund. With £5,000 still to go, the museum turned to crowdfunding. The Bring Manchester’s Suffragette Banner Home campaign was an almost instant success, meeting the original target in a week.

The PHM has added another £2,500 as a stretch goal to help fund interpretation of the newly acquired banner for its display in a 2018 exhibition celebrating the centenary of the passage of the Representation of the People Act which granted suffrage to all men 21 and older and women 30 and older. (Women 21 years of age and above were not enfranchised until 1928, a matter of a few weeks after Emmeline Pankhurst’s death.) The rest of the stretch money would go to getting the rest of the museum’s suffrage collections in top shape and creating learning resources and events associated with the exhibition. They’ve only raised a few hundred pounds of the stretch goal with just over two weeks to go.

Helen Antrobus, Programme & Events Officer at PHM, says…

“This is a truly spectacular piece, beautifully crafted and powerfully representative of its time. It is also an important part of the nation’s social history and we hope to find out more about Edna White and her suffragette story as part of this project’s research. The banner’s life began in Manchester and we’d like to continue its life by sharing its story with our visitors who travel across the region, nation and world to join us on a march through time that narrates Britain’s struggle for democracy.”

The campaign will ensure that the banner not only becomes a part of the People’s History Museum collection, but that plans are in place for its continued care and conservation by the museum’s specialist team.

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

Dark Ages Skola: Classes, Adult & Youth A&S

AEthelmearc Gazette - Thu, 2017-08-31 23:26

Was your Pennsic schedule so jam-packed that you couldn’t get to as many classes as you’d have liked?

If so, set aside Saturday, September 23, and plan to attend the Dark Ages Skóla, hosted by the Dominion of Myrkfaelinn.

What have we planned thus far?

  • TWO keynote speakers:  The Anglo-Saxon Mead Hall in Political and Social Life,  by Algirdas Wolthus and Dismantling Musiaphobia: learning to approach museum collections with confidence, by Patrikia Maria Agrissa Sgourina.
  • lunch by Hrolfr á Fjárfelli and Algirdas Wolthus; we’re aiming for mostly period and definitely yummy, as always!
  • hands-on cooking classes as well as make-and-take clothing and accessories classes
  • classes geared for beginners as well as experienced artisans

Current class list is:


  • “The Anglo-Saxon Mead Hall in Political and Social Life” — by Algirdas Wolthus. Algirdas has been active in the SCA since the 1980s, resident in Myrkfaelinn for the majority of that time. Mundanely, Scott D. Stull is a Ph.D. archaeologist with a focus on medieval western Europe. He has presented on the built environment of medieval Europe at national and international conferences. He is also an experimental archaeologist, replicating medieval ceramics, food, and drink including mead.
  • “Dismantling Musiaphobia: learning to approach museum collections with confidence” — by Patrikia Maria Agrissa Sgourina. Maria, herself a life-long stitcher, is interested in embroidery styles that span the centuries, from early- to late-period. She received her Laurel in 2004 for her research, especially in Byzantine and Sassanid clothing and culture before the year 1000 CE.
  • The Anglo-Saxon Mead Hall in Political and Social Life
  • Bone Pins of the Viking Age
  • Brocaded Tablet Weaving
  • Combalot: A Brief Look at Early Period Combs
  • Dark Ages Manuscript Illuminations
  • Dark Ages Shields
  • Fiber Prep for Handspinners & Felters
  • Inshoku – Food and Food Culture of Early Japan
  • Isho – Clothing the Nobility in Early Japan
  • What the Irish Ate.
  • The Irish Bardic Tradition.
  • Irish Illumination.
  • Irish Calligraphy.
  • Medieval Dairy Products
  • Poetry from Njal’s Saga.
  • Roman Fibula make and take.
  • Dress like a Roman.
  • Spin like the Romans & their Allies
  • The Settlement of Iceland.
  • Support Spindling
  • Survey of Norse Women’s Aprons
  • Skjoldehamn Hood and Dark Ages Embroidery
  • Tarsoly – the Rus Belt Pouch
  • Thorsberg Trousers: Pants that Last!
  • Thorsberg Trousers: Make-and-Take
  • Viking Period Swords
  • Viking Quivers from Hedeby
  • Viking Treasure Necklaces and Women’s “Bling”
  • Vinegaroon – Never Dye Leather Again!

And more classes keep being added!

Several classes, including the Skjoldehamn Hood and Dark Ages Embroidery, the Thorsberg Trousers: Make-and-Take, and the Viking Treasure Necklaces and Women’s Bling are “make and take” classes;  if you want to learn to make your own creations while enjoying experienced guidance, now is your change!

To help our teachers coming from close, and afar, Myrkfaelinn will host a silent auction to split between the Dominions’ coffers and a Teacher’s Travel Fund.

The Dark Ages Skóla will be hosting an A&S Display and Youth A&S Tournament. With only three more weeks to go, it is time to shrug off that Pennsic glow and start on your next best project!

The Youth A&S Tournament will be held in the common room. Please drop off your entry and documentation in the morning for display during the day. At the end of the afternoon, before the Silent Auction, please join your entry to show & tell the judges, followed by a most anticipated pick of (donated) gift.

The Dark Age A&S Display will also be held in the common room. Please drop off and display in the morning, to pick up at closing. We would love to see your Dark Age inspired (work-in-progress) projects (half page documentation appreciated), but honestly, anything goes!

Additional information about the event can be found on the Kingdom website as well as on Facebook.

The event is at a new event site: First Presbyterian Church of Ithaca, 315 N. Cayuga Street, Ithaca, NY 14850.

 Hope to see you there! THL Elska á Fjárfelli

Categories: SCA news sites

Cuneiform tablet is oldest (& newest) trigonometric table

History Blog - Wed, 2017-08-30 23:03

Mathematicians at the University of New South Wales (UNSW) in Sydney, Australia, in think they’ve cracked a cuneiform code that has given rise to vigorous debate in the mathematical community for almost a century. The bone, or in this case clay tablet, of contention is known as Plimpton 322 and has been in the Columbia University collection since it was bequeathed to them in 1936 by the wealthy publisher and avid collector of historical written materials George Arthur Plimpton. (His grandson was George Plimpton, author, literary critic and one of the shrinks Matt Damon chases away in Good Will Hunting.) George Arthur left the tablet and the rest of his exceptional collection of rare books and manuscripts to the Butler Library; they are now in the university’s Rare Book and Manuscript Library.

The tablet is five inches wide, 3.5 inches high and .8 inch thick and features a table of cuneiform numbers four columns across and 15 rows long. The outer left edge is broken, possibly in the modern era because there are remains of glue indicating a repair attempt with the now-missing piece. This break took some of the first column figures with it, forcing mathematicians to have to extrapolate what the complete numbers were based on the extant ones. Experts think the complete table was six columns wide and 38 rows long. All of the numbers are in Babylonian sexagesimal (base 60) notation.

Its origins are obscure because the tablet was one of hundreds acquired by roving antiquarian/adventurer/novelist/diplomat Edgar James Banks starting in the late 19th century. He sold it to Plimpton in around 1922, reportedly for $10. Neither of them realized the significance of the cuneiform text. Based on the writing style and formatting, researchers believe the tablet was created in the Sumerian city of Larsa in what is today southern Iraq between 1822 and 1762 B.C., right around the time of Hammurabi (c. 1810-1750 B.C.), 6th king of the First Babylonian Dynasty and promulgator of the law code that bears his name. Several other tablets with inscriptions of Babylonian mathematics came from Larsa.

Mathematicians have been studying Plimpton 322 since it was first published at the end of World War II and there have been rollicking debates on the purpose of the table, whether it’s a complex accounting tool, a mathematical table (if so what kind), a teacher’s edition list of answers for math students or something else entirely. Austrian mathematician and historian of science Otto Neugebauer recognized that the numbers on the table are Pythagorean triples, two different integers that squared and added together equal the square of the third integer, but to what end did ancient scholars take the immense trouble to compile the lists?

The UNSW team posits that it is indeed a trigonometric table, but one that takes a previously unknown approach to calculation.

“Our research reveals that Plimpton 322 describes the shapes of right-angle triangles using a novel kind of trigonometry based on ratios, not angles and circles,” said Dr Daniel Mansfield of the School of Mathematics and Statistics in the UNSW Faculty of Science.

“It is a fascinating mathematical work that demonstrates undoubted genius. The tablet not only contains the world’s oldest trigonometric table; it is also the only completely accurate trigonometric table, because of the very different Babylonian approach to arithmetic and geometry.

“This means it has great relevance for our modern world. Babylonian mathematics may have been out of fashion for more than 3000 years, but it has possible practical applications in surveying, computer graphics and education. This is a rare example of the ancient world teaching us something new.”

Until now, the Greek mathematician Hipparchus has been granted the title the Father of Trigonometry because he designed a table in a circle that was long credited with being the oldest known trigonometric table. If the scribe who wrote Plimpton 322 had signed his work, Hipparchus would have had to take that crown off his own head and put it on his Sumerian predecessor’s.

“Plimpton 322 predates Hipparchus by more than 1000 years,” says Dr Wildberger.

“It opens up new possibilities not just for modern mathematics research, but also for mathematics education. With Plimpton 322 we see a simpler, more accurate trigonometry that has clear advantages over our own.” […]

“Plimpton 322 was a powerful tool that could have been used for surveying fields or making architectural calculations to build palaces, temples or step pyramids,” added Dr Mansfield.

Their research has been published in the journal Historia Mathematica and can be read in its entirety here (download it now before it ends up behind a paywall).

This may be the nerdiest web of nerdery I’ve ever woven (which is saying something), but when I first saw this story I couldn’t help but imagine the following dialogue.

Plimpton 322: I’m an idiot because I can’t make a lamp?
Diogenes: No, you’re a genius because you can’t make a lamp.
Plimpton 322: What do you know about trigonometry?
Diogenes: I could care less about trigonometry.
Plimpton 322: Well did you know without trigonometry there’d be no ziggurats?
Diogenes: Without lamps, there’d be no honest men.

I’ll see myself out.

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

Entering Crown Tournament?

East Kingdom Gazette - Wed, 2017-08-30 12:10

Greetings unto all those intending to enter Fall Crown Tournament,

Please be aware that both the combatant and the consort must submit a letter of intent, either through the following link (preferred) or by email to TRH Prince Ivan and Princess Matilde with a copy to the Kingdom Seneschal. Joint letters are preferred if you are using the following link, or if you are using email.


The Letter of Intent must be received by Coronation, October 7, 2017.

If using email, the letters of intent must include all of the following information for both combatant and consort: Society name, legal name, address, telephone number, years of residency and be accompanied by proof of membership with membership number & expiration date that is valid at least thirty days after Crown. If both entrants are combatants, then that should be clearly indicated.

TRHs also request that combatants bring heraldic shields for the list trees.

In Service to the East, I remain

Dueña Mercedes Vera de Calafia
Seneschal, East Kingdom

Filed under: Events Tagged: Crown Tournament

Neolithic homes, 19th c. whale skeletons found on Orkney

History Blog - Tue, 2017-08-29 23:59

Archaeologists excavating Cata Sand, a bay on the Orkney island of Sanday, have unearthed the remains of an Early Neolithic house and at least a dozen 19th century whale skeletons. The prehistoric structure dates to between 3400 and 3100 B.C. and is fairly extensive with its original hearth and remains of walls. Northwest of the core structures is a second hearth that archaeologists believe is from a later expansion and reconstruction of the house.

Prof [Colin] Richards said: “The early Neolithic house is both interesting and unusual in having been built on a deep layer of sand, which rests on rounded beach stones.

“At least two construction phases have now been recognised. The primary house has a stone set hearth, internal pits and boxes, and remains of the lower courses of a double-faced thick stone outer wall and small dividing stones, which partition the house into different living areas. This phase of the structure is comparable with examples of dwellings at Stonehall, Mainland and Knap of Howar, Papa Westray. Although excavations at Pool uncovered some early Neolithic structures in the 1980s, this is the first ‘classic’ early Neolithic house to be discovered in Sanday.”

A number of artifacts have been found in the remains of the house — pottery fragments, flint knapping debris, animal bones, Skaill knives — and they are all well preserved, which is particularly key for the bones because time, soil and the elements have chewed up organic remains at other Neolithic sites in Orkney. The rich red-brown floors in the house indicate they have a rich complement of organic remains for researchers to study in the lab.

A team from the University of the Highlands and Islands Archaeology Institute (UHI), the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) and specialists from other institutions have been excavating the site since mid-August using a geophysical survey and midden finds from a previous exploration as their guide. When the site was discovered by UHI and UCLan researchers in November of last year, their survey found evidence of a large settlement they thought might date to the Late Neolithic or Early Bronze Age (c. 2500-2000 BC). This was a transitional period which saw a great deal of social upheaval in Northern Scotland, so archaeologists were excited at the prospect of discoveries from so significant a time. If the dating on the Neolithic structure proves accurate, even though it will be earlier than expected nobody will be disappointed because it such a rare find in unusually good condition.

Sandy beaches are never easy to excavate, and the team has to do battle with the constant erosive action of wind and water. To top it off, the site is in the intertidal zone which means it is fully submerged twice a day. With less than a month to dig — the excavation is scheduled to end on September 8th — researchers are working assiduously to uncover as much of its archaeological material as they can.

The whales are an even more unexpected find, especially so many of them. The bones have been unearthed in two large cut pits. Local traditions suggest they are the detritus of a practice known as “ca,” from a word meaning “driven,” in which whales, dozens, even hundreds at a time, were chased towards the shore until they beached themselves. There they were butchered for their blubber, a valuable source of oil that was used in lamps, motors, soaps, even margarine. It smelled terrible burning, however, and I don’t even want to know what whale margarine tastes like, so when less unpleasant replacements were invented in the 20th century, the popularity of whale oil cratered.

The Cata Sand site is open to visitors. If you happen to be in the Sanday area, park in the parking lot and walk the western side to the highest dune. If it’s raining they won’t be there, but otherwise you can perch on the dude and see the excavation team at work.

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

From Their Highnesses Regarding Crown Tourney

AEthelmearc Gazette - Tue, 2017-08-29 10:46

Our Kingdom will soon need heirs.

As per kingdom law listed below, anyone wishing to enter Crown Tournament must submit the information requested below, 30 days prior to Crown Tournament.

Our Crown Tournament takes place on October 7, 2017. That means we must have received your letter of intent by no later than September 8, 2017. We hope to have a strong list with many strong and noble champions fighting to honor those they find inspiration in. There are no special weapon or shield requirements.

Letters of Intent can be sent by email to ae.prince@aethelmearc.org and ae.princess@aethelmearc.org, or by snail mail to:

Samuel and Debra Cale
915 Johnson Ave.
Bridgeport, WV 26330

TRH Gareth and Juliana

Article III: CROWN
Entrants in this section of Law are defined as the combatant and consort entering Crown Tournament.
All entrants in the Crown Tournament must be members of the Society for Creative Anachronism, Inc.
All entrants in the Crown Tournament must be 18 years of age or older as of the date of Crown Tournament.
The withdrawal of either entrant from the Crown Lists shall automatically eliminate both from that Tournament, except as provided below in paragraph III -1100. Either may withdraw at any point in the Tournament by notifying the Minister of the Lists.
In order to be eligible to fight or be fought for in Crown Tournament, a person must be a subject (as defined in Corpora) of Æthelmearc for one year immediately prior to Crown Tournament and be able to demonstrate a reasonable level of participation in Æthelmearc during that period. The Crown may waive the above requirements if the entrants are subjects of the Kingdom and able to demonstrate to the Crown’s satisfaction by their own words or by recommendation of peers of the Kingdom that they have sufficient familiarity with Kingdom Law and customs and an acceptable level of participation.
Letters of intent must be sent to the Crown.They must include the following elements for both entrants:

  • SCA names
  • Legal names
  • Addresses
  • Telephone numbers
  • E-mail addresses
  • Proofs of membership
  • Age (proof to be supplied at Crown Tournament)
  • Proof of current authorization for Combatants

To facilitate complete letters of intent, a form is available on the Kingdom website as well as from the Crown and the Seneschal on request. Prospective entrants are encouraged but not required to use this form to ensure a complete letter. Letters of Intent must be mailed, e-mailed, or hand-delivered to the Crown no later than 30 days prior to the Crown.

The Laws of the Kingdom of Æthelmearc, September 25th, 2016

The Kingdom Seneschal shall verify eligibility as defined in the Bylaws and Corpora.
No person shall enter the Crown Tournament without intending an honorable attempt to compete for the Crown.At the discretion of the Royalty whose Crown it is, the Kingdom Officers who administer Crown may step aside and have their emergency deputy administer the Tourney, so they may enter. In the event a Kingdom Officer should win Crown, the Law regarding Emergency Deputies and office succession will apply.
The entrants must be acceptable to the Crown or Their representatives.
No person fighting in or being fought for in Crown Tournament may administer the Crown Tournament.
Any two people may champion each other in the Crown Lists (hereinafter referred to as a combatant couple) so long as neither is championed by any other person.
If one member of a combatant couple is removed from the Crown Lists for marshallate infractions or any infractions of the Rules of the Lists, both members are ineligible to continue in that Crown Tournament. If one member of a combatant couple voluntarily withdraws as a combatant in the Lists, the MOL and Marshal will confer with the withdrawing member to determine if they are also withdrawing as consort or if the other member may continue in the Lists. If the participant withdraws both as fighter and consort, both shall be ineligible to continue in that Crown Tournament.
The preferred method of Crown Tournament is a double-elimination format.
The winner of the Crown Tournament and the winner’s consort become the new Heirs to the Throne of Æthelmearc. They are each entitled to the Title of Crown Prince or Crown Princess, as appropriate to the individual’s persona.
Upon ascending to the Throne, They may rightfully be acknowledged as Monarch and Consort with alternate Titles as appropriate to the dignity of the Throne.

Categories: SCA news sites

Tomb of China’s Shakespeare found

History Blog - Mon, 2017-08-28 23:17

Archaeologists excavating the site of a demolished factory in Fuzhou, Jiangxi Province, east China, have discovered the tomb of Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) playwright Tang Xianzu (1550-1616). A large grouping of tombs was first unearthed after the demolition of the old plant last year, 42 of them in total, 40 dating to the Ming Dynasty. Tomb M4 was identified as Tang’s from an epitaph, one of six found at the site some of which are believed to have been written by the playwright himself. His third wife Fu was buried with him in the tomb; his second wife Zhao was buried in the neighboring tomb labelled M3.

“The epitaphs can help us learn more about the calligraphy, art and literature in Tang’s time,” Xu [Changqing, head of Jiangxi Provincial Cultural Relics and Archeology Research Institute,] said.[…]

“This discovery is significant, because it tells us more about Tang’s life, his family tree and relationships with other family members,” said Mao Peiqi, vice chairman of the Chinese Society on Ming Dynasty History.

“Besides, by learning about the status and lives of Tang’s family, we can learn about education, culture and agriculture in the Ming Dynasty as well as the development of society,” he said.

Tang’s best known works are a series of plays known as the Four Dreams. One of them, The Peony Pavilion, is considered his masterpiece. It was the most popular play of the Ming Dynasty and continued to be performed in the classical Chinese opera tradition uninterrupted for hundreds of years until the present. Updated, experimental versions as well as the traditional style have been performed all over the world. There are references to it in popular music, novels, television and film.

Tang Xianzu and William Shakespeare died the same day: April 23rd, 1616. They had other things in common: exceptional lyrical qualities in their verse, themes of star-crossed romance, plot-driving dreams, ghosts, comical elements combined with the tragic and dramatic, historical settings and personages, and legacies as literary giants that loom large in their native countries and beyond. Because they were contemporaries with such enduring cultural influence, comparisons between Tang and Shakespeare are rife. Tang is often referred to as the Chinese Shakespeare as shorthand to explain the enormity of his importance in Chinese theatrical history. Last year, the 400th anniversary of both men’s deaths, The Peony Pavilion was performed at Stratford-upon-Avon, birthplace of the Bard. This year, a statue of the two great playwrights standing side by side gifted to the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust by the city of Fuzhou in 2015 was unveiled in the garden at Shakespeare’s Birthplace in Stratford-upon-Avon.

The discovery of Tang’s tomb is exciting not just for what it can tell us about his personal life, Ming Dynasty history and culture, but also because until now there was no commemorative location linked to his life for his myriad fans to visit to pay their respects. An empty tomb was built in a Fuzhou park in the 1980s just so there’d at least be some kind of monument. Now the city plans to create a destination site where Tang Xianzu and his family were really buried that will attract tourists, fans, artists and scholars alike.

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

Ansteorra Begins Collecting Donations/PayPal for Victims of Hurricane Harvey

East Kingdom Gazette - Mon, 2017-08-28 18:23

This post has been shared by request from the Ansteorra Gazette, where updates and specific requests will be posted.

Greetings from Ansteorra!

As everyone knows, The Kingdom has been visited by Hurricane Harvey.  It has ravaged our coastline and many of our Baronies and Shires in that group have taken more than 20” of rain with more on the way.  Many people have evacuated, and some are still in the process of being evacuated.  It will be some time before we know the full extent of the damage Harvey has left.

Their Majesties, their Highnesses, and their Excellencies Bonwicke, their Excellencies Elfsea, and their Excellencies Steppes, and the autocrat of Braggart’s War this weekend have been very gracious in allowing me to place a collection container at the gate table to collect gift cards and cash for the victims of this storm. Please do not bring stuff. We are not ready to accept donations other than gift cards or cash, there is nowhere to store the stuff (the rain is still falling and everyone is still evacuated).  We will do another collection for this at a later time.

At this point, we are going to limit donations to gift cards, cash, and PayPal donations. Once people have returned to their homes and begun to assess the damage, we will begin to start a list (physical and amazon wish-type) of “stuff” that needs to be replaced, but we will only do that once the rain has stopped, Harvey has left, and they have a place to put it.

The only monies in the PayPal account are relief funds. Any cash received will be added to the PayPal account for accounting/accountability purposes. It is not an SCA affiliated account, nor are the donations tax deductible. All monies need to be given by individuals to help those who want to help those affected. All donations will be used to help the affected, and any excess money (after the tornado, we split all monies equitably, and I foresee this being the same situation with no excess) will be given equally to Red Cross, Salvation Army, TX Food Bank, and the Humane Society.

We could also use gift cards to help fill immediate needs and help with clean-up. The best gift cards are Generic Visa/MC, Wal-Mart, Target, Home Depot, Lowe’s, HEB, PetCo, and other big box stores.

Donations can be sent to the PayPal address AnsteorraTwister@gmail.com.

Mail (and gift card) donations can be sent to me:

Brandy Merrell
629 Unbridled Lane

Keller, TX 76248

I will send them on to where they will be most helpful.

Anyone can feel free to contact me for more information or clarification: Brandy.Merrell@gmail.com.

In Service,

Lady Marion inghean ui Ruanadha
DRC Ansteorra

Filed under: Tidings Tagged: Ansteorra, disaster relief

Aid for Ansteorran victims of Hurricane Harvey

AEthelmearc Gazette - Mon, 2017-08-28 16:45

The Disaster Relief Coordinator for the Kingdom of Ansteorra has provided the following information regarding donations to assist victims of Hurricane Harvey.

Greetings from Ansteorra!

As everyone knows, we have been visited by Hurricane Harvey. It has ravaged our coastline and many of our Baronies and Shires in that group have taken over 20” of rain with more on the way. Many people have evacuated, and some are still in the process of being evacuated. It will be some time before we know the full extent of the damage Harvey has left.

At this point, we are going to limit donations to gift cards, cash, and PayPal donations. Once people have returned to their homes and begun to assess the damage, we will begin to start a list (physical and Amazon wish-type) of “stuff” that needs to be replaced, but we will only do that once the rain has stopped, Harvey has left, and they have a place to put it.

The only monies in the PayPal account are relief funds. Any cash received will be added to the PayPal account for accounting/accountability purposes. It is not an SCA-affiliated account, nor are the donations tax deductible. All monies need to be given by individuals to help those who want to help those affected. All donations will be used to help the affected, and any excess money (after the tornado, we split all monies equitably, and I foresee this being the same situation with no excess) will be given equally to Red Cross, Salvation Army, TX Food Bank, and the Humane Society.

We could also use gift cards to help fill immediate needs and help with clean-up. The best gift cards are Generic Visa/MC, Wal-Mart, Target, Home Depot, Lowe’s, HEB, PetCo, and other big box stores.

Donations can be sent to the PayPal address AnsteorraTwister@gmail.com.

Mail (and gift card) donations can be sent to me:
Brandy Merrell
629 Unbridled Lane
Keller, TX 76248

I will send them on to where they will be most helpful.

Anyone can feel free to contact me for more information or clarification: Brandy.Merrell@gmail.com.

In Service,
Lady Marion inghean ui Ruanadha
DRC Ansteorra

Categories: SCA news sites

Misunderstood dodo gets its due

History Blog - Sun, 2017-08-27 23:16

A new study of bone sections has revealed new information about the life and reproductive cycles of the dodo bird. Because very few skeletal remains of dodo’s have survived, researchers have been reluctant to slice and dice them to use the latest technology that might discover more about a very misunderstood animal. Recent discoveries of bone fragments gave scientists at London’s Natural History Museum and the University of Cape Town a rare opportunity to take a look inside the dodo.

According to evidence in the different layers and types of tissue of the 22 bones examined, the dodo seems to have adapted its lifestyle to Mauritius’s stormy summer, from November to March.

During this period, heavy rain and strong winds can strip trees of leaves, flowers and fruit, causing severe food shortages for the island’s animals.

The dodo bones show repeated lines of arrested growth, which the researchers suggest correspond to the harsh conditions of the summer months when the birds were starved of food. […]

In common with many modern birds living on the island, the breeding season for dodos appears to have begun around August. Once chicks hatched, they grew quickly to almost adult body size, attaining sexual maturity before the stormy summer began.

Moulting began after the summer had passed, around March, with the replacement of the feathers of the wings and the tail. By July, the moult would have been completed and the bird would have had a chance to fatten up, ready for the next breeding season to begin.

The study has been published in the journal Scientific Reports and can be read free of charge here.

The dodo has become an icon of species extinction, unfairly painted as a clumsy weirdo who couldn’t find a way to survive, when, as this new evidence underscores, it was very well adapted to its unique environment before people hunted it mercilessly and destroyed its ecosystem. A native species of the island of Mauritius in the Indian Ocean, the dodo’s large beak and rotund body gave it something of a comical appearance which has played into the narrative of the goofy bird who just couldn’t hack in the real world.

It was the Dutch they couldn’t survive. Dutch ships first made landfall on Mauritius in 1598. Forty years later, the Dutch established their first settlement to harvest the island’s ebony trees. They also attempted to grow sugar cane and introduced domestic animals and deer. None of these endeavors proved financially successful and the first colony was abandoned two decades years after its founding. Some desultory attempts to colonize the island ensued until the Dutch gave up once and for all in 1710.

They sure left their mark, though. They destroyed the ebony forests, depriving endemic species of their habitat. They slaughtered local birds and turtles for food, and overwhelmed the ones they didn’t eat with competing animal species. One of those local birds was the dodo. The last living one was sighted in 1662 and the Dutch cared not one whit, so little, in fact, that they didn’t even notice that by the early 1690s the entire species was gone, extinguished in less than a century.

For a long time the dodo was considered mythical and the only evidence that it had ever existed were a few drawings made from life by explorers and a smattering of bones. The 19th century saw a sudden surge of interest in the curious bird, but there was so little to go on that scientists had to make do with a few drawings and random body parts. In their 1848 monograph The Dodo and Its Kindred, Strickland and Melville remarked on how difficult scientific study of a bird that had gone extinct less than two centuries earlier was because the source material was so sparse and unreliable.

In the case of the didinae, it is unfortunately no easy matter to collect satisfactory information as to their structure, habits, and affinities. We possess only the rude descriptions of unscientific voyagers, three or four oil paintings, and a few scattered osseous fragments, which have survived the neglect of two hundred years. The paleontologist has, in many cases, far better data for determining the zoological characters of a species which perished myriads of years ago, than those presented by a group of birds, which were living in the reign of Charles the First.

The first dodo fossils were found in 1865, but they were fragmentary. Research based on those finds that was published in science journals still had to rely heavily on speculation to fill in the many unknowns about this bird. Amateur naturalist Etienne Thirioux was the first to discover complete or almost complete skeletal remains of dodos during his excavations in Mauritius between 1899 and 1910. Decades after the Dodo became a subject of fascination despite the lack of osteological material bemoaned by Strickland and Melville, Thirioux’s finds made little impact on the scientific community. One Thirioux skeleton, almost complete minus a few bones, wound up in the Durban Natural Science Museum in South Africa. The second is in the Mauritius Institute, appropriately enough. The one in the Mauritius Institute is the only complete dodo skeleton known and the only one that is from a single bird. The Durban skeletal is believed to be a composite of two partial dodo skeletons.

Neither museum realized what rare and significant specimens they had until a few years ago when the Natural History Museum’s Dr. Julian Hume sought them out to do the first comprehensive study of dodo anatomy in 150 years. The study was capped off with this nifty 3D laser surface scanning reconstruction of the skeleton at the Durban Natural Science Museum shows a detailed rendering of the bird’s skeletal structure in what scientists now believe is an anatomically accurate position.

Durban Dodo Skeleton – Anatomically Correct Pose
by Aves 3D
on Sketchfab

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

From the annals of people are terrible

History Blog - Sat, 2017-08-26 21:19

On Friday, August 4th, visitors to the Prittlewell Priory Museum in Southend, Essex, did something so stupid and reckless it defies understanding. Parents of a young child lifted him over the barrier into a medieval sandstone sarcophagus, presumably to capture a precious memory of their cherub desecrating a funerary artifact. As anyone with two neurons to rub together could have predicted, the coffin was knocked off its stand. The impact cracked the fragile sandstone down the middle and took a chunk out of the floor of the coffin.

Museum staff discovered the damage later that day because in addition to being irresponsible numbskulls, the parents are also craven cowards who hightailed it out of the museum as quickly as their chicken legs could carry them without notifying anyone to the havoc they’d wreaked. Curators only found out what had happened by reviewing CCTV footage from security cameras.

“The care of our collections is of paramount importance to us and this isolated incident has been upsetting for the museums service, whose staff strive to protect Southend’s heritage within our historic sites,” said Claire Reed, the conservator responsible for repairing the sarcophagus.

“My priority is to carefully carry out the treatment needed to restore this significant artefact so it can continue to be part of the fascinating story of Prittlewell Priory.”[…]

The sandstone casket that was damaged is the last of its kind. “It’s a very important artefact and historically unique to us as we don’t have much archaeology from the priory,” said Reed.

Conservators are currently assessing the damage, but at first glance they expect it should be able to be repaired without breaking the bank. The council thinks it might take fewer than £100 ($130). Suitable materials for restoring historical artifacts can be expensive, however, and then there’s the cost that will be incurred by creating a new display for the coffin when it goes back on display. For its own protection, it will have to be completely enclosed, so museum visitors will have to pay in distance and separation from the artifact for the carelessness of two idiots.

Founded in around 1110 A.D. by Robert FitzSuen as the Priory of St Mary, a cell of the Cluniac Priory of St Pancras in Lewes, Sussex, Prittlewell was a small monastery with fewer than 20 monks at any given time. Most of the medieval priory was destroyed during the Dissolution of the Monasteries in 1536. That and later construction is why archaeological material from the original priory is so sparse. Henry VIII granted the monastery, its lands and revenues to Thomas Audley, Lord Chancellor of England and Keeper of the Great Seal, who also scored a number of far larger and more valuable monastic estates in the wake of the Dissolution.

Prittlewell remained in private hands until the early 20th century. The Scratton family made the most pronounced mark on the estate in the Victorian era, extensively renovating, rebuilding and adding to what was left of the medieval monastery to create an impressive and livable country home. Having lived in the era before Poltergeist, they created a walled kitchen garden over what had been the monks’ burial ground. The inevitable hauntings ensued and visitors have reported seeing a ghostly monk wandering the halls of the former cloister.

In 1917 Prittlewell Priory, the buildings, the 22-acre property and six adjacent acres were bought from Captain Scratton by prosperous local jeweler and benefactor Robert Arthur Jones. He donated the whole kit and caboodle to the city of Southend with the explicit intent that it be turned into a multi-use public facility for the benefit of the people of Southend. Jones explained his reasoning at the time:

“I think it is a sin for a man to die rich, it is a great privilege to me to be able to do this, for I believe strongly in facilities for recreation. There will now be no need for such an out of the way and costly park as Belfairs. Prittlewell, with its historic and old-world associations, its beautiful trees and lakes, and its nearness to the centre of town, is an ideal place. Part of the building would be suitable for a museum, and there would also be refreshment room accommodation, while the grounds would provide facilities for cricket, football, tennis, hockey and other sports. I propose that the name of the park should be Priory Park”

In 1922 Prittlewell Priory opened as Southend’s first museum and Priory Park as its first public park. The damaged sarcophagus was unearthed near the former priory church in 1921 during the archaeological exploration of the site that accompanied its conversion into the museum and park. It contained a skeleton, likely the remains of senior monk because a stone coffin was an expensive object that would have been used for brothers of high rank.

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

Chinese workers found buried in ancient Lima pyramid

History Blog - Fri, 2017-08-25 23:20

The remains of 16 Chinese labourers from the late 19th and early 20th century have been found buried in a 1,000-year-old adobe pyramid in Lima, Peru. The bodies were discovered at the top of the Huaca Bellavista pyramid built by the Ichma people who flourished in Lima before they were conquered by the Inca in the 15th century. The pyramid was used as a clandestine cemetery by the Chinese because they were forbidden from using Catholic cemeteries. Historians believe they may have been drawn to the ancient sacred spaces which were used for high status burials when they were first built and for centuries afterwards. The remains of Chinese labourers have been found at other adobe pyramids in Lima, but this is the largest group of Chinese migrant burials ever found in Peru.

In a possible sign of how the Chinese gradually emerged from dire poverty in Peru, the first 11 bodies were shrouded in cloth and placed in the ground, while the last five wore blue-green jackets and were buried in wooden coffins, [lead archaeologist Roxana] Gomez said.

“In one Chinese coffin, an opium pipe and a small ceramic vessel were included in the funerary ensemble,” said Gomez.

The opium pipe has a porcelain base decorated with blue seashells. Other grave goods discovered in the graves include an inkwell and an unusual flat wooden box that historians believe may have held an important document like his work contract. In addition to the blue-green jackets, other clothing was found on the bodies, among them cotton hats and blue jeans.

One of the deceased was found with a fractured skull, likely the result of violent trauma. Even broken, his skull still retained the traditional braid of hair at the base. Chinese labourers were treated abysmally and there are several cases on record of them being beaten severely. The court cases were not about owners/overseers abusing Chinese workers, mind you. It was the Chinese on trial for responding with violence to the violence inflicted on them. Perhaps this young man was a victim of a workplace “injury.”

The cotton plantations in the foothills of the Andes in the Lima area were hard to farm. The land is arid desert, virtually rainless, and cannot grow any kind of crop at all without extensive irrigation systems piping water down from the mountains. Even irrigated, the land was only productive enough for two crops of cotton a year. The first was of comparatively good quality, but the manufactured product was still low-end. The second crop was worse in quality, lower in quantity and even more difficult to harvest. Harvesting by machine was not possible because the machines left too much of the bolls (the white fluffy part) behind while picking up too much of the leaves and stems that are useless in the manufacture of cotton textiles.

From a description on the back of a stereoscopic card of Chinese cotton plantation pickers published by Underwood & Underwood in 1900:

It has been found that Chinese laborers are the most reliable for work on a cotton plantation. They receive seventy cents, silver, per quintal (100 pounds) and they average two quintals a day. An expert picker will gather three quintals per day on the first crop of the season. On the second crop the laborers receive one dollar, silver, per quintal, because this crop is harder to pick. The cotton grown here is of medium grade, such as is used in the manufacture of coarse muslins and rough cotton goods.

With slavery abolished in 1854, the solution to the thorny question of who would willingly do this awful job for crap wages was what it always is: immigrants. Chinese indentured labourers migrated to Peru starting in 1849, when slavery was being phased out and there was a dire shortage of workers for the sugar and cotton plantations and guano mines. Just as in the United States with the construction of the First Transcontinental Railroad, Chinese labour in Peru played a key role in the Guano Boom, a period of great prosperity for Peru thanks to profits from guano exports to Europe where it was highly prized as fertilizer.

In the mid-19th century, 100,000 Chinese labourers, almost entirely Cantonese men from Guangdong province, immigrated to Peru to work in brutal conditions for spare change. They were deceived into signing contracts with the promise of making a decent living only to find almost immediately they’d been lied to. The ships that transported them were called “floating hells” and the ones who survived the four-month voyage arrived riddled with disease and injury. They were immediately put to work in the plantations and mines, working from dawn until night. After 12 hours of back-breaking labour, they were locked into their quarters to keep them from running away.

Little wonder they hit the opium pipes once those doors locked, and the plantation owners encouraged the habit because they just so happened to have a monopoly on opium sales granted by the British. They couldn’t make that kind of money off of alcohol and coca.

Chinese immigration was severely restricted in 1909 and prohibited entirely in 1930. By then there was a well-established community of mixed Chinese and Peruvian heritage. Their descendants, the Tusans, still live in Peru today. Up to 3% of the population is of Chinese ancestry, more than 1,000,000 people according to the Overseas Chinese Affairs Commission, the largest ethnically Chinese community in Latin America and the seventh largest in the world. Lima has more than 6,000 Chinese restaurants that serve a unique fusion of Chinese and Peruvian cuisine and a small but thriving Chinatown (the Barrio Chino) with schools, temples, benevolent associations and multiple Chinese language periodicals.

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

A Scribal Journey to a Medieval Monastery

AEthelmearc Gazette - Fri, 2017-08-25 14:26

A Class at Pax Interruptus, by THL Mairghread Stoibheard inghean ui Choinne

A solemn large bell tolls the monks, dressed in clothing unchanged since the 11th century, in from the wheat and rye fields to the handcrafted field stone abbey church. The monastery is called the Abbey of the Genesee, home to the famous “Monk’s Bread” bakery and is located in somewhat of a time warp on a beautiful hilltop above the Genesee River a mere 14 miles from the event site for Pax Interruptus in the Barony of Thescorre.

Gemlike windows of colored glass, icons in the Russian period style, and libraries with an assortment of references on iconography, calligraphy and illumination are a few of the aspects of the monastery eagerly observed by a group of seven gentles attending Pax Interruptus on July 8, A.S. 52.

The Schedule
The schedule for the excursion led by THL Mairghread Stoibheard inghean ui Choinne included:

10: 40 am (after morning court) Depart for Abbey – meet at cook’s tent

11:00 Brother Anthony to give a short talk on the hand sign language still in use at the Abbey for communicating during the “Grand Silence” (omitted due to a later departure)

11:15  Attend Sext (optional) – this is a service where Gregorian Chant is sung by the monks in antiphonal/response mode with the congregation using a psalter that is a copy of hand calligraphed original.  The psalter is for sale at the Abbey book store. (omitted due to a later departure)

11:30 View life sized icon in reception room

11:30 Visit gift ship including the book store and calligraphy and illuminations on display and sold there (you can also purchase Monk’s Bread made at the Abbey for cost and many other baked goods made at the Abbey and products of various Trappist abbeys as well. (Credit cards and checks are accepted)

12:15 View illuminated heraldry in the narthex, review the use of the psalter, view stained glass, solid limestone altar and additional icon in the Abbey church

12:30 lunch – Eat in front of the abbey residence wing – by the pond or in the shade.

1:00 View the life size high-quality reproductions of the medieval manuscripts such as “The Crusaders’ Bible” or ”Morgan Picture Bible” or the “Maciejowski Bible” or the “Shah ‘Abbas Bible” at Bethlehem House

Many thanks to the autocrat, Lady Marguerite III de Neufchâtel, and the Cooks’ Co-ordinator, Baroness  Katja Davidova Orlova Khazarina, and her staff for preparing lunches ahead for the side trip.

The Icons and Illumination References
In the reception area, we were greeted by a stunning, larger than life icon of a saint. The abbey has several icons including one in the church near the tabernacle depicting Mary with the infant Jesus comforting her face with his hand. It is in the style of the icon shown at left named “The Comfort and Consolation of the Theotokos“  from the monastery on Mt. Athos in Greece.

During our last stop at Bethlehem Retreat House in the west library, we were able to view the book “The Treasures of the Monastery of St. Catherine’s“ that included many icons and mosaics as wells as ornate gold mitres (clerical hats) and chalices.

In addition, there were folios of several life size, very high quality reproductions from the “The Crusaders’ Bible” with faux gold gilding. This bible is also known as the ”Morgan Picture Bible” or the “Maciejowski Bible” or the “Shah ‘Abbas Bible”. Several full size folios from “The Book of Kells” were also viewed. The Kells images show how parchment was stitched onto damaged corners to repair certain pages. One of our participants, Mistress Rhiannon y Bwa, explained that these are printers’ samples.

The library includes many historical and some period and primary source references about the monastic movements of St. Bernard and associated art and practices.

The Garb or Habit
It was interesting to observe the garb or “habit” of the porter. The porter is the monk who is permitted to interact with visitors in the reception area since this is a cloistered abbey. The white wool T-Tunic and brown wool tabard with leather belt and sandals are unchanged from the 11th century as shown in this painting Life of St. Bernard of Clairvaux by Joerg Breu the Elder from 1500 C.B.E.

It is common to see the habits worn by the monks mended with darning. Belts and sandals are apt to be quite worn as the Trappists take a lifelong vow of poverty.

The Heraldry
In the narthex leading to the abbey church, the abbey heraldry hangs on the stone wall accompanied by the following description:

“The abbey is signified by the crozier [at top]. The blue and white Marian [signifying Mary] colors indicate that the abbey is dedicated to Mary as is the entire Cistercian of the Strict [or Trappist] Order.

In heraldry, a river is symbolized by a wavy silver band. Here it symbolizes the Genesee River Valley where the abbey is located. The golden wavy lines on each side express golden banks, derived from the Seneca Indian name for the Genesee River Valley.

Three Indian arrowheads on the river recall the Seneca Indians who made the Genesee River Valley their home. They call themselves Tshotinondawage, people of the mountains. The arrowhead are red to further represent  the Seneca Indians and are turned upwards in the militant position to signify defense of their homeland. Above and below is the crescent, a symbol of Our Lady [Mary].                         “

Note that heraldically, a bend from upper left to lower right symbolizes an unmarried male.

The Psalter Calligraphy
The psalter, which is for sale in the shop was copied out by hand at the Abbey. The original was done using India ink with a #2.5 or #3 pen in an unclassified hand, taking four hundred hours over a period of ten months starting in February 1974. It suggests the individual character and is appropriate to the meditative recital in Gregorian Chant of some of the 150 psalms each day in seven different short services (the Divine Office) and underlines the peace and silence the monks seek in prayer.

Meredith Parsons Lillich, Department of Fine Arts, Syracuse University, wrote ”This handsome, austere, Cistercian Psalter was written by one monk over a period of nearly a year. In that time his letter forms gradually and imperceptibly changed, by slight and unconscious refinements. A comparison of his opening pages with his final verses of Psalm 150 would lead a professional paleographer, without hesitation, to attribute the hand to two different scribes. All the rules of the paleographic analysis are broken, since even the most distinctive letters (g, a) have changed in their shapes.  The script of this Cistercian Psalter is thus, in itself, a creation which is orderly, disciplined and unified, yet intricate, complex and growing.”

Calligraphy, Illumination, Baked Goods and Other Shop Wares
Many of the gentles of Thescorre, Delftwood, and the Hael have eaten “Monk’s Bread” baked at this monastery their entire life. Originally all Mink’s Bread was produced here, but due to expansion, now only locally distributed and on-line sales are baked at the abbey bakery on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday mornings. The cost of the bread at the abbey store is reduced by almost 40 percent from grocery store prices. Other Trappist wares are offered including cookies and fruit cakes prepared at the abbey bakery. Micro greens from the cloister garden were also available the day of our visit.

In addition to the extensive book store, illuminations/icons, and calligraphed and illuminated cards and prints of icons are for sale. These artworks were created by a SUNY Geneseo alumni and artist, Minhhang K. Huynh. Minhhang was raised in Vietnam in the Buddhist tradition. She began studying tempera techniques such as fresco and wood panel and crucifix painting in Sienna, Italy in 1994.  Through her work on sacred paintings in the medieval tradition, she became a spiritual student of Rev. Father John Eudes Bamberger, who was abbot of the monastery at the time (He is now one of the handful of brothers who live in hermitages on the west side of River Rd.)

The Architechure and Site
The abbey buildings were begun in 1951 when several monks were sent from the motherhouse, Gethsemani, near Louisville, Ky. to establish the foundation on one-thousand acres of land donated to the Order. The buildings are of post and beam construction with walls of fieldstones mined from the land.

Even the stained glass windows are re-purposed glass.The main door faces east as in the tradition in Western and many Eastern monasteries.

Many of the charter members were WWII veterans who sought the solitude of a simpler lifestyle and opportunity to better the world through their works after their harrowing combat experiences. The bread made at the abbey is donated to many local charities.  Local hunters can be given permission to hunt on the land on the east side of River Rd. which includes part of the Genesee Greenway trail leading to the Genesee River.

Members of our party observed the simple wooden crosses of the cemetery and heard the peals of the great outdoor bell that tolls the times for “Office” in the cloistered enclosure as cars pulled in and out of the parking lot. Similar to the SCA, the abbey is a blend of the modern and mundane with the charm and authenticity of medieval culture carefully preserved and practiced.

This class was not able to get to the abbey in time to hear a talk on the hand sign language still in use at the abbey, or hear the Gregorian chant of a service, but there is interest from Delftwood and Thescorre in a repeat excursion. Anyone can visit the abbey between 2:00 am and 7:00 pm each day of the year.

Although our group ranged from those reared in the Catholic and various protestant and new age traditions, and agnostics, as well as those who have merely been on a personal spiritual journey, all agreed that we left more peaceful, enriched and inspired.



Categories: SCA news sites

Ancient child sarcophagi found at Rome’s Olympic Stadium

History Blog - Thu, 2017-08-24 23:39

Workers installing new pipelines near Rome’s Olympic Stadium this summer uncovered two ancient Roman children’s’ sarcophagi. The ENEA utility company stumbled on the artifacts while digging in the Monte Mario neighborhood just behind the north curve of the stadium. They stopped the work and reported the find to the Special Superintendency for the Colosseum and the Archaeological Area of Central Rome which sent an archaeological team to excavate the site.

The marble sarcophagi were found about eight feet below street level. One of them is rough hewn, the chisel marks clearly visible on the interior and exterior, while the other is decorated with a bas relief on the exterior. The relief depicts a central pair of erotes (Cupid-like figures also known as putti or cherubs) holding aloft a circular medallion that is either too eroded or too soil-encrusted to identify the image it bears. It was likely an image of the deceased called a clipeus portrait, or perhaps a mythological reference. Two small figures recline underneath the medallion. On the right and left sides of the central scene are pairs of embracing Cupids and Pyches. Individual erotes cap the ends of the panel. Both it and the other, plainer sarcophagus were expensive luxury items that only the wealthy could afford. The children buried in them must have been from well-to-do families.

Erotes were common motifs in funerary reliefs, particularly for children because they’re basically babies with wings. They continued to be used into the Christian era, reinterpreted as angels bringing the souls of the dead to heaven. The Metropolitan Museum of Art has a sarcophagus with very similar iconography to the one found near the stadium, although the clipeus portrait identifies the deceased as a young man, not a child.

Preliminary examination suggests the sarcophagi date to the 3rd or 4th century A.D. — the Met’s sarcophagus dates to the late 2nd, early 3rd century and the more refined carving is indicative of an earlier date than the cruder art on the newly discovered one. The dating can’t be asserted with confidence until the objects have been subjected to further testing. Concerned that the open excavation pit was too easily accessible to vandals and looters, archaeologists decided to remove the sarcophagi from the site as soon as they could. They have been transported to the laboratories of the Special Superintendency to be cleaned, studied and conserved. The first dating results and other research will be published next fall.

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History