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Event Report: The Ice Dragon is Slain!

AEthelmearc Gazette - Thu, 2015-03-26 16:25

The A.S. XLIX Festival of the Passing of the Ice Dragon has come and gone. For those who missed it, your ever-vigilant Gazette reporters have the scoop on all that went on at the event, held on March 21 in the Barony of the Rhydderich Hael.

The day began with a morning court at which the most notable piece of business was the surprise Their Majesties had in store for Mistress Shishido Tora Gozen: a perfect Laurel ambush.

Mistress Shishido Tora Gozen, photo by Lord Simon Peregrine.

Mistress Ysabeau Tiercelin, who headed team G, reports: “When their Majesties let the Laurels know that they planned to give Gozen a writ during their reign, I asked if we could do a surprise vigil for her at Ice Dragon. They graciously gave permission and the Secret Laurel for G team sprang into action. Between a secret Facebook group, her household (who took her off the email list just long enough to notify people), and all the Æthelmearc equestrians, it is a testament to honor that no one spilled the beans.

“We set the stage by telling all the equestrians that we had been allotted a special space at Ice Dragon since I had “forgotten” to reserve our normal equestrian salon space, and everyone was encouraged to bring their equestrian works of art to display (thus neatly solving the problem of having her works there for the vigil). Her protégé and equerry made vigil favors of Master Huon’s cookys in linen bags with horse charms, a tooled leather vigil book with Japanese horse was ordered from abroad, and a Pelican/Laurel brooch was commissioned from Crafty Celts. The problem remained of how to get her into morning court without raising suspicion. Luckily, I had not been able to finish her Pelican hitatare (Japanese coat) for her last elevation, so that provided the perfect excuse – she was told that it was finally finished and their Majesties had agreed to present it in court. All was ready.

“Then came the heart-stopping moment when she emailed after having driven 20-odd hours back from Gulf Wars to let me know that she was tired and might not drive up until the morning of the event. “No problem,” I replied, thinking precisely the opposite, “Just make sure to be there for morning court, since their Majesties wanted to do the hitatare presentation then since it was not quite ‘important enough’ for the main court at night.” Thankfully, arrive she did.

“The “Equestrian Encampment” looked beautiful, and being riders with hearty appetites, it never occurred to her to question the plethora of food we had set out. She worked hard to set up the displays, still not suspecting.

Vigil display for Mistress Gozen, photo by Mistress Arianna of Wynthrope.

“We sat together through court, me with the folded hitatare under my arm. We were called up together, and I asked leave to address the populace. I explained that her “backlog hitatare” was finally finished and held it out to their Majesties, with the embroidery toward them, asking them to do the honor of putting it on. His Majesty played his part to perfection, and circled slowly, revealing to the audience that the pelican was encircled with a laurel wreath. Oohs and cheers began to rise, the Laurels crept stealthily toward the front at a gesture from his Majesty, and Gozen began to look puzzled as this was all going on behind her back.

“Gozen,” said his Majesty, “perhaps you would like to see your hitatare.” She turned around then and the look on her face when she realized just what was happening was worth the entire two months of planning (as was the smack she gave me when I whispered, “You realize we just had you set up your own Laurel vigil”). Of course the hitatare was then whisked away since she could not wear it with the Laurel wreath until after the elevation at second court. The members of the Order of the Laurel then escorted Gozen to her vigil area.”

Embroidery on the back of the hitatare created by Mistress Ysabeau Tiercelin. Photo by Mistress Tiercelin.

After morning Court, gentles scattered to the many activities that Ice Dragon offers.

Photo by Baron Steffan Wolfgang von Ravensburg.

Heavy Fighting

Lord Tegrinus de Rhina vs. Master Tigernach mac Cathail. Photo by Lord Simon.

Ice Dragon’s usual rattan bear pit attracted an array of enthusiastic fighters from novices to knights. Lord Horatius as marshal-in-charge was assisted by numerous other marshals overseeing bouts and directing traffic into each of the four lists.

Duke Maynard von dem Steine was the victor, but it was noted that he was most gracious about the bouts he lost, making the day for many of the less experienced fighters.


The rapier list featured two tournaments, a single elimination and a reverse bear pit, where the loser stayed on the field after each bout. The rapier combat was marshaled by Lord Wolfgang Starcke (who also served as Deputy Autocrat for the overall event), with Lady Aemelia Soteria as MOL.

Don Fergus vs. Duchess Dorinda. Photo by Lord Simon.

His Excellency Don Benedict Fergus atte Mede defeated Lord Michael Gladwyne to win the single elimination, wounds-retained tournament with forty people participating, and Lord Jacob of Dunmore beat out second-place finisher Lady Fiora d’Artusio to win the reverse bear pit, which had fifty participants. There were about ten White Scarves fencing, including Duchess Dorinda Courtenay, who was the first recipient in Æthelmearc of a Writ for the Order of Defence. According to Don Will Parris, every battle was hard fought.

Youth Fighting

Nicholas fighting in the Youth Tourney. Photo by Duchess Runa Æikibrandskona.

THLady Zoe Akropolitina marshaled the youth list with assistance from the Kingdom Youth Marshal, Sir Thorgrim Skullsplitter.

Seven youth fighters competed in the tournament, which was won by Olf from Stormsport.


THLady Govindi Dera Ghazi Khan organized the Salons, which were held in the upper level balcony areas. They ranged from baronial salons (Delftwood) to households (Yama Kaminari) to the Kingdom History display, to salons for particular activities and guilds (scribes, heralds, and brewers). Many of them offered food or arts displays.

Display of backlog scrolls. Photo by Arianna.

Barony of Delftwood salon. Photo by Arianna.

Clan Yama Kaminari’s salon. Photo by Lord Charles the Orange.

THLady Hrefna Ulfvarinnsdottir, Kingdom Historian, with the Great Spoon of Æthelmearc. Photo by Arianna.

Master Daniel del Cavallo mans the brewing salon. Photo by Arianna.


The event featured numerous merchants with such wares as fiber, weapons, fabric, soap, jewelry, garb, and leatherworking supplies. Lady Miriel du Lac served as merchant liaison to keep all of the merchants organized.

Photo by Arianna.

Mistress Gabrielle d’Auvergne’s fiber merchant booth. Photo by Arianna.

The Tavern

The tavern was ably run by Lord Bovi Davidson, with entertainment organized by Master Dagonell Collingwood of Emerald Lake. Lord Bovi received the Order of the Keystone at morning court for his service to the Rhydderich Hael.

Photo by Mistress Katja Davidova Orlova Khazarina.

The sideboard offered drumsticks marinated in Goya Mojo sauce, BBQ pork chunks, and roasted root vegetables, plus cheese, pickles, oranges, hard boiled eggs, and rolls. Lord Bovi said he chose simple modern fare since the kitchen would be expected to serve 600 gentles and he had found the period turnovers he did two years ago to be really good but too much work.  He focused this year on simple and portable: “Brown, hot, and plenty of it!” he joked with one of his “most amazing crew,” who he credited for the meal’s success.

Ice Dragon Pentathlon

Tiarna Padraig O’Branduibh. Photo by Mistress Hilderun Hugelmann.

As always, the Arts and Sciences Pentathlon was a big draw with entries in categories like embroidery, brewing, scribal, woodwork, and costuming. Tiarna Padraig O’Branduibh was the Pent Coordinator, with Baroness Alexanda dei Campagnella organizing the judges, of which there were many.

There were entries in individual categories, as well as some groups and individuals who entered the Pentathlon, which required them to compete in at least five different categories. Entries were judged on Documentation, Authenticity, Creativity, Workmanship, Complexity, and Aesthetics.

The Pent Room. Photo by Arianna.

Overall Pentathlon Winners

Group: The Shire of Silva Vulcani
Novice: Otto Boese
Novice runner up: Lady Rowena McCara
Single: THLord Madoc Arundel
Single runner up: THLord Ishiyama Gen’tarou Yori’ie

THLord Madoc Arundel, individual winner of the Ice Dragon Pentathlon. Photo by Arianna.

Category Winners

  • ACC1 Novice Accessories Textile
    Hilda Hugelmann for her Lady’s Early 15th Century Livery Collar
  • ACC1 Single Accessories Textile
    Gillian Llywelyn for her Embroidered Liturgical Sandal
  • ACC2 Novice Accessories Non-Textile
    Liam Macan tSaoir for his Soapstone Amulet/Pendant
  • ANI0 Novice Animal Arts
    Rowena McCara for her Japanese Bagu (Horse Equipment)
  • Brewing entries. Photo by Arianna.

    BEV1 Single Beer & Ale
    Madoc Arundel for his English Nut Brown Ale

  • BEV2 Novice Wine & Mead
    Susan Verberg for her “My making of Cyser, with medieval ingredients
  • BEV2 Single Wine & Mead
    Madoc Arundel for his Mosel-style Riesling Wine
  • BEV3 Single Cordials
    Caleb Reynolds for his Cinnamon water
  • Talismanic Shirt by Lady Sumayya al Ghaziya. Photo by Arianna.

    BEV4 Single Other, non-alcoholic
    Caleb Reynolds for his Lemonade

  • CLO1 Novice Pre-1400 Clothing
    Katelynne Rose for her Blue Silk Underdress (Serk), Beige Linen Apron Dress
  • CLO2 Novice Post-1400 Clothing
    Hara Kikumatsu for her Japanese Dobuku
  • Lady Teresa Alvarez’ German dress. Photo by Arianna.

    CLO2 Single Post-1400 Clothing
    Teresa Alvarez for her 15th C German dress with embroidery

  • CUR0 Novice Curiosa
    Sumayya al Ghaziyya for her Talismanic Shirt
  • FIB3 Novice Dyeing
    Sumayya al Ghaziyya for her Turkish Marbled Silk
  • FIB4 Novice Knitting Netting Nalbinding
    Rowena McCara for her 16th Century Knitted Monmouth Cap
  • FIB5 Single Other, felting, kumihimo
    Ishiyama Gen’tarou Yori’ie for his Kyo Kara Gumi Braid for a Laurel
  • HER0 Novice Heraldic Display
    Otto Boese for his Archer’s Bracer
  • HOU0 Novice Household Arts
    Minamoto Sakurako for her Iron gall ink
  • Sword and scabbard by Otto Boese. Photo by Arianna.

    LEA0 Novice Leather Working
    Otto Boese for his Naumurg Scabbard

  • LEA0 Single Leather Working
    Vickie Waite for her Leather pouch
  • Bascinet by Lord Enzo de Pazzi. Photo by Arianna.

    LIT1 Novice Research Paper
    Dearhbforgaill an Chomdaidh for her “Marriage in Tudor England”

  • LIT1 Single Research Paper
    Madoc Arundel for his “Post-Invasion English Land Law and Its Influence on
    the Construct of Magna Carta”
  • LIT3 Single Poetry & Prose
    Ishiyama Gen’tarou Yori’ie for his “Compositions for the Autumn 2014 Tanka
  • MET1 Single Armor
    Enzo de Pazzi for his Mid 14th Century English Bascinet
  • MET2 Novice Domestic
    Otto Boese for his Metal Belt
  • MET3 Novice Jewelry
    Leily Ashe for her Chain Mail Bracelets
  • Embroidery by Lady Rowena McCara. Photo by Arianna.

    NEE0 Novice Needlework
    Rowena McCara for her 16th Century Italian Embroidery

  • NEE0 Single Needlework
    Gillian Llywelyn for her Embroidered Liturgical Sandal
  • SCR1 Novice Calligraphy
    Sumayya al Ghaziyya for her Talismanic Shirt
  • SCR1 Single Calligraphy
    Kieran MacRae for his Calligraphy and Illumination inspired by folio 13v
    from the Statues of Archdeaconry of London
  • Illumination by Baroness Cecily of Whitehaven. Photo by Arianna.

    SCR2 Novice Illumination
    Cecily of Whitehaven for her Dragon illumination

  • Scroll by THLord Kieran MacRae. Photo by Arianna.

    SCR2 Single Illumination
    Kieran MacRae for his Calligraphy and Illumination inspired by folio 13v
    from the Statues of Archdeaconry of London

  • STU2 Novice Painting
    Cecily of Whitehaven for her Miniature Portrait
  • TOY0 Novice Toys
    Liam MacantSaoir for his Soapstone Chess Piece
  • WOD1 Novice Construction
    Otto Boese for his Late 10th C Viking Scabbard
  • WOD1 Single Construction
    Ishiyama Gen’tarou Yori’ie for his Sumitsubo Ink Line
  • WOD2 Novice Embellishment
    Corwin Alexander Templeton for his Coronet box with inlaid crest
  • YOU1 Youth Youth Ages 3-11
    Zeph Grover for the Woven strap

Royal Court

Prince Steinnar of Ealdormere. Photo by Arianna.

As the day wound down, Royal Court was held in a different room from usual at the front of the second floor.

At the start of Royal Court, Their Majesties welcomed Prince Steinnar of Ealdormere. His Highness was pleased to announce that the Lupine Kingdom will ally itself with Æthelmearc at the coming Pennsic War, to the great joy of Their Highnesses Timothy and Gabrielle as well as the populace.

Numerous gentles received recognition from the Crown. The highlights included five talented artisans who were inducted into the Fleur d‘Æthelmearc:

  • Lady Fiora d’Artusio for scribal arts
  • Don William Parris for research into period fencing manuals
  • Mistress Mahin Banu Tabrizi for cooking
  • Lady Minamoto Taikawa Saiako for Japanese studies
  • Duke Marcus Eisenwald for German costuming

THLady Zoe receiving her Pelican Writ. Photo by Arianna.

There were two Writs given for the Order of the Pelican, with elevations to be at a future date to be determined:

  • THLady Hrefna Ulfvarinnsdottir, Kingdom Historian, whose scroll in Old Norse was crafted by THLady Ismay Ponde and read by Master Fridrikr Tomasson av Knusslig Hamn
  • THLady Zoe Akropolitina for her work as a youth marshal and combat archery marshal. Her scroll was calligraphed by Furen Zhang Ming Li

Their Majesties then inducted Mistress Shishido Tora Gozen into the Order of the Laurel for her skill in making equestrian accoutrements. Mistress Gozen’s many virtues were recounted by Master Tigernach mac Cathail for the Pelicans, THLord Rhiannon Elandris for the Order of the Golden Lance, Prince Timothy of Arindale for the Royal Peers, Mistress Ysabeau Tiercelin read a letter from Viscount Alexander Caithnes for the Laurels, and Sir Bear the Wallsbane for the Chivalry. Mistress Gozen, now a double peer, was presented with a brooch from the equestrian community, and finally… she was able to wear her hitatare. Her scroll, based on the Tale of Genji, was illuminated by Mistress Una de St. Luc and calligraphed by Mistress Daedez of the Moritu.

Mistress Gozen with her Laurel scroll. Photo by Mistress Tiercelin.

Royal Court culminated in the bestowing of this reign’s Jewel of Æthelmearc on Mistress Cori Ghora, Kingdom Seneschale, as the populace roared their approval of Their Majesties’ choice.

Mistress Cori Ghora, newest Jewel of Æthelmearc, with her copper-etched scroll crafted by Mistress Ekaterina Volkova. Photo by Mistress Hilda.

Rhydderich Hael’s Baronial Court followed with several local awards, and culminated in the announcements of the tournament and Pentathlon winners as noted above.

Baron Carolus and Baroness Isolda of the Rhydderich Hael. Photo by Arianna.

Congratulations to the event autocrat, Lord Magnus de Lyons, and his staff on another successful Passing of the Ice Dragon enjoyed by over 600 gentles. May the Ice Dragon die swiftly and spring arrive with haste!

This report was written with contributions from Don Will Parris, Mistress Ysabeau Tiercelin, THLady Zoe Akropolitina, Baroness Katja Davidova Orlova Khazarina, Tiarna Padraig O’Branduibh, and Mistress Arianna of Wynthrope.

Categories: SCA news sites

Unofficial Court Report for Gulf War

East Kingdom Gazette - Thu, 2015-03-26 14:55


The Court of our most excellent prince and lord, Edward, by right of arms most illustrious King of the East, third of that name, and Thyra, his Queen by agency of that same right, second of that name, held upon 19 March in the forty-ninth year of the Society upon the fields of Gulf War; on which day were called all and sundry the lords of the realm to hear the following publicly proclaimed:

Item. Their Majesties thanked their Rapier General, Remy Delemontagne de Gascogne, and all of the combatants who took the rapier field to fight on behalf of the East Kingdom;

Item. His Majesty then endowed Remy Delemontagne de Gascogne with the King’s Award of Esteem.

Item. Their Majesties elevated and inducted the following persons into the Company of the Pennon of the East:
Aethelhawk Keyfinder
Siubhan Wallace
Matthias Grünewald
Jozef Ludwiczck
Christoff Gockerhan von Loch
Marieta Charay
Jocelyn della Spada
Sorcha Dhocair
Anastasa da Monte
Sergei Rozvad syn
AEsa feilinn Jossursdottir
Juliana von Altenfeld
Wulfgang Gruenwald
Tysha z Kieva
Elglin of House Eagle

Item. Their Majesties extended their gratitude to Samuel Peter Bump, Aife ingen Chonchobair in Derthaige, and Donovan Shinnock for their aid and good service at Gulf War.

I, Donovan Shinnock, Golden Rapier Herald, wrote this to memorialize and make certain all such things that were done and caused to be done as above stated.

Photos courtesy of Mistress Ygraine of Kellswood

Filed under: Court, Events Tagged: court report, Gulf War

Pennsic documentary producer to make video of USA Knights at IMCF world championships

SCAtoday.net - Thu, 2015-03-26 11:18

Zorikh Lequidre, known in the SCA as Lord Ervald the Optimistic, is set to make a video documentary of USA Knights, America's original full-combat armored combat team, at the International Medieval Combat Federation world championships this Spring in Malbork Poland. The new video is to be titled “American Knights.”

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Categories: SCA news sites

New Kingdom Website Set to Debut

AEthelmearc Gazette - Thu, 2015-03-26 09:42

Dear Populace of Æthelmearc,

Exciting things are about to happen in the office of the webminister. We are ready to launch the brand new Kingdom of Æthelmearc website that we have been working on for quite a while. This new site will fix the things that broke a while ago with an update at our hosting company. During this transition time we ask you all to be patient since with all new things we will experience some growing pains.

We welcome your suggestions on the site improvements and if you catch any bugs in the system please let us know by emailing ae.webminister@aethelmearc.org. Also if you have any questions please don’t hesitate to email me.

With this new site we hope to bring more of a face to our various officers as well as organize the content a little bit better. We will also feature new sections such as social media links both for official groups and various interest groups around the kingdom and the knowne world. We also will feature a section for graphics that can be used for your creations such as machine embroidery files for the escarbuncle and other emblems and badges in the kingdom. Another new feature will be a searchable archive of past documents and policies as well as current ones for those who need them.

Again thank you for you patience and suggestions.

Sincerely The Honorable Lady Phelippe “Pippi” Ulfsdotter
Kingdom of Æthelmearc Webminister

Categories: SCA news sites

Richard III reburied today

History Blog - Thu, 2015-03-26 01:27

More than 35,000 people lined the cortege route on Sunday, and more than 20,000 visitors have queued up to pay their respects to the mortal remains of Richard III in the three days the coffin has been on view at Leicester Cathedral. The culmination of this week of events is today’s reburial service.

A few tidbits about the service:

  • The current royal family will be represented by the Countess of Wessex, wife of Prince Edward, and the Duke of Gloucester who shares a title Richard held before he was king, but Queen Elizabeth II has written a tribute to Richard that will be printed in the service program.
  • After the service the coffin will be lowered into a tomb built of Yorkshire Swaledale stone. This is the first time the public will witness the actual lowering of a monarch’s coffin into the grave.
  • Descendents of people who fought at the Battle of Bosworth will be present.
  • Benedict Cumberbatch, who is playing Richard III in an upcoming BBC series based on Shakespeare’s relevant histories, will read a poem called Richard written for the occasion by Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy. Also University of Leicester historian Kevin Schürer found Benedict Cumberbatch and Richard III are second cousins 16 times removed, see abridged genealogy here (pdf).
  • After the service the Cathedral will be closed to the public until Friday when the new memorial will be in place.

If you missed the transfer of the remains from the University of Leicester to the Cathedral and the Compline service that followed, Channel 4 has their entire coverage of the event available on their website. They will again be the only television channel broadcasting the reinterment live, but it looks like a sure bet that they’ll have that video available on their website if you miss it live.

Channel 4′s live coverage begins at 10:00 AM GMT (6:00 AM EST). In addition to airing the service itself, it will include discussions with some of the guests and the people involved in the discovery and reburial. The program will last three hours until 1:00 PM GMT. They’ll air a one-hour highlight reel at 8:00 PM GMT.

Needless to say, I’ll be watching live.

6:00 AM EDIT: Or rather I would be, if the Channel 4 viewer weren’t giving me an error.

7:06 AM: I can’t get it to work, dammit. I’ll have to watch it on demand later. For now, I’m listening to BBC Radio Leicester’s live coverage and following the Twitter RichardReburied hashtag.

The Leicester Mercury is liveblogging the reburial, as is the city’s dedicated King Richard in Leicester website.

7:23 AM: Here’s Queen Elizabeth II’s message:

7:31 AM: Professor Gordon Campbell, the University of Leicester’s public orator (dude, they have a public orator!) opened with a euology that was a brief, dry summary of Richard’s life, the discovery of his remains and the significance of his mitochondrial DNA. They don’t orate like they used to, man.

7:37 AM: The Dean just placed Richard’s personal Book of Hours, found in his tent after the Battle of Bosworth, on a cushion in front of the coffin.

7:49 AM: Check out this amazing headshake and eyeroll from John Ashdown-Hill of the Richard III Society. That’s Philippa Langley sitting next to him. I’m guessing is has something to do with insufficent recognition of Langley and the Society’s work in making this day come to pass.

7:58 AM: What a poetic sermon from the Bishop of Leicester.

8:02 AM: Here’s a neat story about the artist who made the ceramic vessels to hold the soils of Fotheringhay, Middleham and Fenn Lane that were blessed on Sunday and will be interred with Richard’s remains today. Michael Ibsen made the box, and a handsome one it is.

8:07 AM: Classic ashes to ashes dust to dust reading over the coffin which is now being lowered into the tomb.

8:08 AM: Apparently the soils will be sprinkled over the coffin, not placed in the tomb in the handsome box.

8:14 AM: “Grant me the carving of my name…” Dame Carol Ann Duffy’s poem is beautiful and moving and Benedict Cumberbatch recited it like, well, a pro.


My bones, scripted in light, upon cold soil,
a human braille. My skull, scarred by a crown,
emptied of history. Describe my soul
as incense, votive, vanishing; your own
the same. Grant me the carving of my name.

These relics, bless. Imagine you re-tie
a broken string and on it thread a cross,
the symbol severed from me when I died.
The end of time – an unknown, unfelt loss –
unless the Resurrection of the Dead…

or I once dreamed of this, your future breath
in prayer for me, lost long, forever found;
or sensed you from the backstage of my death,
as kings glimpse shadows on a battleground.

8:27 AM: And that’s all, folks. The luminaries are processing out. It was less than an hour long. No long, boring speeches. Beautiful music. Great poem. Epic Ricardian eyeroll. I couldn’t ask for more.

8:35 AM: Channel 4′s coverage continues with interviews of some of the principals — Langley, Ibsen, etc. I wonder if they’ll ask Philippa about the epic eyeroll. If, like me, you’re having trouble viewing the broadcast on Channel 4′s website, you can watch it online here instead. Wish I had remembered that an hour ago.

8:41 AM: They did ask John Ashdown-Hill about his eyeroll and he minced no words. He hoped the service would be peaceful, but “we still seem to be dealing with some lies from Leicester.” Daaaaamn… He wouldn’t specify the lies beyond saying they got Richard’s birthday wrong on the program.

8:45 AM: Benedict Cumberbatch was blown away by the poem. He looks stylish wearing a white rose lapel pin.

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

Future in question for the Hagia Sophia

SCAtoday.net - Thu, 2015-03-26 01:24

Over the centuries, Istanbul's iconic Hagia Sophia has been a Byzantine church, a mosque, a Catholic church and a museum, but changing politics may take a toll on the glorious 6th century edifice. Stuart Williams of Art Daily has the story. (photo)

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Categories: SCA news sites

Boy it sure got quiet in here

History Blog - Wed, 2015-03-25 22:54

At first I just assumed I’d bored everyone to death once and for all. When I found myself all alone nerding out over Richard III’s cortege for 18 hours or so, I was bummed, but still not suspicious. Yes, it took another three days of complete radio silence in my comments for it to dawn on me that something might just be rotten in technological Denmark. So I looked under the hood and lo and behold, the last comment was posted on March 16th and on March 17th I installed an update to the anti-spam plugin. Coincidence or just two things happening at the same time? Neither! There was, gasp, a causal relationship between the two events.

So now I have a new anti-spam plugin that is not dead set on silencing you and eviscerating my self-esteem. Group hug!

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

Neanderthals made jewelry from eagle talons 130,000 years ago

History Blog - Wed, 2015-03-25 05:38

A set of white-tailed eagle talons recovered from the 130,000-year-old Krapina Neanderthal site in Croatia have multiple cut marks, notches and polished facets that indicate the talons were once mounted in a piece of jewelry. Individual talons thought to have been used as pendants have been found at Neanderthal sites before, but this group of eight talons collected from at least three eagles was used for a more elaborate ornament that likely held symbolic meaning. Crafted early in the Middle Paleolithic era long before anatomically modern humans arrived in Europe about 45,000 years ago, the talons are evidence that Neanderthals created complex ornaments with symbolic significance independently of any later interactions with Homo sapiens sapiens.

The eight talons and one pedal phalanx (the toe bone associated with one of the talons) were found in the same level of a rock shelter on Hušnjak hill, near the Croatian town of Krapina, that was excavated by Croatian paleontologist Dragutin Gorjanović-Kramberger from 1899 to 1905. They were in the uppermost level which Gorjanović-Kramberger called the “Ursus spelaeus zone” because of its many cave bear bones. Although most of the Neanderthal bones were found more than halfway down site (level 4 on the diagram, labeled “Homo sapiens” because when it was drawn they hadn’t figured out yet that the bones belonged to another species of human), stone tools and one hearth were also found on the bear level confirming its use by Neanderthals. The entire site from top to bottom has a relatively short date span of about 10,000 years.

Only the cliff face is left today, but Gorjanović-Kramberger extensively documented and published the site and its contents — hundreds of Neanderthal bones and teeth, 2800 faunal remains, more than 800 stone tools — have been preserved at the Croatian Natural History Museum in Zagreb where he was head of the Geological-Paleontological Department. Davorka Radovcic was reviewing the Natural History Museum’s Krapina Neanderthal collection in late 2013 after she was appointed its curator when she noticed the cut marks on the phalanx bone from the eagle talon set. Radovcic realized that the marks were made by humans. An international study of the talons ensued, the results of which were published earlier this month in the journal PLOS ONE.

The study examined each bone in microscopic detail and found that four of the talons and the phalanx have multiple cut marks whose edges have been smoothed, eight talons have been polished and/or abraded and three have notches in approximately the same area. Those smooth edges are how we know the cuts weren’t the result of butchering. Other fauna in the rock shelter bears the sharp cut marks of the butchering process and none of them have smoothed edges. This was done deliberately, probably by wrapping the talon in a fiber of some kind. The shiny polished areas look like what happens when bone rubs against bone. The research team believes these are the tell-tale signs of the claws having been mounted in a necklace or bracelet.

At Krapina, cut marks on the pedal phalanx and talons are not related to feather removal or subsistence, so these must be the result of severing tendons for talon acquisition. Further evidence for combining these in jewelry is edge smoothing of the cut marks, the small polished facets, medial/lateral sheen and nicks on some specimens. All are a likely manifestation of the separating the bones from the foot and the attachment of the talons to a string or sinew. Cut marks on many aspects, but not the plantar surfaces, illustrate the numerous approaches the Neandertals had for severing the bones and mounting them into a piece of jewelry.

As in ethnohistoric-present societies, the Neandertals’ practice of catching eagles very likely involved planning and ceremony. We cannot know the way they were captured, but if collected from carcasses it must have taken keen eyes to locate the dead birds as rare as they were in the prehistoric avifauna. We suspect that the collection of talons from at least three different white-tailed eagles mitigates against recovering carcasses in the field, but more likely represents evidence for live capture. In any case, these talons provide multiple new lines of evidence for Neandertals’ abilities and cultural sophistication. They are the earliest evidence for jewelry in the European fossil record and demonstrate that Neandertals possessed a symbolic culture long before more modern human forms arrived in Europe.

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

Drachenwald Crowns Permit Same Sex Pair Entry in Their Crown List

SCAtoday.net - Wed, 2015-03-25 03:13

On Saturday March 22, 2015, in a surprisingly quick reversal, Their Majesties Macarius and Izabella of Drachenwald changed a decision barring their subjects Hi Lady Hilkka Susinen & Lady Leonet de Covenham from entering their Crown Lists.

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Categories: SCA news sites

Embroidery Pattern For Her Highness Gabrielle

AEthelmearc Gazette - Tue, 2015-03-24 18:26

Gentles wishing to make favors or other items for Her Highness Gabrielle to give as gifts during Her reign are invited to use the information below, sent to the Gazette by Dame Bronwyn MacFhionghuin.

Embroidery Pattern For Her Highness Gabrielle
Escarbuncle & Crown with Parfume Drop
Designed by THL Jaqueline de Molieres 2/2015

Use this embroidery design when making items for soon-to-be Queen Gabrielle to officially gift. Place this design on anything you wish: belt favors, pouches, needle cases, pin cushions, drink covers, etc. Use whatever materials you like (linen, silk, wool, cotton), red background with white & gold threads. Reduce or enlarge the design as needed. The pattern is designed to use a chain stitch for escarbuncle and crown, and stem stitch for parfume drop.


Before you start, I suggest washing the fabric – red has a tendency to bleed.

Then do some test stitching to determine stitch size, how many strands of floss, etc. I counted stitches, but the number of stitches may change if you reduce or enlarge the pattern.

Do the escarbuncle first; then finagle the placement of the crown and drop if need be.

The completed Escarbuncle & Crown with Parfume Drop can be stitched directly onto the fabric for your finished piece, or cut into a rondel & appliquéd onto anything you want.


If you want, you could add a bead or pearl in the center.


For the base of the crown, make 2 rows of chains, slightly curved per the pattern, just above the escarbuncle. At each end, there are 3 chains up with a horizontal chain toward the center from the second chain. In the very center there are 3 chains up with 2 horizontal chains from the second chain. Between the end & the center on each side, place just one chain at the halfway point.


Surround the Escarbuncle & Crown with a stem-stitched Parfume Drop.

Categories: SCA news sites

Icky, Sticky, Smelly, Noisy or Messy – Come and Teach!

AEthelmearc Gazette - Tue, 2015-03-24 16:13

If you teach a class — or want to take a class — that is icky, sticky, smelly, noisy, and/or messy, do we have the Æcademy for you!

At this year’s Spring Æthelmearc Æcademy, we’re moving classes OUTSIDE! Classes will be held under covered picnic pavilions or in rented tents, so you can make it loud … make it dirty … make it FUN!

Teacher registration is now open;  please register your class here.

The event will be held on Saturday, JULY 4th, and will be hosted by the Shire of Stormsport in conjunction with their Annual Army Muster and TRM’s Equestrian Championship Tournament.  (Which means that in addition to classes a-plenty, there will also be as much heavy fighting, archery, fencing, thrown weapons, youth combat and equestrian activities as one might wish!)

Additional information can be found on the Kingdom website as well as on the Æcademy website here.

Categories: SCA news sites

Dressing like an Anglo Saxon

SCAtoday.net - Tue, 2015-03-24 14:03

Toby Martin, of the University of Oxford, has published a series of abstrats on papers and presentations on his university blog pertaining to Anglo Saxon dress and jewelry. PDFs are available on request.

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Categories: SCA news sites

Turin Shroud: Prop for medieval Easter ritual?

SCAtoday.net - Tue, 2015-03-24 09:57

Historian Charles Freeman believes the Shroud of Turin was created in the 14th century for Easter rituals. Freeman presents his theory in the article The Origins of the Shroud of Turin in the November 2014 issue of History Today. Charlotte Higgins of the Guardian discusses the theory.

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Categories: SCA news sites

Rubens’ Three Magi reunited after 130 years

History Blog - Tue, 2015-03-24 07:31

Individual portraits of the Three Wise Men painted by Peter Paul Rubens in 1618 are back together for the first time in 130 years at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. The three works, uniquely intimate bust views of the Biblical personages, are normally separated by many miles and one large ocean. Melchior, also known as the Assyrian King, is part of the permanent collection of the NGA while Gaspar, also known as the Oldest King, belongs to the Museo de Arte de Ponce near San Juan, Puerto Rico, and Balthasar, the Moorish or Young King, is owned by the Plantin-Moretus Museum in Antwerp, Belgium. Melchior cannot leave the NGA by the terms of a bequest, so this is a unique opportunity to see all three of the original paintings together.

Rubens created the Three Magi on commission from Antwerp printing magnate Balthasar I Moretus after having painted the Adoration of the Magi the year before for the Church of St. John in Mechelen. Indeed there are marked similarities in the depictions of the Three Kings in the Adoration and in the ones he made for Moretus, but the individual portraits take a much more personal approach, starting with the fact that they’re in separate paintings at all when they whole point of them in terms of Christian iconography is for them to be together. There’s a reason for this.

Balthasar Moretus was head of the Officina Plantiniana (Plantin Press), a printing company founded by his grandfather Christophe Plantin which was the largest publisher in Europe during the 16th and 17th centuries. He had been close friends with Rubens since they were schoolkids and once he and his brother became heads of the company after their father’s death in 1610, Moretus regularly commissioned Rubens to make illustrations and title pages for Officina publications. He also commissioned 19 portraits of friends and family including ones of his deceased father and grandfather.

The Three Magi were an extension of those family portraits. Balthasar’s father Jan I Moretus had started at Plantin Press as an assistant when he was 15 years old and worked his way up the ladder to become Christophe Plantin’s indispensable right hand man. After his marriage to Plantin’s second daughter Martina, who ran a successful lace and linen business of her own, he became Plantin’s son-in-law and presumptive successor too. In a letter to his father, Jan explained that Moretus was the Latinized version of his last name Moerentorf and that he had chosen it as a reference to “Morus,” the Moorish king who was one of the Three Magi. He placed the king and the Star of Bethlehem on his insignia along with the motto “ratione recta” (“right reason”) because he held the star to be a symbol of reason.

He carried that theme into the family nomenclature when he and Martina named three of their 10 children after the Magi. Balthasar, obviously, was one of the three. When he became head of the Platin Press he took a page out of his father’s book, no pun intended, put the Star of Bethlehem into the company’s golden compass printer’s device and adopted the motto “stella duce” (“with the star as guide”). The Three Magi Rubens painted for him, therefore, were avatars of the brothers, the family and its vocation on top of their religious meaning.

Many of the portraits Rubens painted for the publishing dynasty still hang on the wall of the main gallery of Plantin-Moretus Museum, a museum dedicated to the Plantin Press and Plantin-Moretus families that is located in the Renaissance-style palace that housed both the family and the business from the 16th century through the late 19th. The lavishly decorated building and its extraordinary contents — Flemish Baroque Old Master paintings, rare books, the two oldest surviving printing presses in the world (from around 1600), complete sets of punches, dies, matrices, type in multiple languages and an almost unbroken archive of the Plantin Press business records from 1555 to 1876 — are on the UNESCO World Heritage list.

The Moretus family thankfully kept most everything that crossed the transom and, after Balthasar I expanded the house and annexed the printing shop to it, made few changes to the property until Edward Moretus sold the company to the city of Antwerp in 1876. Within a year it was a museum for the public to enjoy the gorgeousness of the home (never mind the priceless art on the wall, the woodwork is INSANE) and the utilitarian beauty of the printing offices. The Three Magi were long gone by then, however. The family had sold the Three Kings to Graaf Van de Werve de Vosselaer of Antwerp in 1781. They were still together until they were dispersed at the Paris auction of the John William Wilson collection in 1881.

The old king (Gaspar) and the middle-aged king (Melchior) went to the United States. Gaspar returned to Europe in 1962 where it was sold at a Sotheby’s auction in London. The Museo de Arte de Ponce was the buyer. Melchior was donated to the National Gallery of Art in 1943 by collector Chester Dale who bequeathed almost his entire art collection to the museum in 1962. Balthasar had a more troubling road. Somehow he found his way into the collection Hermann Goering amassed from the confiscation, coercive sale and outright theft of Jewish property and looting of occupied territories during the war. After that ugly spell, Balthasar became part of a private collection in Brussels before eventually being reacquired by the Plantin-Moretus Museum.

The Three Kings will be together again at the National Gallery of Art from March 17th through July 5th, 2015.

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

A&S Classes at War Practice

AEthelmearc Gazette - Mon, 2015-03-23 21:41

War Practice will be here in less than two monthes, and one of our best activities is we have to offer to the people of Æthelmearc and our guests is an excellent roster ot classes.

There are many talented teachers and artisans in the kingdom who have a great deal to share.  If you’ve ever wanted to teach a class, or if you’d like to do a trial run before Pennsic or the next Æcademy, here’s your chance.

If you would like to teach a class, please send me the following information for the website and site booklet:

Name of Teacher
Title of Class
Description of Class (brief, please, 75 words or less)
Class Length
Maximum Number of Students
Age Limit of Students
Fee, if any


Students learning Book Binding from Master Michael Alewright
photo by Mistress Rowena ni Dhonnchaidh

Please include your legal name and e-mail address, and your preferred time for your class, as well as any special requirements you may have.  The schedule will be filled on a first-come, first- served basis, so the earlier you volunteer, the more likely it will be that I can accomodate you.

Space is available from 9am-8pm on Friday and 9am-6pm on Saturday in one of three large tents (with tables and chairs), the upper bathhouse (also with tables and chairs, plus electricity and access to water), and the Great Hall.

Please send your request to me by 30 April:

E-mail: helen.pinto@comcast.net
Phone: 724-203-4014
Mail: Helen Pinto
1936 Crestmont Dr
Aliquippa, PA  15001

Thanks in advance for you generous offers, and feel free to cross-post this announcement anywhere you think there may be interest.

-Aidan ni Leir

Categories: SCA news sites

Historical women's letters auctioned in Paris

SCAtoday.net - Mon, 2015-03-23 16:33

The auction of around 1500 letters of famous women, including Catherine of Aragon's plea to Pope Clement VII to block her divorce from Henry VIII, took place in November 2014 in Paris. The auction, whose book was entitled Women: Letters and Signed Manuscripts, brought a total of EU 794,173. (photo)

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Categories: SCA news sites

Doodling the Middle Ages

SCAtoday.net - Mon, 2015-03-23 10:08

Modern people doodle when bored. So too, apparently did medieval scribes, according to Dr Erik Kwakkel, a book historian at Leiden University, Holland, who posts "medieval eye candy" that he comes across during the course of his research on his blog. (photos)

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Categories: SCA news sites

To Serve the Crown: the Care and Feeding of Royalty

AEthelmearc Gazette - Mon, 2015-03-23 08:09

As a companion to our story on the Queen’s Guard, Mistress Arianna of Wynthrope interviewed former royal retainers to learn what the job of serving the Crown entails.

Master Tigernach mac Cathail, photo by Mistress Arianna of Wynthrope.

As our Kings and Queens travel among the populace, you may have noticed that they are almost never alone. Typically there is at least one gentle tagging along behind, often carrying a basket, goblet, cloak, or fan. During courts, they are standing behind the thrones, fanning the royals if it is warm or offering them libations to keep their throats cooled. These good folk are retainers, and while their job may look simple, doing it well it is not. Some experienced retainers explain why.

What do retainers do?

Master Tigernach mac Cathail, who has served as a retainer for multiple royalty including Timothy and Gabrielle, Malcolm and Tessa, and Andreas and Kallista, says, “A retainer is like a butler and personal secretary all rolled up into one. They take notes and gather contact information regarding gifts that are presented for personal thank you letters. They remind the Monarchs about Their schedule. A retainer may have to fetch items or locate individuals with whom the monarchs would like to speak.” Master Tigernach continued, “One of the general rules I also go by is to try to keep Their Majesties’ hands free. They shouldn’t be carrying things or doing things that the retainer could be doing.”

Baroness Nuzha bint Saleem, who was head retainer for Khalek and Branwen, commented, “Your utmost purpose is to keep the royalty comfortable and safe – not the way the Queen’s Guard keeps the royalty safe, [but in] the simple little things that you would do for your family. You wouldn’t let your mother or your sister eat something they’re allergic to. You wouldn’t let your brother remain stuck in an uncomfortable conversation. You’d always make sure they had space at the dinner table and a place to sit if they came to your home. It’s the same for royalty at events.”

Indeed, one of the problems that SCA Royalty often have is that since they were not born nobility in the real world, they are unused to having ‘servants’ and may be uncomfortable with others fetching and carrying for them. Master Tigernach observed, “Sometimes this involves educating new sets of royalty. Often they don’t like someone waiting on them and want to do things for themselves. However, [retainers are] part of making the Kingdom look good.” He joked, “I let King Andreas dig his own sump in Æthelmearc Royal, and told him to enjoy it, because it was one of the last things we would let him do [that Pennsic].”

Baroness Nuzha swearing fealty to King Khalek and Queen Branwen as head retainer, photo by Baron Friderich Schwartzwalder.

Many past retainers think of their role as stage managing the theater of the SCA. Baroness Boudicea Ravenhair, called ‘dicea, who has also served as a retainer for numerous Crowns, noted, “In my experience, retaining is the heart of the performance art in the SCA. Retainers are stage managers, set dressers, props, make up, dressers, handlers, house managers, special functionaries, concessions, catering, directors, prompters, and stage ninjas. They are the people who hold the space for the royalty to make magic with the populace. Roles are based on needs and filled with skills. SCA theater is a gift that everyone involved works to create together.”

Baroness Nuzha agreed, “Remember that this is not your show, it is theirs. You are a roadie, not the main act. You have done a good job if people see the beauty and the smoothness with which the show happens, but none of the effort.”

The best retainers anticipate the needs of their King and Queen without smothering them. Master Tigernach remarked, “There is a balance to taking care of the royalty and handling the little things, [without] going overboard. The final say is always up to Their Majesties, and you have to work out the line with them.”

Anyone can be a retainer

Mistress Euriol, photo by Master Alaxandair Ó Conchobhair.

Unlike the Queen’s Guard, who are generally appointed by the Queen in consultation with her Captain of the Guard, anyone can volunteer to serve as a royal retainer for an event. Mistress Euriol of Lothian, who has retained for Timothy and Gabrielle as well as Malcolm and Tessa, remarked, “I encourage new people to retain. It is important [to understand] that if there is a general call out to become a retainer, then it is intended for everyone. If you show up to an event, volunteer to retain. If you know you’re going to an event in advance, reach out to the Head Retainer or equivalent and make the offer.”

Mistress Euriol noted that retaining can be a broadening experience for those who sign on for an entire reign. “Those that are considered part of the regular staff may go to events they may not regularly go to. Carpooling is great way to get to know people better. Finding crash space is a good way to make new friends.”

If you would like to serve as a retainer, however, there are some important things to remember. Baroness Nuzha says, “Read their whims, check for their allergies, [and] don’t wear, feed them, or have them around any of the things they’re allergic to. Don’t dote. That gets tiresome. Just BE present. BE aware. Notice if they seem uncomfortable or tired or hungry or thirsty.” In addition, Her Excellency points out that discretion is vital for retainers. “You should stay the heck OUT of their conversations. You are there to make them comfortable and to help them do the things they need to get done. You are not there to butt in or acquire knowledge to use for gossiping. You are most likely NOT their confidante. Do not assume the role unless it is asked of you.”

I encourage new people to retain – Mistress Euriol of Lothian

Retainers’ roles differ depending on the circumstances. Master Tigernach noted, “Being a battlefield retainer is different than being a regular retainer. During breaks [in the fighting] you have to bring food and drinks onto the field. You may also have to help with the armor, although a squire usually takes care of that.” He continued, “For court, the retainers process in behind the guards and champions and may have to carry stuff. During court they will stand behind the Thrones on their shift and keep Their Majesties’ glasses full.”

At events with hot weather or a lot of physical activity, like Pennsic and War Practice, retainers need to ensure that their King and Queen remain hydrated and healthy. Master Tigernach said, “For some monarchs you have to almost push [fluids] on them. I know with King Malcolm, I didn’t bother to ask if he wanted something to drink most of the time. Instead I would just put [a cup] into his hands. It’s important that retainers take care of themselves, too. They need to make sure they stay hydrated and rest if needed.”

Serving Royalty with children

Mistress Katryne Bakestonden, photo by Master Augusto Giuseppe da San Donato.

Many of Æthelmearc’s Kings and Queens have reigned with small children in tow. These children have their own needs that retainers are often asked to assist with, and each set of royalty had their own way to accommodate their children. Mistress Katryne (Kate) of Bakestonden, who served Morguhn and Meirwen as well as Andrew and Alexandra, commented, “We had an approved list of retainers to watch the child. But if said child wanted mommy or daddy at any time, [we would] bring the child even if it was in the middle of court or a meeting.”

However, not everyone is suited for royal babysitting. Mistress Euriol noted, “Depending on the Royals, those who take care of any children may not be considered a retainer, but may considered separately from that function. There are also retainers who are not comfortable taking on a role with children.”

What does the Head Retainer do?

Mistress Euriol explained, “Head retainers organize the retainer schedule and recruit people to retain. They step in to fill a hole in the schedule. They may do some of the errands that may be more sensitive in nature. They also set the expectations of the retainers’ duties in general and what might be needed for a specific situation.”

Master Tigernach agreed that being head retainer requires organizational skills. “You [maintain] the spreadsheet with all the contact information for retainers. You also need to keep track of the schedule for the event and the schedule of retainer shifts. You have to share information with the Captain of the Guard. The Guard usually help at the beginning and end of events to unload and load gear. The head retainer or reign coordinator had the schedule and I would get that information to help figure out my shift.”

Mistress Kate recalls coordinating with autocrats and royalty liaisons before events. “There were lots and lots and lots of emails, phone calls, and spreadsheets with all of the contact information. [There was] a sheet for main contacts, then a sheet per event, and we did a lot of localized retainers per region so we had a contact sheet of available retainers per region per event.”

Baroness Nuzha noted, “If you are the head retainer, it is your job to make sure that your retainers are taken care of, as well as the royalty.” She recommends that all retainers have a backup and know their limits.

Baroness Bodicea Ravenhair, photo by Baron Steffan Wolfgang von Ravensburg.

Baroness ‘dicea commented, “Retaining [for] royalty isn’t fun and games. It is pretty hard core larping. Royalty have ideal images of what is great about their kingdom that they want to reflect back to the populace. The retainers are supporting this theatrical presentation. Everyone has a role in every situation. It is not about rank or value, it is about the image of having people to pour drinks for guests, it is [about] the image of having a Herald. Royalty and their entourage are putting on a play within a play, setting aside other roles to make this part shine brightest.”

Mistress Kate concurred. “We retained by the saying: Service is love made visible.”

Categories: SCA news sites

Queen Anne coronation medal designed by Isaac Newton

History Blog - Mon, 2015-03-23 07:24

Oxford University PhD student James Hone has discovered a manuscript in the National Archives at Kew that proves Isaac Newton personally designed the coronation medal commemorating the accession of Queen Anne in 1702. Newton was Master of the Mint at the time, but before this discovery scholars believed that the medal was designed by court painter Sir Godfrey Kneller.

[T]he notes show Newton switching ideas from science to maths, classical history, politics and literature.
“It tells us that Newton didn’t conceive of himself as a scientist, but a master of lots of trades. The understanding of him as a great scientist is a later imposition, he would have seen himself more as a public servant.”

Finding a manuscript in Newton’s own hand complete with sketches and explanations of the metaphors woven into the design lends new insight into the man, his work at the mint and the seething cauldron of politics bubbling around Queen Anne’s coronation.

Official commemorative medals were struck for every coronation of a Stuart monarch. There were gold versions to hand out to the peers and diplomats attending the coronation and cheaper silver versions to throw into the crowds gathered at Westminster Abbey. Original documentation about the design and production of most of the Stuart tokens has not survived. That makes the Isaac Newton papers on the creation of the 1702 medal all the more significant.

Hone was doing research for the Stuart Successions Project, a joint study by Exeter University and Oxford University of printed material written during and about the succession crises in Britain between 1603 and 1702, when he came across a set of manuscripts from Newton’s time as Master of the Mint. One of them was a 50-page document that, judging from the completely rusted clasp keeping the pages together, hadn’t been read for years. The manuscript detailed the design of the first coronation medal and other prospective medals as well.

Newton was in his mid-50s when he was appointed Warden of the Royal Mint in 1696 during the reign of King William III. He was enlisted by Secretary to the Treasury William Lowndes to help in the Great Recoinage of 1696, an attempt by the government to solve a currency crisis by taking old, badly clipped silver coins and counterfeits out of circulation. Newton committed to the task with characteristic vigor, going undercover in taverns and dark alleys to gather information on counterfeiters. He personally interrogated suspects and witnesses and prosecuted dozens, securing convictions in 28 cases. He also helped establish the Bank of England as ordered by Acts of Parliament.

He was appointed Master of the Mint in 1699, and even though both the mint positions he held were widely considered sinecures, Isaac Newton took the second one as seriously as he had the first. He retired as Member of Parliament for the Cambridge University constituency to dedicate himself to the job. Little surprise, then, that he was writing 50-page treatises on commemorative medals when his predecessors had left that sort of thing to Mint minions. He put his extensive knowledge of mythology and allegory to work crafting a doozy of a propaganda piece.

The obverse of the medal is profile of Queen Anne similar to what you’d find on the regular coinage inscribed “ANNA D.G. MAG. BR. FRA. ET. HIB REGINA” (“Anne, by the grace of God, Queen of Great Britain, France and Ireland”). The reverse is the juicy bit. Anne is depicted as the Greek warrior goddess Pallas Athena standing on a hill with the rays of the sun shining down upon her. She holds three bolts of lightning upraised in her right hand and her aegis in the left. At her feet is an aggressive monster with two heads, four arms (two of them hold clubs, the other two rocks) and eight snakes in place of legs. This side is inscribed “VICEM GERIT ILLA TONANTIS” or “She is the Thunderer’s viceregent” across the top and “INAUGURAT XXIII AP MDCCII” (“Crowned April 23, 1702″) across the bottom.

The multi-headed serpent element suggests this monster is the Hydra, classical symbol of a complex and die-hard enemy that springs two new heads for every one you cut off. Before now scholars have thought the monster represented a domestic faction opposed to Anne’s rule. Hone discovered that Newton had a whole other think going.

But Newton, in his own notes on the design, describes it as a symbol of “any Enemy with which Her Majesty hath or may have War”. In other words, the monster presents the double threat posed by Louis XIV and James Francis Edward Stuart [Anne's exiled half-brother, the Catholic son of James II], the Old Pretender. The motto looks back to William and Mary. By describing Anne as a “Thunderer”, Newton explains that he was alluding to the coronation medal of 1689, which likewise portrayed William as a thundering Jupiter. In a sentence, Newton explains that the coronation medal “signifies that her Majesty continues the scene of the last reign”.

The messages of the medal were not lost at the time. Some of William’s allies used the medal to suggest that Anne was William redivivus. William’s Tory enemies, on the other hand, considered it a potentially seditious object. The High Tory Vice Chancellor of Oxford even banned students from discussing the medal in their panegyrics to the new queen! This medal, it seems, had political bite.

The medal’s depiction of Anne as the warrior queen continuing where King William had left off seems to have made people nervous in other ways as well. She never again appeared as a fighter. There were two other medals cast after this one in 1702. The second featured her profile on the obverse and her husband Prince George of Denmark on the reverse. The third had the usual profile obverse and a European town under siege on the reverse. The inscription says “VIRES ANIMUMQUE MINISTRAT,” meaning “She gives strength and courage.” Gone was the warrior goddess vanquishing the country’s enemies with her terrible power of the thunderbolt. In a matter of months her she was whittled down into an inspiration, a sort of spiritual Betty Grable pin-up shoring up troop morale. That shift became permanent, and it’s very noticeable because there were multiple issues of Queen Anne commemorative medals with battle scenes on the reverse.

Hone thinks Newton’s work at the mint may have played a part in his knighthood. Queen Anne knighted Isaac Newton in 1705, three years to the month after her coronation, during her visit to Cambridge. He was running for Cambridge MP at the time and the election was a month away, so historians generally believe the knighting was a political gesture rather than recognition of his work for the crown or his scientific accomplishments. Newton was only the second scientist ever knighted. Sir Francis Bacon was the first to receive the honor in 1603.

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

Gulf Wars: The "Mayberry" war

SCAtoday.net - Mon, 2015-03-23 04:15

"You come to Gulf Wars, and there may be 4,000 people on site, but it's still Mayberry. Everybody knows everybody and everybody is friendly. It's a group of people from all walks of life, all areas, that come together to live the dream. We're reliving a period of chivalry, of honor, of courtesy to all," says Rebecca Baker (Rebecca MacGillivray) about Gulf Wars.

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Categories: SCA news sites