Friday 22 November 2013

Missive from an Apprentice and Squire to his Laurel and Knight, regarding the Kingdom Arts and Sciences Faire, AS 48 (Nov 16, 2013)

By THLaird Colyne Stewart

To the most eminent and excellent, and to be named with the highest veneration Nigel and Adrielle, august king and queen, with all exertions and every affection of faithful service, I wish perennial prosperity and blessedness in Lady Ealdormere of the Secret Heart.

As while attending a re-enactment of the courts of the northmen I did sign and endorse a contract with her most gracious majesty, so did I wish to honour this commitment as her apprentice. To such an end I resolved to take par in the Queen’s Prize Tourney, the first of its kind in our Kingdom of Ealdormere.

As your most serene selves are aware, each entrant in the tourney was to be sponsored by either a member of the Order of the Crucible or the Order of the Laurel. As I had decided to enter texts I had devised for charters and patents that were handed out by yourselves to your most worthy subjects, I asked Her Excellency Mahault of Swynford, Baroness of Havencroft and Patroness of the Scriptorium where I ply my quill to be my sponsor. To this she readily agreed.

To this end I wrote a paper detailing how I researched the persona of award recipients, and found period sources that matched said personas, and then crafted a unique text wording for them based on those sources. I included many examples of the award texts I had written up to that point in time.

When the day came THL Þorfinna gráfeldr and I set out for the northern reaches of Arden, in the Canton of Ardchreag. In this land named after one of the canton’s founders, artisans from across the kingdom were to come and show their work. And come they did! One-hundred and eighty-two people attended the faire that day. As for the Queen’s Prize Tourney, fifty-eight people entered, including four children. There were twenty-four sponsors (with each able to sponsor up to five entrants) and sixty judges. The hall near over flowed.

Before the Tourney opened, Your Majesties held a court where you honoured several worthies with your favour. This included my poor self, upon whom you bestowed an Award of the Orion for the writing of award scroll texts. Likewise, Orlaith inghen Cinada meic Briain was given an Orion, while Zoe of House Marchmount was given an Award of the Wolf’s Cub.

The Order of the Laurel was then called, and a boon was begged for Jhone of Woodcote, who was then placed on Vigil. As Jhone was escorted out of court by the order and her ecstatic husband Wilfrid of Sweflingham, Your Majesty did call back one of said Laurels, being namely Mistress Ælwynn, your champion. Your Majesty demanded of her if she did not have a duty in court, which she sheepishly said she did. All attending thought you meant her duty holding your sword, but nay, her duty was to call another boon, this time for Wilfrid himself. And so both husband and wife had their own boon called, and both were placed on vigil for the Order of the Laurel.

With the conclusion of court, the Queen’s Prize Tourney began. I was one of the first to be judged, and I found Baron Brand, Magistra Nicolaa and Lord Evan Quicktongue awaiting me. We talked long and enthusiastically about my entry and they concurred that my work was not that of a beginner, but was of at least intermediate skill (if not higher). They encouraged me to expand my paper and submit it to the Society’s journal “The Complete Anachronist”. I am most pleased to report that I have now done so, and it has been accepted by the journal and is currently being reviewed for publication.

I then rushed outside where I was to be the marshal-in-charge for a spear tourney to honour His Majesty, who was victorious in His crown tournament wielding such a weapon. As the focus of the day was on the gentle arts, only four hardy individuals donned harness for the tourney. These were: Sir Steinnr, THL Gann, Lord Rurik and Jack the Pirate. Before the tourney could begin, both Rurik and Jack had to authorize in the great weapons form, at which they were successful.

Before His Majesty, I told the noble combatants that I had set the time limit of an hour for the tournament, on the assumption there would be more taking part, and if they wished we could shorten it to half an hour. However, I asked them if they wanted to prove their mettle to his Majesty and place themselves upon the anvil of virtue and still fight for the full hour. To this they did agree.

There then began the tourney. They fought in what is known in common tongue as a bear-pit, where the winner of a bout faces the next fighter in line. Each bout was fought over a barrier and was to three counted blows, with blows to the lower body not allowed.

Each of the four fought well and hard and showed each other much honour and courtesy. At the end of the hour, Gann, Rurik and Jack found themselves in a tie, each with seven victories. Consulting with Sir Steinnr, I declared that a final winner would be decided by fighting a round robin, where each fighter would face the other two. If any one of them won both their bouts, they would win the tournament. These bouts were also fought at the barrier, but were fought using standard Society fighting conventions. (Though shots to the lower body were still disallowed.)

Jack the Pirate first fought Gann, and emerged triumphant. I then sent in Rurik and both Sir Steinnr and I were quick to point out to Jack that if he were to defeat Rurik, he would carry the day. Jack faced this extra pressure with aplomb and indeed did proceed to defeat Rurik, winning the tourney. As a prize, he was awarded an arming bench crafted by Þorfinna, which he was pleased to find fit inside the steamer trunk he used to carry his army.

Other fighters then came on the field and began fighting pick-ups, while I retired to other duties. Or so I thought. I was to sit at the gate with Einar Inn Austrifera Josepson, but he waved me off and told me to enjoy the event. And so I was able to peruse some of the other Queen’s Prize entries, talk with good friends, and meet a traveling bardic Laurel from Æthelmearc.

Many meetings were held that day, but happily I can say I was not required to attend a one of them. After the meetings were concluded, you, good king, held a class on spear use on the field.

Before feast, another court was held. And this was the way of it:

Each entrant in the Queen’s Prize Tourney was given a prize by one of the sponsors (though not their own). I received a jar of candied almonds from Her Excellency Lucia. Lady Marguerite was then declared the Judges’ Choice winner of the Tourney for her pigments while Bethan MacFinnon won the Queen’s Choice for his 15th century stool. The baronies then presented prizes, each barony awarding a prize for a specific category of the arts and sciences. And herein I must cry pardon and fall on my knees in shame, for I did not record those winners and cannot grant them the word-fame they deserve.

And now I write of you, gracious queen. When you spoke to those assembled and thanked them for participating in this new idea, you were loudly lauded by all. Indeed, all those so assembled rose to their feet, and the applause was uproarious. Never have I seen such an accolade given. Most beauteous queen, you are a treasure of the north, and your people love you well.

The Royal Herbalist Guild then presented their taxes, before your majesties honoured more of your worth subjects with the following awards.

Liam of House Marchmount was given an Award of the Wolf’s Cub.
Leisle Woolmonger was given an Award of Arms.
Rhiannon of Eoforwic was given an Award of the Maiden’s Heart
Kaisa of Petrea Thule was given an Award of Arms
Einar Inn Austrifera Josepson was given an Award of Arms.
Aurik Burnsson was given an Award of the Orion.
Orla O’Shannahan was given an Award of the Orion.
Lyda Langrackrsdottir was inducted into the Order of the Crucible.

Court was concluded by calling Ailis de la Marche out of the kitchen where she had been working, to act as Royal Bard. When her song was done, your majesties surprised her by giving her an Award of the Orion.

The hall was then set up for feast, and I retired to the front hall to meet with other good gentles who had agreed to act as servers.

THL Hans Thorvaldson then presented a feast of five removes, each one representing a barony, and each one accompanied by a poem read by Lord Pelayo. This was greeted with great enthusiasm by the one-hundred people who dined upon it. During feast you honoured the event steward, Eeva the Restless, with an Award of the Maiden’s Heart.

I hope this record of the day does please your majesties. Truly Lady Ealdormere alone knows with what purity of mind and from how much devotion of heart I shall have been and am faithful to you and desire always to be. 

Based on a letter from an anonymous nobleman to Ermengard of Tours, 840-842 CE.

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