Sunday, 27 October 2013

A Double Anniversary

By Duke Finnvarr de Taahe

Please note: This article was written by Duke Finnvarr for The Ursus in the mid-90s and highlights important people and events from the early years of the SCA in Ontario. It has been kept as originally published; hence the references to the Principality of Ealdormere, 13 kingdoms, etc.)

Eoforwic will mark its 20th Anniversary this summer. I am really looking forward to it: of all the groups I have belonged to in my time, Eoforwic is the one into which I have put most put my heart. As the anniversary approaches, though, I find myself not thinking about the early days of Eoforwic, but about the Eoforwic Decennial, for the Eoforwic decennial marked the true birth of Ealdormere.

Readers of my first column will remember that the Barony of Septentria once included everything that is now Ealdormere. Septentria was created to be an umbrella group that would take in every SCA branch in our fair province, and give the branches support they might lack if they were merely scattered shires on the far borders of the Middle Kingdom. The experiment of Septentria was a success, but success split the barony.

When Skraeling Althing reached a certain size, it was obvious to everyone that for it to progress further, it would have to become an independent barony. Our good Baron and Baroness at the time, Aedan and Kaffa, were far sighted and let the new barony go with a good will; and the baronies have always been friends.

This, however, left our province with no institution to unify it, and we felt the lack. Even the Great Officers of the Kingdom saw that Old Septentria had been a natural unit, and began appointing regional deputies for the province to coordinate the mysterious paperwork that seemed so necessary to them. The first regional deputy seneschal was the long-time stalwart Lady Tsivia bas Tamara. She did her best to promote the idea there should be not only bureaucratic regional deputies, but a Region with a name and identity of its own, a Region that might someday be a Principality. After all, Calontir had taken this path before us.

Tsivia was a prophet before her time. It was not until Lady Ragni Dzintara of Amberhall became regional deputy seneschal in A.S. XIX that other people began to show interest in building a Region. In June of A.S. XIX, Lady Ragni invited people to her abode for the most important Moot we have ever had. At that Moot it was decided that, with the Kingdom’s approval, we would form a Region. It would have a name, arms, and institutions. In particular, there would be a Regional Champion chosen by right of arms, and this Champion would, with a Consort, preside over us for a time.

Since the idea of a Regional Championship was something of an innovation, it needed to be given a certain dignity. It was decided that the Champion would not just be a fighter, but a proven member of our society, given examples of accomplishments in the Arts, and holding at least an Award of Arms.

It was pointed out then that some of our better people, be cause of their distance from the Crown were not yet armigerous but were considered worthy by those who knew them. So it was established that if a competitor who was not armigerous could produce twelve good men and women to vouch for them in public, they would be admit ted to the lists.

There were many preparations necessary for the Regional Tournament, and no rush if we were to do it right. Eventu ally it became clear that Eoforwic Decennial in A.S. XX would be the logical time. This put something of a load on my shoulders, and on Lady Ragni’s as well, for I had volunteered to be autocrat and she to cook the feast. In the end things worked out very well, because, as the Second Book of the Chronicles of Eoforwic says, I was aided in my work by my secret committee of co-autocrats who tagged all of their works with purple ribbons, and only revealed themselves to him at Court. I was supposed to be astonished at this, but I wasn’t - I knew people were pitch ing in, and thought it was just the good old tradition of Eoforwic.

It was a very successful Decennial celebration. It took place at those beautiful University of Toronto sites that have so often been the settings for great moments of Sep tentrian and Ealdormere history, and the weather was beau tiful too. I especially enjoyed the museum of ancient rel ics: a captured PACE banner commemorating the rise and fall of the People’s Autonomous Collective of Eoforwic, a false nose that had once graced Aedan’s face while he por trayed a troll during a Quest, and Sylard’s supposed deed to the North supposedly signed by a fictitious king named Finnvarr.

I’m sure some of these will be carted out again. Will we see Dragmore’s decapitated head(s)?

Of course the main business of the day was building the future. On that day Yog won the honour of being first Regional Champion, and won the honour of being Consort for Hanorah O’Neill. It was a bright day and a new beginning.

We were not to know then that soon a suspicious King and Queen would shut down our region and even ban the name Ealdormere. It’s a sad story, perhaps for another time.

Looking back 10 years, I remember the true beginnings, which have proved fruitful, and not the setbacks, which are only a dim memory

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