Sunday 27 October 2013

Septentria’s Old Ties with the East

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.)

When I first came to what is now Eoforwic, back in A.S. VIII, there was some dispute about to which kingdom this empty land belonged. Long before the Year VIII, maps had been drawn that showed our future Principality as part of the Middle Kingdom. This assignment, like the earlier and equally theoretical assignment of New Orleans to the Midrealm, was based on someone crayoning around the state and provincial borders until it looked right. Now that there was one whole SCA person in our province, a real decision had to be made.

One person put up an argument for the East. This was Duke Cariadoc, formerly of the Middle, but now of the East, who pointed out quite logically that Eofowic-to-be was about halfway between the capitals of the two realms.

A different kind of logic prevailed. As I recounted last time, the early Eoforwickians had strong ties to North Woods, and it was much closer than Ostgardr or Carolingia or other centres of Eastrealm culture. The future land of Æthelmearc was also empty, or nearly so.

For a long time, in fact, the SCA pioneers of Æthelmearc felt more isolated than we. The Eastrealm was still struggling to establish itself on the coast, and its officers, royalty and peers had little energy to lend people in the interior. From an early date, the people of Septentria were the closest and friendliest neighbor they had.

For a while being separate kingdoms was a bit of a barrier. Also the lack of a group in the Buffalo area slowed down interaction. Eoforwic’s first tourney was attended by a man from Buffalo named Owain of the Muddled Woad, who, dispite his rather comical name, was a very impressive figure. Without any direct contact with established SCA groups he had put together armour and garb that com pared favorably with the gear of many experienced members. Owain did his best to establish a shire he called Eastmere, but it proved short-lived.

It was in A.S. XI and XII that things really started to get interesting. First, Master Frederick of Holland, one of the founders of our Society, moved to now-deserted Eastmere. He was a formidable fighter and soon became Prince of the East. Second, the March of the Cleftlands began to be very active. Third, I was Prince and then King of the Midrealm. These factors turned a neglected frontier into quite an im portant centre of activity. And into this situation stepped one of the more remarkable Society leaders I or anyone else has ever met - Lady Morgan Elandris.

Morgan was a fencer and a horsewoman who was a natural for the SCA. Tall, slender, blonde, and usually dressed in black, she had unmistakable charisma. At one point I suspected her of being an immortal alien cursed to wonder from planet to planet destroying stargates with a mystic weapon. It was only a passing fancy, but Morgan made it easy to believe such things.

Morgan helped create two very important institutions: The Barony of Rhydderich Hael and the feared fighting force of House Elandris. Rhydderich Hael was based first in Fredonia, not Buffalo, and was for a while very small. But they put on fun events, and we and the people of the Cleftlands were often down there.

House Elandris got its start when Morgan discovered the Carthaginians. The Carthaginians were a group of three or four who quite independently were re-creating armoured combat based not on the Middle Ages but on the Classical Mediterranean. One of these original Carthaginians was Duke Hasdrubal. Morgan persuaded the Carthaginians to throw in their lot with her, and soon she had the best small phalanx in the SCA. Morgan, who was, at least in the early days, not quite strong or coordinated enough to be a good sword and shield fighter, took up spear and from be hind her moving fortress she could work devastation. Sounds simple today, but it was practically unprecedented then.

So great was Morgan‟s glamour, in the magical sense of the term, that she quickly had a bigger and more devoted following in her area than Frederick of Holland, who was himself a very definite personality, and had the advantage of being royalty. Somehow there was never a meeting of the minds between them, and Morgan found herself turning to friends in Septentria. She had been great friends for a while with my squire Hugo von Feuerklippe, so in May of A.S. XIII, she asked to become my squire. And so it happened that I found myself as knight to an immortal alien cursed, etc., who also had the best small phalanx in the SCA. And so it happened that House Elandris first fought at Pennsic VII on the side of the Middle Kingdom.

This alliance didn’t last, of course. Soon enough the Eastrealm recognized Morgan for the leader she was and made her baroness of Rhydderich Hael, and she felt it was only right to ask to be released as a squire. The parting was  amicable, however, as had all the relations between Septentria and what was called the Western Region of the East Kingdom.

There is still a great deal of friendship across that border, and I for one am glad of it.

Originally published in The Ursus #187, August 1995 A.S.

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