Wednesday, 28 October 2020

Bardic Verse: ‘Waiting' by Lady Alessandra di Riario

(one of my most vivid Raglan experiences was walking just before dawn into the castle and almost straight into a grey heron, the colour of the sky, sitting on the bridge)

“I forget” was the name of the heron who hovered over the feast
But you, you remember
Arms and alarums
fires and festivity
swords and celebration
a woman in white, weeping
A squire, in the corner, readying himself for glory
Shards of cannon
and a king, next a fountain, raising a cup to the dead.
If I asked you to speak would you tell me
of guards guarding fallen towers
a light at midnight, without a candle
children in sunshine dreaming of being knights
and mothers, dreaming of a moment without children?
would it be prophecy, poetry,
or simply nature’s truth?
“By all means rise at dawn,
and don your armour
dream of crowns
and count your marks after.
but leave me my realm, my grey twilight
my flight and my silence
my humble pursuit
and the man there, the one under the bridge,
dressed in his finery, serving princes
tell him I’m waiting
tell him to cook fish when I want my breakfast.”

Bardic Verse: 'My Virtual Raglan' by Milady Kelly

Within known walls
and not castle halls
was my very first Raglan fair-
yet without it, I wouldn’t have been there.


Remembered a few people from Shire events,

met many more who were new

to me, and the SCA,

which is what happens when you’re new anyway!


A few new things I got to see,

not as many as I’d have liked, but still-

Camp fires and another Bardic Circle,

I finally performed at this one,

in a great night of skill and happiness

even if it did all go too fast.

In the future, I’d love to see those castle walls,

but glad I could still take part in these halls-

I’m happy to remember my first Raglan fair.

Thursday, 9 July 2020

Chivalrous Acts and Unwise Challenges: The Story of the Legendary Monster of Cudgel War Lake - Herr Egil Drakhufvud, Squire to Sir Brendan

The truth of this story was witnessed by many including the Queen of Drachenwald and the Princess of Nordmark, so it must be true. Once upon a time, there was a monster in the lake. It had eaten children for several years, but when it bit a child in the foot this year, a mighty warrior stepped up and proclaimed that he would slay the monster.

First he dived down into the lake, and started to dig the monster out of its lair with his bare hands, but the monster did not yield, and neither did our warrior.

He brought rope and many mighty lords and ladies down for a second attempt. This warrior was from Frostheim, and they are not the kind of people to ever give up! He dived down into the muddy water and found the monster again. He put several loops of rope around its neck and the whole crowd tried to strangle the monster. But the monster did not yield, and being from Frostheim, neither did our fierce warrior.

At this point, people told him to give up, but he did not! A old and rusty saw was brought to him and he swam down once more and this time, he stayed under the water for a long, long time. But then he broke the surface with the monster's head in his fist, and he yelled:
“Behold the monster's head! The lake is safe for us again!"

Even though the monster was dead, its eyes were terrible to behold, so our warrior picked them out with his blade and replaced them with two fine carnelian gems from Nordmark. The monster's head was later presented to the Baron and Baroness of Aarnimetsä as a gift.
And the moral of this story is that sometimes you just have to keep trying, and you will find a way to achieve your goal. And if you need to retell this story for someone outside the SCA, you could say: there was a sharp pole in the water under the bridge where children got hurt all the time. A stubborn guy dug a half meter down in the mud and sawed it off. But that does not sound as fun, does it?

This story took place at Cudgel War XVII in the Barony of Aarnimetsä, in A.S. LIII/53. The written version is by and the hero in the story is Herr Egil Drakhufvud, squire to Sir Brendan the Tired. The magical version where the story is told and shown to you through the ether with wonderful pictures (video) is narrated by Jarl Peregrine MacKay and the illustration, illumination and calligraphy for the book it features were by Aislinn O'Faelan.

Saturday, 6 June 2020

My First Event: ‘Dear SCA Newbie' by Lady Hiltrude von Trivium

Dear Newcomer, 

WELCOME into the wonderful world of the Society of Creative Anachronism

Society: meaning, meeting new friends from near and far away

Creative: you will learn stuff, either how to fight, or how to cook, or how to make art

Anachronism: Feasting, sat between a Viking warrior, and a Tudor noble, opposite of someone in magnificent Landsknecht garb (yes, look it up!)

On a rather random day, somewhere in June 2017, a friend of mine let me know that he is going to an event from a group called SCA and invited me and my family to come join (« we still have a few places left »).

We had No Idea Whatsoever what we got ourselves into (« just try and dress somewhat Medieval-ish »), but what a lovely surprise we had when we discovered this lovely old abbey in the Belgian Ardennes.

The moment we arrived, we got welcomed by a Friendly American guy who immediately took us by the arm and gave us a tour around the abbey (it was hilarious because the American guy gave us a guided tour in our own country). But he was so incredibly welcoming and lent my husband a BEAUTIFUL tunic for the weekend.

He introduced us to several people and there I first met the members of Trivium, the Belgian SCA shire.

Since I am not a very shy person, it didn't take me long to get to talk to people and everyone was very welcoming.

BUT... the downside of first getting into contact with the SCA on an actual event is this:

You have no idea what to expect and what Not to expect. A lot of people I know (including myself of course) suffer a bit of anxiety, either socially or more « what to pack, what to wear, what to do »...

So I would like to help other newbies to prepare a bit better.

*(Note: I absolutely mean no disrespect or ungratefulness for the people who were there to welcome us, as a matter of fact, my co-shire members are several of my current best friends, I love them to bits and they know it, Friendships build in the SCA are GOLDEN)*

So I am going to start off with what NOT to expect;

- SCA is a hobby, a way of spending free time with people who think like you and are interested in living history but it is NOT any form of religious or spiritual community, as a matter of fact, the SCA is fairly religion neutral.

- SCA is Not reenacting. You can wear modern glasses, you are allowed a cellphone to make cool selfies. If you have troubles buying expensive fabrics, you can use thrift-store materials, or you can ask other members to help you make or by borrowing garb. (be sure to be respectful because lots of SCA Garb is handmade and took many working hours)

- SCA is NOT a dating group. Not to say that no one ever met the love of their life within the SCA, of course; Just letting you know that most people go in with the idea of learning skills and gathering knowledge. Dating is not a priority.

What you CAN expect:

- a massive source of knowledge about history. You can do your own researches, and when you want to share it in any form of lecture, workshops,blogs,... this is Highly appreciated and applauded

- a very warm, inclusive family friendly society, where everyone is equal and respected.

- building worldwide friendships

- on average, most SCA weekend-events within Drachenwald, can cost about 45,- € per person, this includes a bed and several meals, lectures and/or workshops. (This may vary depending on the actual event)

- On these events you can see friends you made on earlier events, and meet new friends, learn new things, have great fun (yes, believe me, SCA events are awesome!)

- You do not have to become an official SCA member right away, you don't have to be at all, you can enjoy events as a Non-SCA member, you DO help the SCA as a whole by becoming a member but this is something you have more than time enough to consider

- another positive thing I remark is that there are SCAdians All over the world and, depending of course on how easily you make new contacts, this means that, wherever you go, on a SCA event, or 'Mundane' (the NORMAL world haha) occasion, there might always be a SCAdian friend who would like to spend some time together whenever you are in their area.

Things that might be scary but are in fact not to worry about :

Garb - the clothing you wear on these events:

When you wear normal (Mundane) clothing, you are considered to be ‘naked’ so « Go Cover yerself in some decent clothing !! »

You will always find someone who leads you to your first event, ASK THEM about garb! Do you know your way around a sewing machine? Awesome! There are several great guides on how to make medieval tunics.

If you do NOT know how to sew, someone is likely to lend you something, or ask about "Gold Key" (loaner garb that a group may have which you can borrow for events).

What can you do :

- Do you know how to do any kind of handcraft ? If it is portable, bring it with you.

If you are shy, this will be an easier way to slide into conversations. Someone likely will come to see what you are doing and There, you made a first friend!?

- If you are less shy and/or like to help with cooking, you can look around, find the kitchen and ask if you can be of any help (they mostly will like to see volunteers).

If you want to learn, you can look around and stop to talk to others who are doing something crafty. Most people are proud of what they do so they gladly talk to you about it. There are several very crafty people who can tell you about the endless possibilities of Period Arts , Crafts, Skills ,...

-If A&S (Arts & Science) is not your cup of tea but you're only here for the fights, you can see if there is a fight, lesson, demo, training...  happening at the moment. Please Do stay on a safe distance and wait until the fighters take off their helmets and stop their battle before you ask them anything. They might be a bit tired but if they can’t/don't want to talk to you at that very moment, they will tell you when to come and find them or they will come find you. Again, many of them will LOVE to talk to you (then or later),

- If you have children, you can easily spot other children and have a talk with their parents. SCA parents tend to hang around together since the children usually run around wild and free together as well on these events (usually the terrain is closed or at least marked in some way). Also: the older children naturally keep an eye out for the younger ones. You as a parent are still, of course 100% responsible for your own offspring, but because of the family-like nature of these events, everyone keeps an eye out for each other.

-also: chocolates and any other form of food and drinks are a great way to « bribe » people to come talk to you ?

If you still find yourself a bit lost at your first event, Do Not Worry. Stay calm, breathe in and out.

I am pretty sure someone will notice you, and invite you to sit with them. SCA is a very generous group of people and lately we are working on the welcoming of new people. Some of them have been in the SCA for many many MANY years (some claim to be straight from the medieval times) and may have forgotten how it is to be New. It doesn't mean they are not happy to see you.

So in their name, from the whole of the SCA and from myself:

Welcome, and may your SCA adventures be lovely, full of friendship and laughter, and plenty of them!

Yours in Service

Hiltrude von Trivium

Saturday, 30 May 2020

I Kid Thee Not: ‘The Bells of St. Trivium' by Viscount Yannick of Normandy, OP

A long time ago, in an Abbey far, far away….

A noble Prince and Princess took their retinue and set out on their travels from the North Lands to their seat on their beloved Dragon Isles. Their journey was long and arduous, and oft made on the wrong side of the bridleway amid much shouting and rancour. They did eventually pause, seeking succour in the Abbaye de Marche-les-Dames, to rest their horses and to recover their capacities before continuing their journey home.

They were met with the most wonderful generosity and warmth by their hosts in the Shire of Trivium. The Abbaye de Marche-les-Dames showing signs of great age, was still a most impressive and beautiful building. A very fitting place to take Royal refuge.

The warm hospitality of the people of Trivium was enjoyed in full measure by the whole retinue. A certain Princess, was encouraged to indulge in a wine ‘tasting’ come the evening. The Ladies of the Rose being of great service to the Princess, did proceed to get her totally Hammered and ne’er a one did retire to bed until the birds were loud in their morning voice.

The Prince being a more elderly sort, had himself retired to bed at a reasonable 2am, His inner Kilmister being vastly ashamed. The Prince was therefore up quite early to take his morning constitutional. A steady stroll around the grounds and gardens in the warm morning sun, with only birdsong for company. The peace and tranquillity was intoxicating.

The good Prince had walked a half a mile or so when the Abbey bells started to ring...

Dissonant, Random, Continuous bells. They were loud, even from that great distance. Any tune they once played, any harmony they once possessed, long since lost to the mists of time. The cracks and fault-lines in the bell castings giving great distortion to the tones. The bass notes were remarkably impressive, they could be felt deep within the soul rather than just simply heard.

Seeing this as a good sign that the kitchen staff ought now be busy warming their pans; The prince set off back to the Abbey on the hunt for bacon.

Upon arriving back at they Royal Suite some twenty minutes hence, with the bells still in their full dissonant flow; the Prince discovered that the bell tower was in fact, right outside the Royal Dormitory window. The open window that wouldn't close. The Prince was amused to find the royal retinue with their heads under pillows crying a muffled “Noooo...” and a Princess looking slightly less than regal, with mad orange hair. A vision in Moomin Jammies standing in the ancient doorway, one hand holding onto her head, the other pointing an accusing finger at him. The vision ranting “Make it Stop!, Make it Stop!”, “You did this to me...!”

Not having a head full of angry demons, The Prince looked smugly amused.

The bells rang for a full hour, The Prince was Very much entertained.

There was no bacon.

Based on true events.

Names have been omitted to protect the guilty.

You know who you are!

Monday, 18 May 2020

History of Drachenwald: ‘Why the Dragon Has Its Tail Between Its Legs: Or, A Tale of How the Drachenwald Arms Came To Be' by THL Ommadan inigena Ru, OM (East Kingdom)

When I first arrived at Ramstein, Germany in AS XIII, being 1978 CE, stationed there with the U.S. Air Force, I found myself in the Protectorate of Thairis -- the East Kingdom's European holdings. Change was afoot, though, to sweep away some of the old and bring in the new, starting with a new name: Drachenwald. New arms would be needed for the new name, and it was decided to hold a contest. Being something of an artist as well as a budding armorial herald at the time, I figured I would give it a shot. What was the worst that could happen -- people wouldn't like my design, right?

So, the arms. Drachenwald in those days was largely based in Germany, so I chose the colors of the German flag: gold, black, and red. It made sense to me to make the field gold, and the other elements red and black, because I felt a field division might confuse it too much with the German flag. 

The name itself dictated the rest of the design, a dragon in the woods. Pine trees were what I decided to use, since most of the woods I had seen around Ramstein were coniferous. I drew them eradicated, with the roots torn, and decided to make them red and keep them simple in design, because I liked the look and figured a black dragon on red trees would offer better contrast. 

The dragon's design came from a book on heraldry; somewhere I had read that the typical German depiction of a dragon was cowed, with its tail between its legs, and this particular dragon was in fact described as a German dragon. Besides, I loved its overall look. So on it went, making sure it was sized so that a good portion of it was on the gold field in order to follow the heraldic rules of contrast. Voila!

I was pretty happy with the result. Now to see if the populace of Drachenwald liked it as well.

I don't remember where the contest was held specifically. There was one other design besides mine in the competition, and again memory fails me as to what it was or who submitted it. When it came time for a hand count, I didn't put my own hand up for either design -- I didn't want to come across as beating my own drum or voting against myself. But when I saw all the other hands shoot up at my design, I was beyond happy. I WON! My design, with the addition of a laurel wreath, was going to be the arms of the new Protectorate of Drachenwald. 

My original design still lives on in the Drachenwald populace badge. I hope you all like it as much as I still do.

Courageous Challenges and Desperate Duels: ‘The Five Duels of Raglan - A tale of caution and consequence' by Lord Guy de Dinan

There dwelt a Lady of innocent repose but loose tongue
Whose name is nameless, yet her thoughts careless slung
Of temptations of the flesh, and carnal hope
She professed, and was called 

Now in this company there was a swordswoman that
Would match blade skill with the instinct of a cat
She riled herself up, hissing at the Man 
Little realising he was called
Guy de Dinan

Pray Sir, to this Lady, deliver your apology
Forthwith, or else by the marks of horology
I will show you are in aereo
For I am called
Alessandra De Riario

I will not take the demand from the like of you he said
This is little but the wind from the Med
I shall pin your body to a tree!
For insults on my home called

Pah! Called Guy, empty words you threaten 
Italians run from this Breton
I have seen them run before
And thus, Riario called
That’s Duel Four

Pay heed, you Tuscan Scoundrel
Your head shall be served on a supper Roundel
Fit only to service, you skivvy
That blue box yonder, called

Riario rose from her cups with much rage, so chaleur
Wow, the companions cried, witnessing such slur
I shall see you if you are thus a man 
Upon that fair field called

Pray attend sir, for each you I shall meet
In due course, our parties shall treat 
The forms are yours to decide
Steel shall cure that ill called 

And thus with grand Principle
Riario resolved to cleanse the municipal
Of the stains of Dinan’s Sin
but her exit missed the warning, called
Lord Dinan’s Grin

In hushed tones, news spread upon the ether
Wiser heads counselled this was beneath her 
Yet strong Alessandra would not be swayed
Riario only needed that confidence called
Her blade

By Raglan Fair it was too late to stop this abomination
As the Principality held its breath in anticipation
For Lord Dinan pronounced Riario thus perilled
With that lethal weapon called 
the Herald

With splutters of confounded consternation
Alessandra searched the nation
For One for whom victory would be certain
T’was found in her Second, one called
Lynette de Covenham

With such an ally and smug satisfaction
Alessandra enquired as to Guy’s action 
I have looked from Pembroke to Bala
Your match is met, for she is called
Baroness Mala

The crowd was awed, the crowd was hushed.
Yet fates intervened, the duel was crushed
The stage was set, yet Raglan was not to see
for something so humble, called
the bee

Who was Dinan’s second, people did dwell
No-one had heard of Thomas Treadwell
Yet when called out from the back
A tall figure loomed called 
A mysterious Man In Black 

The second duel was a royal bolero
A pass each of Bonetti, Thibault, Agrippa and Capo Ferro 
Yet stopped to read manuals held by a teller
Prints supplied by one called
G de Dinan, Bookseller

Such a performance was an embarrassment
The Man in Black, whose skills were of fundament
To slay Riario in short order, Dinan was cast aside
by a hero from the book called
The Princess Bride

Such chaos could not be countenanced, 
To a formal Italian duel they were sentenced
To set up in measure, attore and reo,
One would die, called

To keep to time and shorten the affair
And to be honest, a shortage of Flair
A best of three was the plan 
That left a body, called

And thus the fifth exchange came to pass 
Prince Elffin, witness, resolved to end this farce
With two shots, he despatched them forthwith
With pistols from a supplier called
G de Dinan, Gunsmith

Thus ends this sorry tale of consequence
Wise heads retired, others did wince
For someone did duel on, with much approbrio
fourteen times more, one called