Back to Black Quill index
Back to Ravensweir Main Page
Black Quill Issue 22, May/June/01 AS XXXVI
Incipient Shire of Ravensweir
Greetings Good Gentles (and bad children)
Tis a fine thing indeed to be penning a missive to my
good friends with the sun high and bright overhead. Ah!!
The sweet smell of springtime with murder in the air. I
look forward to seeing you all as you creep out of your
wintertime cacoons to pack up your medieviality and make
the journey to the Spring gathering. Robert and Otto have
chosen a fine site with a grand and totally natural view. I
believe that you will all be well pleased.
Do come and be prepared to raise a tankard to our
own Robert Arden for he has achieved the recognition of
the Crown. Her Royal Majesty has bestowed upon Robert
the esteemed Jambe de Leon for excellence and generosity
in the Arts and Sciences. The Honorable Lord Robert has
indeed earned this award. He has toiled many hours in the
firm and unforgiving soil of the valley above Clinton
village. He is also one to be counted upon by many of us
in the Shire (myself included) for a helping hand or a good
deal on a lovely tent that really should sell for much more.
Huzzah!! Honorable Lord Robert!! You are a much
appreciated asset to this Shire!
Be well and glad all, we shall meet again soon.
X O X O X
R o w a n
From the Chronicler
Bleetings and sillitations,
Change is in the wind - stay tuned to this
publication for regular calendar updates. Spring is
murder this year, isn't it?
Lady Sigrid Arden
June 29-July 1 Fields of Gold Tir Bannog
June 16 Spring Murder Scheck Farm
July 7/00 Baa Ram Ewe Cold Keep (Malcolm Mem. Park)
July 21 Billy Barker Days Parade Quesnel
Sep 15-16 Carrion Dreaming Kai & Sigeyra's
Oct 27/01 St.Crispins Tir Bannog
Dec 08/01 Yule Cold Keep
Northern Society for Creative Anachronism
No more waivers to sign at events!
Yes, it's true. Just sign up with the NSCA and you won't have to
sign an NSCA waiver at NSCA events til next year. Of course, if you
aren't a member of the SCA, Inc., you'll still have to sign one of their
waivers. (We never said it was a perfect world).
Wait! There's more!! Join the NSCA for a paltry $5.00 per
year, and you get out-of-country travel insurance free when you go to an
eventsouth of the border! And that can save you hundreds or thousands
of dollars if you're injured while going to or being at an event in the
States. Of course, you will need to inform your local NSCA
representative or the NSCA President which event you are going to and
Sign up now, through one of the NSCA Board members (listed
below), or through your local NSCA Representative.
Don't delay! Do it TODAY!
The Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the NSCA was held on
March 25, 2001. Members are reminded that all 2000 waivers and
memberships have expired. Membership forms and year-long waivers
are available from the NSCA Board Members, or from your local
Should you have any questions regarding the NSCA, please feel
free to contact any member of the NSCA Board of Directors listed
President Nancy J. M. Stevens
(Baroness Amanda Kendal of Westmoreland)
1192 Shavington Street, North Vancouver, BC V7L 1K9
(604) 988-0304, email: email@example.com
Vice President Penelope Adams (Lillianne d'Escargot)
5135 Broughton Place, Nanaimo, BC V9T 6L4
(250) 758-8976, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Secretary Elaine McMillan (Lady Elena de Maisnilwarin)
314 - 6425 Silver Avenue, Burnaby, BC V5H 2Y3
(604) 430-8208, email: email@example.com
Treasurer Tricia Le Pine (Her Ladyship Eriu of Tlachtga)
5 - 7576 Humphries Court, Burnaby, BC V3N 3E9
(604) 524-2824, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Member-At-Large Ray Turner (His Lordship Malcom of Lamont)
RR#3, Site 30, Comp 12, Oliver, BC V0H 1T0
(250) 498-3084, email: email@example.com
private site roughly l mile south of Kersley on Hwy 97
(there will be LOTS of signs)
HL Robert Arden (250)992-2123
milord Otto Von Frickenmott
Spring hath finally shown it's tardy and shameful visiage in
these hard northern climes. Murders of crows and ravens mob each
other in their yearly competition for territory. In like vein, we have
decided to stage a friendly competition of our own.
The site is a little primative - There is no water on site - we
will be doing water runs, but we ask that all that are able, please
a couple of gallons from home to help us out. On the bright side the
site has no obvious mundane sights at all - so we would really like to
be as medieval as possible. For this reason, we will be requesting that
all dome tents and mundane equipages camp under the trees for
concealment (lucky them, in the shade). We would also request that
all mundane camping equipment (coolers,chairs,stoves,etc) be hidden
or disguised. The same will apply to such obvious things as pop cans
and beer bottles. I pray that none shall take offense, but we have
noticed of late a sort of "creeping mundanity" in our midst (disco ball
anyone?) and hope to reclaim some of the magic we feel has been
There will be a short opening court Saturday morning when
the rules of the competitions will be explained. Winners of the
various contests will be announced at closing court on Sunday
morning. As this is a free site, there will be no site fee - Huzzah!!!
There will be a potluck dinner and Tavern Saturday night (not
obligatory, but all welcome) at the Ardens. If participating in the
dinner, please bring something that your persona might have
prepared. There will be a contest on this (to be judged by milady
Grizelda and HL Robert - documentation gets extra points. Our
famous bellydancers will be performing.
To be held Saturday from 3pm til early evening. Each contestant
will be given weapons and a short list of victims. There will be
prizes for most dramatic death, most kills, and most ridiculous
Participants of the rapier tourney may certainly also play the
Assassination game, but rapier kills may not be counted as an
Milord Gwydion McBairn has graciously agreed to run our
Rapier Tournament. He has decided to have the tourney represent
the feeling of the event, so thusly has determined the event to be of
dubious character. (Gee, thanks Gwydion:) The combatants will be
unaware of their weapons until they fight, as they will draw their
main weapon from one hat, and a secondary from another hat (you
might perhaps draw dagger and tankard, or sword and blackjack
[which can be used to parry or a strike to the head]).
"Most Pathetic Demise"--awarded to the individual who hams up a
great death with excessive over-acting.
"Scoundrel of the Day"-- awarded to the individual who wins
the most matches.
"Rapier Wit"--awarded to the person with the best "cutting" remark(s).
"The Pincushion"--awarded to the person who loses the most matches.
The insults must not be rude, but witty, and those who utter insults
laced with vulgarities will automatically lose their match.
This will be a "roving" tourney - perhaps the final round can be held
under the light of torches?
A Roving Rapier Tourney
All fighters are gathered in the morning and we run them through the
basics of marshaling (which all fighters should know). We then have
the fighters collect their coins (everyone starts with 4)
Experienced fighters are not allowed a second offensive weapon, only a
parrying one (to level out the field). Parrying tools are: cloaks,
bucklers, hats, rubber chickens, bludgeons/saps/cudgels, batons,
scabbards, chair legs, etcetera.
I suggest that because of the lack of masks and the abundance of new
fighters, that each new fighter play "Fagin" to the newbie "Oliver", and
share mask, travel and review the marshaling to him/her.
You must have a second to fight. Your second marshals while you
fight, and you marshal while he/she fights.
You lose a coin to your opponent every time you lose a duel, and gain
one from him if you win the fight.
You may challenge anyone who has equal or more coins than you. You
may goad anyone with less coins into challenging you.
You may challenge and fight all day, and if you lose all your coins, you
are not out of the tourney, you may continue on with a dagger (which
means you are the lowest of cutthroats) and cannot lose any more coin,
or you may do an errand for the Autocrats or myself, which can earn
you a coin.
If you reach the lofty sum of 10 coins, you must fight with only a
rapier. if you reach 15 coins, well, you=E8re pretty damn good and you
must accept any hit that wounds as a kill (First Blood) but you must
still kill your opponent.
I encourage roguish dress, repart, and any unique second
weapons/parrying devices... we'll check them out before the event.
Gwydion "Redfist" MacBairn
Master of Swords-Ravensweir
The Right Stuff
Greetings to all.
Rapier, ah yes, the Arte of Defense. This article is written as
an opinion only (although I doubt many will argue with it), and I
know opinions will differ as long as more than one rapierist exists.
To be a good rapierist requires an individual to be more than
skilled with a blade, as anyone may do so and show skill. A rapierist
is someone who has the desire to develop skill, and is willing to
learn the spirit of the arte as well.
Rapier is much about attitude as skill. A good rapierist
respects his colleagues and his teachers, and has an open ear to
others who have questions or suggestions. To ignore and snub those
who watch our tournaments is counterproductive, for if those people
are ignored, why would we bother competing? I believe that to
ignore any suggestion is tantamount to self-destruction, and those
who do so, do it at their own peril.
We grow as rapierists only as long as we listen. When we let
our egos blind and deafen us, we forget why we fight. Shrugging off
blows, knock-down fighting, threatening blade movement, and rude,
vulgar and obnoxious behaviour have no place in rapier, and those
who behave in this way should find another outlet for their
We seek to perfect the arte, to be better people, and to
rejoice in the camaraderie that the arte brings to us. Superior
positioning, blade movement, distance, and strategy are our "bread
and butter", but it is our behaviour outside the eric that makes us
"rapierists", and not "fighters".
Remember that every person who steps into the eric is a
comrade, and be that opponent a don or a newbie, he deserves our
respect. Always shake your opponent's hand after fighting, and
when approached by non-combatants, be respectful and listen... and
Gwydion (Redfist) MacBairn,
Master of Swords-Ravensweir.
Charlemagne The King
a biography from Will Durant's Story of Civilization (1950) Part 1 of 2
The greatest of medieval kings was born in 742, at a place unknown. He
was of German blood and speech, and shared some characteristics of his
people- strength of body, courage of spirit, pride of race, and a crude
simplicity many centuries apart from the urbane polish of the modern
French. He had little book learning; read only a few books- but good
ones; tried in his old age to learn writing, but never quite succeeded;
yet he could speak old Teutonic and literary Latin, and understood
In 771 Carloman II died, and Charles at twenty-nine became sole king.
Two years later he received from Pope Hadrian II an urgent appeal for
aid against the Lombard Desiderius, who was invading the papal states.
Charlemagne besieged and took Pavia, assumed the crown of Lombardy,
confirmed the Donation of Pepin, and accepted the role of protector of
the Church in all her temporal powers.
Returning to his capital at Aachen, he began a series of fifty-three
campaigns- nearly all led in person- designed to round out his empire by
conquering and Christianizing Bavaria and Saxony,
destroying the troublesome Avars, shielding Italy from the raiding
Saracens, and strengthening the defenses of Francia against the
expanding Moors ofSpain. The Saxons on his eastern frontier were pagans;
they had burned down a Christian church, and made
occasional incursions into Gaul; these reasons sufficed
Charlemagne for eighteen campaigns (772-804), waged with untiring
ferocity on both sides. Charles gave the conquered Saxons a choice
between baptism and death, and had 4500 Saxon rebels beheaded in one
day; after which he proceeded to Thionville to celebrate the nativity of
At Paderborn in 777 Ibn al-Arabi, the Moslem governor of Barcelona, had
asked the aid of the Christian king against the caliph of Cordova.
Charles led an army across the Pyrenees, besieged and captured the
Christian city of Pamplona, treated the Christian but incalculable
Basques of northern Spain as enemies, and advanced even to Saragossa.
But the Moslem uprisings that al-Arabi had promised as part of the
strategy against the caliph failed to appear; Charlemagne saw that his
unaided forces could not challenge Cordova; news came that the conquered
Saxons were in wild revolt and were marching in fury upon Cologne; and
with the better part of valor he led his army back, in long and narrow
file, through the passes of the Pyrenees.
In one such pass, at Roncesvalles in Navarre, a force of Basques pounced
down upon the rear guard of the Franks, and slaughtered nearly every man
in it (778); there the noble Hruodland died, who would become three
centuries later the hero of France's most famous poem, the Chanson de
In 795 Charlemagne sent another army across the Pyrenees; the Spanish
March- a strip of northeast Spain- became part of Francia, Barcelona
capitulated, and Navarre and Asturias acknowledged the Frankish
sovereignty (806). Meanwhile Charlemagne had subdued the Saxons (785),
had driven back the advancing Slavs (789), had defeated and dispersed
the Avars (790-805), and had, in the thirty-fourth year of his reign and
the sixty-third of his age, resigned himself to peace.
In truth he had always loved administration more than war, and had
taken to the field to force some unity of government and faith upon a
Western Europe torn for centuries past by conflicts of tribe and creed.
He had now brought under his rule all the peoples between the Vistula
and the Atlantic, between the Baltic and the Pyrenees, with nearly all
of Italy and much of the Balkans. How could one man competently govern
so vast and varied a realm? He was strong enough in body and nerves to
bear a thousand res-ponsibilities, perils, and crises, even to his sons'
plotting to kill him. He had in him the blood or teaching of the wise
and cautious Pepin III, and of the ruthless Charles Martel, and was
something of a hammer himself. He extended their power, guarded it with
firm military organization, propped it with religious sanction and
ritual. He could vision large purposes, and could will the means as well
as wish the ends. He could lead an army, persuade an assembly, humor the
nobility, dominate the clergy and rule a harem. He made military service
a condition of owning more than a pittance of property, and thereby
founded martial morale on the defense and extension of one's land. Every
freeman, at the call to arms, had toreport in full equipment to the
local count, and every noble was responsible for the military fitness of
his constituents. The structure of the state rested on this organized
force, supported by every available psychological factor in the sanctity
of anointed majesty, the ceremonial splendor of the imperial presence,
and the tradition of obedience to established rule. Around the king
a court of administrative nobles and clergymen- the seneschal or head of
the palace, the "count palatine"or chief justice, the "palsgraves"or
judges of the palace court, and a hundred scholars,
servants, and clerks.
The sense of public participation in the government was furthered by
semiannual assemblies of armed property owners, gathered, as military or
other convenience might dictate, at Worms, Valenciennes, Aachen, Geneva,
Paderborn... usually in the open air. At such assemblies the king
submitted to smaller groups of nobles or bishops his proposals for
legislation; they considered them, and returned them to him with
suggestions; he formulated the capitula, or chapters of legislation, and
presented these to the multitude for their shouted approval; rarely the
assembly voiced disapproval with a collective grunt or moan. Hincmar,
Archbishop of Reims, has transmitted an intimate picture of Charles at
one of these gatherings, "saluting the men of most note, conversing with
those whom he
seldom saw, showing a tender interest toward the elders, and disporting
himself with the young."
At these meetings each provincial bishop and administrator was required
to report to the King any significant event in his locality since the
previous convocation. "The King wished to know,"says
Hincmar, "whether in any part or corner of the Kingdom the people were
restless, and the cause thereof." Sometimes (continuing the old Roman
institution of inquisitio) the representatives of the King would summon
leading citizens to inquire and give under oath a "true
statement"(veredictum) as to the taxable wealth, the state of public
order, the existence of crimes or criminals, in the district
visited. In the ninth century, in Frank lands, this verdict of a jurata,
or sworn group of inquirers, was used to decide many local issues of
land ownership or criminal guilt. Out of the jurata, through
Norman and English developments, would come the jury system of modern
The empire was divided into counties, each governed in spiritual matters
by a bishop or archbishop, and in secular affairs by a comes (companion-
of the king) or count. A local assembly of landholders convened twice or
thrice a year in each provincial capital to pass upon the government of
the region, and serve as a provincial court of appeals. The dangerous
frontier counties, or marches, had special governors- graf, margrave, or
markherzog; Roland of Roncesvalles, for example, was governor of the
Breton march. All local administration was subject to missi dominici-
"emissaries of the master"- sent by Charlemagne to convey his wishes to
local officials, to review their actions, judgments, and accounts; to
check bribery, extortion, nepotism, and exploitation, to receive
complaints and remedy wrongs, to protect "the Church, the poor, and
wards and widows, and the whole people"from malfeasance or tyranny, and
to report to the King the condition of the realm; the Capitulare
missorum establishing these emissaries was a Magna Carta for the people,
four centuries before England's Magna Carta for the aristocracy. That
this capitulary meant what it said appears from the case of the duke of
Istria, who, being accused by the missi of divers injustices and
extortions, was forced by the King to restore his thievings, compensate
every wronged man, publicly confess his crimes, and give security
against their repetition.
Barring his wars, Charlemagne's was the most just and enlightened
government that Europe had known since Theodoric the Goth. The
sixty-five capitularies that remain of Charlemagne's legislation are
among the most interesting bodies of medieval law. They were not an
organized system, but rather the extension and application of previous
"barbarian"codes to new occasion or need.
In some particulars they were less enlightened than the laws of King
Liutprand of Lombardy: they kept the old wergild, ordeals, trial by
combat, and punishment by mutilation; and decreed death for relapse into
paganism, or for eating meat in Lent- though here the priest was allowed
to soften the penalty. Nor were all these capitularies laws; some were
answers to inquiries, some were questions addressed by Charlemagne to
officials, some were moral counsels. It is necessary," said one article,
"that every man should seek to the best of his strength and ability to
serve God and walk inthe way of His precepts; for the Lord Emperor
cannot watch over every man in personal discipline." Several articles
struggled to bring more order into the sexual and marital relations of
people. Not all these counsels were obeyed; but there runs through the
capitularies a conscientious effort to transform barbarism into
Charlemagne legislated for agriculture, industry, finance, education,
and religion as well as for government and morals. His reign fell into a
period when the economy of southern France and Italy was at low ebb
through the control of the Mediterranean by the Saracens. "The
Christians,"said Ibn Khaldun, "could no longer float a plank upon the
sea." The whole structure of commercial relations
between Western Europe and Africa and the Levant was disturbed; only the
Jews- whom Charlemagne sedulously protected for this reason- connected
the now hostile halves of what under Rome had been a united economic
world. Commerce survived in Slavic and Byzantine Europe, and in the
Teutonic north. The English Channel and the North Sea were alive with
trade; but this too would be disordered, even before Charlemagne's
death, by Norse piracy and raids. Vikings on the north and Moslems on
the south almost closed the ports of France, and made her an inland and
agricultural state. The mercantile middle class declined, leaving no
group to compete with the rural aristocracy; French feudalism was
promoted by Charlemagne's land grants and by the triumphs of Islam.
Charlemagne struggled to protect a free peasantry against spreading
serfdom, but the power of the nobles, and the force of circumstance,
frustrated him. Even slavery grew for a time, as a result of the
Carolingian wars against pagan tribes. The King's own estates,
periodically extended by confiscations, gifts, intestate reversions, and
reclamation, were the chief source of the royal revenue. For the care of
these lands he issued a Capitulare de villis astonishingly detailed, and
revealing his careful scrutiny of all state income and expense. Forests,
wastelands, highways, ports, and all mineral subsoil resources were the
property of the state. Every encouragement was given to such commerce
has survived; the fairs were protected, weights and measures and prices
were regulated, tolls were moderated, speculation in futures was
checked, roads and bridges were built or repaired, a great span was
thrown across the Rhine at Mainz, waterways were kept open, and a canal
was planned to connect the Rhine and the Danube, and thereby the North
with the Black Sea. A stable currency was maintained; but the scarcity
of gold in France and the decline of trade led to the replacement of
Constantine's gold solidus with the silver pound. The energy and
solicitude of the King reached into every sphere of life. He gave to the
four winds the names they bear today. He established a system of poor
relief, taxed the nobles and the clergy to pay its costs, and then made
mendicancy a crime.
Appalled by the illiteracy of his time, when hardly any but
ecclesiastics could read, and by the lack of education among the lower
clergy, he called in foreign scholars to restore the schools of France.
Paul the Deacon was lured from Monte Cassino, and Alcuin from York
(782), to teach the school that Charlemagne organized in the royal
palace at Aachen. Alcuin (735-804) was a Saxon, born near York, and
educated in the cathedral school that Bishop Egbert had founded there;
in the eighth century Britain and Ireland were culturally ahead of
France. When King Offa of Mercia sent Alcuin
on a mission to Charlemagne, the latter begged the scholar to remain;
Alcuin, glad to be out of England when the Danes were "laying it
desolate, and dishonoring the monasteries with adultery,"consented to
stay. He sent to England and elsewhere for books and teachers, and soon
the palace school was an active center of study, of the revision and
copying of manuscripts, and of an
educational reform that spread throughout the realm.
Among the pupils were Charlemagne, his wife Liutgard, his sons, his
daughter Gisela, his secretary Eginhard, a nun, and many more.
Charlemagne was the most eager of all; he seized upon learning as he had
absorbed states; he studied rhetoric, dialectic, astronomy; he made
heroic efforts to write, says Eginhard, "and used to keep tablets under
his pillow in order that at leisure hours he might accustom his hand to
form the letters; but as he began these efforts so late in life, they
met with ill success. He studied Latin furiously, but continued to speak
German at his court. He compiled a German grammar, and collected
specimens of early German poetry. When Alcuin, after eight years in the
palace school, pled for a less exciting environment, Charlemagne
reluctantly made him Abbot of Tours (796). There Alcuin spurred the
monks to make fairer and more accurate copies of the Vulgate of Jerome,
the Latin Fathers, and the Latin classics; and other monasteries
example. Many of our best classical texts have come down to us from
these monastic scriptoria of the ninth century; practically all extant
Latin poetry except Catullus, Tibullus, and Propertius, and
nearly all extant Latin prose except Varro, Tacitus, and Apuleius, were
preserved for us by the monks of the Carolingian age. Many of the
Caroline manuscripts were handsomely illuminated by the patient art of
the monks; to this "Palace School"of illumination belonged the
"Vienna"Gospels on which the later German emperors took their coronation oath.
In 787 Charlemagne issued to all the bishops and abbots of Francia an
historic Capitulare de litteris colendis, or directive on the study of
letters. It reproached ecclesiastics for "uncouth
language"and "unlettered tongues,"and exhorted every cathedral and
monastery to establish schools where clergy and laity alike might learn
to read and write. A further capitulary of 789 urged the
directors of these schools to "take care to make no difference between
the sons of serfs and of freemen, so that they might come and sit on the
same benches to study grammar, music, and
arithmetic."A capitulary of 805 provided for medical education, and
another condemned medical superstitions. That his appeals were not
fruitless appears from the many cathedral or monastic
schools that now sprang up in France and western Germany. Theodulf,
Bishop of Orleans, organized schools in every parish of his diocese,
welcomed all children to them, and forbade the priest
instructors to take any fees; this is the first instance in history of
free and general education. Important schools, nearly all attached to
monasteries, rose in the ninth century at Tours, Auxerre, Pavia, St.
Gall, Fulda, Ghent, and elsewhere.
Back to Blac Quill Index
Back to Ravensweir Main Page