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Black Quill Issue 22, May/June/01 AS XXXVI

Black Quill

Issue 22
May/June/01 XXXVI
Incipient Shire of Ravensweir
Quesnel, BC

Rowans Ramblings

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.
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 when.

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 NSCA Representative.

Should you have any questions regarding the NSCA, please feel free to contact any member of the NSCA Board of Directors listed below.
President       Nancy J. M. Stevens
                (Baroness Amanda Kendal of Westmoreland)
                1192 Shavington Street, North Vancouver, BC V7L 1K9
                (604) 988-0304, email:
Vice President  Penelope Adams (Lillianne d'Escargot)
                5135 Broughton Place, Nanaimo, BC  V9T 6L4
                (250) 758-8976, email:
Secretary       Elaine McMillan (Lady Elena de Maisnilwarin)
                314 - 6425 Silver Avenue, Burnaby, BC V5H 2Y3
                (604) 430-8208, email:
Treasurer       Tricia Le Pine (Her Ladyship Eriu of Tlachtga)
                5 - 7576 Humphries Court, Burnaby, BC  V3N 3E9
                (604) 524-2824, email:
Member-At-Large Ray Turner (His Lordship Malcom of Lamont)
                RR#3, Site 30, Comp 12, Oliver, BC  V0H 1T0
                (250) 498-3084, email:

Spring Murder

June 15-17
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 bring 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 temporarily misplaced.

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.

Assassination Competition

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 death/kill.

Participants of the rapier tourney may certainly also play the Assassination game, but rapier kills may not be counted as an assassination.

Rapier Tournament

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 behaviour.

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 grow.
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 Greek.

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 Christ.

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 Roland.

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 gathered 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 times.

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 the people. Not all these counsels were obeyed; but there runs through the capitularies a conscientious effort to transform barbarism into civilization.

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 imitated the 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.
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