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Black Quill

Issue 26
Jan/Feb/02 AS XXXVI
Quesnel BC

Rowan's Ramblings

Help, help our senchale has been kidnapped!!! She was last seen (through the window) being force fed grapes by a comely and muscular guard. We called out to her but she must not have heard us. We are determined to win through and rescue the faire lady.

Who could have done such a despicable deed?

If you are called upon, please, we beg you, to pay the ransome demands, no matter how outrageous, as she is most valuable to us.

The editors of the newsletter would like to utterly deny the rumour that the newsletter is destitute, and are trying to raise funds in any crafty way possible.

From the Chronicler,
--Doing pretty good so far, isn'r she?

From the Mistress of A & Sc
and deputy Chronicler

This is my second attempt at writing the newsletter. If there are any complaints please address them to the chronicler, as I am only the deputy and not be help accountable to the populace. Lady Sigrid has only begun to teach me all that she knows. Thank-you for being so understanding of my faults. Here are some more historical facts for you to pursue.

-Houses has thatched roofs (thick straw) piled high, with no wood underneath. It was the only place for animals to get warm, so all the dogs, cats, and other small animals (mice, bugs) lived in the roof. When it rained it became slippery and sometimes the animals would slip and fall off the roof --Hence the saying "It's raining cats and dogs."
There was nothing to stop things from falling into the house. This posed a real problem in the bedroom where bugs and othe droppings could really mess up a clean bed. Hence, a bed with big posts and a sheet hung over the top afforded some protection. That's how canopy beds came into existance.
-The floor was dirt. Only the wealthy had something other than dirt, hence the saying "dirt poor". The wealthy had slate floors that would get slippery in the winter when wet, so they spread thresh (straw) on the floor to help keep their footing! As the winter wore on, they kept adding more thresh until when when you opened the door it would all start slipping outside. A piece of wood was placed in the entranceway -Hence, a "thresh hold".
Rowena Skerlenger

Loch d'Or Grand Ithra
March 29-31, 2002

Once again, the shire of Loch d'Or presents a grand ithra for your learning pleasure.
Class listings are available from the autocrat. The theme this year is late period from 1450-1650, anywhere in the known world at that time. A wide variety of courses are being offered.
Site is the Crawford Bay Castle and the Crawford Bay Community Hall.

Site Schedule
March 29 Fri    9am site opens with breakfast
                10-12am registered
March 29 Fri    2-6pm classes
                7pm supper
                8-10 classes
March 30 Sat    9am-6pm classes
                7:30pm FEAST
March 31 Sun    9am-1pm classes
March 31 Sun    4pm site closes
Costa are:      FEAST: $15 can adult
                       $7 6-12yrs
                       under 6 free
Sire fee: $15 this includes Friday breakfast, lunch and supper, Saturday breakfast and lunch and Sunday breakfast and lunch.

For those people daytripping to our event there will be a site fee of $7.00/day. This includes meals for that day. The feast is NOT included.

Ithra registration fee: $10 plus cost of classes.
See catalogue for prices.


All reservation and registrations are on first come first served bassis. Limited crash space available. Please inform us on any allergies that you may have.

HL Eleonore (Liz Donnison):
Box 193 Crawford Bay B.C. V0B 1E0
Phone (250)227-6806: fax (250)227-9253
email (info only):
East and South: take best route to Creston BC, go north 75km on hwy 3A to Crawford Bay. Watch for signs. If you reach the ferry turn around and go back 5km.

North and West: take best route to Balfour BC, across on ferry. Watch for signs site is 5km from ferry landing.

Women of Character

By Nan Compton

Maybe this should be 'Women of character' - and it is up to the reader to decide what sort of character the following story indicates. And I really can't help the fact that this sounds like a soap opra written in blood - it is!

Brunhilda, or Brunehaut, d. 613, was a Frankish queen, the wife of Sigebert I of the East Frankish kingdom of Austria; daughter of Athanagild, the visigoth kin of Spain. After the murder in 567 of her sister Galswintha, who was married to Sigebert's brother, Chilperic I of the West Frankish kingdom of Neustria, and Chilperic's marrige to his mistress Fredegunde, Brunehaut was the major instigator in the was against Neustria. The war was to last until her own death.

Fredegunda, or Fredegunde (born c. 545) came from humble beginnings. She was a slave-girl at the court of Neustria, and it was in this capacity that she caught Chilperic's eye. As the influential and ever conniving mistress (rather in the traditional mode of king's mistresses), Fredegunde had persuaded Chilperic to repudiate his first wife Audovera.

Fredegunde was said to be the driving force behind the murder in 568 of Galswintha; this seems like a reasonable assumption, given the circumstances and subsequent events (for example, Fredegunde's marriage to Chilperic). She is known to have engineered the murders of Audovera's (Chilperic's first wife) three sone c.575. (The always popular move of pruning the dynastic tree). Continuing in her quest to reach the top, Fredegunda arranged for some hirelings to murder Sigibert (if you are keeping notes, remember this is Brunehaut's husband), her brother-in-law, in 575. He was about to be proclaimed king Neustria. After Sigibert's death, Brunehaut was captured by Chilperic and held in Paris; her nephew - one of Chilperic's bastard sone - fell in love with her, and schemed to help her escape; the plot was successful, and she got away - and that seems to have been the end of that relationship.

In keeping with the Grand Guignol theme of this story, Fredegunde's husband Chilperic I himself was murdered or assassinated, not that there really was all that much difference, shortly after the birth of their son Lothair in 584. This was most likely organized by Bruhehaut, of course - though there's no reason why it might not have been Fredegunde.

Not stopping to find out whether or not she was next on the Murder Inc. list, Fredegunde seized her late husband's wealth and fled to Paris with her son Lthair (later Clotaire II). From such a safe distance away, Fredegunde persuaded the Neustrian nobles to recognize her son as the legitimate heir to the Neustrian throne. Having accomplished this, she took upon the role Regent. In this capacity, Fredegunde continued her 40 year power struggle with Guntrum of Burgandy (d.593) amd Brunhilda, whom she defeated (c.597) - though did not vanquish. Amazingly, Fredegunde seems to have died a natural death - I can't find that she was murdered herself.

Both of these women successfully led troops into battle and demonstrated a snappy grasp of tactics. Fredegunde, while Lothair was still a baby in arms, convinced the generals of her army to give the command of it to her, and she made a plan that resulted in the deaths of all those in the camp opposing her at that time.

She ordered that the soldiers carry branches before themselves, and tie bells to their horses, so that they would appear to be grazing (did you know that is why cows and sheep wear bells? so that you can find them in the fields?). The guards in Brunhaut's camp were not suspicious as the horses and their riders surrounded the camp; and as Fredegunde rode in, with her baby in her arms, supposedly to parlay, her soldiers were able to surprise and slaughter all in the camp.

Throughout the reigns of her son, Childbert II, and of two grandsons, Brundehaut was the actual ruler of Austria and of Burgundy, and it was by her design that country was united with Austria after the death (592) of King Guntrum. There is every evidence that she simply settled herself to murder anyone with any influence on either of her grandsons - eventually plotting the murder of one of them - and as a by the way, anyone with any relationship whatsoever to Fredegunde.

Certainly after Fredegunde's death, Brubehaut seems to have determined in a very sungle-minded way to murder anyone left with blood ties to the murderer of her sister.

She was endowed with the gifts of a great statesmen, but her unscrupulousness in the execution of her plans earned her the fierce hatred of the noles, whom she nonetheless controlled - they were terrified of her ruthlessness.

At one point - you were probably wondering why this hadn't happened before - she was captured by the nobles and taken abandoned deep in the wilds of the forest. (Something those of us in Alberta can understand as a serious threat of death). Her fortune was such that she was found by a wandering woodsman, who took her back to her grandson, and all the plotting and murdering started up again. (She never seems to have had any problem escaping from captivity - at least, until the end of her life). There is no contemporary commentary to indicate that people were shocked that women were behaving so - the reports just reflect a horror that *anyone* was capable of such determination and lust for the blood families.

Before Brunehaut's death, she was accused of complicity in the deathes of about 10 of the Merovigian/Frankish kings, including her own husband, son, brother-in-laws, father, and various others; I suppose this is a tribute, in a way, to her skills. She was finally betrayed by the terrified nobles into the hands of Fredegunde's son, Clotaire. He didn't mess around with considerations of what might be due to her age; he only considered her deeds, and had her put to a horrible death. She was approximately *80* at this time; she was carried naked through the countryside on a rail for three days, then tied to a wild horse by one arm and one leg and dragged behind the panicked horse; this killed her, but Clotaire (who obviously wasn't going to trust to luck) had her remains burned and them buried.

Extraordinary! And people think women in the medieval period stayed home and did needlepoint!

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