Educational Articles

Members of the Marche of Alderford have written a number of articles on the educational aspects of the SCA, both the actual Middle Ages and the Current Middle Ages as we recreate them.

Arts and Sciences

Articles in this section discuss the various artistic and practical endeavors that enriched the lives of people in the Middle Ages.

Surely You Jest!, by Gilder the Jester

I being the only member of Alderford that dresses as a fool, was asked to write an article. I say dressed because I am not the only fool, just the one that displays it with his/her clothes. We all know what fools are and do, because in some point in the day each of us is one. The common expressions we use show this. Some "play the fool", and some "get played as a fool". Others just "fool" around, and act "foolishly".

I am fool for one main reason. I live to make people happy, to make them laugh. I also love the attention. I learned at an early age, those lovely elementary and junior high days, to use laughter as a defense. I take jesting very seriously. It is an art form, a spontaneous comedy.

I won't go into the history of fools for I can not do it justice. A good book I found on this is Reality in a looking-glass : rationality through an analysis of traditional folly by Anton Zijderveld. Another good article, by a Scadian, is The Complete Fool Primer by Malinda Terry. It is just that: a primer, although I will have to disagree with her on the topic of natural and unnatural fools. The water gets a little cloudy here.

During the Middle Ages, and well before, there were natural fools and unnatural fools. Natural fools, were dwarfs, deformed people, mad, or any other social outcast. They became fools to defend themselves, so that they would have a place in society. These fools where often seen as pets (Don't get any ideas) by their masters, like one would take in a stray dog or cats. It was a charitable thing to have a natural fool. Thus they were treated somewhat well. Some got the red carpet and others got laughed at and kicked more than normal, but got food. Dwarf throwing contests where not unheard of.

Unnatural fools, were normal people. Some were just normal people making a living as entertainers. To further their careers some made themselves out to be natural fools. They pretended to be insane, or made up some deformity. Many great fools were very intelligent people. I won't say anyone can be a fool, that would make me look foolish for being one. But we all can do it sometimes, I just choose to do it most of the time. Well, I'll wrap this up with some good quotes and maxims, I love them.

The way of the fool is right in his own eyes.
Let a fool hold his tongue and he will pass for a sage.
&emdash; Publilius Syrus (Have to work on that)

There is no great genius without some touch of madness.
&emdash; Lucius Annaeus Seneca

Never stick peas in your nose.
&emdash; Goofy

All the worlds indeed a stage, and we are merely players.
Performers and portrayers,
Each another's audience...
&emdash; Neil Peart, RUSH

The Fine Art of Documentation, by Ailith Mackintosh

I wasn't sure how to do documentation for my garb, so I asked Mistress Rondinella to send some examples of documentation and how to go about doing it. I believe the basic style of documentation for any period art or science would be very similar to the format that she recommends.

Documentation is just like a short newspaper article. You need to get across certain facts as simply and quickly as possible. It is easy if you follow the reporter's way of writing using "What, When and How."

Begin by saying "this is a _____ from _____," and the year (When). Then show What you are basing this on. Try to have a photo of the actual article (post cards are great, a plate in a book, or a photocopy of the original piece.) Next is How. This is, of course, the big one, but you will do fine if you break it down. When doing garb, show: color choice, design (seams and special touches), and fabric choice.

If I were to document the dress from the Stadl, I would first show a picture of the gown, say that this dress is Italian, based on the portrait, then I would explain why I chose the fabric and color and show how they are period or why they were used as a substitution. The gown has couching on it. I would talk about it and cite another source as well to show that this technique is one that was widely used.

Next I would discuss the cut of the gown, why the seams are where they are, why I lined it, and why the grommets are covered. I would cover other specific techniques, like cartridge pleating. Be sure to footnote so that the judge knows where you got your information. A bibliography is essential. It will show the judge what your sources are and help her/him to determine if you are making a valid assumption based on a good source, or an incorrect assumption based on a bad source.

There are several types of sources. A primary source is the actual garment or sword or whatever. A secondary souce is a period painting/fresco/drawing/description of the item. Either of these is acceptable. Tertiary sources are non-period paintings, artists' sketches of what an author "thinks" an article should look like. Never use a tertiary source. Try to keep your text to one page. Your bibliography can be a second page.Be honorable. NEVER use anyone else's documentation! The research is part of the fun (and it REALLY is FUN!) You learn so much more if you've done the documentation yourself! If you have any questions, I will do my best to answer them, or else find someone who can!

The following is an example of documentation for a gown that Mistress Rondinella made for the 25 Year Celebration of the Society. I think it will give you a good idea of how to do your own documentation.

This gown is based on the painting "Portrait of a Lady" by Lorenzo Lotto (postcard displayed). It hangs in the National Gallery, London, England, and is dated 1530.

I have chosen cotton for my fabric as I wanted something cool and easy to care for. Cotton was readily available in Europe from the beginning of the 13th century1 and it takes a dye easily. Both green and gold were possible to obtain at the time. The gold hue could have been obtained through the use of onion skins or the berries and leaves of the mulberry bush; the green by using mulberry leaves or woad2.

The gown laces down the front to the waist and is open another four inches beyond. We can see this from the fur lining which peeks out below the waist in the front. The entire bodice was lined as existing garments from the century show.3 All lacing holes were made with grommets and then the grommets were carefully covered for strength and a finished look. Garments of this century did have their grommets covered as can be seen in the Eleanora of Toledo dress as featured in Patterns of Fashion by Janet Arnold.

The skirt is cartridge pleated, as can be seen by the rounded pleats, the same as the original. Cartridge pleating is achieved by gathering the fabric at equal intervals and sewing it to the bodice. Cartridge pleats must be sewn finished edge to finished edge. To achieve the finished edge on the skirt, I folded the material back. In the portrait, another piece of fabric was sewn to the top of the skirt and left to hang like a modern peplum. I omitted this since I was concerned about the gown being too warm; I also omitted the fur lining for the same reason. Snaps were also added to secure the front since the gown tended to gape open below the waist. I believe that the original garment had heavier fabric which would have made this problem minimal or may perhaps, have been secured with hooks and eyes.

The entire garment is pieces. Using the subject's hands as a guide, I determined that the thin stripes were one inch wide. Size was adjusted in the wider panels. There is a pattern to the stripes; this pattern is repeated throughout the bodice, skirt, and sleeves of the gown. The pattern also helped me to determine the proper widths of certain sections of the gown and the shape of the shoulder. In the portrait, one can see the top of the shoulder has four stripes, while the body has only three. This fourth stripe produces a dropped shoulder effect.

The chemise word with this gown is of cotton and gathered as if for cartridge pleating to achieve the ruffled effect. There is also a corset and petticoat under the gown to achieve the overall look.


1Black and Garland. A History of Fashion. (New York, William Morrow & Company, Inc., 1975) p. 103 & 129.

2Berenice Gillette Connor, Dyes from your Garden. (Miami, Florida, E.A. Seemann Publishing, Inc., 1975) p. 88 & 91.

3Janet Arnold, Patterns of Fashion 1560-1620. (New York, Drama Books, 1985) p. 20 & 26.


Arnold, Janet. Patterns of Fashion 1560-1620. New York, Drama Books, 1985.

Black and Garland. A History of Fashion. New York. William Morrow & Company, Inc. 1975

Boucher, Francois. A History of Costume in the West. London. Thames and Hudson Ltd. 1988.

Connor, Berenice Gillett. Dyes from your Garden. Miami, Florida. Seemann Publishing Inc., 1975.

Wilson, Michael. The National Gallery of London. London. MacDonald and Company Ltd. 1988.

The Herbalist's Kitchen, by Francesca de Onorati

As we do research into areas that fascinate us, we discover any number of related areas that also become interesting. As I do research for recipes in my time period I have become fascinated by herbs and spices, and their usage in curing various illnesses (real and imagined!). I've put together a list of some of the more common plants that you might have found in a medieval garden, and some interesting facts about them.* Hopefully someday I will be able to take you on a walk through a garden of Francesca's time.

Herbs were grown to add taste to various foods (or cover the taste up in some instances!), and some of them provided a pleasure to look at as well.

Borage which is used in salads has bright blue flowers that may be candied and bloom all summer.

Basil has small white flowers in tall white spikes that smell wonderful. It 's leaves are used in salads, vinegars, soups and stews. It also has mild antiseptic powers, and if made into a tea and sipped it is suppose to relieve nausea.

Bay is a beautiful evergreen shrub that does well in warm climates, and has to be grown as a tub plant in this latitude. It's a wonderful addition to stews, and rice, but it can very nauseating if too much is used.

Chamomile used to grow wild until someone tried making it's dried flowers into a delicious tea. The tea is used to help insomnia, and teething babies (in very small amounts), and is suppose to be an aid to digestion. Externally it can be used as a complexion brightener or for "giving life" to tired blonde hair.

Coriander may have been one of the first herbs ever used in cooking by the Chinese more than 5000 years ago. It has fragile pink flowers, and while the fresh seed smell like old cloth, the dried seeds are delicious in meats, cheeses, soups, and salads. This is one of the ingredients used in making curry powder, and it is suppose to help with arthritis, and also work as an antacid.

Dill is probably one of the herbs that were introduced into Britain and Northern Europe by the Romans. Dill tea was used for centuries for fretful infants. The young leaves improve the flavor of fish and soups delightfully, and the seeds are used in pickles, sauces and sauerkraut.

Fennel comes in two varieties. Sweet fennel is a beloved seasoning of the Italians, and they use the leaves with fish, the seeds with cheese, eggs, fish, in cakes and on vegetables. The other type of fennel is a root vegetable and is used much the same as the sweet fennel.

Garlic has had many names, but there are very few that don't find it's pungent flavor appealing in stews, salads, and sauces. Garlic has been called a panacea for all ills by some and it has been found to have great antiseptic properties. It is said to keep fleas off of dogs and cats, and possibly even humans!

Horehound has been known since ancient times as a medicinal plant, but has only recently (19th century) been used for flavorings for candy. It was used as a syrup for head colds to clear the phlegm out of ones head and throat.

Marigold produces bright orange and yellow flowers and may be used sparingly to replace saffron in dishes. It was also thought to be a good combatant against the plague. A tincture of it's flowers can be used to take the sting out of insect bites, the pain out of burns and scalds, and as a styptic to stop bleeding from deep knife wounds.

Parsley can make an interesting border, and it's uses are many and varied. It was a cheap means of coloring foods, and is known to be helpful for those who suffer from urinary tract problems.

Rosemary or Mary's Mantle is a beautiful fragrant shrub, with small blue blossoms that resembles an evergreen. It can be used in stews and sauces, and made into lotions for the skin and hair. It was even thought to help "grow hair on bald pates."

Roses, the name alone manages to conjure the smell in your memory, and infusions of various parts of the plant have been around for centuries. Rose hip tea was good for calming, and an excellent source of Vitamin C. Rose syrup, or syrup of roses was thought to be good for melancholy. Rose petals can be candied or made into a conserve. Rose water was used in many medieval recipes as a flavoring.

This has been just a small glimpse into the medieval garden, and these are just a few of the more common plants that were available to almost everyone no matter what position they held in society. Great care was taken harvesting these plants, some were picked with the dew still on them, others had to be taken on the night of a full moon, or using the left hand. The rituals that surrounded that gathering of some of these plants is as interesting as the lore that is ascribed to them.

*NOTE: Some of the cures mentioned wherein should be discussed with a competent herbalist. This article is not intended as medical advice, nor as a substitute for medical care provided by a physician.

Copyright © 1996 by Norma Jean Storms. All Rights Reserved. Republished by permission of the author.

The Meading Corner: Part One, by Fernando Calderon de la Cruz

Welcome to the first installment of what I hope will be a continuing column. It is my wish for this to be a forum where we can all trade information on mead, wine, and all forms of brewing and vinting, so to start it all off, I'll begin with the various styles of mead and a brief list of ingredients for those styles. I'll finish with a recipe.

Mead - honey, optionally with flavoring ingredients
Sack mead - same as mead but with more honey
Show mead - honey
Melomel, mulsum - honey & fruit
Metheglin - honey & spices
Morat - honey & mulberries
Pyment, pyment-claree - honey & grapes
Hippocras - honey, grapes and spices
Cyser - honey & apples
Braggot - honey & malt
Hydromel - honey & water, sometimes flavored
Oxymel - mead mixed with wine vineger
Rhodomel - honey with attar, a rose petal distillate
Omphacomel - mead & verjuice, the juice of unripened grapes
Capsicumel - honey with chile pepper

And last but not least, a style I like to call weirdomel - honey
with unusual flavorings. Laugh if you will, but if you really think
of it, all mead was weirdomel at one time or another. It takes a
brave soul to experiment with something, and somebody somewhere
had to take the chance and add flavorings and spices for the first
RECIPE: (Ingredients for 1 gallon)
- 2« pounds clover honey
- 2 teaspoons yeast nutrient
- « pack red star champagne yeast
- apple cider to fill to 1 gallon

HOW-TO / WHAT-TO: Heat [not boil] « gal. cider, yeast nutrient, and honey to about 170 degrees. Hold at 170 degrees for 30 minutes. Skim off any foam that develops. Transfer to 1 gallon jug and fill to within 1" of top with cool apple cider. Wait for temperature to drop below 80 degrees and then pitch the yeast. (I will explain this terminology in a later article.)

Well, that's it for this first meeting of the Meading Corner. Please feel free to ask me questions. I will warn you, though, that I don''t have all the answers, as I am a beginner myself. However, I will find the answer if there is one to be found. Remember this is for the exchange of information, so please send in whatever recipes and information that you may have to share and it will be greatly appreciated. You can E-mail me at

What's In A Name?, by Francesca de Onorati

How to decide who you want to be is not always an easy task! There are a number of people who have been in the Society that have gone through several name changes over a period of years. One individual that comes to mind is a friend of ours that lives in Atenveldt. He had been known for years as Lyrec the Black, but because he could not document the usage of his first name, he could not get his name passed. Since he and his Lady are trying to become Baron and Baroness, he needs a name that he can document. He has decided to pick something quite common that will correspond with his Lady's name and time period that will be easy to register.

It seems to me that trying to find a name that you can live with is the first criteria in choosing a name. In the earlier years of the Society names of "Elvish" or "Tolkien" origin were registered, but the practice has become frowned upon in recent years. My suggestions to those of you trying to find a name is to decide upon a period of time and a country of origin, and go from there. While it is possible to use your ancestors surname it is not always easy to document, and what may have been a common spelling in the 18th century, may not have even been in existence in the 9th century. Or if it did exist, are you willing to live with the correct spelling of the name for whatever time period you choose? These are just some of the minor considerations. The more major considerations are do you like the name that you have chosen? And are you willing to live with it for as long as you will be in this area, and associating with the people who you will see on a regular basis? While Katherine is appropriate for a good portion of our time frame, how many other Katherine's will you be dealing with because it is a popular name? I personally like the name Katherine and it's various diminutives, but it can get confusing. For example, Lady Katarina from Gwyntarian, called Katherine of Broken Waters to ask about the health of Baroness Catherine of the Misty Forest, can be more than a little confusing to someone who's not familiar with the people concerned!

A good place to start would be with experimenting with just a first name that you like. Some of us already have names that are considered "period." Hugh is one such example, and my own first name is also correct for my chosen time period. A lot of people use their own first names or a varied spelling of it, just so that there is less confusion for themselves and others. Then they go on to add a different surname or variation of their current name. Whether this is something that you would like to do is up to you.

If you choose to pick an entirely different name from your own a little more time and research will probably be required. A good place to start for a first name would be the book The Oxford Dictionary of English Christian Names, by Elizabeth Gidley Withycombe. This is available at the Stark County District Library, and at the Coshocton Public Library. Other titles available from Stark County for British surnames are: Bain, Robert. The Clans and Tartans of Scotland.

Barber, Henry. British Family Names: Their Origin and Meaning, with Lists of Scandanavian, Frisian, Anglo-Saxon and Norman Names.

Bardsley, Charles Wareing Endell. English Surnames Their Sources and Significations.

Begley, Donal F. The ancestor Trail in Ireland: a Companion Guide

Black, George Fraser. The Surnames ofScotland: their Origin, Meaning, and History

Ewen, Cecil L'Estrange. A History of Surnames of the British Isles: a Concise Account of Their Origin, Evolution, Etymology, and Legal Status.

Farmer, David Hugh. The Oxford Dictionary of Saints

Kaganoff, Benzion C. A Dictionary of Jewish Names and their History.

Lower, Mark Antony. English Surnames: an Essay of Family Nomenclature, Historical, Etymological and Humorous; with Several Illustrative Appendices.

Lower, Mark Antony. Patronymica Britannica: a Dictionary of the Family Names of the United Kingdom.

MacLysaght, Edward. Irish Families: their Names, Arms and Origins.

MacLysaght, Edward. Supplement to Irish Families.

The one thing that I would strongly caution you on is the use of "Baby Names" books. While some of the names might be "period," a good portion of them will not be!!

If you have another country that you are interested in being from, you could ask someone whose persona is from that area, do you own research, or ask either Undewyn or myself to point you in the proper direction. Both of us have a listing of titles that would be helpful and that are available locally.

History and Culture of the Middle Ages

Articles in this section discuss the time periods, cultures, religions, and major events of the Middle Ages.

A Byzantine's Tale of Agincourt, by Iustinos Tekton

Greetings to all in this time of dread, as we of Byzantium gather in the moneychangers' halls to pay our annual taxes in support of the Empire. This year, His Imperial Majesty the Emperor has adopted a very simple formula by which a merchant such as myself may determine his taxation. One must first ascertain how much coin was taken in throughout the previous twelve months. Next, one divides by ten to signify the Emperor's concern that not too much is taken. Finally, one multiplies by ten to signify one's voluntary desire to support in every way His Imperial Majesty's programs to advance our Empire. Ah, what joy I take from patriotism, and it is with pride that I shall starve to death in the streets of Constantinople, knowing that it is in service to my Emperor!

But enough of that! What care you of the travails of a simple merchant such as I? Rather would I ply your ear with a story, one that was told to me recently by two brothers from far-off Italy, who claim they have seen it with their own eyes and that every word is true. Dear reader, you shall be the judge of their veracity!

Some years ago, in 1415 if my addled mind may be relied upon, there was a war being waged in a far-western land known as "France." This war, which would eventually last nearly an hundred years, would later come to be known as the Hundred Years War, which shows one just how imaginative these Westerners are. Now France was nowhere near as glorious nor as beautiful as Byzantium, but to those who dwelt there, it was their home and so they loved it and defended it with great tenacity. At the time, there seems to have been a certain disagreement between one Henry V, who was the undisputed monarch of another insignificant western district that I believe is known as "England" (we in Byzantium would crave to know more of these "Engs" and how they came to claim this land, but that is another story), and King Charles of France, about which of them actually was the King of France. Of course, this conflict had started decades earlier between another King of England and another King of France, but as is the way of men and wars, both of these men were altogether happy to carry on their predecessors' destructive traditions.

As it happened, the army of Henry V numbered about five thousands of men, and the army of France numbered between twenty-and-five thousands and thirty thousands of men, depending upon whom one allowed to do the counting. So it was with confidence that the French approached the English in late October of that year, hoping for an easy victory that would prove their greater valor. Their knowledge that the English had trudged for seventeen days with only one day's rest and that many of them were ill with dysentery and bronchitis, gave the French still more reason to anticipate a decisive victory. The English had walked nearly three hundred miles through rain and mud with little to eat, and had carried with them a large number of heavy wooden stakes, plus some lighter wood staves which shall be discussed later. For their part, the French made their encampment between two woods, Tremecourt and Agincourt. Not only was this a rather poor military choice, but it happened that on the night of October 24, heavy rains fell and the French knights spent most of the night in their saddles to keep their armour dry, or at least not sodden with mud. Thus, on the morning of October 25, it could well be said that none of these fellows were in high spirits!

Both armies formed their ranks, and for half a day they scowled with deadly ferocity and keen accuracy at one another, although fortunately no one was actually injured by these fearsome tactics. The mounted knights of the French began to grow restless and to argue among themselves about who should have the honor of being in the first rank as they trounced the English, once the battle began. In the meantime, the English grew weary and, having placed the heavy wooden stakes in the mud with the points facing the French, they began using the light wooden staves they had brought. These staves, also known as Welsh longbows, are a most ingenious contraption that uses a taut piece of cord to hurl a sharpened stake, or "arrow" as they are called, toward one's enemy at a great distance. Through such artifice, the English were able to injure many of the French and their horses even across the field of battle.

Not surprisingly, the French grew angry at this intrusion into their private conversations, and they spurred their mounts across the field toward the English to give the latter a good lesson in manners. Unfortunately, the English continued to fire their bows and hundreds of French knights were felled. So deep and so slippery was the mud that a goodly number of the French were killed not by arrows, but by suffocation when they fell face-down into the muck while wearing their heavy armour. As the battle ended, the English suffered losses of five hundreds of their soldiers, while the French losses numbered over ten thousands of men. The decisive victory the French had anticipated was not to be theirs this day, and the feudal tactical theory of masses of knights in heavy armour as an invincible force was forever shattered. (I would be remiss at this time if I did not mention that we in New Rome have far more civil, and far less lethal, ways of instructing our brethren in courtly mannerisms, which civility being only one of the many reasons we take pride in our more refined customs, and find it difficult to comprehend the barbarous ways of others.)

Now, all that I have said until now is known to be true, and has been foresworn by many witnesses. What the two men from Italy told me, that is to follow, is something whose truth may only be guessed at. These two men, a pair of carriage-makers called Thomas and Raymond, claim that just before the battle of Agincourt the French had taunted the English, vowing to remove the index and middle fingers from their right hands so that they would never again trouble France with their silly longbows. When the battle was over and the French soundly defeated, the English reversed the taunt by flaunting on high these selfsame two fingers, coincidentally making the sign of a "V" which even today is used by some as a symbol of Victory. Some say it was not two fingers, but only the middle finger, which was presented. But of these things, your humble writer knows not what is true and what is merely legend. That, dear gentle, you must judge for yourself.

A Good Summer Read, by Milica of Varna

"Everywhere I have sought rest and not found it, except sitting in a corner by myself with a little book."

Thomas a Kempis (1380-1471) German monk, mystic

For many, summer is the time to catch up on all the reading they have been unable to fit into their busy schedules the rest of the year. In the SCA, it is often a time to do research on a favorite country, craft or time period. Boring? Not necessarily. Doing historical research can be a very pleasant task indeed when disguised as a "beach read." Many writers of historical fiction do extensive research of their own before they write their books and include a real taste of a time period in their writing. Documentation? Probably not, but it is certainly an enjoyable way to get a feel for history.

Library and bookstore shelves are full of books whose subject matter falls within the SCA's period of study and recreation. There are detective stories, retelling of ancient tales and legends, and in-depth studies of historical figures, all of which teach history through the eyes of fictional characters. For instance, English writer Mary Stewart's famous Merlin series, The Crystal Cave, The Hollow Hills, The Last Enchantment, and The Wicked Day gives new life to the Arthurian legend, as does Stephen R. Lawhead's Pendragon saga. Fun reading for a hot summer day, and for many, a palatable first taste of the power of legend. Below is a brief listing of books for the Scadian reader.


Umberto Eco.

In The Name of the Rose, the Franciscan monk, Brother William of Baskerville uses his scholarly knowledge to solve a murder

Elizabeth Eyre. Set in Renaissance Italy, this set of books, including Bravo for the Bride, Poison for the Prince and Axe for the Abbot, features Sigismundo.

Margaret Frazer. Medieval England is again the setting for this mystery series in which a nun, Sister Frevisse, solves crimes. The Novice's Tale, The Outlaw's Tale, The Servant's Tale and The Bishop's Tale.

Sharan Newman. A young nun and student in Abelard's 12th century France is the heroine of these books. The Devil's Door, Death Comes as Epiphany and The Wandering Arm.

Ellis Peters. Probably the most famous of the Medieval detectives is Brother Cadfael, a 12th century Welsh monk and former soldier in such books as The Rose Rent, The Monk's Hood, The Leper of St. Giles, The Hermit of Eyton Forest and The Holy Thief.


Frans Gunnar Bengtsson.

Long Ships is an authentic look at Viking life.

Michael Crichton. Eaters of the Dead is a slightly off-center retelling of the Beowulf saga.

Harry Harrison. This series of books follows a Viking hero. Includes The Hammer and the Cross, One King's Way and King and Emperor.


Jane Parker.

Scottish Chiefs uses as its main character William Wallace of 14th century Scotland.

Hunter Steele. Chasing the Gilded Shadow is set in 15th century Scotland.

Randall Wallace. Braveheart is taken from the movie of the same name and is again the story of William Wallace.


Genevieve Davis.

15th century Italy is the setting for Passion in the Blood.

R. M. Lamming. Notebook of Gismundo Cavaletti is a story of Renaissance Italy.

Judith Lennox. The Italian Garden blends Renaissance Italy with herbalism.

Alexandra Ripley. Time Returns is a tale of the de Medicis in 15th century Italy from the author of Scarlett.


Nobuko Albery.

House of Kanze is set in medieval Japan.

Lensey Namioka. Valley of the Broken Cherry Trees is a story of 16th century Japan and the Samurai.

Laura Rowland. Shinju is again set in medieval Japan.


Michael P. Arnold.

Against the Fall of Night is a story of the 12th century Byzantine Empire.

Gillian Bradshaw. Bearkeeper's Daughter and Imperial Purple are classic tales of Byzantium.

Michael Ennis. Byzantium tells the story of the Varangian Guard.


Barbara Lachman.

Journal of Hildegard of Bingen is a fictional account of the 12th century spiritual leader and nun.

Charles Ludwig. Queen of the Reformation tells the story of Martin Luther and 15th century Germany through the eyes of his family.

Chelsea Quinn Yarbro. Better in the Dark takes the ancient vampire, Saint-Germaine to 10th century Germany.


Morgan Llywelyn.

This author has written numerous books on Irish legend and historical figures including Last Prince of Ireland, Strongbow, Lion of Ireland and Finn Mac Cool.


Cecilia Holland. This author has written on just about every SCA time period from 8th century Byzantium (Belt of Gold) to 16th century Holland (The Sea Beggars) to the Knights Templar and the 12th century crusades in Jerusalem.

Jean Plaidy. Most readers are familiar with this prolific author's works. She has written series of books on England's queens, the de Medicis of Renaissance Italy and Eleanor of Aquitaine.

This list only touches the tip of the iceberg when it comes to historical fiction. It there is a time when something interesting happened, an author has written a novel about it. A quick check with a local librarian or bookstore can offer dozens of ideas for a good summer read. See you in the shade at Pennsic!

Medieval Spring, by Milica of Varna

"When April with his showers hath pierced the drought Of March with sweetness to the very root, And flooded every vein with liquid power That of its strength engendereth the flower; When Zephyr also with his fragrant breath Hath urged to life every holt and heath New tender shoots of green, and the young sun His full half course within the Ram hath run, And little birds are making melody That sleep the whole night through with open eye, For in their hearts doth Nature stir them so, Then people long on pilgrimage to go,"

Geoffrey Chaucer, Prologue to The Canterbury Tales

Spring, in modern times, is a season of life and rebirth. So it was in Medieval times, although the medieval year looked somewhat different than the modern one. Based on the old pagan holidays, it began in February with Candlemas and ended May 1, with the beginning of summer. In England, plowing for spring crops began in January the first Monday after Epiphany. Called Plow Monday, the holiday was celebrated by the freemen of a village who would race to plow a common field. In the late Middle Ages, a "plow fool" was chosen and hauled through the village dressed as an old woman. This rowdy group went door-to-door, begging for pennies. When refused, "Bessy" would be insulted and the ground before the skinflint's door would be plowed up.

Candlemas was the first true spring holiday, falling on February 2, the modern Groundhog Day. This pagan cross quarter was Christianized to commemorate Mary's "churching" , a practice in which a new mother donned her wedding gown and entered the church to be "purified" after giving birth. It marked the beginning of the agricultural year, and was the time when trees and vines were planted.

The season of Lent, of course, was an busy time in Medieval life, second only to the Christmas season in importance. Shrove Tuesday was a day of parties and games, followed by the long Lenten season. During this time, the churches were hung with veils and crosses were shrouded. On Palm Sunday, yew or willow branches were carried in procession, and on Good Friday, the cross was unveiled. Easter Eve was a celebration of candles and light, with old candles being extinguished and new ones lit. Easter, like Christmas, was a time of exchange between the common people and the lord of the manor. People of the village brought eggs to the lord, symbolizing rebirth, while he, in turn fed them a sumptuous meal, renewing his commitment to care for them. The week that followed Easter was a holiday, full of fun and games. This was the official beginning of the tournament season in the great halls of Europe, and knight began their tours from manor to manor, testing their skill against each other.

Easter Week ended with Hocktide, the second Monday and Tuesday after Easter, a two-day festival that included the odd custom of husbands whipping their wives on Monday and wives whipping their husbands on Tuesday.

In England, a favorite spring holiday was April 23, St. George's Day. The incarnation of the ideal hero, George was celebrated for his slaying of the dragon. In the Alps, St. George's Day is also remembered. Shepherds pay a special tribute to the Saint on the day when they move their flocks up the mountain to their summer pasture.

The end of Medieval spring and the beginning of summer was Mayday. The pagan Beltane on May 1, was a time for lovemaking and relaxed morality. Fires were lighted on May Eve and residents of the villages often spent the night in the forest or field, ensuring fertility and a good harvest. Children born of these unions were said to be especially blessed. On Mayday itself, noble lords and ladies would take to the woods to cut hawthorne boughs and pick wildflowers to crown the Lord and Lady of the May. In Germany, maypoles were erected and danced around, entwined with colorful ribbons and flowers, more fertility rites to bring a good harvest. In a time when a good harvest could ensure survival, nothing was left to chance.

After Mayday came the season for work. Fields needed to be tended and there was no longer time for week-long festivals. In the modern world, we still enjoy the remnants of medieval spring festivals with Mardi Gras and Mayday activities. For us, however, the beginning of summer marks the end of work and the season of fun, quite the opposite from the Medieval world.

Michaelmas, by Milica of Varna

St. Michael the Archangel: Feast-day, September 29. Patron saint of Brussels, the sick and battle, invoked when tempted, or when storm-tossed at sea.

In England, it is traditional to hear the fall season referred to as "Michaelmas." Named for the feast day of St. Michael, it is a time of harvest and celebration in much of Europe. Many of the traditions of the harvest fairs of modern day have their basis in medieval times.

In September, Michaelmas fairs were and are a gathering point for farmers and merchants. A large glove, suspended above the fair, is the symbol that the town has the sanction of the mayor, local nobleman or king to hold the fair, such as one given by King John to the town of Sturbridge in 1211. The glove symbolizes the handshake of promises and openhandedness and generosity.

Food at Michaelmas also features long traditions. Goose is the special treat and is served roasted, but decorated with feathers to make the bird look alive. The goose is brought to the table with great ceremony on a platter that has been elaborately decorated fruit and flowers. The neck is reserved for the most honored guest. Often, marzipan or subtleties are substituted for a real goose so that everyone may have a taste and be lucky for the year.

Another tradition of Michaelmas is the use of ginger. All manner of foods seasoned with ginger are part of the day's menu from gingerbread to ginger beer. The tradition may indeed have its roots in the Middle Ages, since it is said that a wealthy merchant once brought a shipload of the rare spice to sell at the Michaelmas market. When a high tax was levied on his cargo, he refused to pay, choosing instead to pass the ginger out to any who wanted some. Of course, everyone did and ginger has been used ever since. It is also possible, that ginger is the flavor of Michaelmas because St. Michael is the patron saint of healers and ginger is said to be a good antidote for stomach and chest illnesses.

This year when celebrating the abundance of the September harvest under the Michaelmas Moon, plan to share the "Three G's" with friends and family: Glove, Goose and Ginger and eat hardy at the fair!

Source: Madeleine Pelner Cosman. Medieval Holidays and Festivals: a Calendar of Celebrations. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, ¸ 1981.

Copyright © 1996 by Katherine Courtney. All Rights Reserved.

The Craft of the Mason, by Milica of Varna

He addressed himself in procuring the stone beyond the sea. He constructed ingenious machines for loading and unloading ships, and for drawing cement and stones. He delivered moulds for shaping the stones to the sculptors who were assembled, and diligently prepared other things of the same kind.

William of Sens, master mason of the new choir of Canterbury Cathedral

Anyone who has ever looked at a picture of a great cathedral of the Middle Ages, or better yet, stood beneath the vast arches of one of these marvels must have contemplated how these wonders of archtecture came to be. Whose vision translated the drawings or loose stones into reality? In medieval times, it was the stone mason. The professions of architect, contractor and engineer are modern concepts, for in the medieval world, they were all combined. The stone mason had the vision that brought all of them together.

When a community, a great lord, or the Church decided to build a church, castle or cathedral, one of the most important decisions was the stone mason to hire. Master masons held great status and power in the medieval world. The elaborate tomb of Hughes Libergier, architect of St. Nicaise of Reims, who died in 1263, gives testimony of the status of these men. His efigy shows him in long robes, holding his staff and surrounded by drawing tools. The status was well-founded. Master masons traveled long distances, advising on buildings, studying architecture, sketching ideas, selecting materials and choosing teams of workers who could carry out their vision. They would be required to know about geology to understand stone, while at the same time, having experience and knowledge of different types of plaster and moulding practices. They would be skilled in drafting to be able to put their ideas to paper, sometimes making intricate drawings of how stones must fit together to form the design. It took a great master to build a great cathedral, as modern scholars can see from the surviving sketches of Milan Cathedral and York Minster. Masons must have been engineers, with knowledge of machines for lifting huge stones. Masons must also have been contractors. Since no man could do everything on a building site, it would be the job of the master mason to hire specialists from the many guilds, including sculptors, masons, carpenters, and laborers. It would also be his job to see to their pay and needs, and then provide accountings to the lord, mayor or church official. It was a job of incredible responsibility.

Whether it was to be a small keep used for defense, a comfortable new castle, or a magnificent cathedral, masons were required to plan monuments that, due to their materials, would leave a nearly-permanent mark on the landscape. Because of the skill of these masters, modern students of medieval life can peek into the past and walk the halls of another time.

Source: John Cherry. Medieval Crafts: A Book of Days.

Copyright © 1997 by Katherine Courtney. All Rights Reserved.

The Legend of Saint Christopher, by Malachi

In the East, Christopher is known as Reprobus, a converted pagan warrior, who died by torture rather than deny his faith. In the West, there is a more elaborate legend: Offerus, a native of third century A.D. Asia Minor, was a very large man inordinately proud of his size and strength. As a young man, he resolved to only serve the mightiest. At first, he served under the emperor, but when he saw his leader sign the cross for fear of the devil, he switched his allegiance to Satan. Seeing the devil later quake in front of the signed cross, Offerus went in search of Christ.

One day, at a deep river ford, a small child approached Offerus. Asked by the child to be carried across the water, he took him upon his back. With each step in the river, the load of the child became more unbearable. Finally, Offerus sank under the weight. The child revealed himself as Christ who carries the entire world in his hands. The Savior further revealed himself by changing Offerus' staff into a palm tree and many conversions were a result. Offerus swore to serve Christ alone and was canonized after his death by beheadment three days later by a pagan emperor. This tale comes down to us from a thirteenth century collection of legends.

After his conversion, Offerus became Christ-Offerus or Christopher which means "Christ-bearer" in Greek. Up to modern times, Christopher was the patron saint of travelers and his feast day was July 15 in the Roman Catholic liturgical calendar. Throughout the Middle Ages, St. Christopher was also known as a saint who protected against natural disasters: fires, floods and earthquakes. In art he is portrayed as carrying the Christ child on his back. The Church dropped the saint from the list of enrolled saints in 1969 due to doubts about the story's authenticity. The tale of Saint Christopher probably originated as an allegory based on the literal meaning of the name in Greek.

The Medieval Scribe, by Milica of Varna

All that have pleasure in this booke to reade,
Praie for my soule, and for all quicke and deade
In the yeare of Christ MCCCC seaventie and seavene
This worke began. Honor to God in heavene.

Colophon at the end of a fifteenth century manuscript

It is to the scribes of the Middle Ages that modern scholars owe a debt of gratitude. Without them, little would be known of the life and times of the people of the medieval world. Before the year 1100, most writing was done in monasteries and collections of manuscripts were kept there. Only the royals or very wealthy had private libraries. Monks were given the job of copying text or of taking dictation that few outside of their walls would ever see. When the demand for books became so great, secular scribes were employed to work under the direction of the monks.

With the rise of the universities in the 13th century, the exclusiveness of books began to change. In university cities such as Paris or Heidelberg, scribes guilds and workshops sprang up, offering cheaper, although by no means inexpensive, written materials. Scribes could be given the commission of something as great as a book or as trivial as a letter. Many were illustrated, although these brought a greater price. Modern scholars know more about the medieval scribes than about other craftsmen of their time since scribes often signed their work in colophons, or inscriptions at the end of a work. Some of these were humorous in that they expressed great relief at reaching the end of the task. It is interesting to note that many were women. Most scribes at this time were clerks or students, working their ways through the university. By the 1300s, few books were being produced in the monasteries.

The work of the medieval scribe required more than putting ink to paper. Most manuscripts were written on parchment or vellum, which took a great deal of preparation. By the 14th century, paper was being made from linen rags on the continent, a process that did not reach England until the late 15th century. Writing implements also required tedious labor. Quills were used, which had to be sharpened repeatedly. It has been reported that a scribe taking dictation in the 12th century kept sixty sharpened quills at hand before he began his project.

Through the work of these men and women, known and unknown, students of the Middle Ages have an idea of the history, common life and the craftsmanship of the time. More than just "beautiful writing," they have given us the essence of their world.

Source: John Cherry. Medieval Crafts: a Book of Days. New York, Thames and Hudson, Inc., c1993. Ed. note. Throughout the next year, with the help of the above text, I will be looking at the arts and crafts of the Middle Ages.

The Saint Hubert Hound, by Ofria Pinkhand

Hubert (656-727), son of the Duc de Guienne, like most nobility of the period, was a happy-go-lucky young man and extremely fond of hunting with dogs.

Two types of hunting dogs were used then. Sight hounds (gaze hounds) were swift, courageous hounds used along with huntsmen on horses to run down and kill large game. Scent hounds were those that tracked smaller game by following its trail through the brush. These dogs were steady and deliberate trackers who routed game back towards the huntsman on foot.

Legend has it that while out during a Sunday hunt, young Hubert was confronted by a stag of great size and bearing between its antlers a golden cross. Hubert apparently devoted the rest of his life to the church, but did not give up his love of hunting. At the monastery he established in the Ardennes, Hubert set out to develop a new strain of scent hound. He brought dogs from the Rhone district of Western France and through selective breeding developed several types of dogs.

By definition a Basset was any dog measuring under 16 inches at the shoulder and a Bloodhound was any dog whose blood ancestry was recorded. The Basset Hounds of Hubert (later St. Hubert -patron saint of the hunt) were described as being mild and obedient. They were black and tan with a heavy noble head, long ears and long bodies with comparatively short and heavy legs. They had wonderfully keen noses and deep melodious voices. The long ears assisted in acting as a fan to blow scent from the ground up to the nose. The short stature gave it the advantage over taller dogs of being capable of keeping its nose to the trail without getting a sore neck and back.

Eventually three strains of Basset were developed- smooth coat, half rough and full rough coated along with variations of crookedness of the leg. All types having devoted followers. All colours were incorporated as the breed spread throughout France.

By searching through English literature, one can find references to the St. Hubert Hound or to hounds of this type, which indicate that these dogs were imported to England as early as the late 13th. century. It is said that James IV of Scotland imported Bassets which were used to rout game, driving the animals into the open. The hunters would then release their swift gaze hounds who would run down and catch their quarry.

Wassail! Wassail!, by Milica of Varna

The celebration of the Christmas season brings most of us together to enjoy customs and traditions that have been passed down for generations. Those of us in the SCA know that many of these traditions go back much further than our American colonial ancestors. The Middle Ages and the Renaissance saw the creation of a number of the customs we hold dear during the Christmas season. The boar's head, the Feast of Fools, the twelve days of Christmas, and Santa Claus are all customs derived from the Middle Ages.

Most of our present day Christmas customs come to us from pagan traditions far older than even the Middle Ages. The holiday as we know it, is an extension of the Teutonic celebration of the Winter Solstice, in which the tribes gathered to light bonfires, feast and honor Father Odin. Still today, in pagan circles, it is the return of the sun that is celebrated at the winter holiday with the use of the evergreen, the symbol of eternal life, and candles, representing the light of the sun. Even the drinking of the wassail has pagan origins. On Christmas Eve, the men of the village often went out into the orchards to "wassail" the trees. If they failed to do so, the trees would produce little fruit the following year. The farmer and his helpers would carry a huge pitcher of cider out to the tree and drink a toast to it three times saying "Here's to thee, old apple tree," or sometimes dip a branch in the cup. Whether this benefitted the trees more than the farmers is not recorded.

Christmas was not observed officially in England until 521 when traditionally King Arthur celebrated the taking of the city of York. As the religion took hold in Europe, Christian traditions replaced the earlier pagan remembrances. Alfred the Great, in the year 878, set aside twelve days for king and serf alike to remember the birth of the Christ Child with food and drink, gambling and hunting, music and pageants. The great halls were opened and all were fed. It was said that Edward IV fed over two thousand people each day over the Christmas season of 1482. It was a very important time for the people of the Middle Ages. The Christmas season was seen as a new beginning, and often kings were crowned and official documents signed during the Christmas season. For instance, Henry II of England became king on Christmas and the Magna Carta was signed by King John during the Christmas season. In contrast, St. Thomas a Becket was murdered in Canterbury Cathedral during the holidays.

The celebration of the Christmas season has brought us many traditions associated with the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. As feasts and merriment became more sophisticated, creative revelers were forced to come up with increasingly more elaborate entertainments. Dancing, caroling, mummers and music of all sorts were standard fare for the Christmas season. The earliest British tragedy, Gorbuduc, was first presented at Christmastime, as were many religious plays and tournaments. The tradition of the boar's head is said to have come into being when a student at Queen's College in Oxford was attacked in the forest by a wild boar. To defend himself, the wily, young man thrust the book he was reading into the jaws of the beast and then cut off its head as a trophy to carry home to his mates. Once established, the boar's head ritual became a custom at the feast when the head cook would carry the roasted dish on a silver platter preceded by a man carrying the very dripping sword which had dispatched the boar.

In the great halls, the Lord of Misrule reigned over the Feast of Fools, often arranged by the lesser clergy. It was the job of Misrule to select the entertainments for the season which often included parodies of the Christian liturgy. Jugglers, bards and enormous feasts were all part of the twelve days of celebration. By the time of HenryVIII and his daughter Elizabeth, celebrations had become so elaborate that entertainers were given garments of gold to wear. Meals often consisted of twelve courses and lasted over nine hours.

But it is with the saintly figure of a third century holy man that most Americans identify the Christmas season. St. Nicholas has become the modern Santa Claus, but his beginnings were far more humble. As Bishop of Myra in modern day Turkey, he worked among the poor and hungry, and developed a reputation as a kind man who ministered to the needy. He is remembered today as Father Christmas, Sankt Nikolaus, or Santa Claus, a giver of gifts and kindnesses. Originally buried in Myra, his remains were removed to the Italian city of Bari during the Crusades, where they are still a popular site for pilgrims.

This year, when you are carving your Christmas bird with your family and friends, think back on some of the traditions that have been cherished and changed over the last two thousand years, and lift a cup in gratitude to those who came before who have made them possible.


Martial Activities

Articles in this section cover youth and adult armoured and rapier combat, archery, and thrown weapons.

Archery Supplies, by Olaf the Grey

Hail and well met, good gentles. This month I intend to present for Your Pleasure, a brief listing of traditional billet and stave suppliers. This should help in your quest for semi-period archery equipment. A grateful nod is given to Traditional Bowhunter and Primitive Archer magazines and the Rialto.

Ambush Archery. Osage orange staves and bows. Free brochure. SASE, Mike Shroger, 10685 Poorman Street SW, Navarre, OH 44662


Three Rivers Archery Supply.

Catalog $2.00. PO Box 517, Ashley, IN, 46705

T and Me. Traditional suppliers. Free catalog. 2370 Edgewater, Pekin, IL 61554.

J&M. Traditional supplies. RD#2, Box 413, Sunbury, PA 17081

Feather Fletch Traditional Archery. Catalog $2.00. RD#2, Box 2172, Bangor, PA 18013.

Allegheny Mountain. SASE for information. RR 1, Box 178, Ulysses, PA 16948.

Sheeauga Arrows. Listing $1.00. Roger Davis, 14748 Idlewood, Newbury, OH 44065

Green Archery. Catalog $2.00. 313 Trexlet Avenue, Kurztown, PA 19530

Black Crow Arrows. RT2, Box 294A, Hedgesville, WV 25427


Robert do Pengraine

(Bobby Patrick), 806 Pickwick, Sheffield, AL 35660-7234

This short listing is by no means complete. If you wish to look at more names, please feel free to see me and I will let you borrow my listings. There are approximately 9-10 pages worth.

Beginning Archery, by Olaf the Grey

Hello and welcome to the first installment of what I shall call the "Archer's Eye." It is my hope to have important archery facts, data, and history here for your Enjoyment in every issue of the Alder Leaf. If not every issue, I'll aim for every other issue. This month, with Pennsic drawing nigh, I would like to address in very Basic terms, "Range Safety and Equipment Inspection."


  1. While on the range, the appointed marshal is the ultimate judge of all matters regarding the shoot.
  2. At any time, anyone noting an unsafe condition, i.e. "persons wandering into the target area or forward of the line (if not noticed by the marshal) can and must call "HOLD" in a loud, clear voice to stop the shoot until the reason for the delay is cleared up.
  3. Always listen for commands from the marshal.
  4. Never assume nobody can be hurt by your arrow. You hold in your hand a lethal weapon that can KILL out to 200 yards! (Source: Queen's Royal Archery Competitions, England.)
  5. Always face the target area when an arrow is loaded into your bow, "even if not drawn." Never turn around on the line with an arrow in your bow.
  6. Only shoot when directed except in open practice, and cease shooting when directed.
  7. And lastly, treat your bow as you would a loaded firearm and use common sense and you will do all right.


During normal use and even in storage, equipment can and does wear. At Pennsic, equipment inspections are a big priority! Some simple things you can do to assure you are ready to shoot are:

  1. Clean your gear after every use.
  2. Wipe your body oils/moisture off the bow and arrow shafts with a dry, soft cloth. This will prevent a buildup of salts and corrosive chemicals from our bodies.
  3. Wipe your equipment down with a soft cloth and nonoily furniture polish. This will prevent the fine wood parts from drying out and splitting or cracking.
  4. Always store your bow in a dry place and rotate the position it is stored in. Even the crankshaft of your car will warp if stored on one side for an extended time, and it is solid steel!
  5. Never store your equipment in your car for an extended time! The heat will warp the wood.
  6. Always use a good bees' wax or bow wax on your string. This will keep the string supple and help prevent fraying and breakage.
  7. Inspect the bow limbs for cracks, splits, and laminate separation. This is done by running your hands over the limbs and feeling for anything out of place, and by visually inspecting each part.
  8. And lastly...Have fun!!!!!

Until next time May your Aim be true and your Shaft fly straight!

Some Archery History, by Olaf the Grey

Greetings and well-met fellow toxiphiles. Today I would like to share a brief story about the importance of the bow in ancient warfare. I will illustrate this by giving an account of the Battle of Crecy, France in 1346 during the Wars of The Roses and the Hundred Years' war.

We in the United States have been greatly influenced by the six-foot-long English Longbow which for hundreds of years was the sole missile weapon of Great Britain's foot-soldiers. England's supremacy as a military nation was predicated on the skill of the foot-soldier armed with the longbow. By law, every male from sixteen to sixty years of age was required to own and practice with the longbow. Price regulation is not a modern innovation. Since England's safety depended on her archers, the price of a good bow was fixed by law so that no individual could plead that he could not afford one. Now that that is out of the way, on to the battle.

During the Wars of the Roses and the Hundred Years' War archers were the elite troops of Great Britain. They were the decisive factor in many a hard-fought battle. At Crecy, France, in the year 1346, the English longbow proved its worth for the first time in Continental warfare.

The English, under Edward III, lay on a forward slope of a hill with their right flank resting on the River Maye at Crecy and their left flank on the village of Wadicourt. Two divisions, or battles as they were called at the time, consisting of a center of dismounted knights and men-at-arms plus two wings of archers, formed the first line. A third division was in reserve. The total force was 3,900 men-at-arms, 11,000 English archers and 5,000 Welsh light troops.

The French, under King Philip of Valois, were in much greater strength, numbering at least 13,000 men-at-arms, 6,000 Genoese cross-bowmen and over 20,000 foot soldiers. The English chose the battle field and were drawn up waiting for the attack. The French host, marching in column, came unsuspectingly upon the English position when they arrived at the village of Estrees. Philip could not control his unruly feudal lords who, instead of deploying and forming for action as an army, attacked piecemeal with their contingent of troops.

The cross-bowmen and archers opened the battle. After a brief contest, the cross-bowmen, outdistanced by the long-bows of the English, were forced to retreat. Through these men, the first line of French knights tried to charge the English men-at-arms. Into this confused mass the English archers shot with deadly effect. As successive bodies of French knights tried to reach the English lines, they but served to increase the number of dead, exposing themselves to the deadly point-blank flanking fire of the English archers.

From the beginning of the battle, there could be but one result. The French army was practically annihilated. It was customary in those days to record only the chivalry who fell in battle. At Crecy, the French loss was 1,542 men, while the English lost but 50.

For the first time, the calvary arm had met its equal. The choice of ground, the massed firepower of the English archers, and the stability afforded by the steady ranks of spearmen made a tactical combination that provided the margin of victory.

As firearms improved, they gradually replaced the use of the bow in English warfare. The forces of Elizabeth were the last in which the bow played an important role. Sadly to say, of all the longbows that were made and used in England, only four examples survive until the present day. Two of these were taken from a ship that sank in the Thames during the reign of Henry the VIII.

SCA Organization and Administration

Articles in this section cover the administrative and organizational aspects of the SCA and its branches.

Event Safety and Security Manual, by Bryn of Celyddon

Mission Statement: It is our duty and responsibility to safeguard the persons and property of the Marche of Alderford and of the guests and participants at our event.

Conduct of Personnel

Security/ Safety (here after referred to as Security) personnel should:

  • Wear designated baldrics while on duty.
  • Be alert.
  • Be able to respond quickly and efficiently.
  • NOT carry any weapons or live steel.
  • Be friendly.
  • Be courteous.
  • Be helpful.
  • Carry a watch or timepiece.
  • Carry a flashlight at night.
  • Keep log book up to date.
  • Show up on time to do your shift.
  • Not be intoxicated or consume intoxicating beverages prior to or during your shift.
  • Be familiar with security equipment.

Security Equipment

  1. Family Radio System. Persons designated to carry a radio shall understand the operation of radios and shall be responsible for them.
  2. National Weather Service Radio. Should be kept at Security Pointe in the "Alert Mode" to scan for weather conditions. If no one can be at Security Pointe then the last person to leave the Pointe will be responsible for carrying and monitoring the radio.
  3. Fire Extinguisher. To operate: 1. Pull pin, 2. Squeeze handle, 3. Aim at base of fire. Keep notation as to where extinguishers are placed around the camp.
  4. Fire Blanket. Used to quench persons/property that are on fire. Pull out of bucket and wrap around burning person/property.
  5. Log Book. All persons shall record time on/off duty and any pertinent events taking place. Remember this is a record of all of Security's activities and it is to be kept up to par. Entries should be made in normal time (AM/PM). Do not use military time.
  6. Flashlights. All nighttime guards are to provide one for their shift.
  7. Timepiece. Watch, pager, clock. All personnel should have one.
  8. Whistles. To be used by Security personnel as secondary communication device to radios.
    ----------- -------------- ------------ 3 long blasts mean "come to me, need help".
    ----------- -------------- 2 long blasts mean "go to Security Point".
    ----------- 1 long burst means "give me your attention"
    NOTE: During heavy combat melees marshals will be using whistles.
  9. Notepads. For recording pertinent information during field work.

Fire Prevention

  1. All flame source (fires, burners, tiki torches, lamps) should have a nearby fire fighting device, e.g. extinguisher, fire blanket, water/sand bucket.
  2. Unattended camp fires should be brought to the attention (politely) of the owner. If the owner cannot be found, inform Security #1.
  3. Bonfires should have multiple fire fighting devices nearby, the more the better.
  4. Security personnel should be familiar with emergency PLAN 6.

Chain of Command

  1. Seneschal
  2. Autocrat(s)
  3. Security #1
  4. Security #2
  5. All other Security Personnel

Emergency Plans

NOTE: It is the decision and responsibility of the Autocrat to contact the Fire Dept. and the Police Dept. No one within Security shall contact these agencies unless so directed by the Autocrat.

  1. Medical Evacuation: In the event that a participant should require or request outside medical evacuation, Security shall inform Security #1. Security #1 shall then inform the Chirurgeon in Charge (hereafter referred to as CinC) and/or Autocrat and/or Seneschal. Security #1 and Security staff will then make arrangements to guide incoming medical personnel onto the site or to have the participant evacuated off site, whichever case may be most practical at the time.
  2. Police Involvement: In the event that it becomes necessary to bring in outside Police authorities Security personnel are to immediately inform Security #1. Security #1 shall then contact the Autocrats and the Seneschal. Security staff will then make arrangements to guide outside authorities on to the site.
  3. Hazardous Weather Condition (HWC): In the event that an HWC (i.e; thunderstorm, heavy rain, tornado watch or warning, lightning) is imminent Security shall inform Security #1. Security #1 shall then inform the Autocrat(s) and the Seneschal. The Herald is also to be contacted to "cry the camp" and alert the populace to the HWC. In the event of a tornado warning the populace (w/ the consent of the Autocrat(s)) shall be evacuated to a predetermined "safe area". The safe area will be predetermined by Autocrat. Evacuation notice shall be carried by the Herald.
  4. Missing Children: In the event that a child becomes lost Security shall immediately inform Security #1. Security #1 shall then inform the Autocrats and the Seneschal. Security #1 shall then issue a "look for a missing child" report to the Herald to be carried throughout the Populace. Security should also send out patrols into the immediate vicinity. If the child is not found within 15 minutes then Security #1 shall inform the Autocrat(s)/Seneschal and then organize volunteer patrols to search the perimeter of the site. If the child is not found after another 15 minutes then Security #1 shall inform the Autocrat(s)/Seneschal and prepare to bring in outside authorities as outlined in PLAN 2.
  5. Neglected Children: In the event that a child has lost their parent or guardian, Security #1 shall be informed. Security #1 shall then inform the Autocrat(s) and the Seneschal. Security #1 shall then issue a "found child" report to the Herald. Security shall stay with the child until relieved by the Autocrat(s), Kid-o-Crat, or Parent/ Guardian.
  6. Fire Emergencies: In the event that the Fire Department must be brought on site to handle a fire, Security shall inform Security #1. Security #1 shall then inform the Autocrat(s) and the Seneschal. Security will then make arrangements to guide Fire Department vehicles onto the site.
  7. Common Disputes: In the event that individuals within the populace should become belligerent, disruptive, violent, or abusive to other persons/property Security #1 shall be informed immediately. Security personnel should take verbal, nonphysical means to stop the individuals' actions. [Bryn's note "Use your head, not your hands".] Security #1 shall then contact the Autocrat(s) and the Seneschal. Security #1, the Autocrat(s), and the Seneschal shall then determine a remedy for the situation.
  8. Unforeseen Events: In the event that something unforeseen and not covered within any of the Emergency Plans should arise. Security #1 shall be immediately informed. Security #1 shall then contact the Autocrat(s) and the Seneschal. Security #1 shall then delegate Security personnel as needed.

EDITOR'S NOTE: This Event Security Manual was prepared by Lord Bryn and his staff for use at our Battle for the Barony Event. It was so comprehensive and well-written that I requested and received Lord Bryn's permission to post it on this site so that other groups could use it as a starting point for their own such documents. Permission is granted to use this material for non-commercial purposes, provided credit is given to the author.

CAUTION: Your local laws, regulations, and ordinances, or policies of your Kingdom or other SCA group, may dictate changes to this document. It is your responsibility to learn the applicable laws in your area, and to tailor this document to your own needs. The author, the webmaster, the Marche of Alderford, and the SCA assume no responsibility whatsoever for your use of this document, since that is entirely beyond our control.

Kingdoms of the Known World, by Ailith Mackintosh

This article was written by Ailith Mackintosh in 1996, and there have been a couple of new kingdoms added since then which are not included here. Still an excellent article, though. Enjoy!   -- Justin

Good day my friends. Have you ever wondered where the names for the kingdoms and some of the principalities in the Society came from? Here is a list compiled from various letters from the Rialto.*

West: Obvious-from the location in the Western United States.

East: Also obvious. However, to add a little spice, notice that the badge of the East, "A tyger passant azure," was chosen because the tyger is a symbol of good luck in Japan (the Far East) and blue is a color associated with good luck in the Middle East.

Middle: Obvious. China was also called "the Middle Kingdom." This was the motivation for the dragon in their arms.

Atenveldt: Aten is an Egyptian god of the Sun. "Veldt" is the Afrikaans word for an arid grassland. This name has the distinction of being the only one derived from a language that did not exist in our period!

Meridies: Latin for South. Apt for a kingdom in the deep South.

Caid: An anacronym for the names of the four founding baronies: Calafia, Angles, Isles, and Dreiburgen. Supposedly also an Arabic word meaning fortress. The crescents and the bordure embattled in their arms refer to this derivation.

Ansteorra: Old English meaning "One Star." Reference to the Lone Star State

Atlantia: A play on the Word "Atlantic." The kingdom is primarily the central Atlantic states.

An Tir: Irish for "the Land."

Calontir: Welsh for "Heartland." The kingdom is in the middle of the US.

Trimaris: Latin for "Three Seas." Florida is bounded by the Atlantic, the Caribbean, and the Gulf of Mexico.

Outlands: Originally "Utanwayard." When that was disallowed, they changed it to "Outlands."

Drachenwald: German for "dragon wood."

And the Principalities:

AEthelmearc: Old English, "noble border." This area was previously known as the Western Marches.

Artemisia: When searching for a name, they tried to find one indigenous lifeform existing in Idaho, Utah, Montana, Wyoming, and Colorado. The most obvious one: the sagebrush, whose Latin name includes "artemesia."

Avacal: unknown

Cynagua: A pun on Spanish for "without water." The principality is in California's central valley, which is a desert.

Ealdormere: Possibly Old English for "ancient sea/lake." This area is bordered by the Great Lakes.

Lochac: A late period map shows an island with this name in the general area of Australia.

Mists: Obvious to anyone who has seen the Bay Area fog.

Nordmark: Swedish (or any of several other related languages) for "northern marche."

Northshield: Refers to the geological land formation known as the Canadian Shield or the Cambrian Shield and also refers to the principality being the "shield" of the Midrealm against possible invaders from the north.

Oertha: A variant spelling (or possible misreading) of the Anglo-Saxon word "eorthe" (earth). It is joked that Oertha is pronounced "where the", as in "where the hell are we?"

Summits: Southern Oregon has lots of mountains.

Sun: The Climate.

My thanks to original writers of these letters: Arval d'Espas Nord, Lady Tireachan, Dorothea of Caer-Myddin, Tangwystyl verch Morgant Glasvryn, Nicolaa de Bracton and comments from Master Talan Gwynek.

* the Rialto is the SCA Newsgroup on the Internet. (

Copyright © 1996 by Kate Soehnlen. All Rights Reserved. Republished by permission of the author.