Agincourt from the French Side

 

We often think of the Battle of Agincourt from the English perspective; Henry V’s St. Crispins Day speech is just one of the mental images that Shakespeare indelibly etched on the history of that event, for better or worse.

By contrast, THL Lorraine Devereaux provides us with a collection of observations by a knight who was there — the French knight, Jehan de Wavrin. (The excerpts are from the book Eyewitness to History, by John Carey)

 

Download (DOC, 31KB)

 

A Ladye’s Guide to Safety at War

With every new year, the War Season is also getting started in the SCA. The Society Calendar boasts of seven Wars and two three-day weekend events to enjoy between February and October. In other words, the party is just getting started!

As we prepare our clothing, armor, and provisions for War, we should also take time to prepare for our personal safety. Now, most of the time, absolutely nothing happens, but a little preparedness and forethought never hurt anyone.

Hopefully the following tips will be beneficial to the less experienced War-traveler and serve as a reminder for the veterans.

Environmental Safety

 

In this instance, I’m talking less about protecting the environment (which is important!) than I am about protecting yourself from the environment. If you’re like me, you may not be a seasoned camper. Of course, SCA camping is the half-sister of glamping once you get your period encampment down, so there’s that comfort! That said, it is sometimes difficult to transition from the comfort of air conditioning, flushing toilets, and running (hot) water. On top of that, it is important that you prepare yourself for the environment’s hazards as well as its discomforts.

Insect protection

Bugs live outside. Most of them are fine when left alone, but, for many of them, you represent a tasty food supply. (To paraphrase Merry: “What do they eat when they can’t get Huscarl?”) The bugs that don’t want a sampling of your blood for their sustenance still pose a nuisance, especially when you open your tent to find it filled with what my family calls “chiggers.” (Tiny flying bugs.)

The first thing I recommend doing when you set up your camp is to sprinkle the ground you intend for your tent with Borax. This will, mostly, keep insects out of your tent. (I think I saw exactly one bug crawling up the inside of my tent wall at Gulf Wars.) I normally pack extra boxes to sprinkle more along the outside of my tent in the event it rains and because friends will ask to use some for their camps.

To protect your person from insects as you go through the day, be sure to pack Deet and/or citronella candles. I personally find that all bugs (especially the bloodsucking ones) absolutely hate tea-tree and lavender oils, so I put several drops of each in a spray bottle of water and liberally spray my family with when we’re going to be walking in fields, etc. The spray bottle also doubles as a room and linen freshener due to the anti-bacterial properties of both oils so it’s well worth having on hand. Also, be sure to have extra tea towels to cover your food with during preparation and try to keep your campsite clean of things like food debris that will attract pests. (Probably not just the insect kind.)

Lavender/Tea Tree Oil formula: mix 30 drops lavender oil two about fifteen drops tea tree oil in a 12 oz spray bottle of water. You can adjust the oil proportions to be stronger depending on need, but most people often find the smell of tea tree repulsive, so I use more lavender to mask it.

 UV Protection

Yes, rays from the sun help the body to absorb vitamin D, but when you spend a week living outside, fighting or water-bearing in no shade, and attending court in shade that doesn’t stand a chance against the angle of the sun, you’ll discover that it’s very different from when you’re only spending a couple of hours on a walk. Sunscreen is your friend. Purchase a waterproof sunscreen and reapply it according to the directions, especially if you go swimming or perspire too much. If you have older children, try to explain sun-safety to them. (Younger children, you can just lather whenever you feel they need it.)

I personally recommend packing a good straw hat or a parasol, and wearing clothes that cover as much skin as is comfortable. (More on that in the next section.)

Also, just because the sun isn’t out doesn’t mean you should skip on sunscreen. On an overcast day, those clouds are acting like magnifying glasses for those UV rays and you are the ant on the sidewalk. That same rule applies to the sun’s reflection on a lake or pool and its magnification in the water when you or your children are swimming.

Heat

This is probably the greatest discomfort at a summer War and, lately, it’s seemed to get worse each year.

They may seem extravagant in cost, but canvas tents are worth every penny in regard to comfort. If cared for properly, they’ll last years, and add to your medieval experience profoundly. They function more as tiny hotel rooms and you’ll have the space for a comfortable air mattress and furniture to make your 7-14 day War experience more enjoyable. Plus: Heat defense!

Canvas breathes better than nylon, preventing build up of humidity inside the tent. Canvas does not transfer heat as quickly as nylon, keeping the tent from becoming unbearably hot as soon as the sun hits it. That also works in reverse in cold weather, keeping warmth in the tent when you want it there.

Next, bring a hand fan, perhaps make a swamp cooler, and bring extra buckets you can fill with ice water to rest your feet in and bring your core temperature down. (Extra points if the buckets don’t look glaringly modern!)

Linen fabric is your friend! It wicks moisture away from your body and when the breeze comes through, the damp-ish fabric acts as a personal air conditioner. Cotton does not do this. As ladies know, dresses are much cooler and provide much more “ventilation” than trousers. At Lilies, my husband wears a tunic that falls beneath his knees, his boxer briefs, and nothing else. (Our medieval counterparts weren’t idiots.) Many people find that Roman and Grecian garb is the most comfortable at foreign wars. As someone who is very photosensitive, I find I’m actually more comfortable in longer sleeves as long as I’m wearing linen. The fabric protects my skin from the sun and I’m no cooler when I wear a mundane t-shirt.

Be sure to drink plenty of water, make your kids drink lots of water, and take breaks as needed. If it gets too rough, go sit in the air conditioning of your car for a little bit or go into town for dinner. If you find you truly struggle with the heat, you can also stay at a local hotel. (There’s no law that you have to camp on site!) This year at Lilies, I will be about seven months pregnant. Fortunately, my Lady Mother lives in the Kansas City metro area, so my husband and I will be commuting to war from her house so that I can have a reprieve from the heat. Ultimately, we all must and should make the best decisions for our own health and our children’s.

Water

Rain likely won’t harm you, but it can destroy your stuff. Keep everything except your bedding in water tight containers and a fresh change of clothes in your car so you have something dry to change into in the event of a storm.

Always set your tent up with the door facing down hill if you’re on an incline. As soon as your tent is set up, dig a small trench around your tent to divert any water flow. (If you do it when you set up, then you won’t have to remember it when it starts raining.)

If you have a canvas tent and it rains during the last couple days of war, set it up in your back yard at home to let the sun dry out the moisture. When you pack a canvas tent that’s damp, you’re creating a moldy environment that will destroy your canvas and turn your comfortable camp home into an allergy and disease trap.

Know Your Plants

Wooded areas can have poison oak and ivy. Be sure to refresh yourself so you can recognize and avoid both.

People Protection

 

In all honesty, this is the section that is the most difficult to write about because people tend to be very strong and vocal in their stances on social issues in the SCA, namely the idea that incidences of crime or personal harm are few and far between and they happen in someone else’s group, not theirs. My goal in this article is to be as neutral and yet as pragmatic as possible.

I’m sure many people can say with me that one thing they love about the SCA is that it can create a culture in which chivalry and honor are more than words we dissect in a college class on Tennyson. There’s a small town culture at war where we end up making stone soups and helping each other set up our camps. That type of community is as real as you and me and I’m very grateful for it. However, equally real is the reality that humans are flawed and at war (especially the larger ones like Gulf Wars and Pennsic) there is going to be a larger crowd of people you have never met, when you meet them, you will both be wearing clothes you would not normally wear, and you will give each other false names. (Some gentlemen will even give a false SCA name in certain sensitive situations. Especially if your father is a hard-hitting knight.) This situation in itself is not inherently, but can potentially be, problematic. Moreover, at War, especially Pennsic, you’re more likely to encounter non-SCAdians who are there to let their weird out and may have a very different moral compass or idea about what actually is an SCA event.

That said, SCA Wars are events where you will find yourself making new friendships and deepening current ones. To keep the bad incidences few and far between, and something that doesn’t happen to you, I’ve posited the following recommendations.

Follow the Site Rules

Fully follow them. The event stewards are aware of possible environmental hazards and make the rules accordingly. Their instructions should be your first go-to at any event.

Valuables

I highly recommend leaving your non-SCA related valuables at home. It’s less likely that your belongings could be stolen at an event than it is that you could simply lose them in the zoo of activity that is an SCA war, not to mention all of Mother nature’s greenery surrounding your camp. Chains break, rings slip off, pockets and pouches get holes in them, and, in our haste to pack and beat the storm out of camp, we can knock things over and lose them.

(Truly, I have, personally, left my basket unattended more times than I can count and my items were all left undisturbed. Usually when a possession walks off, it’s because someone mistook your item for theirs due to similarity and it’s often promptly returned.)

In regards to jewelry, some women invest in a “medieval” wedding ring, not only to avoid being blatantly modern, but so that they don’t risk losing their nicer, more expensive jewelry at an event. Not many modern jewelry items look medieval, so leaving them at home kills two birds with one stone.

Thanks to modern technology, it is no longer necessary to bring copious amounts of cash for spending money to war since most vendors are equipped to accept debit and credit card payments. Even if they can’t, you can always ask them to put the item on hold while you go into town and use the ATM. I recommend bringing only enough cash to pay gate, pre-pay the Broken Harp at Lilies, and have maybe $50 for petty cash. Keep your wallet with you at all times like you normally do and you
should be fine.

I keep most of my belongings, aside from furniture, in my tent at all times to prevent them blowing away, etc. This includes coolers because I currently don’t have a period box covering and cover it with a blanket. Again, I truly feel that the most common culprit of property loss at a War are the elements, but having your belongings in your fabric house will make it more difficult for someone to simply walk off with them, especially in a crowded camp.

Coolers Et Al

If you’re concerned about opening up your cooler and finding that your supply has been depleted, simply keep your cooler into your tent. Now, I have never encountered a problem with this happening, but, if you’re camped in close quarters and it’s dark, coolers all start to look alike, especially if one is a little tipsy and there’s late night revelry going on. It’s not uncommon to for a gentle to say to their friend, “Just grab a beer from my cooler, it’s the blue one around the corne,” and it’s possible that the friend may get something from the wrong person’s cooler by mistake. Also, teenagers sometimes do stupid things like purloin beer when no one is looking. If you install a lock on any of your gear and have it in plain site, less upright people might assume you have something more valuable in there than Woodchuck, so I don’t personally recommend it unless truly necessary.

Personal Safety

This issue probably pertains to women more than any other group, simply due to a dark, internal force that has afflicted humanity since its beginning. This is especially true for single women (including single mothers) and lesbian women because the male figure of a boyfriend or husband acts as a built-in protector and deterrent for predators.

Yes, there is an honor system in the SCA, but, statistically speaking, not everyone at an SCA event is likely to ascribe to that. For better or worse, it is very easy, in an environment of knights touting honor, to become too comfortable and let our guard down too much in a group that is equally mixed with strangers as well as friends. High morals are preached in churches and yet scandal still occurs because it’s impossible for a group to be immune to the plights of humanity when it is populated by humans; therefore, we must simply continue to do unto others and utilize our best judgement

First of all, always have a buddy system and avoid traveling away from the crowd alone at night. Single persons, especially women, present an easier target for predators. If you’re camping alone, you should be able to find a social group to tag along with and it wouldn’t hurt to have pepper spray on your person like you do (or should do) at home.

Secondly, get your own drinks and keep them in your hand at all times. Yes, the handsome fighter or flirty lady is being very kind to offer and I’m sure they won’t do anything, but it’s better to be safe than sorry. Many a woman (and the occasional man) has lost track of her (or his) drink at a party and found herself in unfortunate circumstances.

On that same vein, have a care of whom you accept drinks from. If the person offering has been going around with a bottle filling everyone’s cups with samples of their wares, enjoy! However, if someone hands you a cup and says, “Hey, you should try this,” and you haven’t seen them drink from it themselves, reply, “Thanks, but I think I might be getting a cold and I wouldn’t want you to catch it,” or “Thank you, but my head won’t forgive me in the morning if I switch drinks.” Again, the person offering probably has no malicious intent, we share drinks a lot in the SCA, but it’s better to exercise a little caution than not. If anything, it may help you avoid catching the [Insert Event Name] Plague.

Thirdly, male escorts are galant and should be applauded, but try to stick to your girlfriends unless you know the gentleman very well. However, please accept an escort you know you can trust at night. As mentioned earlier, a male presence can deter predators, but always try to travel in groups. It will not set feminism back one inch and we’re all trying to make our way in a world that is sometimes perilous and we should be there to help each other.

The writer is aware that, statistically, the majority of sexual assault victims are attacked by people they know and in familiar environments; however, that fact does not change the pertinence of the given advice, even if the premise of the hypotheticals presented here assumes that assailants will be strangers.

None of us want to be or want to see our friends in a position, to put it delicately, of being in the wrong section of a statistic. While there are instances that simply cannot be helped despite our best efforts, our best efforts are still worthwhile.

Child Safety

The Ministry of Youth is here to make the SCA fun, accessible, and appealing to your children so they won’t fight you every time you go to an event. It is not a baby-sitting service and you should not leave your children there unattended for extended periods as a courtesy to the volunteers.

We often see children wandering independently through site at war and the rule of thumb is to be sensible: give your children the liberty they’ve proven they can responsibly handle, no more, and be sure to dog tag your kids in case they get separated from you for some reason. There are lots of parents and kind-hearted people at events who will stop and help a distressed child separated from their family should that happen; however, having been a helping adult in that situation, it’s difficult when children are too young to explain to whom they belong, so identification helps.

Be sure to read the site rules regarding minors carefully as each event can differ greatly depending on the group, the site, and even the event steward.

When it comes to toddlers, I find that a good, long belt makes a nice leash to keep them out of places you don’t want, them like list fields and pottery shops.

Be Your Brother and Sister’s Keeper

 

The small-town community works when the people within it look out for one another. If you see a child that seems lost, take a moment to stop and ask, rather than assume everything is alright. If your girlfriend is clearly enjoying Bacchus’ gift surrounded by people not in your group, check in to make sure she’s in control of her faculties and maybe watch her out of the corner of her eye to see how the situation develops. Offer something to drink to visitors in your camp: it’s part of chivalry and courtesy and vital in the heat. Close your neighbors tent doors and tighten their ropes if it starts raining while they’re wandering site… Simply put, follow the Golden Rule. That’s what makes our community safe and strong.

SCA Wars are wonderful events: rarely are such compendiums of classes available or so many activities at other venues. They’re the places where the Middle Ages can truly come to life and where friendships, even marriages, are forged. Some of the best friends you may ever have, you’ll meet at War and the warmth of human kindness will touch and inspire you. This missive is not intended to undermine the “magic”, but to protect it and preserve it from being spoiled for even one person by a negative experience.

Have a great War!

The Battle of Hastings

/551px-Bayeux_Tapestry_scene57_Harold_death.jpg” width=”551″ height=”480″ /> “Here King Harold is slain”

On this day the Battle of Hastings was fought.

The battle lasted all day, unusual for this time, and both sides had approximately 7000 men.  Most scholars agree that, if Harold had waited a few days while more of the fyrd and nobles gathered to his banner, he would have had a much better chance of defeating William.

The outcome changed English history, but even more it changed the English language. It marks the effective end of the Old English period, and the beginning of the Middle English period.

You can view the entire Bayeaux Tapestry here ( you will need to enlarge it in most browsers )

 

Historical Body Mechanics of Walking

This is a very interesting video on Medieval body mechanics, particularly how the prevalence of turn shoes before about 1500 means people walked very differently than we do today.  The speaker relates this to historical images, including the I.33 fencing manual.

Disaster Relief for Victims of Hurricane Harvey

Detail from the Hunterian Psalter, Glasgow University Library MS Hunter 229 (U.3.2) circa 1170. Public domain in the US

Detail from the Hunterian Psalter, Glasgow University Library MS Hunter 229 (U.3.2) circa 1170. Public domain in the US

The Disaster Relief Coordinator for the Kingdom of Ansteorra has provided the following information regarding donations to assist victims of Hurricane Harvey.


Greetings from Ansteorra!

As everyone knows, we have been visited by Hurricane Harvey. It has ravaged our coastline and many of our Baronies and Shires in that group have taken over 20” of rain with more on the way. Many people have evacuated, and some are still in the process of being evacuated. It will be some time before we know the full extent of the damage Harvey has left.

At this point, we are going to limit donations to gift cards, cash, and PayPal donations. Once people have returned to their homes and begun to assess the damage, we will begin to start a list (physical and Amazon wish-type) of “stuff” that needs to be replaced, but we will only do that once the rain has stopped, Harvey has left, and they have a place to put it.

The only monies in the PayPal account are relief funds. Any cash received will be added to the PayPal account for accounting/accountability purposes. It is not an SCA-affiliated account, nor are the donations tax deductible. All monies need to be given by individuals to help those who want to help those affected. All donations will be used to help the affected, and any excess money (after the tornado, we split all monies equitably, and I foresee this being the same situation with no excess) will be given equally to Red Cross, Salvation Army, TX Food Bank, and the Humane Society.

We could also use gift cards to help fill immediate needs and help with clean-up. The best gift cards are Generic Visa/MC, Wal-Mart, Target, Home Depot, Lowe’s, HEB, PetCo, and other big box stores.

Donations can be sent to the PayPal address AnsteorraTwister@gmail.com.

Mail (and gift card) donations can be sent to me:
Brandy Merrell
629 Unbridled Lane
Keller, TX 76248

I will send them on to where they will be most helpful.

Anyone can feel free to contact me for more information or clarification: Brandy.Merrell@gmail.com.

In Service,
Lady Marion inghean ui Ruanadha
DRC Ansteorra

Aid for Ansteorran victims of Hurricane Harvey

The Disaster Relief Coordinator for the Kingdom of Ansteorra has provided the following information regarding donations to assist victims of Hurricane Harvey. Greetings from Ansteorra! As everyone knows, we have been visited by Hurricane Harvey. It has ravaged our coastline and many of our Baronies and Shires in that group have taken over 20″ of…

Volunteer Management in the SCA

THL Konstantia Kaloethina, reposted with permission:


Men harvesting wheat, Queen Mary's Psalter, circa 1310. Public domain in the US

Men harvesting wheat, Queen Mary’s Psalter, circa 1310. Public domain in the US

One of the responsibilities of holding an office in the SCA is the proper care and feeding of volunteers. By managing your volunteers appropriately, you engender a sense of joy and fun, and encourage those volunteers to excel. This reduces the need for turnover, and allows others to grow from within the group. Additionally, in an all-volunteer organization, learning to manage people so that they keep coming back is so very important to retention, which the Society Seneschal, among others, has recognized as an ongoing project for the Society. This article will discuss ways to manage volunteers as a volunteer yourself, handle volunteers dealing with explosions of life, and will give a few resources.

The SCA is a volunteer organization. Full-stop. Everyone, from the members of the Board of Directors, to the royals of the twenty kingdoms, to the gentle with their bare AoA, is a volunteer. As a volunteer yourself, please remember that when managing your volunteers, that they have lives outside the SCA. Volunteers can and will walk away as their life demands. This is not meant to scare away other volunteers, but rather to serve as a caveat to the permanency of your volunteers. Commitment is treasured. Create a cause and a passion and a sense of fun for your volunteers to participate in – for here’s where your volunteers will want to stick around. Also, as a volunteer leader, be willing to get dirty and to work closely with your volunteers. It is one thing to direct from on high – it is something completely different to work alongside your volunteers in a true sense of servant leadership.

Communicate clearly and often. In many ways, being visible and active helps keep volunteers motivated and excited. Consider sending emails, posting on your group’s message board, or a quick message using the social media site of your choice. Spreading a wide net of communication means that your volunteers know that you are active and willing to answer questions and to address concerns. Be prompt with your answers to questions. Even if you don’t know the answer immediately, a response of “I’m not sure, but I’ll keep looking,” is still an acceptable response. If something makes you angry, step away for no less than twenty-four hours before crafting a response. Wait another eight hours (at least) before sending it. Showing patience and grace is key.

For new volunteers, be excited when a person is ready to take on the mantle of an office or joins in on a project. Encourage them. Check in on them outside of reporting or event planning time. Suggest they join (and ask questions) on the various unofficial groups (heralds, A&S activities, etc.) Invite them, specifically, to events such as retreats, A&S nights, or to fighter practice. Keep things fun. Consider gifting inexpensive items that may help them on their path [1]. Open lines of communication are one of the best ways to keep the excitement up and volunteers interested in doing their job.

Mid-level SCAdians often look for a place within the Society to learn more things. If they’re looking for new things to learn, have a conversation with them. Encourage them to take on positions that are well-suited for them or ones you could see them growing into, especially if you are in a position (e.g. Regional, Kingdom, or Society level) to do so. Even as group officers, this is a perfect time to get mid-level SCAdians involved in the process of being a group officer if they haven’t. Consider taking them on (if they’re amenable) as a deputy, with consent of your senior officer.

SCAdians who have been around a while are often self-directed. People who have held your job before you will be your eyes and ears, as well as your resources. Lean on them as much as you can for help.

Thanking your deputies, both publicly and privately, is so very important. As you are not the Crown, you cannot directly award AoAs or awards as such. However, being prompt with writing award recommendations to the Crown can help your deputies feel recognized for their time. Write thank you notes, messages on Facebook, or an email. Tell them that they matter to you. Thank your deputies and those who pitch in and help out consistently.

Don’t try to control every part, however small, of the activity or your deputies or the people you directly lead. Much like in a professional work environment, people do better when they’re given the responsibilities and support to do their jobs. They thrive. Let your SCAdians do the same. Check in with them at events, talk with them, but let them do their work.

Most volunteers (new, old, and in between) are content to do the job, and want to do it well. On the flip side, however, sometimes volunteers are struggling to do their jobs well. Burnout occurs. Modern life gets messy. Attacks of life happen. If those things happen to one of your volunteers, talk with them first. Make sure their modern lives are okay.

Talk with your volunteer, either by phone call or a meeting at an event. Let them know that while they have made a commitment to serve, their modern life takes precedence over the SCA. If they need to take a break, allow them to do so and to step away with grace. After all, a broken vessel cannot serve. Supporting your volunteers when their modern lives are less than stellar helps them feel cared about, and they’re more apt to come back after their life returns to more normal circumstances. Follow your phone or face-to-face conversations up with emails to them.

However, there are times when burnout happens, sometimes, and can sometimes manifest in less than positive directions [2]. If the undesirable behavior or action continues after you’ve initially talked with your deputy or volunteer, then it’s time to start setting an action plan in place. Be fair, compassionate, but also firm. Start small (a warning, if the officer is just not doing their job; or perhaps a conversation to see what the real issues are if they just seem “off” and unlike themselves) before going to a thermonuclear detonation (replacement or further sanctions). Document everything. Email your deputy to remind them of their commitment and of your conversation. Again, be firm, but fair. Firing a deputy right away can scare potential deputies from filling in.

Lastly, if the deputy still is not doing their job, remove them from office, replace them (if you can get the blessing of the previous deputy, this will go a long way), and while not indicating the reason for the changeover, publicly thank the previous deputy for their service and welcome the new one.

Example: A volunteer has an attack of life and cannot do their job with any frequency, but promises that they’ll get around to it as soon as they can. A month passes, and still their job is not getting done. As a result, it is affecting the ability for your group to get the bigger job complete. After a meeting via phone call or in person, where it is discussed that the job needs to be done by the volunteer, the rest of the boundaries and expectations for the job/position are laid out in detail. Follow this up with an email detailing the issue and the detailed plan as soon as possible. Check in with the volunteer by checking in on their activities. In the event that the job is still not getting done, you may wish to speak with the deputy again by phone or in person, and put together an action plan (the activity needs to be completed by a particular date, or else replacement will occur) will need to be put together. Again, an email should be sent to them detailing what the action plan is, and what needs to happen. Lastly, if the deputy still is not doing their job, remove them from office, replace them quickly, and while not indicating the reason for the changeover, publicly thank the previous deputy for their service and welcome the new one.

Want more resources on volunteer management? Check out how other non-profits manage their volunteers. Sources like idealist.org, nonprofithub.org, and even the United Way have their best practices listed. While not everything will apply to the SCA, it is a good base to start with.

In closing, the SCA is a much more welcome and friendly place when our officers do what they can to make their own environment welcoming and friendly, and when your volunteers are happy with their work within the Society, it shows.

—————————————–
Footnotes

1. For example, one of the things I gave to brand new heralds as a newcomer’s gift from their Principal Herald were mini-packs of Crayola Pipsqueak markers, which were purchased at Dollar General for $1.50 a pack, which both helped them in designing their heraldry, but came in handy at consult tables. If you are an A&S Minister, items such as string, beads, extra fabric, paint, or items to make more stuff with may help.

2. The following section is more for those officers/volunteers who have hiring/firing capabilities. (Event Stewards, Territorial Baronages, Principality or Kingdom Officers, etc.) Again, most volunteers excel at their jobs and do a tremendous job of keeping the SCA in their part of the Knowne World running.

Volunteer Management in the SCA

One of the responsibilities of holding an office in the SCA is the proper care and feeding of volunteers. By managing your volunteers appropriately, you engender a sense of joy and fun, and encourage those volunteers to excel. This reduces the need for turnover, and allows others to grow from within the group.

Calontir Customs: Vigils

As practiced in A.S. 51, by HL Vǫlu-Ingibiǫrg

A vigil is a time set aside for a peerage candidate to listen and reflect.  (A peerage candidate is someone who has been announced in court as deserving a peerage, but not yet been through the elevation ceremony which usually takes place during a later court.)  

Royalty and all peers who wish to do so will gather to “put someone on vigil,” which involves taking the candidate to a tent or room and having some private, secret ceremony.  (Rumor has it that this involves shaved flaming baby ducks.  I do not know, and no one who does is allowed to talk about it.)  In reality, I’ve been told the secrecy is so that the ceremony feels special and thought-provoking to the candidate.  A laurel-candidate told me he felt this part brought “a connection to peers you didn’t know you were part of.”

After this initial mini-ceremony ends, the peers will disperse, and the second phase begins.  (This phase is sometimes jokingly called “trial by conversation.”)  The candidate will sit in the tent, usually for at least six hours (more if it’s an overnight vigil), and receive visitors.  (This has some root in the medieval idea of instruction during preparation for a knighting ceremony.)  The royals will generally be the first to visit; in the meantime other folks will begin arriving.  

You do not need to be high-ranking, or even friends with the candidate, to speak with him or her.  The only thing you need is to have something to say to the individual sitting vigil.  Some people will go to express appreciation for the candidate’s skill or hard work; some to offer congratulations, warning, or advice.  I was told by a candidate that for him, these visits further deepened the feeling of inclusiveness, of Calontir as an “us.”

If you wish to speak to the candidate, either by yourself or with someone who agrees to go in with you, head to the area near the vigil tent or room, find the person with the waiting list, and ask to be added.  Depending on how early you arrive, and how talkative the people ahead of you are, it may be quite some time before you are called.  If you’re a ways down the list or need to go do something, you can leave; traditionally, if your name comes up before you get back, you will go next after your return.  

If you can see into the vigil tent and no one else is there, someone is probably fetching the candidate water or food.  Do not go in without being called; there is always a waiting list, and it’s usually long.

While you’re waiting, try the tidbits at the nearby vigil table.  Hospitality was an important concept in the middle ages, so vigil foods (snacks) are prepared or obtained by the candidate’s friends, intended to honor the candidate by refreshing visitors.  Food that is tasty, period, and matches the candidate’s interests will impress visitors.  Also in this area, someone will likely have a book where you can write a message for the candidate, whether or not you plan to speak to her or him.  The great number of visitors can blur things together in a candidate’s mind, so leaving a note in the vigil book may be a good idea.

Once you are called in, there is no special ceremony or format to observe—nothing you’re particularly supposed to say or do.  A visit may take five to ten minutes, or less if you’d like.  Speech with someone sitting vigil is a short snippet, or distillation.  Follow the candidate’s lead, but keep in mind that you can always catch the individual later for an extended conversation.  Take more than fifteen minutes, and you’ll likely seem greedy.  (Remember: there is always a waiting list, and it’s usually long.)  When you leave, the candidate will thank you for the visit, and sometimes will give a personalized token.  (e.g. Francis, a metalworker, gave fire-starting flints.)

Afterward, go enjoy the rest of the event.  The candidate will usually be elevated at court at the end of the day he or she sat vigil.  Some participants in the elevation ceremony will speak softly, so you’ll want to sit close in order to be able to hear.  Get there early!

Five Decades of Art History from the Metropolitan Museum of Art Now Free

The Metropolitan Museum of Art has made available over 450 publications on art history, stretching back over 50 years. The publications appear to be available as downloadable PDF files,  viewable online (Google Books) or print on demand.  http://www.metmuseum.org/art/metpublications/titles-with-full-text-online?searchtype=F&rpp=12&pg=1

 

Book titles with full text online | MetPublications | The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Over 450 full-text art books by The Metropolitan Museum of Art available to download and read online for free.