Kingdom Twelfth Night featured an amazing array of Arts & Sciences activities. Here’s a report on the highlights, submitted by Mistress Arianna of Wynthrope.
At Æthelmearc Kingdom Twelfth Night, in the morning court, the office of Kingdom Minister of Arts and Sciences passed from Mistress Alianor de Ravenglas to Master Fridrikr Tomasson av Knusslig Hamn, assisted by his lady, Mistress Orianna Fridrikskona. Master Fridrikr and Mistress Orianna, both from the Barony of Thescorre, have stated that their goals in the office are to promote the Arts & Sciences within Æthelmearc, expand the opportunities for artists, scientists, and artisans to practice and promote their crafts, and to support the on-going mission of the Æcademy to provide educational opportunities for all of Æthelmearc.
Their Majesties wore some beautiful new clothing to Their Twelfth Night celebration. His Majesty, King Titus, was arrayed in an intricate German Landsknecht outfit with slashed and interlaced breeches in red, black, and white, made by Lady Madeleine de l”Este.
Her Majesty, Queen Anna Leigh, drew all eyes in a beautiful green wool German gown crafted by Lady Teresa Alvarez, who put over 120 hours into embroidering the stunning bodice and sleeves with flowers in white silk. She based the gown on a portrait of Kunigunde Stammbaum der Babenberger from the Babenberg Family Tree triptych at Klosterneuburg Monastery (Hans Part, 1489-1492), shown below. The embroidery on Her Majesty’s gown, farther below, is Lady Teresa’s own design – she used a stylized edelweiss flower because the Babenberg family was from Austria. Lady Teresa was inducted into the Order of the Sycamore at court that evening for her skill in costuming and embroidery.
The Æthelmearc Sylvan Bard Competition
After the morning court, six performers vied for the honor of becoming Sylvan Bard. Pictured below are the competitors along with our Monarchs: Lady Bugga Bilibit, Master Ruaidhri an Cu, Baroness Gwendolyn the Graceful, Her Majesty Queen Anna Leigh, Lady Cairdha Eilis O’Coileain, His Majesty King Titus, Master William de Montegilt, and Lady Aibinn Mhor Inghean Rioghbhardain.
The competition, which was hosted by the outgoing Sylvan Bard, Lady Alianora Bronhulle, and past Sylvan Bard, Don Orlando di Bene del Vinta, featured three rounds. In the first round, entrants were asked to perform a piece on the theme of Courtly Love. All of the bards chose to sing; some did period pieces, others sang filks or original compositions. Then in the second round, the performers were given an hour or two to write a new piece on a theme chosen by the Crown. The competitors gathered in a circle around Their Majesties to learn in secret what that theme would be before going on their way to scribble madly.
Only when the second round performances began was it revealed that the bards were told to write their new pieces on the numerous knightly virtues of… Don Orlando! His birthday had been celebrated only a few days earlier, so Their Majesties bade Don Orlando sit on the steps of the stage so that each bard could perform directly to him.
The competitors were also required to choose a different performance medium from the one they had used in the first round, so for Round 2, most recited poems or told stories, many of them humorous in nature. There was a rhyme improvised on the spot by Lady Cairdha and a “doggerel” by Master William that was greeted with much laughter:
Don Orlando comes from far away
To celebrate with us his natal day,
‘Tis of his knightly virtues I would sing,
But I must choose just one! So says the King.
He sings of courtly love and such,
And eager ladies seek his touch.
Of chastity, Orlando is sans peer,
And so no ladies his amours must fear.
But truly chaste, he does rebuff
Their pleas and sighs and even tears,
Because he knows, though it be tough,
Once a king, always a king,
But once a (k)night is enough.
Master Ruaidhri an Cu then followed. Although he lives in Atlantia, Master Ruaidhri had received permission from Their Sylvan Majesties to join the competition. As he began his second round entry, he said that since he did not have enough time to compose great verse (with an aside of “Damn you, William!”), he’d fallen back on the old Scottish plan of drinking heavily. He then told a story of Don Orlando having taken a vow of temperance, but being gifted with alcohol by an unnamed Baron who Master Ruaidhri admitted was, in fact, present in the room. Baron Gunnar of Endless Hills and Baron Ichijo of Blackstone Mountain, who were sitting together, looked at each other, laughed, and said “That leaves only the two of us…” In the story Master Ruaidhri recounted, the unnamed Baron repeatedly tempted Orlando by sending him gifts of various types of potables, at which the Baron’s wife complained to her husband that Orlando would do the Baron bodily harm for such insults. In the end, though, the unnamed Baron told his wife that it would be fine, as he had put Baron Ichijo’s name on the gifts.
Lady Bugga performed an interpretive dance in honor of Don Orlando’s humility while reciting verse interpersed with singing, for her Majesty Anna Leigh had informed the competitors that she would look with favor on such performances. Indeed, later during a brief intermission in the evening Court His Majesty commanded a round of interpretive dance in the middle of the hall, which was later dubbed a Mosh Pit.
Lady Aibinn told a story of a young man who sought the definition of valor, which he learned was to slay a dragon. So he went to where a dragon was reputed to be, but found only a woman. She told him the dragon was away, but demanded various things of the man before consenting to be “saved. “ This took many years, as each time the man returned the following year with the items she requested, the lady insisted on more, culminating in a requirement for his allegiance. The man then requested her name, which she told him was Valor. As the man swore his fealty, night fell and the lady transformed, revealing herself to be the dragon. The man paused, said, “A knight is sworn to Valor” and completed his oath, at which point the dragon was vanquished, and the lady reverted to human form and departed the dragon’s lair with him forever.
Baroness Gwen then recited a sonnet on the theme of honor, extolling Don Orlando’s skill with both his rapier and his voice:
In January, winter’s frost doth bite;
The wind whips cloak and cuts through woolen hose.
Yet to the season one was born who fights
With blade as sharp as any wind that blows.
It flashes, ever dancing, but fear not,
For honor guides this fencer, and no foe
Could e’er complain of one excessive shot,
But merrily unto their deaths they go.
And afterward, he’ll sing us songs most sweet
Of knights and ladies, love and chivalry,
Or something of less lofty goals, of cheats
And vagabonds, and joyful ribaldry.
Therefore, Orlando, think this no mean trick:
We honor you, and not upon you pick.
At the completion of the second round of the competition, Their Majesties selected three finalists to continue to the third and final round: Baroness Gwendolyn, Master Ruaidhri, and Master William.
Master William sang a humorous filk to the Song of Shield Wall in which a group of men struggled to erect their Pennsic camp’s sheetwall against various impediments, only to finish just as closing ceremonies began. Master Ruadhri performed an original piece called “The Wrath of the Bard” about the perils of offending bards, while Baroness Gwen sang more than twenty spellbinding verses of her own composition about the story of Tam Lin.
After the finals, Lady Alianora announced that Don Braennan MacEarnan, called the Misguided, had arrived at the event too late to compete, but still wished to sing, and Their Majesties granted his request. Don Braennen then performed “Tom O’Bedlam” about the residents of Bethlehem Hospital for the Insane in London. His singing ranged from lyrical to disturbing and creepy as he feigned a variety of mentally ill people, at one point even crawling on the floor. It was a memorable performance.
Their Majesties announced at Court that evening that They had chosen Baroness Gwendolyn the Graceful as Their Bardic Champion. Baroness Gwen was invested with the baldric of her new office.
Their Majesties thanked Their outgoing Bardic Champion, Lady Alianora Bronhulle, for her service, then before she could escape, They seized her and inducted her into the Order of the Fleur d’Æthelmearc for her skill in the bardic arts.
Yet More Arts and Sciences!
In addition to the Bardic competition, there was a performance by the Sylvan Singers of the Shire of Sylvan Glen, directed by Don Orlando di Bene del Vinta. They sang an array of choral pieces including We Be Three Poor Mariners and Since First I Saw Your Face, then were joined by members of the Debatable Choir in performing three Yuletide songs.
At the evening court, Baroness Ekaterina Volkova, Sylvan Signet, announced the winner of the first round of the Scroll Blank Challenge, in which the scribes of Æthelmearc were asked to submit illuminated borders to be used for Kingdom award scrolls. THLord Ishiyama Gen’tarou Yori’ie submitted the highest number of scrolls: 59 painted blanks, all on documented Japanese designs. The Scroll Blank Challenge will continue, with the next collection point happening at the Festival of the Ice Dragon in the Rhydderich Hael on March 21st.
Baron Rauthbjorn Lothbroke won both the Queen’s Choice and the Period Brewing competitions at Twelfth Night. He also contributed to the Taster’s Tavern organized by THLord Madoc Arundel and Lord Kyoshiro Kumagai, working with the Kingdom Brewers’ Guild. The Tavern offered gentles over the age of 21 with ID the opportunity to partake of potables donated by the brewers of the Kingdom. The Tavern was a big hit, and many gentles are looking forward to Debatable Lands Twelfth Night on the 17th when THLord Madoc will host a second such tavern.
Event goers then retired to an elaborate and tasty feast prepared under the direction of three different cooks:
— Master Gille MacDhomnuill was responsible for the First Course (lunchtime);
— THL Byrghida Zajacszowa was in charge of the Second Course (mid-afternoon); and
— Master Thorsten Christiansen Ronnow directed the preparation of the Third Course (evening).
The host of servers needed to serve all this food was ably managed by Baron Meszaros Janos. As the kitchen’s “point person,” Dame Bronwyn MacFhionghuin was responsible for non-cooking duties: keeping track of guests’ food allergies, preparing the feast booklet and table menus, and ensuring the kitchen ran smoothly.
The Children’s Feast was prepared by Lady Maacah Sitt al Galb. For more information on how the feast was designed, see the article “Q&A: Savor the Feast at Twelfth Night, No Waiting!”
Another amazing item that debuted at the Twelfth Night feast was a baldequin designed and built by Baron Robert of Sugar Grove with furnishings by THLady Jacqueline de Molieres.
Congratulations to the Autocrat, Mistress Alicia Langland, and the Shire of Abhainn Ciach Ghlais, for hosting a truly wondrous Twelfth Night!