Mistress Arianna of Wynthrope reports on the multitude of goings-on that took place at Æthelmearc War Practice.
This year’s Æthelmearc War Practice, hosted by the Canton of Steltonwald on May 14 – 17, was slightly dryer and much warmer than last year, leading to good fighting and fun. As always, the event was packed with both martial and peaceful activities.
Heavy combat kicked off Friday with the Gage Meet ‘n’ Beat, which saw participants testing their mettle against the members of the Kingdom’s Grant level award for fighting. The weather was warm but pleasant and fighters enjoyed the opportunity to learn from some of the best unbelted fighters in the Kingdom.
On Saturday morning, the 10-man unbelted melee tournament had six teams fight a round-robin competition that was won by members of the household of Woodland Watch, who were undefeated. Afterward, Woodland Watch’s 10-man team fought a melee against the Chivalry.
Video courtesy of Baron Richard Larmer
Later there were bridge battles and open field battles with the Kingdom Warlord, Sir Steffan Ulfkellson, devising training scenarios for the fighters. About 150-175 fighters participated in the day’s combat, which ended with pickup fights just before the afternoon rainstorm hit.
On Sunday morning a group of about 20 fighters braved the rain to compete in the Kingdom Rattan Champion’s Tourney. Once two simultaneous round robin tournaments were done, there were two semi-finalists from each list: Sir Thomas Byron of Haverford, Baron Vladisla Nikulich, THLord Tegrinus de Rhina, and Sir Ariella of Thornbury. After defeating Baron Vlad, Sir Byron ended up facing his wife, Sir Ariella, in the finals, since she had bested Lord Tegrinus. This led to much amusement by the populace, including a few slightly ribald jokes, but the finals were fiercely fought.
Video by Mistress Arianna of Wynthrope
Sir Byron ended up the winner and was proclaimed Kingdom Champion, accepting the regalia from the outgoing Champion, Sir Arnthor, who had been knighted the previous morning.
Friday night offered a rapier tournament called “There Can Be Only One.” This Highlander-themed tournament debuted at Ian’s Inn in the Shire of Ballachlagan two years ago. At War Practice, six teams of two fought a round-robin style tournament. As the sun faded over the hills, one team remained undefeated: Master Lodovick of Grays Inn and his cadet, Lord Jacob of Dunmore – but there could be only one! These two then had to fight each other in two out of three passes with the only killing blow being a cut to the neck. Master Lodovick won the tournament.
Saturday had roughly 40 fencers from four different kingdoms participate in various melee scenarios that were loosely based upon battles and skirmishes of the Great Pilgrimage, later to be known as the First Crusade. The warm up scenarios consisted of last man standing open field battles which represented the advancement to Constantinople and Emperor Alexius’ forces attempting to slow them down. This was then followed by a regicide battle where opposing forces had unlimited resurrections to attack and defend the unarmed “kings.” Later the Siege of Nicea, a dispute over the Orontes River, made for an interesting tower and bridge battle where the fencers attacked and defended bridges full of choke points and kill pockets.
After lunch, the fencers reconvened with some capture the flag scenarios. After six hours of rapier battles the fencers dropped with smiles on their faces. The marshal in charge, THLord AElric Ravenshaw, reports, “There were no major issues in calibration and all kingdoms involved celebrated with great camaraderie.”
Many fencers also attended the vigil for Don Orlando di Bene del Vinta, where he “Played the Prize” for his Master of Defense.
Another item of note on the rapier field: Lord Durante de Caravaggio challenged Don Mark le Gabler for the Sylvan Iron Ring and won the fight along with possession of the ring. The Iron Ring passes from fencer to fencer; the current holder may be challenged by another fencer at any time, and if he or she loses, the ring passes to the winner. Don Mark held the ring from July of A.S. 49 until Lord Durante won it from him this past weekend. The Iron Ring Challenge was created in 2006; you can see a list of the holders here.
The Kingdom Youth Champion’s tournament drew a dozen enthusiastic and energetic fighters ranging in age from 6 to 14. Thanks to King Timothy, the youth fighters had the honor of fighting within the same list barriers as had been used at Crown Tournament two weeks earlier. The youth fighters were the second group to ever use these new list railings and flags, which were made by members of the Shire of Hartstone as a gift to the Kingdom.
After round robin tournaments for division 1 and divisions 2 and 3 combined were completed, the finalists were Ian and Henry in the division 1 list and El Tigre and Ulf in the division 2/3 list. The finals were fought best two of three, with Henry and Ulf proving victorious.
Ian vs. Henry in the Division 1 Finals, which were won by Henry. Photo by Arianna.
After the tournament, Her Majesty Queen Gabrielle gave each fighter a token, and recognized El Tigre for his chivalry with a ring from her finger, while the marshal in charge, Mistress Arianna of Wynthrope, bestowed her token for chivalry on Aodhan. All of the populace observing the tournament marveled at the courtesy and camaraderie of the youth list. Youth fighting was capped with melees that included throwing axes and javelins.
Mistress Arianna wishes to thank all of the marshals and MoLs who assisted with the youth tournament: Sir Thorgrim, Lord Peregrine, Lady Ceindrech, Lord Aodhan, Lord Weasel, Lord Brillo, THLady Zoe, Baroness Elizabeth, and Baron Rodrigo, as well as the list runners, Lady Ida and the young girl whose name was, alas, not recorded.
Thrown weapons marshal Lord Aidan Gunn reports that the thrown weapons range was pretty laid back this year, with about 20 to 25 throwers over the course of the event, of which 8 were new people who came to the range for the first time. There were 2 spear targets and 7 wood butts available for throwers. One of the wood targets met its demise at the edge of a heavy axe, cracking down the middle with the first throw and finally splitting in half.
Lord Aidan wishes to thank Lord Haldor Bildrr, Lord Robert Bakere, Master Charles of Alden, and Leo and Collin from the East Kingdom for their help on the range.
The Archery range, run by Maistir Brandubh O Donghaile, offered several challenges at which the winners got their choice from the cooler of delicious things. The range was open Thursday afternoon and all day Friday and Saturday.
Around 80 archers participated across the weekend. The afternoon rains did scare many archers away, but youth archer Bijon of Sylvan Glen stayed through the rain to complete his challenge for the opportunity to raid the goody box. The grass was short but still ate up arrows, so many sad archers left the range with quivers much lighter than when they arrived.
Arts & Sciences
The event also featured over 40 classes on topics as diverse as fiber arts, blacksmithing, music, illumination, costuming, and equestrian arts. Some of the more interesting class titles included “Poisons! Assassins!,” “So You Think You’re Japanese in Court,” and “20 Songs That Should Be in Your Bard Book.”
On Saturday afternoon, numerous gentles displayed their creations in the Great Hall, including the entries shown below. Those who could do so stayed to educate the populace on their arts; perhaps the most interesting was THLord Ambros Kyrielle, who taught those stopping by his display how to draw the labyrinths that he famously creates in chalk all over the pavement of Cooper’s Lake at Pennsic.
In a short court Friday evening, King Timothy and Queen Gabrielle sent Baron Robert of Sugargrove on vigil for the Laurel and THLord Arnthor inn Sterki on vigil for Knighthood.
Saturday began with a brief morning court where Don Orlando di Bene del Vinta was sent to “Play the Prize” for his Master of Defense, while Their Majesties bestowed Æthelmearc’s fourth Writ for the Order of Defense upon the Kingdom’s Rapier Marshal, Baron Benedict Fergus atte Mede.
As the final piece of business at morning court, THL Arnthor was knighted on the field to the acclaim of the populace.
At Saturday evening court, Their Majesties welcomed Brennan, the newly invested Crown Prince of the East, who presented gifts to the King and Queen. Prince Brennan also warmly greeted Prince Tindal, as they had become friends during their last reigns. Their Majesties bestowed Golden Alces and Sycamores on numerous deserving gentles, and invested Their new Youth Combat Champions, Henry and Ulf, thanking Their outgoing Champions, Stephen and Otto, for their service.
Baron Robert of Sugargrove was elevated to the Order of the Laurel for his skill in woodworking, making the Kingdom thrones, and Don Orlando di Bene del Vinta was inducted as Æthelmearc’s second member of the Order of Defense.
The surprise of the night was when Their Majesties called forward Mistress Cunen Beornhelm and presented her with a Writ of Summons to the Chivalry, which his Majesty remarked that he had wanted to do for many years. Once elevated, Mistress Cunen will become Æthelmearc’s third female knight.
After Kingdom Court, the Baron and Baroness of the Debatable Lands, Liam and Constance, held a brief baronial court where they inducted several deserving gentles into baronial orders, and then announced to their populace’s sadness that they will be stepping down as Baron and Baroness next winter. The baronial election process will begin with nominations in June.
As always, Sunday featured the Pick-a-Prize Raffle run by House Tuatha Fieran with proceeds to benefit the kingdom, and breakfast was served both Saturday and Sunday mornings in the Great Hall by members of the Shire of Gryffyn’s Keep.
Sunday morning’s rain gave way to sun so event-goers were able to pack their tents in reasonable comfort, happy to have experienced a fun event courtesy of the Autocrat, Lady Cionaodh Gunn, and her enormous staff of volunteers.
This report was compiled with assistance from a great many people, including THLord AElric Ravenshaw, Maistir Brandubh O Donnghaile, Master Fridrikr av Knusslig Hamn, Lord Aidan Gunn, and all of the photographers credited above.