The Coronation of Byron and Ariella is less than three weeks away! Mistress Arianna of Wynthrope interviewed the Prince and Princess to help you learn more about them and their plans for their upcoming reign.
Your Highnesses, please tell us something about your SCA careers and your personas.
We joined the SCA in 1996, shortly after moving to Pittsburgh to pursue our careers. We both started immediately into fighting, but Byron also had an interest in period board games (for which he received his AoA), and Ariella tried multiple arts like candle-making, furniture-making, and clothing. We took a step back from the SCA for 6 years when our children were born, but we never stopped going to events. During that time, we also began plans for our dream house, in which we now live. When our youngest child was 2 years old, we began to participate more heavily, and in 2007, we were elected as the 6th Baron and Baroness of the Debatable Lands. We held that position for 5 Pennsic Wars, after which we both began to focus more on our heavy weapon skills. Byron was knighted in 2012, and two years later, Ariella became the second female knight of Æthelmearc. We have 3 children: Joshua (age 17), Leah (15), and Ian (13). While they do not share their parents’ passion for medieval recreation, we enjoy having them with us at events.
Throughout our time in the SCA, we have been focused on the high middle ages in Western Europe. Specifically, we live along the Southern coast of England in the midst of the Hundred Years War. After successful tours in France, we returned home with the spoils and asked young King Richard for permission to crenellate our castle to defend against French pirates. It is now 1385, our castle is complete, and we remain at home telling our children tales of our exploits in the Aquitaine.
We’ve heard that you’re having a special Coronation ceremony written. How is it going to differ from the usual Æthelmearc Coronation?
Our coronation ceremony is based on the Liber Regalis, which details the ceremony for coronations in high medieval England. With the help of Master Steffan ap Kennydd of the East Kingdom, we are specifically trying to re-create the coronation of Richard II (1377). There are several important ways that SCA coronations must differ from medieval coronations. The most obvious is the religious expression; medieval coronations are extensively religious, but that needs to be avoided in the SCA. We have tried to substitute SCA icons and personnel for religious icons and personnel as best we can. The second major difference is the length of ceremony. The original service lasted about a week – we are trying to keep Morning Court under 2 hours. The third, and perhaps most interesting difference is the focus on humility. Medieval kings had known their entire lives that they were likely to ascend the throne, and they had great potential for abuse of power. Medieval ceremony focuses strongly on the virtue of humility, to remind kings that They need to focus on the needs of Their populace. In the SCA, we tend to focus on creating a ceremony that will imbue the new royalty with an aura of Majesty. In this aspect, we are attempting to recreate the medieval feel as closely as possible. We hope that our ceremony will be memorable for everyone who attends. The event (autocratted by THLord Thomas LeStrange and the Shire of Gryffyn’s Keep) will include heavy fighting, fencing, thrown weapons, an arts and science display, and a delicious feast, so we hope that every gentle in the Kingdom will find something to enjoy that day.
Who are the members of your staff, and what do they do?
We are blessed with many able staff members who are making the reign so much easier for us. Our staff is led by Countess Genevieve du vent Argent. Our head retainer position is shared by THL Elss of Augsburg and Master Alaric MacConnal. The Queen’s Guard is led by Doña Fredeburg von Katzenellenbogen. Brehyres Gwendolyn the Graceful will be our Royal Herald. Mistress Chrestienne de Waterdene is coordinating our wardrobe. Mistress Arianna of Wynthrope is coordinating the Queen’s favors, and Countess Alexandra of Clan Donald is coordinating our gift baskets. We welcome any gentle who would volunteer their services to our reign, especially those who do not know us well, as we would like to meet as many members of Our populace as possible. More information is available on Their Highnesses’ website.
You’re going to the SCA 50 Year event in June – do you have any special plans for that event?
Our reign is special in that it includes such a noble and auspicious event as the 50th-Year celebration. Our overarching goal for that event is for Æthelmearc to be seen among the Kingdoms of the Known World as a place of martial prowess and artistic pride. We want our Kingdom’s unique history and customs to be seen by all the peoples of the Known World. We also want our commitment to service to shine throughout the event, so we are sponsoring tournaments in heavy armored combat, fencing, thrown weapons, archery, equestrian, bardic, and period games. Every day of the weeklong celebration, there will be Æthelmearc events to participate in or volunteer to support.
How are negotiations for this Pennsic shaping up? Anything you’d like to share with the populace in the way of new activities or War Points?
There is a lot of pressure on Pennsic monarchs, because we want to ensure that everyone at the event, be they citizens of Æthelmearc or of a visiting Kingdom, has a fun and exciting time. We began negotiations with the Princes and Princesses of the East, the Middle, Atlantia, and Ealdormere back in November, and they are continuing now. A few areas of personal interest to Us are the new Thrown Weapons populace War Point, and the relatively-new A&S War Point, which will include Laurels this year.
For the first time ever, Æthelmearc will have the honor of sponsoring the Queen’s Tea. We want our first entry into this rotation to be fondly remembered for years to come. We hope that members of the populace who enjoy medieval gardening will contribute to the Garden theme in Æthelmearc Royal encampment. There is a Facebook page for those who wish to offer their time and effort. Throughout our reign, you may see red teapots at Troll at various events. This is a donation basket to support the Queen’s Tea, which will not be funded from Kingdom monies since it is an event for Royalty only. We hope that the food and drink served will represent many different regions and talents within Æthelmearc.
What would you most like from your populace in the way of help during your reign?
We want the populace of Æthelmearc to continue in whatever they love about the Society, and whatever inspires them in medieval recreation. For those in the arts and sciences, if that interest includes items that could be used for a gift basket to visiting Royalty, or could be used to make Queen’s favors, or medallions for Court, we would be most grateful. Anyone who is oriented toward service for the Society might contact our Head Retainers or Guard Captain to volunteer time (and get to know us better). Those gentles who are inclined to martial endeavors should find a time to marshal a tournament or battle, especially at inter-kingdom events like Pennsic or the 50-Year Celebration.
We would also make one specific request of all our populace: if there is someone who is in their first year in the Society, we want to meet them personally and welcome them to our hobby. Please point them out to us so that they can say that they have met the King and Queen of Æthelmearc.
Their Highnesses at Gulf Wars Opening Ceremonies. Photo by Lord Ursus.