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by Don Corwyn Montgomery

Each reign, a celebration is held, the celebration of the Queen’s Rapier Championship. Through our efforts on the field, by bringing our best training and fighting wholly with our hearts, we praise the Queen through our actions, knowing full well at the end of they day one of us will be given the important duties of being the Queen’s rapier champion until another is chosen with the following reign. While we admire the excellence of the skills of those on the field, the praise of the tournament is rightly only for the Queen. Some may ask why the fencers have such a cult of worship built around the Queen and from whence did it originate.

The inspiration of documented history demonstrates the cult of the Queen being foremost in Elizabethan England during the reign of that illustrious and world-shaping woman. Notable heroes of the day such as Sir Francis Drake and Sir Walter Raleigh credited their renown to efforts on behalf of Queen Elizabeth, and their examples were not isolated but were instead forefront of those common of many men contemporary to them. A culture grew with this as instinct for soldiers of the realm with echoes continuing through England’s history with successive queens, most notably with Queen Victoria and again in the modern day with Elizabeth II.

Historical fiction enhances the importance of fighting for the Queen in the works of Dumas both in the original literary forms and further pursued in representations in film. Echoes of the same devoted fascination are brought forth in Rostrand’s writings as well. In the wake of D’Artagnan and his companions and Cyrano de Bergerac, the hopeful ambition of everyone who lifts a rapier is to serve the Queen.

In the culture of the Society, these inspirations took root throughout the Known World, but in Ansteorra, they were formative in the foundations of a Kingdom remarkable in its history as a leader of progress for Society fencing. The enthusiastic vigor for the cult of the Queen sparked imitation and competition in other kingdoms new and old with each developing a unique approach for their own pursuit of devotion to their respective Crowns.

In Æthelmearc, the Queen is first and foremost for fencers in our own unique fashion.  With the first reign, the King and Queen established the Order of the White Scarf to grant a firmament for their fencers, but discussion of who would claim the fencers of the kingdom was silenced by Queen Caryl when she firmly stated, “They are mine.” Having been so lovingly adopted by our Queen, we have returned that love tenfold perpetually. The Order of the White Scarf invited the Queen to be an honorary member of the Order and upon stepping down as a Lady of the Rose has been welcomed to advise and guide the Order with noble wisdom beyond our ken, and this tradition has and will continue.

The love of the Queen for the fencers and the fencers for the Queens has been circular and brought forth great things. Impressed with the friendship, service, and honor given her by the fencers of her guard, Queen Dorinda joined her friends on the field and led them when she returned as Princess on a following reign. This inspiration brought forth great works by many, the volley of which was returned by Her Grace Dorinda who showed the power of a Rose with steel thorns by winning the day repeatedly as Warlord, White Scarf, and Principal of the Æthelmearc Order of Defence. The garden of Roses with steel thorns continues to bloom in Æthelmearc as we are joined, inspired, challenged, and humbled again and again on the field by Elena, Rosalinda, Kallista, Branwyn, Ariella, and more.

As much as we respect the skill and tenacity of Roses as compatriots on the field, we are ever in awe of the constant gentle guidance and protection they have all given us, exerting their influence to shape the world to allow us to prosper, speaking kind words of encouragement when we need it or stern words of reprimand when we need it more, and setting an example of nobility, grace, and honor we ever strive to mirror within ourselves.

In this cultural phenomenon, we have our Cult of the Queen. We take joy in it and seek to preserve it. For all of those who have had the good fortune to serve a Queen closely, whether as a retainer, a guard, or a Champion, we are left with an indelible imprint and continuing devotion to them, a devotion that brings us to the feet of each new Queen hoping to serve again. The Crown of our Kingdom grant us the gift of the illusion of us recreating history serving them, and in our devotion to them, we are given the chance to allow them to experience the greatness and reality of Their Reign. It is a circular gift made more enduring and mighty the more we give.

Set forth for Queen’s Rapier Championship, and carry in your thoughts something greater to fight for than winning. You will be with the Queen, and you will have the opportunity to sing for Her in an opera of steel in harmony with your friends, glorifying She who makes our fight meaningful. Fight well. Fight with honor. Fight with courtesy.  Fight to praise the Queen.

Long live the Queen.
Ad gloriam Æthelmearc!

The event announcement for the Queen’s Rapier Tourney can be found here.