Leonard0012The Barony-Marche of the Debatable Lands is saddened to report the passing of Baron Leonard the Younger, OL, last week at his home in Pittsburgh at the age of 71. He was preceded in death by his beloved wife, Baroness Anna Georgievna of Kiev, who passed away in 2008.

Baron Leonard joined the SCA in the early 1970s and was one of the founders of the then-Shire-Marche of the Debatable Lands, which encompassed more or less all of western Pennsylvania at the time. He received his Award of Arms in April of 1973 from the East Kingdom, of which the Debatable Lands was then a part. Leonard went on to become the second Baron of the Debatable Lands in 1979, and was its longest serving Baron, stepping down in 1992 after 13 years.

The current Baroness of the Debatable Lands, Mistress Hilderun Hugelmann, recalls, “Baron Leonard, more than any one single person, is why the Debatable Lands is the way it is. He stepped up to the Baronial throne in 1979, following a short but intense period of foundation, division, and chaos for our Barony, which at the time encompassed two-thirds of what is now AEthelmearc. He (along with his Baroness, Anna Georgievna of Kiev, who joined him on the Baronial throne shortly thereafter as our first Baroness) ushered in a long period of stability, growth and prosperity. They brought with them the strong, independent spirit of the Norsemen; an insatiable curiosity and interest in both the peaceful and warlike arts equally; kindness, loyalty and inclusiveness; and most of all, a fierce love of our game, all centered on an unbending backdrop of merriment and humor. He brought all of this to his beloved Barony, and it spread and grew and became who we are.”


Leonard and Anna in the 1970s.

Mistress Marian Greenleaf, formerly of the Debatable Lands and now living in AnTir, served as first Baronial Bard and was also Baronial Seneschale under Leonard and Anna. She remembers “[Leonard] invented the Orders of the Comet and created the scroll texts as well as the scrolls themselves; Anne sewed the pouches for the various Comets. Len’s mottos for the awards will stick with me for the rest of my life: For the Comets, “Wear as much honor as you can win”; for the Baroness’ Bard, “May your gifts touch hearts in many a warm hall.” To me, the first is about consciously modeling the service and the high standards the Comet recognizes, and the second is about using your gifts to share with others.

Mistress Odriana vander Brugghe, current Seneschal of the Debatable Lands, says “Baron Leonard and Baroness Anna, were near mythical figures for a new SCAdian. They exuded what I can only describe as “Old Money”, that sense of comfort and extravagance balanced by warmth and kindness. I respected them and was so pleased that such kind, wonderful people were my Baron and Baroness. I had the pleasure of getting to know them a bit during those early years of my participation, mostly talking to Len about his time in Ethiopia, which fascinated me.”


Baron Leonard and Baroness Anna

Leonard was known for his expertise in all things Viking, for which he received a Manche from the East Kingdom in 1982, a Fleur d’Æthelmearc in 2000, and a Laurel in 2007. However, his interests ranged widely across many fields, including ancient history and African cultures. Mistress Marian noted, “One of the things I’ll always remember about Baron Len is that he had spent time in East Africa in the 1950s working with the British, and that’s where he learned to use a spear, from Africans who hunted with spears. He was the only person I knew who had been presented with an Ethiopian Magic Scroll, by Ethiopians.” Even into his late 60s, Baron Leonard made frequent trips to Jordan to volunteer on archeological digs.


Leonard and Anna process into court at Pennsic

Leonard could be a rather colorful spinner of yarns. Sir Graedwyn mab Teyrnon recounts, “When I first met Len at Pennsic 2, he regaled me with stories of all the battles he had been in and of his fierce prowess. Little did I realize that he was speaking of table-top war games, and that he was also attending his first SCA event that day. But, being a starry-eyed, easily conned sixteen year old who was agog at the pageantry on display, I decided that I would follow this Beowulf-like person into battle until the stars fell out of the sky.”

Baron Brandubh o Donnghaile, who now wears the Debatable Lands’ baronial coronet, says “When Hilda and I joined the SCA, Baron Leonard and Baroness Anna had already stepped down from the Office of Baron and Baroness of the Debatable Lands, and Leonard was running the Baronial Vikingr Guild meetings to discuss various aspects of Viking Cultures. I found him to be a charming man, and became quite fond of him over the years. It became one of my Pennsic traditions to stop by Len’s camp, have a drink and just chat about anything and everything. This was an easy quest, and many did the same as Leonard was a storyteller and enjoyed spending his Pennsics telling stories and listening to others’ tales, such as how one should never challenge Thor while holding a hammer in the middle of a rain storm…The last time Leonard did that, it didn’t stop raining at Pennsic until everyone left!”

Leonard0005Sir Graedwyn was present for the incident that inspired that tale. “[It was] at Pennsic, at least twenty years ago, when Len was hanging onto his dining fly, being lifted off his feet by the fury of the storm and calling to Thor to let up before our entire camp was blown away.”

Mistress Odriana recalls “Over the years, Leonard continued to be one of my favorite people. When I started doing research into Frisian culture, he was my first stop, and his encouragement and guidance were what drove me through the difficult beginning of that research. I loved talking with him about our now shared interest in Viking-era culture. I always made time to sit and visit with him when I could and while those opportunities were further between in recent years, it was something that I always looked forward to and enjoyed. I am so grateful to have had him as part of my life over the last 30 years.” A recipe that Odriana received from Leonard appears at the end of this article.

Mistress Marian notes, “In addition to his contributions in researching and teaching Viking-era culture, Len touched many lives for the better and the legacy of his service to the Society lives on in the healthy path pursued by the Barony-Marche in his time and up to the present. He and Anne provided an excellent foundation and stable, long-term leadership. It was my privilege to know him as the Baron of the Debateable Lands.“

Leonard0007Baroness Hilda said “Most of you may have joined after his time, and may not have even met or spoken with him in these last years, but Baron Len’s character and spirit are everywhere, all around us. Baron Len may not have been our founding Baron, but he was very much our foundation. Our Barony, the Kingdom, and the world are a lesser place for his loss.”

Mistress She’erah bat Shlomo recalls one of Leonard’s favorite sayings from Viking lore:

Cattle die,
kinsmen die,
we also will die.
But I know a thing that never dies:
the good name of one who has earned it.

(Hávamál 76)

Baron Len’s name will surely live on forever. May his days in Valhalla be filled with mead overflowing and happy meetings with old friends.

Len’s Recipe for Doro Wat – Ethiopian Style Chicken Stew

This recipe requires two pre-prepared ingredients: niter-kebe and berebere powder. The recipes for those are below.

NOTICE: This is the way that I learned to make this stuff in Ethiopia. I don’t write cookbooks. So, work with it.

First assemble the amount of chicken that you want to cook and start the preparations from the point.

In an appropriate sized pot, put the niter-kebe, one cup of red wine, two cups of water, the juice of one lemon, one quarter cup of olive oil and one cup of barley. When simmering, add berebere powder until you get a creamy-textured broth (you will probably use at least a cup). If you’ve made it a bit too thick, thin it with water. If you want to strengthen the brew, add more of the berebere powder.

After the barley begins to soften, add your chicken parts after puncturing each piece several time with a fork. The broth should cover all of the chicken. When the chicken is just about done, add a few hard-boiled, shelled eggs to the stew. Fold them in gently, so as not to break up the eggs.

While that is stewing, cut up a large red onion and a large green bell pepper into 1” pieces. Mix these gently into the stew (remember those eggs), simmer for about fifteen more minutes, and serve over thin pancakes [Note: Injera]. The chicken should come off the bone easily.


Cover the bottom of a frying pan with butter and melt. Add:

1 tbsp. finely chopped garlic
2 tbsp. finely chopped ginger
½ tsp ground cardamom
1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground clove
1 ½ tsp turmeric
½ tsp nutmeg

Cut up a large red onion and one green bell pepper. Fry them in the spiced butter until soft. Add butter if necessary to keep the mixture from burning.

Berebere Powder (makes about two cups)

1 tsp ground ginger
½ tsp ground cardamom{sic}
½ tsp ground coriander
½ tsp ground fenugreek
¼ tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp ground clove
1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground allspice
½ tsp ground black pepper
2 Tbsp crushed red pepper
2 tbsp salt
1 ½ cup paprika
½ cup ground African red pepper
1 tsp Bishop’s Weed (Aswan seed)

Many thanks to Mistress Ts’vee’a bas Tseepora Levi, who provided the photos of Baron Leonard included in this article.