Today’s article in our series on the Kingdom’s Virtual Queen’s Prize Tourney is about an intriguing 14th Century Aumoniere or Alms Purse, made by artisan Lisette la bergiere. As we do not have the ability to converse with our entrants face to face, the Virtual Queen’s Prize Tourney now offers the opportunity to drool over images and read the documentation right there on the Kingdom Ministry of Arts & Sciences website – even to leave feedback! And to learn a little more about the artisan and their thoughts behind their entry, the organizers decided to broaden our traditional entry of object and documentation with personal interviews.


This project piece was made for the AEthelmearc Artisan Exchange group in the Spring of 2020. It is a silk alms purse, decorated with silk embroidery in the recipient’s Arms, with finger loop laces for drawstrings and carrying cord.

Could you tell us a little about you, your persona.

I am known as the Honorable Lady Lisette la bergiere. Having found the SCA more than 20 years ago while a student in Misty Highlands, most of my experience comes from my time in Atlantia as a Minister of the Lists. I currently reside in the Shire of Kings Crossing, having moved back to Æthelmearc a few years ago with my family. My persona is a late 15th- early 16th century French woman of the Loire Valley. Alms purses were a popular and useful accessory during the 13th-15th centuries across several countries. While my persona is at the end of that time frame, I still would have used an alms purse, or aumoniere, but this wasn’t for me.

What inspired you to make your entry?

I had signed up last winter for the current round of the Æthelmearc Artisan Exchange group. Mistress Oddkatla does a fabulous job of running the exchanges and matching artisans and recipients together. This round, the theme was what we do best and my recipient was Lady Isabetta Orsini from the Barony of the Rhydderich Hael. I like to sew (as well as many other things) and knew I would be sewing and embellishing some accessory for the exchange. As I have not had the pleasure of meeting Lady Isabetta, I could only rely on the information provided in the exchange survey, including a picture of her heraldry, to design and create a gift for her. I have recently been doing more with finger loop braiding and wanted to incorporate those skills in the gift. After learning that she favored period-appropriate fabrics and Italian accessories, I began my research to find something that would fit those several parameters. I found a few extant examples of alms purses from 14th century continental Europe and began designing.

What is your intention with your entry?

My intention was to make an item that would be useful, using period-appropriate fabrics and embellishments for Lady Isabetta’s persona. With the caveat that my materials were limited to what I had on hand currently. I, ashamedly, did not begin working on the project until well after the plague arrived, which prevented any acquisition of new materials. The feedback that I received from Lady Isabetta indicates that she is most pleased with the alms purse. I hope that she intends to use it. An alms purse is worn looped on or over a belt by the carrying chord (the white and black cord in the picture).

Did the entry pose any unexpected issues?

While the final construction of the silk bag, the tassels, and braiding of the finger loop cords took little time and went mostly to plan, I vastly underestimated the amount of time necessary to hand-embroider the front panel with Lady Isabetta’s heraldry. This was the first project that I have ever embroidered. Between learning the stitches and putting them to use, it took far longer than I had hoped.

Did you learn something specific, something you would do differently, or would recommend others to do again?

I highly recommend artisans to consider joining the Æthelmearc Artisan Exchange! It provides a wonderful opportunity to ‘meet’ other artisans in the Kingdom, which was great for me, since we have not been participating here very long. I love seeing all of the creations that people have made at the end of the Exchange. It is also a great opportunity to stretch yourself artistically to try new skills or techniques. I learned a great deal about embroidery that I hadn’t known before, but I also learned that I have not yet mastered time management.

What motivated you to enter the Virtual Queen’s Prize Tourney?

All of the above? Is that a valid answer? I hope someone may be inspired by my work; to try new things and to enter A&S. I entered mostly because the time was right; I finished the project in mid-May and had already gathered the research during the planning phase. I don’t have a lot of experience in entering A&S tourneys. Before I had submitted the entry, I did ask Lady Isabetta if I could share the project since the alms purse is now hers. With events and gatherings being cancelled, this opportunity to share art, in any form, is a way for people to connect. I don’t have the courage to enter something like Ice Dragon (one day, I would like to work up to that), but this Virtual Tourney seemed like a good idea.

Anything else you would like to share?

I encourage everyone to try something new and I hope to meet people soon!

Thank you
, Lisette la Bergiere, for sharing your wonderful work with our Kingdom’s artisans and populace!

If you would like to see Lisette’s entry, follow this link. And if you liked her work, have a question to ask, or a tip to share – please leave your comments with her entry! You can “Leave a Reply” at the bottom of the entry’s page. We have a few more days to peruse, enjoy and interact with the entrants. Make use of the opportunity, if you can!

Would you like to enter your own project? The deadline for entering the Virtual Queen’s Prize Tourney is June 30th, TODAY, and you can find all you need to know on how to enter on the KMOAS website.