This message is to let you know that His Majesty, King Maynard, has eliminated the high tech pretenders who tried to pass themselves off as “Æthelnet” and “Æthelnators”.
His Majesty wishes to reassure the populace that there will be no takeover by any computer overlords. While events and meetings may remain virtual for a while, our webministers and Zoomerators will continue to do the stellar job they have been doing for the last year, and our leadership will remain human.
Please resume your regularly scheduled activities, secure in the knowledge that our beloved Kingdom is in good hands.
These are different times in Æthelmearc and the rest of the Known World. Postponed events, unusually long royal reigns, and uncertain plans for future changes of leadership are of major concern. Like many aspects of the “new” SCA, tried and true old-school methods are being slowly replaced with new high-tech solutions.
In the early months of 2021, the tech staff began work on a new system designed to provide some relief to the overworked leadership of Æthelmearc (Kings, Queens, Baronage, and Officers). Since many events are now virtual it was postulated that a large portion of the Æthelmearc leadership could be replaced by a virtual, computer generated counterpart. This would provide the Kingdom with required decision-making and oversight, and allow the current seated leadership to return to their normal lives.
Instead of picking one set of leaders to provide the model for this new virtual leadership, advanced computer programing allowed the tech staff to create a linked artificial super mind made up of the collective experience of all of Æthelmearc’ s leadership from beginning to current.
Of course, leadership requires a physical component to conduct in person business such as delivering award medallions, scrolls, or placing coronets on heads. To accomplish this, the tech team, in conjunction with the Steward’s office, constructed a large force of high-tech drones. These drones, or Æthelnators, are designed to perfectly emulate the normal populace and provide a calming, familiar, and personal touch to the new virtual leadership. Additionally, to provide safe-practice partners for the populace each Æthelnator contains a specialized set of combat training programs ranging from heavy to siege.
To coordinate the new virtual leadership, the Æthelnators, and the pre-existing virtual online entertainment, the tech team is creating a new Kingdom website lovingly known as Æthelnet. Æthelnet is scheduled to go live 2:14 a.m., EDT, on August 29. Soon after, the Kingdom can expect a return to the many activities we love.
While this may seem a little out of the ordinary and a first, the tech team encourages the populace to welcome Æthelnet and the Æthelnators. The Kingdom looks forward to the many posts, photos, and stories of this great new age.
Early medieval / Viking age jeans
Claim: A (Aprilis prima)
Material: 2/2 cotton twill with indigo dye (mouth-crotched by Uzbek nuns under water), buttons made of iron, rivets made of bronze
I know, I know … most of you will first of all wonder if I’m completely mad and crazy about this reconstruction. So let me first put a few theoretical considerations together:
1) Trousers itself are well documented by finds. Thorsberg, Damendorf, Skjoldehamn. Sufficient variations of the pattern can already be found here, so that today’s jeans cut seems quite possible as a creative excess.
2) Cotton as a basic material was known and available. In the Byzantine Varangian Guard (which consisted mostly of Scandinavian Vikings), part of the armor (the Bambakion) was made of cotton. So one can assume that returnees brought this back home with them as knowledge or as raw material.
3) Diagonal twill as the binding of the material was well-known and has been retained to this day.
4) Indigo as a dye has been used extensively in the eastern regions. So it seems completely conclusive that resourceful dyers also happily combined cotton and indigo. Even if this should not have been the case, a wonderfully stonewashed look can be achieved with the adequately documented and popular woad, which puts the fashionable understanding of the early medieval people in a completely new light.
5) Even the pockets of the jeans can theoretically be derived well. Just think of fragment H55 A from the harbour of Haithabu. The transfer of a tunic pocket to a pair of trousers can justifiably be seen as a masterpiece of tailoring at the time, and it should have been way ahead of its time.
6) Dozens of references can be found in Birka alone for buttons. Even if most of the specimens were cast from bronze, in view of the craftsmanship at the time, some can also be made of other metals. As a reference for the use of buttons on trousers, I would like to refer to the underpants find from Moscevaja Balka, which also already has a button for fastening.
7) Stabilizing the seam connections by means of rivets seems quite modern. However, this principle of the rivet with a counter washer on the back can already be observed in the knife sheaths of that time. It seems quite logical – especially in view of the extensive and long-term use of textiles at the time – that this process was also applied to trousers.
8) Jeans are even represented several times in contemporary iconographic representations. In various psalteries, men can be seen in tight-fitting blue legwear, which can be interpreted as nothing more than skinny jeans. Here, too, the fashion of the time shows clear parallels to modern times, and underlines the highly developed clothing style of the Northmen, often wrongly denigrated as ‘uncouth barbarians’ .
That’s the theory.
Now let’s get to the facts.
1) Old Norse knows the term ‘(Blá) önd súrsæt’, the ‘(blue) cotton trousers’.
2) In the Gallastríðið saga it says: “Gallíu er skipt í þrjá hluta, annar þeirra er byggður af Belgum, hinn af Aquitans og sá þriðji af þeim sem kallaðir eru Keltar á sínu tungumáli, á okkaru.”
In other words: “And before he left the house, Gollum the Magnificent put on the cotton trousers of the hard-working craftsmen so that he would be considered one of them in the future.”
3) In the ‘MS Cotton de Nimes’ (dated to the middle of the 10th century) there is a depiction of a man in blue trousers who is being carried by two others. Under his tunic, which has slipped up, you can see a patch pocket on the back of the exact shape and size that is used in today’s five-pocket jeans. (Image 1)
4) During the archaeological excavations in the port area of Birka, among other things, textile fragment W34 / L32 was found. A 2/2 cotton twill with remnants of an indigo dye. Here you can still see a double seam, which is reinforced by a bronze rivet. Right next to it is a round hole with neat edges that a second rivet would fit into. (Image 2)
5) In the hoard of Buttenheim there is an inconspicuous but very interesting pendant among numerous hacked silver. A so-called Anlaf-Guthfrithsson-Penny, a coin from the 10th century, which was first converted into a button with a long shaft (like in modern jeans) and later served as a pendant with a riveted eyelet. (Image 3)
6) One last hint is the work of the Swedish archaeologist Löb Strauss, which he published under the title “Effekten av jordnötssmör på jordrotationen”. Here he describes an almost perfectly preserved trouser find with all the characteristics of today’s jeans, which was found in 1834 in the bog near Riga by Jākobs Jufess and dated to the late Iron Age. (Image 4)
Based on all of these individual documents, the jeans I reconstructed are by no means a new and unknown item of clothing. Instead, the facts automatically condense into a compelling causality.
Because with all due respect to our ancestors – they weren’t stupid back then
I would like to close with a quote from my great Idol Harald Blauzahn: “Do not believe anything you find on the Internet, unless you have faked it yourself.”
/ Satire Off, and have a nice first April
Charles Bruns (via Viking Clothing on the Booke of Faces)
Most of you followed the predicament of the massive Ever Given cargo ship that was stuck in the Suez Canal until this past Monday.
It carried over 220,000 tons of goods coming from China to Europe, and all of that cargo was left to sit in the Egyptian sun until engineers were finally able to refloat the mammoth ship in cooperation with the Suez Canal Authority. The freighter’s position blocking the canal held up commercial travel for thousands of other ships and affected supply chains world-wide for almost a week.
The good news is that the rattan that was being hauled by the Ever Given and other ships delayed by its mishap is now on its way toward the Netherlands. From there, a supply of rattan will make its way to the U.S., Canada, Australia, and other parts of Europe. So SCA fighters, rejoice! Soon you should once again have enough rattan for all of your fighting needs.
Which are… uh… kind of low until the pandemic restrictions are lifted and we can have events and practices again.
But hey, rattan!
In related news, the following letter to the SCA Board of Directors was made available to the Gazette today for public posting.
Unto the Noble Lords and Ladies of the Board of Directors, Greetings.
Over the years I have been fooled on more than one occasion regarding the activities guided and supported by the Society of Creative Anachronism. For a while, I thought the Society was involved in a new musical style, and enjoyed it very much. Then I found out that what I thought my friends were referring to as ‘SCA’ was in fact ‘SKA’. You can imagine my disappointment. I still enjoy the music though.
However, I have been greatly encouraged that our Society has gone heavily into public good works. The re-floating of the Ever Given by the SCA is a great example of doing good works for the entire world, not just for our members. I look forward to more good works to support.
Fig. 1: Runestone, with Lady Maedbh ni Clerigh for scale (photo by Robert of Ferness).
After reading about runestones found in Norway recently, I realized that individual runes can be transcribed and simplified into smaller units of information. As you can see in the examples in Fig. 1, runes consist of long straight lines, long curved lines, short angled lines, and dots.
Once the individual letters are broken down into these elements, they can be perceived as paaaah, paaah, pah, and pa, respectively: in other words, the length of each rune segment, can be transformed into a rhythmic series of sounds in order to convey information.
Note that I am not suggesting that runes were not used as letters and not used as part of an alphabet, but that the shapes of the runes were formed so that they could also be understood in other contexts.
After thinking on this insight for some time, it seems clear that the Vikings – at least the infamous Norsemen – might have used these shortened rune letter-segments as a way to communicate between ships while on the open ocean.
Much like putting an ear to the ground or railroad track in order to sense vibrations of horses or trains, it might have been the case that sailors could put an ear to the hull of their ship in order to hear sounds transmitted via the water from another vessel.
Fig. 2: The preserved substantial hull of a Viking Age ship (photo by Robert of Ferness).
It is well known that water carries sound better than air, and more than four times faster, so it should be feasible that a sailor using a heavy metal or wood implement, such as an oar or sword pommel, could tap out a message on the hull of one ship and have it perceived on all nearby ships. It would be a perfect method for organizing a raid or an open-water attack, or even just to keep ships organized as they traveled together.
The length of each tap (paaaah, paaah, pah, and pa) would specify the part of the rune being sent and the receiver would compose the message in his head as it arrived, putting together the lengths of the taps to form the final runes and then, ultimately, the entire message.
Anyone who has enjoyed a ride in a replica Viking ship knows that there is plenty of noise above the water: wind blowing, oars splashing, people talking or singing, seabirds crying, etc. All of those interferences would be bypassed via percussive message transmission using a code tapped out on the hull of a ship.
It is my intent to replicate this possible communications platform as soon as feasible once COVID restrictions are lifted. After I have worked out enough proper sequences for carrying messages, I intend to publish more about this method, to be called Norse Code.
A dread disease roams the land, forcing us to shelter in our homes or flee to our countryside villas as Giovanni Boccaccio did in 1348, wiling his hours away with tales of love, tragedy, and humor.
Fortunately, we have a plague doctor who will keep the realm safe: THLord Methias Weasel!
Yes, His Lordship does more than torment train youth fighters on the battlefield. A co-founder of the Æthelmearc Assassins’ Guild, he travels throughout the land in his Plague Doctor mask to bring comfort (with a side dose of fear) to all.
Meanwhile, Lady Rue, his wife, brews concoctions to heal the sick as well as poisons to dispatch the enemies of the kingdom.
So while our modern medical personnel, including many from the ranks of the SCA, labor tirelessly to save those stricken by our current miasma, we can sleep soundly knowing that a plague doctor is also on the job.
This post is dedicated to the doctors, nurses, physicians’ assistants, EMTs, paramedics, and other medical personnel of Æthelmearc who are the greatest warriors we have in this fight against the modern plague. May you all remain healthy and bring relief to those who suffer.
As you all know, the novel Coronavirus that has swept through the lands like a plague has curtailed all of our activities, including SCA events. Their Majesties, Timothy and Gabrielle, held a very successful “Æthereal Court” this past weekend, and a similar technique will be used to stream the Coronation of Maynard and Liadain, but such measures will not work for Crown Tournaments.
How then are the Society’s Kingdoms going to choose their next Princes and Princesses?
The BoD has been mulling over some ideas, and narrowed it down to the following:
Appropriate social distancing
Crown Tourney to be fought in each local group as a “spears-only” tournament so the fighters can maintain the required 6 feet of distance from their opponents at all times. The winner in each group will travel to a regional spear tourney, the winners of which will then participate in the Kingdom-level finals, all while maintaining appropriate social distancing.
Not appropriate social distancing
If spear-lengths are not deemed safe enough, then the next royalty will be chosen using the peerage criteria in Corpora, which include the ability to dance, play chess, identify heraldic devices, sing or play a musical instrument, and demonstrate familiarity with literature and combat. To that end, the BoD will approve all such use of section IV.A.1 of Corpora to permit the Kingdoms to hold online competitions in each of these disciplines. Individual Kingdoms may choose to weight some categories more heavily than others, so we expect Calontir’s next royalty will be bards while the East is more likely to have dancers. In Æthelmearc, of course, our next sovereign would no doubt be a scribe.
Kingdoms to hold an on-line competition where people can gain points for displaying an A&S project, teaching a class, boosting Kingdom morale, performing in a Kingdom bardic meetup, or serving as the all-important tech support for these endeavors. A defined start and end date for the competition will be declared, with points to be awards based on judges’ determination of the quality of each activity. Each entrant must designate a consort before the start of the competition. The judges shall consist of the sitting Royalty, the Kingdom Seneschale, the Kingdom A&S Officers, and the Silver Buccle Herald. The gentle who amasses the greatest number of points during the designated period becomes Sovereign, with their partner as Consort.
Photo by Mistress Arianna.
Photo by Mistress Arianna.
Photo by Master Fridrikr Tomasson.
Knitted socks by Lady Rachel Dalicieux. Photo by Master Fridrikr Tomasson.
Many people today do not realize that the so-called instrument that we know as the kazoo actually originated from a style of footwear in the Middle Ages. Fashion, seemingly, saw its rise and demise in a fairly short time period of only a decade or so, from about 1455-65, in a small geographical area around Aosta, Italy, on the border of France and Switzerland.
We have a single manuscript illustration depicting a mounted knight wearing kazshoes over the top of his sabatons (Figure 1 – left). We also have a vaguely written account of this type of footwear being worn into battle where it is said that it produced a loud buzzing sound, apparently meant to terrify enemy troops once the riders got up to speed.
Specifically, the Chronicle (Morgan Library & Museum MS B.4, dated to 1450) tells us that “…siquidem rex sonitum audiri fecerat in castris inimicus, calceamenta tumultuantem susurrus, et equorum, et exercitus plurimi…” (for the king had caused the army of the enemies to hear the noise of loud-buzzing shoes and the noise of horses – the noise of a great army).
The basic structure of the shoe is simple: a squared-off heel, with an elongated, tapered toe, topped by an elaborate fastener disc. Some might consider it a derivative of the poulaine, and perhaps it was, but there are two significant differences.
First, the kazshoe is clearly symmetrical, whereas all known poulaines have definite left- and right-foot versions. Most likely this is to facilitate their quick application when arming before battle.
Second, while poulaines have long, stuffed toes, kazshoes apparently had a more rigid structure of thicker leather, sufficient for it to hold its own shape, and they are not stitched closed at the end. It is that open toe-tube that allows sufficient air flow through the shoe to produce its sound. Presumably they fit loosely, and the air vibrates the metal lames of the sabatons as it passes over them.
As for the large stiff disc on top, it seems to be overkill for simply keeping the shoe secured to the foot. This appears to be a stylistic choice but very well may have been functional, serving as a place to display the arms of the knight. Depending on the complexity of the design, it could have been painted, incised, or even embroidered (directly onto the leather, or with a cloth covering stitched to the disc).
Figure 1 (and its detail): St. George and the Dragon by Friedrich Herlin, c. 1460, the only known illustration of kazshoes.
As the 15th century progressed, kazshoes seem to have fallen rapidly out of style, apparently with nothing to replace them amongst members of the chivalry. There seems to be little doubt that the ladies of court might have been the reason for this. The Libellus de modo confitendi of 1486 has one passage translated as “are there any who fervently desire to be required to listen ad nauseum to the screeches of this vile implement?” It apparently alludes to their displeasure with the noise, likening it to a swarm of angry waterfowl. It could also be the case that troops simply became accustomed to the noise and kazshoes were no longer effective.
Although I have not been able to determine how exactly medieval kazshoes morphed into today’s kazoos, as no intermediate objects have come to light, my guess is that drunken squires left with unwanted kazshoes learned they could blow through them to generate the same distinctive sound. It seems likely that at some point someone was able to reproduce them in wood, and later a thin metal such as tin, and finally today in plastic.
Getting stuck at home is no reason to skip out on the things we enjoy most. This year was my big push to get back into fighting trim, but that was quickly put on hold due to recent events. I was down, I was ready to give up, but then I said to myself… why let a lack of events and social distancing stop you from living your dreams! To that end I decided I would hold a grand tourney! We needed to stay close to home so my backyard would set the stage. There was plenty of room to fight in and high walls to protect us from unwanted visitors. Federal law mandated we keep the gathering to under ten people, so I sent out invitations to my closest friends. It was important to stay six feet apart so the theme of the tourney was set as pole-arms!
Lady Thalia – totally not bribed by steak dinners
A crisis is no time to part with rules and policy so I needed all the elements in place. First I needed an MOL. Thankfully, I live with my dear love and Hael Baronial MOL, Lady Thalia. She quickly agreed and I knew she would be totally unbiased in her score keeping (granted I did promise steak dinners after the tourney, but I felt this would have no impact on the outcome, so we proceeded). After discussing the tourney and possible imitations, it was decided a bear pit was the best choice. So rules as discussed included a 30 minute bear pit, pole arms only. Two points for a win, one point for a loss, and minus one point for violating the six foot safety distance during the fight.
I am a marshal in good standing, but felt it was important to have a separate marshal to oversee the tourney and armor inspection. Lacking access to any marshals, I decided it was in the spirit of the day to deputize a marshal in training. I was able to find a local willing to take the job, and though new to the SCA, his enthusiasm was notable. He quickly took to studying the rules of the list and before long I was confident we would have a safe, fun day of fighting.
The day of the tourney was upon us. I quickly took to setting up the list ropes and waited for my fellow combatants to arrive and armor up. The sun was out, my banner flying, and the spirit of SCA tournaments gone by was in the air! As the time of the tourney drew near I stood alone on the field. No doubt the invitations I sent to my friends met delay or loss in the mail. No matter! I had my marshal inspect my armor which proved more challenging than expected due to a lack of thumbs and the inability to speak English, however in the end all was deemed safe.
The bear pit commenced! Given the lack of fighters it was decided that I would enter the list and perform a series of killer battle techniques. Lady Thalia would judge if my efforts would be a win or a loss and mark down my points. I knew she would be tough on me (and again not motivated by steaks dinners) so I fought my heart out. Twenty minutes in my chances looked good! Sadly ten minutes in the marshal noted I was not using my pole arm, and I was almost disqualified. Thankfully it was ruled that, since I was the only fighter, I was not in violation of the six foot safety distance rule.
Things are looking good for old Magnus!
Thirty minutes went quickly but I was certain victory was in my grasp! Before long the clack of rattan ended, the tired… fighter retired from the field. Lady Thalia started counting the points and I waited to embrace the glory of the day. As Lady Thalia finished the tally a hush fell over the field. In a proud unbiased voice she proclaimed the winner….Prince Maynard von dem Steine…wait…what? Son of a bitc…..
1st annual backyard tourney wars! – Group photo of the fighters!
It seems like eons ago that a cry went up throughout the land of Æthelmearc – it was WAR!
No, not Pennsic.
A KAZOO War!
Our gentle Queen decided to humor the irrepressible King Timothy at a court in Delftwood by allowing him a kazoo. Was this the biggest mistake of her reign?
His Majesty started touting the wonders of the kazoo, urging one and all to take up this simple yet amazingly annoying instrument. Her Majesty’s polite eye rolls inspired a small but mighty force to defend her delicate ears, and the KAZOO WAR was on.
At first it seemed to be a war of words as Lord Snorri announced his fealty to Queen Gabrielle while many in the Chivalry stoutly proclaimed their support for the King and his kazoos.
Soon, however, the war escalated. Plans were made for an all-out mayhem of dueling kazoos to be held at the Festival of the Ice Dragon. Gentles began ordering kazoos from merchants at a prodigious rate, until the entire Kingdom groaned in fear of the outcome.
Alas, the plague descended upon the land and a truce was, perforce, declared. While His Majesty made many, many, MANY brave attempts to bring kazoos into the Court Æthereal last weekend, Queen Gabrielle was quick to snatch them from his hands each time.
We may never know which side would have won the war of kazoos vs. anti-kazoos, but it is hoped that peace reigns in the royal household given that, like most of us, King Timothy and Queen Gabrielle are forced to shelter in their home… together. Presumably with the kazoos hidden lest the Princes Royal bring chaos to the land.
The Queen keeps a watchful eye out for contraband kazoos during the Court Æthereal