As announced at ÆLive last Saturday, Their Sylvan Majesties King Maynard von dem Steine and Queen Liadain ni Dheirdre Chaohamnaigh are pleased to let it be known to all that They are looking forward to choosing Their Arts & Sciences Champions at the Virtual Kingdom Arts & Sciences Championship to be concluded on Saturday December 5th.
We are still ironing out some details, but we wanted to announce the Tourney and its concept now so that you can get your act and entry together in time. While some things may still change a bit, the event will be organized as follows. The Kingdom A&S Championship will be held entirely virtual, much along the lines of the Virtual Queen’s Prize Tourney that we ran in the Spring. We will create an online entry form, where you will upload some basic information, your documentation and a few photographs.
This being Kingdom Championship, we require written documentation, however don’t let that deter you from entering. The judging itself will be face to face over zoom during private sessions between each entrant and their judges. Judging will be as close as possible to the normal judging at the traditional A&S Championships: two sessions with two judges of about 30-45 minutes for each entrant.
Judging will be performed with the help of a rubric that will be shared with entrants and judges ahead of time. The scores will be tallied once all judging is completed and relayed to Their Majesties who will choose Their Champions. Right now, we are planning to spread out the judging during the week prior to December 5th so that we can coordinate suitable time slots for the entrants and judges with a limited number of zoom rooms. We plan to have part of the presentations public, so that the populous can also chat with the entrants and admire their entries over zoom. In addition, we will share all entries publicly on the Kingdom Office of Arts and Sciences website and create a public forum to leave comments, just as we did for the Virtual Queen’s Prize Tourney. Unfortunately, at this point, again due to the nature of virtual judging, and the practicality and legality of shipping foodstuffs and alcohol, anything that needs to be sniffed, tasted, or quaffed for proper judging is unfortunately not eligible. Don’t get us wrong – we really would not mind having consumables shipped to us in this time of need! But we don’t want you to break the law either. That being said, we totally encourage and accept research-paper entries in these areas. However, if we do still come up with a way to make it work, you will be the first to know.
We want to emphasize that we totally love to see partial projects! It doesn’t have to be a completely finished entry to be eligible. As usual, you may also enter up to three related objects as a single entry. Prior entry in another competition or display does not disqualify you from entering, we love to see continued progress on existing projects. Finally, given the virtual nature of the competition, we encourage everyone to go overboard with progress and final pictures or get creative with a short video. Show us your project from every angle as if we have it in our hands!
Their Sylvan Majesties and the Kingdom Office of Arts & Sciences are very much looking forward to seeing what our Kingdom has to offer! Keep an eye out on this channel for further information!
Yours in service, Hrólfr and Elska á Fjárfelli (KMoAS) Robert of Ferness (A&S Webminister)
By Elska á Fjárfelli of the Dominion of Myrkfaelinn
Contrary to popular believe, it was not beer that was the most common drink of the middle ages: it was plain and simple water. Dependable sources of clean, fresh water – whether it be a running creek, a spring, or a well – would be incorporated into villages and towns as easy access to fresh water makes life better in so many ways. By the 13th century, when urbanization was invented and towns started to expand into cities, early industrialization began to endanger the local fresh water supply. Medieval cities dealt with this in several ways: ordinances dictated where, for instance, tanners and dyers could operate, i.e. down stream, reserving the fresh upstream water for the city’s domestic use. And fines would be issued for contaminating water meant for household, and brewing, consumption.
Water for brewing would be gathered from surface water like spring or creek water, rainwater, well water and by the Renaissance even from conduit water, as mentioned in A Profitable Instruction (1579): “wash [the honey comb] diligently with Conduit or fair Spring water, that you may so have the Mulse or hony water.” Monasteries and towns often had their own well water, and sometimes city neighbors chipped in to finance a private well in their district. Of course, such a well would be forbidden for use by outsiders upon penalty of a fine. Larger cities would build water-supply infrastructure to ensure the populace access to clean water. For instance, the city council of London began construction on the ‘Great Conduit’ in 1236 which brought water from a large fresh spring at Tyburn to the cisterns in Cheapside, and from there fed local cisterns all over London. Small barrels of water would be offered for sale, and while the medieval populace was aware that boiling water before use was a good idea – food poisoning has a quick learning curve – they were less aware of the connection between spoiled water and waterborne diseases.
In 15th century Netherlands, many brewing procedures were also subjected to ordinances, including the ingredients used for brewing beer, the proportions of said ingredients, transport within and without the city, payments of taxation – and keeping the water in the city canals clean. A brewers’ ordinance from 1407, for instance, contains a warning for Zeeland skippers not to dump salt water (either from leakage, or used as ballast) in the canals within city limits. Dutch city brewers often found surface water not suitable for brewing, either from pollution from surrounding craftsmen, especially the textile industry – and from the creeping in of salt from North Sea ocean water into the fresh ground-water supply. Brewers would use water barges to gather clean fresh water, either from local lakes or from the coastal dunes (dune sand acts as a filter). The water barges would deliver straight to the brewery via the city canals, and the clean fresh water would be scooped out of the hold onto a wood gutter designed to transport the water from the quay straight into the brewery building.
An interesting story, uncovered in the city archives of Dordrecht, the Netherlands, follows an allegation of selling undrinkable beer by Brewery De Sleutel (The Key) – a medieval brewery actively producing beer up until the corporation Heineken bought it out and stopped production in 1968.
On August 14th 1577, the head brewer Baernt Lambertsz. and his apprentice Aernt Aerntsz. were called up to the Dordrecht city court to make a statement under oath they used the grain, hops, and malt for the brew of August 1st from the same storage successful brews had been made before. Another apprentice Jan Adriaensz. van der Dussen witnessed that he gathered all the water for the brew from the well himself, as was his custom. The brewers did note that the brew on the coolships had a peculiar scent that they had never smelled before either in the brewery or anywhere they had brewed before. The city officials took the case serious and four days later, on August 18th, other witnesses were heard. The tapper Jan Jansz. remembered his conversation with carpenter Adriaen Lauwen about the quality of the surface water in the Nieuwe Haven, for which Lauwen blamed the dyer. Four beer carriers (beer transport has its own guild) witnessed they had had to return Sleutel beer from several taverns due to being undrinkable. At the request of the innkeeper they tasted the beer and remarked they’d never tasted something so peculiar. Then other beer carriers also tasted the peculiar beer and agreed that they understood why the tappers of the taverns had returned the beer, as no customer would drink of it.
Unfortunately no more information exists on this case; no witness accounts of the accused dyer nor of penalties. The account illustrates industrial pollution is nothing new and protecting our waterways is an age-old practice.
In the middle Ages, alcoholic drinks were not consumed because water was thought to be unsafe, as is often thought now; beer was consumed because it was seen as more nutritious. Not only were the brews often much weaker than their modern equivalents, but they also provided much needed calories to manual laborers, as well as being thirst-quenching and rehydrating in hot and sweaty weather. Ale and beer were a major part in keeping the laborers going, much like our modern Gatorade! Drinking water was seen as part of the four humors, blood, yellow bile, black bile and phlegm, and keeping those in balance achieved good health. [image four humors] Drinking too much water was seen as just as unhealthy as drinking to much of its counter part, a brewed beverage, and a brew often was diluted with water to keep the humors in balance, and to avoid unseemly intoxication. As beer and wine was more expensive, its consumption therefore gave status. If you could afford it, you drank beer.
The Barony-Marche of the Debatable Lands – the Barony of bridges… We have so many bridges in our great lands that connect our populace. We have many little villages with vast cultural diversity. There is another saying in our lands. Some people have never ever left their village because they will not cross a bridge. This was NOT the case when it came to a recent demonstration at the Carnegie Science Center for a Science After Dark Over 21 Event.
The Carnegie Science Center of Pittsburgh, PA (photo courtesy of the Center’s Press Photos)
One of our residents reached out to our Chatelaine with the option to be involved in an evening demo that wanted to showcase what Pittsburgh had to offer in regards to all things medieval. There was a small little catch to this offer – it was only 20 days away! That is really not a lot of days to figure out the details for an event and a venue that you have not been in before. I accepted the challenge when asked to organize the demo. I figured – alright – I can get enough people and display items to man a table at this event. I should be able to do this no problem.
First step: Meet with the main coordinator for the details. He is with the local HEMA branch and found out that he was trying to pull everyone in that he could – he wanted armored combat, role playing, Ren Faire, SCA, and anyone else that we could think of to fill the Science Center. I only had one question at the end of the meeting – How much can I bring? His answer – Bring it all! And we did!
The Display even included a ballista! (Photo courtesy of Baron Friderich Swartzwalder)
Step Two: Put the call out for volunteers. Talk it up at the event we had that weekend. Spread the word! At that event I had both merchants commit to the demo! I had several people say, “put me on the list.” I made a Facebook event and started using the Barony’s social media outlets. I went to the Barony’s business meeting to make sure everyone was aware of the demo.
Step three: Be humbled by the overwhelming out-pouring of interest. One post – one email – one message – over and over people wanted to be there and bring “all of the things.” People that I did not know – people that did not know me – offered to work together. Not only was this within our Barony, it was with neighboring lands – up to four hours away! There were a total of 111 people representing the SCA at this event! Working with other local interest groups was amazing. Although we had similar interests and cross over with our members, working together for events was not that common. We worked on building those bridges. We want to keep the bridges strong.
The bonds were growing – but there were many logistical questions to be answered. Who was going to be doing what? Where would be the best places for everyone to be at the Science Center? Did everyone have what they were going to need? We shared resources – we shared ideas – we worked together even up to the last few hours figuring out where a new interest group could fit in. There was no competition for space or times. We made it work. I personally had not worked with the Science Center before. A few of the other interest groups had – and they took us right into the fold. We were just all one giant family working together to put on a great event.
The day of the event was glorious! Every person from every group united to engage the 1500 people in attendance – more than the venue had ever provided before. We hung banners – we shared radios – we shared dollies and helped everyone that needed help. The attendees were provided with so many options, confronted with choices such as, “Do I fight or do I talk about swords? Do I talk about A&S classes or thrown weapons?” I saw people moving from area to area talking to guests. There may have been 12 different groups at the event – but we melded into one. We shared our passion and our talents to guests that now have been given the tools to build the bridge from their village to ours.
As Banners of Scarlet rang out from all four floors at the end of the evening, I couldn’t have been more proud of the Barony-Marche of the Debatable Lands, of Æthelmearc, and of the SCA. We crossed and built new bridges – we strengthened new and old bonds – we united as one voice. We are Æthelmearc!
Article written and submitted to the Gazette by Lady Zianna.
(The Photographs used in the slideshow were taken by Baron Friderich Swartzwalder, Luceta di Cosimo and Lady Isabel Johnston.)