Chivalry – Njal Kennimathor Geirsson Virtanen

One of the great benefits of being a wordwright is that I get to write words of praise and recognition for people who are special to me. Sir Colin contacted me with news that Kennimathor Giersson would be elevated to the Order of Chivalry at Birka and invited me to write the words to the scroll Master Ed MacGuyver would create. I leapt at the chance, because Kennimathor is very special to me. He was one of the Eastern Unbelted Champions from my time as bardic champion, a dear friend, and I had the great honor to be his consort for an Eastern Crown Tourney one fall. It was one of my SCA highlights and so to be able to tell his story this way was, in many ways, a gift to me as much as to him.

I wanted to respect his Norse persona and asked Their Majesties if I could write a nontraditional scroll that they would certify rather than sign. I tried to write of Kennimathor as if his knighting was one of the sagas I’ve read, which have blunt narrative and then poetry. I used some common kennings and created others as I needed them. I chose to feature a verse from the Hávamál that has special meaning to me and would resonate with Kennimathor as well.  

I was also given the honored position of speaking for him at his knighting as the representative of the Order of the Laurel. I called attention to that verse as well, and focused on a theme that art requires protectors who will defend it, uphold it, create it, and be inspired by it.

I also got to help name an amazing sword. Ulfgir the Nice (Jamie Lundell) created a sword for the occasion and we worked together to name it. First, Ulfgir asked people about what to name a Norse sword and Ken took the bait and told him “vengence”. I took that and researched Norse weapons names in ancient literature. Master Friderikr helped me clarify some thoughts and I settled on honoring the Norse god of revenge, Víðarr, with the weapon, naming it “Víðursnaturr” or Víðarr’s gift.

The text I created for Sir Kennimathor is below:

Requested to the law rock by King Brion and Anna, the Queen he served, Njal Kennimathor Geirsson Virtanen went to see them. It was Þorri*, the month of men, deep in winter’s grasp. At his approach, the Ring-givers spoke to the people of this oak-limbed warrior, as beautiful and dangerous as winter’s ice. Kennimathor was a son of the northland, raised upon the field of battle. He was rich with kin whose loyalty shone like arm rings.

His skill at eagle-feeding brought notice from the king’s þegns* who said that Kennimathor should be added to their war band. The rulers agreed and gave him a Patent of Arms marked with his sigils: Per saltire sable and argent, two Thor’s hammers inverted and two spears counterchanged. Others brought gifts – a strip of snow-colored leather, a pair of shining spurs, a chain wrought of gold that had been worn by his ancestors, and a fine wool cloak from his kinswomen. His kinsman, Colin, gave him a sword made by Ulfgir who called it Víðursnatur.* When he possessed these things, he was pronounced a member of the Order of Chivalry. His last gifts were stout blows but he returned all save the one given him by King Brion.

An ancient verse was then invoked —

“Then he began to thrive
and wisdom to get.
He grew and well he was.
Each word led him onto another word,
each deed to another deed.”*

Thus was he sent into the world.

Brion and Anna set their marks on all Thing-words at the Birka Marketplace in the Barony of Stonemarche, the outpost where Kennimathor had long served. It was day 28 in the month and the year of the Society was LI.

Their names are signed here, proving that this is true.

—BRION—        —ANNA—

The sword was named Víðursnaturr = Víðarr’s gift, after Víðarr, the Norse god of revenge.
Þorri = The time of late jaunary / early february
þegns = seasoned warriors
hirðmaðr =  follower of a king or earl

  1. Þá nam ek frævask ok fróðr vera
    ok vaxa ok vel hafask,
    orð mér af orði
    orðs leitaði, verk mér af verki
    verks leitaði.

from verse 141 of the Hávamál – The Sayings of Hár -