This piece was created for Anonii, Prince of the Mistlands, and his Princess, Helga. Antonii is a friend and has been an Eastern Unbelted Champion, and it was my desire to have a song for him during his reign. It is in celebration of the Mist-Cyguna War which happens every spring.
O the mighty wall of whitened cloud
Around the swan doth turn.
The mighty host of the brave Mistland
Will stand without concern
And ever there, throughout all time, no battle waged so fair
holt hweorfende heaþoglemma feng deopra dolga daroþas wæron
weo þære wihte ⁊ se wudu searwum
fæste gebunden hyre fota wæs
biid fæft oþer · oþer bisgo dreag
leolc on lyfte hwilum londe neah treow wæs getenge þe þær torhtan stod
leafum bihongen Ic lafe geseah
minum hlaforde þær hæleð druncon
þara flan on flet beran
The favored solution is Weaver’s Loom. The “striving thing” is the web still in the loom; it is injured by the needle or shuttle passing through it. The spears or darts “must be the teeth of the batten penetrating through the warp.” “The two feet can only be the weighted ends of the two rows of warp threads.” The tree with leaves is a distaff, with flax on it; and the standing warp explains the metaphor of feet. On this see the learned and well-documented article by Erika von Erhardt-Siebold, “The Old English Loom Riddles,” Philologica, Malone Anniversary Studies, Baltimore, 1949, pp. 9–17. Mrs. von Erhardt-Siebold includes with the Loom Riddles 50 (k-d 35), Coat of Mail, which is related insofar as chain mail resembles weaving; and 45 (k-d 70), which is usually solved as Reed Pipe (p. 37 below).
Me the wet ground, exceeding cold,
first brought forth from within itself.
Neither am I wrought of woolen fleece
nor of hairs, with skill; I know it in my mind. I have no winding wefts nor any warp in me;
nor with strong rods does the thread resound for me, nor the whirring shuttle move across me, nor the weaver’s rods anywhere smite me. Worms do not weave me with fatal wiles
which fairly adorn the fine yellow web.
Yet nevertheless the wide world over one will call me a joyful garment for heroes.
Say now truly, you cunning sage, learned in language, what this garment may be.
Mec se wæta wong wundrum freorig
of his innaþe ærist cende
ne wat ic mec beworhtne wulle flysum
hærum þurh heahcræft hygeþoncum min ·
wundene me ne beoð wefle ne ic wearp hafu
ne þurh þreata geþræcu þræd me ne hlimmeð ne æt me hrutende hrisil scriþeð ne mec ohwonan sceal amas cnyssan wyrmas mec ne ā wæfan · wyrda cræftum
þa þe geolo godwebb geatwum frætwað
wile mec mon hwæþre seþeah wide ofer eorþan
hatan for hæleþū hyhtlic gewæde ·
saga soðcwidum searoþoncum gleaw wordum wisfæst hwæt þis ge wædu sy
In short, a Coat of Mail—woven, but not of wool or of silk. Weaving is suggested, yet with a series of exclusions to show that the thing is not what you would at first suppose.
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.
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
Þá nam ek frævask ok fróðr vera ok vaxa ok vel hafask,
orð mér af orði
orðs leitaði, verk mér af verki
Adrienne d’Evreus is a marvelously science-minded artist. I was invited to create words for her induction into the Order of the Maunche. Her Laurel, Mistress Isabel Chamberlain, lives far off, in another kingdom now, and so the scroll had some transit required! The desired piece required charter text, which is most appropriate for her persona. After a fair amount of looking and tossing a lot of sources, I decided that I’d use the “The Statute of Laborers, 1351” as the base of the text. The language has a great sound to it but it’s actually a somewhat harsh document. (You can learn about the statue here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Statute_of_Labourers_1351).
“The Statute of Labourers, was issued after the great plague of the Black Death, which raged in Europe from 1347 to 1349. The same fields remained to be tilled, the same manual labour to be performed; but a large proportion of the labourers had died, and the rest could command what wages they pleased. Edward III, to stop this evil, issued this rather Draconian decree.” (– Henderson, Ernest F., Select Historical Documents of the Middle Ages / London : George Bell and Sons, 1896.)
I adapted it heavily to keep the quality of the language and some of the themes, especially parts related to artists, and included my own riff on things as I listed items appropriate to her art and research projects, found on her blog. My goal was to have about 500 words. When done, it was 599 but I really liked it, so I sent Isabell it and an edited one. She chose the larger work to use in the scroll.
Their Royal Majesties Brion and Anna, from whom all Eastern powers flow, direct to the assembled members of the Court greeting. Because a great part of the people, and especially the of noble servants represented by the Order of the Maunche, have so suggested and ordered the consideration of the one named Adrienne d’Evreus, We, considering it is our honor and duty to recognize those skilled in the arts, have held deliberation and treaty concerning this with the prelates and nobles and other learned people sitting by us; by whose consentient counsel we have seen fit to ordain: that said Adrienne d’Evreus, be joined into the Order of the Maunche, to be recognised as such by every man and woman of our kingdom of the East, and to those beyond our borders even into the heart of the Knowne World, of whatever condition, whether bond or free, elder or younger, servant or noble, as one who has been bound to serve that Art which has retained her service for so many years preceding.
Provided, that in thus retaining her service, that she may be given fair reign to work her alchemy for the good of the court and kingdom, to serve without hindrance or interference, and to be granted access to all natural goods that she may require, without prosecution for poaching in the Royal lands, including but not limited to, buckthorn and iris, elderberry and oyster, walnut and oak gall, and any other such provisions as the lands may provide. Further, she is given Our permit to trade without molestation or impediment such alchemical and exotic supplies as may come from the great Ports of the Knowne World, including but not limited to, lead, alum, ochre, saffron, woad, indigo, lye, bones, woods of all lands, feathers, quills, nibs, pens, and other items which she may receive. Furthermore, and no matter what odor her concoction hath wrought, she may grind and soak, wash and rinse, pluck and work, elutriate and levigate at her will and whim.
And if a reaper or mower, fencer or archer, herald or minstrel, piper or tinker, mason or troubadour, other workman or servant, of whatever standing or condition he be, who is retained in the service of any one, do depart her from her selected service, without her leave, permission, or reasonable cause, he shall undergo the penalty of imprisonment, and let no one, under the same penalty, presume to receive or retain such a one in his service.
Likewise saddlers, skinners, white-tawers, cordwainers, tailors, smiths, carpenters, masons, tilers, shipwrights, carters and all other artisans and labourers, must be set to support her, and so they may recognize her, we hereby Grant her Arms that she alone may use: Azure, a fleur-de-lys argent, a bordure gules.
And if the lords of the towns or manors presume of themselves or through their servants in any way to act contrary to this our present ordinance, then in the Counties, Baronies and Provinces suit shall be brought against them for the triple penalty which shall be to live bereft of vermillion, ochre, cochineal, lapis lazuli, vergaut, malachite, saffron, verdigris, turmeric, gypsum, lamp black, Tyrian purple, malachite and their books of hours shall be left ever empty.
By the Powers of the Crowns of the East and in the support of the Society, it is thus ordained on the Feast of Saint Odo of Beauvais at the Royal Court of King Brion and Queen Anna at the Marketplace at Birka in the Barony of Stonemarche on the 28th day of January in the Year of the Society LI.
King Brion | Queen Anna
The Statute of Laborers; 1351
(“Statutes of the Realm,” vol. i. p. 307.)
Edward by the grace of God etc. to the reverend father in Christ William, by the same grace archbishop of Canterbury, Primate of all England, greeting. Because a great part of the people and especially of the, workmen and servants has now died in that pestilence, some, seeing the straights of the masters and the scarcity of servants, are not willing to serve unless they receive excessive wages, and others, rather than through labour to gain their living, prefer to beg in idleness: We, considering the grave inconveniences which might come from the lack especially of ploughmen and such labourers, have held deliberation and treaty concerning this with the prelates and nobles and other learned men sitting by us; by whose consentient counsel we have seen fit to ordain: that every man and woman of our kingdom of England, of whatever condition, whether bond or free, who is able bodied and below the age of sixty years, not living from trade nor carrying on a fixed craft, nor having of his own the means of living, or land of his own with regard to the cultivation of which he might occupy himself, and not serving another,if he, considering his station, be sought after to serve in a suitable service, he shall be bound to serve him who has seen fit so to seek after him; and he shall take only the wages liveries, meed or salary which, in the places where he sought to serve, were accustomed to be paid in the twentieth year of our reign of England, or the five or six common years next preceding. Provided, that in thus retaining their service, the lords are preferred before others of their bondsmen or their land tenants: so, nevertheless that such lords thus retain as many as shall be necessary and not more; and if any man or woman, being thus sought after in service, will not do this, the fact being proven by two faithful men before the sheriffs or the bailiffs of our lord the king, or the constables of the town where this happens to be done,-straightway through them, or some one of them, he shall be taken and sent to the next jail, and there he shall remain in strict custody until he shall find surety for serving in the aforesaid form.
And if a reaper or mower, or other workman or servant, of whatever standing or condition he be, who is retained in the service of any one, do depart from the said service before the end of the term agreed, without permission or reasonable cause, he shall undergo the penalty of imprisonment, and let no one, under the same penalty, presume to receive or retain such a one in his service. Let no one, moreover, pay or permit to be paid to any one more wages, livery, meed or salary than was customary as has been said; nor let any one in any other manner exact or receive them, under penalty of paying to him who feels himself aggrieved from this, double the sum that has thus been paid or promised, exacted or received and if such person be not willing to prosecute, then it (the sum) is to be given to any one of the people who shall prosecute in this matter; and such prosecution shall take place in the court of the lord of the place where such case shall happen. And if the lords of the towns or manors presume of themselves or through their servants in any way to act contrary to this our present ordinance, then in the Counties, Wapentakes and Trithings suit shall be brought against them in the aforesaid form for the triple penalty (of the sum) thus promised or paid by them or the servants; and if perchance, prior to the present ordinance any one shall have covenanted with any one thus to serve for more wages, he shall not be bound by reason of the said covenant to pay more than at another time was wont to be paid to such person; nay, under the aforesaid penalty he shall not presume to pay more.
Likewise saddlers, skinners, white-tawers, cordwainers, tailors, smiths, carpenters, masons, tilers, shipwrights, carters and all other artisans and labourers shall not take for their labour and handiwork more than what, in the places where they happen to labour, was customarily paid to such persons in the said twentieth year and in the other common years preceding, as has been said; and if any man take more, he shall be committed to the nearest jail in the manner aforesaid.
Likewise let butchers, fishmongers, hostlers, brewers, bakers, pullers and all other vendors of any victuals, be bound to sell such victuals for a reasonable price, having regard for the price at which such victuals are sold in the adjoining places: so that such vendors may have moderate gains, not excessive, according as the distance of the places from which such victuals are carried may seem reasonably to require; and if any one sell such victuals in another manner, and be convicted of it in the aforesaid way, he shall pay the double of that which he received to the party injured, or in default of him, to another who shall be willing to prosecute in this behalf; and the mayor and bailiffs of the cities and Burroughs, merchant towns and others, and of the maritime ports and places shall have power to enquire concerning each and every one who shall in any way err against this, and to levy the aforesaid penalty for the benefit of those at whose suit such delinquents shall have been convicted; and in case that the same mayor and bailiffs shall neglect to carry out the aforesaid, and shall be convicted of this before justices to be assigned by us, then the same mayor and bailiffs shall be compelled through the same justices, to pay to such wronged person or to another prosecuting in his place, the treble of the thing thus sold, and nevertheless, on our part too, they shall be grievously punished.
And because many sound beggars do refuse to labour so long as they can live from begging alms, giving themselves up to idleness and sins, and, at times, to robbery and other crimes-let no one, under the aforesaid pain of imprisonment presume, under colour of piety or alms to give anything to such as can very well labour, or to cherish them in their sloth, so that thus they may be compelled to labour for the necessaries of life.
Source:Henderson, Ernest F.
Select Historical Documents of the Middle Ages
London : George Bell and Sons, 1896.
Mistress Catrin was being recognized as a Tyger of the East. Only one person may be so recognized and named as such during a reign.
There was some conspiring and Thyra asked if I’d write the words for her scroll. I was given some inside information that Catrin had a strong connection to the allegorical play “The Marriage of Wit and Science” by John Redford, written in the 16th century. (You can read it here http://www.ancientgroove.co.uk/books/redford.html.)
I included nods to her arts in the theatre and mumming, in creating the Laurels vs Pelican’s event, and generally about how awesome we all think she is. I enjoyed referring to her as “Mistress Wit” — she is someone I greatly admire and am proud to call a friend.
Here is the scroll text that I created for her, very heavily based on the words of the play. I had the pleasure and honor to also read them in court.
Friends, we thank you for these your pleasures,
Taken as chance to meet Our measures,
Speaks Brion, King of Eastern Lands
As Anna, Queen, joins voice and hands,
Give place, we say now for our adulation!
Give place, give place to earnest declamation!
Where is that Wit that we seek, then?
Behold! She kneeleth here, bereft of plan.
Yet, wont to help all, if that she can.
O Mistress Wit, how dost thou? What hath began?
Give place, we say now for our adulation!
Make space, make space for honest recreation!
Lo, know this artistic connoisseur
Under the name Catrin o’r Rhyd Fôr
Mark her dancing, her masking and mumming!
Amusement and puissance e’er coming
Her writing, her acting, daily and nightly;
Find more for the spirit than there? Not lightly!
Content us We may, since We be assigned,
To honor Wit and Wisdom that liveth, to Our mind.
She setteth not by fame, where We spy her.
She careth not what the world saith by her.
She setteth not by favour, whereby We try her
She careth not what the world saith or dareth vie her
She setteth nought by riches which doth show
She careth but for others as they come and go.
Indeed small cause is given to care of world’s favoring
When one walks her own path strong and unwavering.
When tediousness to ground hath smitten most
She doth quick up their hearts with joyful toast,
With such honest pastimes, sports or games –
Makes birds and leaves defend their names –
And not a one, with pastimes such,
Will be abused, little or much.
True honor cleaveth unto she,
Her devotion cleaveth unto We.
Projecting constant message of such sort
That We, for Our Ideals, not her comfort,
For their embodiment, We have brought here
To grant words of praise to Our love dear,
But also further, it is Our inclination pure
That before her own person, We may confer
Upon the lengthy deeds she will sustain
Yet ere We send her turned out again,
She shall to these fair duties be released,
In freedom, as newest Tyger of the East.
Beneath the winter’s early setting sun
On January 28 of the Society Year LI
In Stonmarche’s great Birka Hall
King Brion and Queen Anna in especial
Wish to their honourable council and then to all the rest
Such joy as long may rejoice them all the best.
Words by Aneleda Falconbridge based on 16th Century play “The Play of Wit and Science” by John Redford. Calligraphy and Illumination by þóra Eiríksdóttir.