When the King calls, one must be always ready with an answer.
I had long ago decided, even before becoming the King’s champion, that I would be ready any time that I was asked to perform. (Thank you Coxcomb Academy!) That I would always have something up my sleeve, and that I would not refuse an opportunity or request when given one, no matter how off-guard, awkward, or surprised I might be. I have had the dubious excellent fortune to have served fine Kings who have given me ample opportunity to test my own promise to myself.
King Lucan called on me to perform without notice, quite regularly, starting with his Coronation, and so I always for him had something at the ready, or at least a thought in mind should he call upon me to serve. King Gregor has proven a canny and witty challenger and has nearly got me off my guard, especially at the fall Crown Tournament, when the above video was recorded, when he asked, in the middle of the reading of the list rules, that I sing them instead.
I have always thought that it would be a hoot to read the list rules, as a personal challenge, to see if people would listen to them, for they are indeed rote and dry. So someone put a bug in the Brigantia Herald’s ear and I got to read them! King Gregor loomed over my shoulder as I read the first rule, and then stopped me, and, to my astonishment, asked that I sing them instead. I thought I’d had an auditory hallucination, but no, he had indeed asked me to sing them. Thankfully I didn’t stand there as slack-jawed as I felt apparently, and I replied, “Ah, well then, Your Majesty, would Gregorian suffice?” “Yes, that will do,” said His Majesty.
And so, deeply thankful for all those years as church cantor, I sang the rules of the list (with a few theatrics added). I was grateful to see that the lovely Mistress Kayeligh McWhyte had taken video of the thing as it happened, because I know it happened so quickly I scarcely remembered it. The choral “Amen” at the end just sealed it perfectly.
It will remain one of the most memorable performances I have ever had in the SCA, and the laughter of the crowd will be carried with me for many, many of the darkening days of winter. To add to the sweetness of this, Dutchess Aikaterine and Countess Althea gave me their token at the court, when the Ladies of the Rose recognize deeds they witnessed during the day. They are most often given to combatants, and so it was a great surprise to hear Althea’s musical voice speaking of the start of the day and the entertainment and cheer which the list rules brought. I am incredibly touched by that tiny golden rose, and grateful to King Gregor for giving me such an opportunity to entertain and amuse.
Below are the rules of the list, which were read and sung at Crown. I should have quizzed people later to see if they remembered them! For some reason, “No projectile weapons” is the one that sticks in my mind.
The Rules of the Lists are reprinted from Appendix B of the Corpora of the SCA.
1. Each fighter, recognizing the possibilities of physical injury to him or herself in such combat, shall assume unto himself or herself all risk and liability for harm suffered by means of such combat. No fighter shall engage in combat unless and until he or she has inspected the field of combat and satisfied himself or herself that it is suitable for combat. Other participants shall likewise recognize the risks involved in their presence on or near the field of combat, and shall assume unto themselves the liabilities thereof.
2. No person shall participate in Combat-Related Activities (including armored combat, period fencing, combat archery, scouting, and banner bearing in combat) outside of formal training sessions unless he or she shall have been properly authorized under Society and Kingdom procedures.
3. All combatants must be presented to, and be acceptable to, the Sovereign or his or her representative.
4. All combatants shall adhere to the appropriate armor and weapons standards of the Society, and to any additional standards of the Kingdom in which the event takes place. The Sovereign may waive the additional Kingdom standards.
5. The Sovereign or the Marshallate may bar any weapon or armor from use upon the field of combat. Should a warranted Marshal bar any weapon or armor, an appeal may be made to the Sovereign to allow the weapon or armor.
6. Combatants shall behave in a knightly and chivalrous manner, and shall fight according to the appropriate Society and Kingdom Conventions of Combat.
7. No one may be required to participate in Combat-Related Activities. Any combatant may, without dishonor or penalty, reject any challenge without specifying a reason. A fight in a tournament lists is not to be considered a challenge, and therefore may not be declined or rejected without forfeiting the bout.
8. Fighting with real weapons, whether fast or slow, is strictly forbidden at any Society event. This rule does not consider approved weaponry which meets the Society and Kingdom standards for traditional Society combat and/or Society period rapier combat, used in the context of mutual sport, to be real weaponry.
9. No projectile weapons shall be allowed and no weapons shall be thrown within the Lists of a tournament. The use of approved projectile weapons for melee, war, or combat archery shall conform to the appropriate Society and Kingdom Conventions of Combat.
Thus ends the Rules of the Lists. Amen.