Here at last is the story from Northshield’s Spring Coronation! I’ll be posting it in sections, so you don’t have one post that’s 17,000 words long. On the last day of writing, I accidentally lost my entire day’s work, so there is a definite gap in the narrative. It still hurts to think about, but. . . at least I have the rest.
As usual, I have not really edited or proofread this, so expect the occasional typo.
Those of you using WordPress Reader may want to switch to reading the actual post on the blog, as this story contains pictures.
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The early morning of April eighth found Wynnie and me in the car, heading north almost to the Canadian border (or so it felt), in garb. We were going to Northshield’s twenty-sixth Coronation.
Wynnie was wearing her red bliaut (with sleeves of doom), and I was wearing my blue cotton cyrtel with the moderately-sized boat-shaped sleeves. I had also brought along my distaff and spindle, their first trip to an event, and was planning on doing some actual spinning at the event. It didn’t occur to me until we were well on our way, the first time I got a sleeve caught on the steering wheel when I was trying to turn, that perhaps these sleeves weren’t the best for spinning in.
The event was held at Moorhead’s museum the Hjemkomst Center. I found out later that Hjemkomst is Norse for homecoming, and in addition to that, our Prince and Princess at the time have Norse personae.
We arrived at site around a quarter to ten, having managed not to get lost on the way up. I arranged my veil properly, using one of the car’s mirrors. We got out and stretched ourselves and arranged our layers of garb, and I laced Wynnie up.
“Oyez!” came a shout from the direction of the building. “Court will begin in fifteen minutes!”
“So, almost on time, then,” we said, and started unloading the car. Wynnie had her camera bag and a belt bag but no belt, and I had my distaff and spindle and my pilgrim’s bag. We left the cooler and basket with lunch in the car until later. Wynnie got out her five dollars and waivers, and I made sure I still had my money bag with me, and then we were ready to go in.
The line for Troll was long, and we were just within sight of the table when a lady came down the line saying, “Court is set to start in ten minutes, so if you want to get seats, it’s okay to come pay later.” After a hurried consultation with someone else, she amended the time to five minutes.
“Okay, let’s go in,” Wynnie said at last. “We need to find our group, and I need a belt.” We broke out of the line and went into the room for Court. Most of the seats were full already. It was easy to find our group by looking for Lord Iain’s garb and Jean in excited conversation with somebody. They had seats on the right side of the center aisle, about the middle of the section.
“Good morning,” Wynnie said to Lord Iain, who said he was glad to see us, but Jean did not notice us until we went around to the other side and stood right next to him.
“Oh, good morning! I didn’t see you, how long have you been standing there?” was his greeting, with a bow to accompany it. Wynnie returned a curtsey.
“Sorry we have no Jenny with us today,” she said.
“That’s sad, but it’s okay, you guys — ladies — made it,” he said, and hugged her. Turning to me, he added, “And here, I know you’re socially awkward, but come on.”
My distaff and spindle were in my belt for ease of carrying, which made me not exactly safe to hug, as I tried to point out, but there was no avoiding it.
“Are these seats taken?” Wynnie asked, pointing to two in the row, which had a purple plaid draped over them.
“I don’t know. Probably. You’ll want to get seats soon,” Jean said.
We went to try to find a place. Lord Manfred was standing by a tapestry against the back wall, but when we approached him we got swept up in a group of people just coming in, and were carried past him. Although we both waved, he couldn’t see us. Ajax, and the boy famed for being the youngest rapier fighter in Kingdom, and a Japanese man, were also back there, leaving us no room to stand by him without being in the way.
Behind the back row, on the floor, was an open spot where we could sit and peer around the chair at the thrones. Wynnie decided that was as good a place for taking pictures as we were likely to get, so we settled down there with our spinning and camera bags and other assorted baggage, finding that we actually took up quite a bit of room this way, even when we had our skirts tucked up and were practically sitting on each other to use as little space as possible.
Almost as soon as we had gotten in place, and with quite a few people standing around in the back and by doorways because there was neither room nor time for them to get a place to sit, one of the people already gathered around the thrones said “Oyez!”
We heard singing from the other side of the room, and looked, and saw the royal procession coming toward us from the farther door. At their head was a woman carrying a weapon of some kind, and singing. I won’t try to reproduce it here. Each verse ended “Up spears, the South! Out swords, the North!” People rose and bowed, or knelt, or stood, and then the procession reached us and we scrambled up. Their Majesties, who seemed to be wearing mostly red and orange, passed us, then the last of their champions and attendants, and they gathered at the front by the thrones, standing until the singer had reached the very last iteration of “Up spears, the South! Out swords, the North!” with especial vigour. Then Their Majesties sat down and the other attendants found their places, and finally one of them, Hrodir it might have been, said, “Please, be comfortable.”
We sat back down.
“Their Majesties request the presence,” said the herald, “of Grainne.” A woman in blue early-period garb, with a green blanket wrapped like a cloak, came up to the front and knelt.
“She presented a poem to us at Twelfth Night and we wish her to present it to the populace of Northshield as well,” Hrodir said. The lady stood off to the side of the thrones and read her poem, beginning, “Listen to the worth of Northshield’s Khagan! Listen to the value of Northshield’s Bek!”
When she finished she knelt again, and they thanked her, and then she returned to her seat.
“Their Majesties request the presence of Kita Joru Toramassa,” the herald said. A very tall man in black and yellow Japanese garb came down the aisle, with a small woman in Japanese following him.
“Your Majesties,” he said, upon reaching the thrones, “my mother has something she wishes to present to you.”
“Ah, very good,” said Hrodir. “But we hear tell that you are a sorceress.”
To this the lady replied something so quietly we didn’t hear, but Yehudah laughed and said, “Oh! So now you’re an assassin?” with eyebrows raised. “Oh, but you only do small things. I see.”
“She said, after she had me, she’d only ever make small things again,” Kita Joru said.
Some more inaudible conversation went on, and then TRM requested the presence of Anne. A stout lady in black and yellow Norse garb came to the front, and the Japanese lady handed her and Hrodir two packages wrapped in tissue paper. They opened them and admired their contents, and then Hrodir held up a picture in a frame.
“She’s painted pictures of us from when we were reigning,” he said. “This is the photograph,” waving the framed picture, which was at least six inches wide, “and this is her painting.” He held up a tiny square that was perhaps three inches across. “She makes us look delicate! All my life I’ve wanted to be delicate. Thank you,” he said, to Kita’s mother.
They bowed and went back up the aisle, and Anne went back to where she’d come from.
“Their Majesties request the presence of those members of the populace who went to Gulf Wars and didn’t fight,” the herald said. Nearly a dozen people came and knelt in the area in front of the thrones.
“After Gulf Wars,” said Yehudah, “we paid our troops, of course, but we didn’t notice our oversight until later, that we hadn’t paid the others who had made the trip all the way from Northshield, not to fight but to be there with us and support us. War is an experience not only for those in armour and fighting. It takes people to bring water and food, to put up tents and take down tents, to make a crowd, to increase Northshield’s presence. This deserves recognition too.”
Their Majesties stood up. “These are joint King’s Ciphers,” Yehudah said, holding up something that was silver in the light. “On one side is his boar and on the other side are my polka dots.” They began handing them out to the people kneeling there.
“For the populace of Northshield who went to Gulf Wars and didn’t fight,” said the herald, pausing to draw breath, “Vivant!”
“Vivant!” we replied, as they scattered to their seats.
“Their Majesties request the presence of Margaret,” the herald said.
“O Spouse!” said Hrodir, looking to the crowd somewhere to his right.
A woman in something I guessed was Middle Eastern garb, with a turban, came forward and knelt.
“Margaret, you have been a patient and supportive lady,” said Yehudah, bending toward her. “All through this reign. I couldn’t have gotten through it without you. You didn’t go to New Zealand, and you didn’t murder me, both of which on their own are deserving of recognition,” he said as the crowd laughed, “and so we have a little something for you.”
One of the attendants behind him handed him a coronet, and he held it up.
“Margaret,” said the herald, while Yehudah settled the coronet around her turban, “mindful of your faithful service to the Society, we are minded to make you a Baron of our Court.”
“Baroness,” said a few people under their breath.
“Done by our hands this eighth of April in the fifty-first day of the Society,” the herald finished, and someone in the audience said quite distinctly, “Fifty-first year.”
An attendant standing beside the herald took out the scroll from a book and handed it to Yehudah, who stood up and displayed it for us. We were, of course, much too far away to read it, but we saw the text with an arch and battlements for a border, and lots of gold and blue.
“For Baroness Margaret: Vivat!” said the herald.
A lady came up behind us and whispered, “There’s going to be a procession coming in this way soon, so you might want to move.”
We got up and looked around. Wynnie wanted a good place for taking pictures from, but there weren’t any chairs in the one place, and though there were some empty chairs in front of us, they were right behind some tall people. We scooped up our stuff and backed up to stand with some other people by a small doorway.
“You can grab those chairs and drag them back,” suggested a Baroness I knew by sight, in Middle Eastern garb. Wynnie and I each grabbed one and did so as quietly as we could, and Wynnie ended up sitting next to her. I happened to put mine down in front of the open door, and a lady standing just behind (so I had blocked her out if she got called up for some reason) said, “We can’t block this doorway, it’s a fire danger, you know, with all the people in here. Move it to the side.”
I pushed it over as far as it could go, so that it was right in front of the door, which was open at right angles to the rest of the room. On the other side was someone with a child.
Now that I was finally in a chair, I could spin. I set my distaff between my knees and started, only keeping an eye on where the spindle was going, so I didn’t bump into anybody.
Their Majesties were speaking of a couple who had long been a part of Northshield and been dedicated to serving the kingdom for a long time, but who were now leaving us to move to another kingdom. The herald read a poem in the style of Norse verse, and then Hrodir held up a dark oblong object. “This was inscribed on this,” he said, “as a gift to them, so that from now on everything will point to Northshield.” He added as he handed it off, “And it’s real iron.”
After this, a gentleman with a white belt and a coronet came down the center aisle, bowed with his arms outspread, and said he had a request for Their Majesties. The request led to the procession the lady had told us about. A lady in white wimple and veil, in a shiny sideless gown with a black and gold pattern, and a gentleman in garb of the same fabric, with a white coif and purple cap, were the central part of it. The gentleman almost disappeared in comparison to the lady of the sideless gown. Next to her white veil, her braided hair looked almost black, and her dark eyes and whole face were commanding — she had exactly the look you would expect of a medieval noblewoman. They knelt side by side on the cushion in front of the thrones.
Their Majesties requested the company of the most noble Order of the Laurel. They crowded the aisle behind the matching gentles, and lined the front of the room where the chairs ended.
“Noble Lords and Ladies,” said one of Their Majesties, “is it your opinion that Corydon Rathbone and the Honourable Lady Typhaine Arondeal be are worthy of elevation into the Order of the Laurel?”
“Is there a royal Peer to attest to Corydon’s nobility?”
A certain Duke stood up, resplendent, imposing — even regal — in shiny red and gold late-period garb. “I, Your Majesties, Vladimir Radescu, twice and future king.” The populace started laughing and drowned out his next few words, and he was not too dignified to stop and join in the laughter at his expense. He went on to speak of how long he had known Corydon, and had the honour to fight with a Corydon axe. He praised Corydon’s honour both on the field and off the field, and ended by saying, “Your Majesties, I am glad to recommend Corydon to you, and hope that someday he may indeed be my Peer.”
Others spoke for Corydon, praising his courtesy, his chivalry, his generosity, his fighting prowess. “A hundred years ago I went to a Pennsic,” one lady said, “Being Pennsic, there was a storm, and we were all worried about tents falling down, and Corydon offered us all, if we needed a place to crash, to come to his tent.”
Another lady spoke of her early days in the SCA, and how she had come to an event once, “and one of the first things I saw was this pavilion, this beautiful pavilion that looked like it had come straight from a painting, and I said, ‘Someday I will have a pavilion like that’. A while later I met the owner of the pavilion, and I had never before met anyone so charming and handsome and generous.”
A knight spoke of how Corydon became “the first person ever to contact the Tower of London and ask for an exact facsimile” of something whose name I’ve forgotten, “and so he fights, he really fights in a period way. And like His Grace, I also have a pair of Corydon rubber axes I fight with.”
People also spoke for Typhaine, of her dedication to historical accuracy in encampments, in dress; of her willingness to give and teach her knowledge to those who asked; of her skill in making garb.
The two new Laurels joined their hands on the sword to swear fealty. Their Majesties accepted their gifts of talent and knowledge.
Corydon doffed his cap for Yehudah to put the Laurel medallion around his neck.
“Now take from our hands this, the symbol of your order; the Laurel wreath, which has ever stood for excellence. As we have acknowledged your excellence this day, rise, Corydon Rathbone, Master of the Laurel.”
He rose, and after his lady wife had also been given a medallion and with the same words been pronounced Mistress of the Laurel, he held out his hand to help her up. Then we saw him unsheathe something and then he held up a dagger horizontally above his head, turning to show it off to the populace while Hrodir said, “It has his oath engraved on the blade too.” Master Corydon sheathed it and put it in his belt.
Their Majesties hugged each of the new Laurels, and then Master Corydon put his hat back on.
“For Master Corydon Rathbone and Mistress Typhaine Arondeal, Companions of the Order of the Laurel: Vivant!”
“Vivant!” we replied.
They came up the aisle holding hands, Mistress Typhaine on the left side of her husband.
They got to the back by where we were sitting, and the honourable lady let go of her husband’s hand and stepped toward me, gesturing toward me, and said, “You.”
Now I and my spinning were perhaps partially blocking the doorway, from the point of view of a lady in a trained gown, if she was trying to get through. I thought I was in her way, if they were going to go out that door, and so I moved my knees and right hand away from the door. But she outlined with her hands where I was sitting and said, “You. You’re perfect.”
“Thank you,” I said automatically.
“The veil, the distaff, everything. Just perfect.”
“Thank you,” I said again, now aware how at a loss for words I was.
Master Corydon was standing where she’d left him, looking on patiently, along with a few Laurels who were on their way back to their seats and weren’t going to push past. Mistress Typhaine stepped back to him and took his hand again, and they finished their procession out.
It wasn’t for another few minutes that it sunk in entirely that I had just been complimented by a lady who had just been Laurelled. In short, by somebody who knew what she was talking about.
To be continued.