This is the web edition of the Pennsic Independent for Monday, August 15, 2005.
By Sir Guillaume de la Belgique
The progression of the week of Pennsic War bears some striking similarities to the progression of the Middle Ages, and by the third day of the war, with everyone settled down to stay for a while, Pennsic moves into its Crusading phase.
Of course, we all know that by the beginning of the 11th century the people of Europe had survived the myriad threats of famine, plagues, apocalypses and Vikings and, with all these troubles behind them, Europeans decided that the best way to appreciate their situation was to go stir up trouble somewhere else. Thus, they turned their attention - and their swords - on their neighbors to the east.
This is not to say that the third day of Pennsic is the beginning of a campaign of religious intolerance, but rather it's a time when the value of good neighbors becomes very important. By Monday, camps that were once nothing but vast tracts of open land with herds of wildebeests grazing upon them are suddenly crowded with pavilions and tents of all shapes and sizes. It's a time to get to know one another better, a process that (as the real Crusades demonstrate) may or may not have entirely pleasant results.
Fortunately the neighborly spirit runs pretty strong on the block of land where we camp, which may be due to the fact that, when a bunch of clueless Caidans came to their first Pennsic about four years ago, our neighbors from the Hunter's Home camp fed us spaghetti and garlic bread for three days straight. Or it may be due to the fact that during set-up week Duke Rurik tends to run around with his crew of burly ®thelmearcian squires digging trenches and shower pits for everyone on the block without their shirts on, which is always a big hit with the ladies in camp.
But despite all the congeniality at the war, you have to be careful just how far you let this sense of neighborly sharing go: One year I allowed Sir Hansa of the West to talk me into "sharing" his skin-tight leather German landsknecht pants, which resulted in me being followed around by several Ladies of the Rose who were not, technically, my wife, trying to get pictures of me to use for future blackmail purposes. To this day I occasionally get a photo of myself wearing those pants in the mail along with an anonymous demand for huge sums of money in unmarked bills.
The third day of Pennsic, like the 11th century in Europe, is all about the neighbors. Perhaps if the Crusading knights had taken a bit of the Pennsic spirit with them to the Holy Land medieval history might have been filled with less battle and animosity and more shirtless dukes in tight-fitting leather German pants. Whether or not that's a good thing-well, I'll leave that to your imagination.
You don't have to go on a crusade to get a copy of "Here Comes the Reign, Sir Guillaume!" which features 25 of his best and funniest stories of life in the SCA. Just visit Ceridwen's Closet, space #74 in merchants row to get your copy, or visit Guillaume's website at www.SirGuillaume.com.
By Peregrine Fairchylde
Staff Writer, Pennsic Independent
For Troll Works merchants Baron Gunnar the Smith and THLady Anna Longshanks of the East Kingdom, what they lost when their van caught fire last Sunday on the way to Pennsic cannot compare with the response they received once they arrived at the war.
"From the minute we got here, we've been treated like. . . it's just miraculous," said Baron Gunnar. "If there was any damage to our spirit, it was completely assuaged."
The couple, who live in the Barony of Concordia of the Snows, had been traveling for about three hours when their van started to experience problems. Eventually it started spouting smoke and as soon as they pulled off the road, His Excellency said, it caught fire. He and his lady were the only ones in the van and both escaped unharmed; however, most of their possessions, including the stock of jewelry for his merchant booth, were lost.
"We salvaged a basket load of clothes, a couple of chests," said Baron Gunnar. We lost 20 to 30 percent of our garb, but we've been doing this for 25 or 30 years, it's not like we don't have more garb."
Their 18-year-old daughter, Nyssa, though, managed to reach in and grab her father's broadsword out of the burning vehicle, earning his praise as a "smart Viking daughter."
Even before the couple got to Troll, he recounted, offers of assistance were already being made, for example, replacements for Baron Gunnar's armor, which was destroyed in the blaze.
"I wasn't even in the gate here at Pennsic, and Ice from Bloodguard, who I've fought with . . . came up and said, 'Your legs are in my booth,'" he said.
A member of Vykland, the Viking encampment the couple camps with, began making him a new body harness; their son, Aifor, gave up his Viking tent and bought a mundane tent so his parents would be spared the indignity of camping in a modern tent. Others have provided their meals, since their food and cooking supplies were destroyed.
And even before the couple arrived at site in the middle of last week, Vlad's Pleasure Pavilion had started taking donations to help the couple recover.
"His entire life as a Norse Viking is gone," said Vlad, who met Baron Gunnar 20 years ago.
Late last week, Vlad estimated some $1,300 had been collected, and he would continue accepting donations for the couple throughout the war.
THLady Anna said she was overwhelmed by "the outpouring of love and affection and caring" since they arrived at the site. "It helped make a terrible situation into something bearable," she said.
Standing in their tree-shaded encampment on Hill Road a week after the incident, the two gentles seemed remarkably well composed - even jolly - for people who suffered such a huge setback. But His Excellency said that on the day of the fire, after a few minutes of shock and upset, they had already put the incident in its proper perspective: No one was hurt, and that's what mattered.
"We saved our incense, our candles, our matches and two cheesecakes," he said. "We sat on the side of the road, eating cheesecake and making jokes as our van burned."
"It was definitely the best fire I've ever seen," added daughter Nyssa. "The pyro in me was going, 'Yeah, burn! Burn!'"
As for Gunnar and Anna, they say that this year has suddenly become their first real vacation Pennsic in a long time.
"We actually went strolling together during the day!" exclaimed THLady Anna. "That hasn't happened since we started merchanting 15 years ago. It's wonderful!"
And thanks to the donations of armor, Baron Gunnar says he won't have to miss a single War Week battle. What's more, he'll be able to replace all of his tools without waiting for an insurance settlement, so he can get back to his craft as soon as the war is over. The generosity of their Vykland compatriots, Vlad and others has been incredible to behold, he said.
"I'm just stunned," he said. "This is, beyond the shadow of a doubt, our best war ever.
"Everything that has ever been said about chivalry and honor in the SCA, I can tell you it is true."
Editorial Note: The annual Concert for Unknown Charity, held by Duke Moonwulf StarKaadarson, voted to donate the proceeds from passing the hat to Trollworks on Monday night.
By DonalBane of Blakmers
Battlefield Correspondent, Pennsic Independent
The Great Pennsic War XXXIV officially got underway Sunday morning as a large multitude of the populace assembled for Opening Ceremonies. As has become custom, the populace of AEthelmearc was the first to assemble, with TRMs Malcolm and Tessa preparing to welcome the rest of the kingdoms to their land. Songs of the glory of ®thelmearc rang out as Their Majesties awaited their guests.
After about 20 minutes, the grand columns from both the East Kingdom and the Midrealm marched in shoulder-to-shoulder, followed by representatives from every other kingdom in the Known World in order of their date of founding. It was TRMs Tarrach and Fina of Northshield that drew the biggest applause, as this will be the first war Northshield will participate in as a kingdom.
Once all of Their Majesties had arrived, HRM Malcolm welcomed the populace in a full voice.
"The sun shines brightly on this morning," HRM Malcolm said. "We hope this leads to a week of great camaraderie."
Malcolm then yielded to the kings of the belligerent nations. HRM Kelson of the East, leading the Tyger to war for the second straight Pennsic, spoke first.
"I find the entire concept of fighting my cousin here foolish," HRM Kelson said. Kelson then presented his court jester to the crowd and said he was willing to fight a fool.
HRM Alaric of the Midrealm was not fooling around, however.
"I am sure the forces of the Midrealm will be here to meet you on this field," HRM Alaric said."
"We will then pledge to do as we have always done: to keep the fight clean and honorable," HRM Kelson said.
"We must remember always what is written on the Runestone," HRM Alaric said. "Let no one fight in anger; Let no one fight in pain."
Alaric then produced the war arrow and broke it before presenting it to Kelson. As he did, cannons sounded drawing great applause from the crowd. Kelson then asked Alaric to keep the arrow, although he showed that Alaric would look excellent with the arrow sticking in his breastplate. Alaric countered that he would hold onto the arrow's barb to ensure no foul play.
The heralds of both the Midrealm and the East then alternated in calling out the names of the kingdoms and asking that they declare their allegiance to either the Dragon or the Tyger.
After HRM Thorfinn of the West and HRM Eduard of Atenveldt declared for the East, HRM Maximillan of Meridies was asked to declare.
"Well, I do declare!" HRM Maximillan said, drawing much laughter from the crowd. Saying he wanted to repel "the Yankee menace," HRM Maximillan declared for the Middle.
HRM Dietrich of Caid and HRM Uther of An Tir both then declared for the East, with HRM Uther indicating the East served him well when he was a novice fighter and he would repay the debt.
HRM Robert of Atlantia then broke with tradition as he declared his kingdom would fight alongside the Midrealm. HRM Jason of Ansteorra then declared for their traditional allies with the East.
HRM Tristan of Calontir then pulled a bit of a swerve, as he said he would repay the hospitality of the new Kingdom of Northshield by fighting alongside them. An emissary from The Outlands later said his kingdom would follow suit.
HRM Baldar of Trimaris, who is celebrating his kingdom's 20th anniversary, said he pledged "our weather and our arms to the Midrealm." HRM Cornelius of Lochac later would reply that it was snowing in his homeland and that Trimaris "can keep its weather" before declaring for the East. Drachenwald and Artemesia also declared for the East.
It was then ®thelmearc's turn and HRM Malcolm said, while he remembered his kingdom's heritage with the East, HRM Alaric had impressed him and AEthelmearc would fight with the Middle. HRM Edouard of Ealdormere then said he would honor his heritage and that his kingdom would follow the Middle.
Finally, Northshield took the stage for the first time and, with three kingdom armies at his disposal, HRM Tarrach declared he would fight alongside his former kingdom brothers in the Midrealm.
After all the SCA kingdoms had declared, representatives from the Holy Kingdom of Acre came forth and declared for their traditional allies of the East. Khan Rowena of Avalon, Khan of the Great Dark Horde then approached and said HRM Alaric had welcomed her people "with open arms, open minds and open pocketbooks." She then gave an arrow to Alaric, signifying the Horde's alliance with the Midrealm.
House Darkyard then came forth, bearing the Pennsic War Horn. HRM Alaric then played a scale on the horn before his consort, HRM Noelle, gave her own high blast.
It was HRM Alaric who had the last word of the ceremony.
"Let you all come to what fields that you may," said HRM Alaric. "Be it with rapier, archery or at heavy fighting, may you come with victory in your hearts and honor for your noble opponents. Until that time that we see you on the field, we will greet you."