Pennsic Historically--Part 3: It's A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood
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.