Monday, 5 June 2017

Obeisance - I have been doing it wrong

I really should have researched this before now, I have been a part of many royal courts, maybe the Baron and baroness made me a guard because I did not perform obeisance well.

It's something we all do but where and when did it start in the western world? (I will update this later with east traditions but requires more research)

So we start at the beginning, the first reference I can find to obeisance to royal's dates back to Alexander the great in 328 BC he introduced to his court the act of proskynesis (sadly this is not the ability to set things on fire with your mind, but bowing or prostrating oneself before a person of higher social rank) and comes from persian courts (maybe)

Anthony Woodville, Earl Rivers & William Caxton
presenting the first printed book in English to Edward IV

The greek author Arrian of Nicomedia recorded the events in his work Anabasis. (literally an "expedition up from") is the most famous work, published in seven books, of the Greek professional soldier and writer Xenophon.)

[4.10.5] Concerning the opposition offered to Alexander by Callisthenes over the question of obeisance, there is also the following story.note It had been agreed between Alexander, the sophists and the most distinguished of the Persians and the Medes at his court that the subject should be raised during a drinking party.

[4.10.6] Anaxarchus launched the topic, saying that Alexander had much better claims to be regarded as a god than Dionysus and Heracles [...].

[4.10.7] The Macedonians would have better reason to honor their king with divine honors; there was no doubt that once Alexander departed from men they would honor him as a god. How much more justifiable it would therefore be to honor him in his lifetime rather than wait for his death, when the honor would be of no benefit to the recipient.

[4.11.1] After Anaxarchus had spoken to this effect, those who were privy to the plan praised his words and wanted to begin doing obeisance to Alexander, but the majority of Macedonians were displeased and kept quiet.

[4.11.2] Then Callisthenes intervened with these words: "Anaxarchus, I declare that there is no honor fitting to man that Alexander does not deserve. But a distinction has been drawn by men between honors fit for mortals and honors fit for gods, for example in the matter of building temples and setting up cult statues and setting apart sacred enclosures for gods, and making sacrifices and libations to them, and offering hymns to the gods but eulogies to men. Most important is the distinction observed in the matter of obeisance.

[4.11.3] You greet men with a kiss, but since a god is placed higher up and it is sacrilege to touch him, you honor him in this way with obeisance. Dances, too, are held in honor of the gods, and paeans are sung to praise them. No wonder, when one considers that different honors are appropriate to different gods, while heroes receive yet others distinct from divine honors.

Twelfth-century depiction of Henry II
and Eleanor of Aquitaine holding court
[4.11.4] It is unreasonable, therefore, to obliterate all these distinctions by inflating human beings to excessive proportions through extravagant honors, while inappropriately diminishing gods, as far as is possible, by offering them the same honors as men. Alexander himself would not tolerate for a moment a private individual laying claim to royal honors on the strength of some unjust show of hands or vote.

[4.11.5] How much more justified would be the displeasure of the gods against men who assume divine honors or allow others to do it for them. Alexander has more than justified the claim that he is and is seen to be the bravest of the brave, the most kingly of kings and the greatest of all generals.

[4.11.6] More than anyone else, Anaxarchus, you ought to have put forward this point of view and opposed the rival line of argument, because of your position as philosopher and instructor of Alexander. You ought not to have launched this subject. Remember that it is not Cambyses or Xerxes you are associating with and advising, but the son of Philip, descended from Heracles and Aeacus, whose forefathers came from Argos to Macedonia, and have since ruled the Macedonians by law and not by force.

[4.11.7] Why, not even Heracles received divine honors from the Greeks in his lifetime, nor even after his death until Apollo at Delphi gave an oracle instructing Heracles to be honored as a god. If one must think in foreign ways on the ground that this argument has originated in a foreign land, then do not forget Greece, Alexander. It was for her sake that you launched your whole expedition, to add Asia to Greece.

[4.11.8] Consider then whether on your return you will exact obeisance from the Greeks, the freest of men, or will you make an exception for the Greeks but inflict this indignity on the Macedonians? Or will you draw a distinction in the matter of honors generally, receiving from Macedonians and Greeks honors fit for men and acceptable to Greeks, and foreign honors only from non-Greeks?

Hommage au Moyen Age (public domain)
[4.11.9] It may be said that Cyrus the son of Cambyses was the first man to receive the honor of obeisance, and that it is this which has kept the Persians and Medes submissive as you can see. But you must remember that the great Cyrus was humbled by Scythians, poor but independent men, and Darius by other Scythians, and Xerxes by Athenians and Spartans, and Artaxerxes by Clearchus, Xenophon and the Ten Thousand,note and lastly our opponent Darius by Alexander - who had not yet been the object of obeisance."

[4.12.1] These and similar words of Callisthenes greatly irritated Alexander, though the Macedonians were pleased to hear them. Alexander realized this and sent instructions to the Macedonians to forget about obeisance for the future.

[4.12.2] Silence fell after these words, but the eldest of the Persians came forward to perform obeisance one after the other. Leonnatus, one of the Companions, thought that one of the Persians had not bowed properly, and made fun of the Persian's air of submissiveness. Alexander was angry with him at the time, though later he was reconciled.

[4.12.3] The following story is also told.note Alexander sent round a golden cup, passing it first to those who were privy to the plan about obeisance. The first person would drink from it, stand up and offer obeisance, then receive a kiss from Alexander, and the rest likewise in turn.

[4.12.4] When it was Callisthenes' turn, he stood up, drank from the cup, and went towards Alexander to kiss him, but without offering obeisance.

Alexander was then engaged in conversation with Hephaestionnote and was not paying attention to whether Callisthenes was going through the act of obeisance or not.

[4.12.5] But when Callisthenes approached Alexander to kiss him, Demetrius the son of Pythonax, one of the Companions, remarked that he had not made obeisance, whereupon Alexander did not allow himself to be kissed. "Well then," exclaimed Callisthenes, "I shall go away one kiss the poorer."

And so the beginnings of obeisance was formed within the western courts, the idea spread throughout royalty as a visible means of acceptance or dominance to stations higher than one's own clearly marking those who stand alone in august company.

Obeisance is considered a sign of respect or of service, Pre 5th Century it was performed by descending on both knees but later it was changed to descend on the left knee for higher station (yes I have been kneeling on the wrong knee) and the right for Bishops or if the blessed sacrament is present (but this was not formally adopted into the church until 1502)

Obeisance can also mean a indication of respect (this is done in many different ways depending on the culture, from a simple salute to complex hand/hat twirling (which became popular in french and italian courts.) some of the movements are quite complex and beyond the scope of this blog post. There are resources on courtly life that detail complex obeisance (like italian figure eight hat twirling) it can be quite fun learning about your persona's cultural "quirks"

Obeisance should be neither hurried or slowed, the ideal duration is five heartbeats to descend fully to the ground on bended knee, (for men) or Curtsy transitioning into a kneeling position (for women) it is neither trial nor duty but honor to give respect before royalty or those of worthy station.

During court obeisance is performed when called upon or as part of a procession, As a kneel and rise or kneel and wait to be dismissed by the elevated station you are making obeisance to, this is not always clear unfortunately but with practice and exposure to courtly "life" you should be able to "read" what is required (when called upon for an award kneel and wait)

Obeisance within the SCA at events "at large" (such as walking around the event site), can be as simple as an acknowledgment towards those of greater station, by lowering the eyes, a short bow/curtsy or in some cases a full kneel as the person passes, this is but your discretion, look to what others do is usually a good guide.

Sunday, 4 June 2017


If you want to build a ship, 
Don't drum up the men to gather wood
Divide the work and give orders

Instead teach them to yearn for the vast and endless sea

Sunday, 21 May 2017

Blow thy Horn, Hunter

Blow thy Horn, Hunter
William Cornysh
Born: 1465
Died: October 1523
Unknown creation date

Blow thy horn, hunter,
And blow thy horn on high!
There is a doe in yonder wood,
In faith she will not die:

Now blow thy horn, hunter,
Now blow thy horn, jolly hunter!

Sore this deer stricken is,
And yet she bleeds no whit;
She lay so fair, I could not miss,
Lord, I was glad of it:

Now blow thy horn, hunter,
Now blow thy horn, jolly hunter!

As I stood under a band,
The deer shoff on the mead;
I struck her so that down she sank
But yet she was not dead.

Now blow thy horn, hunter,
Now blow thy horn, jolly hunter!

There she go'th! See ye not,
How she go'th over the plain?
And if ye lust to gave a shot,
I warrant her barrain.

Now blow thy horn, hunter,
Now blow thy horn, jolly hunter!

He to go and I to go,
But he ran fast afore;
I bade him shoot and strike the doe,
For I might shoot no more.

Now blow thy horn, hunter,
Now blow thy horn, jolly hunter!

To the covert both they went,
For I found where she lay;
An arrow in her haunch she hent,
For faint she might not bray.

Now blow thy horn, hunter,
Now blow thy horn, jolly hunter!

I was weary of the game,
I went to tavern to drink;
Now, the construction of the same--
What do you mean or think?

Now blow thy horn, hunter,
Now blow thy horn, jolly hunter!

Here I leave and make an end
Now of this hunter's lore:
I think his bow is well unbent,
His bolt may flee no more.

Now blow thy horn, hunter,
Now blow thy horn, jolly hunter!

Sunday, 5 February 2017


Lists are important, I find listing what I want to do/create means I have a reference and can steadily work on projects throughout the year, the past few years I have found that working throughout the year stops the "event panic" common within the society, it's not two weeks to "faire" I have all year to build, create and research... so do you, I dont need panic to be productive.

I have a few current projects I am working on,

Tent (buying one, since the popup isn't working as well as I have hoped)
A folding camp table (inlaid with a map of the known world)
x2 Folding chairs (was thinking a glastonbury chair)
Folding bed ( considering building a monastery bed that breaks down)

Landsknecht garb
1x Dress set
4x General

Travel kit (just need arms and (semi) coat of plates now)
Breakdown shield (plan is to create a shield that can break into smaller parts for transport/travel) similar to my hand pavise.

More cheese making
Brewing (have 100L currently aging)

Largess (being a noble means an obligation to provide largess (this is not an sca requirement, but my own personal value) I have done so every year (last year I made 40L of sekanjabin syrup)

12 things challenge (almost finished)

Training, dancing (need to find a teacher) and singing (learning songs in german)

Sunday, 29 January 2017

Cut twice, measure once.

Real life keeps preventing me from pursuing my dream, so my new year's resolutions is to make time.

So to that end I am going to continue to make time to work on my blog, Thank you to all the mysterious people who do visit (almost 50 per day from unique Ip's) I am working on the bench assembly plans Link to Bench plans and continuing my quest for period style padding without breaking the bank Link to Gambeson

I leave you with a 1100 - 1150 Troubadour song about the crusades Link to Audio file

Marcabru, Pax in nomine Domini - (translated from french - Original)

I. Peace in the name of the Lord! Marcabru made the verse and the tune. Hear what he says: how the heavenly Lord in His loving-kindness has created for us, in our vicinity, a washing-place such as never existed before, apart from over there near the valley of Josaphat in Outremer; but it is about the one over here that I exhort you.

II. We ought to wash night and morning, according to what is right, I assure you. Each has the opportunity to wash; he ought to go to the washing-place while he is still fit and well, for it is a true medicine for us, because if we go to death beforehand, instead of a lofty mansion we shall have lowly lodgings.

III. But avarice and no-faith divide youth from his companion. Ah, what grief it is, that all and sundry fly towards that place whose reward is infernal! If we do not run to the washing-place before we have our mouth and eyes closed, there is not one of us so puffed up with pride that he will not find a strong adversary at the moment of death.

IV. For the Lord who knows all that is, and knows all there will be and ever was, has promised us a crown and the title of emperor; and its beauty will be sapiential, for it will shine in the sky at the washing-place more than the morning star, provided that we avenge God of the wrongs that they do to Him both here and over there towards Damascus.

V. Akin to the line of Cain, the first evil man, there is a great number here of whom not one shows honour to God. We shall see who will be His close friend, for with the miracle of the washing-place Jesus will be in communion with you. And drive back the rabble who believe in augury and divination!

VI. But the lecherous wine-trumpeters, dinner-gobblers, brand-blowers, hearth-squatters will remain behind, those pilferers! For God wants to test the brave and the sound in His washing-place, and these others will keep an eye on the houses and dig their coulter into the garden (?), which is why I hound them to their shame.

VII. Here and in Spain the Marquis and all of Solomon’s Temple bear the weight and the burden of pagan pride, which is why youth gathers a base reputation; and the public outcry relating to that other washing-place pours down on the highest-ranking leaders: broken failures, weary of valour, who love neither joy nor delight.

VIII. The French are perverted if they say no to God’s cause, for I know how things stand! Antioch, here Guyenne and Poitou are in mourning for reputation and worth. May God conduct the count to His washing-place and lay his soul to rest, and may the Lord who rose from the tomb guard Poitiers and Niort.

Monday, 6 June 2016

Fimblewinter 2016

This last weekend I had the honor of helping to steward a local event "Fimbulwinter" it was quite a lot of fun, I got to see how much effort goes into planning event's (P.S, they don't happen overnight) It was also the 10th anniversary of the 1st fimbulwinter so we re-created the Feast that Lord Kotek made.

We had guests from Ildhafn and from our baroney, Southron gaard. Also in attendance was the Baroness of Southron gaard to which she comported herself with noble grace and bearing (even while reading ribaldry) much fun talking, drinking, rapier, archery, embroidery, candle dipping was to be had.

But the company was the best part, spending time with those that enjoy the game as much as you or I.

Sadly we had 7 cancellations due to sickness which left our tables very well stocked, I heard tell of people exclaiming they may well explode with all the food and drink on offer and a large debate rolled on towards night as which was the best dish, with all the food being compared and attendees exclaiming their favorites (my personal favorite was the Honey and Cumin carrots)

It was a great pleasure to see attendees helping and assisting others, talking and debating without one-upsman ships which so plagues the mundane world. events like this is what I feel the SCA is all about and was very enjoyable to attend.

I wish to thank each and every attendee for making the event what it was and what I will remember it to be years from now. I hope that in Year 20 of fimbulwinter others will look back at what came before with fond memories and a light heart.

Ps. There's still food left.

Sunday, 22 May 2016

Sunset and the dawn


I have been quite unwell these past few months haven't been able to train or do much SCA related stuff so my path slowed somewhat. (a big "I'm sorry" to the gentleman who asked me about shield Pavise construction as I have been unable to fulfill his request about a template and construction method, esp rawhide edging)

Recovering from events in your life can be tricky, I have found this is be true especially in regards to keeping momentum or motivations for your projects, it can be many, many things that set projects back. For me I suffer from Cluster headaches which randomly (or without a discernible pattern I have found) have periods of high activity.

Part of chivalry in my opinion, is the ability to push past or at least take on adversity! Stand and say No.. when it meets the Code to do so. I hope I can find the strength to continue this task, which I will never finish even if I reach my goal.

The path to knighthood is never ending, Even if you reach the point to be recognised, the path continues.. ever onwards into the sunset, and onto the dawn of a squire.