katherine kerr of the Hermitage, her site

Baronial Activities

[The Baronial Oath] [Diplomacy] [Ambassadors and Wardens] [Baronial Reporting] [Bartholomew's Spell] [Tips for a B&B]
[Baronial Coronets] [Baronial Sunshades] [Baronial Shell Game] [Baronial Noughts and Crosses] [Banners and Standards] [Inflammatory Maps]
[Peerage Activities] [Crown Event Activities]

When Bartholomew and I stepped up as Baron and Baroness of Southron Gaard in AS39, we expected to put a fair wodge of work into the Barony -- and we weren't wrong! We spent a lot of our time looking at what sort of activities and resources would be useful to make the game easier, more interesting and more fun for people, to give folk a chance to try out new ideas or skills or stretch their boundaries. Here is a motley selection of some of the things we have done over the years. To get an idea of where the Barony is now, and its broad range of activities, take a look at the Southron Gaard Website.

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The Baronial Oath -- Our Credo

We wrote a credo based on the standing Oath of Fealty sworn by terroritorial Barons and Baronesses in Lochac. We believed that it provided a useful foundation for how a territorial Baron and Baroness should regard their role, and a means to let the populace know how we personally pledged to act in that regard.

Obey the King's and Queen's lawful commands
This is the bottom line on which much else depends. We are their Majesties' representatives, with our position and whatever authority and ceremonial status we hold deriving directly from them. When they lawfully say "jump", we will jump. Should we be consulted beforehand about the proposed direction of a jump, we will do our best to convey to their Majesties what direction would be best for this Barony. When time and circumstances allow, we will also do our best to first consult widely with the populace. If we see a problem arising within the Barony with respect to Kingdom law and practice, we will do the same, and pass any resulting conclusions on to their Majesties.

Faithfully hold and administer the Barony of Southron Gaard
This is a very specific behest concerning good governance. The Barony has a range of officers performing specific duties, with responsibilities both to the populace and to Kingdom officers. The Seneschal is their leader, and has the last word on matters of mundane policy and management. Where we come in, beyond representing their Majesties' wishes, is to:

  • set a positive tone and style of discourse among all members of the populace, including how each treats and responds to their fellows
  • require and encourage sound governance practices, including long-range planning, inclusiveness, openness to new ideas, communication, accountability and proper budgeting
  • help prevent little disputes and friction-points from becoming larger ones
  • foster a strong strategic impetus towards a happy, growing Barony

Support your people in their various endeavours
We will strive to help, rather than hinder, every member of the populace in their pursuit of the many and varied activities which occur within the Barony. If we can reasonably remove obstacles or avoid creating new ones, we will do so. If we can encourage people to try new challenges or activities, or attain new heights in their existing fields, we will be doing our job properly. So also, if we can help save an officer from burn-out, or provide relief to someone suffering personal attack, or encourage gentles who are feeling overawed by those around them, or help children to recognise and live by the ideals of the Society (as well as learning how to hit each other with boffer-swords).

Bring all good works to the notice of Their Majesties
Different people have different views regarding awards. Our view is that, if we see someone consistently or spectacularly doing Good Things, particularly if they are doing it in a way that heartens and nurtures those around them, then they richly deserve to be recognised. They deserve this whether they started participating in the Barony last week, or are weighed down by the honours they have received in the past. They are our role models, and we can never have too many of them. We urge you to look for those people at all times, then look for a Baronial or Kingdom award appropriate to their efforts and achievements, and then tell us about it. If you cannot find an appropriate award, please tell us anyway!

Mindful that the harmony of Southron Gaard springs from your deeds, treat courteously with all, whatever their degree or station
This can sometimes be a challenging requirement for any Baron and Baroness, because we're human too. When we get irritated or distracted or busy, we might want to snap at someone instead of treating them as they deserve. Nonetheless, the above statement sets the standard we should – must! – follow, and which we wish to encourage in all others.

Everyone in the Barony is worthy of respect. If their views differ from ours, or yours, so be it: that is merely cause for disagreement regarding the matter, not for disparagement of the person. Bear in mind that when problems arise in which we become involved, we will not rush to make judgement and we are likely to actively seek alternative viewpoints, some of which may well differ from yours.

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The Festival War

At our investiture feast (AS39), King Stephen announced that it would please him greatly if the Crescent Isles groups would find a common cause on which to declare war on a mainland barony. We cast around for a suitable opponent and pretext, and were delighted when Arnfinr, Baron of Ynys Fawr, came to the party:

Unto their Excellencies Sir Inigo, Batholomew, Lady Francesca and Sir Ulf, do their Excellencies Arnfinn and Aine, Baron and Baroness of Ynys Fawr, send their most infernally warm greetings.
It is with great pleasure and anticipation that we enter into discussions with thee on the matter of ownership of the wastes of the south, and of your future inclusion within the principality of Ynys Fawr.
Whilst we reciprocate thine most appropriate peacable yearnings, it is clear that for the stability of the Kingdom and to avoid any future confusion over the ownership of the wastes of the south, we must force ourselves from our comfortable homes to the battlefields of Rowany, to not only decide upon the issue of the wastes, but to invite thee under our wing, and of course Gottmark wouldst make a fine addition to our realm.
Your most bold and erroneous missive hast been received, and our corrective post shall be despatched forwith.

After some to-ing and fro-ing hither and yon, the groups set forth this joint declaration at Festival Closing Court:

Unto Their Most Noble Majesties, Stephen and Mathilde, rightful rulers of the Kingdom of Lochac, do Bartholomew Baskin and Katherine Kerr, Baron and Baroness of Southron Gaard, Inigo Missaglia and Cecilia Lyon, Baron and Baronness of Ildhafn, and Lady Francesca Martini, Seneschal of the Shire of Darton, send this most humble and urgent appeal.
We welcome the chance to have a consultation and meeting with You and with the rest of the Principal Men of the Kingdom, as to provision for remedies against the Dangers which are in these days threatening to cause Unwelcome Alarums, viz that about Your Highnesses are those who appear to be Insatiable and Covetous, that daily and nightly persist in Erroneous Belief, and who even now offer Threats to the southernmost parts of Your realm.
We ask You therefore to consider these points:
Item. We say that certain of Your lords have cast Covetous Eyes at the mighty extent of the Crescent Isles, termed by some Gottmark, and have made it known that they would forcibly annex our lands to their would-be island Principality as part of their Over-weening Ambition to rise above the lowly place that their current geography grants them.
Item. We say that further to this the Baron and Baroness of Ynys Fawr have falsely claimed sovereignty over the Great White Southern Land, which has ever been under the guardianship of Southron Gaard, first as Shire and, in more recent times as Barony, as part of our greater lands.
Item. We say that such claims are false, for not only was Southron Gaard first granted such territory at its founding a Score and more of years ago, but just one dozen years past the peoples of the Crescent Isles, termed by some Gottmark, fought and won a series of Mighty Battles in the Pen Gwynne War to demonstrate to Your rebellious subjects then that Might and Right were on our side in this cause.
Item. We say that Ynys Fawr, by describing those broad, beautiful and austere lands as “the wastes of the south” has demonstrated clearly their Ignorance of the true character of those parts, whereas we are well familiar with our southernmost lands having on many occasions undertaken Progresses through them.
Item. We well know that one cannot blame all the folk of Ynys Fawr, nor all those that are about Your Majesties’ Persons, nor all gentlemen nor yeomen, nor all men of law, nor all bishops, but all such as may be found guilty by just and true inquiry and by the law, of making false claims to the Crescent Isles, termed by some Gottmark, and erroneous claims to the guardianship of the Great White Southern Land.
Item. We are concerned that this False Counsel could lead to the loss of Law, the destruction of the common people, the loss of Safe Passage on the seas, and that such Bellicose Murmurings may well have the Court so beset that none can pay for meat nor drink with all monies drained into the unfertile fruits of War.
Therefore we ask only that the aforementioned False Baron and Baroness retract their Groundless Claim to such overlordship, repudiate their Expansionary Ambitions and apologise for their Error.
Should such a Retraction, Repudiation and Apology be not forthcoming from the aforesaid Baron and Baroness by year end, we would feel duty bound to find cause to have our Rights defended upon the Field of Valour and elsewhere as may be required. We would ask, bearing in mind the Fidelity and Love in which we are bound to You that, at the time of Festival next, we may regard ourselves as free to undertake Such Action as may be necessary for dealing with disputes of this kind.
And we further pray that should such be the case, then Justice will see the True Barons, Lords and Knights, and all Your true liege men sent unto Festival next, to act to help and Support us in our cause, for whatsoever he be that will not these defaults assist to amend, he is falser than a Saracen. Thus indicating to the misguided leaders of Ynys Fawr that such bellicosity, covetousness, greed, avarice and Historical Error will not be tolerated within the borders of this fine Kingdom.

The format of the text was based partly on Jack Cade's Proclamation of Grievances from 1450, and the content primarily on the letter from Simon de Montfort and Gilbert de Clare to Henry III. The latter was actually a justification for why those Barons were rebelling aginst their King, so I was lucky no-one recognised it. After all, Henry III pretty much told Simon to push off, and it could have made a great riposte. As it was, some people took it for treason!

Various missives, secret and otherwise, were printed in the Scurrilous Rag, the Rowany Festival chapbook I put together, and all was on for the Festival War, with the Crescent Isles leading the charge against Ynys Fawr. We won. Mightily. In every arena. And a great time was had by all.

The Great White Southern Lands?

The references to the Great White Southern Land were part of a long-standing claim that Southron Gaard has had to the territories to the Far South. We were begun by people who had travelled to these parts to work upon the Ice and, over the years, had fought a number of battles over the lands, most notably the Pen Gwynne War. (For more on the history and claims, see the material here.)

Part of our own claim had been the uncontestable statement that we were the only Barony in the Kingdom, yea the very Known Worlde, where both the Baron and Baroness had taken the time and trouble to visit the Great White Southern Lands, meet its people and inspect its defences. It was definitely ours, de jure et de belli!

And just to show I'm not joking, here's the evidence:

This is me on my trip down to the Ice on a media fellowship in Season 97-98. Not that medieval I know, but there's a very limited luggage allowance, so the basic tabard was it, tucked in under all the Extreme Cold Weather gear. I'm sitting on top of Observation Hill just down the road from McMurdo and Scott Base. I've got a shot somewhere of the tower carved into one of the ice blocks we used in building a snow hut to over-night in.

This is Bartholomew the Bear, who accompanied Bartholomew the Baron on his expedition to the Great White Southern Lands in 1999/2000. (He'd been so annoyed with me for making it down there he went off and took a post-graduate diploma in Antarctic Studies which included a trip to the Ice). He photographed his namesake all over the place carrying his lion dormant gules (see this Gallery for more). In this case, you can see Bartholomew is hanging out in a place of high heroics -- Scott's Hut at Cape Evans.

The Outcome

The outcome of the Festival War was amusing -- we won the right to pay tax, and have done so dilgently (His Majesty AEdward received a penguin mother and chick; Her Majesty Gudrun a Freisian cow which mooed when packed, His Majesty Hugh gained a seahorse). We also were awarded a citizen from Ynys Fawr, the good Baron Hrolf Herjolfsson, who has long been associated with Lochac's claims to the Great White Southern Lands. I researched suitable contracts, indentures and concords to find something on which to base our formal acknowledgement of our new member of the populace. The Medieval Sourcebook had a number of interesting period examples, including John I's Concession of England to the Pope of 1213 and a concord made between Laurence the Clerk, Son of William & Sir Simon, son of Richard of Stanstead and their kinsmen round about 1150.

Next thing to do was to see how such documentation was presented. Dr Diane Tilittson's Medieval Writing site has excellent information in this regard. I followed a fairly standard approach of inscribing two copies of the agreement on a single piece of paper head-to-head, with a chirographum or set of characters written in the space between the two. These were sometimes words; in our case, I used the initials of the parties involved: HH, BB, kk. We had a seal attached to either end of the paper to denote us -- the Canterbury Faire four-leaf clover token. The concord was despatched to a Crown event, where Baron Hrolf added his seal and a zigzag line was then cut through the initials so that each party would have a copy and they could be clearly demonstrated to come from the same stock.

The Concord

Be it known to all here present and future that due to the Great Deeds of Festival last, a concord has been made between Bartholomew and katherine, Baron and Baroness of Southron Gaard, and Baron Hrolf Herjolfsson, once resident of the Barony of Ynys Fawr in this way, viz.:
That the aforesaid Baron Hrolf Herjolfsson from this hour forth will be counted among the faithful members of the Barony of Southron Gaard.
And further that he promises he shall not bring it about by deed, word, consent or counsel, that any person of said Barony will lose life or members or be taken captive, that he will impede their being harmed if he know of it: otherwise as quickly as he can will he tell of it to such persons as he believes will inform them.
Any counsel which the Baron or Baroness of Southron Gaard entrusts to him in person or through envoys or through letters, he will keep secret, nor will he disclose it to anyone to their harm, unless there be instructions otherwise.
He will aid to the best of his ability in holding and defending against all men the patrimony of the Barony of Southron Gaard, most particularly the highways which lead to the Great White Southern Lands.
And pay such tax as may be deemed fit.
And that the aforesaid Baron and Baroness of Southron Gaard will treat with Baron Hrolf Herjolfsson in goodly fashion as befits his rank and advanced years, showing him due courtesy as they do to all persons resident within their Barony, according him all the rights and privileges pertaining thereof.
And in this way, have Bartholomew and katherine, Baron and Baroness of Southron Gaard, and Baron Hrolf Herjolfsson become concordes et amici in perpetuity. And in order that this concord may be held in high regard, and accepted by all faithful people in the future, we have caused this concord to be scribed as a suitable testimony.

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Noughts and Crosses

When the Festival War (see above) came to an amicable and satisfactory conclusion, I presented a set of baronial noughts and crosses to all the baronies involved, to represent that we should only ever get cross as a game or all will be for nought (ahem!).

My mother and I had spent an afternoon making clay tokens stamped with the tower of Southron Gaard and the lymphad of Ildhafn, as the two main groups of the victorious side. These were glazed in our baronial colours -- yellow for the tower and blue for the lymphad -- and then fired.

At a Southron Gaard Struff Night I had the assistance of many members of the populace in making bags with noughts and corsses boards laid out in ribbons and beads, to produce 11 sets to cover the baronies of Lochac.

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Ambassadors and Wardens

It behooves a barony to keep an eye on friends and foes alike, so we had fun appointing a number of Wardens and an Ambassador.

Ambassador to Caid

Unto Their Majesties Dirk and Chamayn of the Kingdom of Caid and the people of Caid, warm greetings from Bartholomew and katherine, Baron and Baroness of Southron Gaard in the Kingdom of Lochac.
Please accept from the hand of Sir Philippe de Tournay these credentials as our Ambassador to Your mighty and most cultured Kingdom.
While he has for too long been resident outside our fair Barony, Sir Philippe bears our utmost trust and confidence as a man of honour and modesty, well able to make representations on our behalf to your esteemed Selves.
You may know better than we those Qualities which but recently caused him to be created a Knight in your Realm, but rest assured that those Qualities were early recognised and have long been celebrated in his Homeland (notwithstanding his Unfortunate Encounter with the Goblins).
We therefore entreat that you be willing to always give Sir Philippe Your ear when he approaches you with counsel concerning our humble affairs. As a small yet well-fortified and industrious land at the edge of a very large world, we may some day have cause to call upon our ties with your most Illustrious Kingdom, and we hope you will look favourably on such requests.

Sir Philippe acquitted himself well, bringing changes to the Crown to our attention. I even had a gentle from another Kingdom ask me for advice regarding ambassadorial appointments so he could present himself to the Crown of Drachenwald -- at a time when the Lochac Count and Countess Alaric and Nerissa were about to ascend to that throne.

Wardens et al

We have made a number of appointments -- Paladin of the Caidan Coast, Captain of the Southern Reaches and Warden of the Northern Marches -- to help guard our shores and shore up our diplomatic efforts. Of these, the Warden of the Northern Marches had the most play. The first one was Sir Ulf de Wilton, of Darton; admittedly those marches are a little north of Southron Gaard's actual lands these days, but given his long ties with the Barony, it seemed meet. Certainly we were amused to receive the following missive from him in time for Baronial Anniversay AS 39 when there was Talk of War:

From Ulf de Wilton, Warden of the Northern Marches, to Bartholomew and katherine, Baron and Baroness of Southron Gaard, Greetings.
Please do not be alarmed at the rumours regarding fortification building in Darton. This is not a prelude to any aggression, only an attempt to return the walls of Darton to the state of prior years. No taxes due to the Crown are being used for construction costs, and the seige engines are only experimental and only useful for defence.

How reassurring....Our next Warden was Lady Cynefryth the Dutiful from the Household of the Windy Plains in the Crown Lands, somewhat north of Darton....now, if only we could find a suitably cooperative person from Ildhafn's Canton of Cluiain....

Near the end of our tenure as Baron and Baroness of Southron Gaard we were contacted by two lovely gentles then residing in the Great White Southern Lands. Lord Roderick of Iona and the Honourable Lady Muirgheal Dolgfinnr offered to keep an eye on our interests in those parts and we were delighted to take up their kind offer. We sent them an appointment as our Wardens of the Great White Southern Lands and a token bearing Southron Gaard's tower.

It was very fortuitous that when the Baron of Ildhafn, Emrys Tudor, newly come to his power in AS43, started to make threats of territorial aggrandisement -- he amended Southron Gaard's label on the Kingdom Map to read Southern Ildhafn! -- that our staunch Wardens were able to show that flanking maneuveres had already begun:

Southron Gaard's shield on the high plateau of the western part of the Great White Southern Lands. Taken by SG's co-warden of the GWSL, Lord Roderick of Iona, A.S. XLIII and displayed at Canterbury Faire a few days later.

As part of our step-down, I made a batch of tokens to give to our faithful folk, representing the "rolling hills of green" referenced in the Southron Gaard anthem for the locals, with a white bead for the Wardens of the Great White Southern Lands, and the colours of the Barony and the Kingdom of Caid for Sir Philippe.

The heart-shaped finding was something we'd used on the tokens for our Court -- when Court members stepped down from their duties, we gave them a token with a red teardrop, representing our affection and the heart's blood shed in service to us and the Barony.

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Baronial Reporting

As Baron and Baroness, we had quite a lot of fun with various items of correspondence, using period forms but not being too po-faced about it. I liked the balance we struck with our first report to the Crown [with annotations] on how our Barony was doing:

Unto Their Most Noble Majesties Stephen and Mathilde do Bartholomew and Katherine, Baron and Baroness of Southron Gaard, send their greetings by the hand of The Honourable Lord Duncan Kerr and this, the first report of our tenure as Your representatives in these lands.
[aren't we good remembering to do this -- what do you mean it's the wrong year??]

We would have You assured that Your lands of Southron Gaard are thriving and, in the time since our investiture, Your populace have become diligently busy about many activities which involve both the gentle and martial arts.
[ie we're still here!]

Item. We have been holding regular Musters to ensure that our folk meet to gain further skills in a variety of fighting formats as well as the gentle arts of song and dance, and we ourselves have attended many events both within and without the Barony to speak with and learn from both people and peers.
[people are doing stuff]

Item. Condesa Catalina Orosol, with the aid of Sir Vitale Giustiniani, has formed a Scriptorium to train new scribes and artisans, for we feel that we will have need to send many a missive to our baronial cousins and others regarding the temper of the times.
[we're playing with other people now]

Item. Our Court Engineer, Lord Fraser Coney, is encouraging the development of a diverse range of siege engines with a siege engine challenge, by which we can assure You that the borders of the Kingdom, yea even unto the great White Lands of the South, will be stoutly held against any who would disturb the peace.
[seige has started, yay!]

Item. Lady Elen Benet has formed a singing group which demonstrates most ably that Southron Gaard is in good voice, with many attending weekly to learn all manner of songs, including a growing number penned by our Court Musician, Lady Iuliana, and others, extolling the beauty and staunchness of the tower of Southron Gaard - long may she stand!
[and we're cultured too...]

Item. We have assisted with an extensive purchase of helms and other items of armour by people throughout the Crescent Isles, such that these lands will have sufficient armed warriors to take on any threat that may arise. And we further assure You that despite the Baronial coffers being tasked with some small part of this, the treasury here remains solvent and in no likely need of resorting to money-lenders at this time.
[finances are OK despite profligate spending]

Item. We have recognised our long and honoured history in our former kingdom with the appointment of an Ambassador to the Court of Caid, Sir Phillipe de Tournay, formerly of these lands. We gained permission from Your Royal Cousin, His Majesty Dirk IV to use the last Caidan Royal Shield wielded in these lands as a boon and encouragement to newly arming fighters. And we appointed Sir Vitale Giustiniani as Paladin of the Caidan Coast, charged with promoting trade and the interchange of ideas, maintaining and strengthening the Barony's land and coastal defences, and treating with courtesy and hospitality those visiting our fair Barony from the lands to our East.
[our history is now being honoured, not a cause for conflict]

Item. At our Baronial Anniversary we had our Champions and willing authorised light and heavy fighters take our Champion's Oath, that, if called upon to do so, they will by deed or word, consent or counsel, strengthen and defend the Barony of Southron Gaard, her tower, her lands and all her divers possessions, in good faith and without deception, against all malefactors and invaders, living or dead, who might wage war or make common cause against her.
[we're having fun]

Thus we feel that we can assert that Your lands are safe, Your populace industrious and Your welcome here always assured when next You pass this way.
[hint, hint, come visit]

Signed by our hand this 1st day of May, AS XXXX

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Bartholomew's Spell

This is nothing to do with me; it's all Bartholomew's work, written and presented at our Investiture Court. But it still makes me sniffle...

For me, the present year is 1170. For nigh on four generations now, the scholars and translators at Toledo - Jews, Moslems and Christians working in concert - have been bringing to us from the Arabic the works of the Ancient Greeks, which had long been thought lost to us.
One of those sages from long ago taught us that the past is a closed book, at best something we can celebrate, or from which we can take guidance. And the future is unknown, unwritten, able to be influenced only by our thoughts and actions in the present. We have only the present, this perpetual shining moment in which to tell each other our stories, to celebrate and learn from our past, and to shape our future.
In this present, as Bartholomew Baskin, Baron of Southron Gaard, in the Crescent Isles of the Kingdom of Lochac in the Knowne Worlde, I know my job: it is to work magic. Accordingly, here is my first spell.
Close your eyes...
In your own past - for some of you over twenty years ago, for others this very weekend - there was a time when you went to your very first event. And perhaps at that event, or perhaps at your second, or your third, an angel gently took your heart, and wrote upon it a love of some of the things that we do in this special world.
It may be a love of martial prowess, of chivalry, of creativity, of pomp and pageantry, of research and discovery, of novelty, of service, of song or dance, of companionship and sharing among the very best kind of friends.
It is still written on your heart, or you would not be here today. Look for it.
Some of you are smiling.
... Open your eyes.
A great man, a great leader, once called upon the "better angels of our nature". Compassion, goodwill, tolerance, enthusiasm and all other good things. These better angels are what you were looking at.
They drive us, they help us avoid and resolve conflicts, they make all things possible which should not be possible. They create miracles. And so, together, in this world, we can work magic of a kind upon one another.
Let these angels be your perpetual shining present, and let them, and only them, shape our Barony's future.
And if you should encounter a newcomer who is wide-eyed and perhaps stands a little amazed at our world, or if you should happen upon a gentle who has not been with us for some time and who has lost sight of their own angel, please sit down patiently with them, and talk with them.
And when you do so, remember this: Let your heart do the talking.

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Tips for a B&B

There's not a lot of training or usually even much in the way of succession planning or handover for B&Bs, so the learning curve can be a very steep one. Here are some ideas for things that we found made life easier in running a Barony.

The most important thing to remember:
Never (never ever) put down to malice what could simply be miscommunication or misunderstanding.
Too much grief has occurred over people taking misunderstandings and sitting on them, letting them simmer or -- worse -- getting nasty. If you think you've annoyed or upset someone, try asking them directly. You may be worrying about nothing at all, or you may get the chance to clear the air. Either way, it's a better outcome.

Remember to thank people for their service. This doesn't have to be an effusive, over-the-top speech, a simple thank you will be fine. Add a gift if you want to show more appreciation. Small bags of salt as salary for outgoing officers is a nice way to say thank you. Every Baronial Anniversary we would ask our Officers to stand and ask the populace to applaud "those who serve that you might play". Small writs acknowledging people's help or special tokens are a good idea.

Be very careful about taking advantage of people or taking them for granted. What may seem a casual request to you may sound like a Baronial command to the recipient.

Try to make sure you have the opportunity to meet and talk with your cousins, the rest of the landed baronages in your Kingdom. They may do things differently in their Barony (sometimes better!) and you can learn from them; they're also the most likely people to understand, appreciate and even assist with problems you encounter.

Keep track of who has been on your court as it can be easy to forget who has served. Keep an eye out for new keen folk -- putting them on Court is a good way to draw them in and inculcate some of the Society's core values. Make sure, though, that they know they have the option to say yes or no; or make it a year and a day service (or some other limited period) so they know it's not forever. Most people don't like to be dragooned and some will actively resent even a plain invitation if they think they don't have an out. It helps to have a written document outlining what you expect from a court member, and what you don't expect -- let them see this before they make their decision to serve or not!

Be aware that some people like to be called up in Court, and some people find it terrifying. This is doubly so for newcomers. It can help to run one or two "introductions to Court and how it works" sessions throughout the year, depending on your newcomer intake. It certainly helps to make a point of introducing yourself to new faces and chatting to them before you are likely to have to/want to call them before you. If you don't have the time to do that, ask one your Ladies-in-Waiting to seek out any likely folk to see how they feel about it.

Have a set of small index cards in your court box so you can write down the rough order of court and who will be coming up to get what. Give that to your Ladies-in-Waiting along with the bits and pieces so they know what to hand you and make it all look smooth and effortless without the need for wild gesticulation or half-whispered instructions or giving the embroidered coif to the stewarding marshal by accident (intent is another matter :-).

A large scarf-sized square of silk with beads on the corners (in Baronial colours!) has a myriad of uses -- sunshade when you're watching tourneys, wrapping for coronets or delicate objects, a cover for court gifts/presentations, additional warmth around the neck.

If you typically have a court chest between the thrones holding your goblets or other useful items etc, consider having one with a lift-off lid or a tilt-out bin inner like this great one here. This means you won't have to take everything off the lid if you leave something inside that you need for court (and believe me you will do this, more than once!).

Keep a hardcopy "brane" in the form of a diary that contains all the events of one's courts that are held. Awards, current baronial memes, projects, recommendations, forward plans, peeves, anything that one needs to keep track of. It'll keep you organised and give you something to look back on.

A populace activity document is handy for recording individual achivements and activities such as recommendations, notes on who has helped at what events, or held what officers and at what level of participation. Very useful for providing informed recommendations to Crown and Peerage Orders. It doesn't have to be a fancy spreadsheet, just basic notes will do. Ask your stewards after their event to tell you who stood out and why -- it won't always be who you expect or official members of the team.

Keep a local OP up to date and make sure it gets updated after every event! Make sure to keep track of what the non-armigerous folk are up to as well, and include Baronial awards and court awards.

Challenge your populace with largesse competitions. If you let people know you're in need, it reduces the workload on you and your court. Having a largesse swap with neighbouring B&Bs or when you meet up at major events can be useful as you'll have different goodies to give out. (It's bad form to give largesse to the people who have made it for you!)

Largesse ideas: Aiglettes; Armour repair kits: wax, tape, cable ties; Bags of maille; sweets; Balls: leather, felted wool; Beads or pearls; Beeswax; Belt findings; Book covers; Buttons; Candles; Cordials; Cords: lucet, fingerloop; Corks; Embroidered items: cuffs, pouches; Games; knucklebones, nine-men´s morris, dice; Garters; Feathers (don´t take overseas); Gouache and brushes; Herb sachets (don´t take overseas); Jewellery: necklaces, brooches, stickpins, rings; Kerchiefs; Lace; Lanterns; Napkin ring; Needlecases; Oil: sweet or infused; Perfumes; Pouches; Pilgrim badges; Pins; Reign coins; Quill and ink; Rosary; Salt: seasoned; Sealing wax; Snips or embroidery scissors; Spices; Spoons; Stationery; Table linens, napkins; Thread, floss, wool; Trim, braid, cords or laces; Wines, beers, cordials; Wooden toys.

Keep an eye out for suitable charms or gifts in bead shops, $2 shops etc. One of the most effective ones we had was a small bee charm, which we gave to people telling them that the bee was the symbol for loyalty and industriousness and that their hard work had been noted. Very simple, very cheap, highly effective. We also utilised excess tokens from Canterbury Faire, our Barony's major event; these provided good tokens to give away when we were travelling as they often had a local theme such as a Canterbury cross or pilgrim badge. We spotted one gentle from a different Barony wearing his SG token a good year after we had given it to him.

Small bags of sugar paste lozenges and hard-candy almonds are good to give to groups of people.

Make up a batch of small bags from offcuts, stamp them with your Baronial device or somesuch and use them to hold any mundane gifts.

Our Barony had monthly Stuff Nights which were very handy for encouraging baronial support activities and getting people together. We had dance and rapier going on in part of the hall and tables for people to sit around doing "stuff" (it's a technical period term, ask the Pastons!). That can be baronial projects or their own sewing or whatever. Means you have a good buzz going, lots of different things happening in a casual social environment that is good for newbies to come along to. Announce group projects in advance to encourage people to come along to help.

A selection of 70s pottery sauce jugs and glass bottles can be filled with oil or infused vinegar as gifts for cooks; marshals get bags of mail links; stewards get perfumed oils for footrubs. I bought a spice grinder for a friend in exchange for her making me a huge batch of sugarpaste lozenges in various period flavours (lavender, mint, cinnamon and rose). They've made great gifts to give to groups or kids as they can be shared.

I've also made up bags of games eg marienbad; dice with instructions, knucklebones etc.

Basic bottle covers with a couple of simple gifts inside -- veils or hats, goblets, beads, persona info leaflets -- make good gifts for newbies. Good way to get them in the groove, especially in the headware department.

One thing I've tried to do is remember whoever has given me largesse so that I can hand it out and say "made by the hand of wossname" or "gifted by the hand of wossname". It's nice to acknowledge the support (especially as it can be surprisingly rare), and appreciated by those who have taken the trouble to provide the item/s.

Hoods and those 14th-century pillbox hats make good gifts for newcomers -- gets them into the mindset, makes them look more a part of the place and can be readily made out of offcuts. It's a good project to give to people for an evening, and great when you see people wearing theirs and making more. If you're feeling really evil, task the newcomer with making a replacement for the gift box.

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Baronial Shell Game

I enjoy quick simple games that act as people-mixers. All the better when they have a disguised piece of social engineering for the Good of the Populace....and thus arose the Baronial Shell Game, loosely based on a period Japanese memory game involving shells and matching verses of poetry.

First I collected a large number of similar-sized/shaped shells, ideally matching bivalves -- an easy thing to do on most New Zealand beaches. (You could use large bottle caps or small boxes or other objects, so long as they have a side that can be turned face-down and look very similar.) I sprayed the curved outer side of the shells with gold enamel to make them match as closely as I could. Obviously you ensure you have the correct number of pairs for the memory element you want to include -- in this case, the shells were to contain matching sets of baronial arms and names, to provide 11 pairs; you could try personal arms and names, heraldic charges and their terms, anything so long as it comes in pairs.

Then I did a colour printout of the Kingdom's baronial arms, sized such that one could be readily pasted to the inside of the shell. I used the simplified versions we'd produced for the Canterbury Faire baronial window hangings, as the final artwork was around an inch or so high and a full set of arms would be quite hard to do or recognise at that size. PVA paste was good to fix the arms and the names of the baronies to each pair, and also to paint over the paper used in the printout to make it reasonably robust and waterproof.

To play the game you just put all the counters face down and mix them around. Person one flips over two counters -- if they match, they get to keep them; if not, they flip them back over in place. Person two then has a go. The memory part comes in recalling what has been flipped over and where. I leave them on the hall table at Canterbury Faire and people try playing it at mealtime.

There is some strategy to it, but it's a great game to play with anyone as it tends to be very even between kids and adults. And of course it helps if you know what names go with what arms. Spectators usually help out if it's someone new to the SCA by identifying what the arms are, but they shouldn't be allowed to go so far as to indicate where the matching token is (that leads to knives being drawn...)

And the Machiavellian social engineering? Well, after a couple of games of this, everyone learns the arms and names of all the Baronies in the Kingdom. It helps bind us together and makes us feel a part of the greater whole. It makes those folk coming from other baronies feel more welcomed if people recognise the name of their barony. Even more so if they're playing in the hall at Canterbury Faire as that typically has my large Kingdom Map on one wall, so people start pointing out where the places are. Manipulative? Yes, but in a Good Way.

I'm sure you could dream up ways to add to a more adult libatatory version -- ie down a shot after each wrong pairing...but you didn't hear me say that....

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Baronial Sunshades

Shade in summer is always appreciated and I was particularly impressed with the versatile and simple sunshades I saw in use by the Barony of Stormhold. We made three sunshades for use by the Barony, and they have served well. I now have a personal one in green canvas which is designed to double as theatre staging; Lord Emilio used these plans for his Villa Salviati sunshade. We learn something new every time. Here is the current state of play on how to make them.

The Stormhold sunshades in use

These sunshades are not based on any particular historical style or period, merely on the practicalities researched/learned while producing the Southron Gaard Baronial Sunshades after having seen the excellent examples in the Barony of Stormhold. That said, the addition of dagging around the top edge and a panel across the front would make these sunshades look reasonably comparable to the galleries in King Rene's tournaments.

This sunshade is suitable for seating 4-6 people and their stuff, depending on how close they are and how much stuff they have. They can be readily pitched in a line to make a long gallery. (And they served very well for this purpose at our November Crown Tournament.

This will make a sunshade that has a raised front, for additional height and to provide a slope to shed light rain. The back wall can hang straight down, but is designed to be pegged at a slope for additional robustness. A light line slung along the rear fold internally can hold hangings to provide a hidden storage space between them and the back wall. Additional side walls can be added for further shade and wind break; additional pegging would be advisable.


12-15 metres of fabric 150cm wide canvas or heavy cotton drill - WASH IT!
12 metres for the sunshade, with the extra for tent bag, dagging
strong thread eg Mettlar Extra Strong, around $5 for 125m spool
Size 100 needles for sewing heavy-duty fabric (buy a packet)

6 squares of leather approx 5-6cm per side, 2-3 ml thick)
6 brass grommets, 2.5cm in diameter
linen thread

4 poles: 2 x 2.6m, 2 x 2.4m, 40ml square
4 x 15cm/6" nails/spikes
32 m of line eg manilla, hemp, in 8 lengths of 4 m each
8 x blocks of wood approx 100ml x 50ml x 2ml offcuts; hardwood, not ply
drill two holes around 30ml from each end, ideally at an angle
10 tent pegs

Tent Loops

Cut a 5cm strip from selvedge to selvedge for loops. Fold the strip in half lengthwide and run a seam down to make a long, skinny strip with the raw edges enclosed. Cut this into approx 20cm lengths for tent loops (should give you 7).

Main Body

Cut the remaining canvas in half to give you two large lengths around 6m long.
Sew the long sides together to give you a 3m x 6m rectangle. Ideally flat-fell the seam for strength and water-resistance.
Sew down all the edges in a standard fold-over seam to enclose the raw edges.
Measure approx 3.7m from the front edge along the 6m sides and mark. This will be the point for the back wall pole position. (This is deliberately asymmetric to maximise useable shade space.)
Attach the tent loops along the back edge for pegging.
Sew the kringles/grommets into place: two at the front corners, two approx 3.7 metres along the side. If you want a front top flap/dagging, put the front grommets approx 40 cm from the front. A bigger front flap will provide more sun protection and a nice place to decorate.


Use an awl or large needle to punch a set of holes around the leather square. It helps to score a line 5ml in from the edge and follow that (say approx six holes per side around 10ml apart).
Cut two 30cm lengths of the heavy linen thread and pull it through beeswax if not already waxed.
Use two needles to sew alternate running stitches through the punched holes to attach the squares to the main body in each front corner and two at the marked back wall pole positions. Or use your sewing machine if the leather is light enough and your machine grunty enough.
Centre the grommets in the square and punch through and secure.

An alternative way of doing it is to have leather rectangles approximately 15cm x 7cm. Fold these over the edge of the canvas and sew through the leather-canvas-leather layers. Punch a hole in the centre and sew around that if desired, for additional reinforcing. Simpler, but more fiddly to attach.


Drive a nail/spike into the end of each pole.
Make a secure loop in one end of each rope length (eg splice it or sew it).
Thread the other end through the holed wood block to provide a tension slide and tie a knot to secure.
Splice, sew or wrap the end to prevent fraying

Set Up

Put the poles through the grommet holes, attach two ropes per pole.
Add pole extensions if flying pennons or standards.
Peg the ropes down at 90 degrees.
Pull tight using the sliders to tension the ropes.
Peg the rear wall down.

Optional/Other Ideas

There are various things you can do to reinforce the sunshade or decorate it:

  • reinforce the edges with webbing if your canvas or drill is particularly lightweight
  • when folding over the edges, make the internal folds full width to provide additional reinforcing
  • if using 100cm wide fabric with three lengths and two seams to get you the 3m width, consider having an alternate colour in the centre (coloured material is more period)
  • if you buy more than 12m, use the extra fabric to make dagging, a gallery panel or a storage/peg/rope bag
  • to easily produce a flat dagged edge across the front, bring the front grommets 40-50cm in from the front edge; decorate the resulting flap by cutting it into fancier dagging (though a flat panel is perfectly period and a lot easier to edge) or paint it with a suitable design or wording
  • the dagging and gallery panel can be made separately to attach as desired (ie hook over the poles for dagging or tying to the poles for the panel)
  • instead of using fabric loops for pegging along the rear wall, make grommet holes and loop a rope through for pegging - I am told that this can reduce wear and tear
  • decorate the top of the poles with finials (eg wooden/polystyrene knobs) or pennons; a hollow pole can make a useful extension from which to fly standards
  • paint with acrylic latex paint - Gothic tracery and painting on seamlines were two common period practices
  • you can paint with a waterproofing agent, but it's probably not worth it
  • paint the poles or use plain coloured electrician's tape to make a set of rings around the poles (helps you to tell yours apart from everyone else's; use the same tape to bind the end of the rigging lines
  • sew a set of white flags to the ropes for extra decoration and visibility at night

Useful Info on Pavilions and related stuff
Medieval Pavilion resources

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