ANNO SOCIETATIS V (June, 1970 - May, 1971)



(The first event, from The Wellesley News, February 25, 1971; reprinted in Triumph, Baronial Anniversary Issue, p. 5.)

Shakespeare House Hosts Revel In Pre-1650 Mood
By Dan Levine, Guest Reporter

On Saturday the 13th of February, St. Valentine's Eve, the first Revel of the Barony of Carolingia was held at Shakespeare House, a half-timbered Tudor manse on the campus of Wellesley College.

We had initial difficulties because of the remoteness of the revel hall from the Barony's population centers in Cambridge and Boston. Still, 31 hardy souls came through driving rain and fog, costumes and all. Among them were several aspiring knights in surcotes covered by cloaks of varying colors, our Herald and our Mistress of Equerries in long dresses with trains, our Seneschal attired as a troubadour, two woodsmen in green tunics, and a reporter from the Harvard Crimson dressed in a white tabard and a blue velvet cape.

Playing Games

Before the banquet we settled in the downstairs living room to various games appropriate to the Society's pre-1650 period, as researched by Gisele des Eaux Chantantes, the Mistress of Arts. There were chess, dominoes, Jack Straws, and fox and geese, a board game where the geese try to enclose the single fox, who can - and usually did - jump over any geese that he is next to.

At about 7 p.m., our Herald, Lady Tabitha of Wyndmoor, tapped on the floor with her gold-topped staff and called us into procession up the stairs to the banquet hall. The banquet area was the most splendidly arrayed part of the house, with colorful banners hanging from the beams and, above the fireplace, an octagonal high table with five seats on the front stage directly across the room from the fireplace, and two long tables near the walls at right angles to the high table.

Murder of Gonazgo

For the first half hour of the meal we continued to be entertained by the musical tape, but there were many other diversions for the second half. First came the company of players, rehearsed by Lady Tabitha of Wyndmoor, including Lord Corbeau de Iac Noir, Lady Catherine d'Anjou who is Chancellor of the Exchequer, and Lord Chaim Elishu ben-David, in the pantomime "Murder of Gonzago" (one of the "plays within a play" of Hamlet).

Some time later there was mock combat. Lord Chaim started to eat from a lady's plate, and Lord Patri des Tours-Grises, the Master of Sciences, rose from his seat to tweak his nose; thereafter the two began a duel with sabres. The Herald made an effort to call a halt, but the Seneschal, Lord Daniel de Tankard, overruled her, and in a few minutes Lord Patri defeated his opponent amidst a cheering crowd.

Landing Missles

After a short interlude the players returned to do a dramatic reading of John, Tyb, and Sir John, the comedy by Heywood about a husband, a wife, and a lecherous priest. Spirited members of the audience followed an ages-old tradition by wafting trenchers, grapes, and other missiles in the direction of the actors.

Finally the Herald tapped with her staff once more, calling us downstairs to games and dancing. The dancing was led by Lord Daniel de Tankard and highlighted by the English Cushion Dance, for which we are indebted to Miss Julia Sutton of Cambridge (who choreographed it for the New York Pro Musica) for providing us the source for the words and music (though the steps were our own). The other dances were three French Renaissance "bransles" (or, in English, "brawls") accompanied by recorders and finger cymbals.

By about 11 o'clock the dancing was finished and the revel started to disperse. Looking back, our organization of the revel seems far from perfect; at times there were too many activities taking place and competition, at other times too few activities and boredom. But the overall effect was faithful to the S.C.A. tradition of turning a potpourri of inexpensive materials into a convincing pre-1650 atmosphere.


The founding of the Barony of Carolingia, as told by Tabitha of Wyndmoor

"I had come up to see Patri and ran into Dan Levine, who was talking to him. I ended up spending the evening with Dan talking about the possibilities of the Society. I stayed late enough to miss the senate bus... I absolutely had to get home, and Dan, who was probably the last of the real gentlemen, walked me home from Cambridge. It was February and two o'clock in the morning.

"There was an initial meeting, I think gathered by Dan, at [Harvard's Mather House] in one of the common rooms, and there were about 10 to 15 people there. We sort of all said, 'Yeah, it sounds like a good idea' and started choosing officers. Dan was Seneschal, Patri was Master of the Sciences...I was Herald.

"After playing with names we called it the Barony of Carolingia because that was Latin for 'belonging to Charles' and it was centered on the Charles River. I did seem like a very appropriate name. Then we started arguing over our shield. We had pretty much agreed that it should be a blue shield with some kind of a gold representation for a river, and we had a horrendous fight over whether or not to put griffins in it. I didn't like the idea of griffins, but I guess I was overruled... The griffins, as you probably know, were eventually eliminated, to my undisguised delight! They crowded up the shield.

"About a week later I produced the first newsletter, which I conceived as being part of the herald's job - to keep communications going. Because we were a barony, and we had a few Gilbert and Sullivan enthusiasts, its initial title was Ruddigore. It was typed out on my typewriter. I type about the way a kindergartener writes, and then it was run off on a mimeo. It was awful!"

The first event, as told by Lord Kale Harlansson of Gotland to the editor in the spring of 1988:

"It was a little bit of everything because it was the first event. One of the things that was neat about it, and I really think we should try to get back to this, is that everyone did some work. You should read the notes from meetings preceding that and the actual chronicles of the 20 or 25 people who attended - that was a big event in those days. Everyone had either helped to make the costumes or helped to do the cooking or was doing the serving or was part of the entertainment or was part of the cleanup."

Tabitha of Wyndmoor, the first SCA member from Wellesley College, and Patri visiting his girlfriend, as remembered by Laura Hawkwood at the Felding/Auntie Get-Together, October 16, 1988:

"This lady {Laura is holding a photo} is Tabitha of Wyndmoor, and she is one of the five original founders of Carolingia. She was Carolingia's first herald, and in a sense she was the first Felding*. She is also the person who got me into all of this. I came wandering out of the TV room at Claflin having just seen the last episode of 'The Six Wives of Henry VIII' and overheard her talking about the SCA to another girl and thought, 'Gee, this is a fun, romantic, escapist thing to do.'

"Tabitha was also the first fighter from Felding. She thought she'd give it a try, and she made her armor out of shredded foam in plastic bags. She thought that would be very absorbent. And it was - it absorbed all of two or three blows before the bag broke and Severance Green was covered with shredded foam. Baron John insisted that nobody was leaving until they picked up the whole mess."

[Comment from Lord Tibor of Rock Valley: "They beat the stuffing out of her, did they?"]

[* The name Felding was not applied to the Wellesley SCA until the borough was formally organized in 1977.]

"The story I heard from her of the Patri-Leaping-Through- The-Window story: Tabitha and her roommate lived in a suite that is at the front of Claflin; that suite is at ground level, but the suite next to it, which is also two rooms, is two floors up from the courtyard, and there is a balcony that joins the back rooms of the two suites. The front two rooms, of course, open up onto the hallway.

"Tabitha occupied the inner room. Her roommate was out of town, so she was sleeping in the outer room that night. In the room that night she heard a sound, went to the window, looked out, and didn't see anybody. All of a sudden she heard the sound again from the window in the inner room. The window flew open and something black came flying in! The black thing was followed by Patri, who bopped into the room after his cloak, which he had thrown in ahead of time - that was the black thing that came through - said, 'Hi, Tabby!', picked up his clothes, went to the balcony, and went out of that window - actually, his foot was on the window sill and he swung around into the adjacent suite's window because that's where the girl he was dating was. He swung out one window and into the other without his foot ever touching the balcony itself and landed in his lady love's suite. She was not too happy to see him [because of the late hour and because] he hadn't told her he was coming."

[Editor's note: Patri confirms this version of the story, although he doesn't remember the young lady not being happy to see him.]