On December 13th, the Barony of Carolingia tried its hand at a new variety of medieval amusement, a masked ball, in the living room of Claflin Hall, Wellesley College. As the regular inhabitants of the quiet dormitory stared at what seemed to be plates from "special reserve" library books come to life, over a score of Members of the Barony and six guests from the Cambridge Court Dancers imbibed wassail, stickied their fingers with dates and raisins, danced a processional pavon around the dormitory's Christmas tree, and circled in that oldie but goodie of the Barony's dance repertoire, the pillow dance. The Members of the Barony also learned several new dances which their guests, led by Mrs. Ingrid Brainard, demonstrated for them. They were entertained again by that wandering Rogue and Master of the Musical Arts, Richard Fairelove Fitzrandolf. The Guild of Jongleurs, directed by Daniel de Tankard, provided dance music and several songs during intervals between dances.
Following the dancing, the entire company caroled (with more vigor than voice) across the campus and back again. Strung out as they were like the pack section of a caravan, it became difficult to hear each other; and several different carols rang simultaneously across the snow. But it was fun, and Wellesley still buzzes with talk of it. The Barony seems gradually to be making themselves a recognized campus embellishment.
Tabitha of Wyndmoor
As usual, our revels were favored with a Sunday of soggy snow; but the February chill could not penetrate to the Guild Hall of Shakespeare House at Wellesley, where the wits of the twenty-seven assembled were as warm, it seemed, as the fire in the hearth.
Our revels were attended by visitors from the Eastern Kingdom - the Seneschal, Lord El of the Two Knives; his Lady, Cassandra of Bethlehem; and the Ombudsman for the East and Assistant Seneschal, Stephen von Behrend. Lord El kindly brought a book for the Barony's library - Dr. Mirabilis, by James Blish.
Following the formal Court, the visitors closeted with the Foreign Minister of the Barony, Chaim Elihu ben Moshe. Many minor problems caused by the lack of communications between the Barony and the Eastern Kingdom were resolved, and the need for better communications in the future was established. The security of the negotiations was ensured by a pair of guards standing outside the conference room door with crossed pole-axes.
The Guild of Jongleurs, under the direction of its Master, Daniel de Tankard, provided musick throughout the evening, including a pair of ballads during dinner which were very well received by the assembled company.
The supper was of soup, Roast Beast, vegetables, fruit, and wassail. (There is a long and heroic tale of the Quest of the Roasting Beast, but this is not the place for it.) Several people very kindly assisted the Guild of Equerries in the preparation of the meal. The only problem was that the soup and Roast Beast cooled quickly, hot trays not being in period. The serving was ably organized by Avi of Draco's Weyr.
After dinner, there was dancing downstairs. The guests then departed on their return journey to the seat of the Eastern Kingdom, with the wishes of Godspeed from the Barony. The evening was brought to a successful conclusion by a rapid and efficient cleanup of the Shakespeare Society House.
Tabitha of Wyndmoor
John of Isleway
On the eighteenth of March the Vernal Revel of the Barony of Carolingia was held in the Guild Hall of the Shakespeare Society of Wellesley. Noble lords and ladies of Carolingia and also of the Barony in Connecticut did attend, as did a Lady from the Court of the Eastern Kingdom, and many good folk of lesser rank besides. These did present themselves at the Hall throughout the afternoon, so that by eventide near two score and ten were assembled.
Then the Baron, John of Isleway, and his Lady, Virginia of Rosecommon, came into the Hall, preceded by the Master of Arms, Stephen of Berkeley, and followed by a brace of Guards, Richard Duarcan and Carter Brown. In courteous manner, although not precisely in correct order of precedence, the company was announced by the pursuivant Elizabeth of Warwick and presented to the Baron. The Foreign Minister, Chaim Elihu ben-Moshe, and his secretary, Corbeau de Lac Noir; the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Catherine d'Anjou; and the Master of Sciences, Sir Patri des Tours-Grises, were all thus presented. From the Court of the Eastern Kingdom came the Demoiselle Aravis del Clare, the Council Secretary, Royal Scribe, and Editor of Pennoncel. And from the Barony in Connecticut came the Seneschal, Balin the Fairheaded, and his Lady, Morgana Eressea, and several others, but these arrived later during the feasting, and were not presented to the Baron at this time.
Then came the investiture of three new officers of the Barony. Stephen of Berkeley, now Master of Arms and Captain of the Guard, was presented with a mace by the Baron as his badge of office. Morgiana de Provence was appointed Mistress of Letters, and Marian of Edwinstowe was named Chronicler of the Barony.
Then the Master of the Jongleurs, Daniel de Tankard, directed members of his guild to amuse the Baron and his Court with pleasant music. After this interlude, the Court proceeded with its business. It was agreed to change the date of the coming tournament to April 9 (Sunday). The Secretary to the Foreign Minister read a communique from Tournaments Illuminated (the quarterly publication of the Kingdom of the West) concerning the reorganization of membership classes and the matter of paying tribute to the Western Kingdom. These issues were discussed and the Demoiselle Aravis del Clare was requested to bear tidings to the Eastern Kingdom of the Barony's reluctance to pay such fees. The Mistress of the Exchequer requested the Baron to give her all the records of accounts of the Barony which are in his possession. The Baron expressed his displeasure of the manner in which the Exchequery has been administered, and agreed to turn over all the accounts provided they would be properly kept henceforth. Then the Baron and his lady left the Court, bidding the Master of the Jongleurs to entertain the company. Troubadours then played diverse merry tunes whilst the revelers sipped wassail and ate sugared fruits.
A sumptuous meal was meanwhile being prepared by various members of the Barony; and when dinner was at last announced, the assemblage rose and followed the Baron and his lady in stately procession to the Banquet Hall. There they feasted upon roast beef and vegetables, Cornish pasties, freshly baked bread, strawberries and other fruits, and more wassail. All were merry, save for Sir Patri and Chaim Elihu ben-Moshe, who throughout the feast exchanged sharp insults across the Hall. Morgiana de Provence soothed such tempers by singing lusty ballads, such as "Oh, No, John", "Lassie, Be Good", and "Watkins' Ale", which are verily appreciated in the Barony; and Daniel de Tankard recited a tale of true friendship sorely tried by accusations touching a lady's honor, entitled "The White Knight And The Levite."
But soon after these diversions, Sir Patri and Chaim Elihu ben-Moshe resumed their quarrel, and did fight with swords and daggers up and down the Hall. The Baron ordered Stephen of Berkeley to separate them, and thereupon his Guards did bear them away until their tempers cooled, for the Baron had forbidden bloodshed during dinner. Then did the Baron graciously raise a toast to all those who had served as members of the Guilds of Equerries and Jongleurs that evening and who had helped with the tasks of the banquet. Then did the Herald, Tabitha of Wyndmoor, announce dancing in the Court Room below, and the company descended from the Banquet Hall to dance and listen to music and drink yet more wassail. The Baron then gave leave to all who wished to depart, the visitors were wished Godspeed, the Banquet Hall and Court Room were cleared and cleansed, and the House closed. And thus ended the Vernal Revels.
Marian of Edwinstowe
Chronicler of the Barony
There were a number of tournaments held during the summer. The first was Carolingia's Tournament and Festival of May. Among the notables present were King Rakkerai of the Kingdom of the East, El of the Two Knives (Seneschal of the East) and his lady, Duke Akbar ibn Murad, Alfgar the Sententious (Brigantia Principal Herald of the East), Begum Sita of Oudh from the Barony of Myrkewode, Balin the Fairhaired (the Baron from Beyond the Mountains), plus other visitors and a goodly Carolingian contingent. Also present was an emissary from the Middle Kingdom, Sir Cariadoc of the Bow (Duke Tregirtsee) and his Lady, Diana. This tournament was held on the campus of Wellesley, where various other festivities were also being attended by non- Society groups. This provided a few distractions, such as the impaling of a heathen frisbee (which had flown onto the Field) by an alert guard. The wizard who controlled the frisbee demanded wergild of the Baron; but since that strange object seemed still alive and capable of flight, the Baron quite properly refused the demand.
For the most part, however, these distractions were negligible. There were particularly exciting contests between Sir Cariadoc and Duke Akbar, Sir Cariadoc and Stephen of Berkeley, and Patri de Tours Gris and Duke Akbar, and an incredibly long, well-fought battle between Patri and Asbjorn Haarfagr, of Duke Akbar's household. The final match of the day was between Sir Cariadoc and Patri de Tours Gris. Sir Cariadoc finally won the battle, but the wreath for the most valiant fighter went to Patri. Then the assembled company retired to the Shakespeare Guild House to escape the late afternoon chill. At the Court there held, King Rakkerai knighted Sir Patri in a dramatic and moving ceremony. Sir Cariadoc presented a red- fletched arrow to the King, and gave a message of declared warfare from his Master, the King of the Middle Kingdom. His Majesty accepted the challenge, but broke the arrow and threw it back to Sir Cariadoc, saying that thus also would be the fate of those who took up arms against the Kingdom of the East. His Majesty showed mercy to the messenger, however, allowing him to join the company in its feasting and revelry; and Sir Cariadoc then proved equally courteous, entertaining the assemblage with rousing poems of war and bawdy songs. In addition the Guild of Jongleurs performed a number of pieces, and the Wassail flowed freely. Afterwards, there was dancing and still more merriment, until the King and Baron gave leave for all to depart.
[Footnote: It was chronicled as merely an interesting incident here, but time would prove this to be the origin of the Pennsic War!]
"The first event I ever went to was in March of A.S. [VI]... I went to a feast at Shakespeare House, and I'm sitting there in the middle of the feast, and the then-Foreign Minister of Carolingia - yes, we had one - Chaim Elihu ben Moshe and Patri du Chat Gris, who was not yet knighted, began exchanging insults. All of a sudden they draw on each other and start going at each other Florentine...live steel. I was probably one of the very few people there who didn't know the thing was choreographed. I began to realize it when people started making more of a fuss over a candlestick than over the fight."
"There were some kids playing frisbee off at the side, and at one point the frisbee sailed onto the tourney field. Andros batted it down with his spear - he was marshall... The kids came and said, 'Hey, that's our frisbee.' It had gotten kind of crumpled and bent from being batted down with a spear, and so it didn't fly very straight. They said we broke their frisbee and wanted compensation...
"Andros very properly brought it to his Baron and said, 'These people want compensation - they said we killed their little frisbee.' 'Ah, wergild!* They want wergild!' said the Baron. 'Ah, yes, now...you killed this. What is this thing? Its name is Frisbee - must be a familiar. Yeah, that's right. They say it flies. It can't fly, it's a piece of inanimate material!' 'No, like this,' said the kids, and it sort of wobbled, but it didn't fall. The Baron said, 'It still flies, it's not dead. Why should we pay wergild when it's not dead?' At this point the two people figured we were just totally weird and wanted nothing more to do with us."
[* Wergild: a price paid by the family of a manslayer to the family of the person killed to atone for the killing and avoid reprisals.]
"At this event Patri was knighted for real. [He had formerly been a knight palatine, a title not recognized at the Kingdom level and no longer used these days.] It was really very nice because this was, I believe, the first peer Carolingia had ...the first peer for merit, not peer for being Baron [referring to John of Isleway]."
"Cariadoc had been King of the Middle - he had been King of the Middle twice, in fact...and one of the things he had thought of which would be really neat was to have an event that was so big that it would be an inter-kingdom event, and we would have one kingdom war against another. Well, this was certainly a neat idea, but no one quite knew how to start it...
[Cariadoc eventually learned that he was going to be moving to the East Kingdom area.] He came to an event in the East, which was this tourney at Felding, and he stood up and delivered a beautifully prepared speech which some people think they remember being in iambic pentameter, but I find that hard to believe; more likely it was just a really neat period-sounding speech. Essentially, claiming to be an ambassador from the Middle Crown, he declared war on the East and delivered to King Rakkerai the War Arrow. What you're supposed to do with it is send it around your kingdom to summon your levy to come and fight. Well, Rakkerai hadn't been warned about what was going to happen or anything, so he guessed. Saying, 'Thus will we do to any warriors of the Middle who set foot on Eastern ground!' he broke the arrow and flung the pieces back. Of course, Cariadoc had not been prepared for this and had thought Rakkerai knew what he was supposed to do. But he was able to make some good rhyming couplet close and backed away. This was really great high drama! It probably still would be today, but for those days a large event was 25 people. This was great stuff and everyone was impressed.
"A while afterward, Cariadoc had moved east and was King. [He "discovered" that the Middle had once declared war on the East and] led the forces of the East in this war that had been his idea in the first place - and lost! From this comes the tradition that Cariadoc is the only king ever to have declared war on himself and lost."