Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Queen's Bard Project: a sonnet by Alexandre Lerot d'Avigne

Continuing to put stuff here so I can find it easily.

Until His Highness gives me a title, I'm going to call it "In Praise of Martial Ladies"

Minvera lead us now onto the field
Your wisdom shapes the tactics of our fight
Your valour helps us force our foes to yield
And gives direction to our martial might.

Oh Boudicea share with us your rage
That raised Iceni in a righteous horde
To free the Britons from their Roman cage
Injustice must be met and not ignored.

Bright Gloriana, queen of island realm
Help steer our ship between two rocky shores
No other hand would we have on the helm
To navigate our battles and our wars.

True worth is found not in external parts
But in great spirits wrapped around bold hearts

(c) Jeff Berry 2016

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Queen's Bard Project: notes the somethingth

Elizabethan poets were very big on the theme of "love stinks."   As a person whose dating life is best described as a debacle on good days, I can work with this.  

I had this Thomas Wyatt sonnet in my repertoire for K&Q Bardic as a mildly comic piece, but it just didn't fit my vibe for the day.

Farewell love and all thy laws forever;
Thy baited hooks shall tangle me no more.
Senec and Plato call me from thy lore
To perfect wealth, my wit for to endeavour.
In blind error when I did persever,
Thy sharp repulse, that pricketh aye so sore,
Hath taught me to set in trifles no store
And scape forth, since liberty is lever.
Therefore farewell; go trouble younger hearts
And in me claim no more authority.
With idle youth go use thy property
And thereon spend thy many brittle darts,
For hitherto though I have lost all my time,
Me lusteth no longer rotten boughs to climb.

And another Wyatt sonnet that I like for the performance potential of the repeated "abides."

I abide, and abide ; and better abide,
   After the old proverb the happy day
   And ever my Lady to me doth say,
' Let me alone, and I will provide.'
I abide, and abide, and tarry the tide,
And with abiding speed well ye may.
Thus do I abide I wot alway,
N' other obtaining, nor yet denied.
Aye me ! this long abiding
Seemeth to me, as who sayeth
A prolonging of a dying death,
Or a refusing of a desired thing.
    Much were it better for to be plain,
    Than to say, 'Abide,' and yet not obtain.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Queen's Bard Project: Notes the fourth

I Have a Yong Suster (MS Sloane 2593. c. 1430)

I have a yong suster
Fer biyonde the see;
Peri meri dictum domnine
Manye be the druries
That she sente me.
Partum quartum pare dissentum,
peri meri dictum domine

She sente me the cherye
Withouten any stoon,
Peri meri dictum domine
And so she dide the dove
Withouten any boon.
Partum quartum pare dissentum,
peri meri dictum domine

She sente me the brere
Withouten any rinde;
Peri meri dictum domine
She bad me love my lemman
Withoute longinge.
Partum quartum pare dissentum,
peri meri dictum domine

How sholde any cherye
Be withoute stoon?
Peri meri dictum domine
And how sholde any dove
Be withoute boon?
Partum quartum pare dissentum,
peri meri dictum domine

How sholde any brere
Be withoute rinde?
Peri meri dictum domine
How sholde I love my lemman
Withoute longinge?
Partum quartum pare dissentum,
peri meri dictum domine

Whan the cherye was a flowr,
Thanne hadde it no stoon;
Peri meri dictum domine
Whan the dove was an ey,
Thanne hadde it no boon.
Partum quartum pare dissentum,
peri meri dictum domine

Whan the brere was unbred,
Thanne hadde it no rinde;
Peri meri dictum domine
Whan the maiden hath that she loveth,
She is withoute longinge.
Partum quartum pare dissentum,
peri meri dictum domine


Alys's own translation to modern American English, with fiddling

(I likely will perform the song in Middle English, but I'd like to make the song easily accessible for others to try)

I have a young sister
Far beyond the sea
Peri meri dictum domnine
Many be the riddles[1]
That she sent to me.
Partum quartum pare dissentum,
peri meri dictum domine[2]

She sent me a cherry
Without any stone,
Peri meri dictum domine
And so she did a dove
Without any bone.
Partum quartum pare dissentum,
peri meri dictum domine

She sent me a briar[3]
Without any bark;
Peri meri dictum domine
She bade me love my lemman[4]
Without longing.
Partum quartum pare dissentum,
peri meri dictum domine

How shoule any cherry
Be without a stone?
Peri meri dictum domine
And how should any dove
Be without a bone?
Partum quartum pare dissentum,
peri meri dictum domine

How should any briar
Be without a bark?
Peri meri dictum domine
How should I love my lemman
Withoute longing?
Partum quartum pare dissentum,
peri meri dictum domine

When the cherry was a flower,
Then it had no stone;
Peri meri dictum domine
When the dove was an egg,
Then it had no bone.
Partum quartum pare dissentum,
peri meri dictum domine

Whan the briar was not grown,
Then it had no bark;
Peri meri dictum domine
When lovers have what they love,[5]
They are without longing.[6]
Partum quartum pare dissentum,

peri meri dictum domine

[1]  Druries really means "gifts," but "riddles" scans better with the melody and is in keeping with the them of the song.

[2]  These lyrics seem to be no more than nonsense pseudo-Latin gibberish.  Google Translate provides no end of hilarious "translations."

[3]  I wonder whether I should keep "rind" for the rhyme scheme and change "briar" to some sort of rinded fruit.

[4]  Lemman means "lover" and seems fairly gender-neutral, as I've seen it used for both men and women.

[5]  Changing this to the gender-neutral "lovers" in the plural to make it more accessible to any singer and to preserve the rhythm that is lost by changing to modern English.

[6]  Not liking how the rhythm works out here.

SCA Problem Names Revisited

                                                                                                by Alys Mackyntoich (Alissa Pyrich)
                                                                                                March 2016

            In the last decade, more and newer information about period naming has come to light that provides evidence of “problem names” once thought to be undocumentable.  This article reviews the new documentation for some of the most common “problem names” and discusses new sources for research.

Key New Names Sources
            The modern SCA herald is no longer limited by the books that she happens to be able to afford or which can be found in her local library.  A large number of reliable resources about medieval naming can be found on the Internet.  Some of the new sources that I have found extremely useful include:
·       Family Search Historic Records:  These records can be found on line and searched at  The June 2011 Cover Letter from the Laurel Sovereign of Arms of the SCA College of Heralds [] permits the use of extracted data as name documentation.  Only certain of the Batches of records are usable as documentation.  Those Batches currently (April 2016) are: B, C, J, K, M (except M17 and M18), or P.
When citing Family Search be sure to include the Batch number. [May 2013 Cover Letter (].  The Family Search Records are effectively a no-photocopy source as long as the Batch number is included.
·       British History Online:  British History Online ( has searchable primary source records.  Some of them have modernized spellings; some modernize only given names and the text but leave the bynames in the original spellings; some preserve the original spellings completely.  Look over the source carefully to determine whether a spelling is period.  Note that some sources are available only to subscribers.  Several senior heralds have BHO subscriptions they are willing to lend out for use.
·       The Middle English Dictionary Online:  The Dictionary has multiple search functions. 
·       Gallica:  This site contains numerous French and Latin primary source documents (  It is searchable within limits.  Searches can be sorted by time period.  It tends to be most useful for finding 15th, 16th and 17th century printed books unless one is very good at reading scans of period handwriting.
·       PASE Database, part of the Prosopography of Anglo-Saxon England:  The PASE ( is a database of individuals mentioned in pre-Conquest English documents, alphabetized by modern standard form; the "recorded forms" heading gives original spellings.  The standardized header forms are registerable.
·       Records of the Parliaments of Scotland to 1707:  This fully searchable database contains both transcribed documents in their original Latin or Scots language and modern English translations of the records ( 
·       Google Books: Careful and meticulous searching can locate some excellent name resources on Google Books.  Examples of some that I have found:
o   Dictionnaire des noms de famille en Wallonie et à Bruxelles (
o   Records of the Burgh of Prestwick in the Sheriffdom of Ayr (
o   Le livre des bourgeois de l'ancienne république de Genève (

Specific “Problem Names” For Which We Now Have Documentation
1.     Aidan
Aidan appears as the Anglicized form of an Irish name in 'Vatican Regesta 576: 1476', Calendar of Papal Registers Relating to Great Britain and Ireland, Volume 13: 1471-1484 (1955), pp. 53-54. (
The related spelling Aiden was found as a 16th cen. English surname, which can be used as a given name by precedent.  [Sept. 2012 Cover Letter].
2.     Arion
Arion was ruled unregisterable in 2001 when the only documentation presented was the name of a semi-legendary 7th century B.C.E. Greek poet.  [Aron the Falcon, 08/2001 LoAR, A-Atenveldt].  Numerous spelling variants are documented to late 16th and early 17th cen. English in “Something Rich and Strange: "Undocumentable" Names From The Family Search Historical Records” by Alys Mackyntoich ( (“Rich and Strange”).
3.     Bethany
As recently as May 2008, there had been no evidence that the name Bethany was used in period.  [Bethan Bacon, 5/2008 LoAR, A-Gleann Abhann].  Numerous spelling variants are documented to late 16th and early 17th cen. English in “Rich and Strange” (
4.     Breda
Breda Mueller; Female; Christening; 20 Jul 1535; Basel, Basel-Stadt, Switzerland; Batch: C92753-2 
Breda Guler; Female; Christening; 23 Aug 1548; Basel, Basel, Switzerland; Batch: C73985-8 
5.     Brianna, Branna, and Brianda
Briana is registerable as an English feminine given name and as a Spanish literary name.  Dec. 2001 Cover Letter (
Branna can be documented through the Family Search Historical Records:  

Branna Woodcock; Female; Christening; 15 Apr 1627; Penistone, York, England; Batch: C04248-4 
Brianda can be found in Spanish through Family Search:
Brianda De Azedo; Female; Marriage; 03 Apr 1588; Santa Maria, Tafalla, Navarra, Spain; Batch: M89497-6 
Brianda Sevillana; Female; Marriage; 04 May 1596; Diocesis De Granada, Granada, Spain; Batch: M79100-8 
6.     Bronwyn
Bronwyn had previously been registered only as an SCA-compatible name.  [Bronwen Gwehyddes Anglesey, 12/1999 LoAR, A-An Tir].  That category of names was eliminated in May 2009.  (  Family Search now provides documentation for Bronwyn in early 17th century England: 

BRONWYN N; Female; Marriage; 26 July 1620; Northaw, Hertford, England; Batch: M01288-1.
7.     Carmen
Carmen Cavelerio; Female; Marriage; 21 Jun 1592; Santa Catarina Martir, Santa Catarina-Mexico Ciudad, Distrito Federal, Mexico; Batch: M61906-7
Carmen Caball; Female; Marriage; 20 Nov 1617; Marriage; Santa Maria, La Bisbal, Gerona, Spain; Batch: M89250-3
8.     Caroline
Caroline had previously been ruled unregisterable for lack of documentation.  [Karolyne, called the Wanderer, 03/2004 LoAR, R-Caid].  It now has been documented to period in France, England and Germany.  See “Rich and Strange” (
9.  Cordelia
Numerous spelling variants are documented to late 16th and early 17th cen. English in “Rich and Strange” (
10.  Dorian
Dorian had been ruled unregisterable for lack of documentation in December 1992.  Now, Dorian can be found as a female name in “French Names from Paris, 1421, 1423, & 1438” by Aryanhwy merch Catmael (
11.  Edana
In 2002, it was ruled that no documentation existed for the name Edana in that spelling.  [Edan inghean an Druaidh, 06/2002, A-Æthelmearc].  However, both this spelling and a number of variants are found in Family Search as an English name.  See “Rich and Strange” (
12.  Erin
Erin was long thought to be undocumentable as a medieval name.  However, it has been found both as a male and female name, in this spelling and related spellings, in Family Search.  See “Rich and Strange” (
13.  Garth
Numerous spelling variants of Garth can be documented to late 16th and early 17th cen. English in “Rich and Strange” (
14.  Gwenna
GWENNA LLOID Lloid; Female; Marriage; 24 Sep 1583; Pontesbury, Shropshire, England; Batch: M01905-1
GWENNA EDWARD; Female; Christening; 31 Dec 1627; Kerry, Montgomery, Wales; Batch: C04949-1
15.  Hywel
Hywel is the standard modern Welsh form and, until recently, we had difficulty documenting this spelling to period.  However, the College recently found Hywel da mab kadell as a person's name in a Welsh text dated c.1300-c.1350 - BL Harley MS. 4353 - page 1r (Llyfr Cyfnerth) (  [Hywel ap Wyn, Sept. 2015 LoAR, A-Trimaris]

16.  Ian and Iain
Although popularly believed to be Scottish, Ian can be documented in English:
IAN MOORE; Male; Marriage; 27 Nov 1608; Leconfield, Yorkshire, England;
Batch: M06080-1.
IAN SHARP; Male; Christening; 23 March 1614; Kidlington, Oxford, England; Batch: C03862-2.
In addition, the spelling Iayn can be found as a form of John dated to 1542 in Aryanhwy merch Catmael’s “Index of Scots names found in Dictionary of the Older Scottish Tongue” (  Because i and y were effectively used interchangeably in Scots (as in Middle and Early Modern English), this cite supports the popularly requested spelling Iain.
17.  Jael
JAEL ASHLEY; Female; Christening; 06 Apr 1589; Conisholme, Lincoln, England; Batch: C02765-1
JAEL WESBY; Female; Christening; 05 Dec 1563; Bocking, Essex, England; P00810-1 
JAELA or JAEL KYMME or KYME; Female; Marriage; 07 May 1631; Saint Martin In The Fields, Westminster, London, England; M00145-2 
Jaell Puddinge; Female; Christening Date: 13 Oct 1577; Saint Michael Coslany, Norwich, Norfolk, England; Batch: C04554-1 
18.  Kathleen
Previously believed to be entirely modern, documentation for Kathleen can be found in “Rich and Strange” (
19.  Lenore
The February 1983 LoAR noted that “[t]he forms Lenore, Leonore, or Leonara did not occur in England until the 19th century, according to Withycombe.”  However, various spelling variants of Lenore can be found in “Rich and Strange” (
20.  Melisande
This popular, but long elusive, spelling can be found on p. 18 of Les généalogies et anciennes descentes des forestiers et comtes de Flandre by Pierre Balthasar (, which was published in 1598.  It refers to the historical figure of the 12th cen. Queen of Jerusalem rather than a contemporary woman, but it does show that the spelling was in use in 16th cen. France.

21.  Ophelia
Because Hamlet was written after 1600, Ophelia previously had not been registerable as a literary name.  However, variant spellings used by real people have been found in the Family Search Historical Records, including two examples that pre-date the play:
Ophalia King; Female; Christening; 07 Aug 1575; Kings Areley, Worcester, England; Batch: C13561-5
OPHALIA COLIER; Female; Christening; 13 May 1599; Kings Areley, Worcester, England; Batch: C13561-5
OPHILA TYLMAN; Female; Marriage; 24 Aug 1629;: Colyton, Devon, England;
Batch: M00185-1
In addition, the June 2014 LoAR states:  “The submitted spelling Ophelia was only documented using an I batch within FamilySearch. I batches are not suitable as the sole documentation for a name element. Withycombe, s.n. Ophelia, notes that an Ophelia Marchant of Bath married John Rickman (born 1587). After the Pelican decision meeting, Siren was able to date this marriage to 1610 (, pp. 42 and 65). The date of the marriage and the appearance of the variant spelling Ophalia well before 1600 makes it implausible that the name only came into use after its appearance in Hamlet. Therefore, the submitted name can be registered.”  [Ophelia le Fayre, June 2014 LoAR, A-Atenveldt].
22.  Rowan

Rowan previously had been registerable only as an SCA-compatible name.  [Rowan Bridget Blackmoor, 01/2002 LoAR, A-Atenveldt].  Thanks to the Family Search Historical Records, we now have documentation for both Rowan and Rowen as given names.
ROWAN MARKE; Male; Marriage; 26 Nov 1599; Madron, Cornwall, England;
Batch: M00169-1.
ROWEN WALTER; Male; Marriage; June 1559; Sedgley, Stafford, England; Batch: M00998-7
23.  Sabrina
Sabrina previously had been ruled unregisterable for lack of documentation.  [Sabrina Keeley de Josephi, 12/1993 LoAR, R-Atenveldt].  It can now be found in the Family Search Historical Records in England, Spain and Germany:
SABRINA COCROFTE; Female; Marriage; 07 Feb 1598; Heptonstall, York, England;
Batch: M00748-1 
Sabrina Holland; Female; Christening; 07 Apr 1599; Norton, Derby; England; Batch: P01370-1 
SABRINA SATLERS; Female; Marriage; 1568; Evangelisch, Bopfingen, Jagstkreis, Wuerttemberg; Batch: M92388-3
Sabrina Wetzel; Female; Christening; 01 Apr 1616; Heilbronn, Neckarkreis, Wuerttemberg; Batch: C94699-3 
SABRINA [no surname]; Female; Marriage; 27 Oct 1597; San Juan Bautista, Mendavia, Navarra, Spain; Batch: M89442-1 
Sabrina Sanz; Female; Marriage; 05 Jun 1628; Santa Maria Del Castillo, Muriel De Zapardiel, Valladolid, Spain; Batch: M87285-2 
24.  Tam
TAM [no surname]; Female; Marriage; 15 Jan 1598; Churston Ferrers, Devon, England; Batch: M05047-1 
Tam Fairer; Male; Marriage; 26 Dec 1621; Pencaitland, East Lothian, Scotland; Batch: M11716-2 
25.  Wendy
It has long been thought that Wendy was invented by the Victorians.  The Family Search Historical Records show that this was not the case:
WENDY EVANES; Male; Marriage; 25 Aug 1636; Bassingbourn, Cambridge, England;   Batch: M10977-1.
WENDY OXFORD; Male; Christening; 24 Sept 1615; Harston, Cambridge, England;   Batch: C13087-1.
26.  Wilhelmina
Wilhelmina had been ruled unregisterable for lack of evidence of its use in period.  [Wilhelmina Lafaye, 10/2007 LoAR, R-Gleann Abhann].  Various spellings, however, can be found in early 17th century England and Germany.
Wilhelmina Phillipes; Female; Marriage; 12 Nov 1565; St James, Bristol, Gloucester, England; Batch: M17286-1
WILLAMINA DAVIS; Female; Christening; 16 April 1610; Saint Botolph, Lincoln, England;    Batch: C02988-2
Wilhelmina Helmundt; Female; Christening Date: 09 Feb 1592; Dittigheim, Mosbach, Baden; Batch: C95863-1 
Wilhelmina Strasshoffer; Female; Marriage; 27 Feb 1639; Katholisch, Kaiserswerth, Rheinland, Prussia; Batch: M98970-1 

“Problem Names” Registerable Using Late Period Surname As Given Name
In April 2010, Laurel ruled that late 16th and early 17th century English surnames could be used as given names, based on a documented pattern of such use in period.  [Alton of Grimfells, 4/2010 LoAR, A-East].  This precedent is usable only for English names, which the Pelican Queen of Arms has defined as effectively any name can be documented in 16th or early 17th century England, regardless of their origin.  [Sept. 2012 Cover Letter].  As stated in the Sept. 2012 Cover Letter, “family names documented in sixteenth century England may be used to create given names, even if they are of Scottish or Gaelic origin.”  Use of this rule has allowed the College to register the following popular, yet previously undocumentable names.
1.     Corwin, Corwyn, Corwen
Corwyn and its variants had previously been registered only as SCA-compatible names.  [Corwin of Saxony, 11/2001 LoAR, A-Ansteorra].  The Family Search Historical Records provide evidence of Corwyn in various spellings as a late-period English surname.  See “Rich and Strange” (
2.     Donovan
The Sept. 2012 LoAR states: “Donovan was documented as a 1584 English family name from Leicester. While it is presumably of Irish origin, it is functioning as an English family name here and can be used to create a given name following the pattern of late period English surnames used as given names.” [Donovan Gunn, Sept. 2012 LoAR, A-Caid].
3.     Frasier
Although thought of as a Scottish name, Frasier can be documented as a late-period English surname in the Family Search Historical Records, and therefore usable as a given name:
ABRAHAM FRASIER; Male; Christening; 25 DEC 1599; Walloon Or Strangers Church, Canterbury, Kent, England; Batch: C049021
Frasier can also be found as a surname in other late-period English documents:
"Probate records of the courts of the bishop and archdeacon of Oxford, 1516-1732," Volume 93 ( at p. 206 lists Harry Frasyer or Frasiar as a tailor in London in 1596.
 "A history of Northumberland" (A. Reid, sons & co., 1930) ( at p. 129 lists a Robert Frasyer buried in Newcastle in 1577.

Because i and y were used interchangeable in Middle and Early Modern English, these cites support Frasier.

4.     Liam
The original Problem Names article on Liam states, “The name Liam is certainly a modern Irish pet form of Uilliam, but there is no persuasive evidence that it was used before the 17th century.”  However, the Family Search Historical Records provide evidence of Liam as a late-period English surname:
JOANA LIAM; Female; Marriage; 1592; Elsworth, Cambridge, England; Batch: M13053-1 
5.     Megan
Megan and its variants had previously been registered only as SCA-compatible names.  The Family Search Historical Records provide evidence of Megan in various spellings as a late-period English surname.
WILLIAM MEGAN; Male; Marriage; 9 Sept 1644; Ippollitts, Hertford, England;
Batch: M07253-1.
MARTHA MEGHEN; Female; Marriage; 15 Oct 1633; Saint Chad, Shrewsbury, Shropshire, England; Batch: M01575-1.
RICHARD MEGHEN; Male; Christening; 11 Dec 1630; Saint Chad, Shrewsbury, Shropshire, England; Batch: P01575-1.
6.     Niamh
In July 2012, Pelican ruled “barring evidence that Niamh was used by non-legendary human beings or falls into another registerable category (like a saint's name), it will not be registered after the December 2012 meeting.” [Niamh Fhinn, 7/2012 LoAR, A-Atenveldt].  However, Niamh is Anglicized to something that sounds like “Neeve” or “Neave,” which can be documented as an English surname:
Elizabeth Neave; Female; Christening; 06 Dec 1590; All Saints, Icklingham, Suffolk, England; Batch: C06255-2
Margaret Neave; Female; Christening; 08 Sep 1548; Conington, Cambridge, England; Batch: C130382

7.     Tara
Tara had been ruled unregisterable for lack of documentation.  [Alana Buchanan, 11/1997 LoAR, A-Caid].  Tara now can be found as a gray-period English surname, and therefore is usable as an English given name:
EDWARD TARA; Male; Christening; 18 Oct 1640; Northam, Devon, England; Batch: C05190-1 
THOMAS TARA; Male; Christening; 23 Jan 1647; Knowstone, Devon, England;
Batch: C05128-1 


              This article is not intended as an exhaustive study of every “problem name” in the Society.  There are a number of names that we continue to be unable to document to period as the names of real people, including Fiona, Moira and Rhiannon.
            This article is intended to encourage heralds to continue to research even names that “everyone knows” cannot be documented.  Period naming practices were often stranger than we imagine, and the continuing release of new data as period sources are digitized forces us to challenge many of our old assumptions.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Queen's Bard Project, notes the third

Elizabeth I, on Monsieur's Departure

I grieve and dare not show my discontent;
I love, and yet am forced to seem to hate;
I do, yet dare not say I ever meant;
I seem stark mute, but inwardly do prate.
      I am, and not; I freeze and yet am burned,
      Since from myself another self I turned.

My care is like my shadow in the sun—
Follows me flying, flies when I pursue it,
Stands, and lies by me, doth what I have done;
His too familiar care doth make me rue it.
      No means I find to rid him from my breast,
      Till by the end of things it be supprest.

Some gentler passion slide into my mind,
For I am soft, and made of melting snow;
Or be more cruel, Love, and so be kind.
Let me or float or sink, be high or low;
      Or let me live with some more sweet content,
      Or die, and so forget what love e'er meant.

Queen's Bard Project: Notes the second

I've just about got this one down to memory.

From John Dowland's Third And Last Book of Songs and Airs, 1601

The lowest trees have tops, the ant her gall,
  The fly her spleen, the little spark his heat;
And slender hairs cast shadows, though but small,
  And bees have stings, although they be not great.
Seas have their source and so do shallow springs,
And love is love, in beggars and in kings.

Where waters smoothest run, deep are the fords;
  The dial stirs yet none perceives it move.
The firmest faith is in the fewest words.
   The turtles[1] cannot sing and yet they love.
True hearts have eyes and ears, no tongues to speak,
They hear and see and sigh and then they break.

Melody link:

[1] Turtles here refers to turtledoves, the birds.  The critters with shells were referred to as tortoises in the 16th century.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Queen's Bard project, notes the first

I've decided I'm going to learn this song, and maybe contrafact some vernacular verses.

Bache Bene Venies

Refrain: Istud vinum bonum vinum  vinum generosum
reddit virum curialem  probum animosum

Bache bene venies gratus et optatus
per quem noster animus fit letificatus


Iste cyphus concavus de bono mero profluus
siquis bibit sepius satur fit et ebrius


Bachus venas penetrans calido liquore
facit eas igneas Veneris ardore.

(melody link here:

Sunday, March 6, 2016

K&Q Bardic 2016: The Coventry Carol

The Coventry Carol is one of two surviving songs from the Pageant of Shearman and Tailors, a mystery play.  Although now famous as a Christmas song, the Pageant was performed in June as part of the Feast of Corpus Christi in Coventry, England.   The first performances of the Pageant are recorded in the late 14th century.  The Pageant was performed continuously thereafter until it was suppressed in 1579.  The accepted version of the song is found in a manuscript dated to 1534.

Medieval mystery plays were performed by local guilds as part of holiday celebrations, depicting various stories from the Bible.  The Pageant of the Shearman and Tailors was a two-part Nativity play.  The Coventry Carol was sung as part of the episode of the Slaughter of Innocents, recounted in the Bible in the Gospel of Matthew.  The villainous King Herod orders all boys two years old and under in Bethlehem to be killed.  Jesus and his family escape this massacre thanks to a warning from an angel, and flee into Egypt.  The song is sung by the character of Rachel, representing the mothers of the slain children.

When performing, to give the song context, and to simulate what it might have been like to view the Pageant of Shearmen and Tailors, I opened with the scene-setting passage from Mathew 2:13-18, using Miles Coverdale’s 1535 translation of the Bible into English:

Then Herod perceauynge yt he was disceaued of the wyse men, was excedynge wroth, and sent forth, and slue all the  hildren that were in Bethleem, and in all the coastes there of, as many as were two yere olde and vnder, accordynge to the tyme which he had diligently searched out of the wyse men. Then was yt fulfilled which was spoken by ye Prophet Ieremy:  On ye hilles was a voyce herde, greate mournynge, wepynge, & lamentacion: Rachel wepynge for her  children, and wolde not be conforted, because they were not.

Then the song. 

Lully, lulla, thou little tiny child,
By by, lully, lulla thou little tiny child,
By by, lully, lullay!

O sisters too, how may we do
For to preserve this day
This pore yongling for whom we do singe
By by, lully, lullay?

Herod, the king, in his raging,
Chargid he hath this day
His men of might in his owne sight
All yonge children to slay,—

That wo is me, pore child, for thee,
And ever morne and say
For thi parting nether say nor singe,

By by, lully, lullay.

Even thought I'm delighted with how this performance came together yesterday, eventually I want to find all the fragments of the Pageant of Shearmen and Tailors that are still extant, and do an actual excerpt of the Pageant rather than a hypothetical construct of what it might have been.

Research sources:

Mark Lawson-Jones, Why was the Partridge in the Pear Tree?: The History of Christmas Carols (The History Press, 2011)

Alissa Pyrich, "Music-Dramas in the Medieval Church," Ars Scientia Orientalis, Issue 8

Richard Rastall, Minstrels Playing: Music in Early English Religious Drama (Boydell and Brewer Ltd., 1996), p. 179

William Tydeman, “An Introduction to Medieval English Theatre,” The Cambridge Companion to Medieval English Theatre (Cambridge University Press, 1994) pp. 27-28.

Friday, March 4, 2016

Mudthaw 2016: Heraldic Display Competition Rules

            This competition is intended to encourage period and period-style heraldic display.  “Heraldic display” is not limited to banners.  In period, a person’s armory was placed on any number of personal and useful items, including household objects and clothing.
There will be multiple categories for entries: Youth (ages 12 and under), Teen (ages 13-17), Novice, Journeyman and Craftsman.  Criteria for each category are explained below.  Youth and Teens may, at their choice, enter in one of the other categories instead.  Prizes will be given for every category in which there are entries.  The Baron and Baroness of Settmour Swamp will also be giving out a prize to the artisan(s) of their choice.
            Entries in all categories will be judged based on the following criteria:
(1) Heraldic style:  Points will be given for the use of SCA-registered or period armory.  Extra points will be given if the armory being displayed is good heraldic style.  If you are using SCA-registered armory, please be sure to include a note stating to whom it is registered.
(2) Period display method:  Is this the kind of item that people put heraldry on in period?  Is the heraldry displayed on the item in the way period people did it?  More points will be awarded for more period methods and motifs.
(3)  Artistic merit:  Is the item pleasing to the eye?  Items that convey a good medieval or Renaissance feel will be assigned more points.
(4) Use of period materials and techniques:  As this is an SCA arts and sciences competition, the use of period materials and techniques (or modern techniques replicating period techniques where reasonable) is expected.  The more period your techniques and materials, the more points will be awarded.
As to each individual category:
(1)   Youth (ages 12 and under):  Entrants will be judged against other Youth in the same age group.  Documentation is not expected.  Use of reasonable modern equivalents for period materials and techniques is permitted.     
(2)   Teen (ages 13-17):  Entrants will be judged against other Teens in the same age group.  Documentation is not required.  Use of reasonable modern equivalents for period materials and techniques is permitted.
(3)   Novice:  The Novice category is open to people who have been practicing their art for less than 3 years and have never won an A&S competition in heraldic display.  Laurels, Maunches and Silver Brooches (or the equivalent) in heraldry or heraldic display are not eligible for the Novice category.  Documentation is not required.  The use of reasonable modern equivalents for period materials and techniques is permitted.
(4)   Journeyman:  The Journeyman category is intended for people who have been practicing their art for 3 or more years.  Laurels and Maunches (or the equivalent) in heraldry are not eligible for the Journeyman category.  Journeyman entries must have documentation.  Period materials and techniques are strongly encouraged.
(5)   Craftsman.  The Craftsman category is intended for people who are Laurels or Maunches (or the equivalent) in heraldry or heraldic display or people who have won an A&S competition in heraldry or the art being presented.  (For example, Gendulphe won a competition for pottery, and is entering heraldic pottery today, therefore Gendulphe is a Craftsman.  Hextilda won a competition for brewing, but is presenting a heraldic surcoat today; Hextilda does not have to enter in the Craftsman category).  Craftsman entries must have documentation.  Period materials and techniques are expected.
Please note that documentation is required for Journeyman and Craftsman level entries.  Even for the categories where documentation is not required, documentation is strongly encouraged and will make the judges very happy.  Documentation assistance is available at Mistress Alys’ blog (
Documentation for this competition should address the following issues:
·         Is the device or badge registered by the SCA College of Heralds?  If so, to whom?  If not, is it actual period armory?  If actual period armory, where did you find it?
·         Did medieval/Renaissance people use this method to display heraldry? (For example, is there evidence of heraldry on clothing?)
·         Do you have any examples of this kind of display being done in the way you have done it?  (Copies of pictures, woodcuts and the like are strongly encouraged)
·         What techniques did you use to create the display?
·         What materials did you use to create the display?
·         Assume the judges know nothing about your art.  What are the most important things for the judges to know about your materials, techniques and methods?
·         What sources did you consult in creating your display?

There is no page limit for documentation.