Why Fight in Crown?

28 May 2015 by gebhard, 2 Comments »

nick1Crown Tournament has grown to become one of my favorite events, if not my favorite event, on the event calendar.  Everyone dresses in their nice garb. I get to geek out for weeks about those who are fighting.  Everyone works to make the day camps look nice.
And banners, I like heraldic banners.

As period music fills the background, the fighters process out with their consorts and say words of boasts, of bravery or of the beauty of their ladies. For a moment as they all stand in front of those who have traveled great and far to attend.  Excitement fills the room; those worthy combatants seem radiant.

In the midst of all the pageantry, I find myself thinking on something I recently learned. In my experience, the Middle Kingdom Crown Tournament has been drawing an average of 20-24 or so combatants in recent memory. In talking with friends from other Kingdoms, I’ve gotten reports that in more than one kingdom, their crown list draws 100ish combatants. I also learned that our Crown Tournament used to regularly draw 120 or more fighters.

If Crown is the most prestigious tournament we hold, why is our Crown list so small, comparatively?

Is it just an issue of numbers? The Kingdom of the Middle is the largest kingdom according to the last SCA census. Why is our Crown one of the smallest?

There can be a lot of reasons for this, but I would propose that the better question may be, “Why fight in Crown Tournament?”

When I recently asked a Knight from another Kingdom this question, why their roster is so long, I was told, that their kingdom focuses a lot on Melee and has very few tournaments. So it’s important for unbelts to fight to been seen.

Once upon a time, our kingdom also had 100 person lists.  Then, as covered in this article, the Tournament of Chivalry (TOC) was born. The TOC is a way for unbelts to be “seen” without being in Crown Tournament.

Nick2It seems to me that since the time I fought in Crown, and in the years following, that there has been a precedence that one should not fight in Crown unless is ready to win and willing to do the job. Reigns are expensive in all the resources person has: time, money, travel, wear and tear, heart, diplomacy, courage and compassion. People who realize they can not afford to win and do not enter are normally commended.

I’m not sure if this is the reason our Crown list is smaller than other Kingdoms, but I know that the boasts and declarations, the pageantry and pomp all make clear the most worthy of reasons to fight in Crown:  No combatant fights solely for him or herself.  Instead, each person fights for the honor of another.
Truly touching was Count Lucien’s boast to the Crown, the true reason he was there, “Her will is my sword. Her honor is my shield.”

But nowhere was this more evident, this worthiness of the seeking the Crown, than when Sir Nikolai embraced his wife Serena, whose great love, wisdom and never ending faith had guided his hand to make this day possible.

Finally, we come to my favorite part of Crown Tournament, when the new Prince places the Coronet on His beloved and makes her Princess of our Middle Kingdom. It’s the part of the day I dream about. Until then it’s back to the pell, and to serve where serve I might.


Top picture taken by: Isabel Taylor
Bottom picture taken by: Cecily O’Donell

Tags: , , , , , ,


  1. Laura Hume says:

    Lovely summation, as usual, Gebhard. You’ve really captured the spirit of Crown Tournament.

    To me, the answer to the question “Why fight in Crown?” was purely and finely distilled in the raw, intense emotion captured on Ser Nikolai’s face when he took off his helmet, his gloves dropped to the floor, and his eyes looked for Mistress Serena. That face said it all.

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