…with Vengeance (or Justice)

18 Nov 2013 by gebhard, No Comments »


The week after Coronation, I pulled up to Their Majesties home with the Fun Bus to pick up everyone and everything needed for the event. Let’s see: large wood chests, benches, thrones, banners, Bass, over sized music stand, lute, three large bags of armor, water cooler, helms bags…. But what’s this? Among the regalia is long wooden box, beautifully made. I immediately recognize what would be in such a box. It is Oathbinder, our most cherished symbol. The Midrealm’s sword of state.

Many years ago when I was new to the SCA, even before His Majesty was made a knight, we attended an event in Gwyntarian, part of the recently made Barony of Brendoken.  There was a warlord tournament at the end of the day (which His Majesty won). This style of tournament starts one on one, the loser joins the winner to fight another group 2 vs 2, then 4 v 4 and so on.  At the end we must have 12 vs 12. As we line up and make a formation, I look across the field, and there is a guy in all black.  The fighter next to me tells me it’s Duke Laurelen.

His Grace lines up across from me on the field, two stick? In melee that’s crazy.  That will never work. “Lay on!” The warrior in all black with a great helm, charges my end of the line, throws himself in to ranks, knocks me back, conks me on the head and blows down our line in a whirlwind

As I watch from the ground, I think, “damn, I want to be just like that guy when I’m his age.”

After the melee, I sat down next Duke Laurelen to ask about using two sword in a melee. Before long, one story bleeds into another. He tells me about Oathbinder, how it was made, the lengths knights have gone to so they could be dubbed with it rather than a different sword, how it was damaged, and it’s rebuilding.

In my mind, the background fades out and all I can see the imagery that is created by the story. I wish every new person could have this experience. It’s the way it should be learned, one warrior to warrior, or in this case, warrior to  ‘a guy with oversized green bucket helm and plastic armor who can barely hold a sword’.

“Would you like to look at it?” His Majesty said. Apparently I’ve been staring an awkward amount of time. As he opened the box, I peered inside to find this amazing artifact wrapped up in the socks of previous kings.  I’ve looked with it awe from a distance. I’m maybe even a little envious of the people that have been chosen to carry it. (The Kings Champion holds Oathbinder )

 Shakespeare once said “Youth’s a stuff will not endure”.  The people who know our history are not getting younger.  Duke Laurelen stated in his tale about Oathbinder that if we did not share the story then it would fade from memory.  What a shame it would be to lose a critical part of our past. I’m always amazed at the quality of work, time and energy that someone has poured into making something truly amazing that will last far longer than any of us will be here to remember. How sad it is when we forget why things are made, for then they just become another stack of things in the corner so easily mistreated or disregarded.

Your kingdom has a rich history. Do you know how your artifacts were made, why and by whom? While these answers are easy to look up online, and I certainly would not discourage you from doing that. However, at your next event when you’re sitting by the fire, the list, or feast, why not take part in the way history has been learned for thousands of years, by sharing a story.  This sharing of a common history is something that knits us together and makes our society stronger. That is certainly something worth preserving. (and by that I’m not talking about the socks).

To Learn more about the History of Oathbinder vist the following link: http://middlewiki.midrealm.org/index.php/Oathbinder

The title refers to Middle Kingdom Law (http://www.midrealm.org/seneschallorum/MiddleKingdomCurrentLaws.pdf) When the King and Queen accept Oath of Fealty, made on Oath Binder, they respond with the following for knight’s ( and slightly different responses for other oaths), “This do We hear and will never forget: to be your Liege-Lord, rewarding fealty with love, valor with honor, and oath-breaking with vengeance.” However, At the Crown’s discretion, the word “justice” may be substituted for the word “vengeance” in each Oath of Fealty

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