In addition to everything else that I had going on for Thanksgiving with the family and everything I generally do for Yule, I also had two documents to letter. It was a self-inflicted wound. One of them was for our baronial court, so I did that one entirely to myself. The other one was an Award of Arms for royal court – but I requested it. Grimolfr is our fencing champion, and just a great guy, so of course I wanted the assignment. I would have loved to have done his lady’s document also, but I had a tiny modicum of common sense, and didn’t.
Here’s Grimolfr’s AoA, along with its exemplar:
It’s adapted from an 9th century Homiliarium from the Lake of Constance region of Switzerland. There is one folio left extant. The original is 29 x 21 cm, and I came in pretty close to that. I tend to beef out the dimensions just a bit – I try to account for the binding on one side, and when a piece has obviously been cropped, I try to add that back in as reasonably as possible. There were a few daunting areas for this assignment. The first bit was what to do about someone with a Viking persona whose big area of participation is fencing? One of these things is not like the other… Since he was being rewarded not just for fencing but for being generally useful, I decided to match his persona – which was its own problem. The Vikings were known for lots of things, but their manuscript arts aren’t one of them. So my weird logic was that as widely as they ranged, I’m sure that at some point, someone must have met a pretty girl and decided to stay… wherever. So I expanded my search for exemplars to anywhere the Vikings traveled during the 9th century – which is pretty much everywhere.
The next problem was how to incorporate typical scadian armory, which is to say armory in the style of 14th century England, into a document in the style of 9th century Switzerland, without making it look horribly out of place. Putting it into the bowl of the “P” was the only thing I could come up with, and is part of why I picked that piece. It worked out okay, but making wolves and ravens that small was annoying.
The other problematic part of this one was the text. In the “new way of doing things” that Sir Jan and I are undertaking, we’re replicating our exemplars as closely as possible – including the number of text lines and the position of the capital. That meant that I needed to come up with sixty-two lines of text, AND I had to force a “P” at just the right point. That took a lot of fussing and re-writing. I probably spent more time researching 9th century documents and re-drafting the text than I spent on the execution. It wasn’t my most elegant solution for getting that letter where I wanted it, but sometimes you have to take what you get and move on. I hope he likes it – I think he does.
The second piece was for vynehorn. When I started doing the screwy bestowals I originally said that I was only going to do one a year. Heck with that. There are so many cool, authentic things that can be granted, and I have so little other business for court, I’m going to do them as I please and as I can come up with appropriate things. I’d been trying for a while to think of something I could give her for the new place, and at the eleventh hour (I think it was Tuesday or Wednesday before Yule) I stumbled on licenses to fortify. I found someone’s research paper online – it’s actually really cool – which gave the full text of one, and also noted the multiple times that such a license had been granted to women in their own right. Perfect! So I knocked the serial number off the extant piece that he cited, and lettered it up. Following past practice, I dug out a piece of scrap vellum, and pretty much just dashed it off.
I’m quite pleased with it. Truth be told, I’m enjoying these bestowals, and in the process I’m learning a LOT about English laws of Common. I suspect that we’re going to run out of time as the coronets before I run out of good ideas. Well, *I* think they’re good ideas. I don’t know how the rest of the barony feels about them. I hope they’re having at least a little fun.
Now… what am I going to do to someone at the Solstice Shoot?