[Blackfriars' Journal -Bay Area Edition]

Bay Area Edition


Ephemeris de Conlegium de Ater Rosa

Ustentatio                                  Adrogantia                                 Sibi Placeri


Volume 6, Issue 9                                              November - December 1997




Table of Contents


From the Staff: Editor's Notes

Another issue, Another year. Boy, did that go fast! Season finished up with Hanford and we were delighted that Gareth and Capt. Annie Nye came down from Oregon to play. Along with the "Maestro's Challenge" and Skirmishing (Gareth was too delighted with himself over the results at this show), we had a return engagement from the junior high students of Firebaugh, CA. Last year we taught basic bladework to eight students. This school year, they are planning to do "MacBeth" and we had ten students, until the teachers turned there backs. Suddenly three more got brave enough to join us. As always, we had a great time teaching them and, as always, were amazed at how much of a concentrated effort they spend when working with us.

As a result of our Swashbuckling 101 with the kids at Shrewsbury, Gareth sent a copy of a posting from the Shrew. (See Message from Shrewsbury) Along with working up new fights and shows for next season, we'll be keeping a couple of things from this year.

And just when we thought it was all over--

With winter comes a change of costume, as we prepare for the "Victorian Christmas" at the San Jose Historical Museum. This is our second year as a group to do this event, although Teresa Nacorda has been a docent out there for quite some time, and Laura, Anthony Hole, and Matt Brodersen have performed there with Silverados, the 1880's comedic gunfighting troupe. We will be representing a late 1800's "Fencing and Social Club" and working with a lot of the Smallsword techniques that Tim Klotz taught us last August. The Historical Museum was kind enough to let us use their facility for last year's Smallsword workshop and we hope to work there again on more workshops.

So that's it for this season. As I reread the list of events that we've been to this year, I realize now why we are all so tired and looking forward to Downtime. Of course, we use to say that right after Hanford and now we say it in December. Chris, our Un-Fair rep, in between a ton of activities outside the faire season this year, has had time to research some new activities for the Black Rose & Skirmishers to be involved in. They all sound exciting. There've been a lot of changes this past year: Gareth and Annie Nye (Laura Robinson-Thomas) have moved to Oregon (and we're all still in touch frequently we miss them both), Tom and Karen Conroy have joined, and many of our members have been involved in moving or job changing which has made for a hectic season. Plans are already in the works for next season and we're hoping that Gareth and Laura will be joining us for at least two shows again next season. Look for updates on their new guild, "Yr Gwyliad" - "The Watch" - in Oregon.

So that's it for this season. (Didn't I say that already?) As always, without Laura Nacorda's help these things would never get out of the computer or sometimes even my head. So until next year, we wish Happy Holidays, Peace on Earth (or wherever else you may come from - just to be politically correct), and (as I steal a line from a friend of mine) "May all your Fights, be Theatrical."

-C. McMahan

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Quote of the Month

"The old fox has one more trick up his sleeve."

"Playing dead isn't a very good trick,...especially if it isn't pretending."

-Barbara Metzger, "Snowdrops and Scandalbroth"

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Guide To Successful Swordfighting -Part IV

This is the fourth part of a series of successful swordfighting tips, stolen... ahem... researched by Gareth Thomas, should keep those of us on the end of the blade safe and laughing for the next few months. He found quite a few tips for Successful Swordfighting - though some may be a little extreme for the squeamish.

35.  If it becomes necessary to escape, I will never stop to pose dramatically and toss off a one-liner.

36.  I will never train an apprentice to be better than I am.

37.  I will design fortress hallways with no alcoves or protruding structural supports which intruders could use for cover in a swordfight.

38.  I will see a competent psychiatrist and get cured of all extremely unusual phobias and bizarre compulsive habits which could prove to be a disadvantage.

39.  I will spare someone who saved my life sometime in the past. This is only reasonable as it encourages others to do so. However, the offer is good one time only. If they want me to spare them again, they'd better save my life again.

40.  If I decide to test a Second's loyalty and see if he/she should be made a Trusted Second, I will have a crack squad of marksmen standing by in case the answer is no.

41.  I will not agree to let my opponent go free if they win a rigged contest, even though my Seconds assure me it is impossible for them to win.

42.  When I create a multimedia presentation of my technique designed so that my five-year-old advisor can easily understand the details, I will not label the disk ``Project Overlord'' and leave it lying on top of my desk.

43.  If my opponent runs up to my roof, I will not run up after him and duel with him in an attempt to drive him over the edge. I will also not engage him at the edge of a cliff. (In the middle of a rope-bridge over a river of molten lava is not even worth considering.)

44.  If I have a fit of temporary insanity and decide to give the loser the chance to reject a job as my Trusted Second, I will retain enough sanity to wait until my current Second is out of earshot before making the offer.

45.  If my weakest attacks fail to eliminate my opponent, I will use my best moves instead of wasting time with progressively stronger ones as he gets closer and closer to killing me.

46.  If I am fighting with an opponent atop a moving platform, have disarmed him, and am about to finish him off and he glances behind me and drops flat, I too will drop flat instead of quizzically turning around to find out what he saw.

47.  In a formal duel, I will not have opponents of one sex adjudicated over by members of the opposite sex.

-Submitted by Gareth Thomas

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Riddle Posed by Leonardo Da Vinci

It is impossible to protect fair maidens from the lust and violence of men, even by the greatest watchfulness of parents and the thickest walls. But the time will come when those very parents of rich, highborn, and pretty girls will pay large sums to whoever is willing to marry them. Surely Nature is trying to destroy the human race, useless as it is and destructive to all created things.

To Riddle Answer

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Message from Shrewsbury

As we mentioned last month, the Shrewsbury Renaissance Festival in Philomath, Oregon, is not only one of our longest trips of the season, but is also one of our favourite shows. It is what Faire should be about - lots of play and interaction between the participants and the faire-goers. The washer women not only talk to visitors as they go by, but when they aren't washing they encourage the visitors to dance with them. We have a great time going up and it's even better when the reward comes back to us, as with the message Gareth recently forwarded that had gone out over the Internet about our participation at Shrewsbury.

"Ah, the wooden sword epidemic....
We were most fortunate in having the fight group "Black Rose" at Shrewsbury again this past Faire. Yes, the problem children seem to be most often those of the guests. The "Rose", in a most beautiful and professional manner, when seeing these kids thrashing at each other, rounded up these kids as they found them, and using the wooden swords, gave them lessons in swordplay and deportment in their guildyard. The public loved it, the kids loved it, and the change in behaviour of these young swordsmen (and girls) was fantastic! Thank you, "Black Rose"! Many Ren Rats commented on this! See you next year! Huzzah! the Shrew

--Shrewsbury Renaissance Faire
Teaching History Through Faire Play

In truth, we had a great time working with the kids and plan to continue this "swordplay class" at other faires. Thanks to Leslie Engle, the Shrew, for inviting us to participate in one of the best faires of the whole circuit.

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Stage Combat Mailing List

Since long before the time of Shakespeare, the performance of stage violence has required exactness to be safe. Every issue of the journal has contained information from the Stage Combat Mailing List, promoting these same safety issues. Thanks to Alan Reichert who started the list, the list is about to celebrate its second anniversary on the Net, and it continues to grow. Recently, he posted a message announcing that there are now over two hundred members worldwide. These include fight instructors, choreographers, martial artists, actors, and a broad base of historians with a passion for the weapons and stage arts. Topics have ranged from where to buy weapons to tips on handling gunpowder, from historic notes on duels and fight styles of the past centuries to favourite fight scenes in film. For those interested in theatrical stage combat and historical fight studies, the Stage Combat Mailing List offers a great platform for discussing the broad range of aspects of the art. In order to subscribe to the mailing list, send an email to:

Majordomo@ mattress.atww.org
with the phrase:

subscribe stage-combat

contained within the body of the message.


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Eating, English-Style

Seasoned Greetings

St. Martin's Mass, or Martinmas, is celebrated in November. This is the traditional date for slaughtering the livestock that could not be fed through the winter, especially the old or weak. Some stock were kept, of course, for breeding for the next year.

Autumn, then, was the time of salting meats, storing grains, or otherwise preserving as much food as possible for the coming winter. It is also the time for feasting. Not everything could be preserved, after all, and storing food as fat is efficient, as nature intended.

So after you kill the pig, remember you are what you eat.

Stuffing for a Pig:
(for a 9 lb. suckling pig or a 4-5 lb. cut of pork)
3 eggs, 1 cup bread crumbs, 1/2 cup grated suet, 1/8 tsp. saffron,
1/2 tsp. salt, 1/4 tsp. each ginger and pepper.

Combine all ingredients and stuff the pig or stuff slits made in a large cut of pork. Butter can be substituted for suet, as it is difficult to find suet for cooking in America.

If your tastes lean towards mutton instead of pork, here is a recipe you might enjoy. It may come in handy after the feast when you are staring at your leftover roast mutton and wonering what to do with it all.

Stwed Mutton
Take fair Mutton that hath been roste, and mynce it faire; put it into a possenet, or else bitween two silver disshes; caste therein faire parcely, and onyons mynced; then caste there-to wyne and a littul vinegre or verjuice, pouder of peper, Canel, salt and saffron, and lete it stue on the faire coles, and then serve hit forthe; if ye have no wyne, nor vinegre, take Ale, Mustard, and a quantyte of verjuice, and do this in the stede of wyne or vinegre.

(Translated: Take about a pound and a half of roast mutton and mince it. Place it into a casserole or pot. Add several tablespoons of chopped parsley and one medium-to-large onion, sliced or coarsely chopped. Add 3 to 4 cups wine or ale and several tablespoons of verjuice, or sharp cider, or a mild cider vinegar. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and saffron. Optional ingredients: liberal amounts of prepared mustard, or season to taste with dry mustard. Simmer for half an hour. Breadcrumbs are traditional to thicken the stew, if desired.)

Whatever you decide to prepare this holiday season, enjoy the feast!

*****      *****      *****
Fun Food Fact: In the days before fireplaces with chimneys, the Normans hung meats to smoke cure in the rafters of the main dining hall.

-by Laura Nacorda

(Both the recipes and the food fact used in this article are from Two Fifteenth Century Cookery Books, Thomas Austin, ed., Oxford University Press, 1964, and reproduced by Maxime de la Falaise, Seven Centuries of English Cooking, Grove Press, 1973)


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Revenge for a Friend Part 2

Malcolm was determined to find out what had happened to his friend, and if need be, he was willing to avenge whatever fate had befallen him. Not knowing the skill levels of the men, however, Malcolm was hesitant to directly confront them; he'd been involved in several two-against-one fights at the school, and the lone man rarely prevailed. Not knowing what else to do, he'd decided to follow them and wait for an opportune moment to approach the men, either stealthily or openly. Maybe he could simply talk to the men and find out why Thomas had been targeted. It was possible...

Malcolm rounded the path, and caught sight of the two men. As he quietly moved forward, he stumbled over a concealed tree root, and almost fell face down in the moss covering the trail. Cursing to himself, he brushed himself off, and then suddenly felt a sneeze coming on. Damn moss...

He crouched down to the side of the path against the trunk of a large tree, and tried with every fiber of his willpower to stifle the sound, but he knew it was hopeless.

"KCHAWF!!!!!"

The explosion echoed through the woods; dozens of birds took wing, and several deer fled. Malcolm's head jerked back as a crossbow bolt suddenly buried itself in the tree trunk, less than a hand's width away from his head. He looked down the trail, and saw the two men racing toward him, swords drawn. Cursing his luck and wondering again why, with a sneeze like that, he'd ever decided to enter the woods, Malcolm bared his own steel and braced himself for a fight...      (to be continued)

-by Raymond Nacorda


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These Months in History
...And They Said....

  • November 29, 1489 - Margaret Tudor is born
         "A girl? Well... two outta three ain't bad."
  • November 14, 1501 - Catherine of Aragon marries Arthur, Prince of Wales.
         "One for the money, two for the show."
  • November 29, 1530 - Cardinal Wolsey dies.
         "We could make a pavilion with all that leftover red fabric."
  • November 25, 1533 - Henry Fitzroy marries Mary Howard.
         "You're looking a little peaked, Henry."
  • November 6, 1558 - Thomas Kyd is born.
         Query: What is a pirate called as a child? A kid.
  • November 17, 1558 - Mary I dies. Elizabeth I succeeds the throne.
         "Who's Queen?"
  • November 18, 1577 - John Aron of Stafford is pardoned for shooting Richard Pyrrye with a handgun by misadventure in the chapel yard.
         "I was just cleaning it, and it accidentally went off."
  • November 16, 1581 - Christopher Fletcher is pardoned for accidentally killing William Hodgshone with an arrow.
         "I was just cleaning it, and it accidentally went off. Honest!"
  • November 12, 1586 - Parliament petitions Elizabeth I to sign Mary Stuart's death warrant.
         "I hope I'm not setting a precedent here."
  • November 4, 1604 - Merry Wives of Windsor is performed at Court.
         "Wives were merrier under Elizabeth than under Henry."
  • November 5, 1604 - The Gunpowder Plot is discovered.
         "Just give it the old college try." (Parliament: 1; Guy Fawkes: 0)

  • December 15, 1485 - Catherine of Aragon is born.
         "What can we say about Catherine?" (With Don Alesandro as her champion, we're not saying anything bad!)
  • December 24, 1515 - Thomas Wolsey is appointed Lord Chancellor.
         "At least he's not the baby-eating bishop of Bath and Wells."
  • December 27, 1539 - Anne of Cleves lands at Deal.
         "That's Anne of Cleves?!?"
  • December 8, 1542 - Mary, Queen of Scots, is born.
         "Next time, I'll get a son."
  • December 14, 1542 - James V of Scotland dies.
         "He was mistaken!"
  • December 7, 1545 - Henry Darnley is born.
         "A birth that will live in infamy."
  • December 13, 1577 - Sir Frances Drake leaves Plymouth on a round-the-world voyage.
         "This is going to take longer than 80 days. A lot longer!"
  • December 28, 1594 - The Comedy of Errors is performed at Gray's Inn.
         "Wasn't that about Henry's reign?"

-contrived by L. Nacorda & C. McMahan

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Answer to Da Vinci Riddle

Maidens' Dowries

Apparently Leonard thought that dowries interfered with natural selection.


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Yr Gwyliad has arrived!

      Well, it finally happened............

Sunday was the first meeting of all the new potential members of the Welsh Resistance Guild Laura and I have been working on, "The Watch." Ten people showed up, all very enthusiastic but, with the exception of one woman from the SCA, without any experience.

The meeting was about two hours, but a couple of the new members didn't leave until three or more hours had passed.

Character workshops begin next week, weapons to be purchased in December and training to start in January. This was the first handful we recruited, mostly from Shrewsbury, and by next Shrewsbury, we estimate at least another five or eight will stray our way. They all seem to mesh pretty well, having a common goal, and as usual, the hand-picking has worked in our favour.

Laura and I are also on staff at Shrewsbury for next year arranging inter-guild gigs outside of respective encampments, so if you have gigs you want to do with the mummers, or the Bavarians, or even hob-nobbing with Welsh Rebels, let us know!

- by Gareth Thomas


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Satisfaction - Part 1

The day was Thursday, the 21st of June 1565, a day known to the devout as the feast day of Corpus Christi. The embattled limestone walls of the forte of St. Elmo were all but demolished, and clouds of limestone dust thrown up by the Turkish bombardment hung in the air. There in that tiny corner of the proud island of Malta, the Knights of St. John had held on for far longer than the Turks had expected.

Sensing that the end was near, the order's chaplains had hidden the precious objects of the faith beneath the stone floors of the chapel. The tapestries, pictures and wooden furnishing were set ablaze. To a man, they decided that the Mohammedans would have no Christian relics to desecrate.

Alesandro had watched these preparations impassively; the gray bearded knight was ready to die. Seated on a stool, his legs long ago shattered by shot, he waited. Fellow knights and soldiers held their posts around him. Some seated as they also were too wounded to stand, others standing behind their desperate barricades. Not one man was unscathed; everyone bore his wounds.

Fra Alonso de Zambrana approached Alesandro. He was a young man, and the old knight always laughed when the priest called him "my son." Alesandro did not feel like laughter now; death was soon coming.

"My son, quickly, let me give you the Holy Sacrament and absolution." The young priest said.

Alesandro bowed down his head. "Father, forgive me. It has been two days since my last confession. In that time I have committed the sin of pride."

The priest nodded his understanding. "For this sin and any others, receive God's forgiveness, my son. In nómine Patris, et Fílii, et Spíritus Sancti. Amen." Next he presented a silver dish that had wine-soaked bits of bread on it. He took one of the bits and held it up before Alesandro. "The body and blood of Christ."

"Amen," Alesandro breathed.

"I must go minister to the others now, Don Alesandro. Be assured that God will welcome you to paradise before this day is done." With that said, the priest limped off, using a broken piece of timber as a cane to aid him.

The elder knight now turned his attention to the bronze cannon that he now commanded. The Maltese soldiers who served alongside the knights had rolled it away from wall when the fortification buckled and crumbled under Turkish barrage. Packed with nails, bits of chain, and shards of stone, its barrel was aimed at the breach. One last surprise, Alesandro thought to himself, for the Turks when they come.

Then it started, trumpets called out and gongs were heard in the Turkish camp. The final assault was forming, and everyone within the fort braced themselves for yet another combat.     (to be continued)

-by Anthony Hole


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Dues Due

It's time again for annual dues. Dues for full members are $3 per month or $30 a year if paid in advance. Associate members dues are $15 per year. For those who wish to continue to receive the printed "Blackfriars' Journal" please send $12 for the year. Make checks payable to Treasurer, Anthony Hole, and mail to:

Skirmishers
1751 Ellis Street, #301
Concord, CA 94520


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The Order of the Black Rose
and Skirmishers Holiday Wish

We wish you the Power to Make Lasting Friendships,
and of Possessing Companions,
Merry Songs, and Brave Choruses,
To Sing with Lusty Voices.
We wish to each, his own place by the fireside at night,
With all pictures that may be seen in the burning wood,
To enjoy without hindrance, and without any incumbrance or care.

-Charles Lounsbury


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