“Problems cannot be solved at the same level of awareness that created them.” – Albert Einstein

Those of you who are not in the SCA might want to click off now, or put your fingers in your ears and sing “lalalalalala”.

It really doesn’t apply to you, and will probably be incomprehensible, melodramatic, or, worse, boring.

Disclaimer over.

Sarah wrote the best, most kick-ass blog about the abrogation of responsibilities displayed by some of the so-called sources of inspiration in our tournament-based administrative system.  I will admit in my distant past, I have been a less than perfect consort.  My only excuse then is that I was young and a stick-jock myself, and tended to focus on my own fights more than my significant other’s bouts.  I got better.  By the time I had been in about a decade, I got hit with the proverbial clue-bat, and now I am one of those converts more rabid than those born to the religion.

First, a bit of history – in a history based society, fancy that.

The Cult of Chivalry, romantic as an ideal, had roots in practical, even desperate, motivations.  It arose during a time where a class of people, largely by right of birth, held a great majority of the cosmic cards.  Better fed, better educated, far better armed, they could take what they wanted by violence if necessary with few moral and ethical rules to temper their power.  If not engaged in active warfare, local terrorism was their active outlet.  It was a situation that arose, ironically, by political stability and the concurrent drop in warfare where they had previously limited their casualties to their own class.  The Church didn’t originate the code of Chivalry, but they certainly adopted it, sanctified it and popularized it.  Whatever the long-lasting consequences of the Crusading lust that followed, it had the desired effect.  By charging those with physical power with the protection of the weak and the defense of Christianity, it maintained feudal order for several hundred more years.

But don’t take my word for it

We in the SCA claim to be the inheritors of that Code.  But in many ways we fall far short of being worthy of that heritage.  The fighters (and, in brutal honesty, I am talking mainly men here) have a share in that blame.  But that’s not what I promised Sarah to write about, and is fodder for another rant.  I am talking to the distaff side, here.

Mores of the medieval culture notwithstanding, the evolution of Chivalry was the one true attempt by the Church and by European culture (modern times included), to bestow power back upon the ideals of the feminine.  Power pursued justly could ONLY be done in the service of virtue, and in the honor of the feminine ideal.  However unrealistic that ideal may be, however ridiculously exaggerated and unattainable, it was still an attempt to glorify the gentler aspect of humanity.  Our track record, aside from that shining exception, has been relatively dismal. 

And now, I will stoop to crudity purely for shock value and thus fulfilling my own prophecy:  By acting like twittering ninnies, we are fucking it up.  We are proving ourselves to be unworthy of the sacrifices and the acts of glory being laid at our feet.  More than those men who give lip service to their inspiration, we are refusing to participate in the very act being done in our honor.  Shame on us.

Even if it is a convenient fiction to justify ritualized brutality, without the contribution of the feminine, the system fails.  It becomes simply brutality.  Without our eyes to witness and judge the deeds, we lose the disapprobation that keeps the cheater and the liar from plying his trade upon our field.  If we do not take the care to present ourselves as the ideal of feminine nobility, we prove ourselves unworthy and belittle their efforts to make in fact what they believe in their hearts.  Let us not show that we hold their love, adoration, and respect cheaply.   Because if we cannot honor this promise, how can we show to the populace that we will honor any others?

As a fighter, I can tell you that this role is not mean fancy.  While, by definition courtly love was chaste and therefore impossible between husband and wife, I have chosen to ignore that particular aspect to honor the core of the belief.  The first and foremost thought in my mind, every time I step on the field, EVERY TIME, is to prove myself worthy of the honor of my husband.  His pure belief in me and support of me both inspires and humbles me, and there can be no greater spur to ambition than the fear of disgracing that trust, that faith.  I will defend him as he has defended me, and I will show my love by deeds of renown that I will lay at his feet. 

And that, my dear ladies, is what it is all about.

(further disclaimer – if this is rushed, blame it on being a command performance…  Here there be editing for the resultant piss-poor grammar)

September 18th, 2006 at 3:06 pm
18 Responses to “Avert your eyes, this might get ugly”
  1. 1
    Bambi Says:

    Thank you!!

  2. 2
    Sheila Says:

    This is right on and should be in Pop Chiv. Lest we forget…

  3. 3
    Robbin Says:

    Ambassador. 🙂

    (I still say PC, too!)

  4. 4
    Kat Says:

    TI? Of course, I don’t get TI… I financially looked at the difference between three memberships for three years — or three for two with TI — and decided I didn’t need it. But that’s neither here nor there.

  5. 5
    Sarah Says:

    Wow, lady. You are amazing. You should teach a class on this stuff….

    And I’d love to see the rant told from the other side of the fence, regarding the fighters. Problems can’t be fixed without knowing all the sides, after all…

  6. 6
    Robbin Says:

    Stay tuned for episode 2…   But seriously?  Read \”Anvil of Virtue\” or \”Chains of Our Faith\” by Sir Vitus von Atzinger of the Middle Kingdom.  Anything I write will be a poor rehash.

  7. 7
    Charles Says:

    I’d highly recommend Anvil of Virtue and Chains of Our Faith as well. Opened my eyes to an entirely new way of viewing this sort of thing.


  8. 8

    I find your words stirring and inspriational. I’d like to hear more about your opinions where you say, “We in the SCA claim to be the inheritors of that Code. But in many ways we fall far short of being worthy of that heritage. The fighters (and, in brutal honesty, I am talking mainly men here) have a share in that blame.”

  9. 9
    Roget Says:

    I *knew* there was a reason I always liked you two.

    That and the cool wind noise Radu makes.

  10. 10
    Sheila Says:

    Well, it sounds like there might be some classes taught on Fighter Appreciation? Its true what a zillion people said, we live in a world that doesn’t really value feminine virtues and it takes an effort to step back in time. I think the whole idea of courtly love, and the inspiration to greatness it gives to both parties is awesome and should be taught.

  11. 11
    Cinnkitty Says:

    There is a class that I taught in conjunction with Sir Ulrich at Thing in The Woods that covered the ideals of being a consort AND fighter and how they should compliment each other. The class went beautifully except for the fact that not a SINGLE CONSORT showed up for it. They were too busy doing other things. However, the fighters that showed up for it, took it to heart and I got to witness one fighter exhibit all the ideals that we had put forth that very evening during the “Gladiator Tourney”. It warmed my heart and brought tears to my eyes and I was so very proud to see at least one person try and make a difference.

    It can be done, it just takes time, effort and others to lead the way!! 🙂

  12. 12
    Sheila Says:

    The Damosels of Astolat are a group of ladies within the SCA that research and recreate ladies galleries, tournament society, and the related aspects of chivalry and courtly love. The group works to appreciate fighters and to recognize courtly behavior. My favorite tounaments have been the ones where the fighters go out of their way to be chivalrous. It comes naturaly to some (like being a lady does) and others have to work at it.

    Its sad that no consort showed up for your classes. I’d hope that they were all working on projects, but you never know.

  13. 13
    Kat Says:

    I dunno… maybe it is a good thing my man doesn’t fight — sometimes I have to sit down and think “hey, what’s he up to?” since most events I grab stuff out of the car, set up a bed, and start doing my thing. And usually, I’m not really available to him until feast, or later… I’m not really sure I’d make a good consort, since I’m really busy playing my game. Food for thought, I guess.

  14. 14

    In the Barony of Thor’s Mountain, in the Kingdom of Meridies (See: Center of Light and Culture) every spring the gentlemen gather to nominate and award the Companionate of the Daughters of Aduin to “she who most inspires our Chivalry.

    Our forefathers deliberately left it ambiguous as to what that means, so every year there has to be a small discussion as to what we are looking for. Here’s what I try to explain to the younger guys.

    She inspires your chivalry when her presence on the field or in your life makes you a better man. When you base your decisions on “will this make her proud of me, or ashamed.”


  15. 15

    First of all, I think the Former Water Bearer of An Tir needs to cut herself a break – while she may not have been standing on the sidelines giving her undivided attention to her husband, she was not off somewhere else in a meeting, she was very much THERE, and if the person in charge of vital hydration for ALL the fighters isn’t being an INSPIRATION just by doing such an important job to Support the fighters, then something is very wrong!

    (S’cuse me while I get down off my soapbox and straighten my skirts now.) That said, I consider it a luxury to be able to sit on the sidelines now and Inspire my Hero In Person. It is very important to him and to me as well. But I used to be a Water Bearer. Without service our Society would collapse. And where does it say that a fighter is less inspired by his or her consort when that person might be working on Arts & Sciences toward a well-deserved Peerage for the gentler arts, as an example?

    My Hero is spoiled rotten, I can barely get away to go use the Biffy (or fetch him something he forgot back at camp)! I must say that it is truly a gift to be able to just “sit there and be beautiful” for him. And it is very true that I am always proud of him each and every time he fights because he fights clean and with honor all day long. He is not perfect (I don’t know anybody who is, especially me) but he tries his best and honor is always more important than victory to him.

    Would the rhino-hiding decrease if more consorts sat directly on the erics and watched their fighters? If so, then gather ’round! ‘Cause I’ve seen some “victories” won that I would not be one bit proud of if they were mine! I am not so sure that the role of the consort as conscience would be effective – let’s face it – most of these (guys) fight because they enjoy bashing each other in the head with sticks and they couldn’t care less who’s watching! Fighters’are what this Society is based on, but many of them are the “consumers”, if you will, of our events; only concerned with their own fighting, completely unappreciative of the poor souls at gate for hours on end, or the constabulary patroling at night to keep us all safe. If everybody were either a fighter or an inspiration, who would the marshals be? Who would run the lists? Who would “hold down the fort” at the merchant booths?

    One of the fabulous things about our Society is that there are so many different things to learn about; people have different interests. Not everybody is into being a spectator at the fighting.

    That said, I think the concept of fighter’s appreciation and being an inspiration in attendance are nice ideals, and this discussion is important.

    Safe Journeys

  16. 16
    Robbin Says:

    For all those reading this anew – please also read the follow-up post:


    I am not easy on us fighters, either.



  17. 17
    Kira Says:

    Thanks, Spritzie. 🙂

    Your Grace, I found your link through random clicking and found your words and those that caused this post, to be very interesting. I’ve been thinking about my own role in this Society, since I am no longer an officer of any kind (thank goodness!! LOL). I had mentioned in a post to the An Tir fighters list that I felt I was not a good inspiration to my then husband, as my world consisted of my 9×12 Waterbearing pavilion. I have no idea how to be a consort and would like to learn. Just in case I end up with a combattant upon the field. Not just for Crown, but for any tournament.

    And your follow up post was wonderful, as well. I have shared that link with the fighters I am close to, as well.

  18. 18
    Amalric Says:

    I do not feel that my lady needs to be there on the sideline at every contest I fight. Her inspiration to me is a dominant part of my fighting though, and I always fight with her in my heart and act on the field as if she were watching my every move.
    Every lady cannot be there on the spot all the time, and little would be done at SCA events if that were a rule (which brings to bear another issue that often comes up for me; making a rule to make everyone more chivalrous; it just doesn’t work). Now having said that, I will wield this two edged sword I’ve drawn cautiously by saying: “Everyone must fight with the honor of their Lady in their heart, or be nothing more than a brute on the field.” The meaning is this: Not every fighter has a lady, but that doesn’t keep him from fighting with an ideal in his heart. It may seem an empty statement to someone who watches or who hasn’t ever fought for a lady who actually exists, but it is a powerful aspect of playing the game while we are in armour. I have in times past fought without having a lady to fight for. At that time I fought with an ideal of a Lady in my heart, and tried to be true to the notion while doing that. I do not fight for victory so much as for self betterment, and for the companionship that fighting brings forth in people. Ultimately, if one fights with winning as his goal, instead of for higher goals, he is not fighting on the same field as me, even if he is fighting me. There is no comparison to fighting with inspiration. There is still determination in both fighters, but one fighter is concerned with honoring his lady, and the other is interested in winning. Winning honors my lady, but losing with grace and honor is also a victory of it’s own kind. This brings me to another aspect of fighting for the honor of a lady (in my case, my wife); Fighting in the SCA is about honor, and prowess, and other virtues involved in fighting. If winning becomes more important that these aspects, then we have the modern sports attitude instead of the more virtuous aspect of good sportsmanship. We have lost this perspective in modern sports where winning is all that matters anymore. I prefer to lose a fight and keep my honor, than to win a fight at the expense of my honor and more importantly, my lady’s honor.

    As the lady who authored the post said (and I am paraphrasing here) when the fighters fight without the honor of their consorts in their hearts and minds, they become brutes in acts of ritualized violence instead of warriors of a high virtue called Chivalry.

    Sorry about the long post. One thing leads to another… 

    Duke Amalric Blackhart (fighting for 26 years)