This is the Pennsic Independent Web Edition for Sunday, August 14, 2005.
By Sir Guillaume de la Belgique
How is the week of Pennsic War like the history of the Middle Ages? There are many similarities that I'll explore throughout the week on the pages of this paper in a real and sincere effort to prevent myself from having to go out into the hot sun and actually doing some real journalism work.
The second day of Pennsic mirrors the era of urban renewal that took place in the 9th and 10th centuries. In the Early Middle Ages, the primary method for finding a place to live was pretty much, "kill your neighbor, take his house." But by the turn of the first millennium, people were tired of living in buildings made primarily of mud, straw and dead sheep. They realized there were all these Roman buildings lying around made of perfectly good rocks and bricks that no one seemed to be using. Suddenly a huge array of cathedrals, monasteries and palaces were springing up from Bruges to Provence, thus transforming Europe from the "trailer park of world history" into a beautiful, architecturally rich region where every petty, tin-pot feudal overlord had a castle of his own.
By the second day of Pennsic, a similar transformation has taken place throughout the campground. All of the campsites with their walls, buildings, roads and decorations have sprung up seemingly overnight. Regular Pennsic attendees may be somewhat blasŽ about this, but speaking as one of those visitors from "out west," I must say that Pennsic's urban development phase is nothing short of phenomenal. Our wars are essentially two-day events where "lay on" is called about 15 minutes after the site opens, and dumping waste water on the ground is an offense punishable by five years in a federal penitentiary.
So, for us, being able build and dig and actually alter the landscape is a unique luxury. (If you want to see something really funny, stop by the Caidan camp when someone is digging a drainage pit for a shower - every time the shovel goes into the ground, everyone reflexively looks around to see if a park ranger is watching.) In fact, for me, this aspect of Pennsic is almost more intriguing than the fighting - which may explain why, last year, when the armies were marching out to battle, Countess Albra walked through the camp and was surprised to find me in full armor, watering flowers in front of my pavilion. Albra watched me clanking around with my watering can for a while, then she said, "Well, I think that's one of the more surreal things I've ever seen."
Hey, in my world, there are a lot of opportunities to fight, but cultivating a flower garden in front of your camp isn't an everyday occurrence.
As the Middle Ages got into full swing, the people of Europe took new pride in making their land beautiful and habitable; much the same thing happens on the second day of Pennsic. Today is a good reminder that we should never let the sweep of history make us forget to stop and enjoy the flowers.
Your can beautify your campsite with a copy of "Here Comes the Reign, Sir Guillaume!" a new book filled with some of Guillaume's most memorable tales of life in and around the SCA, available at Ceridwen's Closet, space #74 in merchants row. You can also beautify your computer screen by visiting Guillaume's website at www.SirGuillaume.com.
By Peregrine Fairchylde
Pennsic Independent Staff Writer
Lady Katla Ulfhedinn, the AEthelmearc Hound Mistress and one of the demo's organizers, who has been coursing for some five years, said the intent of the demonstration was to help familiarize more people with the period activity and help encourage coursing at other events.
But as for turning Pennsic into a place where gentles bring their hounds with them for the war, Lady Katla said that wasn't the goal.
"Honestly, no. I think there's too much health risk for the people and the hounds, as well," she explained. "I think what the Coopers are doing for us is fantastic, letting the dogs out here for a day and letting people see them."
While most kingdoms have coursing to some degree and many have kingdom officers over the activity, the opportunity for royalty from around the Known World to see it at Pennsic may help spread it further, he added.
"This gives their kings and queens a chance to come down and see what we're doing," said THL Corin the Huntsman, master of the recently chartered Hunt Guild of the Midrealm.
Indeed, several of the Known World's queens processed to the demo, escorted by the hounds and their handlers, and were the first to release hounds to chase the lure - in this case, a couple of plastic grocery bags tied to a line that was propelled around a series of turns and straightaways by a motorized winch.
Each greyhound and Italian ran the course in their own fashion, some tracking the lures closely, others swinging wide in the corners, and some even cutting across the route to head off their targets.
THL Corin said the light bulb-shaped course was designed for "couch potato" dogs like most of those present. Hounds that are in top shape would be given a more vigorous challenge, with many cuts and turns along the course.
Standing out from the sleek and streamlined greyhounds were the pair of Irish wolfhounds brought by Dr. Kimberly Berry, a veterinarian from Butler, and Tommasa de la Heil of AEthelmearc, one of her vet techs who introduced her recently to the SCA. Dr. Berry had already been coursing with her dogs.
"They do agility, obedience, coursing," she said of 6-year-old Erin and 2-year-old Dublin, a mother-son pair.
Once all the greyhounds had been run, the course was lengthened for the wolfhounds. With their curly, blonde fur and long legs, they put on a very different display from the greyhounds - long, loping strides with a rolling gait that, while less smooth than the greyhounds, nonetheless gobbled up huge distances. And while 135-pound Dublin didn't corner well, his more experienced dam neatly kept pace with the bags, eagerly grabbing up one as she came to the finish of the course.
Her Majesty of Drachenwald, Queen Eufemia, was among the royals to take part and said that she hopes to make coursing part of her life.
"I think it's marvelous because, being an Italian persona, I've been looking at Italian hunting scenes, and they all have Italian greyhounds," said Her Majesty, who had already been planing to acquire a dog. "I'm very excited to find the perfect accessory to my Italian hunting garb."
Lady Katla emphasized that most any dog, even if not a sighthound like a greyhound, can be trained for coursing, and THL Corin said an easy way to see if a dog was interested was to tie a plastic grocery bag to a line on a fishing pole and swing it around in circles. Gentles interested in pursuing coursing in the SCA should contact their kingdom hound master, he advised.
By Peregrine Fairchylde
Staff Writer Pennsic Independent
The Pennsylvania State Police are investigating a report of an assault on a woman at Pennsic from last Wednesday.
Viscount Sir Edward Zifran of Gendy, Commissioner of Public Safety and Captain of the Watch, said Friday that the incident was reported directly to the State Police and not the Pennsic Watch, and that his department will provide whatever cooperation law enforcement authorities request of them - which, for the time being, is to let the police handle everything.
"They asked us to get the hell out of the way and give them an air conditioned room in which to talk to the alleged victim, which we did," said Viscount Edward.
State Police officers did "go and look at some areas" while they were here, His Excellency said, but added that, since he was not party to any part of the interview or the investigation, he didn't have any more information about the alleged incident.
Calling local law enforcement authorities is the proper procedure for the populace to take in cases of violations of law, said His Excellency.
"They are encouraged [to call the police], if they feel a crime was committed against them, and we will cooperate in any way the public officials wish us to do."