By Sir Guillaume de la Belgique
There are some amazing similarities between the history of the Middle Ages and the week of Pennsic War. For example, in the 12th century, the knights of Europe embarked on a grand quest to deliver the lands of the Middle East from the ravages of public sanitation, scientific advances and edible cuisine. When they finally reached their destination, they looked around and said to themselves, "Hey, they've got some pretty cool stuff here. Let's take some of it home." And thus began one of the most productive periods of cultural exchange every seen in Western history: Before you knew it, traders and merchants were returning from the east with textiles, spices, books and other luxury goods, hoping that they could get all this stuff imported into Europe before the knights started some huge battle and messed everything up.
Similarly, Pennsic is a place for all of us heavily armed pilgrims to share diverse thoughts, views and practices that we've all brought from our homes. One of the most culturally enlightening moments I ever experienced at Pennsic came several years ago, at the resurrection point of the woods battle. At the time I was lounging around with the massive Army of Caid (eight guys and a banner bearer), doing what we were all used to doing in such a situation: Abusing the hospitality of the water-bearers.
Now, on the sidelines at the wars we have out west, you find lots of lovely, generous water-bearers bringing refreshments to the fighters: water, sports drinks, sometimes even a slice of fruit that hasn't been too desiccated by the desert sun. So, we weren't too surprised when one of the Pennsic water-bearers came by with a tray full of oranges, bananas and strawberries. We were a bit surprised when another came by a few minutes later with a tray loaded with finger sandwiches. Then, we heard a third water-bearer offering hot dogs and popsicles to the waiting fighters. Finally someone came by carrying a platter of - I swear to you I'm not making this up - dim sum and California rolls, and I said to the rest of the Caidans: "We've got to get some of this at our wars."
Pennsic is, of course, a great place to exchange information, ideas and even materiel, which, in turn, we can all use to make our shires, baronies and kingdoms nicer places - and thus, by extension, improving the whole SCA. There is lots of inspiration to be shared here, among the merchants, the artisans and even the fighters. Personally, I'm pretty inspired to go back and see what kind of snacks are being served at the resurrection point this year.
Experience what little culture Guillaume claims he has absorbed in his new book, "Here Comes the Reign, Sir Guillaume!" which features 25 of his best and funniest stories of life in the SCA, sold at Ceridwen's Closet, space #74 in merchants row. You can also marvel at Guillaume's lack of culture by making a visit to his website at www.SirGuillaume.com.