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.