On Saturday, my family and I attended our first SCA event since the summer: Hundred Minutes War (and EK Novice Day), a fighting event sponsored by our local Shire of Rusted Woodlands. It was a fuller “family” contingent than usual: both of my teachers, Peregrine and Toki, joined us (the three of us have never been in the same place at the same time the whole while that we have been formally working together), as well as some of our Caer Cinniuint family, including the illustrious Rowan de la Garnison (who, along with her fellow matriarch Meirwen uerch Owein, had recently invited me officially to join my wife’s household).
It turned out they, along with some other dear friends, were there for a reason beyond the glorious late-fall day of fighting, or the several vigils and elevations that were scheduled. During court, their Majesties Ioannes and Honig called forth the Order of the Maunche. His Majesty Ioannes explained to the assembled populace that the Order was in fact short its full complement as he wandered into the aisle, and stopped in front of me with a mischievous grin.
For context, this is the highest Arts & Sciences award the East Kingdom offers short of a Peerage.
The Order of the Maunche (OM) is an Order of High Merit given for arts and sciences, either for excellence in one specific area or for surpassing competence in several….
The Orders of High Merit are “polling orders”: the Crown must consult the companions of the order via a written poll before granting the award.
The Order of the Maunche includes a Grant of Arms if the recipient does not already bear a Patent or Grant of Arms.East Kingdom Wiki Page
Orders of High Merit come with a medallion, which often has special meaning for the new inductee. In this case, our family friend Connor Macauliffe, a master woodworker, incorporated lace wood and purple heart to create a natural version of the kingdom heraldic badge: Per pale Or and purpure, a maunch counterchanged. (Which is to say, on a background split between yellow and purple, a detachable draped sleeve in the shape of an “M”, with the background colors inverted.) He also researched the “maunch” symbol to render the shape of the sleeve as authentically as he could.
The lovely and talented Eadgyth aet Staeningum, our campmate at Pennsic, fashioned the medallion cord using my device colors.
The award also came with a magnificent scroll, inspired by Shakespeare Sonnet 73:
When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang
Upon boughs which shake against the cold
Anno Societatis fifty six at Hundred
Minutes War do We, Ioannes Emperor and
Honig Empress of these Eastern lands
Now proclaim to all assembled here:
We have heard the choir of the
Companions their numbers be not complete.
So dueth do We call forth DRAKE ORANWOOD to append to Our Order of the Maunche.
His art We perceiv’st, doth make Our Kingdom stronger.
We love that well which thou makes the populace happiness long.Illum: Kis Maria called Mika
Callig: Vettorio Antonello
Those have attained a Grant of Arms in the SCA are sometimes given the honorific “The Honorable Lord/Lady/Gentle/Etc.” (rather unofficially, since this was not a historic medieval practice).
I am profoundly humbled by this recognition, and will need a while to process it. There are more people than I can count to whom I owe a debt of gratitude for reaching this milestone, but there are five in particular I need to thank here by name:
- Lady Jessa de Hunteleghe. You are my first, my last, my everything, my bride. Your limitless support made this possible, and your coordination made the day joyous and memorable. I love you more than words can express.
- Maistre Lucien de Pontivy. The year I spent in your tutelage changed my trajectory, and my relationship to music and research, forever. You introduced me to Dowland and Campion. You challenged me to begin an immersion in Elizabethan language, written and musical. And you double-dog dared me to try to play lute on guitar while singing with it. The well I drank from was safe, quiet, and magical. And you connected me to my next Peer with compassion and care.
- Mesterno Tyzes Sofia (called Zsof). You took me under your wing because you saw things in me, both promise and peril, that you recognized in yourself. You taught me how to put on my big-boy breeches, and deal with the consequences that came with bold words and a loud voice on a big stage. Over the years, you gave me reams of good advice, and when it became clear to you that I needed a new guide, you saw who that was, and asked both of us to have a deep conversation and trust you. Your instincts were right.
- Master Toki Skáldagörvir. You taught me how to work through pain, come to terms with the Society as it is, and with myself as I am. At the same time, you helped me understand the difference between accepting what is and giving up on what might be. We worked together to re-examine old wounds, see how the same truth looked from different viewpoints, and embrace the evergreen power of kindness. And you graciously embraced the idea of doing all of this alongside a partner.
- Master Peregrine the Illuminator. Your name is so apt, my friend. Rarely one to shout, you shine a light on what is worth seeing. You challenged me to compose period music. Ever gently and without insistence, you have offered thoughts about my words, my music, my strategies to get where I hoped to go. Side by side with Toki, Felix to his Oscar, you have counseled, listened, and had my six when I needed it, and helped me reassess when I was seeing things through a distorted lens.
The list really is endless, because no one accomplishes anything worthwhile alone. This past nine years in the Society has been a tempering experience which has enriched so many other parts of my life. This community’s embrace and tutelage has been a treasure beyond counting.
Yours in grateful service,
THL Drake Oranwood