Yes, here I am again; and I have done a bit of sewing; but mostly just been trying to survive the 2020 garbage fire which has not been easy on me. But that's not what I'm here to talk about. I did a new thing! to wit, coming up with the words for Elizabet Marshall's Laurel scroll.
The elements that need to be in an SCA scroll are as formalized, in their way, as the elements in a medieval letter:
- The award being given
- The names of the monarchs giving it
- The name of the recipient
- The reason for the award
- The date & location the award is being bestowed
How you phrase and arrange these elements, however, are entirely open, and they can be frotzed however you like. So, what's appropriate for a lady of 12th century England being made a Peer? She's not a Norman, at least, so one does not have to fret about French (early or modern), thank goodness. I started by trolling through every online source I could find of Angevin documents: letters, decrees, charters, anything that was out there. (Someone is actually working on a definitive collection and translation of all the papers of Henry II! Hooray! Publication date? January, 2021. -_-)
Eventually I found a site that had transcribed the last big effort, from the early 1900s, of as much STUF as they could find from Stephen, Matilda, Henry II, Richard, and John. It's all in Latin, and they didn't translate it, but did have summaries, so at least I had somewhere to start. Some facts became immediately clear:
- Charters of the time were repetitive. Do not use a single noun or adjective where you can use three.
- Charters of the time were extremely businesslike. They're concerned with the "what" and not the "why".
- (and this is obvious) There's nothing directly translatable to the normal elements of SCA peerage - you don't give someone a charter to declare them a knight, and the king is 100% not involved in artisan stuff.
#3 was my first problem. In later period, you can find extant examples where a royal is ennobling or in some wise giving an attaboy to their tailor or whatever; but earlier on, absolutely nope. But what I did find was the first charter creating a peer of England: issued by King Stephen in 1139, wherein he created Geoffrey de Mandeville Earl of Essex.
Stephanis rex Anglorum archiepiscopis episcopis abbatibus comitibus baronibus justiciis vicecomitibus et omnibus fidelibus suis totius Anglie salutem. Sciatis me fecisse comitem de Gaufrido de Magnavilla de comitatu Essexie hereditarie. Quare volo et concedo et firmiter precipio quod ipse et heredes sui post eum hereditario jure teneant de me et de heredibus meis bene et in pace et libere et quiete et honorifice sicut alii comites mei de terra mea melius vel liberius vel honorificentius tenent comitatus suos unde comites sunt cum omnibus dignitatibus et libertatibus et consuetudinibus cum quibus alii comites me prefati dignius vel liberius tenent.
And, my janky-ass translation:
Stephen, king of the English, to archbishiops, bishops, abbots, counts, barons, justicars, sheriffs, and all the faithful in the whole of England, greetings. Know that I have created Geoffrey de Mandeville earl of the hereditary county of Essex. Wherefore I will and grant and firmly command that he and his heirs after him will hold jurisdiction from me and my heirs well and in peace and freely and quietly and honorably, just as my other earls in my lands better or more freely or more honorably hold their counties where earls are [???] with all dignity and freedom and customs with which other earls I have aforementioned hold dignity or freedom.[??????]
(See what I mean about the repetition?)
Okay, this takes care of the giver, the recipient, and what's being given; but there's nothing to explain why Geoff is getting an earldom. The existing Angevin charters seem to be completely concerned with effect, not cause. They do not waste time or ink on why a person or organization is getting something (or having something taken away), they just record that they’re doing it. The closest one gets is either a note about restoring to how things were under a previous ruler, or a gift to a religious foundation which may allude briefly to doing something in the name of a saint. So the usual “why we’re doing this” in an SCA scroll is purely ahistorical for this period, and you just have to make your peace with that.
One cool thing I did find, though, was in one of Matilda's charters:
Precipio tibi quod seisias Willelmum filium Otonis de terra sua de Benflet ita bene et plene sicut inde seisitus fuit die qua rex Henricus pater meus fuit vivus et mortuus. Et bene et in pace, libere et honorifice teneat sicut liberius tenuit tempore Henrici patris mei.
My slightly less-janky translation:
I command to you the seisin of William fitz Otho of his land in Benfleet well and fully as it was in the day when the king Henry my father was alive and dead. And he is to hold it well and in peace and freely and honorably as freely as he held it in the time of my father Henry.
This is relevant because Elizabet was given her Writ by Margarita, but because of pandemic her actual peerage was going to be bestowed by Tindal & Alberic; so it was a nice element to knit in.
So, our final construction:
Magnus Tindal and Alberich von Rostock, Consules of the East, to all dukes, counts, viscounts, barons, nobles, ministers, and all faithful people of the East, greetings.
Know that we appoint Elizabet Marshall a Mistress of the Order of the Laurel, even as decreed in the day of the queen Margarita our forebear, for her excellence and skill at embroidery and her service to the ancient and honorable guild and craft thereof. Wherefore we will and grant and firmly command that she will hold this honor from us and our heirs, performing its duties well and freely and honorably, even as our other peers in our lands hold this honor, and with the dignities and freedoms and customs that these aforementioned peers hold. And we grant and reaffirm unto her these arms by letters patent: Azure, three squirrels maintaining a threaded needle Or.
Done in this year of the Great Plague at Chateau des Coccinelles.
|Scroll in progress|
 This formula, with minor adjustments, is in all of Stephen's charters, as well as Matilda's and Henry's.
 spoilers: he was an opportunistic asshole and Stephen was trying to get him to be inside the tent pissing out for a change
 if you're not up on your English history: she was the daughter of Henry I and a rival claimant to Stephen (who was only a cousin) for the throne, which led to a nice little civil war for quite some years.
 Yeah, I don't get it either.