The Thirteenth Century Tournament
In the Spring of 1975, the Baronial Seat of Northwood held a ‘Thirteenth Century Tournament’ that was unique in many ways. It was the first tournament held in the Middle Kingdom using modified rules of the list, with the permission of King Dagan du Darregonne and the Earl Marshal, Sir Gareth the Russell. It was the first of what would today be know as a "Pas de Armes". The populace was requested to wear only 13th century garb, and to keep to a 13th century ambiance as far as possible. In preparation for it, a great deal of research on the rules used in tournaments in the 13th century was done as well as research on the garb, food, games, and general manners of the period was done by a large number of people, starting over a year before the tournament. Numerous people taught classes or wrote papers on the period, including a class on 13th century fools by Lady Fern, a class on archery by Gundemar Clovenshield, and a series of classes on 13th century chess and other games by Baron Neil of Marlincourt. These classes were taught both at various events and at the Baronial meetings in the months before the tournament. Mistress Ellen the Fair made numerous 13th century outfits, including assuring the entire Madrigal’s guild and the Northwoods Recorder Consort had appropriate garb for the event.
The tournament included the first counted blows tournament, in which participants had to be struck 3 times in the same place for the blow to count. That is, a person had to be hit on any aspect of the head three times for a head shot to be counted, three times in the body for a body shot to count, and three times on a limb for the limb to be taken. Each fighter was required to call out where he was hit, and a team of ladies recorded the counts so the fighter did not have to remember that he had been hit twice in the head, once on the left leg, twice on the right leg, and once in the body. While any weapon style was allowed to be used in the list, the only weapon styles actually used were Sword and shield, great sword, and bastard sword. The tournament was fought as a single elimination tree, with Earl Merowald defeating Shimitzu in the finals for the victory. Due to the luck of the draw, all the knights present had been assigned to the top half of the tree, so the first member of the chivalry Shimitzu fought was Earl Merowald. Count Finnvarr de Taahe and Aerdigwidder von Zauberberg were the other semi-finalists.
The first battles at a barrier in the Midrealm were also fought there, the barrier being a waist-high plywood sheet that showed somewhat of a tendency to fall over until a couple of volunteers agreed to hold the stands supporting it to keep it from falling. While armoured, the two gentles whose names have been lost to history were unfortunately struck several times in the course of the tournament. Two barrier tournaments were fought, the first allowing any weapon style which was won by King Dagan, and a second that allowed two-handed weapons only. Baron Sir Thorvald defeated his man at arms Foscadh O’Dubhda to win the great weapons barrier battle, with both using greatswords.
A spear-only tournament was held while his majesty held a meeting of his order of the chivalry, which resulted in a victory won by the autocrat, Brusten de Bearsul, who defeated Aldric Northmark in the finals. Oddly enough, it was the second event ever autocrated by Brusten, and the second tournament won by Brusten. The first event autocrated by Brusten was a small local event held on his birthday, entirely as practice for the 13th Century Tournament. Every participant in that first practice tournament would eventually be elevated to the Order of the Chivalry. (The third event autocrated by Brusten was a Crown Tournament, but he was not able to continue his string, and was knocked out of the list after winning only one fight.)
A further highlight of the thirteenth century tournament was the trail by combat of Count Sir Finnvarr de Taahe, who was accused of treason for allegedly stating that ‘The short, fat king isn’t here yet.’ The trial by combat was fought within a 12 foot circle on the ground, which Finnvarr was required to remain within. His opponent, Earl Sir Merowald was not required to stay in the circle however. Both combatants fought sword and shield, with Duke Angois, visiting from the East Kingdom, officiating as ‘Judge of the List’. Duke Angois repeatedly blocked shots by Finnvarr, and loudly proclaimed that Finnvarr was daring to strike at the king’s own champion, causing much mirth amongst the populace watching. Finnvarr was initially ‘legged’, then lost both arms. He was hauled before the Crown, sitting in state watching the trial, and was proclaimed ‘Guilty’. He graciously admitted that he was wrong to have made such a statement, as obviously ‘The short, fat king IS here’. At this, Queen Armida Morgan rose from the throne, proclaimed him pardoned of all offense, and laid her hand on his head, curing him of all injury and inviting him to sit at the head table at feast.
The feast was prepared by Countess Caellyn Y’Vearn, and consisted entirely of items cooked to recipes from the 13th Century. Amongst the dishes was a roast of venison donated by one of Sir Thorvald’s household that was served to the Head Table. Those members of the populace who had done well that day or otherwise had attracted the favor of the Crown were given portions of the venison sent down from the Head Table. King Dagan was heard to comment that Countess Caellyn, who was at the time Count Finnvarr’s Lady (and had reigned with him over the East Kingdom at Pennsic two) was trying to get revenge for Finnvarr’s trial by killing the King by the diabolical plot of making him die of overeating, as the food was both very plentiful and excellent. Entertainment at feast was provided by the Northwoods Madrigal Guild and the Northwoods Recorder Consort, each of which performed separately and then gave a combined performance, all of 13th century material. The Northwoods Mummers Guild performed after Feast as well.