A SHORT POLITICAL HISTORY OF MONTENGARDE, by Stephen of Westmarch, late 1983 or early 1984


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By Stephen of Westmarch

This is a history of Montengarde from its inception to March 1983, after which, regular council minutes are available. The activities of fringe or out-of-town groups have been covered only in so far as they have affected Montengarde, which, for the fringe, has generally been minimally, if at all.

Any people who are aware of factual errors are requested to inform me -- this document has been produced in a short time, which has prevented digging out the relevant documents, even where such exist. Doubtless, some who read this will not appreciate their coverage or omission. To them I must say TOO BAD.

NOTE 1): This document is not to be published under my name if edited, annotated or amended in any way, (except by special permission). Nor may out-of-context portions be considered representative of my opinions. This is not, however, intended to prevent the use of this as a source document for SCA historical research.

NOTE 2): Pwyl is spelled with only one l because we lost the other one in the Lions Gate war.

I consider Montengarde's birth date to be the date of the first Twelfth Night revel, January 5, AS 14 (1980). This was Montengarde's first feast, attended by most of the people in the Alberta SCA at that time, and set much of the tone for future Montengarde events. This document will, however, cover events chronologically from the earliest days of Montengarde.

The earliest discussions about forming an SCA group in Calgary began in October 1978 at a meeting of DEC, the now-defunct Calgary Science Fiction Club. Nothing really came of these, however, until I got the address of the SCA in January of 1979 and wrote for information. I received back a copy of the West Kingdom "Page", with ads in it for the SCA Fighter's Handbook and the West Kingdom Herald's Handbook, plus an SCA membership application. I promptly wrote off for all three. The membership was, of course, the last to arrive. When it came, I found I was getting the Middle Kingdom "Pale" and not the "Page", as I had expected. However, at V-Con 7 I obtained the address of Bjorn Isenkrammenhandler (Dan Boss), who promptly joined the group that was to become Montengarde.

Bjorn was to have a profound influence on the group, not only by helping people get armour built, encouraging high armour standards, and helping start a functional fighting practice, but also by his strong views on the importance of chivalrous behaviour, and the importance of standing up publicly on moral issues.

We continued on with the business of setting up an SCA group -- not a shire, at this stage, as we had no real idea of SCA structure, but a Free Company. The whole process was, however, radically altered when, in August, Pwyl came on the scene. Properly Pwyll pen Tyrhon (Rohn Matthies) an antique ex-Caidan ex-Landed Baron who had been in the SCA since God knew when, he was the first person from the SCA any of us had really met. He told us we could be a Barony (with him as Baron, of course) and a whole heap of other trash, to boot. He did, however, give us some information about the SCA, and was largely responsible for getting the SCA to start actually meeting. The first meeting was held at the home of Saburo Suji Kabuto (John Folkard) in September, 1979. This meeting also saw the arrival here of Charles of Saxony who suggested that he and two members of his household of Mussenhitt, William the Mystic and William of Three Falcons should rule over the group as the three Dark Lords a la Eisenmarch. Pwyl temporarily solved that by telling this trio he was boss.

At this time, the name of Montengarde was decided upon, and I submitted the name and Device application for the Barony of Montengarde. Some of us also went to NonCon 2, where we got in touch with Borealis, who were just getting their act together, too.

Alasdair MacAuley had by then begun to receive his Kingdom newsletters, which included a supplemental "Page" subscription. The first one indicated an upcoming event -- The Lions Gate Baronial Revel, to be attended by King Radnor and Queen Esmirelda. We resolved to go, and while we were preparing for it, I went along with Pwyl, his doxies, and some of Mussenhitt to my first (and last) Borealis event. The event was quite friendly, and it was, I believe, here that Pwyl really started to develop his great plan -- that Borealis and Mussenhitt become Cantons in the Barony of Greater Montengarde.

Shortly thereafter came the Lions Gate Baronial Revel, attended by 10 Montengardians as well as 3 or 4 people from Borealis. This event was to be significant in many ways for Montengarde. The feast established the ideals many of us wished to aim for (the upcoming Twelfth Night feast, in my case). The costumes and decorations were glittering models to work towards, and the Kendals (amongst others) ideals of Chivalry, Courtesy, and Nobility. The event saw both our first application to become part of An Tir in West (although the King was absent and it is my belief that the Queen lost the documents, as nothing at all came of the application at that time), and the start of the Montengarde-Lions Gate war, which must, in fairness, be credited to Pwyl. It also saw the beginning of a general worsening in Montengarde-Borealis relations.

Twelfth Night soon rolled around, and while not even faintly close to the [[Lions Gate]] Baronial revel, was quite a success. Approximately 60 people from Montengarde, Borealis, and Mussenhitt came through an atrocious blizzard to attend the formal "Baronial Court" (ho, ho). Geoffrey and Corwin tried to make it from Myrgan Wood, but their truck died, and Subotai of Bog came from his temporary residence in Medicine Hat. Pwyl announced that he was leaving and would return in the spring, and much liquor was drunk as service was slow -- there was only the autocrat (me) and 2 others serving -- however by 1 a.m. the feast had been served, Cearbholl Fitzclifford was asleep in the sink of the men's washroom, most people (I hope) had had a good time, and I had a new Lady. I won't mention anything about Father Christopher's ecumenical council at the post-revel.

February saw a continuing high level of activity, although the number of people dropped off considerably -- we were pulling in up to 40 people at meetings at Pwyl's, but the first monthly revel, which Sigrun hosted, had only about 12 people attending. Regular fighting practices also began in February, in my back yard, with armoured fighting between Bjorn and Alasdair initially, and a few of us doing slow work only while we worked on armour. Almost immediately, Alasdair became the first Montengardian to fight in a tourney, the Saxon-Norman follies held in Myrgan Wood that month. Finally, February saw the actual submission of Montengarde's New Branch Application to become a shire in the Principality of An Tir, Kingdom of the West, as we had finally seen through most of what Pwyl had said (though we never changed the Armourial listing for the device).

Generally this period saw considerable activity in costuming, armouring, and organizational work towards getting Montengarde active. It also saw a general worsening of relations between Montengarde and the Borealis/Mussenhitt community. The Montengarde view at that time was that mannerless cretins like Charles and his crew should not (and, indeed, could not) possibly be considered as acceptable members of a medieval community, so we would have as little to do with them as possible. I have little idea and less interest as to what the general fringe view was or is.

The whole scene really came to a head, however, in a series of three events held over three sequential weekends in June -- Borealis Medieval Days, West Kingdom Crown, and Montengarde Midsummer. Our whole area was still very much Terra Incognito at the start of June -- when Alasdair and I went to the Lions Gate Bellatrix seminar at the beginning of the month, they still thought that Borealis was part of Montengarde. In any case, the story is that no-one from Montengarde went to Medieval Days due largely to a mixture of contempt, disinterest, and malice. The King and Queen of West, Strider and Kathryn of Duramen were there however, having been flown out by Borealis shire, and all manner of wild stories were told to them by assorted scummy liars. The most notable amongst these was that Montengarde was defunct -- it is dubious, however, if these had much effect. The first SCA honours given to Albertans were handed out to some attendees from Borealis and Mussenhitt at that event. Afterwards, when the Mussenhitt attendees returned home, a grand council was arranged, to impart some important news to Montengarde from the King.

This meeting will probably go down in Montengarde's history as the silliest ever. The meeting was arranged Sunday night for Monday, to be at 7:00 p.m. in mundane clothes. The Mussenhitt contingent showed up at 10, in costume, after everyone but Rayatha, Alasdair, and myself had gone home in disgust. The foursome from Mussenhitt consisted of William of Durham and Pavlar, who acted reasonably, and the newly armigerous Rulinore Doomguard and William of Three Falcons, who didn't. Rulinore was the "King's messenger", but couldn't really manage to remember anything, at least anything coherent. William told us that he and Rulinore had just received Grants of Arms (Awards, actually), and that Mussenhitt and Borealis were now a Barony and Province respectively. Basically, the evening consisted of William and Rulinore telling unlikely stories, and us disbelieving them. The stories thinned out considerably after Rayatha and I announced we were attending West Kingdom Crown the next weekend.

Our trip to Crown was a marathon of wretchedness, but we finally arrived and found out that Borealis and Montengarde were still shires, Mussenhitt still wasn't anything official, that the Kingdom Seneschal (Lleret de Granada) thought Montengarde was great, and that Alasdair and I actually had been warranted as Seneschal and Herald, respectively. Lleret also introduced Rayatha and myself to Their Occidental Majesties, so we could tell them the Montengarde view of the SCA in Alberta. Unfortunately, I foolishly told King Strider that I thought that if Borealis could be a province, Montengarde certainly could. This was to prove a bad mistake with irritating consequences in the near future.

Montengarde Midsummer, the next event, had five gallant Montengardians fighting in it, and was won by Alasdair who defeated Bjorn in the final bout. Ross, however, also won a prize that weekend, with his SCA wedding to Laurel. I won the booby prize, I guess, as the first fighting injury, with a thrown out knee. Macsen had the prettiest armour. The "Baronial" contingent from Mussenhitt showed up for the feast, late as usual, and William demonstrated SCA nobility by spitting bread crumbs all over their table, in an authentic demonstration of Barbarian behaviour.

As part of our June activities, and in keeping with our generally warlike approach, we declared war separately on Middle Kingdom, in the person of their King. Finally, June also saw the publication of the first issue of the justly infamous Montengarde Mouthpiece, by the first chronicler, Rayatha Carminowe.

We mostly took July off to recover from June, but August was to be an active month, too, beginning with Border War I in Myrgan Wood. The Montengarde contingent was a significant part of the victorious West Kingdom army, and generally a good time was had by all. It was also at first Border War that we actually got a route map to show us how to get to our next war -- the Clinton war, to be held on the next weekend.

A brief summary of the Clinton war is that we lost gloriously. Lions Gate outnumbered us 9-8 with rather more experienced soldiers than ours, including two Sergeants and one Knight, and the field battle was rather a massacre, but the event was highly successful, with a lot of good pick-up battles, and represented a good showing for the fledgling Montengarde army.

Next, a crowd of Montengardians took off to Pennsic IX, for which occasion Montengarde's first pavilion, Vladimir, was put together by Garrathe and myself. That weekend also saw, at Purgatorio coronation, on the other side of the country, Montengarde's first AAs -- presented to Bjorn Isenkrammenhandler and me, on Alasdair's secret recommendation.

The events of August, were not all fun, however, as our June can of worms finally sprang open. The BoD, in their wisdom, decreed that all of Alberta was to become one SCA province. Montengarde resolutely rejected the idea, especially as Borealis was suggesting Charles of Saxony as Seneschal, and eventually succeeded in effectively quashing the idea, after some fireworks, culminating at the Mussenhitt All Hallows revel.

It is best to draw a veil across the bulk of the evening, but the "Baronial court" saw a lively encounter between Colin Ironwolf and myself. I didn't like an editorial he had written in the Aurora Borealis about the province issue, and told him so in terms not only uncertain [sic], but actually abusive. This led to even worse relations between Montengarde and the rest of the Alberta SCA, despite the unofficial nature of my objections. I believe this may have also heightened internal fringe tensions, and have contributed to the general fringe split in Calgary, which began shortly thereafter. Montengarde generally picked up the more reasonable people from the SCA fringe when this happened, and Mussenhitt gave rise to Niveus Caelum (variously spelled), Borealis South, The First Border Guard, Piedmont, and God knows who else.

November saw little new political activity, but Montengarde had its first educational event, inspired by the University of Ithra in Lions Gate, the Collegium Montengardorum. Sir (soon to be Prince) Scellanus and Lady Maelen, and Sergeant Padraic and Lady Roberta came out to teach, along with a good crowd of locals. The Collegium feast also saw the presentation of Richard de Nadan's "Rights and Customs of Northern An Tir", which I cannot adequately describe. Find a copy for yourself, if you're interested.

January saw lots of people from Alberta at Principality Twelfth Night, and the presentation of An Tir's petition to become a Kingdom. More importantly, it saw, later that month, the formalization of the Order of the Green Edward. This prestigious honour, which had been retroactively awarded to Cearbholl Fitzclifford, the "sleeping ugly" of first Twelfth Night, was won for the first time by Arthur of Palermo. Less pleasantly, January saw the banning of Charles of Saxony from Montengarde events, due to bad debts, until they were settled (February, as it happened).

February saw Montengarde's first Bellatrix skill-at-arms seminar, and, as Paul's lady, Rowena d'Anjou, was also there, some miscellaneous politics. The province issue was finally buried once and for all, and some hostilities were smoothed over a bit.

The summer of 1981 saw relatively little happen that was too dramatic. Prince Scellanus and Princess Maelen attended Montengarde's midsummer tourney that year, Bjorn Isenkrammenhandler became Montengarde's first peer when he was awarded the Order of the Laurel at Border war. On the other hand, Montengarde got really stomped at the Lions Gate War, and Alasdair moved to Lions Gate, leaving his deputy, Raibearst, as Seneschal.

The winter was still comparatively unexciting, with the biggest external news being that Myrgan Wood was applying for Baronial status, which came out at the February Bellatrix seminar. In April Montengarde had its first Ithra, with both Lions Gate and local instructors -- more Lions Gate courses than local.

The summer of 1982 saw the first joint Borealis-Montengarde event with the Gull Lake War Manoeuvres to rehearse for the Salmon War, at which the Montengarde army turned in a sterling performance. August, however, saw the most important event of that year. Montengarde defeated Lions gate in both battles and won the Lions Gate war. To the best of my knowledge, we are the first group ever to do this.

The month was not all pleasant, however, as there was a nasty little scandal over the Sergeants' tourney, which led to each Barony running their own (up to 1982, there was only one for An Tir). The Border war that year was also a real frost, as the Middle Kingdom people decided not to like An Tir. Myrgan Wood also became a Barony at that event, and promptly started to fall apart -- since then, I haven't heard of anyone seeing more than three Myrganwads [sic] at an outside event. Myrgan Wood also shifted from its previous policy of close allegiance with Montengarde into the Borealis/fringe camp.

The last event I intend to cover in this history is the controversy which led to Raibearst's resignation as Seneschal. Things went fairly calmly until a dispute arose in late winter over the events surrounding a storytelling contest. In the end, Raibearst was on one side and the Old Boys on the other. After he and Lady Morgwn mounted several emotional scenes and vitriolic personal attacks, largely directed against myself, the struggle acquired a more directly political nature. The council became generally opposed to Raibearst and his policies, due largely to some fairly flagrant public abuses of authority, and various irregular actions on his part. A considerable portion of the council procedures used thereafter, were, in fact instituted in response to the political events surrounding the whole scandal. (Prior to this, council was typically run in a fairly informal manner.) Raibearst resigned under a cloud, and publicly defected to Bitter End, with those friends and allies who stuck by him. Much pious noise was also made by various parties.

[[ Copyright © 1984 Stephen Johnson ]]




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