Thursday, 3 April 2014

White Bear Fian Tournament Proclamation, Pikeman’s Pleasure 2014

In honour of our Baron and Baroness, and of Their most glorious liege lords Nigel and Adrielle, and of Nigel and Adrielle’s heirs Siegfried and Ragni, do I, Colyne Stewart, squire, counselor and chancellor, make known to all princes, barons, knights and esquires, without reproach, that for the augmentation and extension of the most noble profession and exercise of arms, the White Bear Fian, of which I am a member, has made it their will and intention to guard and defend a pass d’armes, situated on the great road bisecting our kingdom, on a field in the Canton of Petrea Thule, at the event known as Pikeman’s Pleasure, in the form and manner following.

In the first place, our order will hear and answer a challenge for entry into our said order, by the most worthy Honourable Lord Hans Thorvaldsson. As is the ancient custom, the aforesaid Hans will place his body on the anvil of virtue and will face in battle one member of the White Bear Fian in single combat, with weapon style chosen in consultation between them both, and the aforesaid Hans must then defeat in combat his combatant, who shall be His Excellency Percival de Laroque, in two out of three passes. If victorious, Hans shall be welcomed into the Fian, and will stand with our august company for the remainder of the pas d’armes. If, however, his arm should fail him that day, he will not stand with the order but his challenge shall remain open and he may fight for the honour of entering said order again at a future time. For true failure is only faced by those who discontinue their attempts.

Those princes, barons, knights and esquires, of the rank before mentioned, shall then take their pleasure in performing feats of arms on foot, and may challenge members of the White Bear Fian to single combat, paired combat or group combat as they see fit, to be fought with such weapons and in such a manner as they agree to between them.

Item, if, during these courses, any champion shall touch the ground with his hand or knees, he shall be bounded to present his adversary with a token of whatever value he please.

Item, each champion shall be armed with the accustomed armour for combating in lists.

Item, all noble foreigners shall have sure and loyal passports from my aforesaid sovereign lord.

Item, the aforesaid feats of arms shall be performed on the following day: Saturday, the seventh of June, in the year of our society forty-nine, and shall last for one hour or until honour has been satisfied.

In order that this our intention of performing these deeds of arms in the manner before specified may be men and women fully declared, I have affixed my seal to these presents, and signed with my own hand, this 3rd day of April, in the year AS 48.*


In the modern tongue:

At Pikeman’s Pleasure, held on Saturday, June 7th, and hosted by the Canton of Petrea Thule, the Barony of Septentria’s fighting order (The White Bear Fian) will be holding the field for about an hour, facing all challengers. Before the challenges begin however, THL Hans Thorvaldsson will attempt to win entry into the order by defeating HE Percival de Laroque two out of three times.

During the tournament when everyone is participating, it is requested that everyone bring some kind of small tokens and present one to their opponent should their hands or knees ever touch the ground. These tokens do not need to be extravagant (we’re not trying to keep anyone from participating); we’re just trying to catch some of the atmosphere of the original period tournament this one is being based on. Tokens can be pewter castings, or little leather geegaws, or wooden needle cases, or pin cushions, or dice, or any manner of inexpensive thing. Have no fear, if you have no tokens on the day, you will still be able to participate.

For more information on the White Bear Fian, I would normally ask you to check out the Septentrian webpage, but the links to information on the Fian seem to be dead right now. You can then, instead, contact me privately and I can fill you in on our glorious and renowned history. If you are on Facebook, we do have a page there (

If you are interested in trying to challenge for entry into the Fian, please speak to Their Excellencies Septentria.

In service,

THLaird Colyne Stewart, fianna

* Based on the Pas d’armes od Charlemagne’s Tree, 1443, from Enguerrand de Monstrelet’s The Chronicles of Enguerrand de Monstrelet, trans. Thomas Johnes, two vols., (London, 1877), Book II, Chapter cclxix-cclxxi.

White Bear Fian: Strong, Proud and Bearing Bears

Laird Colyne Stewart, AS XL (May 2006)

Many people ask just what the White Bear Fian is. The answer, not surprisingly, has changed over time.

In the olden days, when Ealdormere was a Principality of the Middle Kingdom, when very few knights or masters-of-arms called our fair land home, a group of fighters banded together to prove their worth off and on the field. Aedan o Kincora and Kaffa Muirath—the first Baron and second Baroness of Septentria—founded the order, though entry into it was not theirs to grant.

To become a fianna, a challenger must present themselves to Their Excellencies Septentria, and make a formal challenge. They must be found worthy by being courteous and well rounded in pursuits. Candidates were (and are) to be able to handle a bow, show some proficiency at either song, story, dance or chess, and must also show some skill in at least one art or science.

If the baron and baroness deem the challenger worthy, then a time and place will be set for the challenger to face a fianna in combat. To gain entry the challenger must defeat a member of the Fian (chosen by the fianna) in two out of three rounds of armoured combat. If the challenger should fail, they are free to challenge again and again. If they succeed, they are inducted into the Fian and made a fianna.

Originally, the Fian was a way for the fighters of our barony to show their worth. To quote Ceallach Cu Meallain, one of the first fianna:

The Fian came into being by the will of many, and finally expressed by Baron Aedan and Baroness Kaffa that honour and dignity on the field and off, should be recognized and fostered. The political mechanism that chooses higher "Society Awards" like the Dragon's Tooth and even the accolade of Chivalry was not adequately recognizing the talents and qualities of Septentrian fighters, archers and scouts. Something was done to counteract this problem. A group based on the Irish Fiana was born. (Ursus #143)

The first round of challenges was held on a summer day in Eoforwic in either AS 24 (1989) or AS 26 (1991). Sources vary on the subject. The first original five members of the Fian were: Sir David Martin Failsworth, Ceallach Cu Meallain, Duke Sir Finnvarr de Taahe, Alasdair of Raasey and Tai Chin Wu.

The Fian was pledged to uphold the honour of the barony, and of combat in general. Ties to the Fian were to come before any other affiliation. Over time this demand for ultimate loyalty to the barony was to loosen, for several reasons. Some members of the Fian moved out of the barony. Indeed, for some, they had no choice but to leave the barony when part of it became the Barony of Ramshaven in AS 29 (1994). Entry to the Fian was eventually opened to anyone who wanted to challenge for entry, as long as they were still found acceptable by the current Baron and Baroness of Septentria. Indeed, during the reign of Baroness Adrielle Kerrec some members of the Kingdom of Calontir successfully gained entry into the Fian. In AS 32 or 33 (1998) Cynred Broccan and Evander MacLachlan would be the last to gain entry for many years.

The fian faded from view, and was almost forgotten. However, in November AS 38 (2003) at the barony’s 25th Anniversary event, Hlaford Streonwald Wulfesbanna became the first new fianna in six years. He was soon followed by four others who were successful in challenging into the Fian.

It is not easy to spot a member of the White Bear Fian, as there is no badge for the order. Rather, each fianna is encouraged to design their own badge incorporating a white bear as one of the charges.

The Fian still strives for excellence both on the field and off, and is always looking for those who wish to test their mettle. The Fian currently will hold the field at any Septentrian event at which they are given the opportunity, to face any and all who would wish to engage in honourable combat, be it to attempt entry into the Fian, or simply to enjoy the battle.

“White Bear Fian Draws New Challengers,” Ursus #134, March XXV (1991), likely written by Finngiall en Face of Wyre.

“A Tradition of Excellence,” Ursus #143, Dec AS XXVI (1991), Ceallach Cu Meallain & Aeden o Kincora.

“The Fian Awakens at Feast of the Bear,” Ursus Vol. 8. No. 10 October 2003, Colyne Stewart.

“The Fian Roars Again,” Ursus Vol 9 No 1 Jan 2004, Colyne Stewart.

“The Fian Roars and Baron Fights Fifty,” The Chronicles of Colyne Stewart 2001-2005(2006), Colyne Stewart.

A Tradition of Excellence

From the Ursus #143, Dec AS XXVI

by Ceallach Cu Meallain & Aeden o Kincora

Many months have passed since the founding of the White Bear Fian by our former Baron and Baroness -- Aedan and Kaffa. Few people know any detail about the Fian, indeed, few know that the companionship exists. Unlike many Orders of Awards within the Society, membership in the Fian is not granted or recognized by an act of the sovereign or his representative (i.e. Baron or Baroness).

The Fian came into being by the will of many, and finally expressed by Baron Aedan and Baroness Kaffa that honour and dignity on the field and off, should be recognized and fostered. The political mechanism that chooses higher "Society Awards" like the Dragon's Tooth and even the accolade of Chivalry was not adequately recognizing the talents and qualities of Septentrian fighters, archers and scouts. Something was done to counteract this problem. A group based on the Irish Fiana was born.

The opportunity to challenge the order and become new members of such a fellowship was set up on that fine summer's day two years ago, in Eoforwic. Several Septentrians challenged that day and by the end of the day, five Septentrians won the right of companionship in the White Bear Fian.

First to Battle and first to victory was Sir David Martin Failsworth. Sir David, like all other challengers had been found worthy for many reasons. His fighting skills were legendary; he was the first Prince of Ealdormere. His talents in decorative metalwork and dance displayed his prowess beyond the field. Finally, few could question his dedication to the ideals that strengthen the Society -- service and courtesy.

Second of the companionship was Ceallach Cu Meallain. Although a fighter of average talent, Ceallach can fight an opponent with any weapon, whatever it may be. Ceallach had served many years as a marshal so that others could fight in safety. Brewing and woodworking balanced his activities off the field.

Duke Sir Finnvarr de Taahe followed closely upon entering the Fian. His Grace's accomplishments and service on and off the field in over two decades in the Society are more than most can dream of.

Alasdair of Raasey became the fourth companion upon defeating his knight and master, Duke Finnvarr Alasdair's excellence at many arts is closely rivaled by his deadly assault in combat.

The final fellow of the Companionship of the White Bear Fian to date is Tai Chin Wu. Like his master, Sir David, Tai is an example of courtesy and dedication to many in the Society.    His skill at arms is rewarded by the honour of Sir David's first red belt. Likewise, his skill at leathercraft has been recognized by Master Ricard of Sable Tree. With swords, needles or doumbek, Tai Chin Wu is quite skilled.

This is the fellowship of the White Bear Fian. Many have challenged for entry. If found acceptable as challengers by the current Baron and Baroness of Septentria, they will be met by a member of the Fian upon the field to respond to the challenge.

It has become fashionable to challenge exclusive orders. Membership in this fellowship carries no prize; any reward must be found within yourself. Think not that honour and respect will come to you bearing our insignia. Few will know us; few will understand what we are.

If you choose to challenge, be prepared to prove your worth to your Baron and Baroness. The White Bear will only test your worth upon the field. The final test will be your dedication to the ideals of excellence within the Society.

Floods and the Fian: (Pikeman’s Pleasure 16, June 3, 2006)

Laird Colyne Stewart

The waters of Cynred’s Bath surged with mighty fury, gushing down the spillway and sweeping under the bridge, lapping about the boards. The rain was—at times—torrential, and the waterways of Petrea Thule were swollen and wild. Thusly, many of the festivities for this year’s Pikeman’s Pleasure, the 16th of its line, happened inside.

Þorfinna and I arrived early and were mistaken for Cap’n Bloodfox and Cap’n Widow when we signed in at the gate. We quickly explained the mistake and the Guard of Petrea Thule took off the irons and let us go unfettered. We hauled our gear into the fighting hall, which is an arena in which the mundane locals play a game called ‘hockey.’ We used the visiters bench as an armour dump and changed, having some fun at poor Cadugan’s expense (who is a mighty fine sport).

While we armoured fighters were preparing ourselves, many merchants had set out their wares on the other end of the arena, and some fencers made use of the centre. There was an arts and sciences display somewhere, but I never found it as I stayed on the list field until it was time for feast.

Lady Tarian verch Gadarn arrived just in time for authorizations, and quickly put on her kit. She faced Lord Amelius Claudius Rattanicus in her primary authorization, which I am happy to say she passed. She is, as she beamed, now a real fighter chick. Another member of my canton, Lord William Donovan, authorized in double-handed thrust, pole arm and bastard sword.

After fighting some pick-ups the marshals ran a warlord tourney on a bridge marked out on the floor. My first draw was Her Lupine Highness, Jocea. We dueled mightily, both legging the other, until finally she slipped her sword point into my unarmoured arm pit to slay me, becoming not only my princess, but also my warlord. As the teams of two were set upon each other, Jocea turned to me and remarked that she somehow knew that we would face the team of Sir Edward the Red and Lord Edward dit Lyn, visiting from the East (where he had recently moved). I am ashamed to admit that I failed to protect my princess, and so we became subjects to Lord Edward, our new warlord. Eventually we ended up with three teams, one of them half the size of the other two, but made up mostly of members of the Order of Chivalry. A round robin was proposed, but in the end the small knight heavy team was spilt between the other two. We each took an end of the bridge for a best two out of three final. During the first engagement, Þorfinna single-handedly pushed back the entirety of her enemy’s line, in an amazing display of strength. I also had an outstanding moment on the bridge, though unfortunately for me it was comedic in nature. In our third battle I was on the right edge of the bridge, looking straight across at His Majesty Aaron, who had a spear. I knew that spear would be coming for me when we charged. The call came, I ran, I blocked the spear thrust. However, the thrust picked me up off my feet and sent me crashing off the bridge, laughing all the way.

I don’t even know who the victorious warlord was.

There then followed a spear tourney, single elimination tot here counted blows. I battled THL Ulvar van der Nederlanden, and then faced Sir Mordain Blackcloak. In our first engagement I ran past his defense and unleashed my inner badger (as Lord Wat of Sarum calls it) and chased him around the rink, making him duck and block and fight furiously to stay alive. I finally struck him on the shoulder but we both decided the blow had not been sturdy enough. We reset and I never got past his defensive stance again, and he struck me three blows to carry on (and eventually win the tournament).

At the side of the area, Sir Evander MacLachlan began a feat of arms. The Lady Safrida Axehammer had baked some shortbread, and she had given it to Evander. However, to keep the shortbread, Evander had to fight one hundred fights, and win at least fifty-one of them. I believe I was the second person to face Evander in his feat, while he was still nice and fresh and rested and he easily beat me in the two fights we fought.

While Evander continued his challenge, a bastard sword tournament was held, which was won by Sir Rory Cennedi.

Around this time Tarian had turned the penalty box into our lunch counter, and fed those of us from Ardchreag (and our friends) a constant stream of cheese, bread, pepperettes, cake, cookies, strawberries and other refreshments.

More pick-ups followed, and one of the people I fought was my squire-brother Lord Brandt das Lederwerker. Brandt had disappeared for almost two years due to mundane concerns, and upon his return this spring had brought upon himself the ‘wrath’ of our knight, Evander for a bit of schtick he did at court. As penance, Brandt was told to seek out every person who had been elevated to the Order of Chivalry, all those who had been elevated to the Order of Thorbjorn’s Hammer, and all those who had received an Award of the Scarlet Banner during his absence and fight them. My Scarlet Banner, though received at the event after Brandt’s return, is dated as of the event just before his return, and so I was on the list. We fought three battles, all of which I won. Brandt, smiling, told me, “Boy, have you improved!”

The White Bear Fian—Septentria’s fighting order—then walked out onto the bridge. Sir Konrad Mattias Jaggaer von Dubrau, Sir Edward the Red, Sir Cennedi, THL Tiberius Brittanicus and I then challenged all who still had energy to face us in honour and courage until all were satisfied. Many brave and stalwart challengers answered the call, and we fought many group melees on the bridge, until we finally took a brief break. For Their Excellencies of Septentria brought us news of one who would challenge into our order. And so THL Baldric of Newcastle Emlyn was called before Their Excellencies and the Fian, and he made his public challenge, and his challenge was accepted as a good and right thing.

Sir Evander—also a member of the Fian—was then about to face his final fight, against his Majesty Aaron. Evander managed to defeat the King, and then learned that he had won sixty of his battles and thus got to keep the shortbread! However, in an act of largesse, he vowed to share the shortbread during feast (which he did, and it was delicious).

While the other fianna put back on their helmets, I walked back out onto the bridge, for our worthy opponents had been left waiting. I then faced three in single combat, losing the third bout, but winning the first two. The second bout was against THL Etain du Naval, a hulking giant with a reach almost as long as my body and great at the martial skills. We battled to and fro and I suddenly realized that we must be close to the bridge edge and so I gave a small nudge to the giant and he fell laughing into the drink.

More singles followed (with Þorfinna pushing Sir Konrad off the bridge), and then more group battles (with Sir Evander joining us for at least one). It was some of the most enjoyable fighting I have ever had the pleasure to partake in. In all the Fian held the bridge for an hour before we laid down our arms.

We then quickly changed for feast, which was a most scrumptious meal prepared by THL Augustyn of Ely and his staff. We sat at the end of a table beside Lady Ariana de la Rose and Lord Gavin of the Rozakii. I had never met Gavin before and found him to be a funny, affable fellow.

During the meal Their Majesties held an installment of Ealdormere Idol, and many good gentles stood up to entertain the crowd. The most skilled was Lady Raya of Petrea Thule, who sung a 7th century Arabic song, accompanying herself on drum. Lord Rattanicus, who was to squire to Sir Siegfried Brandbeorn later that evening, was told by his future knight that he was to sing for the crowd. Though at first unwilling, Rattanicus rose to the challenge and did his best. However, Melusine (playing the part of Simon) grabbed Sir Nigel MacFarlane and used him as a gong to try and end Rattanicus’ pain (as well as everyone else’s). Rattanicus, oblivious, continued on. Sir Nigel was gonged many times until finally he ran up to the front of the room, swept Rattanicus up over his shoulder and carried the poor man-at-arms away. Other singers included Sir Konrad (who got points for his hand gestures depicting flying reindeer), Master Worgen (doing a Wolfman Jack impression, albeit unknowingly), Edward dit Lyon and Lord Martin Bildner. Everyone in the room then got one free vote to cast for one of the singers, though extra votes could be bought for one dollar as a fundraiser for the kingdom. The three people with the most votes would take part in the Ealdormere Idol finals at War of the Trillium. Rattanicus bought many votes for Sir Konrad to ensure that he was not one of the finalists. In the end Raya was in first (by a landslide, and rightly so), with Master Konrad in second (much to the delight of Baroness Alyce who wanted to face down her husband in the finals), and Master Worgen in third. Worgen beat our Rattanicus by one vote, which Rattanicus bought just before the books closed.

THL Anne Tinker presented a flask to Edward dit Lyon for being the most chivalrous upon the field that day. A toast was then raised to absent friends.

When feast was completed many folk walked out to the island in the rain to witness Haus Sternstaubt as it welcomed two new squires. THL Augustyn and Lord Rattanicus (previously men-at-arms) both swore oaths of fealty to Sir Siegfried to become his third and fourth squires.

I then rushed back inside to attend His Majesty, for Lord Wat—the King’s Champion—had asked me to stand in for him that day and attend Aaron at court. I leaned the sword of state against my shoulder and took my place behind Aaron in the procession and walked into court (managing not to catch the sword on the two low overhangs we had to walk under). As His Majesty took his seat I took my place behind him and got to watch court from a most interesting perspective.

As always, I can not recall all of what transpired, but I do recall a few things.

In Septentrian court, Lord Cadugan was given an Award of the Golden Bear for his brewing and THL Anne Tinker handed over the keys of Petrea Thule to Lady Mahild de Valognes. Lady Mahild was recognized as the new baronial archery champion, taking over from THL Augustyn.

Lord Rattanicus was brought forth, and made a challenge to join entry to the White Bear Fian. To prove that he did truly care for the safety of the barony—and especially for the safety of the baron—he presented Corwyn with a scarlet hand-made leather jockstrap emblazoned with a white bear. The Fian conferred and agreed to accept Rattanicus’ challenge, but only if he agreed never to make such a thing again, and that he had to wear the jockstrap to at least three events.

In kingdom court Their Majesties called Þorfinna before them. Aaron told her that many people had approached him and told him of her mighty shield push, and so impressed was he to hear of it that he presented her with an axe.

Lady Mahild presented THL Anne Tinker with a token for being such an outstanding and giving person. Their Majesties bade Mahild remain with them in court, and presented her with an Award of the Maiden’s Heart. The archers of Peatrea Thule (who had shot in the rain) presented Her Majesty with gold (which she shared with the crowd).

As I said, there was more, but I cannot now recall it.

When court concluded, I returned the sword of state to the Royalty Room, and came back to the arena to find Sir Konrad talking with Þorfinna. He told her that he had brought a gift with him that day, which he was to give to someone who had impressed him on the field. After doing some singles with Þorfinna earlier in the day, he was most impressed with her improvement since the last time they had fought, and therefore he presented her with a beautiful knife blade.

We then packed up in the rain and headed home, exhausted and happy.

Proclamation Lady Mayor’s Market Day 2007

Let all who dwell within our barony fair,
Or who travel to it from parts abroad,
Be aware that a company of companions,
Its ranks full of honourable warriors,
Will on the twenty-ninth day of September,
Within the Royal Citie of Eoforwic,
Face a challenge for inclusion in their ranks.
Before the eyes of all those there,
The Lord Rattanicus will face again
The might of Streonwald, Hlaford.
Much honour will be won by both,
And if prowess shine upon him,
Rattanicus, reborn, 'fore end of day
Will stand victorious and as one of us.
        --THL Colyne Stewart, fianna of the White Bear Fian

The Fian Awakens at Feast of the Bear

Event Report: Feast of the Bear (Sep 27, 2003)
Laird Colyne Stewart, September AS 38
Ursus Vol. 8. No. 10 October 2003

Many halls have I walked down, in many rooms have I sat through court, in many arenas have I fought.

None can compare to those in which I found myself to celebrate the Feast of the Bear: the edifice known as Graf Hugo’s Keep.

A great black wrought-iron gate stood in a wall of stone. Standing smiling behind the gate was the newly elected mayor of Eoforwic, His Worship Lord Hans Thorvaldsson. With a wink the portal is opened wide and visitors entered a treed courtyard. Standing on the paving stones the entrance to the tavern beckons from ahead, whilst to the right stone lions perch above grand wooden doors leading into the main hall.

Stepping into the hall one is met by a bustle of activity as folk stream by in all directions engaged in a multitude of activities. There around a door leading to the armoury sits a group of Vest Yorvikers, some of whom are spinning wool. Coming out of the door to the hall of learning, wherein those gifted in the arts and sciences teach, comes Jacomo, his hat flapping as he pretends to trip and rolls across the floor.

To the left is the market, where artisans, hawkers and peddlers have set up shop in a multitude of stalls.

Straight ahead, drawing the eye is the courtroom. The walls are stone and draped with banners. The back wall is dominated by a scale model of a castle, perhaps the plaything of a former royal prince. Before this castle fighters and fencers meet to test their mettle. Several fencers proved their worth that day, and advanced within the Academy of Defense. The fighters engaged in multiple tournaments, and fighters of the White Bear Fian held the field.

The Fian is a group of fighters, autonomous and self-governing, who protect the Barony of Septentria. They were formed in the days of Aedan and Kaffa, but sadly have been inactive until late. This day three Fiana hold the field--Sir Evander MacLachlan, Sir Edward the Read and Baron Konrad Matthias Jaeggar von Dubrau. It was remarked upon that none of these worthies actually reside in Septentria, and it was explained tot hem that the Fian accepts challengers from within and without the barony, as long as they are noble and adept at the arts of war and peace.

Finally the fighters were ushered out doors to continue their crafts, whilst the room was readied for court. Their Majesties had their loyal servants swear homage to them, whilst Their Excellencies Septentria did honour their fencers by awarding prizes crafted by Lord Gareth of Eoforwic, himself a former Sheriff of the Royal Citie. This same Gareth was then recognized as Septentria's new fencing champion--a position he also held for Cynred thegn and Baroness Gaerwen.

The Fian then entered court, and talked of their past and plans for the future. They called for those who wished to challenge for admittance to their ranks. Myself and Hlaford Streonwald Wulfesbana stepped forward, bowing our heads and stating our wish to challenge the Fian. The challenges were accepted, with the passage of arms to occur at a future date, at a time of the Fian's choosing.

The Society Laurel of Arms, Master François La Flamme, held conclave with the heralds of Ealdormere.

After court a grand feast was held in a great hall, complete with dancing and song. The feast was long, and those who waited in the courtroom for it to be completed were likewise entertained by Eoforwic's dancers.

Many were the people recognized by Their Majesties that night, to whit: Awards of Arms were presented to Pelayo of Eoforwic, Sara of Eoforwic, Eithne Briansdottir, Medb Ingen Dun Gaile, William the Younger, Margret de Morchard, Daffydd ap Piers and Brigid of Eoforwic. Unnr Hringsdottir, Geoffrey Guiscard and Magnus Kjrr received the Award of the Orion while Albrecht Stamfer was brought into the Order of Thorbjorn’s Hammer, and Nicolaa de Bracton was elevated into the Order of the Pelican. Our hostess of the evening, Lady Rosalia dei Querini, was given an Award of the Maiden’s Heart, and a reconfirmation of her Award of arms, and to celebrate this she was surrounded by dancers who amazed the crowd.

Many then retired to the keep of Their Excellencies, who opened their doors to hold a revel, whilst other began the long horse-ride home. In the courtyard I looked up at the towers of the hall, and I truly felt as if I were home.

The Fian Roars Again

Laird Colyne Stewart, December AS 38
Ursus Vol 9 No 1 Jan 2004

On November 29th, AS 38, a challenge took place. A challenge that has not been held for up to six years.

A challenge to enter the White Bear Fian.

If you have not heard of the Fian before, it is because of this long period of inacitivty. Here is some history then. In the Ursus #134, the White Bear Fian is described as

...the Baronial fighting Order. Candidates are first examined by their Excellencies to find if they are 'courteous, able at archery, proficient at song, story, chess or dance, and knowledgeable or skilled at an art or science'. If they are found suitable, they may then offer challenge for entry.

Since the Fian is self-governing, the fianna (members) determine who among them will fight the best-two-of-three challenge, and the manner and style of fighting. Unsuccessful challengers may challenge again.

The White Bear Fian is charged to uphold the honor of the barony, and the honor of combat, above any other affiliation. It is modeled after the legendary fianna who guarded Ireland's shore independent of any petty king or clan.

At Feast of the Bear (itself a revived tradition), Streonwald Wulfesbana and myself challenged the Fian in Septentrian court. We were found worthy by the Baron and Baroness Septentria, and by the Fian. The date set for us to fight our challenge was at Septentria’s 25th Anniversary Event.

There were four members of the Fian in attendance that day: Earl Sir David Martin Failsworth, Sir Evander MacLachlin, Baron Master Konrad Matthias Jaegar and Lord Rhys ap Bledri. It was determined that Streonwald would face Sir Evander, while I would face His Excellency Ramshaven, Konrad.

Streonwald went first. He faced Evander first with sword and shield, and was victorious. They then faced off with two weapons, and again Streonwald carried the day to become the first to win a White Bear Fian Challenge in many years.

I followed, and Konrad and I met with sword and shield. I was defeated in the first two bouts, thus loosing the challenge, but as we had arranged, Konrad and I fought out third bout anyway. (He won that bout as well.)

Doffing his helm, Konrad reminded myself (and those watching) that though I had not passed the challenge that day I could challenge again in the future. (Which indeed, I intend to do).

That night at Septentrian court, Streonwald was formally recognized as a Fiana by Their Excellencies Septentria and was presented with fancy pants and a spear head with which to defend the barony. Later in court, Lord Tormod of Kirk Andreas presented himself and made a formal challenge for entry into the order.

Truly it would appear that the Fian is alive and well again.

The Fian Roars and Baron Fights Fifty (Event Report: Pikeman’s Pleasure, June 4, 2005)

Laird Colyne Stewart

I always enjoy Pikeman’s Pleasure, and every year something else happens there which makes the event even more special to me. For those who have never been there, the event is hosted by the canton of Petrea Thule, in the Barony of Septentria. When you arrive at the site the main building is to your left, while an island is situated to your right, accessed by a small bridge. The stream—known to some as Cynred’s Bath1—is at the bottom of a waterfall. Before you there is a riser of land, covered in green grass, followed by a higher plateau. Stairs lead up to the very top, leading past a wooden barn. Merchants usually spread their ware around the bottom of the stairs and across the first riser of land. At the top you see a wide strip of land which is usually given over to fighting and a sea of shades and tents. Before you lies a lake, home to many geese. If you go right you will pass by a bridge over the top of the waterfall. If you look down you can see the island, which also usually has fighting on it, and the left bank where the fencers cross blades. Continue across the bridge and you are in a huge grassy field with a gentle rise that houses both a thrown weapons and an archery range.

When we arrived, our friends the Van der Eychs had already erected their shade tent, which is known as the Squires’ Lounge. It was situated by the fighting field by the lake and made for an excellent spot to observe the event’s going’s on when you caught a moment to sit down. We spread out our chairs, tables, chests and food and then armoured up.

At Lady Mahault van der Eych’s request I went out with her and ran her through some spear drills, as she was hoping to authorize in that form. She was then run through her authorization, and though she seemed hesitant at first by the end she was showing good targeting and aggression and passed. I then fought as a partner for a re-authorization and a dagger authorization.

So I was well warmed up for the two Royal Tournaments. However, I didn’t do very well in either of them and was quickly defeated both times. Rattanicus of Bastille du Lac did very well, ending up in the top four or five in both. Count Sir Rory Cennedi won the first Royal Tournament, while Lord William Donovan won the second unbelted Royal Tournament.

Mistress Ælfwyn of Longwood then ran an Unbelts practice, where we were put through two scenarios. In the first we were divided into teams of two (with one team of three). One team was placed in the centre of the field, and she would then randomly call out for another team to come out and face them. Once one of the teams was defeated, the next team raced onto the field. This trained the victors to quickly reorganize and meet new incoming threats. One time my partner Rattanicus and I raced in to face the team of three (consisting of Baroness Domhnail Galbraith, Edward Fuchyn and Lord Etian du Naval). As we met them I saw Rattanicus run headlong into Etian, who hit Rattanicus’ shield with his great sword, knocking Rattanicus clear off his feet and onto the ground. It was very comical, especially to the onlookers who had a better angle then I did. Next, Ælfwyn split us into two teams of eight, with five people on the field, and the other three acting as reserves. It was a resurrection melee, so when you died you left the field and got in line, and this repeated over and over, always with five on the field and three off. This taught you how to enter a melee already in action. In my last entry onto the field during this exercise I forgot to identify myself and it cost me my life. I found myself quickly armed and looked around for a teammate that could benefit from my shield. I looked over and say Robert the Blue, who was on my team, legged and fighting with his pole-axe against Etian and his great sword. I ran over and blocked Etian’s weapon, leaving him open for Robert. However, as I did not identify myself as I came in, Robert saw me coming and clocked me on the head! It was agreed that both these exercises were excellent training tools (and fun to boot).

As we were cooling down from this Baron Konrad Mattias Jaegger von Dubrau—His Excellency Ramshaven—and my squire-brother Lord Tiberius of Warwickshire came over to talk to me. Konrad asked me why I had a belt end on my camail and I explained about how Tiberius had cut it off his belt at my squiring, vowing not to replace it until I had successfully challenged into the White Bear Fian2. Tiberius went on about how he did have his eye on a new belt end… Konrad told me that the Fian was facing a challenge that day already, and asked me why I didn’t re-challenge at the same time. I had been thinking about doing so (and many of my friends had been prompting me to do so) but I had been hesitant and unsure about myself. However, I knew I would later curse myself for a coward if I did not try again, and so I agreed.

We walked down to the island where Baron Sir Siegfried Brandbeorn called all to attend as he took his first dependents. He had THL Dafydd ap Sion, Lord Eirik Andersen and Lord Agustyn of Ely stand before him. Dafydd he took as his senior squire, giving him a fighting belt crafted by himself, Lady Þorfinna gráfeldr and I, and a dress belt that he had once worn. Next, he took Eirik as his second squire, with a fighting belt crafted by himself, Þorfinna  and I and a gorgeous dress belt crafted by the Van der Eychs which incorporated his own device, that of his knight, and that of his lineage. Lastly, he took Augustyn as a man-at-arms, giving him a fighting belt crafted by himself, Þorfinna  and I, and a dress belt crafted by the Van der Eychs. The dress belt had his device stamped into it, with places for all future men-at-arms of Siegfried’s house to place their own devices.

Their Excellencies Septentria then called the Fian to them and announced that Sir Cennedi and myself would be challenging for entry that day. First, Cennedi faced my knight, Sir Evander MacLachlan. To enter the Fian—after being found worthy by Their Excellencies and the Fian—the prospective member had to defeat a Fian member two out of three times, using what ever weapons form is agreed to by both parties. Cennedi and Evander faced off first with sword and shield, and then with great sword, with Cennedi winning both bouts to gain entry to the Fian. I then walked out to face Konrad.

In both of my previous attempts I had also faced Konrad, and we had agreed to do all fights with sword and board, as this was his best format. In my first attempt, at Septentria’s 25th Anniversary event in 2003, I had gone 0-2 against him. A year previously at Pikeman’s I had gone 1-2, with our last decisive fight finding us both legged and armed at the end (though the good Baron had given up one of those as a point of honour). We faced off, exchanged a flurry of blows, and Konrad went down from a blow I didn’t even know I had thrown. I questioned him on it but he assured me it was good, and I was later told that it had been a nice swift shot. So we faced off again. This time it was a double-kill, with both of us taking the other’s head. This fight was nullified and we re-fought the second bout. This time he legged me, but I swung as I went down, and again caught his head. I had finally won entry into the Fian!

This was a milestone for me, and it was a big mountain I had been climbing for a long time, so I was a little overcome as my friends crowed around to congratulate me. I fell to my knees and hugged my lady Þorfinna and for a moment we were the only two people there.

After the Fian challenge there were two tournaments held, one in spear and one in bastard sword. At the same time, the good Baron of Skraeling Althing, Sir Menken Brechen, was facing fifty fights to mark his fiftieth birthday. This was also held on the island, by a shade tent surrounded by chequey flags. I faced Konrad in the spear tourney where he defeated me, and then I got in line to battle Menken. I only fought him once and he legged me quick. He also dropped to his knees and after I had thrown a few blows, he looked at me and remarked that I was definitely one of Evander’s squires (the tell-tale sign being the loopy shots we throw). The good baron then slew me.

Dame Eleanor Cadfan, the Baroness Skraeling Althing, gave me a token for participating in Menken’s battles, and then I followed Baroness Domhnail up to the lists to spar for a while. However, I had blown a leg strap and I was getting a muscle spasm every time I went down on my knees, so I quickly called it quits. (Luckily, Domhnail found Edward Fuchyn to replace me.)

I kitted down and sat in the Lounge, eating and drinking and talking. While resting in the shade we gave Eirik a squiring present: a belt box hand-painted by Þorfinna with Eirik’s ravens on one side, Ardchreag’s arrows on another, Siegfried’s phoenix on the third and the De Taahe star on the last. Her Majesty hid herself amongst us for a time until she was dragged off to get ready for court. When court began, the Fian was called before Their Excellencies Septentria. Then Cennedi and I were called forth and recognized as members of the order. We were each given a weapon and a piece of clothing to mark us as being so (Cennedi got a spear head and a Septentria t-shirt, and I received an axe head and a pair of sleep pants with polar bears on them).

Their Majesties Ealdormere then held their court, in which many good gentles were recognized, though I was a little giddy and did not note their names. Many from the canton of Petrea Thule were elevated to Lord and Ladies. The winners of the archery competitions were announced, and most of them were from Thule (which is known wide and far for the skill of its archers). Also, Lord Tiberius of Warwickshire was sworn in as the new Kingdom Earl Marshal.

After court we retired inside to enjoy an excellent feast prepared by THL Anne Tinker and other skilled chefs. We ate and drank, and Menken and Eleanor wandered the hall handing out presents, which included toy catapults that were soon firing bread balls across the hall. Master Sylard was sporting a fashionable cabbage leaf on his head, and this was soon making the rounds. While my brother Snæbjörn was wearing it His Majesty Edouard spotted what was happening and came over to our table. Snæbjörn took it off with a flourish and offered it to the king, who put it on, placing his crown solemnly atop it to gales of laughter and stamping of hands on tables. Later, a fashion show was held, for all those who had come sporting Menken inspired clothing. Just when everyone had thought the show over, a last Menkenette came sauntering up from the back, wearing a black and white checked strip of cloth across her chest, flipping her hair, calling herself Edwina. It was of course actually his Majesty, who won the show hands down. There was also a bardic competition to tell Menken stories, which was won by Her Excellency Ramshaven, Alyce de Sheppey.

After feast many retired outside where a cloven orange made the rounds. After lots of kisses and with clove on my breath, it was finally time to head for home.

1. Named after Baron Cynred, former Baron of Septentria, who fell
    in the water a few years in a row.
2. The White Bear Fian is a Septentrian fighting order that I had
    thus far failed to enter.


From the Ursus #134, March XXV (likely written by Finngiall en Face of Wyre)

Lord Eadgar de Cockaigne took fian Ceallac cu Meallain to the full three fights before being defeated in his entry challenge at the "Turning Japanese - Quest for Spring" Event in the far reaches of Vest Yarvik., February 9.

Three more challengers were examined by their Excellencies Aedan and Caffa and found worthy. Lord Osis of the Livery, Lord Cordigan d'Arnot, and Katsu Oikawa san made their public challenges before the baron and baroness, fian Ceallac, fian Tai, and the people of Septentria.

The White Bear Fian is the Baronial fighting Order. Candidates are first examined by their Excellencies to find if they are "courteous, able at archery, proficient at song, story, chess or dance, and knowledgeable or skilled at an art or science". If they are found suitable, they may then offer challenge for entry.

Since the Fian is self-governing, the fiana (members) determine who among them will fight the best-two-of-three challenge, and the manner and style of fighting. Unsuccessful challengers may challenge again.

The White Bear Fian is charged to uphold the honor of the barony, and the honor of combat, above any other affiliation. It is modeled after the legendary fiana who guarded Ireland's shore independent of any petty king or clan.