Ars Gratia Artis

Monday, September 08, 2008

Half-Assed Patterns » Bamboozled

Half-Assed Patterns » Bamboozled

Trying to learn to knit--want to try this.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

In like Manner of the Dudleys

I have practiced a policy of finding names very near to a given individual's daily name when talking about people who are not a part of the SCA. Most of the time it hasn't been too hard. One of the more difficult things, though, is the prevalence of male names that have derived from family names. It's a little harder to work around names like Keith and Scott and Dudley, because in 16th c. Britain, these are family names, not Christian names. Most female names that come to use after the 16th c. have got some root word connection that makes it easy to find a predecessor name that's sufficiently similar.

As an aside, I have always enjoyed the fact that when I first began pondering a name, I was seriously advised to remain with my modern name, and simply use older spellings if I wanted to register it. Both my current and my birth names are very, very period. It was from that experience that I grew the habit of close-names for the journal. Anyway.

I had some trouble finding something for Ryley. This is an example of a surname that drifted into given name territory. I looked through Oxford Christian names, nothing close... I looked through (sp) OCorrigan, nothing close... finally, knowing that Ryley is a first name derived from a family name, I looked up both Riley and O'Reilly in Reany and Wilson. The irish O'Reilly provided the base name that would become Anglicized as "O'Reily," but the spelling was so far removed from anything that an Engligh woman might name her son that I decided to use the surname Riley, which, interestingly enough, is spelled Ryley in parts of period. I'm basing this choice on the existence of Guildford Dudley, the son of John Dudley and Jane Guildford. It's an atypical practice and I would never suggest registration of the name based on that sole example, but the kid has to learn his name. And I don't have to use Irish spelling.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Calcutta Fruits

Rosemary sent me the biggest bag of of fresh Jalapeño peppers I have ever had. I've been using them up a little at a time, but they are way hotter fresh than they are preserved--of course, I leave the seeds and so forth in them, increasing their fire. That is, after all, the way I like them. However, there is a limit to just how much heat I can ingest before the ol' GI tract objects to them. So I've had to preserve them; just for fun, I decided to find out if chilli pepers (of which jajlpenos are a type) were know to europeans before 1600. Turns out Leonard Fuchs mentioned some sort of chilli pepper as Calcutta peppers in his works, but I don't want Merouda to be too acquainted with them. So, in her world, they're some fruits that she's not sure she likes.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Turkey Trot

For the first time, I ran into the issue of combining New World information with the mythical Merouda. See, here's the thing: When I put together foodstuffs for myself to be used in an SCA context, I tend to stick to Old World Foods. I'm not as exacting about whether or not Merouda-myth might have EATEN the food as long as I can document that she might have crossed it in her travels. This is a bonus for being a 16th c. persona--there is a lot of stuff to eat on European tables for a woman whose husband travels as a part of the Spanish ambassadorial "mission." However, I usually try to keep NWF out of my menu.

However, I recently tried a recipe (results noted here) with a substitution of turkey for lamb because, a) I don't much care for lamb, and b) turkey was what I had defrosted. And I really liked it, and it works beautifully as a cold dish for the never-ending quest for tourney food that tastes good cold. So I decided I was going to have to consider including one new world food in my repertoire. At least, for that recipe.

So there I was, faced with another defining moment in this blog/journal. Merouda treats the New Kingdoms as if they are roughly equivalent to European courts, and this makes sense, because this is what she sees. Northshield, in terms of its social and royalist structure, does not look much like the Iroquois Nations in 1520. Northshield would still be sufficiently strange to her, but she'd probably recognize it. There is still a vast and strange territory beyond the New Kingdoms that she's never seen, like walking beyond the boundaries of Plimouth Plantation (or better yet, Jamestown or St. Augustine) into the woods and finding a wildness never conceived.

That, I've decided, is why she's not often exposed to NWF. When she's in the New Kingdoms, she's not necessarily interacting with anything beyond the civilization she recognizes. However, every so often the several worlds collide, and I have to manage that conversation. I spent a lot of time reading about turkeys the other day, about how rapidly they were adopted into Euro cuisine once they arrived, about the idea that the turkeys I see in the woods out here are not the turkeys that we usually eat, nor the turkeys that were brought back to Europe. It was fun. So
I dug up what they were called in period (India hen, Indian chicken) and settled the matter.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Duck eggs clarification for my memory's sake.

Wenna's eggs were eaten by a coyote. The coyote does not exist in England in the 16th c. After a brief search for an animal that might be roughly equivelent, wolves or something, I decided that Wenna actually dealt with coyotes, which Merouda would not know. So, wild dogs.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Persona Meme

There are still a few I haven't bothered to answer, mostly because the answer is something I'm not interested in seperating from my personal experiences--I love Pastimes with Good Company and quite a lot of Rennaissance music, love Byrd's music, a bunch of SCA dances like definately post period "Hole in the Wall" and "Sailor's Wife" and "Black Nag" and "Maltese Bransle," and my personal opinions on the causes of criminal behavior are so strong that I'm not sure I can seperate 'em out at this time. But, anyway, this is what I got so far.

1. What is your persona's name? Merouda Pendray

2. What year was your persona born? Varies. My primary focus is 1500-1560, with extentions forward and backwards to go from 1480-1575. My year of birth depends on how old I feel like being in 1554. The thing is, I'm trying to do my persona's whole life span from an adult view point.

3. What is your persona's native country? Born near the Wyle river in Buckinghamshire, grew up in Cornwall. Merouda is Cornish with a good grasp of the English. In this era, Cornwall is effectively a subject country to England, much as Wales was and Scotland would eventually become.

4. What is your persona's current country? At some point in her life, she has lived in Flanders. She also travels a fair bit as her husband is a member of the Spanish Ambassador's household.

5. What are the climates of your persona's native and current countries? Cornwall is temperate and warmish, with a good breeze off the gulf stream. Their winters are not as harsh as ours in WI in the modern era, but may have been worse in period, d/t the Little Ice Age,

6. What are the terrains of your persona's native and current countries? The central areas of Cornwall tend to be uninhabited, as the land is generally not farmable. It is used for cattle grazing. Costal areas have the most settlement and most of the major manors.

7. In what city/town/barn was your persona born? Born near Chepping Wycomb (Now called High Wycombe) in Buckinghamshire.

8. What city does your persona currently claim as "home"? Merouda is an only daughter and heraldic hieress; she owns two small manors, one near ST. Ives, and one near Pendeen.

9. What are/were your persona's parent's names? Mother: Luvday Rhyswall. Merouda's mother is directly related to the mother of Lord Lisle (a woman unknown to history, as Arthur Plantagenet was the illegitimate son of Edward IV--there are at least 3 women who could be his mom), and through this connection, Merouda has the opportunity to serve in greater households than her own, fostering with the Greys and the Lisles, depending on the political situation of the time. Father: Sir John Pendray, a landholder in Cornwall.

10. What are/were your persona's parents' occupation(s)? They held manorial lands, father was a minor courtier and made money off of the tin trade and land use.

11. Does your persona have any siblings, and if so, are any still alive? No.

12. Is your persona married? Yes.

13. What are the marriage customs and typical age of marriage for your persona's culture/time-frame? Marriage is for life; marriage for most people in in their late twenties, although not necessarily for wealthier famlies when politics, social climbing, and other stakes get placed into the marriage game.

14. What type of building does your persona currently live in? Manor House

15. With whom does your persona live? Husband, servants.

16. Are there members of your persona's household that are not related to your persons (servants/retainers, wards/fosterlings, guests, etc.)? Yes.

17. Were pets kept during your persona's culture/time-frame? If so, what kind, if any, does your persona have? Yes; Merouda has a monkey and dogs.

18. What is your persona's occupation? She runs her household; she also does some service as a scribe and has worked as a secretary and lady's maid.

19. How old is your persona? Generally, Middle adulthood.

20. How long do people like your persona tend to live? If she survives childbirth she stands a good chance of living to 45-70.

21. What is your persona's ethnicity? I say again, she is Cornish.

22. Who is your persona's current employer? She works for various nobles higher up the social ladder; she's spent time in the households of the Grey's, the Carew's, the Lisles.

23. Would your persona have been literate in your chosen culture/time-frame? Yes.

24. What level of education does your persona have? She is well-educated.

25. Where was your persona educated? With the children of the households in which she fostered.

26. What languages does your persona speak? Cornish, English, Latin, Spanish.

27. What units of measure were used by your persona's culture/time-frame? I can't write this all out, see

28. What type of money did people of your persona's culture/time-frame use? Standard English system, shillings, pennies, pounds.

29. What kind of legal system exists in your persona's culture/time-frame, and who make the laws? There is a well-developed law system in Tudor England, and laws are made at the local and the royal levels.

30. What is the status of women among your persona's culture/time-frame, and can they own property or conduct business? Women are fairly powerful at this particular time, although women are, ultimately, still under the male rule. Yes, they can own property and conduct business, although usually as unmarried/widowed women.

31. What major events have occurred during your persona's lifetime? (Natural catastrophes, wars, revolutions, discoveries, etc.?) The reformation, exploration of the North American continent, the prayerbook rebellion, Henry Viii's wifely mess.

32. Does your persona fight? If so, where did your persona learn to fight? No.

33 What type of armour and weapons were used by fighters in your persona's culture/time-frame? By now, we have gunpowder. Gonnes were not accurate enough for hunters, but the sure worked for killin' people!
34. List your persona's skills and hobbies. For each, write down where your persona learned them.
Merouda makes money writing and limming. Writing was part of her education, limming she learned from Leveena Terlink. Merouda can also dance, compose sonnets, play a psaltery, embroider, sew, bind books, draw maps, perform simple medicine, sing, hunt, shoot a bow and arrow and a gun, cook, dye, do beadwork, make cord via lucet, bobbins, braiding; play chess and nine-man-morris, other games, garden, understands blacksmithing, understands pottey making, understands some woodworking and practices some few things that are considered "wood embellishment" in the SCA, and knows a great deal about heraldry. Most of this was simply a part of her education, part of growing up noble with the expectation that she would run the family manor in due course of time. Some things she learned via reading; this is the era of print, and she had acess to a variety of period how-to books.

35. What "class" is your persona? (I.e., royalty, nobility, merchant, middle, artisan, slave, etc.) She's a low-end noble.

36. How widely has your persona traveled? All through what woiuld become Great Britan, the Low COuntries, the German states, the edge of the Ottoman Empire, and to the new Kingdoms (The SCA).

37. In what capacity has your persona traveled? (I.e., military, sailor, rich person's hobby, etc.) Generally related to the movements of the houses she was fostered to or as part of her husband's travel. Merouda is married to Miguel de Montoya el Artista, a Spaniard who is a part of Charles'/Phillip's ambassidorial cadre.

38. Who is your persona's current monarch? My focus is the whole life span of Merouda, so she has lived during the reigns of Henry VII through Elizabeth I, and occasionally I decide to be old enough to have been exposed to Richard III.

39. Who is the current Pope during your persona time? Again, it ranges, from Pius III to Pius IV--there were a number of popes during that time.

40. What religion is your persona? She was born Catholic, would convert to Lutheranism willingly and Angelican forcibly.

41. What kind of religious duties would be required of your persona? Attendance, good works.

42. How did people of your persona's culture/time-frame deal with trade? It's a business.

43. With respect to international relations, does your persona favor colonization, isolationism, conquest/conversion, open trade, etc.? Merouda doesn't much care about international relations. She has travelled and traded, she is aware of the New World (and travels in the New Kingdoms thereof to make connections, like a smart noble would), but on the whole, she just wants the world to keep turning. She understands the importance of negotiation and alliances, but tries to keep out of political intruiges, particularly in these dangerous times.

44. How does your persona personally obtain goods (food, drink, clothes, etc.)? Some things she obtains on her own, by arranging for it via letters, et cetera, some things are obtained for her by her servants. Merouda is trying to keep the manors as self sufficient as possible, but things like paper, vellum, better cloth, books, pots and pans, spices, some foods, et cetera, must be purchased. These may be bought from specific businesses/merchants, for instance, paper and books from the stationer, cloth from the mercer, pigments from the apothocary. Jost Amman's The book of trades is a decent indication of businesses to be found in a Western European 16th c city.

45. How did people of your persona's culture/time-frame tell time? Weight driven clocks. Spring clocks appear in Germany in 1510, and would quickly become popular among wealthy people, as they can be portable. Merouda is also familiar with sundials.

46. How did people of your persona's culture/time-frame keep track of days? Calendar.

47. What type of clothes does your persona normally wear? shift/shirt/slip, kirtle, overdress, coif, veil/hood at the beginning of the era, adding corsets, farthingales, petticotes and more as the era progresses into the early Elizabethan era.

48. What type of clothes does your persona wear for special occasions? Elaborate versions of daily wear. More rigid undergarments, as needed.

49. Are there any (sumptuary) laws restricting what your persona can wear? Yes. Merouda doesn't generally violate them, and pays her fines if anyone makes a fuss about it if she does.

50. What does your persona eat in a normal day? 3 meals. Middle meal is largest, eaten in mid afternoon.

51. How is food prepared and preserved in your persona's culture/time-frame? There are a variety of cookery and household books describing food preperation and preservation in print across Western Europe. Foods are salted, dried, pickled, smoked, stored in honey or oil.

52. What spices were available to your persona and how expensive were they? Saffron, cloves, ginger, lovage, yada yada yada: see the herbals and cookery books in my library.

53. What were the eating habits of people of your persona's culture/time-frame? They ate food. The repetative nature of some of these questions begins to irritate me, but to give lipservice to this question, I refer to "Dining in Tudor England," a book in my personal library. I also refer to the many, many, many illuminations in my C&I book collection showing people dining.

54. What are the cleaning/bathing habits of your persona's culture/time-frame? They bathed. is a glancing introduction, although I also have a bunch of receipts for "toothpastes," soaps, perfumes, cosmetics, et cetera, in the various books of reciepts in my library.

55. What types of wildlife live in your persona's area? Usual English fauna. Introduction here: Also, nice photo galleries of Cornish wildlife and landscape here:

56. Name your persona's favorite musicians/artists/dances.

57. What political figure/party/movement does your persona support? Dood. She is a Tudor Era Person. She tries to keep out of court intrigues, having been in the households of several great families and having see what happens when you are on the wrong side.

58. Who is the most significant thinker of your persona's time? Among others, Erasmus, Sir Thomas More.

59. What does your persona consider to be the greatest social problem their country? Religious persecution, issues related to the reformation.

60. What is most likely to cause your persona's death? Disease (smallpox, sweating sickness, bloody flux, et cetera), childbirth. However, Merouda dies of old age.

61. What type of medical aid is available in your persona's culture/time-frame, and does your persona have access to it? There are physicians in the Tudor era but they were as likely to kill you as cure you. Merouda's rich, and so can afford

62. List at least three of your persona's goals in life. (Learn to write, become apprenticed to a craftsman, visit the "big city", take over the family business, go to the Holy Land, usurp the crown, etc.) Merouda's goal is to continue to run the mannor successfully and continue to travel with her husband and into the New Kingdoms as an observer for the Tudor court.

63. What does your persona know of history/science/medicine/geography? About as much as a well-educated Rennaissance woman can be expected to know.

64. What's the most striking scientific achievement of which your persona is aware?

65. Does your persona consider the Earth to be flat, round, or hollow? Round

66. Does your persona believe that the Earth revolves around the Sun, or vice-versa? The earth is revolved by the Sun at the time Merouda is born, but Copernicus will reveal that the sun actually is the center during Merouda's lifetime. It will shock and rock her, but what the hell, she made the jump to Protestantism, too.

67. What does your persona consider to be the causes of criminal behavior?

68. What does your persona consider to be the true measure of a man?

69. Who has most influenced your persona's thoughts on these questions? She thinking about it for herself, and has come to no conclusion.

70. Did your persona's culture/time-frame have heraldry? Yes.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Trying to talk about the holiday season was interesting. I'd really like to get to posting in Dame Merouda Pendray daily, as I think it will force me to think abiut how equivalant needs and tasks might have been dealt with in 16th c. Cornwall, but I haven't gotten to it yet.

Some of the things I've been considering:

Titles for Non-SCA people. Occasionally, I'd like to use a title for the folks I deal with, but at the same time, I don't really want to use SCA titles. I've drifted into Goody or Goodwife for married women and Goodman for married men, and have settled on Marchioness for the woman who owns the business I work for as a sort of sly reference to Anne Boleyn, the only woman to have held the title (she was the Marchioness of Pembroke) in her own right in the Tudor era. Seems appropriate to pretend that the woman I'm several layers of management underneath is also a peer in her own right.

The Mythical location of both the Near (also known as Marihaus) and the Far (also known as Wycliffe) manors: Michael and I have obtained a country house not far from the banks of the Mississippi river, and so, to differentiate between that property and this property I've taken to calling them "Near" (as in, CAM) and "Far" (as in, Rokecliffe). I decided I needed real geography for this persona thing. Thus, as CAM is located at the SW shore of Lake Michigan, and Viroqua is SW of here and near to the Mississippi River, I looked over the geography of Cornwall and realized that if the Near manor was vaguely near St. Ives, and the far manor was vaguely near Pendeen (or perhaps St. Just), it would mimic not only the geographical movement (and, in a very small way, the waters and the topical features of the precise WI locations), it would also put me as having to travel through areas of WI that were settled by Cornish tin miners in the 1800's. It also creates a sort of myth for getting to the New Kingdoms--Merouda simply travels across some of the water surrounding Cornwall and she's in the New Kingdoms, and never mind the fact that crossing the Atlantic was actually a months-long proposition. 'Course, this speed crossing myth works better if Merouda lives off one of the Islands trailing away from Land's End, but it's not enough of a trouble to be bothered with it. .... Hm, just as an aside, the Far Manor could be called Pendray's Carn. LOL. There is one hell of a cliff on the property. Maybe it should be Wycarn... Wylie's Carn. IRL, Michael is completely insistant upon the designation "Wylie's Cliff" in the same way I sometimes call this place Marihaus.. Mary's house, or Merry House.

Temporal use: I've been trying to mention dates according to Saint's days and festivals. I figure if I stick to the Anglican saint's days with an occasional reference to the Catholic saints (as "Merouda" would have been born at a time in which the Catholic practice was still well known and officially still in use at some times) I should do pretty well and not have to make reference to any reign dates, either for historical or SCA rulers. However, the holiday season just passed was pretty interesting; it took me a little while to wrap my head around the concept of the 12 days of Christmas. The Tudor holiday season starts with All Hallows Eve and kicks into full swing with Christmastide -- the 12 days of Christmas. The Tudor new year does not occur until 25 March, making our observation of 1 January well outside the Tudor mindset. Furthermore, different branches of the Christian Church count the 12 days of Christmas differently. However, and I don't recall when I picked this up so don't take it as perfect fact, the nights of Christmas precede the days (in America, demonstrated by the tendency to celebrate on Christmas eve, New Years Eve, and Halloween) , so Twelfth night is 5 January and Twelfth Day is 6 January, Epiphany, the day the 3 wise men arrive at the Christ Child's side. Following this time schedule, New Years eve falls on Seventh Night. This may change as I learn better. This shouldn't be hard to grasp, but different sources define it all differently.