Category Archives: A-Z


Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Lady Alisaundre Muir. I was born in the year of our Lord 1296 in the highlands of Scotland. During my forty-sixth year, I stepped through a portal and traveled forward in time to the year of our Lord 1988. I landed in a village called Carlsby (Lawrence, KS) in the Kingdom of Calontir (Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, most of Iowa, and Fayetteville, Arkansas) in what is called the Knowne World of the Current Middle Ages. I am a member of the Order of the Golden Swan, the Order of the Torse, and the Order of the Leather Mallet. I was the founding Herald of the Shire of Cum an Iolair (Johnson County, Kansas).

I am also a bard of Calontir. As a bard, one of my duties is to tell the history of the Known World. So, today, I tell you the story of the Pennsic War as told to me.

In the year of our Lord 1971, or AS 5 (the year of the Society) there were four kingdoms in the Known World, The Kingdom of the West, The Kingdom of the East, The Kingdom of the Middle, and the newest kingdom, Atenveldt.
A new group was forming in the modern state of Pennsylvania in the city of Pittsburgh. Both the Kingdom of the Middle and the Kingdom of the East claimed this area. Now King Irial of the Midrealm sent his messenger (Duke Caridoc of the Bow) to King Rakkuri of the East with a challenge and an arrow of war. King Rakkuri accepted the arrow and broke it, thus accepting the challenge of war.

Now we all know negotiations between countries take time. By the time all of the problems surrounding holding the event were ironed out, neither Irial nor Rakkuri was still king. In fact, Duke Caridoc had moved from the Midrealm to the East, fought in Crown Tourney, and was king of the East.

The site and time for the war were finally agreed upon and in the summer of AS 7 (1972), the two kingdoms converged on a place called Newton’s Campground in Waterford, Pennsylvania. I have been told there were approximately 500 attendees at that first war. The name of Pennsic comes from Pennsylvania and the Punic War.

The first war was won by the Midrealm. However, the board of directors had previously ruled  that a state should not be divided between kingdoms. Since there was already a group in Philadelphia that belonged to the East, Pittsburgh was determined by the BOD to belong to the East. Therefore the story handed down over the years was the loser of Pennsic got Pittsburgh.

For the first five years, the war was held at a different place every year. Then in AS 12 (1977), the war found a permanent home at a resort called Cooper’s Lake which is halfway between Newcastle and Slippery Rock north of Pittsburgh.
I was privileged to attend Pennsic XX in 1991. That year there were just over 8,000 attendees. What started as a weekend event in 1972 has grown to an event taking over two weeks and three weekends to enact. July 27 of this year, over 10,000 people from all over the world will begin gathering at Cooper’s Lake for Pennsic XLI. Motorists southbound on Interstate 79 who are unaware of the SCA will be astonished to see a campground full of everything from one-person, modern pup tents, to huge pavilions that resemble Medieval tents or Viking A-frames. Groups sometimes wall off their campground with walls of cloth or wood. At night, there are no Coleman lanterns, just flickering torches. Banners will fly and you’ll see clothing from the seventh century through the sixteenth.
The war is still fought between the Midrealm and the East. With the kings of the other seventeen kingdoms deciding on which side they want to fight.
As I stated, I attended Pennsic XX. The morning after the opening ceremonies, I was the first one awake in my household. Remembering the pageantry of the previous day, I wrote the following. It is sung to the tune of Blueridge Mountain Girl.


In the foothills of Pennsylvania, by the side of Cooper’s Lake,
Warriors gather for a battle to be fought for honor’s sake.
In the morning mist you’ll see them, like a vision in a dream.
Knight of old with armor shining, in the breeze, their banners stream.

As they meet there, in the meadow, swords will crash and pole arms bend.
When it’s over, they’ll drink together. Annual foes, eternal friends.

Many years, now, they have gathered ‘neath the Pennsylvania skies,
To relive in bonds of friendship, an age old dream that never dies.

And as they meet there, in the meadow, swords will crash and pole arms bend.
When it’s over, they’ll drink together. Annual foes, eternal friends.

In service to my King & Queen (Lucian & Conna), the Kingdom of Calontir, and the SCA. Lady Alisaundre Muir.

Pennsic XX as seen from I-79

Tents of all sizes and shapes

People of all ages

His Highness, Prince Conn of Calontir

Her Majesty, Queen Brayden of Calontir

His Majesty, King Roderick of Calontir

The Calontir Army mustering for battle

Another shot of the Calontir Army

The archery line

Campsite of Ladies Alisaundre & Isabeau and Lord Lars

All photographs taken by me at Pennsic XX 1991.

O – Oban

Very short post today. Oban is a relative small town on the west coast of Scotland. From Oban, one takes the ferry to the Isles of Mull and Iona. The area around Oban was the home of Clan MacLeod.
That’s about all I know about Oban.

Oban harbor.

I promise a longer post tomorrow.

N – New Lanark, Scotland

I’m venturing a bit out of my period again today to talk about one of the most interesting places I visited while in Scotland.
New Lanark is a village on the banks of the Clyde River in South Lanarkshire. It is approximately 1.5 miles from Lanark. This village was built as a mill town in 1786 by David Dale and the cotton mills operated until 1968. At one time, it was the largest cotton mill in the world.

The River Clyde from New Lanark
In the early 19th century, Dale sold the mills to a partnership which included his son-in-law, Robert Owen. Owen continued Dale’s socialistic approach. Although the mills thrived, his partners did not like the way he put so much back into improving the lot of the workers. Finally he bought out the partners and continued operating the mills until 1825 when he came to the US to start a settlement.
The New Lanark mills were unique in that at a time when children were put to work in the mills at the age of four or five, Owen insisted the children not be allowed to work until they were nine. He established an infants’ school in 1817 to educate the children living and working in the village.

   Restoration of workers’ living quarters

    Whole families lived in one room
Owen also established the first co-operative store in New Lanark. He also improved the living conditions of the workers. He proved that it was not necessary to mistreat the workers to be profitable.
Dale’s and Owen’s beliefs were Socialist and no churches were allowed to be built in New Lanark. If the workers wanted to attend church, they had to walk the 1.5 miles to Lanark.
The machinery at New Lanark depended upon water power. Water was diverted from the dammed up River Clyde past several water wheels on each of the buildings.

  Spinning Jenny – spins up to 400 threads at a time. Replaced the old spinning wheel. As a spinner, this machine fascinated me.

  Drum carder – used to prepare the fibers for spinning.

In the twentieth century, water turbines replaced the water wheels.

 Steam operated water turbine

Although parts of the buildings are still awaiting restoration, great care has gone into making the village look as it looked in the nineteenth century. There are no electricity wires, telephone wires, or TV antennas. All power is delivered to the village via underground cables.

M – Mary Stuart

Mary Stuart was born December 8, 1542, the daughter of King James V of Scotland and Mary of Guise from France. She was six days old when her father died making her Queen of Scotland; she was crowned at the age of nine months.
Although Henry VIII tried to arrange a marriage between Mary and his son Edward, it did not happen. At the age of five, Mary was married to the son of Henry II of France and spent the next thirteen years in France.
She was raised Catholic at a time when Protestants were coming into power.
Mary became a widow three days short of her eighteenth birthday and returned to Scotland nine months later. As a Catholic, she was regarded with suspicion by the Protestant leaders and also Queen Elizabeth of England. The two queens were cousins, Mary’s grandmother, Margaret Tudor, being the sister of Elizabeth’s father Henry VIII.
Her second marriage to her first cousin Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley occurred July 29, 1565 when Mary was twenty-two. Lord Darnley was also Catholic. This angered Queen Elizabeth because the marriage occurred without her consent. Because Darnley was an English subject and her cousin, her approval was considered by her to be necessary.
Mary’s only child, James Stuart, was born June 19, 1566. The marriage was a rocky one from the start. Darnley thought he should be named as king if he outlived Mary. She denied this request.
A doubt was cast as to the father of James. Some, including Darnley, thought the father was Mary’s private secretary, David Rizzio. On March 9, 1566, Darnley and a group of conspirators murdered Rizzio at a dinner party at Holyrood Palace in front of Mary who was at that time six months pregnant.
In January 1567, Mary and Darnley were staying at Kirk o’ Field abbey in Edinburgh. The evening of February 9, Mary attended a wedding at Bastian Pagez. Sometime during the night an explosion destroyed Kirk o’ Field. Darnley’s body was discovered in the garden. He had been smothered.
The person behind Darnley’s death was believed to be James Hepburn, the fourth earl of Bothwell.
In April, 1567, Mary visited James at Stirling Castle. This was the last time she visited her son. On the way back to Edinburgh, she was abducted by Bothwell and taken to Dunbar Castle where he raped her. May 16, 1567 Mary married Bothwell in a Protestant ceremony. After a confrontation with Scottish peers at Carberry Hill on June 15, Mary was imprisoned at Loch Leven Castle. There between July 20-23, she miscarried twins. She was forced to abdicate in favor of James July 24. Bothwell was exiled to Denmark where he eventually became insane and died in 1578.
Mary escaped Loch Leven and raised a small army which engaged in combat with the forces of the Earl of Moray. Mary was defeated and escaped to England where she expected Elizabeth to shelter her. Instead, Elizabeth ordered an inquiry into whether Mary was guilty of the murder of Darnley.
Several plots to gain the English throne have been attributed to Mary. In October 1586, Mary was tried for treason accused of being an accomplice in a plot to assassinate Elizabeth. She was found guilty and sentenced to death.
She was beheaded at Fotheringay Castle February 8, 1587. She was forty-five years old.
She was buried at Peterborough Cathedral in July, 1587. In 1612, her son, James, ordered her body exhumed and interred at Westminster Abbey where she rests in a chapel opposite the tomb of Elizabeth I.

L – Life in the Current Middle Ages

Let’s say you think you’d like to visit the Current Middle Ages. First go to and search for a group near you. Next look at the calendar of events for that group. There are a few things you need to know before you visit.
1. All people in the SCA are considered to be of the nobility class. No serfs, servants, peons, etc.
2. You will be asked to make an attempt to look like you belong – the SCA has no observers, only participants. Now you don’t have to dress as elaborate as Molly or Phillipe

You can be as simple as a tunic.

If you don’t have garb, the Gold Key will be glad to lend you some. – Oh, yes. We do NOT call our clothing costumes. It is our garb or clothing.
3. A few pointers.
a. If you hear someone yell “Oh Yea! Oh Yea!, that means “Shut up and listen. There are no microphones and speakers so announcements come from the heralds.
b. If someone calls “Hold”, freeze. This is an indication that there is danger somewhere. It is usually used on the battle field to denote something is unsafe. i.e. a loose piece of armor or a broken sword.
c. Everyone is to be addressed as “milord” or “milady” unless they are wearing a crown of some type. Then they are at the least “Your Excellency” and it is proper to bow or curtsey.
d. The SCA is an honorable group. You do NOT touch anything belonging to someone else without permission.
Let’s say you have a good time at your first event and want to come back. The first thing to make your life in the SCA seem real is to choose a persona. First choose a time between 600-1603 in a country that would have had contact with Western Europe or Great Britain. Yes, even Native Americans are allowed because Columbus came to America in the fifteenth century. Next, choose a name. If you have trouble, see the heralds. You cannot choose a name that designates royalty of any type, nor can you choose a real name like Richard the Lionheart. You also cannot use your modern name in full. If your first name can be traced back to the period you wish to represent, you can use that and call yourself “first name from SCA place”. i.e. Robert of Forgotten Sea.
Be careful when you choose your time period. I originally wanted the mid-sixteenth century until I found out what type of clothing I would need to wear. Corsets in Kansas in August – I think not. So, I went back a couple of hundred years to Scotland in the fourteenth century. Simple tunics and an arisaid (female version of the great kilt). See above photo.

After determining who you are, you have to decide what you are. Are you a fighter?

Are you a brewer/vintner?

Do you do leatherwork?

Do you do needlework?

Do you do calligraphy?

Do you cook?

Do you do archery?

If it was done in the Middle Ages, you can do it now and there are people who will help you get started.
Events can vary from a one-day tournament and feast to a two-week war. Be prepared to travel. There is something going on almost every weekend of the year somewhere in whatever kingdom you’re in.
Rules for feasts are, bring your own feast gear. A feast may take one hour to three hours to consume. When the first remove is brought out, pace yourself, you’re in for a lot of food. Most feastocrats adhere to ‘period’ foods. If it was found in Western Europe or Britain in period, it’s usable. A lot of foods we eat today are native to North America and mostly considered non-period although there are two schools of thought about some of them. i.e. potatoes, turkey, corn.
Just be ready for a lot of food with strange flavorings.
I mentioned wars. There are several throughout the year which are camping events. While a lot of members go to great lengths to be ‘period’ in their campsites, modern tents are allowed. We do insist on safety. Therefore coolers are allowed, but please hide them. Either inside the tent or covered with a cloth. You will also be asked to unload your vehicle and remove it to a designated parking area where it is not visible from the campground.

  All the comforts of home.

In closing, welcome to the SCA. You will meet some people who are here to have fun, and you will meet some people who insist on being compulsively authentic. Don’t let them rain on your parade. Just have fun and do as much or as little as you want to.

K – Knights

Okay, so I’m being predictable. What else in the Middle Ages starts with K?
This is going to be a very short post. Knighthood was originally bestowed upon men of military rank. However, today, knighthood is more associated with winning the favor of the people and the crown. One no longer has to prove valor on the field of battle to become a knight.
Sir Winston Churchill – knighted for leadership and service to England.
Sir Lawrence Olivier, Sir Elton John, Sir Paul McCartney, Sir Sean Connery – all knighted for expertise in one of the performing arts.
One thing that still remains is that knighthood is reserved for males. A woman who reaches the same level of service or expertise is not considered a knight, but a dame.
Not so in the SCA – we do have female knights. I believe the first female KOSCA was Sir Hillary of Serendip who was also one of the founders. Also in the SCA, knighthood is reserved for fighters.

J – James I/VI

Today I’m delving into the history of James Stuart. To some he is James I to others, he is James VI. Both are correct. He was King James VI of Scotland and King James I of England.
James was the son of Mary of Scotland and her second husband Lord Darnley who was also her first cousin. He ascended the throne in 1567 at the age of thirteen months when Mary was forced to abdicate in his favor. He did not achieve full control of the government until sixteen years later in 1583.
In 1603 he succeeded Elizabeth I as king of England. He was a noted scholar and continued the era of literature and drama started under Elizabeth.
Perhaps his most well-known achievement was the King James Version of the Bible which he authorized.
James was known to prefer the company of men over that of women, although many scholars doubt the sexual nature of his relationships. They point to the fact that after his favorite, Lord Lennox, was forced to leave Scotland, James married Anne of Denmark with whom he produced seven children three of whom survived infancy.
He felt threatened by the power of witchcraft and personally supervised the torture of women thought to be witches.
It was during James’ reign that the colonization of American started.
James believed in the divine right of kings and held that there were Biblical reasons that kings were higher than normal men.
Suffering with arthritis and kidney stones, James died in 1625. He had ruled Scotland for nearly 58 years making him the longest reigning kind in Scottish history.

Sorry no pictures.

I – Isle of Iona

The Isle of Iona is a very small island (part of the inner Hebrides) off the west coast of Scotland. To get there, one must take the ferry from Oban to the Isle of Mull then either take a bus or drive to the southernmost point of Mull via a one-track road.
Iona is most known for its monastery which was founded in the sixth century by Saint Columba who had been exiled from Ireland along with several of his monks. Iona is considered the seat of Christianity in Scotland. The monastery was abandoned in the mid-ninth century because of excessive raids by the Vikings.
In the early thirteenth century, an order of Benedictine nuns established a nunnery and abbey on Iona. The ruins of the nunnery are still there. During the Reformation of the sixteenth century when the Scottish Church broke from Rome and formed the Presbyterian Church or Church of Scotland, most of the buildings were destroyed. This was also about the same time Henry VIII was breaking from Rome and establishing the Church of England (Anglican Church).
Another interesting sight is the stone Celtic crosses on the island. Saint Martin’s Cross was carved in the late eighth century. It is over seventeen feet tall and has stood in its present location in front of the abbey for over 1200 years.
Also in front of the abbey is a replica of Saint John’s Cross which is not as tall as Saint Martin’s. The remnants of the original Saint John’s Cross are inside the abbey.
When I was there in 2003, the abbey itself was being restored

Northern coastline of Iona – where the ferry from Mull lands

The nunnery at Iona is probably the most complete in the British Isles.

Saint Martin’s Cross

H – Hastings

In January 1066, King Edward the Confessor (a Saxon) died without issue (that means he had no children). I have heard various reasons he had no children, one of which is that like so many English kings, he didn’t like to sleep with women. Whether this was because he was so religious, or because he preferred boy, I do not know.
Upon his death, three men claimed the throne of England.
1. Harald Hardrada – a Norwegian wanted to claim back the throne of Cnut and Harthacnut.
2. Harold Godwinson – from one of the most powerful Saxon families in England.
3. Duke William of Normandy – the illegitimate son of Robert of Normandy who was called William the Bastard. William was descended from Vikings who invaded Normandy in the ninth century.
Shortly after Edward’s death, the English Witan crowned Godwinson king. Of course this did not sit well with Hardrada and William. Hardrada invaded England in September and defeated the English at the Battle of Fulford on September 20. Five days later at Stamford Bridge, Hardarda was killed by Godwinson’s men and the Norsemen left England defeated.
On September 28, William and approximately 7,000 men landed at Pevensey and headed toward London pillaging and burning.
Godwinson got wind of this invasion. Although advised to wait for reinforcements, he headed south from London on October 12. He arrived at Senlac Hill about six miles from Hastings the evening of October 13 and set his forces astride the road leading from Hastings to London. He set up on Senlac Hill in front of a great forest. Senlac Hill sloped downward and almost immediately, Telham Hill rose.
While the English army consisted of all infantry, the Normans had mounted troops. Also, the Norman archers, instead of shooting at the enemy, would shoot volleys of arrows into the air in a clout shoot causing a rain of arrows to fall onto the enemy. The main defense of the English army was the shield wall. This consisted of large shields locked together in front of the English lines.
The battle started approximately nine a.m. and lasted for nine hours until Godwinson was killed by a Norman arrow.
William was victorious and on Christmas Day, he was crowned as the first Norman king of England.
I like to say he changed his name from William the Bastard to William the Conqueror.

Example of a shield wall: The shields are held by fighters on their hands and knees and are moved forward one step at a time on command. These shields are made from airplane aluminum whereas the ones at Hastings were probably made of wood.

G – Glen Coe

The massacre at Glen Coe took place a little after the time period of the SCA, but I feel compelled to use it as my G.

In August, 1691, the Scottish highlanders were told they would be pardoned for their part in the Jacobite Uprising of 1690 if they took an oath of allegiance to King William former Prince of Orange before the end of the year. Alastair Maclain was the Chief of Glen Coe, the Maclains being a sept of Clan Macdonald. He waited until the last minute to travel to Fort William to take the oath. He was sent on to Inveraray so Sir Colin Campbell could administer the oath. Due to weather and the absence of Sir Colin, it was six days after the deadline before he could take the oath.

John Dalrymple, Master of the Stair, was a lowlander and hated the highlanders. He decided to make an example of Clan Macdonald. He called upon Archibald Campbell of Argyll who had a previous grievance against Maclain and issued orders.
In early February, 1692, approximately 120 of the Earl of Argyll’s men were housed at Glen Coe. As was the custom of the highlanders, they were offered food, drink and bed. On February 12, Captain Drummond arrived with orders for Robert Campbell.

Copy of order to Capt. Campbell by Maj. Duncanson
You are hereby ordered to fall upon the rebels, the McDonalds of Glenco, and put all to the sword under seventy. You are to have a special care that the old Fox and his sons doe upon no account escape your hands, you are to secure all the avenues that no man escape. This you are to putt in execution at fyve of the clock precisely; and by that time, or very shortly after it, I’ll strive to be att you with a stronger party: if I doe not come to you att fyve, you are not to tarry for me, but to fall on. This is by the Kings speciall command, for the good & safety of the Country, that these miscreants be cutt off root and branch. See that this be putt in execution without feud or favour, else you may expect to be dealt with as one not true to King nor Government, nor a man fitt to carry Commissione in the Kings service. Expecting you will not faill in the fulfilling hereof, as you love your selfe, I subscribe these with my hand att Balicholis Feb: 12, 1692
(signed) R. Duncanson
For their Majesties service
To Capt. Robert Campbell
of Glenlyon

After dining, Drummond spent the evening playing cards and then retired. In the night, the soldiers rose up and slaughtered the Macdonalds. In all, 78 men, women and children were either killed outright or died of exposure after their homes were burned. There is a song about the massacre – I hope I’m not breaking any copyright laws here:

“Cruel is the snow that sweeps Glen Coe
And covers the grave O’Donald
Cruel was the foe that raped Glen Coe
And murdered the house o’ Macdonald.”

One of my disappointments while in Scotland was not getting to Glen Coe. All of the hotels, etc. were full because a movie was being made there. Some small movie called Harry Potter – I’m not sure which one it was.