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Sunday, April 08, 2018

Ordo Hirundinis Drachenwaldensis: Nicholas d'Estleche, called le Tardif


Wording reads, in plain English,

By The King and Queen, To all Persons that this present Letters shall see or hear:  It is so that many Persons moved of Noble courage purposing to exercise virtuous conditions and manners, by the abilities of which conditions and Noble conversations, with God's grace shall come to perfection of great honour and Worship.
And one in especial, intending to all Gentilesse, is come to Us, Lief and Morrigan, to convey upon Nicholas d'Estleche, dictus le Tardif, for the Craft and Fellowship of Upholder, the Ordo Hirundinis Drachenwaldensis,
And in considering the good disposition of the said Craft and Fellowship, and also the great honour and Worship that hereafter may fall to him, We avise, grant, and give to the aforementioned Nicholas for evermore, Arms, that is to say: Per chevron sable and vert, a tower argent and in base a garb Or,
the which Armes we king and queen aforesaid grant without empeachment of any Person.
Knowing the labours of our faithful servant Nicholas these ten years and more of upholding Flintheathshire, we hereby elect him as warden of the hundreds of Northstowe, Chesterton and Papworth, to preserve undiminished all the liberties granted by us to the same residents of the hundreds, that he will faithfully and diligently do all things pertaining to the office of warden in the aforesaid hundreds.
Further we grant to him the right to appoint a steward to a fair for the hundred of Northstowe, And that the fair of the same be held in the villauge green, where it was wont to be held in the time of our ancestors, and not to conflict with the established fairs, that is Raglan ffair, Sturbridge fair, & Michaelmas tournoi, nor may it cause persons to delay their holy pilgrimage to Winchester.
Witness of this Letter to the which we set the seal Elffin the Great our ancestor; written at our tournoi de succession the 7th day of the Month of April, the 3rd year of our reign, AS 52.

Design details

  • Oak gall ink on pergamenata, with a metal nib pen
  • A4 page, landscape orientation
  • Ruled in hardpoint and pencil, 3mm writing line and 4mm interline space, erasing pencil afterward
  • Seal cord by HG Allessandre Melusine, with the Great Seal of Elffin the first

To fit a dense text onto a small page, I used many contractions and short forms, advised by Baroness Arianhwy, and drawn from from The Handwriting of English Documents, L.C. Hector, 2nd ed, London, 1966.

Wording research

The Ordo hirundinis drachenwaldensis is the (submitted) name of Drachenwald's new grant-level award for service. As the name and badge are still uncertain, and the order is still very new to the kingdom, I felt it important that the recipient receive honours suited to his station, that recognised his service.i

I started with a grant of arms wording for the Upholders Company, dating to the 14th century.

Aside from titles, medieval honours are often supported by payments, in the form of revenues from farms, tariffs on speciality or luxury goods, or permits for events like fairs and markets. I consulted Lyonet Schwarzdrachen, Baroness Ari, Countess Ary and Lord Aodh for suggestions.ii

I recently found a great book called British Borough Charters, 1216-1307, eds Adolphus Ballard, James Tait. Cambridge University Press, 1923.iii It's a detailed survey of charters and outlines the standard types of revenues, tariffs and permits that royal charters issued to boroughs (distinct from cities or universities), and how they are worded. So several phrases about appointing a warden, getting permission to run a fair, and appointing a steward come from original sources.

East Anglia (as the real-world home of the shire of Flintheath) has a rich medieval history, and I'd hoped to tap that for inspiration for a monopoly on some good or service. Awkwardly for me, the best person to ask about this history was Nicholas himself, because he's a genealogist, and knows local history resources.

We chatted over one evening about what was available online, and he directed me to the Victoria County History, a superb resource for people interested in English local history. Reading up about the county Nicholas lived in, I found that '..Northstowe remained in the king's hands throughout the Middle Ages, being farmed and managed by the same bailiff as its neighbours Chesterton and Papworth hundreds from the 13th century.iv This arrangement seemed an excellent one to borrow for the writ. Because 'bailiff' has a very negative connotation in modern English, I chose the term 'warden' instead.

Running a fair (or rather, being able to delegate the work of running a fair) is an apt privilege, because Nicholas has long organised a Society presence at the summer fete in his village, outside of Cambridge. He's now earned the right to get someone else to look after it for him.

i These honours are in the spirit of 'as much land and as few sesterces as possible', the Roman emperors' preferred way to pension off soldiers.
ii Aodh had several examples of food monopolies, that I may call on in future texts.
iii https://archive.org/details/britishboroughch00balluoft is companion to the first volume about charters, which covers 1042-1216.

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