The History of the Barony of the Middle Marches
Added 19 Jan 2009
The first branch in any state rule applied until sometime in 1972, so it was not a matter of the Populace choosing candidates as it is in this time so far from our beginning. In this wise, Jehan became Baron, but wasn't actually confirmed in it until about a year afterward. 5
Things were more relaxed back then and many ceremonies and customs hadn't been invented yet. More importantly, neither had the styles of polite address we use today come into as much usage at that time. Letters began to pass between Jamie and Jehan and Jamie mistook Jehan's use of "my lord" to mean that he, Jamie, had the ascendancy when it was only a matter of politesse. Jamie, not realizing how rude calling another "sirrah" might be, actually used that term to Jehan. The fact that it was Jehan who had the first registered group in Ohio was eventually made plain to Jamie, who also styled himself "Margrave del Cleft Land, Protector of Shires and Waters thereto, Alcyote, Novice and Freeholder Warrior Tor Foxx Y.O.I. 1970. He was later given by the Crown, the title of Margrave, the only person known to carry it. 6 Jehan styled himself Warden of the Marches at that time. Something had to be done to create unity between the two entities, so on March 6, 1970, Jehan travelled to the Cleft Land to sign a treaty with Jamie. 7 Alas, the text has been lost, but Count Jehan remembers that it was signed with two or three Cleftlanders present in an ice-cream parlor across from the Cleveland bus station. It is that date and that treaty that Count Jehan considers the actual founding of the Barony of the Middle Marches.
The Vast Expanse
Think of it, good gentle, see it in your mind's eye; a land so fruitful and yet so empty. In those early days, there was not the great number of folk that inhabit the Barony today. Yet, over it waved our banner, "Argent, above a chevron inverted gules, a laurel wreath vert." And it waves proudly still. Jehan's arms are "Gules, a crow rising, pierced by an arrow both argent." His badge is "Gules, a mace argent" for it was with a mace that the poet-warrior did his best fighting. But fighting to defend one's land is not always enough. Too often, it is the lack of folk that causes the demise of a group. Almost every group I have researched has had the same problem at one time or another. And, the Marches did not really have a Baronial identity as everything was mostly geared around the Kingdom. It was growth of membership and branches that gave us that identity and to foster that growth, Jehan began to print a newsletter. It was called "To All Persons Interested In The Society For Creative Anachronism." Having been a chronicler in my time, I can commiserate with our Founder. I, too, had late copy. I, too, tried to generate interest and let everyone know what was happening. Count Jehan was kind enough to send me copies, about a year's worth, and those newsletters give a good account of what the early Barony was like and it is a great comfort to know that much the same goes on today. Demos, announcements of fighter practice, dance practice, events, and all the news that is news.
In "The History of King Cariadoc of the Bow" to be found in Duke Finnvarr's "The Complete Tales of the Midrealm Kings" is a description of our founding Baron. "One of the most notable gentlemen of the Kingdom in those days was an outlander, Jehan de la Marche. He was originally from the South of France and was half-Paynim himself, being a Manichee heretic." According to the doctrine of Manes, "...man's soul, sprung from the Kingdom of Light, seeks escape from the Kingdom of Darkness, the body." 8 In a personal conversation at the last Blackstone Raids, Count Jehan mentioned that it was "...an open secret for the last twenty years that he was a closet Cathar." As for looking like a half-Paynim (person of Arabic extraction), it was quite true when he was younger. It is not so pronounced in these days. I saw a color portrait from a chronicle in Duke Andrew's files that showed a group of high-ranking gentles all together around the famous Fatty Lumpkin, that legendary steed of Duke Andrew and Duchess Anne. Wearing a sort of houpelande, there was our founder with thick, curly, longish black hair, olive skin browned from the sun, and there were spectacles on his proudly beaked nose.
It was true that Jehan had little fighting skill early on. That was to be expected, especially since he was using a sword and had not found that the mace was an excellent weapon for him to use. I saw his badly battered bucket-helm with the T-slit cut into the front through which to see and his sword, a silver-painted, shaved piece of rattan with bolted on blocks of wood for the quillons named "Thud and Thunder, Son of Nameless. 'Tis a mercy no one was hurt more than they were in the heat of battle in the lists and on the field. But, neither did the poet stint himself on learning the arts martial. When Andrew made Jehan a mace, the famous "Feather," the Baron quickly took to the weapon and made rapid improvement. As for his poetic skills, he could quote and make poetry by the ream and this made him a favorite with King Cariadoc, who enjoyed rhyming as well. 9
The First Baron of the Middle Marches
At the Coronation of Cariadoc of the Bow II and Diana Alene II on May 8th, 1971, Their Majesties not only raised Jehan formally to the rank of Baron, giving him an armring, but also conferred upon him the rank of Master in the Order of the Laurel. In perusing what he says of himself, I find that Count Jehan is very much like a great many Scadians of my acquaintance. Many of us feel much more at home in a medieval context than we do in a modern one. I have always found him to be the soul of gallantry and courtesy.
By the conventions of the present time, Baron Jehan didn't have a Baroness. But, standards were much more relaxed then, and so while Lady Christine the Accursed didn't have the title, she was Jehan's recognized lady during his time as Baron of the Middle Marches. They had been friends since their younger days and it later came to pass that, when Jehan moved to the Eastern Kingdom and became its Prince, Christine moved to a part of the Barony that would later gain the appellation of Tirnewydd, but was as yet unsettled. She had found a vocation helping folk with physical disabilities and, after so long a time away from her friend, married another. 10
Renown and legend have come to some of the gentles who gravitated to the infant Barony. More has been said of them elsewhere, but I shall name a few. 11 High amongst these names is Andrew of Seldom Rest, the Hun, mighty of arm, who grew canny in politics, and always a lover of fun and good food. Beside him was his beautiful lady wife, Anne de Fountaine, tall, willowy, always willing to promote the gentler arts and wise policy, and a doughty warrioress when she thought her friends and encampment to be in danger at the First Pennsic. No less mighty in the lists was John of Seldom Rest, Andrew's brother, who later gave up the arts martial and went away, none knows where. Jason the Scarred was Andrew's brother-in-law and he eventually founded a group of his own. Barrfinn de Taahe, Duke Finnvarr's brother, later came to reside in the Marches. There is the "Goddess" Clariel, of whom I shall later speak, and Jake the Snake who enlivened the Middle Marches, but who now wishes to put his notoriety aside for a time and so I shall tell of him no further. There have been many of the great ones to make this Barony their home and so enrich it, but always remember that the Middle Marches lives or dies by the rest of its Populace.
This document an unofficial, private publication of the Society for Creative Anachronism (SCA), and is copyrighted ©1999 by Douglas Needham and Becky (Needham) Palmer. It may be copied for non-commercial personal use so long as the copyright message is preserved. All other rights are reserved.