Fighting for Consorts


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Fighting for Consorts
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A very brief history:

In early tourneys, Knights fought for prizes, renown, glory, honor, country and Sovereign. In later period Tourneys Knights fought also for the favor of ladies of the court. see ( for a nice encapsulation of Courtly love.

So, what happened that took Knights from being Armored brutes to being examples of courtesy and devotion? Sparing the details, Sovereigns (Eleanor of Aquitaine, etc.) determined that you can't effectively run a country if your police force went about vandalizing the citizenry because "they were bored" in times of peace.

Tournaments were obviously a training tool for war and combat in general and were also an outlet for violent tendencies. Through the steady infusion of rules, and standards of behavior, the Knight was made more "Domesticated" than "Feral".

What it means to me to fight for a consort:

I used to have an issue with the requirement of fighting for a consort in Crowns and Coronets. Of course, being the shy wallflower that I am, either I did not have a consort at the time, or I HAD a consort at the time, but did not want to make a fool of myself in front of their Majesties or their Highnesses.

I especially would get apoplectic when I found out (at the last minute) that I was expected to bring a banner/pennant to display at Invocation. For CRYING OUT LOUD, I didn't even own a banner pole, let alone a banner. Heck, I'd have to have a DEVICE to put on a banner.

It was enough to drive me into being a war-only-fighter. I was content to fight at war, to have the ability to go out and hit people with sticks, just for the fun of hitting people with sticks. What the heck, we didn't need any big ceremonies, with all the bla-bla-bla, etc. etc.

It dawned on me though, after having gone to many wars, that there were people that never seemed to lose anything other than their tempers at wars. There were people who would charge a line of fighters and blast through them as if all those wraps to their back and helmet were leaves in the wind, and then complain that the pikemen were hitting to hard when they got stopped by four or five pikes.

This is a small group of people, but they really spoil the whole game by breaking the rules. There's things that are done to fix the problem, but they're done after the fact. The real problem is that these people have lost sight of why we play the game, and what we're trying to create by playing.

Repeated hitting them in unarmored spots, and shunning them in public would seem to be effective, but it only results in alienating someone who could have been a good participant. Telling someone they take too hard does not make a damn bit of difference when they're pumped up on adrenaline and charging a shield wall.

When we fight at local practices, we rarely think about anything other than honing our skills and getting better than the other person. It's very easy over a period of time to get thicker and thicker hides as our friendly bouts bring out our competitive streaks.

If a fighter goes to a war or a tournament after calibrating up, he's likely to find out that he's the guy who's charging the wall and getting pissed off. He's likely to be the guy who thinks he hit Sir so-and-so with a good shot. When the Knight shrugs it off, having ducked part of it and got some shield on the sword, guess who cranks up the power and turns on the rhino powered blast shields?

So, what's the answer? is there some special spray can of Rhino-Rid?

When we fight in the SCA, our behavior is supposed to be tempered by a set of rules. It is very easy to break those rules, and be the uncontrolled, unruly Knight of the early tourney. We all have stories of somebody who's done this, and lived to regret it.

By declaring that we are fighting for a consort, we aren't just saying that this person will rule with us if we win.

We're saying that this other person inspires us by their virtues. We are saying that we are accountable to this other person, and that if we screw up and so something stupid, it will reflect badly on them, so we will do our best to bring honor to our consort by being on our best behavior. We're also saying that if we are discourteous, or brutish, and in any way unchivalrous, there is a person to talk to who will make our lives hell until we straighten up.

Some will say that this goes completely against the idea of each of us fighting honorably and calling our shots properly, and accepting the judgment of our opponents.

My response is this:

If you are secure in your honor, honesty, and courtesy, on and off the field, you should have no problem telling the world who inspires you to such noble thoughts, words, and deeds. Your actions on the field will reward your consort for the support you have received. People will know that your consort is a special person that brings out the best in you.

If you are insecure, then your consort is your guide to being a better person, and you should strive to better yourself by your consort's example. It's important to fight for the right consort.

Fighting for a consort in tourneys builds a set of nerve level responses that don't go away just because you're fighting in a war, talking to your boss, or waiting for people to get out of an elevator.

Behavior on the field, or Everybody's a consort:

As a whole, when we fight, we are supported by consorts, households, or other people who devote their time and efforts no matter what version of SCA Fighting we do.

What we call "Wars" are actually examples of early period tourneys, where groups of Knights would rove about the countryside looking for other groups to combat. Though death was not uncommon in these mock wars, the point was to capture the enemy for ransom -- usually in the form of the opponent's horse, or armor, or to use the Norse term, wergeld.

Even in these early tourneys, it was important to have a patron or liege lord. A Knight is nothing without horse and armor. By creating feudal bonds, vassal Knights were better able to pay off their captors, and fight another day. In return, the vassal Knight was expected to support the household, and live by its rules.

When we go to war, we do not overtly declare that we are inspired by a consort, but we should be mindful that we are able to go out and have fun because of the support of others.

Bachelor war fighters may scoff that they are independent, but who brings you water and gatorade, or fruit, or pickles? On the field, you support your unit. Off the field, somebody else is supporting you. If you do not behave in a manner that is pleasant, you will lose their support. These people are the Marshals, Water Bearers, Heralds, Autocrats, and the Populace. One of them could at some time be your consort.