Som-Per-Ideas-art - 12/31/02
"Some Persona Ideas" by by HL Elaine de Montgris (known as 'Lainie). For a good set of bibliographies useful for 12th Century personas, see the files in THE-12TH-CENTURY section, also by Lainie.
This file is a collection of various messages having a common theme that I have collected from my reading of the various computer networks. Some messages date back to 1989, some may be as recent as yesterday.
This file is part of a collection of files called Stefan's Florilegium. These files are available on the Internet at: http://www.florilegium.org
I have done a limited amount of editing. Messages having to do with separate topics were sometimes split into different files and sometimes extraneous information was removed. For instance, the message IDs were removed to save space and remove clutter.
The comments made in these messages are not necessarily my viewpoints. I make no claims as to the accuracy of the information given by the individual authors.
Please respect the time and efforts of those who have written these messages. The copyright status of these messages is unclear at this time. If information is published from these messages, please give credit to the originator(s).
Mark S. Harris AKA: THLord Stefan li Rous
Stefan at florilegium.org
Date: Fri, 10 May 2002 14:05:16 -0700
To: sca-cooks at ansteorra.org
From: "Laura C. Minnick" <lcm at efn.org>
Subject: Unique persona ideas- was Re: [Sca-cooks] Japanese
Ok folks, this is part of my list. As usual, the caveat 'My
notes/books/etc.' are 180 miles away. This is what I scribbled down at
Stefan's goading last night (and Stefan, you are welcome to lift this if
Now, the what's and why's:
Of course, you can be a Moor, but I'm interested in the offbeat. Jews in
Moorish Spain had rather interesting lives. They were relatively unmolested
by the Arab authorities, and while they had to pay the fines and taxes for
not being Moslem, they were allowed to practice thier own religion fairly
consistently (as always there were occasional exceptions). They were much
valued by the Arabs as doctors and scientists, and of course, as Bankers.
Christians in Andulasia had similar lives- higher taxes and able to
practice their religion *unless* they attempted to proselytize, in which
case they were in deep trouble. Because of the heavy tax situation, quite a
number of Christians made a nominal conversion to get out from under the
financial burden (in fact a girlfriend of mine had this persona for awhile,
till she dropped out and married an Englishman to live happy ever after...).
Moorish Spain (aka Andulasia) was a seriously cool place- very civilized,
clean cities, lighted streets, INCREDIBLE ARTS, and best of all- LIBRARIES!
The library at Cordoba was a worldwide center of learning (and guess who
destroyed it? Not the Moors...).
Basques- Almost never see them done, and they're pretty cool. An area ripe
for research. And a great place for someone who wants to be in the middle
of everything but not necessarily part of it...
County of Toulouse, esp. 12th-13th c, and particularly (I think) during the
commune years in the late 12th. The Good Men of Toulouse set up something
very like a city-state and it ran remarkably well, until Raymond (which
one? Dunno- pick a Raymond, any Raymond) decided he didn't like it (they
were using tax monies for civic inmprovements instead of giving him all the
cash) so he borrowed an army from the Pope, took his own city, and hung the
council of Good Men (Nice guy, yes?) That's the short form- there's more of
course. But I think Toulouse is fascinating.
Southern France on the whole- 12th-13th CATHARS! Ok- there was some
persecution intermittently until well into the 13th century (Mostly when
Raymond was hacked off at his Barons and he'd ask the Pope for an army, and
the Pope says 'Smack those Cathars and you've got it' so he did. Problem is
that the Northern French fighters he imported wanted to stay, and they
wanted land...). For the most part, the Cathars were a substantial minority
and in some places even a majority. As to using them as a persona, I would
suggest that the life of a perfecti (their highest clergy, strict vegan
diet, no sex at all ever, just intinerant preaching) would not work in the
SCA context. But the believers, that is, the jay random Cathar, led pretty
standard lives. (I suggest the work of Zoe Oldernbourg for an overall, and
Ladurie for the very late Cathar remnant). *Food content*- it seems that
while the prefecti were vegans, the rank and file Cathars ate a moderate
vegetarian or even light omnivorous diet, unless they wanted to rise in the
ranks of the clergy, in which case nothing that came of sexual
reproduction, meat, milk, eggs, etc, was eaten. (They didn't understand
plant propagation to be sexual).
Merovingian France- major cool. Before Charlemagne, of course. Kings rising
and falling all over Fortune's wheel! Occasional raids from the friendly
neighborhood Gothas and Vandals ("Clotilde! Someone painted Saxon words on
our barn! And there's privay paper in the trees!" "Damn Vandals. Can't they
leave a decent villa alone?") keep things exciting when the nobility aren't
killing each other. And for guys with long hair- this is perfect. They
don't call it the Age of the Long-Haired Kings for nothing. But the women-
they have it all over! Bloodthirsty? Boy-Howdy! Fredegunde and Brunhilde
were busy killing each other's children and grandchildren for decades
(Brunhilde's grandson finally got the old battle-axe). And some of the
names are really nifty...
Lombards- sitting in the foothills at the top of Italy, they controlled a
lot of traffic for a long time. Not friendly either. But they have thier
own laws (I have a copy- miraculously in the bookshelf here) and while
considered a barbarian tribe for some time, they were hardly barbaric. One
of the royal house was married briefly to Charlemagne. I highly recommend
the period from about 500-800.
Kingdom of the Two Sicilies- one of my favorites.
First- Norman Sicily- in the 11th century the Normans turned their ships
south, and found territory ripe for conquer. I'd love to see someone tackle
it if only to show a different kind of Norman and a different kind of Sicily!
Sicily under the Holy Roman Emperor- wow. Especially under Frederick II.
Under his rule, three peoples- Christian, Saracen, and Jew- lived in
relative peace, much like the earlier regime in Andulasia. The society made
major inroads in the study of medicine and other sciences, much due to the
availablity of some of the ancient texts. (FredII himself wrote the
treatise on falconry). Again, the arts flourished, there were substantial
civic improvements such as water and sewr lines, roads, public buildings,
etc. And there was mondo amounts of trade going through. Someone with an
interest in trade could find a lot to do there!
How about western Christians living in the Crusader states? the 12th
century crusader kingdoms of Jerusalem, Antioch, Aleppo, Acre, etc, must
have been very interesting (if a little unstable) places to be. And the
records we have indicate that many a soldier went somewhat 'native',
married locally, wore an mix of western and local clothing, ate the local
Bosnian/Serbian/Albanian/Croatian/Herzogovnian/etc- all very interesting,
very convoluted, and there has been quite a lot of work done on them
Don't see many Swiss. Wonder why?
Ooh- there are other interesting heretics besides the Cathars. How about:
early 16th c Protestants
and there's more...
For someone who is single and not looking, a clerical persona could be fun.
Father Abelard is Dominican, he has a tall friend who is Franciscan (IIRC),
and there are all sorts of interesting orders. Something interesting for
women are the Beguines- the sort of nuns that you find in the Low Countries
and Northern France. Semi-cloistered, they did a great deal of nursing and
needlework and such, and were not under vows if they managed to find a
husband, though life in the beguinage was pretty strict (not a bad idea for
a couple of teenaged girls I know...). And of course they were poius, and
had an intersting tendency to have visions.
I'd like to see someone take a real run at a Lithuanian persona- that could
be interesting. Or Anatolian. Or Manx, or Orkney. Visigoth Spain? (They
were Arian heretics and pretty interesting themselves.)
It's a start...
Date: Fri, 10 May 2002 15:04:36 -0700
To: sca-cooks at ansteorra.org
From: "Laura C. Minnick" <lcm at efn.org>
Subject: Re: Unique persona ideas- was Re: [Sca-cooks] Japanese
>A response, will provide better book cites privately if requested:>
Nifty! I'm just adding a couple notes-
>> Moorish Spain-
>Read "The Rise and Fall of Paradise"
Cool. My book is... you know.
>> Southern France on the whole- 12th-13th CATHARS!
>Read "The Promised Land of Error"
This is the Ladurie. My only problems with him are: He is writing very late
(early 14th c.) and things have changed substantively since the 12th c,
both in conditions and in teh practice of the faith. Too many people take
his book as though it were the definitive view of the whole movement.
T'ain't. Also- he bases most of his work not on the writings of the Cathars
(as in earlier works), but on the records left by the Inquisitors, and what
the Cathars in Montaillou said when questioned. Interesting, but not the
whole picture. What would _you_ say if you were being questioned in similar
circumstances? Modern studies on such have given discouraging results.
Terrified people will say _anything_. Not that I am totally discounting the
work, but I think Ladurie serious lacks balance.
(Yes, I had to do a conference paper on Cathar family relationships- I know
a little about them.)
>> Kingdom of the Two Sicilies- one of my favorites.
>Read "The Normal Fate".
I highly recommend reading a bio on FredII. He was an amazing man.
>A question, what did they serve up for Vespers in Sicily?
>> How about western Christians living in the Crusader states? the 12th
>> century crusader kingdoms of Jerusalem, Antioch, Aleppo, Acre, etc, must
>> have been very interesting (if a little unstable) places to be. And the
>> records we have indicate that many a soldier went somewhat 'native',
>> married locally, wore an mix of western and local clothing, ate the local
>Read "A History of the Crusades" by Runciman followed by "Arab Historians of
>the Crusades" and "The Moslem Discovery of Europe"
Runciman gives an overview. Zoe Oldenbourg's _The Crusades_ devotes most of
the book to the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem, and to the rather nasty
infighting between the petty princes. If they had just been able to stop
squabbling, they could have held out much longer. But nooooo...
The um... (searching memory- search complete) _The Crusades through Arab
eyes_ is based on contemporary accounts and is quite useful for Saracen
personas. But I would dearly love to see a good book on Queen Melissande of
This is definitely one of those days that I wish I and my library were in
the same place...