Cover of the August Gatekeeper

Mid-Summer Coronet Report

How can I justly describe the Tourney? It seems such a blur of combat and pageantry, culminating in the investiture of the new prince and princess.
The final court of Princess Viresse and Prince Astrin was held with due ceremony. Grey skies and a gentle rain seemed to mourn the departure of the Princess in her own right. As Sir Nicolas advanced with his party to claim his rightful throne, the skies cleared somewhat. The heavens seemed to smile upon a prince who had the gallantry to kiss the feet of his lady after winning the tourney.
So many were awarded prizes, rank, and titles that I cannot hope to remember all who were so honored. My memory retains the new faces and friends, the wonderful garb, the delicious feast, and the fresh scent of rain.
I will remember that a cloud graciously clothed the Tourney in cool, misty shade: a great boon to the fighters. I will remember Morgan Lyonel's bravery in the face of pain when his leg was broken on the field. I will remember the evening of the bardic, with the full moon stealing glimpses through the clouds. The city lights flickered like the campfires of a mighty army in the valley below.
I will also remember and honor that dedicated group of people who served us all through their selfless hard work behind the scenes. They each deserve a personal and heartfelt "thank you" from everyone attending.
You made it what it was, and thank you.

-Lady Nataliia Tomasovna

From Their Former Highnesses (written in July)

To Our Beloved Populace,

We would like to thank everyone for their support. Not only for us, but for Oertha, and the SCA as a whole. We thank everyone for the quick response to the call for membership numbers for Oertha. And for the sacrifices in doing so. There are those individuals who have sacrificed greatly in order for us to reach the numbers needed. We cannot thank you enough. We hope that you will continue in the support for our successors, and in doing so, for the Dream. We thank you for all your patience and understanding with a first time Princess and Prince. You all have been so very wonderful. Thank you to our new comers! It is exciting to watch our Dream expand and grow. And to Our Peers, for helping us all grow in richness and knowledge.

Being Princess and Prince has been quite the adventure! It has been an expansion in knowledge, and the tremendous amount of work that goes into it.

The Dream exists within us. It is thru the efforts and hard work of all of us, that keep it alive and growing beyond our imaginations. And, so.... We thank ALL of You, Everyone. Oertha has a people rich in Honor, Chivalry and Grace. Valor on and off the field. Fighters and non-fighters alike, one to another. We have a strength of Unity here that speaks highly of Oertha's people and our Dream. And we have been blessed with the opportunity to have served you.

We look forward to continuing to be a support to You, and this Wonderous Dream. Hail To Honor! Hail To Chivalry! And to her People of Oertha, HUZAH!!!!!
Most Humbly, and _Ever_ in Service,
-Viresse' and Astrin, Princess and Prince of Oertha

Lord Grymr provided a poem for this issue "Away from High Table", read at Mid-summer Coronet in Winter's Gate. To Grymr's Gallery

Cotton: should I wear it?

How appropriate is cotton for your persona? That depends on your time and place, but cotton is probably a more common (and cheaper) fabric than you think.

Cotton was first cultivated in India. The Ancient Egyptians got it via the Middle East. Cotton was also used in China and Japan. The Romans got cotton cloth from Egypt. For them, it was a luxury fabric. The Arabs had cotton earlier than the Egyptians. Muslim conquest of southern Europe brought cotton "to Spain, Sicily and Southern Italy as early as the tenth century." (1)

They did not just bring the cloth, the Arabs pioneered processing and cloth production of cotton in these areas. Since the cotton was being produced locally, it was cheap enough to be used for everyday items.

"The Arabs were the first people in the Near East and Europe to adopt cotton for ordinary clothing....rulers and the very wealthy wore silk and embroidered cloth, but everyone else, in both town and country, wore cotton, either white or black--cotton undergarments, cotton caftans and robes, cotton mantles for women, cotton veils and turbans. Cotton was used for shrouds and funeral cloths, and for bedclothes, tablecloths, curtains, towels and rugs." (2)

When Christian European forces reconquered the Muslim-held south, they gained the bonus of cotton. Everything from basic processing to the fully developed, quality controlled "tiraz," (cloth factories,) became the property of the victors. (3) By the end of the twelfth century, Christian Europe had mastered the secrets of cotton. (4)

Although cotton was not cultivated in Europe, raw cotton was imported to fuel the production centers in Sicily and northern Italy. The Po plain of Italy "soon became for European cotton what Flanders was for wool." (5)

"Italian craftsmen ginned their cotton with the Indian churka, acquired from the Arabs, a device not improved on until Eli Whitney's invention. It consisted of two grooved wooden rollers, turned with a crank, revolved against each other in opposite directions to remove the seeds. The bolls were beaten, an operation facilitated by the introduction in the early twelfth century of the "arco," a wooden bow suspended from wall or ceiling, its taut cord buried in a pile of raw cotton. When the cord was tapped with a mallet, its vibrations caused the cotton bolls to open and the fibers to separate. The cotton was combed or carded and spun, and half of it 'warped,' grouped into uniform lengths to be positioned on the loom as warp threads. Weaving was followed by bleaching, dyeing, washing, and stretching." (6)

In the thirteenth century, knowledge of cotton production was spread by skilled workers to Italian cities outside of the Po plain. The cotton export industry was a lucrative one, and cities lured knowledgeable workers with "tools, rent-free shops, interest-free loans, and rights of citizenship." (7)

The invention of the spinning wheel in the fourteenth century allowed uniformity of threads and made spinning three times faster than before. Cotton looms were of standard size, and the newly uniform cotton threads were cut into pre-measured lengths and sold to be mounted as warp threads. Such measures allowed greater efficiency and lowered production costs. Low costs were important. Unlike other export industries, cotton goods were sold cheaply, for popular consumption.

"The bulk of cotton cloth production was of light- to medium-weight cloth for undergarments, bedding, and summer clothing, competing with coarse linen. Linen was more durable but harder to care for and lacked some of cotton's visual and tactile qualities. For clothing and blankets, flannelettes and quilted cottons competed with cheap woolens. The Italian industry never produced the luxury cotton cloths of Islam--printed designs, tapestry weaves, brocades--but concentrated on production for the mass market....Cotton was also used for accessories, such as coifs, veils, wimples, handkerchiefs, purses, and linings, and, to meet another fashion dictate, stomachers, pads used to emphasize the female abdomen." (8) Quilted cotton was also used to make the stylish, short doublets that first appeared in the twelfth century in Italy.

After the Black Death (1300s), southern Germany became the first source of mass-produced fustian in Europe. Fustian is a cloth of interwoven linen and cotton. It had been used for at least three centuries in Europe, but had not been produced in large quantities before. The Germans cultivated flax locally and purchased cotton in the port cities of northern Italy. Because the Germans employed unsupervised, low-wage spinners and weavers, their cloth was of a lower quality than Italian cotton cloth. However, it also sold for a cheaper price, and the German fustian slowly undermined Italian cotton.

"A shift completed in the sixteenth century moved cotton from the Mediterranean ports and Italian cities to the Atlantic ports and northern Europe, with the raw material beginning to come from the New World." (9)

From Roman luxury fabrics to mass-marketed consumer goods, cotton has a long history in Europe. While it was not as ubiquitous in the Middle Ages as it is today, cotton was still fairly common, especially in the latter half of SCA period. The cheap cotton cloth that many of us use for garb is not necessarily inappropriate. Like anything else, time and place determine how much cotton your persona would wear. Bibliography/Footnotes:

(1) Frances and Joseph Gies, Cathedral, Forge, and Waterwheel:
Technology and Invention in the Middle Ages (New York: HarperPerennial Press, 1995), p. 50.
(2) Ibid, p. 103.
(3) Ibid.
(4) Ibid, p. 50.
(5) Ibid, p. 122.
(6) Ibid.
(7) Ibid, p. 180.
(8) Ibid, pp. 180-181.
(9) Ibid, p. 271.

-Natalia Tomasovna

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