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The First Year

The First Coronation and Crown Tournament

March 25, AS I 1967

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March 25, 1967 saw the first Coronation and Crown Tourney, held at the Amphitheater Playfield, Tilden Park, Berkeley, California. Fulk de Wyvern, who had won the June tourney, called forth Henrik of Havn, who had won the September tourney, and bid him kneel. Then, as Siegfried von Hoflichskeit had done in the first tourney, he knighted Henrik in the name of the ancient order of chivalry, and then crowned him as King. At this time there was only one kingdom. Wendryn was not there so she was crowned in absentia. King Henrik presided over the tourney. Crown lists were held to determine the next king. Richard the Short defeated Fulk de Wyvern in the finals. Ann of San Anselmo was Richard’s lady. They became Crown Prince and Crown Princess. (Fulk de Wyvern’s Count rank and Mary of Tamar’s Countess rank date from this event.) Subsequently the first issue of Tournaments Illuminated came out. Jon de Cles was Editor and Chronicler. Siegfried von Hoflichskeit was Registrar and Chancellor of the Exchequer. At this time the kingdom and the society began to get organized. Diana Listmaker was the first Mistress of the Lists. Jon de Cles was the first Seneschal. Edwin Bersark was the first Earl Marshal. T.I. was to be a magazine with articles of interest. A supplement to TI, numbered 1.1, 2.1, etc. came out between issues to announce events. Single sheet announcements were handed out at events giving details of the next event.

From Tournaments Illuminated, Vol. I, Issue 4, Winter Solstice Issue, 1967, Courtesy of Henrik of Havn

HEAR YE! HEAR YE! Let it be known to all and sundry that on the 25th of March, The Society for Creative Anachronism is going to hold a TOURNAMENT! AH! That golden word, tournament... the pageantry...the revelry... chivalry...tournament!

The day broke to a glaring drizzle-grey the morning of the tournament, my first. I hastened to array myself in my medieval costume... nothing fancy, merely a cross between Tom Jones with my blue silk shirt and Don Juan with my multiflashing-colored jerkin... I didn't wish to attract attention to myself on my first tournament. I stepped into the living room of the Black Hole of Calcutta in San Francisco and presented myself to my comrades, Stefen Comte D'Lorraine, Steven of the Ashenlands, Noble Bigglestone, and Don Segundo Sombre de Muerte Christiano ...

Collectively they saw me ... collectively one word issued forth from their lips ...


Steven of the Ashenlands began stroking his mighty blade, Chickenbruiser, and muttering joyously, "I get to challenge him first..."

WE FINALLY ARRIVED at the tourney site, some two hours before it was scheduled to begin, to help prepare things... warriors, musicians, fair maidens, all began arriving on schedule and gathering in the glen of legend-ridden Tilden Park in Berkeley... sloshing and shivering in the exhilirating mid-afternoon dew. Then things began to happen! In came King Henrik the Dane ... the parade began ... the warriors presenting themselves before the King, then retired to choose opponents and prepare for battle.

A YOUNG FELLOW, who identified himself as William the Absurd, came up to me and issued a challenge. I hadn't really intended to fight, I hadn't held a sword in several hundred years when I was known as des Kleines Grün Slitzkempfen. My honor was at stake, however, so carefully selecting a weapon from the stockpile I stepped onto the field of honor with my foe. I had almost forgotten the joy of combat as we clashed. I rejoiced in the excitement... I basked in the action! Rather than prolong his agony I ended the battle fairly quickly by mercifully chopping off both his arms so he couldn't hold his sword.

PUT THE BATTLE BUG WAS BACK IN MY BLOOD! I looked around for a worthy opponent to pit my sword against. Instantly my eye settled on just the warrior. Looking dashing in his helment once used as a prop in The Invasion of the Saucer Men, he stood out from the scruffy rabble around him as a man of might... modestly refusing to fight those he would only shame by trouncing them soundly and swiftly... Sir Bela, known to some as the eminent author, Poul Anderson. Now I knew where his heroes came from. Surely here was the breeding for generations of King Arthurs. We both knew at once that we were the only ones there worthy of each other. Once again I set out on the field of honor... But this time my opponent was someone indeed to be reckoned with. He sauntered his lanky frame onto the field with cat-like grace and a subtle rippling of his sleek steel muscles. We leaped at each other! The fighting was furious but very long. With a cry I swung at what I thought to be an unguarded spot but with speed and skill I'd never before encountered he avoided my blade and vanquished me. I was beaten, yes, but to so worthy of a warrior it was an honor!

THE BATTLING CONTINUED INTO THE AFTERNOON. The contest for King of the next Tourney was finally narrowed down to two masterful warriors, Richard the Short and Sir Foulk de Wyvern, both almost evenly matched. After three fantastic battles Richard the Short emerged, though not without wounds, as the victor. He and his lady, Ann of San Anselmo, presented themselves to the present King and received their honors as the onlookers cheered.

SUDDENLY THE COURT BROKE INTO CHAOS! Fire behind the Throne! The King is endangered! Several loyal subjects leaped to his aid and quenched the fire, while others captured the would be assassin, the Duke Mediocrates, ambassador from the Byzantine Court of Naseous Syphillis. Unmoved by the cries of "behead him!", merciful King Henrik spared the fiend and granted him diplomatic immunity. A noble ending to a glorious day in which chivalry once again lived.

THE NEXT DAY... after it was all over and past... I was once again the living room of the Black Hole, bruised, battered and somewhat crippled, and glowingly relating the merits of tournaments. Sigh, I sighed, I certainly wish they had tournaments more often... Stefan Comte D'Lorraine, now Steve Perrin looked over at me in surprise. "Why the next tournament is only a month away, in April." My eyes lit up... fire coursed through my veins, a valiant cry began in my lungs and issued forth as a racking cough!

AND SO HERE I AM, planning strategy, making swords, sewing a costume and nursing my wounds... I figure the bandages will be off just in time for the next touranment... what luck!

--- Sir Dinosaur the Green ---

Henrik of Havn
Vert, on a pellet a horse's
head couped Or above a
coronet showing three Latin
crosses Or.
Wendryn of Townsend
Azure, a sun in glory Or.
Arms drawn by Nicholas Bawcock of Petersfield, used with permission
Arms colored by Aja du Jardin

See photos of this event

[King Henrik presided over the tourney.] “Henrik actually got to preside over a court at this tourney. Master Beverly Hodghead (of course, this was before the Laurel) had provided the thrones, which were the Bishop's thrones from the Episcopal Church for which he was some kind of official. Behind the thrones he set his Coleman stove, on which he was cooking/boiling/whatever something. The ground was uneven, lots of people were moving around, and Master Beverly managed to upend the table with the Coleman lantern onto the ground. Much furor, no one hurt, but Mary of Tamar decided we needed a distraction and immediately accused Lord Mediocrates (Jerry Jacks) of an assassination plot. Lord Mediocrates attempted to buy his way out with a Bank Byzanta Card (Bank Americards had just become popular), and claimed diplomatic immunity (Mediocrates of Hellas, Ambassador from the Court of Nauseous Syphilis and his sister/wife Gonnorhea who live in Sin, which is a suburb of Constantinople – Jerry could go on for many more lines).” – Stefan de Lorraine

[Crown lists were held to determine the next king.] “This tournament was the first in which ratan was used and there were still a few bugs in the system. There were also a few bugs in the system of judging which meant that neither Fulk nor Richard cared to be judged, would pay no attention to the judges, and fought on for what seemed hours until Fulk finally conceded he was hit and Richard won.” – Stefan de Lorraine

“I believe this was also the first tourney for the lady named Nora who was a Junior Olympic fencer and wanted to play with the boys. She found one fighter to fence with her, and a friend of ours, Paul Moslander, who was attending as Don Segundo Sombre de Muerte Christiano (actually the name of the hero of an Argentine novel he had had to read in Spanish class) challenged her entirely for the chance to be killed so he could give a magnificent dying speech.” – Stefan de Lorraine, for whom the tourney was also significant for the first time presence of Luise of the Phoenix who soon became and is still his lady though for this tourney she came as the lady of The Little Green Dinosaur, a very gifted cartoonist who was actually not too bad a fighter the few times he fought.

“This event saw several “firsts” in the SCA:
     “1) Henrik wore the first real armour, his new 10,000 ring mail hauberk which he had started in the months after the second tournament on June 25, 1966 and a portion of which he had been wearing when he won the Sept. 25, 1966 tourney.”
     “2) Henrik borrowed a horse and rode with couched steel tipped lance, steel spangenhelm, steel hauberk, steel sword and steel round shield – the inspiration for the cover portrait by Diana Listmaker on TI #1. (Note - Henrik made the armour and his sword and shield.)” – Henrik of Havn

“And the cry went up ‘Get Henrik off that horse and on the throne so the tournament can get started!’”
     “Speaking of mounted royalty, I should mention here that, during the Summer Tournament, when Richard and Diana were presiding at Mills College, we had the first “Mounted Coronation.” Richard, at the time, was getting around on a BMW touring bike and Diana had a motor scooter, so they intended to ride mounted to the thrones. We all lined up and waited, and waited, and waited. None of us knew why we were waiting because it was supposed to be a surprise.
     “Diana’s scooter was named ‘Chrysofalax The Recalcitrant’ and chose that time to live up to its name. We were finally rewarded by the entrance of our royalty on their iron steeds.” – Stefan de Lorraine
“Spelling: Chrysophylax? Meaning: ‘Gold-keeper.’ A word referring to Gryphons.” – Karina of the Far West
“I think this was the first tourney in which we had a formal ‘Eric’. Edwin erected a fence of poles with a rope to enclose the fighting, much like what I saw at the last couple of tournies I attended, many years later and many years ago. As you might expect, it was not called the ‘Eric’ because it was not red. And if that name has been lost in antiquity, I’ll be glad to expound in it later.” – Stefan de Lorraine

“3) The first real Pavilion - Henrik’s, a round pavilion 12' tall and 10' in diameter at the base and 6' wide in diameter where the conical roof met the sloping sidewall. The fabric was undyed (at that time) sheets sewn together.”
     “4) The first crown – black iron band with 4 silver plated maltese crosses. Iron for strength, silver for noble purity. Fulk designed it, Henrik made it.” – Henrik of Havn

“And now a question for Henrik: Was that 1st iron crown with silver crosses your personal property, and not passed on to a successor? If so, were the crowns that Master Beverly made (and that you and Siegfried carried on cushions at the very front of the 11-kingdom procession at 20 Year) the first to belong to the Kingdom and to be passed along?” – Robert of Dunharrow
“Yes, it is my personal crown and no other person has worn it at court except Fulk who wore it before I was crowned with it at the March 1967 Tourney. Yes, they were the 1st Kingdom owned crowns, but I continued to be crowned exclusively with my own Crown during succeeding reigns. The procedure was, I would approach the King, he would remove the copper Crown from his head and place it on a cushion or some such held by an appropriate person – Kingdom Herald usually and then my crown bearer would proffer my crown on a cushion and the departing monarch would pick up my crown and crown me.” – Henrik of Havn
“This, as many of the commentators will confirm, was common practice until the presentation of the current silver crowns by Duke Henrik years later.
     “Most new royalty had custom crowns made, often of more precious materials and custom-fitted to their heads to wear instead of the ancient and honorable crowns. On some occasions the ancient crowns were used for the coronation ceremony proper and the personal crowns were worn at all other times until the next coronation. (Some personal crowns occasioned quite a bit of gossip and commentary on the personal tastes of either the royals or the jeweler in question.)” – Kevin Peregrynne

“That was a good event. It was held at Tilden Park and had a moderate walk from the parking to the field. Dr. Elizabeth Pope, who had presided over the first event was there and I remember helping her walk back to her car when she had to leave, which was fun because she was an interesting lady and her student aide, who was there with her was a good looking young blond lady whom I had fought for that day. On the other hand, that was the event, as I recall, where I fought Richard in the semifinals and he flat refused to wear a face mask, fighting only in his motorcycle helmet against me. I was furious, taking it as a personal insult, which I nursed for several years while off in the air force and only forgave him somewhere in the mid-70s. Mind you, I’ve long forgiven him, I understand his reasoning. And I still think he was absolutely dead wrong.” – Steven MacEanruig

“[Tilden Park] at the Amphitheater Playfield as it was called then by the park authorities.” – Henrik of Havn

“This is in the wrong place. The Amphitheater is not the Airplane Field. I think the tourney I was referring to here was perhaps in year II (early) or even Year III. I think it was the one that Caradoc won, but it may have been the earlier one in which Richard beat me in the finals.” – Stefan de Lorraine, who curses a failing memory that cannot recall just when this happened, but does remember the difference between the amphitheater and the airplane field...
“FYI unless I am mis-remembering (it's been years since I last played around in Tilden Park) it is easy for the Airplane field and the Amphitheater Playfield to be confused in recollection. Both of them are in the same general area in the park (near the old pony ride site) and share parking areas and privies.
     “The Airplane field is on the east side of a tree-lined seasonal water course, running south-north, and is essentially a large open natural meadow (hence yellow and dusty in the dry season) with little in the way of shade. It is/was reached by hiking/portaging south from the parking area into and across an east-west gully and through a screen of trees and brush.
     “The Play-field is on the west side of the same water course right against the parking area, and is a long, narrow (about 50 x 200 yards) irrigated lawn area parallel to the water course with shade/trees on both sides.
     “The shared parking area is to the north and the shared privy is at the south end of the play field where it is reached from the airplane field by a short walk along a path and crossing the water course.
     “I hope, both that the information helps and that I haven't just displayed more incipient senility.” – Kevin Peregrynne
“The Tourney that Caradoc won was October Crown, AS 3. It was very hot and was at the Airplane field (I think that it was actually known as the Little Airplane Field' as model airplanes were flown on it - this was before the cool RC ones they have now.)” – James Greyhelm

“And also by the way, I did not take the opportunity at the appropriate time to mention an incident that took place at the first tourney at the Airplane Field, March AS II, I believe. Sir Bela and I and another person were off to one side when a couple of hikers came up and asked "What are you people?" Sir Bela's response was "It's what we are instead of hippies."” – Stefan de Lorraine, who still has a rather spectacular picture of his lady whose sunscreen wasn't up to the sun at the war (pdf 10 was a dream at the time, much less 30). She was known for a couple of months later as Lady Luise of the Sunburn.

From an EMail by Henrik of Havn, while looking over the document meant to be used as part of the SCA's History for the 50 Year event:

"Henrik and Wendryn were actually crowned King and Queen at the fourth tournament" . Actually I was Knighted first and immediately Crowned King then, by Fulk who did so saying "No man should be King who is not also a Knight". Wendryn was not present that day and was never formally Crowned Queen nor was she present at any Kingdom event while she was a Crowned Queen. At the end of the Tournament, Richard the victor, was King, just as I "was" when given my scroll declaring me king at the end of the third Tournament. I don't recall if Richard received a similar scroll as I had, at the end of the Tournament, but the tradition that the Tournament victor was the next King was clearly established by then. It just wasn't clear if this would occur with each tournament or would alternate as it worked out to do later. So when the next Tournament began Richard was the King from the start and no coronation ceremony for him or his queen occurred, that I recall. Besides there was no crown for him to be crowned with at that time, so holding a ceremony would have been difficult. I had made my own crown for my first Coronation and no one asked to borrow it for another to use. I don't recall that Richard and Ann were first Titled Prince and Princess at the end of the First Tournament.  

(To be clear, communication of any event or activity in the early years of the SCA was very limited by today's standards. Either you told someone by mail, 3 to 4 days delay, or you phoned them, expensively if by long distance, or you spoke to them face to face, meaning you drove across the Bay and paid toll to see them or you visited them in your neighborhood. If you were an indigent student and didn't have a car, and didn't live in the neighborhood - all of which applied to many of  us at the time - you could only get information by snail mail or at events [ which attending was itself often a major endeavor]. Getting information by post is often skewed since the writer may not provide accurate info and getting clarification is as slow and may not occur anyway. Getting information in person meant up to a 3 to 4 hour Greyhound Bus/Muni/AC Transit  trip across the Bay in each direction, so motivation had to be significant for that to happen.

So activities described as joint were more often individual in nature and if shared, were by like minded people who could get together easily or lived together or close by. Richard and I lived in Marin, A few others [and me for two College years] lived in San Francisco or the Peninsula. Don, Diana, Edwin,  Sigfried, Fulk and others lived in Berkeley, close to each other. That is where the SCA core activities began and were regulated for many years. As an "outsider" in Marin I couldn't tell anyone what happened in Berkeley, unless I was present or had a copy of documents which proported to describe what happened. When I see conflicting versions of the same information, I can only go by what seems reasonable to me based on what I did see and hear at the time and nothing more.)

Later Wendryn was considered to have been crowned in absentia during my Reign and was awarded all honors accordingly.

Description of this event, © Copyright 1980 by William R. Keyes (Wilhelm von Schlüssel)
This is from The History of the West Kingdom, Volume 1 (the only volume produced). When reading this text, please keep in mind the following disclaimer:

Disclaimer: This history may have errors in it, as much of the detail is “remembered” history, or as one of the cover pages of the original type-written manuscript states “The material within is derived from the information printed in The Crown Prints and in The Page, and from the memories of the participants.” The original document was typed on onion-skin paper, with hand-written notes (often in the margins). All attempts have been made to reconcile the notes with the original document.

Annotations, when they are added, are from The Annotated History of the West, Volume 1, which is the same text as Master Wilhelm's mentioned above, with commentary from members of the SCA who were active at the time of the event, and are added to help clarify questions and expand on what happened and why. This volume is copyright © Ken Mayer (Hirsch von Henford).

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The West Kingdom History Website was created by and is maintained by Hirsch von Henford (mka Ken Mayer).