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The Tenth Year

Spring War -- Rieslingshire
April 10-11, 1976

Held at a 40 acre site East of Fresno, CA. Armor was rated as Heavy, Medium, or Light and was counted. Archers and archery were allowed. Several battles were fought.

“The SCA standard of chain over leather and a spangen helm were set aside for this event. You were protected by what you wore, so heavy armor could only be breached by "plate-cutting" weapons, (such as war hammers and great swords). If you wore a mix of armor types, where you were hit mattered. The class of armor you wore could also protect you from arrow wounds. So those armored in plate could only be wounded where they were exposed such as chain covered armpits, eye slots, etc. It was an all war event, no single combat except at the pleasure of the combatants between set-pieces.
     “It was an interesting event but mixing archers in with heavy weapons was problematic. Lightly clad archers didn't mix in well because the rules of engagement were difficult to enforce. Some found themselves overrun (and in physical danger) when their protective force of heavies were destroyed. Some were "destroyed" when in the "proximity" of heavies though they could have escaped. Archers who wore heavy weapons protection had a better time as they could engage in a number of ways.
     “Gleaning became a problem because the heavy armor hits were cracking arrows, which shattered upon be re-shot.” – Martin the Temperate

“This entire event was in the nature of a series of experiments to expand on the possibilities in SCA warfare. Because the whole point was to have fun, try new things out and see what happened, the sides in the various battles were non partisan - in battles where armor counted you simply matched yourself to the most similarly equipped fighter who was nearest your skill level and one joined the red team and the other the blue team, the same with the archers.
     “Besides counting the armor as what you were really wearing (and the necessary weapon effects accordingly), and allowing archery, we also tried various killing from behind approaches from 'none allowed', to 'get their attention', to go ahead and 'whack them lightly on an armored part' (e.g. their helm). The last resulted among other things in some hot tempers (adrenalin poisoning can lead to misjudgements of 'whack lightly' as well as missing safe places to hit {I wound up an archer when Rand of Dunbar hit my axe handle, thoroughly smooshing my thumb against my helm}).
     “Previous experiments with combat archery, notably Henrik's Island wars had not moved into mainstream warfare (if I remember, the archery and heavy combats were rarely if ever mixed). The introduction of the Saunders blunt to the West Kingdom (also to Henrik's credit I believe) provided an opportunity to change that. The observations above about the mixed results with archery are accurate in every particular, determining the drawbacks that needed fixing and the standards that needed to be developed were some of what the event was all about.” – Kevin Peregrynne
[... the archery and heavy combats were rarely if ever mixed ...] “No, that’s not quite right, we did use archers against armoured fighters. We just never seemed to have very many of either at those wars, generally the fighters outnumbered the archers and so tactical usefulness was nil. We did learn that massed (6 or 7 bowmen) firing against a fixed position from a broad front (i.e., nearly crossfire) could take out large-shield covered fighters ...
     [Saunders blunt ...] “As I mentioned previously, I first encountered the Saunders blunt tip in Phoenix during one of my trips down there. I was at a practice at “Ship Rock” – a stone ruin – and saw an arrow hit the cheekbone of a bare-headed high school kid who shrugged off the hit (as the red dot ring developed on his cheek.) I fired several Saunders tipped arrows at Charles of the JACS in his full plate and watched them bounce off. It was great! I brought some back to the West and used them at the Island wars. See previous comments of hitting MacEanruig in the side of through brush cover.” – Henrik of Havn
“One thing that was quickly apparent was that simply carrying a bow and wearing a mask and padding does not make one an effective soldier or a safe combatant. Many of the archers were former non-combatants (a lot of them women) and they lacked the situational awareness to keep themselves safe in the middle of a melee or to have much effect on the opposing fighters (they spent too much time shooting at each other). On the other hand, it also was apparent that an experienced (partially) armored fighter who was also a good archer was effectively the equivalent of a master pikeman with a very long pike-shaft. People like Jeffrey Brokenblade, John FitzRolf and myself gleefully slaughtered our heavy fighter colleagues, harrassed their commanders and had a grand time.
     “The post-mortem bull sessions after dark led directly to my formulating the West Kingdom Combat Archery and War rules and publishing them for comment in the next Page.” – Kevin Peregrynne

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).