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The Third Year

Second Small War -- Province of Ceantyre
August 3, 1968 AS III

From a flier or other sheet found in a stack of TIs and other mimeographed documents:


The Small War, rumored of late, and announced at the picnic last Sunday, will be held at the island in Lake Nicassio (Marin Co.) on Saturday, August 3, the same place as last year. Fighting will begin at 10 a.m., so arrive early. Spectators are welcome as wel as fighters, but parents should be warned that there is very little shade for small children. Tents, tarps, or beach umbrellas will be useful. Participants are warned that they must bring all food and water with them -- there is no water on the island.

Because everyone is liable to be involved in action, everyone must sign a copy of the same waiver, fighters and non-fighters alike. Extra copies will be available at the island. Everyone under 21 must have written permission from parents ore legal guardians (use the space provided on the waiver). In no case, however, will children 14 or under, or any women, be allowed to fight.

This year promises much good fighting. The chieftans of the "Clan" have offered to provide a force to challenge all others, so ... Two situations will be simulated during the day. One will be along the lines of the Norman invasion of England or Ireland. Knights and their followers will attack the Clan lands, secure, and attempt to hold certain defensibel areas. (Remember the Rock!) Another situation comes from the Welsh and Scottish marches: three "castles" will be held by knights, while the clan will raid for plunder and slaves!

Rules will be similar to tournament rules with a few exceptions. Morning-stars will be allowed. Javelins will be the only missile weapons allowed, maximum length, four feet, and must be cast from at least eight years (24 feet), though they may be used for thrusting also. No bows, catapults, etc. Also, the armor you wear will be all that is counted. If you have greaves, great -- if not, blows below the knee do count. Helms with face masks, or saber masks at the very least, are required for fighting, and you must provide your own. Do not depend on the society to provide gear, but bring your weapons, helm, and armor. Sword blows to steel helms will be discounted. Great swords, maces, and axes, of course, will cut through or crush sufficiently, and so count. Sword blows to other steel armor, unless very heavy, may be discounted. Blows from other weapons will be considered effective, however. Against cloth armor, only light blows may be ignored. The principal, again, is that the protection you actually wear is all that will count -- as if we were using real weapons.

If you have any questions, please call Henrik of Havn ... or write Richard the Short ....

From the History (by Wilhelm):

Held on the island in Nicasio Reservoir, Marin County, California.

“My wife (Cynthia FitzColline) and I just drove past the Nicasio Reservoir today, and the tourney site is still visible, but the area looks pretty desolate today.” – Wilhelm von Schlüssel (who compiled this chronology in the first place by questioning most of these same old timers)

“Second War: The island was a War Site, Wilhelm, never a tourney site, and it was just as desolate then, which was just what Henrik wanted, I suspect. Basically rock, dirt, trees, & grass, nothing out of period, no human works except the dirt road over the little causeway that gave foot access. We parked on the highway shoulder, put on our gear and carried our weapons, water & lunch with us. The whole island was on-limits for the battle. One side (I think) was Dukes Richard, Fulk, & Henrik, with 2 men each, each holding a different rock or hillock, while the other side was the Celtic "Tuath", led by Sir Jamie, Master Edwin, & Sir Caradoc, with some half-dozen squires & Nyal with his warpipes. I had a heater strapped on my back and a zweihander (4'of blade, 2'of hilt, 18" quillons) in both hands, of course. I was on the ducal side at first, but when Sir Jamie got an injured hand and couldn't fight, he asked that I be permitted to change sides to help even it out better, which was agreed. The most exciting thing I remember was marching over hill & dale in a line of fighters behind the stirring sound of Njal's bagpipes. That, and the lack of any 20th C. structure in sight, made it seem thrillingly real.” – Robert of Dunharrow
“This was my first experience in SCA combat (as an archer of course, begin as you intend to continue). Henrik had published the specifications in the fliers for the event - the arrows were unfletched 18" dowels with patio chair leg pads for points, effective range was not much more than 10 yards, accurate range was less. I already owned a 20 lb bow and my own saber mask, so I was set as soon as I whipped out a couple of dozen arrows and a 3/4 scale quiver. I fought on the Celtic side and don't recall the archers being effective against the heavies in the mixed combat scenarios (If there were any ... I don't actually remember), only against each other. It was a hot day though and by mid afternoon the heavies had run through their scenarios so everyone stripped down to light clothing and fencing masks and spent the remainder of the afternoon playing around with light weapons scenarios in around and upon 'The Rock'. Patti and I spent a lot of time between scenarios hanging around in the shade with Lady (Mistress?) Geraldine who was also doing archery, which was the beginning of the relationship that led to our becoming part of the immense household that she and Robert eventually formed. I seem to recall that Geri set up a fairly large open at the sides sun shade though not a pavilion, perhaps Robert can confirm.” – Kevin Peregrynne
“I don’t know about patio chair leg pads. [Referring to arrows] Actually they were 24" long green bamboo garden stakes about the diameter of a pencil and the ones I made had no feathers, and for tips I used cubes of dry kitchen sponge (about 1 1/8" cubed) pressed over the end and taped over with two strips at right angles of 1" wide adhesive tape about 5 to 6 inches long with a piece of kite string wound around the shaft keeping the tape tight.” – Henrik of Havn
“As usual my memory for details slipped, the shafts were indeed green bamboo garden stakes (dowels were more expensive and prone to breakage), I made the nocks on mine with a triangular file. My tips were patio chair caps held on with silicon sealer and black electrician’s tape. Most of us also wrapped a couple of turns of tape just below the nocks to retard splitting.” – Kevin Peregrynne

“I haven't commented on that war yet, so let me say that the small war on that occasion devolved into what many of us veterans called the small quibble, as just what the rules of the "Knights vs the Clans" war were found to have a few holes. Fulk and Houri and I were guarding one hill and suddenly found ourselves being snuck up on from an angle we weren't expecting an attack. The Clan was supposed to be attacking from one direction, and here they were coming from another. There was much yelling about whether the attack was legitimate that was resolved by a fight between Fulk and Siegfried (who was being Clannish that war) that Siegfried won. After that, the war degenerated into a picnic because tempers were getting too intense.” – Stefan de Lorraine

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).