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Tomas de Courcy

A Baker's Peel Vert

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English Rapier Timeline

I was revisiting my article I wrote for Tournaments Illuminated on the London Masters of Defence, and I got to thinking that a timeline setting the developments in rapier in Europe alongside the developments in rapier in England might be a good idea, it would give people an idea of what types of fencing manuals would be available to an English fencer at different times. For this I was aided by the lists of fencing manuals kept by both ARMA and Jared Kirby. I ignored the manuals that didn’t involve fencing, so that would be any manuals that focused purely on wrestling or horsemanship.

What I learned is that the early use of Rapier in England (such as the exhibition matches before Edward VI) would likely have been more like longsword combat utilizing a rapier (or rather what we’d call a sidesword) or would be similar to Manciolino or Marozzo; while the formal teaching of the rapier under the London Masters of Defence (1568 and later) would have been closer to Agrippa and later DiGrassi and Dall’Agocchie. It would be interesting to compare Agrippa and DiGrassi as it would likely show the difference between the teaching of the Rapier for the yeoman class and the gentleman class. The yeoman class would likely still be using modified longsword techniques as well as Agrippa and Marozzo while the gentry, being taught by Bonetti and other Italian fencing masters, would have been using the newer techniques from DiGrassi and Dall’Agocchie earlier. By the time Silver is complaining about the use of the rapier in England the manuals of choice were likely from the later manuals such as DiGrassi, Meyer, de Sainct Didier, Dall’Agocchie, Viggiani, Ghisliero, Lovino, and perhaps even Carranza, in addition of course to Saviolo. Swetnam’s teaching however would likely have been closer to Fabris’ manual than even Saviolo’s work.

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Letter Writing

I enjoy getting to write letters in period style, the formulaic method that was used makes it easy to transform an invitation to the Crown into something that adds to the game.

Here are three letters I’ve written in the past by taking letters from about the same time period and utilizing the same formula in an SCA context. The letters were then given to those with a much better hand than mine to write out.

An invitation to the King and Queen of An Tir to attend an event I was running:

To Ieuan Dei Gracia Rex An Tir et Viscomes Tir Righ et dominus Aquilon, and Gweneth Dei Gracia Regina An Tir et Viscomitessa Tir Righ.

Your faithful subjects of Lionsdale wishing to observe their oaths and the fidelity due to God and to you, wish health, and tender their lawful service with all respect and honour. To this we desire for you to attend our Winter’s Tourney the Saturday following the celebration of the Presentation of our Lord (February 4th AS XLVI) that we may render our thanks unto you for being our sovereigns.

At Lionsdale, on the 15 day of January in the XLVI Year of the Society.

Lord Tomas de Courcy

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Ravioli

This month at Montengarde Cookery Group the theme is Eat Your Vegetables, so it’s time for some spinach ravioli.

I’ll let you in on a secret, although I love redacting recipes and cooking them my wife, HL Kayleigh de Leis, is the better cook, especially when it comes to pastas. So she’s the one making it this time.

This month’s is coming from Sabina Welserin’s 1553 German cookery book. Rabiolin zú machen or “to make ravioli”.

31 To make ravioli

Take spinach and blanch it as if you were making cooked spinach, and chop it small. Take approximately one handful, when it is chopped, cheese or meat from a chicken or capon that was boiled or roasted. Then take twice as much cheese as herb, or of chicken an equal amount, and beat two or three eggs into it and make a good dough, put salt and pepper into it and make a dough with good flour, as if you would make a tart, and when you have made little flat cakes of dough then put a small ball of filling on the edge of the flat cake and form it into a dumpling. And press it together well along the edges and place it in broth and let it cook about as long as for a soft-boiled egg. The meat should be finely chopped and the cheese finely grated.

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New World Foods in 16th Century England

“But they didn’t eat that” is a phrase that always makes me want to dig out my books and start researching. One of my favourites is turkey, which were easily obtainable in England by 1555, costing only slightly more than capons (Dugdale 135). Turkeys even showed up in cookery books written for the gentry and yeoman classes in the 1590s such as The Good Huswifes Jewell. But there are many plants that also came from the New World to England before 1600, including tomatoes, peppers, squash, potatoes, and corn.  Sadly it doesn’t seem to include the cocoa bean which, though it came to Europe by 1544, doesn’t get referenced in English until 1604 (Grivetti and Shapiro 926-7).
A great deal of knowledge is held in Gerarde’s Herball, first published in 1597. Gerarde was a member of the gentry class who was originally trained as a surgeon before becoming the superintendent of gardens for William Cecil, one of the Queen’s advisors (Rickman 1). The Herball incorporates information from various other herbals and medical texts of the time as well as his own commentary on the plants listed. It is not always accurate, such as in its entry on “stonie wood” (Gerarde 1390), likely petrified wood, but it does give a good overview of what plants were known of and used in England at the time. The Herball also allows us to debunk several myths we hold about the time, such as those regarding tomatoes.

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Proper Roasted Turkey

Many years ago my wife and I started making turkey for SCA events, starting when someone told us that turkey wasn’t period. So of course we couldn’t let that stand and did the research. Now of course we were normally doing this for large events or for things where oven space was at a premium, or time at a minimum, so we’ve never been able to do it properly in a coffin. So I was very glad that the vote on my poll was for turkey, because this time I get to make it in a coffin.

Culinary Night spread
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Stewed Camel

My wife, Her Ladyship Kayleigh de Leis, likes to suggest strange dishes for me to try making . At her recommendation we’re trying camel. Nope, that’s not a typo. Today’s recipe comes to us from Anissa’s Blog, and was originally translated by Charles Perry. Unfortunately I don’t have a copy of A Baghdad Cookery Book (aka Kitāb Al-ṭabīkh by Al Baghdadi), from which this comes, so I don’t have a page number for you.

The dishes from Culinary Night, they’re a bit brown as everyone did a protein dish this time