“A Fyrdman’s job is…….” Part 2

The Roles of the Iren Fyrd in the Calontir Army from the point of view of Centurion (Sir) Rolf Eichman. Originally Published in the Online Bird of Prey, Volume 6, 4th Quarter, 2002.

Unto the Citizens of Calontir which at various times, all comprise the Calontir Army
Greetings from Centurion Rolf Eichmann, Primus Pilus,

I’ve been asked what, as a commander of the Calontir Army, are my expectations of the Fyrdman. This is, in fact, a very good question. Since there are a variety of commanders, there is no doubt some variation in the expectations of those commanders… When those differing expectations are interpreted by fifty (or one hundred fifty) Fyrdmen, the personal interpretation of those expectations probably varies widely.

To me, first and foremost, the Fyrdman is the workhorse of the army. The image of the land holding Anglo-Saxon farmer fits very well — not landless, ignorant peasants; but intelligent individuals who know how to maintain a smallholding, people who know how to get things done and don’t mind if they get dirty doing it. The Fyrd comprises the largest number of troops in the army, over 50% of the muster at Estrella. That means that there are more Fyrdmen than Knights, Huscarls, and men at arms put together. They breath the most dust, carry the most gear, drink the most water. And the Fyrdmen do the most dying on the field. Now, do not misunderstand, this is our vacation, so no one individual should over-reach their mental, physical, or mundane (e.g. financial) capabilities. But as has been said for as long as I’ve been in the SCA, the Fyrdmen are the backbone of the Calontir Army.

As the backbone of the army, I expect the Fyrdman to be able to confidently follow simple commands like “Everyone follow me”; or, “You ten guys go over to that hill and stay there until you die”. Now, I will admit, that there is no set of “simple commands” somewhere that someone could read. Therefore, I expect the Fyrdman to be confident enough and willing enough to ask questions like “Us ten guys are going to _Which_ hill? I see two hills, one with a tree, and one with the rock?”

There are indeed some times when questions like “Why are we going to that hill?” are appropriate, along with “Why don’t we go to that flat spot over there instead, whaddya think boss?” The Fyrdman will be able to tell, from his experience in previous battles, when the commander has the time and energy to chit chat about that stuff. Commanders love to debate and rehash what ifs and might have beens, and that is the most effective way for those who want to try their hand at command to learn. But of course there are times for debate, and times for action, and the Fyrdman will use his continually expanding battle experience to discern whether it is a good time for debate.

The Fyrdman knows his brother Fyrdmen well enough that he is comfortable asking the same questions of his brother, if he didn’t hear all the instructions from the commander. He knows that he wants his back to be watched, that he wants to be partnered with someone — he knows his brother, Fyrdmen well enough that, in the absence of other directions, he can create partnerships or teams of three or four in his immediate area of the battle. He knows his neighbors in the battle line from his shire or neighboring areas… or if he doesn’t know them, he gets to know them quickly to facilitate that team building, and to keep an eye out for the newbie, to make sure that the guy who is too new to dare to ask questions, gets plugged into a partnership with a fyrdman.

The Fyrdman understands his fundamental value to the kingdom. As I noted above, the Fyrd are very valuable because are the most numerous troops in our army — and therefore they do the most dying. The Fyrdman understands his value, he is neither the copper as, nor the gold aureus. The Fyrdman is a good silver denarius to be held in a safe place, then spent as necessary. No Fyrdman should be in a hurry to get killed in battle, but when the time comes to fight, they should sell their life willingly and with valor. It is a rare battle, in which a fighter finds himself fighting valiantly, and walking off the field alive at the end. That rare battle comes as a gift to the fighter (any fighter, King, Knight, Fyrdman, newbie). The fighter does not get to choose when he will have a legendary battle. The Fyrdman (and every other fighter worth his salt) knows that in most good battles, he ends the battle lying in the dirt — and he knows that we all appreciate his contribution the more for his dusty tabard at the end of the day.

The Fyrdman can be relied upon to intelligently follow basic instructions, and to ask prudent questions. He can be counted on to create some cohesion with his immediate neighbors in the battle line. He can be counted on to wait steadfastly in confusing battle situations, and to fight valiantly and sell his life dearly when the time comes. The Fyrdman understands that the above traits are what makes the Calontir Army unique throughout the known world. After 18 years of fighting, I am proud and thrilled every time I get to stand with you all in ranks — I still get butterflies before every battle. I’m looking forward to the next one. See you at Estrella!

“A Fyrdman’s job is…….” Part 1

The Roles of the Iren Fyrd in the Calontir Army from the point of view of Duke JoeAngus. Originally Published in the Online Bird of Prey, Volume 6, 4th Quarter, 2002.

IMO, the Iren-Fyrd are the most important part of the army. They are the rank & file soldier, as well as the NCOs. By motivating the Fyrd, a crown or general can dramatically increase the size & experience of the army at a given war. I will try to give examples of the roles I see the fyrd holding in the army, as well as what I would like to see from them.

I do not find it an exaggeration when the fyrd are referred to as the ‘backbone’ of the army. They provide a core of experience that allows the command staff to have confidence in themselves as well as their unit. Above all else a fyrdman should strive to be a good soldier. The basics of this are simple: Follow orders to the best of your ability, echo commands, keep formation, working together with other members of your unit. We try to instill these things into everyone. The fyrd should teach by example. The best way to do this is by being a good soldier & setting the example for our new fighters. I am not suggesting that the fyrd blindly follow orders. Fyrd should always be thinking of how to accomplish orders the best possible way. I think many people will tell you that you can be a good soldier & still have individual initiative.

The fyrd supply most of the army’s NCOs. The fyrd who want to learn how to command & take the sargeant position could someday be the general of the army. I don’t believe that everyone has the drive or ability for command, but if you are interested & feel you have a good grasp of how the army works I encourage you to volunteer to be part of the command structure. Without new blood, the command structure grows sedentary. The fyrd most often provide new & different perspectives that allows our army to grow & adapt. Without these qualities, our army will wither.

Returning to the good soldier theme. The fyrd should be aware of what weapons will be effective for the upcoming battle. If we need more scutums, the fyrd should pick them up instead of letting the same people do the same job over & over. This is the same if we need more spears, less skirmishers, more left-handed can-openers. When a call goes out for more X, the fyrd should be the first ones to step up to the plate.

Also, the fyrd should be aware of who is in there unit. Are they new? Are they a hotdog? Being aware of things like this will help you stay alive & realize where strong & weak points of your units may exist. Sometimes calling fire for another person is very helpful, regardless of rank. Overall, small things like these improve your unit.

In the end, I would just like to say that I am proud to be a fyrdman. I owe the success of most of commands to them. They are the largest part of the machine known as the Calontir army. I would like to thank Halvgrimr for allowing me to write this article. It is my hope that those who read it can find something useful.

–Earl JoeAngus, MSCA, Iren Hirth, Iren Fyrd, OT, AoA, QED(Chivalry)
“Laws are sand, customs are rock. Laws can be evaded and punishment escaped, but an openly transgressed custom brings sure punishment.” – Mark Twain

How to make a 6ft spear for use in SCA combat

Written by Hersir (Now Sir) Halvgrim Adalradarson. Originally published in the Online Bird of Prey, Volume 6, 4th Quarter, 2002.

Since taking over the task of publishing the BoP I have asked for opinions on what sort of articles folks would like to see in it. At the top of the request list always seems to be how-to articles on building weapons. I have always wanted to feature this type of thing but couldn’t find anyone willing to write such an article. So, in hopes of inspiring some of the others to do so I have taken the bull by the horns and written this primer on how to build a 6ft spear.

The directions below are certainly not the only method to make a 6ft spear, but they were the way I was taught, and I continue to pass this on knowledge, as it seems to work well.  Until recently I have had the same spear for around 3 years.  Before I got it and converted it into a “slashing spear” it was one of Master Tristram’s weapons, and he had it for many, many years before I got it.

I know the images aren’t the best, but I have temporarily lost access to a digital camera, so I tried to do the best I could with the MS Paint program.

Materials needed

  • 1 stick of rattan near 6 feet long and with a cross section of no less than 1.25″ in diameter

  • Foam (I use the blue foam sleeping mats you can buy at Wally World)

  • Strapping tape (the more fibers in the tape the better!)

  • Scissors (or any other type of cutting utensil)

  • Red duct tape (some kingdoms allow any color as long as it is a contrasting color to the body of the weapon)

  • Duct tape (any color other than red, gray is most commonly used)

Legal issues

Per the Calontir Marshal’s Handbook (Revised Spring 1999): *

SECTION 2: THRUSTING TIPS

A. Characteristics of all thrusting tips must be:

1. All thrusting tips must allow at least 1″ of progressive resistant give, without bottoming out on the haft of the weapon.

                    2. Thrusting tips shall not penetrate more than ½” into a legal faceplate of a helm.

3. Thrusting tips shall not bend more than 45 degrees under the force of a normal thrust. The end of the rattan shall not be detectable at the point of the bend when pressing from the point of the weapon.

                    (As a marshal you should inspect the bend like it would be presented in the thrust, not pressing on the side of the weapon).

4. No metal or other rigid material shall be used in the construction of a thrusting tip. Materials such as trailer hitch covers, tennis balls, cool cups, etc. are not acceptable stand alone thrusting tip materials, they must usually be combined with foam to construct a legal thrusting tip.

5. All thrusting tips must be clearly marked with red tape or an equivalent material. A simple “X” on the end of the tip is sufficient

also note:

C. Two-handed thrusting tips (including buttspikes) shall be a minimum of 2″ in diameter, with 2 1/2″ of resilient material between the face of the tip and the end of the rattan.

*Curator’s Note: The Marshal’s handbook has been updated since 1999, and new standards for weapon construction exist.
Currently the Society Standard is the default for construction Per Revision 02 Nov 2008:
From Chapter VII Weapons Standards, Section 2 Two Handed Weapons, Paragraph 5:
“When thrusting tips are used, they shall be no less than 2 inches (50.8 mm) in diameter/cross-section and have 2 inches (50.8 mm) of resilient material in front of the rigid tip of the weapon, thereby providing progressively resistant give.”

On Beyond Scuta

Written by Sir Duncan Bruce of Logan. Originally published in the Online Bird of Prey, Volume 6, 4th Quarter, 2002.

You may ask, “How does this tie in with the ‘Fyrd theme’ we got going?”

the answer is simple, Syr Logan wrote this waaaaaaaay back when he was a Fyrdman, you know back before dirt;)

I have noticed a trend among the ranks of newer fighter that I consider a bit disturbing. Many of them are taking up polearms as soon as they return from their first war. The stated reason is to “get out from under a scutum”” This disturbs me for two reasons, first, the scuta are what Calontir is known for and what makes or breaks our ability to use our tactics, secondly, wars should be fun, no matter what weapon system you use.

To address the first point, the whole “No Heroes” philosophy of the army depends on working as a unit, and the scuta are the base that our units are built on. There has even been discussion in there pages that scuta should be included in cavalry units. If we continue to act as if carrying a scutum is a job only for the new and/or unskilled fighters everyone will want to continue to want to get out from under it as soon as possible.

Many people with more knowledge than I have said that we need to practice with scutum toting units more, and I have to agree. Not just to get used to fighting around them, but also to learn how to fight with one strapped to your arm. This would not only increase our melee skills, but would get everyone more familiar with just how a scutum works best for them. 

If you are good with a weapon system you get more respect from your compatriots when you use it, which addresses the first point above, and it is more fun to use, which addresses the second point. Other things that would make a scutum more fun is better communication between the primaries and the artillery. Since it is Pavel’s job to harp on that, I won’t. Another thing is to adopt some of our tactics so that a scutum’s job is not always to “play anvil”” While we experimented with that a bit at Winter War Maneuvers, I think we stopped too soon. 

Granted the two battles we fought with the scuta purposefully worming their way through the enemy ended up with the attackers getting smeared, I don’t think the problem was with what the scuta were doing. Both times I was in the front rank, and when I was finally killed I was in the last rank of defenders. The same was true of the rank immediately behind me. The problem seemed to be that the secondaries and artillery stopped when they came in range and started dueling with the defenders, rather than following the scuta in. I think we should give this tactic more thought (and practice).

Another experiment that worked fairly well was conducted at Estrella this year. As you no doubt have heard by now, Calontir really shone in the last battle (broken field resurrection). While our basic job was the same as usual (take the banner and hold it against all comers), we were not alone in that task.

 As we died off and returned we were no longer a cohesive unit. Instead, we were spread out throughout the guardian unit, basically anchoring the fighters around us, and passing on an enforcing commands that came down the line. We didn’t have a static wall, but scuta ranged throughout the line providing the needed cover for artillery and dropping to hold a line when required. However, they were also involved in charges and flanking maneuvers that seemed to throw the attackers completely off guard. After all, a scutum never runs out of the line and attacks a spear, does it? I for one had a grand time at Estrella and carried a scutum the entire time.

So what do I think we should do? All I can suggest has been suggested before, communicate with the primaries and adapt new tactics to use them differently.

I don’t’ want people to think that I find scutum to be the greatest weapon system ever invented, and that anyone who abandons it is stupid. Nor do I think that knowing how to fight polearm is a bad thing. The more you know about the more weapons systems, the better.

I guess what I want to say is, if you haven’t ever fought with a scutum, or it has been a year or so, pick up one and use it for a while. Not only will you (re)gain respect for those people that have been providing all that cover, but you might, just enjoy yourself.

Having lots of people that can pick up a scutum and do more than just kneel behind it can do nothing but enhance our collective performance, and therefore our reputation.

===============================================================================================

Greetings to the Warriors of present-day Calontir. Many of my concerns addressed in the above article no longer apply, but I believe the basic premise still holds: humping a scutum is a vital, rewarding, and most of all FUN job in the Calontir army.

Scuta are even more important today than they were then. With the addition of a center-grip, they become a more flexible component of our overall arsenal.

If your local group has some, practice with them. If they don’t, why not investigate getting some? 

Scuta, they aren’t just for bridges anymore.

Sir Logan, Baron Bus-a-doon

Thoughts from a prototype Fyrdman

Written by Viscount Ternon de Caerleon. Originally published in the Online Bird of Prey, Volume 6, 4th Quarter, 2002.

The Fyrd was a response to a couple of factors in early Calontir. First was our geographic isolation from the center of activity for the Middle Kingdom. The second factor was our initial experience fighting wars.

 

On the first point, one must remember that there were no chivalry in early Calontir, and not many Midrealm Knights that had the inclination to travel westward to the frontier of the Kingdom. Squires were rare in Calontir, and squirehood was the most common prerequisite for Knighting. We needed another structure for advancement in skill and recognition that fit our circumstances better than the standard paradigm. Thus, Brumbar set up a two tiered system based on Anglo Saxon culture. The Fyrd was modeled after the A-S freeman levy, where every village were expected to equip a specific number of warriors based on the size of its agricultural product. Fyrdmen were expected to report for a fixed period of time with spear and shield, thus standardizing the composition of the army.

 

In our situation, standardization was more about one body of consistent training in leadership of small units as it was a uniform weaponry. That was true until the introduction of the scutum shield. In an early paper preceding the war college, Pavel Iosevitch introduced the advantage of fixed position defensive fighting as a solution to the twin problems we were experiencing with being outnumbered and with reforming after attack. With this idea clearly in mind, several of us seemed to hit on the idea of combined weapons formations as the logical support for the grounded scutum shield. Initially Fyrd were often the primary shield commanders, but as the combined weapons methodologies continued to evolve, they assumed other weapons systems as well.

 

This system was tested in several wars over the following year and found to be highly effective, at the rained out Ansteorra War in Fayetteville, we outnumbered the far more experienced Ansteorran forces, but they formed an assault column to penetrate what they assumed was the least experienced part of our line under Shadan and Lars. But due to good training, and good command, the only Ansteorran to actually breach the line was the Sir Lloyd, the King, who fell in the process. One thing that helped here was the ability of adjacent units to envelope the column and subject it to fire. This, was particularly satisfying to those of us who were disheartened by our first experience fighting Ansteorra, who punished us by reforming faster than we could.

 

By the time of the Pennsic XII Bridge battle there were enough Fyrd to integrate more fully into the formation, putting a larger share of the command on the Huscarls. Things that we were doing as a matter of course, other armies found entirely radical, such as holding a formation muster drill to see our army in the formation we would use in the next days battle. The Fyrd as an order, and a part of the command structure was equally alien to other Kingdoms. It was a highly polarizing phenomenon, and was both praised and condemned by its victims.

 

Socially, the original Fyrd were a fairly close knit group with significantly different views of the SCA in general, but the unifying theme was a desire to improve and be recognized as fighters. We all wanted to improve the state of the art in melee combat. Because there was no default military leadership via Chivalry, there was a unique opportunity in Calontir. While a lot of the rituals and folkways of the Fyrd developed in the second or third wave of Fyrdmen, the original Fyrd celebrated their ability to challenge and defeat fighters of higher rank.

 

The Fyrd of today is not the Fyrd of yore, nor should it be. Today’s Fyrd can capture the best of the old when it remembers to challenge experience, inspire the novice, and defeat the wrong colored tape. That is the core of our heritage.

The origins of the Iren Fyrd and Hirth

Written by Master Brummbar von Schwarzberg. Originally published in the Online Bird of Prey, Volume 6, 4th Quarter, 2002.

*The missive below was a message Master Brummbar sent to the Fyrdlist about our heritage.*

I have taken some time before starting this, since I didn’t want to rely completely on my memory. I checked my files, which turned out to be a good idea, it was a long time ago and memories do tend to meld together sometimes.

When the Fyrd and Hirth were founded the requirements were a bit different than now, and just as Calontir has changed and grown so has it’s fighting orders. The Fyrd and Hirth were created shortly after the Midrealm Crown recognized Calontir as a “Region” within the Kingdom. Geoffrie of Wareine asked the regional officers to create awards within their respective areas; Geoffrie (Seneschal) created the Cross of Calontir, Robert Sartor (MOA) the Lily, William of Bellwood (MOS) the Silver Hammer and myself (Marshal) the Fyrd, Hirth and Sword. 

Calontir didn’t have a regional ceremonial leader, the position of warlord coming a bit later, so the first awards, including the first fyrdmen and huscarl, were appointed by a committee of the newly recognized regional officers. 

The first Fyrdmen were Stephen Ironhand, William of Bellwood, Ternon de Caer Liant, Guillaume le Chein Blanc, and Humpk D’Bohunk, and I was given the honor of being the first Huscarl.

As a man-at-arms in the Midrealm I had noted that it was often difficult for a fighter to gauge were they stood in relation to other fighters. There were Knights and everyone else, squires could be anyone from a raw novice to one on the verge of receiving the accolade. The following is from the first printed description of the Fyrd and Hirth:

“Within the Region of Calontir we have adopted a system of giving recognition to the fighters through titles that reflect their skills as fighters and representatives of the Region. The first title is that of Fyrdman of the Fyrd of Calontir, the militia of the Region. The higher ranking is that of Huscarl of the Hirth of Calontir, the elite guard of the Region. 

A Fyrdman of the region of Calontir must be proficient in at least two weapons systems, and always exhibit the best of conduct on the list and off. 

A Huscarl must exhibit mastery of at least two weapon systems, but must also be competent with the other weapons and must have fought in an SCA war or border raid. He will exhibit unquestionable honor, both on the list and off. 

Selection of members of the fyrd is initially that of the regional knights marshal, but can also be done by the combined members of the Hirth and Fyrd. The selection of members of the Hirth is also initially that of the regional knights marshal, but can also be done by the members of the Hirth.”

It was one of those situations, right place at the right time. Unlike long established population areas of other kingdoms our region was new with nothing but a few new groups and a small population. This made it easy to establish these titles without having to evaluate a multitude of long experienced fighters and play catch-up in awarding the titles. Calontir had only 40+ fighters at the time making it a fairly easy task. Following the creation of the positions of Champion and later Warlord, the responsibility of selection was passed on to them, yet still required impute from the members of the Fyrd and Hirth.

As stated one requirement for Huscarl was participation in a war or border raid, this was difficult since there was only one of each to go to each year, Pennsic and the Middle-Meredian Border Raid. 

As Calontir grew and passed from Region to Principality. The Fyrd and Hirth became Orders and not just titles. Prior to this if you left Calontir you lost the title of Fyrdman or Huscarl. 

One of the biggest and most controversial changes came in AS XVI, in an effort to encourage archery activities, I added archers to the Fyrd and Hirth. The Calon army didn’t exist at that time, it started organizing under the War College I established in AS XVIII, with Sr. Juan, Ld Pavel, and Ld. Lars as its staff. Requirements changed little until after AS XXI (1987) when it was added that Fyrdmen were required to support the army (I don’t know the exact reign in which this change was made since I haven’t been able to find all of my old copies of Calontir Law later than AS XXI).

I would like to make a brief comment on some of the past discussions on the Fyrd list concerning what constitutes support of the army. 

IMHO this is highly subjective and can vary from Crown to Crown, perhaps the Fyrd should request of each Crown at the beginning of their reign as to what they consider to be support of the army. After all, the members make recommendations to the Crown, but the final decision is the Crowns’.

As to the accuracy of the Fyrd and Hirth in relation to their historical counterparts, I admit that it isn’t very exact but it is close. Few SCA titles and orders accurately reflect history. I wanted to create a two level system of skill recognition and the Anglo-Saxon fyrd and hirth lent itself quite well to my design.

I hope that this brief history will help you better understand your heritage as a Fyrdman or Huscarl.

In service,

Brummbar

Nobility and Achievement and Dog-piles

Written by Colonel Jenna of Southwind. Originally published in the Online Bird of Prey, Volume 6, 4th Quarter, 2002.

 

The following is a large excerpt from a post Colonel Jenna made to the Calonet dated 2/9/02, 

Last night, as Mike Eruzzoni held aloft the Olympic Torch, he re-created a most precious moment when he gestured for his teammates to join him. They gathered around him as they had 22 years ago when he insisted that the entire team join him on a medal podium that was literally not designed to hold more than four people. They managed to all fit on there ***BY HOLDING TIGHT TO EACH OTHER***. (Last night, 22 years and some pounds later, that pile of hockey players took up significantly more space…..) I realized just a little while ago, that was the first time I ever saw the Ancient and Honorable Ritual of the Dog-Pile.

O Fyrdmen, who hold tight to each other with your hearts if not your hands, as this guess from a non-Fyrdman and non-Olympian right? I think, and I believe, that the vertical dog-pile on the medal platform at Lake Placid was like the horizontal dog-pile of a Fyrding. It seems to me, that it is a celebration of Us, of We few, we happy few, we Band of Brothers. A physical gesture of closeness, of insisting that the Team be together for the good times as they have been together for the bad.

I may be wrong. But I sense that I am not.

After all, as the man asked, I believe in miracles.

What is a Fyrdman of Calontir?

Written by Hersir (Now Sir) Halvgrim Adalradarson. Originally published in the Online Bird of Prey, Volume 6, 4th Quarter, 2002.

To most, the answer to this question should seem rather easy but in truth it can be quite complex, it is the basis of an ages long debate both within and outside the Order. You’d probably be surprised at the resolve that is possessed by various “sides” of the issues within the Order. Luckily as of yet no one side within the Order has gained any grip stronger that the others. I believe this is the norm as the order will always be changing. Many firmly cling onto the ideas on which the order was founded, by this I mean this side values several fundamental parts of what Master Brummbar’s article covers in this edition of the BoP.

Now the Fyrd (and Hirth) were created at a time when there was almost no Chivalry in Calontir. They were created so that Calontir could acknowledge and reward/army martial accomplishments on the field, which for what ever reason, did not seem forthcoming from the Midrealm. That this was a large issue is expressed in the words of Brom Blackhand’s song “Calontir Stands Alone”:

” We haven’t got belted Chivalry, Waes Hael, Drink Hael.
We fight for love of battle, we, Waes Hael, Drink Hael.
But on battlefields many we’ve stood the test,
Proved our bravery, skill, and our honor’s the best,
We shall smite our foes ’til
Calontir stands alone.”

 

Though Master Brummbar’s above words are wise, many (including Brummbar himself) are quick to point out, these ideals are from a time long ago. Calontir and her army have grown and changed since then, the Fyrd (and Hirth) must as well……

Some believe that we must continually reevaluate what the orders standards must be. 

I myself have been on various sides of the fence in my time as a Fyrdman but I currently believe that the reevaluating theory is best (at the moment;) 

Law

For the easiest answer to the eternal debate of “What is a Fyrdman of Calontir?”, lets consult Kingdom Law.

The following is copied from the online version of Kingdom Law, I believe it is the most up to date version: 

(click here to skip the legalese)

II-205 THE FYRD OF CALONTIR

There shall exist within the Kingdom of Calontir a system by which recognition is given to fighters and archers through titles that reflect their skill as fighters or archers and as representatives of Calontir. The lower rank is that of Fyrdman of the Fyrd of Calontir. The Fyrd shall be composed of two equal but separate branches; the fighters, called the Iren-Fyrd, and the archers, called the Boga-Fyrd. An individual may qualify and be granted membership by the Crown in both branches of the Fyrd.

Elevation to the Fyrd rests with the Sovereign, after consultation with such members of the appropriate branch of the Fyrd as the Sovereign shall desire. Any such elevation shall be proclaimed by the Crown to the populace at an official Court of the Kingdom of Calontir or upon the field of honor.

Elevation to the Fyrd shall confer upon the recipient an Award of Arms and shall entitle such individual to all rights, privileges, and ensigns attendant thereto. FYRDMEN may be styled and announced in the Calontir Order of Precedence as such. The Fyrd shall be ranked equally in the Order of Precedence with the Orders of the Torse, the Golden Calon Swan and the Leather Mallet. Membership in the Fyrd shall assure the recipient, according to seniority, of a position in the Calontir Order of Precedence before those Awards of Arms not given with any Order, but after Court Baronages.

The Fyrd may adopt, by approval of the Crown and by mutual consent, such rules for its internal governance as the Fyrd may find useful, such bylaws not being in conflict with the Laws and Traditions of Calontir.

IREN-FYRD: Elevation to the Iren-Fyrd may be conferred upon those individuals meeting certain requirements; including authorization in at least two weapon systems and competence (proficiency) in at least one weapon system, demonstration of support of the Calon Army and potential for leadership, which should include the ability to carry out standard Calontir Army commands. Said individual must also display honorable behavior both on and off the field.

Fyrdmen of the Iren-Fyrd may wear the badge of the Iren-Fyrd, emblazoned: Sable, on a pile embattled between two spears in pile argent a Cross of Calatrava purpure.

BOGA-FYRD: Elevation to the Boga-Fyrd may be conferred upon those individuals who display proficiency in at least one archery system, demonstrate support for the Calontir army on the archery field, and whose conduct is consistently honorable both on and off the field.

Fyrdmen of the Boga-Fyrd may bear the badge of the Boga-Fyrd, emblazoned: Sable, on a pile embattled between two longbows in pile argent a Cross of Calatrava purpure.

For a more argumentative answer to “What is a Fyrdman of Calontir?” I would refer you to Rhianwen’s recent comments of the Calonlist:

“Like any polling order — hell, like any large group of people — what *exactly* it means to be Fyrd varies a little bit with whom you talk to.

Fyrdmen are expected to be reasonably good fighters, which includes not only skill but honor. They are expected to be able to handle leadership roles on the field. If a command is given, the Fyrd are able to carry it out — not just understand it, but actually execute it and help the people around them to do so as well. This, in combination with our largish population, is why the Fyrd are often referred to as “the backbone of the Army”.

Mix the above statements with the “what does and does not constitute support of the Army” and you have a whole heck of a night of debate;)

Origins and Purpose

OK, so know we know what law says a Fyrdman of Calontir is, why do we need them? what is their purpose?

The answer to that lies in our origins and for that we can consult Master Craig’s The Chronicles of Calontir”, Volume I, Foundations, page 11, paragraph 2 :

“On that same day, (29 July, AS XIII), The first Fyrdmen were appointed: Ternon, Bellwood, Ironhand, Humpk and Guillaume de la Chien Blanc. It should be said that Brummbar created the Hird and the Fyrd to let the fighters rank each other to better aid their growth. He saw in the Midrealm only knights and squires; the squire being a household position, without rank, that said naught of one’s ability as a fighter. The Hird would be the guard of the warlord (and later prince) and the Fyrd would be the militia. Neither the Hird nor the Fyrd were orders like the Cross and the Lily, but were more like military ranks. The members of these orders were chosen by the regional marshal after receiving reports from marshals across the region. If one left Calontir, the rank did not then follow. The orders of the Cross and Sword of Calontir were announced but not yet opened. Mark well those days, sons and daughters of Calontir, for then the Falcon was born.” .

So, what is the purpose of the Fyrd of Calontir?  I believe it is two fold (at least), one purpose lies in the Order and the other lies in the award itself.

  • Normally at any given foreign war, the Fyrd comprise the biggest part of the Army, they are the basic militia (the backbone) of the Calon Army. This is the purpose of the Order.

  • With the ranking system in place Calontiri fighters can get an idea of where we stand in the martial “pecking order” of the Kingdom. This is the purpose of the award itself.

Some would suggest that there is a third purpose also. I have become more and more convinced that this “other” purpose  isn’t a true third purpose but  just a combination of the two purposes mentioned above. This “third” purpose is also covered in Rhainwen’s post to the Calonnet when she says:

“We also function as an Order, and not just for polling purposes. If a member (or a man-at-arms) goes terribly awry (getting a little thick, for example), we can act as a mob to bring him back into alignment.”

This has been a very important role in Calontir’s history and its benefits (and their origins) can be seen in Master Craig’s article, Why Calontir has fewer “BLOWSHUCKAGUYS” than other Kingdoms” from Volume 4 of the BoP.

Comparison to the Historical Fyrd

This is brought up from time to time. Some would say we are a good representation of our Historical counterparts and some say we aren’t even close, myself, I say we are a middle ground of the two belief.

Some things we do are great representations of what the Historical Fyrd were, some aren’t.

Some of the good points are:

We do a pretty good job of paying tribute to the meaning of the actual word fyrd. In its oldest form the word fyrd  meant “a journey or expedition”, however, the exact meaning of the word, like the nature of the armies it is used to describe, changed a great deal over time. It is a well know fact that traveling is looked at highly among all the Orders, but it is my opinion that it is really looked at by the fighting orders. Another eternal debate is over this factor when it comes to candidates and although it isn’t 100% necessary to travel to be made a Fyrdman,  it is a fact that those that travel ascend the path at a slightly higher pace that those that can’t travel for what ever reason. By keeping true to this factor I think we pay tribute to the oldest (original?) meaning  of the word.

Another of the things that we do right is that we do a pretty good representation of the local militia standards held be the West Saxons. Their establishment consisted of three general types of army: 

  1. the national host

  2. shire forces led by individual ealdormen,

  3. and the war bands of individual thegn’s

the natural counterparts seem to be:

  1. The Calon Army in its entirety

  2. shire forces/local militia

  3. households (which have very little influence here in Calontir or in the Armies structure)

When it boils down to it, the Fyrd are the local militia and though we aren’t all local to each other, when it comes down to it, the local forces (local militia) gather to comprise the Kingdoms Army.  

Just as when Harold Godwinson called together the Fyrd  (and Housecarls) to defend his lands from Hardrada and “the Bastard”, the Fyrd of Calontir rally to their King when he beckons them to join Him in making war. 

Another likeness we (the Fyrd as well as the Army) share with the historical fyrd (at least the earlier versions) is something Tacitus wrote about when describing the 1st century  Germanics.

Tacitus tells us:

‘They choose their kings for their noble birth, their leaders for their valour. The power even of the kings is not absolute or arbitrary. As for the leaders, it is their example rather than their authority that wins them special admiration – for their energy, their distinction, or their presence in the van of fight…..
‘No business, public or private, is transacted except in arms. But it is the rule that no-one shall take up arms until the tribe has attested that he is likely to make good. When the time comes, one of the chiefs or the father or a kinsman equips the young warrior with shield and spear in the public council. This with the Germans is the equivalent of our toga – the first public distinction of youth. They cease to rank merely as members of the household and are now members of the tribe.

Now that whole statement is Calontir over and over again, but tell me is that last line us or what?

Though even our men at arms (and our support crews) are just as much a part of the Army as any other fighter, when I was made a Fyrdman it was at that moment that I really knew that I was accepted as a Calontiri, some might dispute this fact but time and time again I have heard my  younger Fyrd brothers say the same thing after they were initiated into the Order, so there has to be some truth to it!

And that first (underlined) line, that is clearly the same ritual that we use when TRM’s induct a new candidate into the Order, it is done publicly and the new member is even equipped with a spear, sometimes with the Orders badge and sometimes with an actual spear head.

I guess the thing we have done best over the years has to do with the statement:

Calontir and her army have grown and changed since then, the Fyrd (and Hirth) must as well……”

Very often in the discussions regarding comparing ourselves to the Historical Fyrd, people who have done research will state that they have documentation that the Fyrd, in X timeframe under Y King did Z. Usually shortly after, someone else will post documentation of Fyrd in A timeframe, under B King, doing something different. In evaluating this, we see that the Historical Fyrd did the same thing the Calon Fyrd have done, changed to meet the needs of the Kingdom as it is now, and I would bet this is a trend that will continue in the future.

Well, after the above pat on the back I could stop but I feel the need to be honest and state that thought we are doing some things right when it comes to a fair representation, there are a few small things that we do that set us apart from our historical counterparts.

The first issue I will mention is something we don’t do well when it comes to a historical comparison but this isn’t a bad thing;p

The Historical Fyrd were (at least in the beginning) basically a peasant levy, probably very poorly armored and armed with farming tools (a lucky Fyrdman might have a spear) and swords would be right out as swords were only owned by the well to do. As the levy consisted mostly of farmers it would be fair to say that they were also poorly trained when it came to combat also. I wont even go into armor as it wouldn’t be fair to compare the two situations but I don’t think it would be unfair to say that the average Calontiri fighter is alot better armed and has alot better training and grasp of simple tactics than the average historical Fyrdman had, again, this isn’t a bad thing (for our Army anyway;)

Now, on that same thread, later models of the Historical Fyrd suggest that members were the veterans of the army, VFW’s if you will (Veterans of Foreign Wars.) As mentioned above it is possible to become a Fyrdman and never have been to war with the Calon host, it is very rare but possible. I don’t necessarily think that these rare occasions are bad things but when comparing the two versions, this sticks out.

Well now, I’ve babbled on for quite a bit now and I think this is a suitable place to end this article. I know many of you already knew all the information contained above but I am hoping that you enjoyed the way it was put together. I also hope that some of our newer folks read this and have gained some insight on the Order (No!,  we are not just those guys (and gals) that Pee together, we are much more;).

Lastly, I’d like to take credit for this whole article but I can’t, a large part of this article was gleaned from a discussion between myself and HL Barbarossa, he gave me the fuel for thought and I took his thoughts, combined them with my own and this is what I was able to construct. I hope I haven’t offended anyone with my words if I have done so I apologize, to do so certainly wasn’t my intent, I would also ask that you find me (either in person or via email) and let me know how I did so, so I can rectify the situation;)