2023 CSG Pas d'Armes - Celebrating King Rene d'Anjou
Updated: Oct 23
[edited 20 Oct to include more detail on renown earned during the year by Ed, Ed's abrazzare with Andrew, and to add some of the tokens/gifts awarded]
The 2023 New Company of Saint George pas d'armes, celebrating King Rene d'Anjou, has been accomplished! I think both the soul and spirits of both King Rene and Michael St. Sever, who we also celebrated, would be, and perhaps are, satisfied with the results!
I have heard from three separate combatants that they felt this was the best one so far - and I'm inclined to agree. We still have farther to go, but we are moving beautifully towards even finer tourneys.
We had twenty-three combatants this year, coming again from as far away as Hawaii and Alaska, Florida and Georgia, Missouri, Maryland and Virginia. Four full passes were accomplished, and we captured video of at least the first three passes, plus the fighting intermezzi.
Combatants who fought and earned renown this year, our own CSG Companions, Brian R. Price, Sam Fishburne, Gene Arnold, Andrew MacKenzie, and Bryan Johnson. Our ladies Celeste 'Sirona' Watts-Will, Wendy Price, and Merissa Mackenzie were present with astounding amounts of support and encouragement.
Companions of the Company of Saint George present at the 2023 Pas d'Armes
Clearly the vast majority of combatants showed courtesy and respect for their opponents, for the CSG and for the Art, by improving their armour and raiment. There were many new helmets, fighting cottes, armour for the limbs and hands, and shoes! The workmanship of SSG / Snapping Turtle students Dennis Pritzel (Emily's armour; arms and legs for Elisabethe and Joshua) and Elisabethe Allen (surcoats for Emily, Tom and herself) were of particular note, alongside helmets and more by Brian R. Price, leatherwork by Bryan Johnson; armourers Peter Polyak, Alexey Moskalenko, and Maks Izobov, pre-eminent amongst a host of others.
Errants to the Company of Saint George, who have set for themselves the task of earning renown, did so during this tourney--hopefully one of a number they will complete in this year--include Jon Hendrickson (Alabama); Bernadette J Tix (Alaska); Tom Knighton (Georgia); Edward Price; (Virginia); Ed Wells; (Georgia); Julian Arnold (Missouri); Dennis Pritzel (Alabama); Whitney Hood (Florida).
Errants of the CSG present at the event
The other notable combatants who gave and took stout blows included Thomas Giger; Elisabethe Allen (Alabama); Robert Knighton (Georgia); Connor Pickar (Alabama); Emily Pritzel (Alabama); Seth Hunter (all the way from Alaska!); Jesus Abete (Alabama); Joshua Dudley (Alabama); Will Beasley (Alabama) and Devlin, all the way from Missouri, who showed his passion and long skill developed in the SCA.
Noble Combatants in the 2023 CSG Pas d'Armes
Each brings a story along with passion - Elisabeth and John "Dude" Allen run the Red Wolf Martial Arts studio in Opelieka and Elisabeth is a competitive MMA fighter; Devlin attended one of our first pas d'armes in the 1990s and has decades of SCA experience, interspersed with time in Iraq. Jesus also has time in Iraq with the U.S. Marines, and as a Snapping Turtle, is part of that special cohort. Seth, Andrew and Bernadette came from very far away--Hawaii and Alaska--honoring everyone present.
Setup began on Thursday, though preparations were begun before the 2022 pas d'armes had even been completed. The list enclosure and electrical was set up over a fighting space no longer flooding, thanks to new French drains. On Friday, the weather danced about but pavilions were finally able to be setup in the afternoon, so that most everything was ready for Saturday morning.
Vespers and Round Table
On Friday evening, some Vespers fighting was held, where Dennis Pritzel and Geoffrey Morris demonstrated some of the messerfechten they've been working on, while Bernadette and a host of others, including Darren Foley from SSG Atlanta, looked at some new interpretations of some of the plays BJ is proposing. Following the vespers, we discussed in round table format the ideas of a plaisance and a outrance combat, conventions expected for the next day, and a little about King Rene d'Anjou.
Central to the discussion was the idea of renown, "worthiness" in English. We emphasized what it was, historically and today, the "coin of the tourneyer" that was honor accrued for virtuous action, especially on the field or by combatants.
To this end, errants recounted what they'd accomplished in the past couple of years, setting the tone also for next years' deeds. Ed Wells won the field here, mixing his study of the grappling arts (Aki Jitsu) with a tour of deeds of arms throughout the Southeast and Central regions of the US. Ed's progress was nothing short of amazing, renown-building in its own right and without question an inspiration to others!
Invocation and Commencaille
Following introductions, each combatant once again took up a baton for the opening melee, by tradition now individual fights to "first blood." Gene Arnold won this fight, standing alone over more than twenty-one others.
As is now traditional, we began with introductions prior to each pass. We did not specify tenans (defenders) and challengers this time, though we did maintain the sides anyway. In the first pass, those on the sinester side (facing the list), made their challenges, emphasizing a plaisance encounters, in honor of King Rene's Livre Tournois, which was clearly a kind of blended behourd using both batons and rebated weapons.
Long ago, we discovered that simply four or five passes was not enough fighting for many combatants. In the 1990s, when we were refining the pas d'armes format, we discovered that if the tournament designer was not careful, the day could veer off into farce, negating both the chivalric tone and cheapening the effort combatants, consorts and everyone else made to make the day special. So the challenge for designers remains how to manage the flow and tone to enable enough fighting, while still delivering enough variety and challenge that there is enough for combatants and the gallery.
The lance melee is a method that has worked very well. In this case we divided the field in two, and combatants were each given three "lives", as in the commencaille. Many fine blows were struck, but, in the end, the "dexter" team managed to decisively defeat the "sinester" team.
The opposite side, who won the spear intermezzo, were next able to challenge for the second pass. Opening the pass, Gene and his son conducted a now-traditional father/son encounter, one of three such pairs on the field (Brian/Edward; Tom/Robert; Gene/Julian).
<Connor v. William>