So here’s a grab bag of other stuff not covered in my two previous posts about last weekend’s Midrealm Spring Coronation.
My class on Women in the Viking Age
I taught Version 2.0 of my Women in the Viking Age class at this Coronation. To last year’s edition, which I taught at Marche of Tirnewydd, Middle Marches, and a Medieval Lit class at The Ohio State University, which were largely about women in the Icelandic family sagas, I added material on Princess Ol’ga of the Rus’ (see Post-event reviews are in! and My article on Princess Ol’ga is published!), as well as material from Norse mythology.
Because of the press of time (Morning Court was delayed and ran over into my class time) my Norse mythology section was mostly limited to the story of Gudrun’s revenge on her husband Atli for killing her brothers: she served up their sons to Atli as hors d’oeuvres and used their skulls as drinking goblets. This story comes, in slightly different versions, from the Poetic Edda, the Prose Edda of Snorri Sturlusson, and The Saga of the Volsungs. Later writers, including Wagner, took the myth even farther afield, but that is not relevant to what was happening to women during the Viking Age.
The reason I presented the mythological Gudrun’s act of revenge in the class stemmed from its overall theme, which was the Scandinavian/Germanic thirst for vengeance for not only such things as killing of kinfolk, but also, and sometimes especially, for “mere” insults to honor. The Scandinavian/Germanic peoples’ code of honor was a fierce thing, indeed!
And the mindset of the largely-, or at least possibly-, historical Gudrun of the Icelandic family saga, Laxdaela, would have been saturated by this code of honor and by the specific example of the mythological Gudrun, for whom she was named. I noted to my class participants that “Gudrun” is still the most common female first name in Iceland….
Then of course, Princess Ol’ga of Kiev, a Viking princess installed as part of the Riurikid regime to govern the Slavs, was widely famed for her vengeance-taking. The schoolchildren of Russia, Belarus, and Ukraine to this day learn from The Primary Chronicle of the Kievan Caves monk Nestor, who wrote in the 12th century, about Ol’ga’s four increasingly bloodthirsty revenges taken in the 900’s against the Derevlians who barbarously murdered her husband.
Further amazing facts about Ol’ga are that she nourished and protected the principality of Kiev as regent for her infant son Sviatoslav and was invited to Constantinople by Constantine VII, where she converted to Christianity. Although Sviatoslav as a young ruler laughed off the very idea of becoming a Christian, Ol’ga’s grandson Vladimir did convert and when he became ruler, made the entire principality follow suit.
For these later acts on Ol’ga’s and Vladimir’s parts, they were made the first Rus’ saints in both the Orthodox and the Roman Catholic churches in the 15th century. In the Orthodox church, Ol’ga was even given the honorific, “Equal to the Apostles.” This notwithstanding the very barbaric vengeances she wreaked on the killers of her husband. Now do you see why I call her The Amazing Princess Ol’ga? 😉
Here are some snapshots taken during the class by one of the participants at my request. The best one by far is the first one, that of Slany Bean Uillic (mka Sheryl Barringer) of my own shire of the Marche of Tirnewydd. Slany was made a Court Baroness later that day, and she certainly deserves the honor! ❤
Present but not pictured were Shona and Lady Meruy of Ruin. There was another person or two present who didn’t sign in, but I know they were there because of the number of handouts that were taken. I love making handouts! 🙂 And as you can see from that last picture, we do actually use them during the class… Woo hoo! This particular handout, which I designed not only for use during the class, but also as a later reference tool, came in at 34 pages, including 4 pages of maps (I’m a mapaholic!).
I did do a sign-in sheet, although I always forget to ask latecomers to sign in. Doh! This not only gives me a head-count for purposes of my A&S report, but also is a convenient place for foks to include contact information if they want me to ge back to them later about a question (which happened this time).
This was also my second time asking my class participants to fill out a Class Evaluation Form. See Post-event reviews are in!
But wait–I wasn’t such a cruel taskmistress! Everyone got a reward for doing an evaluation form–a necklace (a very simple one) made by yours truly. Here are a bunch of said necklaces, as I was working on the lot of them (they were also for the Bards in Bardic Outside the Box, see Bardic Outside The Box!).
For the benefit of others who might want to include evaluation forms for the participants in their own next class, here’s what mine looked like this time, minus the blank spaces for answers:
CLASS EVALUATION FORM
So here’s the carrot: fill out this form and you get to choose a nifty necklace put together by Unnr herself! Featuring black cords in either 20” or 34” lengths and silver- or bronze-colored pendants of trees or Celtic symbols, you will come away from this class looking dashing, or else with something you can regift right away! Sold? Then please do fill out the form, however briefly. THANKS!!!
What I liked about the class:
What I would have liked to have more of in this class:
Conversely, what I could have done without in this class:
What about the teacher’s personal teaching style? What did you like and how could she improve?
Did you think that the teacher knew her stuff? If not, what areas does she need improvement in?
BRING THIS PAPER UP TO THE TABLE AND PICK OUT YOUR NECKLACE!
Personally, I find the answers to these questions to be really helpful to me in becoming a better teacher. The really great thing is, of course, the positive reinforcement that I get, but also the suggestions for improvement. I find that the participants in my classes take these questions seriously and give me thoughtful answers that I can use in future teaching. I also discover which teaching aids are most effective, although sometimes I’ll get a split vote on a particular item.
And I did get a lot of great comments from the participants in this class! Which reinforced my own impression that it was one of the best groups that I’ve ever been in. 🙂 It really makes me look forward to more opportunities to teach, for example this summer at the Pennsic War! ❤
Evening Court: Recitation of Parts of Havamal
One cool thing about being in the local group of your new King and Queen is that you are most likely friends with them. In the case of my new King and Queen, this is certainly true. And that friendship, plus the fact that our three personas are all Norse, led me to ask Them if I might be so bold as to recite parts of Havamal, from the Poetic Edda, at their Royal Court. Havamal is usually translated as “Sayings of the High One,” referring to the god Odin. Parts of it are considered “wisdom” stanzas, whereas other parts are Odin speaking about a couple of his more notable love affairs.
I have been fortunate enough to study Old Norse with a graduate study group at The Ohio State University, as well as online with the Hurstwic folks. The Poetic Edda is one of my favorite texts, and while I cannot pretend to have read it in its entirety in Old Norse, it’s not for the lack of trying! 😛
What I wanted to do for TRMs King Alric and Queen Katherine was to recreate a bardlike setting before Their Presence, reciting some stanzas from Havamal and accompanying myself on harp. HRM King Alric even gave me permission to do a stanza in Old Norse! I’m not sure he quite knew what he was getting into. ROFLMAO!
I promised that I would need less than two minutes and could do the recitation standing before TRMs. I screwed up a bit when the Herald called me forward because he used my title of “Lady,” but then my modern name of “Timi.” Doh! How many other Lady Timi’s would there be in attendance? On the other hand, I’ve never been known for my quick thinking.
Finally, after a few moments, Duchess Vukasin, who was standing Shield Maiden Guard at the side of the Presence, waved me forward, and on I went–but without my harp!
What a comedy of errors! 😛
At that point, it was really more of a scene for Loki the Trickster, than for Odin the One-Eyed. 😉
Nonetheless, we did all manage to re-group, and I went on, with the assistance of my friend Lady Erriil du Fauconor (mka Janet VanMeter), who I had drafted in at the last minute to hold a crib sheet for me. The memory is simply NOT what it used to be, and I didn’t want it to freeze up when I was in the Royal Presence.
I had pored over Havamal, and finally I decided that I would do the wisdom verses regarding friendship.
Here’s what I said, in the immortal words of the One-Eyed God, Odin:
Selections from Havamal (Sayings of the High One)
To be recited with harp accompaniment by Lady Unnr Olafsdottir
At the Evening Court of Their Royal Majesties King Alric and Queen Katherine
May 5th, A.S. LIII, C.E 2018.
Stanza 1, Old Norse:
adr gangi fram,
um skodask skyli,
um skyggnask skyli,
thvi at ovisti er at vita
sitja a fleti fyrir.
Stanza 1 (Modern English):
All the doorways, before one enters,
should be looked around,
should be spied out;
it can’t be known for certain where enemies are sitting
in the hall ahead.
With weapons and gifts friends should gladden one another,
those that can be seen when worn,
mutual givers and receivers are friends for longest,
if the friendship keeps going well.
To his friend a man should be a friend
and repay gifts with gifts;
laughter men should accept with laughter
but return deception with a lie.
It’s a great detour to a bad friend’s house,
even though he lives right on the route;
but to a good friend’s house the ways lie straight,
even though he lives far off.
Cattle die, kinsmen die,
the self must also die;
but the glory of reputation never dies,
for the man who can get himself a good one.
ALL HAIL THEIR ROYAL MAJESTIES,
KING ALRIC AND QUEEN KATHERINE!
Adapted from the translation by Carolyne Larrington for the Oxford University Press, 1996, 2014.
The Virtual Herald caught me declaiming. Hopefully the front view was more appetizing!
I got tagged on some late-breaking photos on Facebook. My gallant escort was Trevor James Ellis, who approached me as I came forward with his arm held out oh so correctly, even for a Viking! ❤
Photos that didn’t fit anywhere else, but I still like them:
My great friends Uilleag Balbhan (mka Dan Barringer) and Slany Bean Uillic (mka Sheryl Barringer) were made Court Baron and Court Baroness at TRM’s Evening Court. HOO BAH! 🙂
Encampments in the Royal Enclosure: