Court Rolls, April 18, AS XXXIX (2005)
On April 18, AS XXXIX (2005), Ardchreag carried out its second manorial court. Each person wishing to participate brought with them a certain number of dry goods. For each item of dry goods they received one token with which they would be able to pay fines and bribes during the court. The amount of dry goods brought was up to each participant, and all goods brought went towards the canton’s baronial taxes (to raise the baron’s weight in food to be donated to a food bank at Feast of the Bear in November.
Unlike in the previous court, this time jurors could make charges as well as be charged themselves. They also sometimes acted as pledges.
The court scribe records the following persons as in attendance:
Corwyn Galbraith, Lord of the Manor
Marion FitzWilliam, Lady of the Manor
Berend van der Eych, flesh and fowl taster, member of the White Tithing
Colyne Stewart, ale taster, member of the White Tithing
Eirik Andersen, juror, village alderman, member of the White Tithing
Jean-Margaret Donnerfaust, juror, member of the Green Tithing
Mahault van der Eych, brook looker, member of the Green tithing
Naja Kesali Orekh, bailiff, member of the White Tithing
Nicolaa de Bracton, visiting dignitary from Citie of Eoforwic
Siegfried Brandbeorn, Hayward, village alderman, member of the Green tithing
Tarian verch Gadarn, beadle, member of the Green Tithing
Þorfinna gráfeldr, juror, member of the White Tithing
Wat of Sarum, ale taster, member of the Green Tithing
Also, Adelaide (Teach) van der Eych, Rhiannon van der Eych, and baby Ethan.
The lord and lady of the manor, and the jurors, sat at one end of the room on a dais representing the court. All others in attendance sat about the other three sides, leaving the centre of the room open. Someone wishing to lay a charge would respectfully step before the court and state their accusation. The accused would then step forward as well. Both would be instructed to gather pledges and between one and two minutes were allowed for this. During this time much money changed hands as pledges were bought, silences ensured and officials bribed. (Any bribe to a juror went right into the beadle’s money jar.)
Both sides then presented their stories, and all pledges were allowed to speak. Rebuttals were allowed, though the court could stop them at any time. The court then discussed the testimony and settled on a verdict. Generally, if the defendant was found guilty they—and all their pledges—were fined. As well, generally, if the defendant was found innocent, the plaintiff and all their pledges were fined. There were of course cases where both sides were fined or only certain people on both or either side.
The charges and their results are below:
Colyne Stewart, ale taster, did accuse Wulfgang Donnerfaust of failing to pay chevage (a tax to move outside of the lord’s manor). Colyne said that his very absence proved the charge was true, and that his absence meant he was negligent in his duty as Chief Pledge of the White tithing. Though the bailiff, Naja Kesali, and Jean-Margaret Donnerfaust tried to argue that Wulfgang was merely engaged in espionage in Trinovantia Nova on the lord’s behalf, he was found guilty. His estate (in the person of Jean-Margaret) was fined three gold.
Wat of Sarum, ale taster, charged Mahault van der Eych, brook looker, with stealing some of his ale, and having unseemly revels at their home. For pledge, Wat secured Siegfried Brandbeorn, Hayward and village alderman. For her defense, Mahault enlists Berend van der Eych, flesh and fowl taster, Naja Kesali, bailiff, and Colyne Stewart, ale taster. They allege that Wat’s missing ale was in fact consumed by him, and further that he had left his ale under a bird’s nest to be fouled. At this point Wat accuses Mahault of witchcraft! First Naja, then Colyne and Berend all throw themselves on the mercy of the court and admit that Mahault is a witch and had ensorcelled them to give testimony on her behalf. Nicolaa de Bracton, emissary from the Citie of Eoforwic, speaks as an expert witness having spent much time with the Dominicans. She is adept at spotting witches and assures the court that Mahault could very well be a witch. It is pointed out that Mahault spends much time with her horse and has many cats (having in fact recently acquired a third). Also, wearing her low-cut bodice revealed to all that she had a strange mark on her chest1. Siegfried alleged that she had for a time turned him into a dog (though he had gotten better). All this evidence weighed heavily upon Mahault, who was found guilty of stealing Wat’s ale and had to pay one gold. Further she was fined one gold for throwing revels to which the lord had not been invited, one gold for practicing witchcraft, one gold per person she had ensorcelled. Her case was then sent to the church court for further prosecution. Wat was charged one gold for leaving his ale under a bird’s nest.2
Þorfinna gráfeldr, juror, charged Mahault and Berend van der Eych with harbouring a suspicious stranger. As pledge she brought Nicolaa de Bracton, emissary from Eoforwic, Wat of Sarum, ale taster, and Colyne Stewart, ale taster. In their defense the Van der Eychs brought Siegfried Brandbeorn, Hayward and village alderman. Wat claims that this stranger, William Donovan, was scouting the lord’s manor in anticipation of an invasion by a large household to the south, and Nicolaa says that on her travels she has seen this household and knows that they are indeed mighty. Siegfried as a knight then speaks on behalf of William Donovan and this household in his capacity as an expert on military matters, saying that Donovan and the house are friends to the lord and his manor. In fact, the head of the household is king of the Middle Kingdom, and is therefore above reproach. When asked is William Donovan paid chevage when he moved to the south, it was pointed out that this tax would have been paid to the citie council of Eoforwic. The jurors, their pockets suspiciously jingling, find Berend and Mahault innocent. The lord also says that he found the paperwork showing that William Donovan had indeed paid his chevage, though he had now lost said paperwork. Þorfinna, Wat and Colyne are all fined one token for bringing forward a false charge. However, Siegfried is also fined. He is fined one gold for giving false statement (for the king he had spoken of had ion fact died two days early, his son now being king of the Middle). Also, he is fined one token for eating the lord’s paperwork regarding William Donovan’s chevage while transformed into a dog. The lord’s beadle, Tarian verch Gadarn, then says that the lord should be fined for loosing paperwork. Scowling, the lord fines the beadle for creating a disturbance in court and tells her to retake her seat.
Naja Kesali Orekh and Jean-Margaret Donnerfaust allege that, while at Lady Mary’s, they overheard Eirik Andersen and Siegfried Brandbeorn plotting to overthrow the lord of the manor! For their defense, Siegfried and Eirik call on Berend van der Eych, flesh and fowl taster, Mahault van der Eych, brook looker, Colyne Stewart, ale taster, and Wat of Sarum, ale taster. Eirik and Siegfried assert that they were indeed plotting, but their coup was aimed at the lands of Rising Waters, to increase the size of the lord’s manor. Eirik says that he never saw Naja or Jean-Margaret nearby at the event, so for them to overhear their words they would have had to use witchcraft! Wat then accuses Naja—a Rus—of being a gypsy! Naja and Jean-Margaret counter that Eirik is a witch, as he has a device that steals people’s images and places them on paper. In horror, Wat leaves Eirik’s side and goes over to Naja and Jean-Margaret. The court finds Eirik and Siegfried guilty and charges them each one gold. They also send Eirik’s case up to the church court. They also find Naja guilty of witchcraft and fine her one gold. However, she has no more money and casts the evil eye on al present and fled the room!
As the court slowly came to order, Naja’s sister Ivanna the Oblivious—a member of the Russian Orthodox Church—arrived.
Irritated at Wat of Sarum’s head knuckling, the lord fines him six gold.
Tarian verch Gadarn, beadle, accuses Berend of sabotage in the name of vanity. She alleges that Berend taught her how to make mead for entry in the Annual Ulrich von der See Memorial Mead Competition, and that he sabotaged her batch. The lady of the court speaks on Berend’s behalf, saying that sometimes a sound brewer will just have helpless pupils, intimating that she herself is such an inept pupil of the lord of the manor. Tarian calls on Wat of Sarum, ale taster, Ivanna the Oblivious and Mahault van der Eych, brook looker. Wat asks how someone as talented as Tarian could make such bad mead as she displayed at the Competition. Mahault says that she was also taught by Berend, using the same supplies he provided, and that her batch also turned out foul. Ivanna says she heard Berend tell Tarian that her batch was fine for entry, which was patiently false. Mahault says that Berend sabotaged their mead because of the sin of pride, as he is the usual winner of the competition. Berend is found guilty and fined one gold. He is also fined one gold for being a braggart and one gold for wasting honey. Tarian is fined one gold for not paying an apprenticing tax. The lady of the manor is fined two gold by the lord for rubbing salt in his old wounds.
Mahault van der Eych, brook looker, charges Colyne Stewart, ale taster, with poaching fish from the lord’s pond. As pledges Mahault provides Berend van der Eych, flesh and fowl taster, Ivanna the Oblivious and Siegfried Brandbeorn, Hayward and village alderman. Colyne calls on eirik Andersen, juror and village alderman, and Wat of Sarum, fellow ale taster. Colyne says that he did not poach any fish as he does not eat fish at all. When Mahault asks if he does not eat fish on Friday, he replies that he fasts on Fridays. As proof of his fasting Wat points out the four stone in weight Colyne had recently lost, and Eirik tells of a Friday recently past where Colyne sent his meal back to the kitchen rather than eating it. However, Berend, Ivanna and Siegfried proof that he often breaks his fasts on Fridays and that fasting or not, that does not explain why they all saw him poaching fish. Colyne is fined seven gold!
Eirik Andersen, juror and village alderman, on behalf of Sir Evander MacLachlan, then charges Colyne Stewart, ale taster, with being a lazy lay-about squire for not having fought in over two months. Eirik brings forth Berend van der Eych, flesh and fowl taster, Mahault van der Eych, brook looker, Nicolaa de Bracton, emissary of Eoforwic, Tarian verch Gadarn, beadle, and Þorfinna gráfeldr, juror. Colyne presents Ivanna the Oblivious, Siegfried Brandbeorn, Hayward and village alderman, and Wat of Sarum, ale taster. Before anyone can speak, Þorfinna reveals that’s he was bribed to speak against her husband, and gives the bribe money to the court. The Van der Eychs both also admit being bribed and change sides. Nicolaa then says that she is used to corruption, being from Eoforwic, and pulls her testimony completely. Siegfried asks Eirik if he believes strongly in the knight-squire relationship. Eirik answers that he does, so Siegfried tells him to drop the case.3 Eirik does so, and is fined one gold for wasting the court’s time. However, Colyne is also fined one gold for being lazy.
Mahault van der Eych, brook looker, then asks that her sentence for stealing a lamb from the previous court be overturned as she had only been holding on to it to use in a stew for this year’s Snowed Inn feast. The jury decides that the meat in the stew could have been anything and is fined one gold for wasting the court’s time.
Jean-Margaret then pays her chevage as she will likely soon be moving to Trinovantia Nova.
Court was then concluded. All the remaining tokens were collected and counted to give a rough count of the number of dry good collected (as each item was worth one coin). It was discovered that 154 coins had been used throughout the court’s proceedings, meaning that roughly 154 items for the canton’s taxes to the barony had been raised.
- Her military tattoo.
- This whole case, devised by Siegfried, is a parody of the witch trial from Blackadder. Nicolaa was playing the part of the Witchfinder Pursuivant.
- Eirik is soon to become Siegfried’s squire.