Late Medieval Martial Service Contracts at Pennsic War XL, Part II – Drafting the Contracts

If you have not done so already, here is a link to read Part I

The battles were determined. My commanders were notified. I was ready to put pen to paper. Almost.

The Brotherhood
Sir Cecil de Tueurleon had been my primary contact but ventures abroad meant I was now involved with Count Savaric de Pardieu. We had agreed that I should fight on Monday’s scenario, which was named The Mother of All Battles. My payment, as suggested by Sir Cecil, was coin in roughly the period cost for 2 oxen. After doing some research I found that to be gross overpayment for my services. However, on this website all about medieval prices it shows that the yoke itself (sans oxen) costs 2 shillings in 1350, which isn’t as far off. The final contract copy was the following.

This indenture, made between the noble men Lord Arthur Nathaniel Archer, on the one hand, and Count Savaric, on the other hand, bears witness that the aforesaid Lord Arthur, along with his arms, armor, and shield, is to remain as a man-at-arms with the aforesaid Count Savaric, for one day, the eighth day of August, to go with the said Savaric wherever he wishes to make war, receiving the customary wages at the choice of Savaric, which is to say for himself equal to two yokes for oxen, or 8s. And the aforesaid Savaric promises that he will pay to the Lord Arthur, before his departure from service, in full, as specified above. And in case the said Count Savaric wishes that he shall have support at court, Lord Arthur, as is specified above, shall advise his lord and pay him the traditional feudal aids required on the knighting of the lord’s eldest son, the marriage of the lord’s eldest daughter, and the ransoming of the lord should he be held captive. And concerning the prisoners which may be taken by the aforesaid Savaric, or by his men, the aforesaid Arthur shall have additional wages drawn of the profits of their ransom. Written at Pennsic, the sixth day of August, anno societatis, the year LI under our great King Cameron.

Contract between Count Savaric and myself. It is ready for wax seals and cut in two.

I used goat parchment from Pergamena and oak galls ink made by a gentleman in the SCA who goes by Ian the Green. My process for all the contracts was the same.

  • Pasted copy into Adobe Illustrator.
  • Selected an appropriate typeface that represented the period I was trying to recreate. I used WirWenzlaw and EtBoemieRex and adjusted them to my needs.
  • Tape down a print out of the layout to a light box then tape my parchment over that.
  • Pen directly onto the parchment using the print as a guide. I used a Speedball 512 nib as I found it worked best with the uneven nature of the parchment.

The choice to pen the contract in French was threefold. French was common among English nobles in the 14th century, translating English to Latin online is an uncertain enterprise, and it simply looked cool. Now I just needed to do the other three…

The Midlands
Captain Duncan ‘The Monster’ wanted me especially for the woods battle. Thursday it is!

This indenture made the sixth day of August, in the second reign of King Cameron of the Midrealm, witness that Arthur Nathaniel Archer does bind himself, for the period of one day, August eleventh, to Captain Duncan for the support our King’s aggressive designs against the East. The Captain granteth him a fee of 1s, or twelve pence, to be his man-at-arms and to do him service afore all other in manner following; the said Arthur, upon reasonable warning, shall be ready at all times when it shall like the said Duncan to command him to come to his presence to and in all parts and places, to do with service with him, and to sojourn and ride with as many men as the said Duncan is to assign or command under his livery. Also the said Arthur does bind himself to this indenture and she shall keep Duncan’s council in all manner of things that are lawful and gentle, and she shall not be released save by word of Duncan, or by fulfillment of his duties, as specified above. And the said Arthur shall have of the said Duncan the third of a third of all manner of prisoners prizes and winnings gotten by way or fortune or adventure of war. In witness whereof the parties above to these present indentures have put to their seals at the Pennsic War the sixth day of August anno societatis LI.

My contract to fight with the region of the Midlands between myself and Captain Duncan.

Count Cellach MacChormach would have me under his banner for one day, and any others I may have had free at Pennsic. We agreed to Friday, the field battle. Decisions on payment went back and forth but eventually settled with a fancy soda, or as I put ink to paper, “a bottle of sensible drink.”

Cellach’s contract was the smallest but had plenty of character. I went with the vellum tabs on this one instead of the braided cord pendants. Both styles were used in period.

Baron Fergus MacPherson was in command of the regional troops this year. He was the last man I was able to contact about this enterprise but was receptive and offered payment of “quarters and maintenance” for my service as man-at-arms on Tuesday’s bridge scenarios.

all contracts before
A look at all four contracts just before war. They were packed with care along with supplies for sealing, signing, and creating a binding indentured contract.

It was time to go to Pennsic and meet the requirements written on each of these documents.

Next up… Part III – Making it Official


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