There is one specific phrase I repeat when asked about my contracts:
“It went as well as I expected and a million times better in ways I did not expect.”
I’ll start off by saying that this experiment was a ton of fun. I met countless new people and gained a deeper level of understanding with some established friends. Word of my “mercenary work” got around Pennsic as I was frequently asked about it throughout the week. Did I accomplish the goals I set at the beginning? Let’s find out.
I no longer felt like a generic fighter. No longer a cog in the great wheel. Signing those contracts held me accountable and increased my level of responsibility. I wasn’t simply fighting for the Midrealm. I was fighting for my local lord. I was earning my wages. I was fighting to meet the level of the bar I set in crafting those documents.
I lost a small amount of independence I’ve grown accustom to in the SCA. Usually, if I feel like “sitting this one out” that’s okay. I make my own schedule and change it as I please. When you make yourself someone’s servant, even for part of a day, it changes your perspective. This was not necessarily a bad thing. In fact I quite enjoyed having tasks; whether that be running around on Saturday trying to get all the seals done, or sitting down to a dinner with my commander as we settled our affairs. It gave me a tiny taste of what it might be like to serve as a squire or apprentice. Useful data indeed.
I certainly fought with all the different groups! I feel like I was respectful to my Kingdom in my choices. Each contract was fair, evenly distributed, and successfully completed.
I didn’t spend enough time with any one group to get a whole sense of the political climate or machinations of their household. I was, however, privy to some more of the high-level interactions. I witnessed how some things were done that I normally would not have. I’ll keep that in mind when connecting with people of stature in the future.
Only one person disapproved of my actions. They had valid reasons, but every man must forge his own path. This was mine and it became clear that it was a worthwhile endeavor, for every other person I interacted with thought very highly of my enterprise and wished for its success.
“You should do this every year!” No, probably not. The timing worked out perfectly this year. If I attend Pennsic in 2017 I’ll most likely fight with my region. There is also a chance I’ll be a dependent to a peer in the Society in which case I’ll fight for them. I encourage others interested in this kind of experience to adapt it to their own persona and try it out. I’d love to hear what it would be like with an earlier period soldier or at a different kind of event.
Two out of the four days I did not fight with the other man on the contract. Even when I did we were not necessarily side-by-side. It wasn’t something I put much thought into before I went but was keenly aware of while under martial service. This would have definitely been the case in history. Just because you are a soldier fighting for Edward, Prince of Wales, does not meet you are seated on a horse next to the Black Prince himself. You had to fight with whoever you were stuck next to. You were conscripted to fulfill a task. Nothing more and nothing less. It was cool to realize that. It felt authentic.
The other people I got involved with the project took it seriously. It was wonderful to see the care and consideration each commander put in. They were all sincere and generous men who I would not hesitate to fight for again. Each relationship had its own narrative but none less meaningful than the others.
Each fight was enhanced by the addition of the A&S element. This concept is universal. If you put time and effort into sewing a new surcoat, you’ll want your performance on the field to reflect the new image. When a tournament has ladies in the gallery you feel like giving your best; both in prowess and courtesy. Each day had purpose. I will strive to make every fight more than just a fight.