A highlight of chivalric combat in the high middle ages was that the pas d’armes, or passage of arms. These challenges of peace were issued by knights and man-at-arms in order to showcase their skills and virtues and were often an open invitation for a fight. Popular in the 14th and 15th centuries, these deeds grew increasingly elaborate into jousts and other grand tournaments but the idea remained the same; a noble enterprise of courtesy, pageantry, chivalry and sport. With that in mind, and having researched pas of the period and some modern recreations for inspiration, I wish to host a personal deed of arms within the SCA.
Deed of Arms for Lord Arthur Nathaniel Archer
In the worship and in the name of God our blessed lady Virgin Mary and my lord Saint George I, Lord Arthur Nathaniel Archer of the Realm of the Middle, bearing the verdant and gilded badge of the fox bendy, wish to make it known to all gentle folk, who are not banished or enemies of our Lord and King, and in accordance with the county constable and the desires of the hearts of all bold men, that from this day, the ___ of day of ___, Anno Societatis ___ to one year hence, shall host a deed of arms and accomplish these said arms at various tournaments wherein the lord would so graciously permit me erect my pavilion for this enterprise.
Until the last hour of the last day of this appointed time I shall bear upon my person a richly embroidered device about my left arm, which binds me to my solemn commitment to this endeavor. I bid any worthy, and with no reproach, neither fearing God nor the cries of modest people seek my standard; sable, a chief raguly bendy or and vert.
First Article [The Barrier]
To be met at the barrier, armed as seems best to them, having their dagger and sword upon their body as they wish. Ten strokes to be done with the sword, one or two handed, no longer than spaulder to sabaton, without intermission. When these ten strokes shall have been adequately performed, ten strokes with the dagger will be given, without intermission, or parting from each other, or changing harness.
Second Article [The Joust on Foot]
We shall be without any shield or vantage and either to be armed as seems best for to break the other in twain. Engagement with blunted lances, as long as each combatant stands tall or as judged appropriate for the match. Ten passes, and of such greatness as either may bear at their pleasure with allowance for one opportunity to retreat and reenter the combat during the ten blows struck on either side.
Third Article [Sword on Foot]
Enter the lists on foot, ready to exchange another ten strokes with those who had wished to do so; armed to their pleasure with sword and shield. All blows, both from myself and those that shall have engaged himself to fight with me, to be struck to the lower edge of the coat of plates or higher.
How prizes are to be won:
He, who strikes the agreed upon number upon his foe, in the sight of God and Saint George, shall have the prize.
He, who bears a man down with stroke of a sword or lance, shall have the prize.
How prizes at Tourney, and Barriers, are to be lost:
He that giveth a stroke downward under the barrier shall win no prize.
He that stays his hand in fight on the barrier shall win no prize.
He that so strike a man, his back turned or helpless in position, shall have no prize.
For success in combat at the barrier a round medallion with depiction of a sword.
For winning the joust on foot the image of a lance in trefoil.
For triumph with sword on foot a quatrefoil token with sword and shield upon its face.
A small token will be presented to any brave enough to take part in the deed.
A medallion with my badge of a fox passant bendy or and vert shall be presented to those I find most worthy.
Now really, what does this all mean? I have to iron out a number more details and preparations but in plain English, this is how it should go:
For one full year I will be hosting a personal tournament at various events that allow me to do so. I’ll give as much advanced notice as possible and make my location readily visible (likely on a part of or very near the battlefield). I will be wearing an embroidered badge on my left arm during this time as a reminder to myself and others.
Enter with sword in hand (one or two handed) and a dagger on you. Fight at the barrier to ten counted blows with sword followed immediately by ten counted blows with dagger (20 total). When the blows with sword are completed by either person the combat pauses and they both take up the next weapon.
Six foot spears to ten counted blows.
Sword and shield to ten counted blows. Only blows above the waist count. Winner is first to ten good blows. If you wish to fight with bucklers instead of full sized shields, I will be pleased to match you.
Pageantry, chivalry, and heraldry are encouraged. Bring banners, pennants, and shields showing your device. Come by yourself or with a retinue. Make a grand entrance or just come on over and fight me.
Armor may be made of any period. All kits must be SCA legal and inspected by the event marshal before being allowed on the lists. Aims toward authenticity are encouraged but not required.
The weapons allowed are as follows:
A sword (one or two handed for the first part) no longer than armpit to the ground.
A spear up to six feet.
A single sword.
If you do not have these weapons, I’ll have a pair available and you may choose which one you’d like.
Do not act out blows, but call them out clearly.
Thrusts to plate helmet visors or face plates count as one good blow. Thrust against open faced helms (barred visors) are disabling (i.e. you win that bout).
If either fighter places a hand or knee on the ground during the combat they are considered bested.
I will give my opponents tokens upon their accomplishments.
In order to properly present myself I need to erect a pavilion or day shade, fly banners and standards, upgrade my fighting harness, and create an atmosphere that is both entertaining and fitting for a pas d’armes. To that end I have devised a theme “Trial By Fire.” This theme allows me to be colorful and pursue a slightly different goal than usual at SCA events.
First I came up with a heraldic badge, or emblem for my deed. Much like Edward, the Black Prince had his “shield of peace” which differed from his royal arms, I decided on a device separate from my registered arms and badge.
This is the badge I will present on my person in an obvious way to hold myself accountable and advertise to others what I am doing. It will be worn during the year of the deed, and only for that purpose. I need to work on other accoutrements before I send out missives and begin this enterprise but I feel I have a fairly sturdy foundation set.