The Drachenwald Navy, Church Tax and Paying Dues

Admiral Þora Displaying her Arms (Azure, a cod head Or) standing on a drying rack full of stock fish.

Admiral Þora Displaying her Arms (Azure, a cod head Or) standing on a drying rack full of stock fish.

In the SCA we play a game where we creatively study and recreate select aspects of history.  In many ways, you get out of the game what you put in to it, and I have decided to have some fun with the Drachenwald Royal Navy.  While I don’t know much about the history of purchasing military commissions, I have decided to take on an admiralty and add my own persona-appropriate twist.

Bid for Commission

The first task, after making the appropriate donation to the Royal Travel Fund, was to make a bid for a bit of waterway over which to govern.  Seemed to me that maintaining the cod-rich seas to the north and adjacent land areas would be of interest to the crown, so I made the following bid in November AS 51 (2016):

Unto Baron Pietari Uv, Clerk of the Crowns Ships, does fru Þora Sumarliðadóttir send these Words.

Your Excellency, it is with a heavy heart that I hear your news of Dread Piracy and Unrest on the Seas. Indeed this is news only newly come to my attention, it having long been in transit, yet I would eagerly seek to aid Their Majesties in securing Their Lands and Routes of Legal Commerce in this the wondrous Drachenwald.
Being of seafaring folk and of intimate familiarity with the lands and oceans far to the North of Drachenwald, I humbly offer my services to Their Majesties as Admiral and keeper of Their Interests over All the Seas and Fisheries and Trade from upon the lands whereupon the sun does not set in the summer, nor does rise in the winter. These are dangerous waters, cold and filled with fearsome Beasts and great Fishes and other Wonders. These waters are also Bountiful beyond Measure, and surely, Their Majesties would wish to partake of these Riches so rightfully Their Own and keep them safe for the Income of the Crown.

Into Your Hands Pietari Uv do I place this my humble request and beseech you to speak warmly on my behalf to Their Majesties.

I ydmyk tjeneste til Deres Kongelige Majesteter og Alle som Dem og Vår kjært Samhald tjener

fru Þora Sumarliðadóttir

All who know me know that my persona research is closely tied with Northern Norway and the trade of stock fish (dried cod).  So in my bid I am referring specifically to the Norwegian and Bearing Seas, as well as the coastline above the Arctic Circle, stretching from North of Trondheim (Archbishopric of Nidaros) along the Norwegian coast and northern coast of the Kola peninsula, plus Svalbard.  I was naturally pleased when Baron Pietari confirmed my admiralty over these waters in December!

More Fun with Fish

So far, so good.  But I’m of the opinion that linking in more history makes for more fun.  The Vågastevne held each summer at (modernly) Storvågan in Kabelvåg, Lofoten, was the center for the trade of stock fish as well as royal and religious business in the north during the high medieval period (Brun).  Storvågan is only ca. 1 km from my house, as the crow flies, and one of my core sources of research inspiration.  One particular diploma, dated July 8, 1321, informs that Archbishop Eiliv levied a church tax for the building of Nidaros Cathedral.  This annual tax was to be paid in the form of a score (20) good fish from each priest with a parish, and additionally another score from the income of each parish.  Good fish of course meaning stock fish.

Paying it forward to the Drachenwald Crown

The SCA is dependent on the idea of member contributions of time, skills and sometimes money to create what we call The Dream.  Drachenwald is an expansive kingdom and my admiralty fee will help the royals offset the cost of travel.  However, within the framework of the SCA game, I would also like to contribute materially in some way through my skills as an artisan.

Thus, playing with my persona in mind, I came up with the following concept:

Taking inspiration from the 1321 diploma, I have decided that I will seek to pay an annual tax to the Crown, for should not the Crown receive of the bounty of the North in equal measure to that of the Church?

I “paid” the first installment during a feast at Double Wars this year.  With assistance from Duchess Vanna Edwinsdochter Dawburn, I presented Their Majesties King William of Richwood and Queen Isabetta del Verde with a score of coin purses inspired by an artefact from Bryggen in Bergen, Norway. Blog on coin purses to be posted later.  I’m hopeful that Their Majesties will regift the coin purses and that the recipients find them useful.

 

Now for the Admiral of the High North to sail on in search of next year’s (project) tax payment!

 

"The Cod Lady" photograph by Kristina Rudbjer

"The Cod Lady"
photograph by Kristina Rudbjer

Sources:

About the Diploma

The diploma from Vågan, dated July 8, 1321: Transcription of text from Diplomatarium Norvegicum volume II, nr. 144 can be found here.  Text in modern Norwegian as found in Regesta Norvegica can be accessed here.  I have worked from Jørgensen’s updated transcription of Aslak Bolts jordebok, a central medieval text on Church holdings in Hålogaland (Northern Norway).

Printed sources

  • Brun, Håkon.  Kabelvåg: Glimt av stedets historie fram til slutten av 1900-tallet.  Kabelvåg: Kabelvågboka, 2011.  ISBN: 978-82-303-1852-2.
  • Jørgensen, J. G. Aslak Bolts jordebok.  Oslo: Riksarkivet. 1997.  ISBN: 82-548-0052-9. pp. 190A-191B.