Ancient College of Queen’s Bards
By Duchess Willow de Wisp
When Ansteorra was part of the kingdom of Atenveldt, Queen Willow and King Jonathan de Laufyson went to an event in Border March. It was a lovely event with a great feast, but as the moved to the evening it was very sparse. There was nothing there to wrap your dreams around and thought of the real world started to creep in. The only entertainment was a performer doing somewhat bland filk and lot of it was Sci fi filk. The King and Queen looked at each other and said wouldn’t it be nice if someone was doing some period like performing. It would be real nice if someone here telling the history and stories of the group.
Well they talked and talked and decides that something needed to increase the telling of stories in prose, poetry and song, maintain history both high and low and help autocrats put on period events by telling people about them and maintain the ambience of events.
They went home to North Ansteorra and with the help of the tellers of stories whether they were in song, prose or poetry they created the “the Queen’s Bards of Atenveldt”. They named it that because Queen Willow wanted the collage to assist the Queens in their duties, especially in sponsoring Courtesy.
They were to encourage good behavior in people by producing pieces that highlighted those actions and they were to refrain from satire. Finally they were to educate people in what was period and what was not, and provide classes for all entertainers so they could be the best they could be. The QBs were also supposed to set up atmosphere at events. Last but not least they were to provide Bardic contests with good judges that judged solely on what the performer did that day. While the Order didn’t live long in Atenveldt it grew in Ansteorra and under its influence the bardic arts flourished. In those times our Kingdom Bards performed at most of our events and we had bardic circles that had up to 50 performers in them. And the performances were good. One Kingdom bardic competition had over a hundred entries. It went from early morning to late evening.
The Queens Bards went throughout the kingdom telling stories about period events and assisted autocrat by giving people information about would allowed them to interact in a period manner at these events. Also the Coronets and Crowns would call on the Bards to promote Chivalry and Courtesy. At the start of his time as Prince Sir Simon of Amber called on the Bards to tell tales of Chivalry on the field. The Bards also collected stories about our war effort and even sent special bards to the wars to collect and share good stories.
While most of this was good and promoted growth in the Kingdom there were several problems that occurred. The first was the program of advancement that was introduced into the Queen’s Bards. This system used the ranks in the historical bardic colleges. This didn’t work to well and had lots of problems and people felt that the College was unfair. Because of these problems the Crown was bought in and they were not happy with us.
Along with that there were people who complained that we were too good and they couldn’t perform in the Bardic Circles because the people in them were too good. Many people in power believe we were not promoting growth but stopping it. They truly believe that standards and structure were destructive. This wasn’t as odd as it sounds because this was also happening in the real world starting in the 90’s and lasting to about 2004 there was a theory in mainstream American that standards or guideline were not needed. This theory believed that things would just happen and you didn’t have to do anything to make it happen. Some of us called this “The Great Experiment”. It didn’t really work out, but nothing has really been put in place to counter the effects. It is much more easier to do nothing than to do anything. Or “a body in motion stays in motion and a body at rest stays at rest”.
Also we had set up the system of Eisteddfod that are done now. The first were not run by the Baronies. The Queen’s Bards provided judges and made the choices. The two reasons the eisteddfod were created were to assure performers of a contest that had judges the performer respected and who knew the art forms and could tell if a performer was doing a good job within the form. Also to have a least one contest that was solely base on what the performers did at that time and place.
The Eisteddfod allowed performers to gain status and prestige. Local contest did not have high standards and were often given to new people just for encouragement. I was told by a Judge that I was the best performer, but they gain the Principality title to the lady who baked all the bread. Under the QB influences winning a title or winning one of the sub titles of best song story, or poem really meant something. At that time no performing artist was considered for a Laurel and there had been attempt to block performing arts out of Kingdom A&S. The Bards wore hash marks on their blue sashes to show their worth. This meant that the people would invite into their campsite and invite you to perform if you had a bunch of hash marks on your belt. The Crowns started looking at those belts and started giving Non peerage awards out to performers and they began to ask the Laurels about some of the performers. This made the Laurels unhappy. The B&B’s at the time were unhappy about contests being held that they had no control over and so they demanded that these contest be turned over to them and when that happened the quality of judging returned to what it was before. the prestige of the local contest is still high, but it isn’t as high as at the heyday of The Queen’s Bards. When the prestige dropped the free performers blamed the Queen’s Bard for the problem and complained to the Crown.
Also the other types of performers complained that they couldn’t advance in the performing arts because the QB didn’t address their Art Forms. Also performers in general complained that our levels were to strict. The Crown demanded that we fit those Art Forms into our system and because we were a Company to promote our form of Bardic based on the High Ages Bardic schools that just didn’t work.
There were also some political problems. Mainly at the time there was an effort to break Ansteorra into three principalities The Bards were running around doing inspiring pieces of Ansteorra. As long as the National Pride of Being Ansteorra was high people didn’t want to be in a separate sub groups.
The Crowns closed the college of Queen’s Bards and Created the Royal Collage of Bards and that was supposed to be only Educational .
At a meeting of the new Collage at a Kingdom A&S, which by the way had no Performing categories, the Crown in the person of His spokesman Duke Inman Mac Moore, demanded that the new Collage and the Queen’s Bards take up their duties again. At that time willow de Wisp , as the last official of the QBs close the Queen’s Bards for the time. That left the Royal College of Bard under the Kingdom Bard to obey the Crown and do those duties.
The Royal College was controlled by the Crowns and created a Charter that offended many of the Queen’s Bards member and they stopped performing. Then many the performers who were not in the Queen’s Bards just slowly stopped doing things.
When I, Willow de Wisp, was a Premier Bard I rewrote the Royal College of Bards Charter basically limiting it to nothing. I did this for these reasons.
• It made the Charter free of any one person’s political scent. By the time it was finished it was so bland that there wasn’t anyone willing to claim it. • It allowed us to start anew. • It was a place holder to hold the place until the Bards of Ansteorra wanted more.
This seemed to work because many of the Old Bards started performing again because the charter was changed and many New Bards started to develop. But now we had no duties and no standards.
The question has been raised twice at the Kingdom Championship and asked of two of Premier Bards of the Royal College and discussed on line. “is any interest into adding standards or duties to the College.” The answer by those who replied and the Premiers of the Royal College of Bards was that they were happy with what was happening at the time. The members stated as long as we have Master Robin of Gilwell and Mistress Willow stand up for us we don’t need any College. “We don’t do Politics” was their motto.
I believe that isn’t good enough now. We are losing people and I believe that part of that reason is the absences of the values. In the ancient world the functions of a bard strengthen values and ideas. Most of the People who wrote the laws and set up the framework of the “Kingdom of Ansteorra” were Queen’s Bards. Those Bards saw the Bardic College as an important Pillar of the Kingdom. The Bards were supposed to bring to life the high ideals of the Medieval period. They were to provide the people with the cultural values and virtues of our times. This is how people in the Middle Ages learned so we thought that would be proper to teach our citizens the same way.
I believe it is time for “bards”, whatever we call ourselves to take up our duties and maybe our standards and go back to work strengthening what is good in kingdom and to teaching the junior members about our history and to show them pictures of what life was like in our target eras.