Ansteorran Roses Tournament
MoD, Pel, WS, Lion
The first Ansteorran Rose Tourney was hosted by the Roses in 2000; Kayleigh was Queen. From my understanding, each kingdom would host various Tourneys during the War, and the Roses had decided to host one for Rapier at GW. The rules were the same basically as they are now, you had to have a Rose sponsor you in order to enter. As now, the Rose could be there in person, or you could have a letter of introduction. IIRC, there were 25 or 30 fighters in that first list. Was double elimination, single fight. The prize was a hat made by Eleanor (of TrulyHats). I remember being very disappointed when I was taken out in the semi-finals....both because of wanting to show well for my Rose (Kat) and because Truly makes AMAZING hats.
It happened again the next year...and that one was where they decided to add the brunch for the Roses. An entire crew showed up a couple hours before the list started (which was officially 9 am) and suddenly there was food. LOTS OF FOOD. And champagne for the various Roses. And they were nice and opened the food up to everyone after the initial serving was done for the gathered Roses. And the food has continued and has been amazing every year.
And folks started hearing about this tourney...and started wanting to be in the tourney or have a fighter they sponsored in it. Don Robert MacPharland started playing matchmaker...fighter with no sponsor, meet Rose with no fighter. We had WS who would purposefully show up with no sponsor simply so they could be "loaned out" and fight for a Rose they had never met before....and some wonderful friendships were made because of this. I know the year Robert won the tourney, he was fighting for Duchess Isabella of the East...they had never really met before that day, but they remain good friends now, over 15 years later. The Queens of Ansteorra also started a tradition that helped folks get into the list. Every Rose was allowed to sponsor 2 fighters....but HRM Ansteorra, as she was the presiding Royal for the Tourney, would start to "sponsor" anyone who did not have a sponsor. So HRM Ansteorra sometimes had 5 or 6 fighters in the list. Which was great, because the more fighters, the more chance to show our honor.
And then something we did not expect started to happen. This Tourney started to MATTER. Not just to Ansteorrans. But to fighters and Roses across the Knowne World. I know of several occasions of both Fighters and Roses who have flown in the GW simply because of this Tourney. So they could enter or support the person carrying their favor. I would be willing to put this tourney forward as the toughest single Rapier tourney in the SCA, based on the number and quality of the fighters who show up. Their may be others that are close, but this one is the one almost all Rapier fighters want to be able to do well in.
And it kept growing. Quickly we passed 60...80...100 fighters in the list. And more. The last several times we have been able to hold the tourney, we have broken 140 and I know at least once we have gone over 160 in the list.
Because this tourney matters to people, it has become one of THE showcase tourneys in the SCA. People want to enter...and want to make a good showing. We carry the favor of Roses who matter to us...we want to make them proud that they trusted us with that honor. I have made it to the semi-finals a few times, have never won this tourney....and it is a hole for me. Something I want to accomplish at least once.
I have been the Marshal in Charge of this tourney several times (6-7? I don't remember). And one of the privileges of being MiC, is that I get to give the speech at the start to say why we are having this tourney.
We fight this day to honor the Roses. Because without them, Rapier probably does not exist in the SCA...certainly not in the form that it became. Back when Rapier was something that could be banned at any moment, it was the Queens who stood up for us. There are stories of Kings who did not like Rapier threatening to ban it....only to be informed by their Queen that they better "keep their damned hands off of MY Rapier fighters!" And this applies to Roses across the Knowne World, not just Ansteorra.
We fight for the Roses, we protect them....because they fought and protected us. It is our pleasure to do so. And our Honor.
UPDATE: I was corrected by Countess Sara; the first tourney was sponsored by the Queens of the three Primary Kingdoms (Ansteorra, Meridies, Trimaris). I was not aware of this. Thank you, Sara, for the new info.
Her Excellency Kayleigh on the first Rose Tourney:
"Avery is correct - the first tourney was hosted by me during the Ansteorran Tea but for not the reasons mentioned. I had become quite close to the Trimaris Queen at the time and we both wanted to do something jointly but also for the rapier community. Please remember Trimaris’s rapier community was not as it is today and the thought of doing something especially for them was quite novel.
I had asked the organizer if we could carve out some time for a tournament, but I was told that they did not have room for anything more. Not wanting to disappoint her HRM with the news, being one of the first WS Queen's (there were three of us during my reign), and a little bit of an "A" type personality (those who know me stop snickering) ... I came up with a plan. Or I should say my plan involved asking the other Ansteorran Roses if they would be offended if I added a tournament to our tea and the answer was always "why would we mind?"
From the beginning I wanted everyone to be able to participate if they wished so we allowed one Rose (or any person who had been Queen) to sponsor one WS (or equivalent) and one individual who did not hold an award of higher precedence. Unlike Ansteorra, just because you are Queen you are not automatically a Rose, and I did not want to leave anyone out who wanted to participate. Also, for those Roses who did not have someone to sponsor (especially from those kingdoms that did not allow rapier), they could sponsor two fighters that day. Robert helped me play matchmaker during the first tournament. (It became apparent that someone needed to be in charge of that process as more fighters and Roses attended in later years.) I think I might have sponsored more than two fighters, simply because we did not have enough Roses, or that might have been added in later years. I oversaw its organization the next year so sometimes I get them mixed up and it has been 20+ years.
We had required a letter of introduction be given by the Rose to the fighter. This encouraged the fighter to seek out a Rose and for the Rose to get to know their rapier community. Some of the letters from that first year were AMAZING and highly creative. As the tournament grew their creativity grew with them - I remember seeing carved stone to illuminations done on hand-made parchment.
I also remember there being food during the first time since it was also a tea with little side dishes. The feast grew as Avery mentioned to include the Roses as well as the fighters. Avery would remember the numbers better than I, but I thought there were more fighters than just 25-30. Why I believe this is so is that the tournament went on much longer than had been expected. There was a demonstration that occurred later that day for the siege engines and some gentleman thought it would be good to inform the Roses that they needed to cut their "rapier thing short." To say that did not go over well is an understatement.
The most amazing thing to come from this whole idea was that it was not just another tournament. The fighters enjoyed being in it, they loved the fact they were sponsored, that they were fighting for a specific person and that they could give all their heart and soul to that day. Even more amazing was that the Roses also LOVED the tournament. They loved being a part of it and supporting someone who wanted to be there and be there for them.
To think that this started due to a friendship and has grown into something that is special for everyone involved always makes my heart swell. I know that some pieces have needed to be morphed over time but that the essence - the pure joy of the day is still a part of this event makes me ... well it makes me humble and incredibly happy."
See Also: Princesses Tea