The long and storied history of Ansteorra has provided a fertile field for the many artists who have created works that have become a part of Ansteorra's rich traditions.
- 1 The Thrones
- 2 The Crowns
- 2.1 Principality Crowns
- 2.2 Kingdom Crowns
- 2.3 Other Crowns
- 3 The Swords of State
- 4 Kingdom Banners
- 5 The Royal Attire of the Principality
- 6 The Weird Thing of State
Ansteorra has had several sets of thrones:
- An early set, used since the days of principality, was made of a dark stained wood, and had a tiered, crenellated back, with a gold cushion. They were made of what amounted to 2x4 lumber, and each came in four pieces. They were connected using standard pinned door hinges. They can be seen still in use in photos of our 5th Crown, Finn Kelly O'Donnell and Elzasif Ironhand, and in in the background of this photo from the 9th Crown.
- One set had high, rigid backs, cushioned in yellow velvet, with a black star at the central back. They did not break down in any fashion, which made them difficult to transport or store. These thrones may have "been bought from a Knights of Columbus hall, taken apart, stripped, stained, and re-upholstered, then donated by the Shire if Gwyndebourne. I believe they were donated for the elevation of TRH Sir Randall von Nordlichwald and Constance Saint Dunstan. These thrones were already in use when Tessa and Simonn became the Royal Prince and Princess of our young and fair Principality of Ansteorra." (As provided by Xene Therian) Tessa further recalls that these were stored at her home while she was Princess, and it was very touching to sit upon them again when she became Queen of Ansteorra. These are believed to be in the possession of Lloyd von Eaker.
- The Leather Thrones: These thrones, pictured far left above, were rigid backed chairs with arching leather upholstery. They were on display at the Ansteorra Argent Anniversary. Their dates of use are unknown.
- The Crimson Velvet Thrones: These thrones were made of a dark wood, and had lower, squared backs with a row of seven quatrefoils across the tops. Semi-Circular legs supported wide seats, with arms, seat and back cushioned in plush velvet edged with gold. They can be seen in photos of our 21st Crown.
- The Gothic Thrones: These thrones were made of a dark wood, and had upraised, rectangular backs with a row of seven quatrefoils across the tops. Above the quatrefoils were scrollwork supported escutcheons painted with the the King's and Queen's insignia. Arched needlepoint pillows rested in shaped gothic arches. The arms were cushioned in gold-edged black velvet, which matched the seat cushions. The feet of the throne were lion's paws. They can be seen in photos of our 40th Crown. Upon decommissioning, these thrones went into the custody of the Barony of Wiesenfeuer. When Covid-19 caused logistical nightmares for our 83rd Crown, with the kind consent of Wiesenfeuer, their Majesties were permitted use of the Gothic Thrones.
- The Double-Arched Thrones: These thrones bore two golden gothic arches, and were cushioned in a crimson and gold brocade. Above the arches were an escutcheon bearing the King and Queen's shield. Twin pillars rose from each side of the throne, and were capped with a golden ball.
- The current set of thrones were created by Alejandro Ramirez Mendoza.
- A lovely pair of foldable chairs was made for the Crown by HL Hugh de Puy of Calontir. They were presented by TRMs Calontir to the Ansteorran Crown on January 19, 2013. They are made of walnut, and are based on a modified Glastonbury chair design. They took Honorable Lord Hugh approximately 40 hours for the pair of chairs, and another five hours for bags to contain them. He was inspired to make them, when he witnessed Their Royal Majesty Jean-Paul and Gilyan having to sit on borrowed chairs at an event in Calontir that they attended.
The first set of crowns used by the Principality of Ansteora (spelled with one R back then), were actually theater props.
The Gwilym Crowns: 1977
These crowns were crafted by Master Gwilym y Fferill o Caer Lleuad, and started use during the Principality days, and continued into our Kingdom days. They were the first set of coronets made for the purpose of the Principality's use. For many years, they were the oldest regalia in continual use. They were lost following a display at the kingdom's 15th year anniversary celebration held in Elfsea in July 1994. It is believed they had fallen out of use prior to that time as they had become quite fragile. Additionally, they ended up having the backs cut and laced together, which made them unstable and ultimately led to their usage stopping.
The Onyx Cabochon Crowns
The last set of crowns used by the Principality were circlets rising to a graceful point in the front, set with a central onyx cabochon, surrounded by five smaller cabochons. After Ansteorra became a kingdom, these continued to be used as Royal crowns.
The Brass Star Crowns
Made by Jan w Orzeldom, approximately 1980. The design of these crowns were circlets with upraised 10 pointed stars. Made of brass, the points of the stars retained their sharpness, which made wearing or maintaining them a physical challenge. This may have been one of the reasons they were only used for a few reigns. Per Alisandre Oliphant: "The crowns that Gwilim made were not adjustable, and were made for a larger head than Jan's - so when Jan became Crown, he wanted one that would fit him comfortably (they were also heavy). He made the "spiky crowns," kind of quickly, to have something to wear that fit him. It was done in a hurry - Jan designed and made it, and Godwyn Alfricsson helped with the silver soldering. Jan says that his squire Riccardo di Pisa had many poked fingers keeping them polished during his reign. They weren't meant to be forever, just something that fit Jan better, but Sigmund followed him on the throne and he did wear it. Not for long, though, because it wasn't thick brass and because Sigmund's head was larger, it tended to make the stars tilt inward."
They were worn by Lloyd and Jocelyn, Jan w Orzeldom, and Sigmund the Wingfooted and Sieglinda Syr, and can be seen in private collection photographs from that time.
Galen of Bristol shared the following story about the Brass Star crowns: "Sigmund tells a story about attending a young lady who'd fainted from the heat, and nearly dropping that crown onto her face; he caught it just in time. I heard the same story from the lady herself, who woke up just in time to see it fall towards her. Sigmund told me that if he hadn't caught it, the last thing she'd have seen in her life "would have been a fat monarch.""
The Dinar / Early Period Crowns
These crowns, crafted by Count Dinaris the Wanderer (OP), were a brass circlets that rose to four equidistant points, with black Stars seated under each point, nearly flush with the band. It is believed that they were in use by our 10th Crown, Inman MacMoore and Arrowyn of Emerald Moor. They were displayed at the Ansteorra XXX museum, but have not been in general use for several decades (since the late 1980s, early 1990s).
The Imperial Crowns: 1992
As provided by Elric Dracwin, August 19, 2018:
In a 1988 Black Star there was a small ad asking artisans to submit designs for new Ansteorran crowns. My brother, HL Malaki Dracwin, is an extremely talented artist and I goaded him into designing and drawing a pair. He did all the research and artistic design work and we sent them to the Seneschal. At the 1989 Steppes Warlord (at the old Camp Burnett site in Southlake) the King, Kingdom Seneschal, and a couple of others approached us. We were told Malaki's design had been selected. They wanted to know how much they would cost and how long it would take to build them.
Maybe we were naive but we didn't expect to be building them. Malaki told me that he designed them but I had to engineer their construction. I had taken a jewelry fabrication class in college and taught what I knew. They took about 3 years to complete. Our household sisters, Mistress Ceridwen Tir Gwstriff and Lady Evonne of WIzard's Keep, created custom pillows for the crowns with the embroidered arms of the King and Queen on a raised centering oval. Master Edward d'Orleans crafted a custom box for each crown with internal bracing to hold them securely.
The crowns were finished and presented to the kingdom at the 1992 summer coronation between the stepping down of Patrick Michael /Julia and the stepping up of William (Bear) / Catherine. Malaki the Magician and I presented empty boxes. Put components of the crowns in: metal, stones, loose pearls, etc. Magic wands were waived, fire/smoke belched forth, and the boxes were opened to find the new crowns within. William and Catherine were crowned with them in the following stepping up court.
The crowns have 5 points, with removable imperial arches for a more / less formal option lined up behind the points. Each of the points had a large Ansteorran mullet of inlaid jet under it. A row of individually mounted pearls ran along the rolled edge of the peaks and valleys. Under the pearls were branches of inlaid malachite laurel leaves. The Queen's crown had inlaid jet Tudor roses interspersed in the laurels. Each point was topped with a large pearl. The band at the bottom of the crown had two rows of pearls. The imperial arches had several large pearls running up their centers. There were over 200 pearls on each crown. Where the arches met, a twisted brass laurel tree sprouted. It divided to form a circle within which was a large obsidian Ansteorran mullet held at each point by the ends of two brass branches. The two obsidian mullets were from one piece that had been split/cut into two nearly identical pieces resulting in nearly identical banding between the King's and Queen's crowns.
This set of crowns was only used by the King and Queen; there was not a corresponding Heirs set.
The Early Period Crowns, Mark II
Based on an earlier crown created by Count Dinaris the Wanderer, these crowns were simple circlets that rise to a single high point in the front, with three lower points at each cardinal. They are adorned with a black Ansteorran Star at each point, which protrudes from the band. As of 2018, they are still in use.
The Fleur de Lys Crowns: 1999
The Fleur de Lys crowns were designed by Sara penrose and Gunthar Jonsson. Cassius Domitus Lepus was commissioned to build them, and received additional assistance from Mistress Anastacia Marie Travarra and Master Tarl Godric the Brokentoe, who assisted with elements such as wire bending, rivet-making, and "helping keep Cassius motivated." The crowns were delivered at Gunthar and Sara's stepping-down, and they were able to wear them for "one whole court." The original crowns had pearl ornamentation, but the pearls were removed or lost during a cleaning. They can be seen in photos of Daffydd Whitaker and Octavia de Verdun's coronation. The Fleur Crowns have been used for several coronations, including our 80th Crown, Miguel Sebastian de Oporto III and Conal Alexandria O'Riordain III. Of these crowns, Her Grace Gilyan Alienora of Clonmacnoise has said, "I have fond memories of sitting in front of the TV on Thursday or Sunday nights with these crowns. A towel, q-tips, toothpicks, a sharpie, and several shows later the crowns would be cleaned, polished, and re-blackened."
The DarkRidge Crowns: 2009
With the consent of the seated Crown, Owen ap Aeddan and Genevria di Betto di Adriano, Jean Paul de Sens and Gilyan Alienora of Clonmacnoise sent out a Request for Bid to several artists while they were Prince and Princess. Two artists responded, and Dark Ridge Jewels was selected as the craftsperson. (Their bid was for the pair of Crowns and pair of Coronets. All 4 together cost $3000.00.) The crown design was a collaboration by multiple artists and Royalty, including but not limited to Cassius Domitus Lepus, Kajira Camber, and Michelle Chantal de Charente, and included silver, bronze, garnets and Black Star Diopside cabochons. They were crafted by Mistress Lailin Uhthala Darkridge, of Darkridge Jewels The Queen's crown is ornamented with roses on the hinge pins, and the King's crown has lion's head hinge pins. The first time they saw use was during the step down court for Jean Paul de Sens and Gilyan Alienora of Clonmacnoise. They were in periodic use by the 63rd through 71st Crowns. The first Royal Couple to use them for their Coronation/stepping up was Hrafn Olafsson and Elizabeta di Valore della Rosa, and this can be seen in the photo on their Reign page. The following Crown, Jean Paul de Sens and Gilyan Alienora of Clonmacnoise, also used them for Coronation. The crowns were retired for time, due to the fragility of the hinge construction and other complications. It is believed that Sara Penrose is working on repairs to them. For In-Progress photos of these crowns, please visit the DarkRidge Jewels Facebook Album, Ansteorra Crowns.
The Ugo Serrano Crowns
Made by world renowned artist Ugo Serrano, these crowns for the King and Queen were commissioned in 2015. They were in the Crown budget during the reign of Lochlan Dunn and Michelle Chantal de Charente, and a call for bids and budgeting information was published in the Black Star at that time. From the bids received, the final design was selected by Sven Randullsson and Antigone of York. The Serrano Crowns were presented to the populace by Sven and Antigone at their step-down court. Our 74th King and Queen, Creppin l'Ostriche and Toryn Sevenstitches, were the first to be Crowned using these magnificent works of art. Gabriel of Maccuswell & Sonja Ryzaja, and Jason Drysdale I & Margherita de Mantua I were also crowned using them. The materials are nickel silver, and it is inset with citrine, onyx, and garnets, and despite their appearance are remarkably light weight, being only 14 ounces each. They are corrosion and tarnish resistant as well. The crowns bear the kingdom motto, as well as a number of other noble virtues inscribed upon it, and is based on a period set from 1550's Portugal. They have an internal suspension sewn into them to distribute their weight, making them noticeably more comfortable for the wearer. Work-in-Progress photos can be seen on the Artist's Facebook album. Ugo has stated that it took him approximately three months, start to finish, to complete them, with workdays ranging from four to twelve hours at a time. They are stored in boxes created specifically for them by Alejandro Ramirez Mendoza (who also made the Thrones currently in use).
There was significant controversy regarding the Crowns at the time of their presentation and use, relating to their cost. This was referred to on social media as "Crowngate." There were those who were unaware of the general process that was undertaken to notify the populace (via the Black Star and during two different Round Table events) and budgeting procedures (which had been followed), and there were those who felt that the cost involved was simply too high, and funds could be used for something else, such as free events for the populace, other types of Royal ornamentation, or even public relations. A number of prior Royalty spoke to the value and quality of the investment, as did several artisans, who were able to speak to the appropriateness of the cost, given time, labor, and materials.
A similar set for the Kingdom Heirs was made by North Star Armory.
The Black Crowns
These crowns were not part of the Kingdom Regalia, but rather were on loan by their creator, Athena Mawrcan Derwen Ddu. They are believed to have been worn by only three Crowns: Inman McMoore VI and Athena Morcan Derwyn Ddoo II, Jean Richard Malcomson I and Anora of Winward, and Mikael of Monmouthshire III and Mikaela of Monmouthshire I. The Black Crowns came to four points, and were made of a gold metal. One crown was ornamented with roses, the other with lions, and both had onyx stones.(As provided by Katrionna Heather MacLochlainn).
The Glass Crowns
A pair of clear, blown glass coronets were given to the Kingdom during the early-to-mid 1980s. Per Master Robin of Gilwell, "They were worn once, for about ten seconds, and then put back in the box." Due to their delicacy and fragility, they were not worn, and broke while in storage.
The Swords of State
The Ebon Blade
The first Sword of State was the Ebon Blade, which was presented by Master Orm and Vicountess Megan. It was stolen by brigands from the Crown's vehicle (Kein MacEwan II and Alisha MacLeod II). Additional information about the Ebon Blade and its history can be found in this message. The lore was compiled by Vicountess Megan Andoniel of Glengalen (OP), with contributions by herself, "Baron Orm, with the help of Hrabia Jan W'Orzeldom, Count Finn Kelley O'Donnel, Master Ivar Battleskald, and Lord Xylon Xerxes. Portraits from the time also aided us, but at least those people should be credited, if possible." (As Countess Megan was not, at that time, subscribed to the email list, her words were conveyed through the kindness of Galen of Bristol.)
The Tale of the DiPisa Sword of State
by Pendaran Glamorgan, Lion of Ansteorra
Originally posted to the Kingdom Email list, in July of 1998. Permission to reprint found here.
For those good Ansteorrans who were unable to attend the coronation of TRM Barn and Catriona this last weekend, I set forth to tell the tale of how Ansteorra came by its new sword of state, and how it was chosen by a king, then passed to another. I witnessed these deeds and pray to God and all the saints that I set forth my words faithful and true to the events that passed.
Long ago, the Ebon Blade was presented to King Sigmund by the Lions of Ansteorra. Last winter, this most sacred emblem of our dear king was stolen by brazen thieves. There was a great deal of worry and consternation concerning how the next sword of state should be chosen. Many harsh words were spoken and many felt that a suitable sword would be chosen. In the interim, Duke Sigmund the Wingfooted cared enough to loan the kingdom his sword until a suitable replacement could be found. Until that time, the kingdom would bear the scar or the theft of its blade.
Many years ago, Sir Riccardo di Pisa, knight and Lion of Ansteorra, crafted a sword. It was a blade stout and strong, and it was forged to be carried into battle, the weapon of a hero. Through tournament and war, Riccardo fought like the lion he was, always at the fore, always seeking honor for his lady and glory for his kingdom. Throughout these years, Riccardo was the bane of any who would stand against him, and the enemies of Ansteorra trembled when he strode the field; and always at his side, Riccardo carried the sword that he had forged.
Inevitably, time, that thief of youth and strength, robbed Riccardo of the strength that had wielded that sword so well. However, time could not take from Riccardo his lion heart, nor the kingdom who knew Riccardo, of the memories that he had given it. Earlier this year, Riccardo passed from the world of men, leaving Ansteorra poorer for having lost him, but richer for having known him.
During his sickness, Riccardo gave his sword to his squire, Cynric of Bedwin, and bade him to keep it safe. Cynric was moved by this gesture from his dying knight and swore a solemn oath that no harm would come to his knight's sword. After Riccardo's passing, Cynric thought upon his oath and upon the order of the Lion, of which Riccardo was amongst the greatest. Cynric did not feel that he could carry the sword, has it bore the emblem of that noble order. If only a Lion could bear the sword, Cynric felt that perhaps a Lion should keep the sword: certainly no one would look to the sword's safety better than the Lions. Therefore, Cynric offered Riccardo's sword to the order, asking that the Lions guard the blade and honor it as they would honor their dead brother.
When this offer was made, the Lions were greatly honored. However, feeling greatly the loss of the Ebon Blade, the Lions saw that they had before them a suitable sword for Ansteorra. The Lions therefore went before their king, and asked Him to accept this sword, crafted and wielded by Riccardo, as the kingdom's sword. The king, Rischard, was wise and sought counsel, He spoke to His advisors and to His heir, Prince Barn. All who heard the Lions' request knew Riccardo and his feats and knew his hero's heart. No one could think of a sword with a greater heart and more glorious history than Riccardo's blade. No one could think of a better sword for Ansteorra.
Therefore, at His final court, Rischard, king of Ansteorra, called forth the Lions, who bore Riccardo's blade. The Lions offered to their king the sword, and the king did accept it. Holding the sword aloft, the king proclaimed that Riccardo's sword had become the kingdom's sword, and the kingdom rejoiced at His proclamation.
As is the tradition in the kingdom of Ansteorra, before the old king steps down, He gives to the Lions the sword of state, that they should hold and guard the blade until His heir should come forth and claim it. Thus did Richard do, giving the Lions the new sword of state. When Barn, the new king came forth to claim His throne and crown His Queen, He called forth the Lions into His court. This was unusual, for the Lions do usually come unbidden into the new king's court, the only order with the permission to do so. However, the new king wished to do honor unto the Lions, and they were called forth one by one. Those that were present answered the king's call, as well as answering the call for those Lions who were not were not present.
The Lions carried with them the sword of state, and the first one to speak held it aloft saying that the sword had come from the hand of Riccardo di Pisa, that it was "A sword crafted by a hero, wielded by a hero, given to a kingdom of heroes!". With that, the sword was passed from one Lion to another, so that all of the Lions could hold the sword and share in the king's proclamation that it is the true sword of state. The last Lion to hold the sword was the first Lion to be made in the Kingdom of Ansteorra, Orm Skjolbidig, who presented unto the king the sword of state.
Thus was the new sword chosen, a gift from a squire to the Lions, from the Lions to the king. And thus was the old tradition upheld: the sword was passed from king to king, through the order of the Lions. And thus was a wound upon the kingdom healed.
Upon my belt and chain as a knight, I swear that these deeds were true as I witnessed them,
Pendaran Glamorgan, Lion of Ansteorra
- The Oliphant Full Achievement Banner: This banner was presented to Ansteorra in honor of Aureliane Rioghail, by her student, Alisandre Oliphant, in or around 1988. (This was prior to Alisandre becoming a Laurel in her own right.) In the artist's own words: "Aureliane had been Star Principal Herald, and she had drawn a full achievement for the kingdom. It was the only version at the time and not well known - full achievements were not commonly displayed. I was an aspiring heraldic artist, and I also didn’t care for her art style, so I designed this version. I wanted to incorporate every Ansteorran award up to that time into the design. The sable comet had no badge at the time, so I winged a design arching over the crown; it was awesome that this did become the badge later. I used a spear and a jousting lance to hold the flags, to represent both early and late period. I don’t remember what event we presented it at. As I said, full achievements were much rarer then, so it’s been cool to see it adopted and used."
- The Rixende Queen's Banner: This banner was made by (then) Cadet Rixende and Cadet Tomas, as well as a young 8 year old named Daniel. It was were presented to Queen Vanessa II, in her reign with Aaron MacGregor.
The Royal Attire of the Principality
Purchased from a theater company, the "Royal Attire" were garments of fur edged purple velvet. They were loaned out for Coronations and other special events by Tessa of the Gardens. They can be seen in photos of the second and third Prince and Princess of Ansteora.
The Weird Thing of State
This ancient Ansteorran object was made by Finn Kelly O’Donnell for the 2nd Crown, King Lloyd von Eaker. It was intended to be a ceremonial mace or scepter, and started life as a “high end” toilet tank float. It can be seen in images of the Coronation of our 5th Crown.