The Estrella Accords

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This article was written based on the recounting of Duke Inman, Mistress Claryce Orfevre, and Mistress Annes Clotilde von Bamburg, at the Historian’s Fireside Chat (video at the link), held March 7, 2021.

It all started with a closed meeting of the Board of Directors of the Society for Creative Anachronism, held in January of 1994. In that meeting, it was decided that the SCA would shift its membership model to one of 100% mandatory membership for participation: Participation at ANY level, from the local guild meetings held in someone’s home to a fighter practice in a public park, to a populace meeting, to a collegium, to a Crown Tournament, to a War. No membership? No participation. The cost of membership would also be increased by 40%. This was being done because the Board felt that moving to a more formalized 501C structure, with a CEO, would be beneficial. Contracts had been signed, the funding of which would come from the increased membership fees.

Having been Crowned King just the day prior, His Majesty Inman MacMoore, Sixth of his name, received a call from his long time and well trusted friend, His Excellency, Master Korwyn Marius Velis Ariannaid, OP. Korwyn provided details of the Board decision to his Crown. Inman’s immediate response was that this would not stand in Ansteorra: That no one was going to so radically change the culture of the kingdom. It wasn’t simply membership that was at issue: it was the keeping of lists, and forcing people to disinvite people from their homes, guilds, households.

Word spread very quickly amongst the Crowns and various Great Officers of State – several of whom were close, personal friends of King Inman. Estrella War was the next large scale inter-Kingdom event, and consensus arose amongst the Crowns that it would be good to meet in person and discuss the Board decision.

Seeking the expertise and skill of (then) Honorable Lady Stella Silvana, a document was drafted that, in essence, assured that no matter the decisions of the board, that the Crowns of each Kingdom would continue to recognize each other as Sovereigns, and Kingdoms.

At the Estrella War, all but two Kingdoms signed the Estrella Accord – even Drachenwald, which had travelled all the way from Europe. When this was communicated to the Board, the response was harsh and immediate: If Ansteorra did not follow the policy, there would be repercussions. Inman and Athena would lose their Crowns. They would be banished. They would be stripped of all prior titles and ranks. Sir Frederick von Sternwald, then Kingdom Seneschal for Ansteorra, was told by the Society Seneschal that discussions were being held to remove him from office – with the potential of a lawsuit to follow.

It was Inman and Athena’s firm desire to communicate what was going on as much as possible. Working with (then) Lady Claryce Orfevre, the Kingdom Chronicler, news updates were put in every issue of the Black Star. Regular communication was also held via telephone (resulting in more than one month with a $700 phone bill for the Crown – the equivalent of $1250 today) and via the electronic news group, The Rialto. Local groups held discussions at Populace meetings, and letters were sent to the Board of Directors to support their Crown with dozens of signatures. Copies of the Black Star were being read aloud in Populace meetings in multiple Kingdoms, as one of the best sources of information about the change.

As the populaces, Crowns, and Greater Officers of State continued to speak against the Board decision, the Board’s response became stronger: If the Greater Officers of State of Ansteorra supported their rebellious crown, the officers would be stripped of office, banished and stripped of rank. In the worst case, Ansteorra would no longer be recognized as part of the SCA.

Throughout the weeks, the Crown sought to affirm that They were doing the will of the Populace. A pull out questionnaire was inserted into the Black Star, polling their views. As any statistician or pollster knows, getting feedback is oftentimes difficult: However, of the 1500 newsletters that were sent out, 1100 polls were sent back in, and Ansteorra’s voice was clear. 91% of those who responded were in favor. Their voice was clear: the culture of the Kingdom was worth fighting for.

Inman and Athena led Ansteorra to war – against the Board. The polling data from the Kingdom, letters from the Crowned Heads of Kingdoms, the ongoing and fiery discussion on the Rialto – all of this was brought and laid before the BOD. (It was also being stored, filling a 3 drawer filing cabinet at Inman’s home, in case the threats of lawsuits against himself, Athena, and Frederick came to reality. “Though, really, how are they going to sue a make believe king over a make believe Kingdom?” asked Inman. Frederick advised him to document everything, so he did.) Populace members started not renewing their memberships – and instead, writing a letter to the Board to explain why.

Ansteorra, Inc., was created, to prepare a legal framework – just in case the Board did invalidate the Kingdom’s charter. This came as a cold shock to the BOD. Finally, the Board backed down – by half of them resigning. A new President was elected: Duke John Bearkiller. Inman and the Crowns learned about the significant sums that the Board had contractual obligations to fund, and a compromise was found: It was insisted that a public, not closed, meeting be held and a renunciation of the Pay To Play policy be made, but to help resolve the financial issue, that a Non-Member surcharge of $3.00 per person per event would be levied. It was further demanded that the Board follow their own governing documents, and seek the feedback of the populace before such sweeping decisions in the future. (This was the foundation of the Grand Council of the Society.)

When all was said and done, the (Mundane) CEO that had been hired by the Board was released. His parting words were, “Man, I’m outta here. You people are fucking crazy.”

The next Board meeting was hosted by Ansteorra. While half the board had left, others remained that were angered by the rebellion. In the reigns that followed, especially that of Michael and Rebekka - allegations arose against the Kingdom - that Ansteorra was harboring Satanic cults that were trying to sacrifice children. Inman, serving as Kingdom Seneschal, working with the new King and Queen, was able to fend off the revenge-seekers and address the allegations without it blowing up further. (Please see: Words of the Crown - February, 1995) Once there was a new slate of officers, Inman stepped down after four months of service as Seneschal.

At Pennsic War that year, it was seen, over and over, that members of other Kingdoms were seeking out Ansteorrans, to thank them for their courage and determination in the fight against the Board, which preserved the SCA’s culture.

The fight with the Board took much of the joy out of the SCA for His Grace, Inman, and his beloved Queen Athena. Both of them reduced their participation significantly, and dropped out of participation entirely within a few years. In remembering the events of those months, Inman hopes that Ansteorrans will take one thing away from it all: That they should be proud of what their Kingdom accomplished.

Populace Commentary

Fundraising T-shirt - Photo by and shirt owned by Suzanne Beraud. (Photo Description: Black Tshirt with a golden lance and banner with the Ansteorran star on the banner, the name ANSTEORRA beneath the banner in a Blackletter style font.)

Claryce Orfevre

It was a stressful time for many people. I drove to Estrella with Sir Frederick, and we both knew the BOD might banish us that weekend. We also knew that resisting the "Pay to Play" was the only thing we *could* do. The amount of support we received from the populace was amazing and much appreciated, but I have to admit that when I look back on those days, I shudder at all of the things that could have gone differently. The SCA as we knew it was in balance.

Burke Kyriel MacDonald

Oh boy, I remember that weekend. Frederick called me and asked me to stop by his office, since I was his emergency replacement deputy he had to brief me on everything because he didn’t expect to come back from Estrella still seneschal.

Suzanne Beraud

A lot of us still have the t-shirts.
(Inman and Athena sold Ansteorra t shirts to help pay for all the additional costs. )

Damon Xanthus

Having lived through this I can tell you that this episode was a rallying cry for Ansteorra that had declared enemies standing side by side, and pride in the Black Star was never higher. (Also, as an outsider previous to this, I can say, this is when myself and other fringe players really learned what Ansteorra it’s truest sense.)

Elric Dracwin

I remember when all that happened. We, the populace, were incensed! And we were proud of our Crowns and Great Officers for standing up for not only Ansteorra but the entire Society for Creative Anachronism.

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