When I got the assignment for this particular scroll, I already had an idea for the art. Eynon’s persona is a 13th c Welsh archer (which is great for an archery award), but writing the text was going to present some challenges. Part of the reason for the challenge was that I really wanted to pull into a law text, not a poetry text. In period, grants and patents of arms were legal documents, allowing rights and privileges to an individual. Now, that’s only one of the many ways to write an award text (poetry can be another), but I definitely wanted law on this one. (Also, Welsh poetry is looooooong and I was also doing the calligraphy, so, there were some purely selfish reasons here.)
So, I started my research on Welsh law, starting with the Laws of Hywel Dda, which were written in 950 CE, but were in use until the supersession by the Statute of Rhuddlan in 1284 and then Henry VII’s Laws in Wales Acts in the early-sixteenth century. The problem with using the Laws of Hywel Dda, though, was that it was largely civil codes, not rewarding people for good behaviour (though there’s some incredibly interesting things that I discovered elsewhere, like how a serf would swear fealty). Since I couldn’t find what I wanted, I went back to English law of the time period. (And since there are some fantastic sources on English texts from this point and later, I’m not going to rehash them, so onto the scroll text!)
This is what I wrote for the text.
Xerxis the Glorious, by the inspiration of Belanna his queen, the king of Calontir, send greetings.
At the request of the Royal Archers, it is ordained and by our Lord the King and our Lady the Queen commanded, that from henceforth that one Eynon Llangenydd shall be given, endowed and made member of the Order of the Boga-Hirth. He is to be granted use of the badge of the order, to wit: Per chevron embattled sable and argent, in pale two strung bows in saltire argent and a cross of Calatrava purpure. He is also to be granted two hides of forested land and one hide for which to raise geese, and is so ordered, should time come, to ensure protection of our Royal lands.
And so that this our gift may continue firm and unimpaired in future times, we have reinforced it with the protection of our seal and the subscription of witnesses.
Given at King’s Companie of Archers in the Barony of Forgotten Sea on the eighth day of September in the fifty-third year of the Society.
The calligraphy was a medium gothic textura, inspired by this piece, and appropriate for the time period. Being a lefty, calligraphy can be difficult, but I also wanted to expand out a bit. I’m rather fond of the ascenders in the exemplar piece, and I particularly love the capital letters that resemble Lombardic capitals, which is what I used in this piece. The black ink is a pretty standard black fountain pen ink, which I like for flow, and the red ink is Liquitex’s Ink! in transparent red. (which I think has been renamed as Pyrrole Red, but don’t quote me.) I used one of my favourite nibs, which I got in a pack of nibs from Blick. I unfortunately don’t remember the kind it is, though, but it’s a trooper and is wonderful for this style of calligraphy.
The illumination had a few inspiration pieces, too. Their Majesties’ seated together and the subject of the scroll were more or less ideas from Matthew Paris or his contemporaries (Cotton MS Claudius D VI, f. 9v and the Westminster Psalter), firmly 1250s English styling. I did go a bit heavier on the paint, instead of tinting, but I also wanted to do more gilding, as well, and tinted drawings didn’t stand well next to it. I will note my amusement at Eynon wearing close to the same outfit in the scroll the day it was given to him, but that, I promise, was not planned. The column was a last minute addition, and the rabbit being chased by the cat was a take on marginalia. I also wanted to make sure his arms were put on the scroll – Eynon is Calontir’s Clerk of the Precedence, so he’s one of our heralds.
The cat, of course, is based on one of Eynon and his wife’s cats. (See also why social media is great for getting portraits of people on the sly.)
As a challenge, doing the entire scroll myself was definitely that. There’s no waiting on another person for text (except on approval), and motivation is purely in the hands of the person doing the scroll. On the other hand, being able to give to someone who has given so much of his time, talents, and who he is as a person to others is truly rewarding.