Calontir Coronation was this weekend, and as is often the risk with midwestern kingdoms in January, we had the prediction of some pretty heinous weather. So not kidding – we had a winter storm warning issued that morning for potential awfulness.
So, with that, meant that I had duties to take over due to people not being able to travel. You might be aware that I’m a former Principal Herald of my kingdom (I was the 19th Gold Falcon Principal Herald of Calontir), which meant that I was pretty heavily involved in the tradition of attesting that the victor of Crown Tournament actually was who he says he was. It is a tradition, not a law, so there were a couple of Coronations where I didn’t have this duty. This time, though, our current Gold Falcon and our just past Gold Falcon were both not able to travel, so I became the next one in line. Conveniently, I lived not far from site, so getting there wasn’t as difficult as it could have been for others. Anyway, this is about my clothing choices for an event, not heraldic duties, so let’s keep going here.
Vestal virgins held a lot of power within Roman society. They could own property, vote (!), and could own property. They also had the best seats at the public games, and could release slaves and prisoners who were condemned. Also, a Vestal’s word was far beyond reproach – her testimony was accepted without her needing to be under oath. Ordinary women, well, couldn’t, unless they had three children, were freedwomen with four children, or were the aforementioned Vestal Virgins. Women could inherit property, but they could not control it, and perhaps while it’s true that some high-ranking women could have influenced their husbands, this is limited to some really rare examples. Most Imperial Roman women were ornaments who also bore children, and were keepers of virtue and morality at home. There would be no reason for anyone but a Vestal or an Empress/her ladies to be present within ceremonies with the equivalent of a Society coronation, let alone to speak at one (I also read part of our lineage of kings and queens).
Since I was the Stunt Gold Falcon, I had to attest that His Highness was indeed the victor of Crown Tournament. An ordinary patrician wife couldn’t do that, but a Vestal could. The Roman state entrusted this select group of women with important documents, such as public treaties and the wills of powerful citizens – so, this public ceremony could have had Vestals as part of it.
About the only thing I didn’t have was a guard to protect me (a Vestal traveled with a personal escort), but, as we are surrounded by friends, it is unlikely that I would have been murderfied by anyone at the event.
Now, I’m still probably going to wear my Byzantine as often as I can, but this side of the Bosphoros is still comfy and airy and I still love wallering around in all of the linen. And as I am chronologically approaching Vestal retirement age (anywhere from a woman’s mid-thirties to her early forties), my time in this kit is fast approaching the end. And yes, I know, I could easily still wear the kit well into older ages, but for historical accuracy, I know my time in this kit is not long for this world. (Then again, there are other things about me that my period counterpart would not have been or done, so, there’s that, too.)
I do want to upgrade the linen to white wool, but that comes with time and a little bit of money (I’m gonna need at least 10 yards of the white wool and about half a yard of red). While linen works, especially for long wear, it is not exactly fireproof, and well, the work of the Vestal Virgin was working around fire. It would probably be best to wear a material where the risk of the fabric getting caught on fire would be at a minimum.
I have already upgraded the infula to be made of wool, so I’m a step closer to upgrading the entire kit, but there are other things that have to also be done, including sandals. One step at a time.
The point to this is, sometimes the clothes we wear are more than just clothes. Sometimes looking at what roles we do, and wearing the clothes as best befitting the roles we do take on within the Society help create a better magic moment for everyone else. And this little bit of authenticity makes my heart sing. It may not for you, and that’s fine. I had my magic moment, and I hope others had one too. I am deeply grateful to Their Majesties, both incoming and outgoing, to our Gold Falcon, and our Kingdom Seneschal for this opportunity to do this again. It was wonderful to be able to serve in this manner.