History of the Carolingian Guild of Musicians and Jongleurs

This organizational history has mostly been constructed in retrospect; it was started by Tibicen, and updated sporadically by Eowyn. We believe this information is broadly correct, but we don't guarantee it; in particular, some of the dates may be a bit shaky. More precise documentation (including correction of errors) would be welcome.

The Barony of Carolingia was founded as an SCA group in the fall of 1970 CE; its first event, a Valentine's Day revel, was held that winter. It is recorded that singing there was led by a lady called Judith of Carlisle, and included (possibly among others) the songs He that Will an Alehouse Keep, War Begetteth Poverty, Nowell Sing We Both All and Some, and Green Groweth the Holly.

The first Seneschal, Daniel de Tankard, also became the first Guildmaster Jongleurs. At that point baronial guilds were relatively informal organizations -- to the best of our understanding, none were formally chartered during Carolingia's first few years. So the Jongleurs' Guild was presumably simply the folks who liked to get together to sing SCA-period songs, led by Daniel.

Sometime during the next few years, Elspeth of Morven took over as music leader. She is known to have led singing, and may also have led some sort of instrumental section. According to Rumor, then-King Asbjorn made her a Companion of the Silver Crescent -- the East Kingdom order for service to the kingdom -- after seeing her at a Carolingian event, during the dancing, standing in the middle of the ring of dancers, playing an instrument (possibly a drum) and holding the music in her mouth so her few companions could see it while playing recorders.

The Jongleurs' Guild is the only true Guild mentioned in the original Carolingian Baronial Charter, which was granted by then-King Cariadoc and Queen Diana in October 1974 (the other guild mentioned therein, the "Guild of Equerries", was in fact a service organization, which shortly thereafter re-formed itself as a household.) The Guild itself was formally chartered probably sometime during 1976, under the formal name of The Guild of Musicians and Jongleurs of the Barony of Carolingia. The charter is signed on behalf of the Guild by Guiseppe Casazza and Christophe des Champs; the latter is known to have played the lute. The text of the charter is preserved here for posterity's sake, though we have not used the form of organization detailed therein for most of our history. (The formal written copy of the charter is held for the Guild by its senior officer.)

At some point shortly thereafter, Elspeth ceased acting as music leader -- but the creation of music went on, though at a somewhat less intense level. We are told that a small consort of mostly recorder players continued to play mostly dance music, led by, among others, Larisa iz Kieva. On the vocal side of things, a small crowd of friends -- recruited into the SCA from Lexington High School by Cassandra Boell von Bayer -- showed up to sing, with Ronald de Bourgogne of their number arranging for them to have interesting music.

In the very late 1970s, Kobayashi Yutaka arrived with, as one guild member recalls, "clear leadership abilities and all of his mother's recorders". He quickly became Guildmaster, and served in that post until mid-1985. At some point during his tenure, one of the players, Dana Stuart, arranged for them to have some profesional coaching (he is said to have paid for this out of his own pocket).

Kobayashi was succeeded by Elspeth again for a brief period, and she in turn was succeeded by Davide Michelotto. During Davide's tenure, the Jongleurs' vocal and instrumental groups were first split between different managing directors. By the beginning of 1986, Davide had handed direction of the vocalists over to Gwendolyn of Middlemarch, retaining direction of the instrumentalists himself. There followed a period of fairly rapid turnover for the leadership of the vocalists: sometime during 1987, Gwendolyn was succeeded by Rhys Pwyll ap Maelgwyn, who was succeeded in December 1988 by Geoffrey Matthias, who was succeeded by late 1989 by Eliane Esperance.

Davide stepped down as leader of the instrumentalists sometime during 1989, and was briefly followed by Eric MacAaron de Faoleoil, but by late 1990 Eliane was Guildmistress, leading both groups. She continued in that position until October 1991. After her departure, the instrumentalists and vocalists were again split under different managing directors: Tibicen Blackmane (Guirauda de Miraval) led the instrumentalists, and Gwendolyn again led the vocalists.

During the summer of 1996, Gwendolyn was succeeded as vocal director by Yelizaveta Medvedeva. About then, the instrumentalists adopted the name the Waytes, based on Tibicen's research into what a local dance band would have been called during the (late) SCA period (in England). Tibicen also determined that the leader of a band of Waytes would have been called its Captain. Later during Yelizaveta's tenure, Tibicen dug up the name the Quire for the vocal section to use, to balance the mystique of the name Waytes.

Yelizaveta retired as Quire Director in fall 2000. When this occurred, no one stood out as an obvious successor to her. Also, the Quire members noted that leading the Quire was a very large task, and directors had an unfortunate tendency to burn out -- when they stepped down, they left the group entirely. So Tibicen proposed that the Quire move to a distributed form of organization, with a modest number of permanent officers to deal with the necessary administrivia. Directors would be appointed on a per-project basis; their positions would only last for the lengths of their projects, but they would be able to concentrate mostly on directing, and leave the bureaucracy to the officers. The Quire accepted this proposal, and selected said officers in October 2000, with Eowyn Eilonwy of Alewife Brook chosen as Quire Manager. See the list of Quire officers for more information on the various Quire officers and their jobs.

During the summer of 2003, Tibicen was succeeded as Waytes Captain by Udalrich Schermer. During the summer of 2013, Udalrich was succeeded as Waytes Captain by Matilda, who had held various other Waytes offices over the previous several years.

In January 2017, Eowyn was succeeded as Quire Manager by Orlando dei Medici, who had served for many years as the Quire Librarian. During the following summer, Matilda retired from the post of Waytes Captain, and was succeeded by Ysabel da Costa.


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Last modified by Eowyn, 4 July, AS LII (2017 C.E.).