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It has come to our notice here at the Attack Laurel Academy that the SCA Knowne Worlde Handebooke (Free E With Every Purchase!) is updating its bad olde self, and the editors are soliciting articles for the newe editione.

This seems a perfect time to address the sticky issue of Persona Stories. While the personae of all our Attack Laurel alumni (deceased) and faculty (badly maimed, but still more dangerous than a pit viper in cargo pants) are varied and exciting, encompassing all four corners of our inexplicably round world, and rife with pirates, gypsies, courtesans and vampire ninja Cossacks*, in reality, most people in the ridiculously generous period the SCA covers would live lives of quiet, boring desperation. Throughout this article, we will be quoting the life stories of actual real people of the period, that we totally made up so as to prove our point.

Because it's fun to claim you're Romany when no-one is trying to kill you for it!Collapse )
Edit:  I am being remiss; Bob came up with some of the "real-life persona" responses.


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Apr. 22nd, 2009 10:51 pm (UTC)
so.... I have one of those pirates kidnapped me and sold me into a harem, but I was rescued by my man who dragged me home and blah, blah, blah, and the best part is: HE came up with it bwuahahahaha.

And yes, it's completely tongue in cheek. People in period didn't have persona stories and most likely told their life story to relative strangers about as often as we do.

Let the mocking begin :)
Apr. 22nd, 2009 10:54 pm (UTC)
Synopsis of My Persona
Because I was in Naval service when I joined the SCA, I thought it logical that my persona be a seafarer also. Good way to explain the long absences, though in reality they'd have likely been longer than they were.

I was never kidnapped - I did live in a monastery until around age 12 (to explain literacy) when I ran away to go to sea. I suppose working my way up from ship's boy to ship's master is a stretch, but it IS creative.

Apr. 23rd, 2009 12:32 am (UTC)
*flounce* C'mon! It's like, so fun to create a proper persona, onw that, like is just what your past life was. I am, like, a 10th c Irish Noblewoman and I was well educated because my parents are So Wise and Wealthy and like My father's a famous (something) and so we travel all the time and I learned to sword fight to defend our gold on the High Seas but then we were beset upon by a Noble Privateer who fell in love with me and spared us all. So then we like went all over the world and I learned Cherokee arts and Japanese fighting skillz. And now we live in our palace in France being all rich and enlightened and OMG painfully phantasy Novell!!!

To mis-quote Lady Tudor Glitz from memory: Have you ever noticed that everyone was noble in their past lives?
Apr. 23rd, 2009 01:51 am (UTC)
at one point in my SCA career, I was a vagabond wench who traveled the world. Now I'm a 10th century Norse woman who stays and keeps the home fires burning while her merchant father and brothers sail the seas in search of trade goods. I sit home and spin yarn, weave occasionally, sew, and sprang. I have a real appreciation for folks who make at least a little bit of an effort to understand the world they're pretending to be a part of. :P
(Deleted comment)
Apr. 23rd, 2009 03:17 pm (UTC)
Missing the point, my love. It's the "Dangerous Beauty"-philes that give the whole courtesan persona the bad name. Thus, "courtesan" becomes shorthand for "I get to travel the world and wear slutty clothes, and I'm educated and can swordfight, and write poetry, and I've got the ear of the King (King? What king?!), etc, etc, etc. :)

Any persona mentioned here (including pirate, but okay, excepting Ninja) can be done, and done well and historically. But "Courtesan/worldtraveller/married a nobleman/settled in a castle in France" persona stories are silly.
Apr. 27th, 2009 01:32 am (UTC)
We do know of one courtesan who made it to Empress - Theodora. Not many others though.
Apr. 23rd, 2009 01:12 pm (UTC)
No travel? *pout*
Okay, I TOTALLY get the whole ninja-courtesan problem. Really I do, and I get pretty snarky about dippy persona stories.

(I think that *if* you have one, it should be historically plausible and interesting. But if you don't, so what?)

OTOH, I know I tweaked my persona to allow for a bit of travel, because if a woman of my class and time period were at court with all these weirdos and heretics, she would a) scream, b) faint, and c) insist that somebody get out the swords and flaming pitchforks.

And that's true for a lot of period -- persons from other cultures aren't interesting, they're demons and should be killed. NOW.

And a little bit of travel does help a person to understand that even the dude in the bathrobe is *human*.
Apr. 23rd, 2009 02:09 pm (UTC)
alternate persona
My alternate persona is Otto Slick, medieval real estate salesman.

- Johannes
Apr. 25th, 2009 04:25 am (UTC)
I have flirted with the idea of joining the SCA ever since I heard of it in the early 80's. But every time I hear the gypsy/courtesan/ninja fantasy I've gagged and run for five years. Mind, I also knew two guys whose personas were intriguing and internally consistent. They almost convinced me to join.

But then Akela de Romney, the illigetimate daughter of a Gypsy woman and a Welsh nobleman (whose father later recognizes her so she has an excuse to be literate) invariably trumps Sir Basil of Constantinople, a minor official who amuses himself by cooking for his guests (and very well, I might add) and the guy whose persona I never knew - a 3rd century North African gem merchant, heretic Christian.

It's easier for men to have interesting and varied personas, I think. One could perhaps explain a female persona's varied background thus: I was a third daughter of a mildly well off trading family, promised to the Church I went to the convent willingly (I didn't like any of the suitors they considered and they didn't like me) I was sent around 13 years of age, but while there I caught the attention of a very well off elderly woman, I think she was a nun but even the abbot was afraid of her, who took me on as a servant. She was from somewhere quite far away, and when she decided to go on a pilgrimage I was thrilled to be taken along because she knew I was loyal to her. She taught me to read, before her eyesight got too bad to read print, so I would read to her ...

This could be an excuse to be dropped into a very different environment and still be respectable - and literate. Monasteries are a place where people of all walks of life and origin would meet and make friends. When familial pressure takes them out of the monastery - for dynastic reasons - these friendships could continue, and they would probably keep in touch. Maybe send gifts, "My brother's son went on Crusade, and thanks be to God he came home! He brought some beautiful silks, I'm sending this to you in the hopes that it will reach you, along with my donation to the abby's altar..."

Of course men would be far more likely to be called back out of the monastery than a woman. But excess daughters were given to the church as a way of avoiding paying a dowery (and the church complained about being sent the lame, stupid, deaf, ugly girls they would then have to feed, house and clothe) - and if an elder sister died and replacement bride was needed ASAP...why not grab the younger girl out and send her off?

And multiple interests could also call for multiple persona's.
Apr. 30th, 2009 03:41 am (UTC)
You are my HERO.
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