Why do I bow the knee


This missive was originally posted in the Barony of the Sacred Stones’ Facebook Group by Justin Eiler. I think it is a good missive and one worth reading by as many in the Society for Creative Anachronism as is possible.

Dedicated, with much love and admiration, to Their Excellencies Marc (Mark Green) and Alianor, and to our past Coronets, Master Matsudaira Kentarou Toshiyori and Mistress Jane Davis Sellers.

Why do I Bow the Knee

by Justin Eiler

Within the Game, I am Madog Hir, a man of no personal titles, no honors, no awards. I have a willingness to help, so I have volunteered as a Herald. I love to sing, and to share my music with others, so I perform as a bardd–the Welsh word for a poet. And I hope–if I can do the physical therapy and get my hands into shape–to volunteer as a scribe once the PT is finished and I’m back in practice.

I will NEVER be a Knight–I don’t fight. I will most likely never be a Laurel–my A&S interests, while broad, are fairly shallow, and I like making things with the tools that I have far more than researching how to make them in a period manner. I will probably never be a Pelican, because I have physical limitations that preclude me from serving in several fields I would willingly volunteer for.

Outside of the Game, however, I am a modern, Western, egalitarian, and democratic individual. I grew up in a culture that largely rejected the entire concept of titled nobility (while, I will note, retaining at least some of the class distinctions). All that bowing and scraping … why ever would I want to do that?

And outside of the game, I do NOT do that. Oh, certainly, if I visited England and happened to meet the Queen, I would bow–refusing to do so would be the height of rudeness, and I always try to be polite to those around me.

But why would I do so within the Game?

Well, for one thing–and the most trivial of the lot–again, it’s basic politeness, but simply in a different form. The same urge of courtesy that prompts me to hold open doors for ladies, for my elders, for those less able, or simply for my fellow human beings is expressed in differently here in the SCA, but it has the same roots.

But outside of the SCA, I do these things for my _equals_. Why should I treat certain persons as my _betters_?

And then I got to thinking about it.

Landed barons take two or three years out of their own time and commit to being at all of the “official” events for their barony–in my own barony of Sacred Stone, that’s a _minimum_ of ten events, plus various Wars if at all possible. Over and above that, they often show up when they don’t have to, with members of their populace in events occurring in neighboring baronies.

And the royalty? For six months as Prince and Princess, and six months as King and Queen in our kingdom, our royalty runs all over the kingdom to _please the populace._ They’re not going around from event to event to collect the accolades–they’re going around to events primarily to reward people and acknowledge–and honor–the activities of the members of the Populace. (And we’re not even talking about the amount of physical abuse they receive to attain the position in the first place!)

The Peerage? These are people who have literally given of themselves, above and beyond the call, for _years._ They’ve given of themselves not just with combat, arts and science, and service, but with teaching, leading, and organizing others to fight, create, and serve. Some of them open their homes and their lives to squires, apprentices, and proteges, cultivating these individuals to achieve all that they can in their endeavors.

Why would I bow to these people? Because they have taken jobs I can’t, or don’t want, to do … not for their own pride or glory, but because they chose to _serve_ the populace in this manner.

That’s what our Game is all about–people serving other people, not because they have to, but because they WANT to.

And yes, for that kind of person, I will doff my hat and bow the knee.

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