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Some feast seating incidents for adventures


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While doing research into precedence at feasts in medieval England, I’ve come across some titbits of information that might make for fun minor bits of business to throw into a Pendragon game.  So I thought I might throw them out here, in case anyone finds them useful.  All three are based in something from the period that people at least claimed was real..

1) The new seneschal’s problem.  A friend of the player knights has just been made seneschal of their liege, and he’s still learning the ropes.   (He was rewarded for his loyalty, or as a favor to his family, or something, rather than being exceptionally well-qualified for the position.)  He’s in a panic, and he asks the PKs for their advice.  The mayor of London is going to be a guest at a feast to which a number of members of the titled nobility have also been invited, and the new seneschal has heard that the mayor of London, as representative of the king, is treated as being of the highest rank and outranking these barons.

Stewardship or Courtesy-5 — Success:  This is true, but it only applies within the city of London.  In London, the mayor has the most honored place at the high table at any feast, except when the king himself is present, and ranks before even the most noble duke or archbishop. However, the mayor of London does rank the same as a baron outside London, so make sure to seat him with them.  Failure:  Yes, but that’s only in London.  Don’t worry about it.   Critical success: As Success, but did you know that the mayor of London is placed at the first table to the left at the front of the hall at a king’s coronation feast?  It’s a fascinating topic.  Of course, the mayor of London outranks all other mayors, but the mayor of [other city - it was Calais, originally] is allowed to dine with the knights.... Fumble: That’s ridiculous.  The mayor of London isn’t even a knight, is he?

Reward: the seneschal owes you a favor.  Also, you may have saved your lord serious embarrassment. 

2) The visiting Irish king.  Kings plural, originally (four of them), but it will probably work better for a game if there’s only one.  An Irish king is visiting Logres with his entourage.  Why he is there depends on the period, but he has official or unofficial goals that call for him to seek favor (probably with the king) and the player knights have been assigned to guide him and make sure that he succeeds. 

The first time the player knights have dinner with the Irish king, they are horrified — not only do the Irish king’s servants and musicians eat at the same table as him, he allows them to eat off his golden plates and drink out of his silver goblet!   He will never be able to fit in in Logres if he behaves like that.  If challenged, the king is touchy about it and says that he is following the custom of his people.  The player knights must find a way to persuade him to change his ways. 

(In the original incident, the English squire accompanying the kings let them eat as they pleased at first, and after a few days, set up tables in the English manner, with the servants and musicians at separate tables from the kings, and managed to win the kings over at that point.)

Rewards: the gratitude of whoever assigned them to make sure that the Irish king’s visit was a success; the friendship of the Irish king; the resentment and hatred of his people in Ireland when he goes back and tries to introduce the customs of Logres there...

3) An unexpected honor.  The player knights are acting as messengers from the king.  (Possibly in 487, if they choose the Lindsey Embassy over the Naval Raids.)  At a feast, they are assigned a much more honorable place than they are used to — they are dining with barons (not counts or dukes).  Has there been some mistake?

Stewardship or Courtesy-5: Success: No, messengers from the king are always considered to be one rank higher than they are, so that a knight who is a messenger from the king is the equivalent of a baron. 

Rewards:  The player knights don’t risk embarrassing themselves and showing disrespect for the king by refusing.  They have a chance to hobnob with more important people and impress them.  Years later, a squire comes with a message from the king, and the player knights know to treat him as if he were a knight, on the same principle.

 

 

Edited by Voord 99
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7 hours ago, Voord 99 said:

1) The new seneschal’s problem.  A friend of the player knights has just been made seneschal of their liege, and he’s still learning the ropes.   (He was rewarded for his loyalty, or as a favor to his family, or something, rather than being exceptionally well-qualified for the position.)  He’s in a panic, and he asks the PKs for their advice.  The mayor of London is going to be a guest at a feast to which a number of members of the titled nobility have also been invited, and the new seneschal has heard that the mayor of London, as representative of the king, is treated as being of the highest rank and outranking these barons.

 

Very funny, but shouldn't it be the new chamberlain's problem? Honest question. I am not sure myself.

Otherwise, this is good, but IMO, only in arthurian times. During the reign of Uther, I don't see a mayor treated with such esteem.

The others tidbits are good, if you like protocol.

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1 hour ago, Tizun Thane said:

Very funny, but shouldn't it be the new chamberlain's problem? Honest question. I am not sure myself.

I think the actual terminology was more variable than in Pendragon.  John Russell calls this person a “marshall,” which would really bother Pendragon players.  Looking it up, though, the Book of the Warlord prefers dapifer (which is just Latin for steward or seneschal — it’s what Geoffrey of Monmouth calls Kay).  

Quote

Otherwise, this is good, but IMO, only in arthurian times. During the reign of Uther, I don't see a mayor treated with such esteem.

The others tidbits are good, if you like protocol.

Historically there wasn’t a mayor of London until the end of the 12th century.  So the end of the Boy King period is the earliest that this could happen, and it’s not directly based on anything from before the equivalent of the Twilight period.

The above incidents all draw on late medieval sources, in fact, and I couldn’t say how early these precise details would have applied in reality — to the extent that there are not idealizations going on in the sources (which, although I’m not an expert, I suspect there are).   But I think one can go with any period where they seem to fit, and handwave with “Well, it’s how Malory would have imagined things would work, based on his own time.”  

I think the fit is always going to be be a little loose.  Many of the “real” rules about precedence are about churchmen, and those break down in Pendragon, as they assume that there is only one religious hierarchy to be considered.  Pendragon Ireland is a very uncomfortable compromise between historical medieval Ireland and the sources (one which is not unlikely to provoke an “Are we the baddies?” moment....), and one can argue that the above incident would not happen in any Pendragon Ireland that has Iseult, Sir Marhaus, etc., as even if the king is “tribal Irish” he should at least know about these things.

 

Edited by Voord 99
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1 hour ago, Voord 99 said:

one can argue that the above incident would not happen in any Pendragon Ireland that has Iseult, Sir Marhaus, etc., as even if the king is “tribal Irish” he should at least know about these things.

Plenty of more rough-and -ready tribal kings around, both in Ireland, as well as in Cambria and in the North (Tribal Picts, especially). Leinster is amongst the most feudal and 'civilized' kingdoms in Ireland.

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