Before times - Provost Stories - Gerlach Wiesengrund, OL, OWSA, Baron

By Master Robert Beddingfield

I authorized in May of ‘92 at NOTT II. I returned to my barony as the only authorized rapier fighter. Several folks in the barony were interested in rapier, however, so I decided we should start a practice at the barony’s regular fighter practice on Tuesday nights. I notified the KRM that I had authorized and he made me rapier marshal for the barony and told me to start a practice. Things were a little looser back then. Okay, a lot looser.

I was attending Giacomo’s practice on Monday nights, so, in true military fashion I would learn something on Monday and teach it on Tuesday (I’d then attempt to use it at the tournament on Saturday, usually with disastrous consequences). Worked just as well there as it did in the military.

I was introduced as the new rapier marshal at the June barony meeting, where a new transplant from Ansteorra was present, Gerlach (he was better known as Kiama then, with a Japanese persona). I talked to him after the meeting and asked if he had done any rapier in Ansteorra. He said, “Yes.” (he’s quite the taciturn fellow). I asked how much. He said, “6 years” (I had been fighting 3 months and authorized for less than 4 weeks). Needless to say, I was ecstatic. Sometime later after we’d become friends, he told me he thought he could help with rapier, but didn’t want to step on my toes. I certainly would have been one happy, toeless motherfucker if he had just taken over, but he’s not that kind of guy. Our rapier practice grew from there and over time produced some decent fighters. The Lochmere rapier practice; perhaps you’ve heard of it?

If you’ve ever been to the Academie d’Espee webpage, you’ve seen the painting on the masthead. It’s a copy of the scroll done for Master Gerlach upon his elevation to provost of the Academie. It was painted by Mistress Isobel and shows a number of members of the Academie, as well as some of his non-fighting friends. In the painting, Gerlach holds a parasol emblazoned with the Academie badge. The reason for that is a amusing tale of personal achievement and the birth of the Atlantian 5-man melee tourney.

Gerlach had journeyed to Estrella War as the Queen’s Champion in February of ‘94. While there, he and Duke Anton had noticed a fellow who was dressed in the most to-the-max foppish outfit they’d ever seen, complete with parasol. His Grace suggested to Gerlach that he should fight with such an item – I suppose it would qualify as a rigid parrying device as the rules then provided. Given that Anton was Prince, and would be King when Gerlach played his Provost prize at Pennsic later that year, it was seen as less a suggestion, and more a Royal Command.

And so it came to be that Gerlach played his prize upon the fields at Pennsic, carrying a tropical-themed parasol as parrying device. As you might imagine, he whined about this. A lot. I believe some of us suggested he mount a dagger blade on it. He chose to go non-offensive parasol, however, and we are all the better for it. He would no doubt insist I report that he won all of his fights that day. He’s taciturn, but also a show-off.

At that same Pennsic was the first 5-man melee tourney, hosted then, as now, by Atlantia. It was a sort of demo tourney, the first rapier melee at Pennsic, with 5 or 6 teams total. I was leading a team from our barony, myself and 4 fighters, none of whom had fought for more than a year or two. The other Atlantian team that I recall was the Dainty Atlantian Rapier Fighters (DARF’s). The team was comprised of Gerlach, Geoffrey Gamble, Alan, Giacomo (all provosts) and Prince Thorbrandr (KSCA). Now you see why there is a 2 WS’s or better to open rule on the 5-man.

[BTW and off-topic, much discussion has been had over the years of the proper term for a group of provosts. A “murder of provosts” has been suggested, altho it was suggested by some that a more apt term like a “disagreement”, “diatribe”, or “polemic” would be more accurate. Me, I always thought a “bastardy of provosts” was most the descriptive. To date, no official term has ever been established.]

Prince Thorbrandr had gotten to the field late, coming from an armored tourney and arrived as everything was getting started. He inquired of his 4 provost teammates as to “the plan”. He was a bit dismayed to find that, not only was there no “plan”, but as the provosts explained, they “didn’t fight very well together”. Taken aback, the Prince asked who was in charge. “You are”, they replied. “Me? How?” “Precedence, height, arm reach, take your pick”. In reality, there was a small plan: at least 1 provost was assigned to stick permanently to the Prince’s side and make sure He didn’t die (Thorbrandr had not been authorized in rapier for very long).

Needless to say, they murderlized everyone, including the Ansteorran team. Prince Thorbrandr got to kill rapier fighters without suffering death Himself. He, along with Queen Eorann, went on to elevate a number of provosts, including myself, during Their reign. Melee was new and exciting; nothing more exciting than being hunted down by the best swords in the Kingdom… hell, the Known World. And the fuckers did actually fight good together, despite their denial. From that small tourney, melee caught on, and the Atlantian 5-man is still one of the biggest tourneys at Pennsic.

When it came time to paint Gerlach’s scroll, Mistress Isobel felt the parasol had to be included, and cleverly decided to use it as the ground for the Academie badge. The result is an image both personal to Gerlach, and proudly representative of the earliest days of the Academie.

And that’s the way it was.