What is a SIG member? Now that we have an on-line form for membership, the potential ease with which people can join our Group has never been greater. On one hand, it is great to have an organization that is so open to new members, but there is an attendant problem of new members who do not understand what the Group is or what the purpose of membership is. Meanwhile, there are a number of older members (I am now discovering) who have either forgotten or were never properly informed. It seems like a good idea, then, to say once again a few words about the purpose of the Group.
The Slavic Interest Group was founded for the purpose of providing a meeting ground through which people with Slavic and EE personae could meet and share information. Slovo, the bibliography, and the web pages were merely ancillary to that project. One of the earliest things we did was ask anyone who wanted to do so, to list themselves and then we published and distributed that information so that other people would know who we are, what we do, and where we could be found. Anyone could participate in the Group, but in order to be considered a "member," you had to be willing to make yourself available to anyone (member or non-member) who wanted help. Even if you knew absolutely nothing (which was unlikely) you could be useful to someone. For this reason, anyone who wanted to be a member had to provide a surface mailing address. Most members also gave their phone numbers and emails, but this was never required for members.
In the years that have passed, most members opted to receive only electronic notification of the newsletter and read it on the web page. The surface addresses became less important. Countless times, I've received the message, "Oh don't worry about my surface address, I'll read the Slovo on-line." But that, in fact, misses the point. The surface address is not there for Slovo, it is there so people can correspond with you. It is there so you could be a "member," which means being willing to share what you know (however great or small that might be) with others. And you cannot share what you know unless you are willing to publically make available surface contact information (whether you choose to make email and/or phone numbers available is no concern to me).
With that in mind, if you have received an e-mail notification about this Slovo or received this copy in the mail, then you are a member. Your name and surface address (and email and phone number, if you provided it when you signed up) have been listed on our membership list. That list is publically available in hardcopy to anyone (including non-members) who requests it and is posted on the SIG web site. If that is a problem for you, then politely let me know that you no longer wish to be a member and (given a reasonable period of time) I will remove you from our membership rolls. Obviously, I would not be writing this sermon if I had not, unfortunately, had problems recently. Hopefully, with this statement, I can eliminate any further misunderstandings.
On an entirely different subject: this year's Pennsic is still seven months away, but it will mark our fifth anniversary. If anyone has any good ideas of how to celebrate it, I would love to hear from you.
This quarter's Slovo is brought to you with the financial contributions of Sally Brown and Zosienka Cnota. As always, I am extremely grateful to our contributors (both writers and financial contributors) who make the newsletter possible.
By Mordak Timofei'vich Rostovskogo
The history of many Eastern European fashions and politics can be summed up in the phrase: "An admiration for the West with an eye on the East". This series will endeavor to briefly illustrate the period of 1400-1650 which saw the fashions of this area slowly gravitate from the coate hardies and houppelandes of the Angevian Dynasty (to 1386) to the caftans and trappings of the East and the Ottoman Empire. This section is intended as a brief background of the historical forces that encouraged and influenced this gradual shift.
Geographically, the Kingdom of Hungary has at one time or another been comprised of areas we currently think of as being Romania and which have always been quite independent in both deed and reality from Hungarian control. Historically, the Kingdom of Hungary had close economic, political and cultural ties with those areas currently thought of as Western Europe. Partially this was due to geographical proximity, but factors reinforcing these relations included trade and intermarriage between their inhabitants, especially the high nobility. In the 16th century, these same factors would intertwine the eastern sections of this Kingdom with the fate of Poland and aid in turning fashions eastwards. At the same time, they were subjected to many waves of Eastern invasions, most notably the Avars, Magyars, Cumans (Kipchaqs or Povlotsy), Mongolians and Ottoman Turks during period. Interspersed were periods of waxing and waning Byzantine influence in Hungary and points south. Into this confusing soup of influences, add the sporadic records and dynasties in the region.
For these reasons, the best record of fashion and cultural influence upon it in these regions can often be found in ecclesiastical murals of the rulers, and later, the clothing and fiber artifacts on record, in addition to artistic renderings in several period medians. These sources are not perfect, or even totally accurate in many cases but often are the only resources available. Another valuable resource are the secondary sources of researchers and academic personnel like Margaret Bartoweski, Irena Turnau and Corina Nicolescu. I will be referring to these three authors, as well as several more accessible ones in this series, but these three are the very best sources I have found to date. All of these authors works are authoritative, reasonably politically unbiased and contain many resources and pictures not yet available in the West. Best of all, these works are cited within the current SIG bibliography. I suggest checking the internet for specialists dealing in Eastern European books or with your state library. Often, they are hooked into academic libraries in your state or have access to WorldCat, an international library and supplier resource to aid in your search.
Many times, I have found that good research begins with a listing of the terms available. Usually, further research disqualifies some of these terms as being out of period, but many terms aid in distinguishing between garment references in later research or are verified by other sources. For this reason, I have borrowed the terms applicable to Hungary and Romania from the bibliography of Irena Turnau's work, "History of Dress in Central and Eastern Europe from the Sixteenth to Eighteenth Centuries". While this work concentrates at the end of period and beyond, it serves as a useful reference for further research into the clothing of these areas. I have distinguished the Hungarian (HUN) from the Romanian (ROM) for each item. "Simple cut" refers to a rectangular front and back of varying lengths. The term "gussets" should be thought of as gores. While, Romanian portraits tended to minimalize the tailoring, Hungarian artisans are much better about clearly showing seams and stichery.
By Feyerwary Ersebet
[Editor's note: The following is an essay that Ersebet wrote for the American Hungarian Heritage Association, for their Mary Katona Scholarship, about developing her Hungarian persona. It also included a nice plug for us. By the way, she won the scholarship.]
In my freshman year at the College of William and Mary, I became a member of the Society for Creative Anachronism, which is an organization devoted to the study and recreation of medieval and renaissance daily life. That era has always fascinated me, so when I found the branch of the group located here at the College of William and Mary, I joined them. My experience with the Society has led me to meet many wonderful, interesting people, and it has also taken me on a journey in discovery of my own Hungarian heritage.
All members of the Society are asked to create a persona for themselves. In other words, they must create a character for themselves to play, someone who might have actually lived during the Middle Ages or Renaissance. When one has a persona, the study of history becomes much more personal and enjoyable.
When I got to thinking about my persona, the first question I asked myself was, "Where in Europe would I have liked to live during the Renaissance?" No sooner had I asked myself this question than the answer presented itself -- I would create a persona from Renaissance Hungary. I chose this era after reading a bit about King Mátyás Hunyadi, also known as Matthias Corvinus. During his reign, from 1458 to 1490 AD, Hungary enjoyed tremendous prosperity both financially and culturally. King Mátyás was a true Renaissance Man, and under his rule, the country flourished. It was no doubt a very exciting time to live, full of new ideas and discoveries, and I very much wanted to develop a persona who would have been in the thick of it. Renaissance Hungary is not as often studied as, say, France or Germany, and I wanted to remedy that for myself.
So I went to the library and found all the books I could on Hungarian History, and I keep a notebook on what I find. My studies have also taken me to the internet, where my search for information about music got me in contact with a Hungarian choral group called Cantus Corvinus. I am also a member of the Slavic Interest Group, a collection of people from the Society for Creative Anachronism who study Eastern Europe and share information on Renaissance Hungary, Poland, Russia, Czechoslovakia, and other Slavic nations. They are all wonderful people (some are of Hungarian descent and, like me, are learning more about their heritage) and if you want to learn something, they will always help you out.
Now, of course, no persona is complete without a name. The name I chose had to be one that a lady in Renaissance Hungary would have had. The given name was easy, as Erzsébet is without a doubt my favorite Hungarian name of them all. For my surname, I decided to honor my mother, who was born in Székesféhrvár, and create a persona who lived in Fehér. One of my friends in the Slavic Interest Group directed me to a gentleman who is an expert on Hungarian names, and with the help of a book called Régi Magyar Családnevek Szótára: XIV-XVII Század, by Miklós Kázmér, we found Renaissance spellings of the name I wanted. And now, to my friends in the society, I am known as Lady Ersebet Feyerwary.
Through becoming a member of the Society for Creative Anachronism and creating a period persona for myself, the study of the history of my Hungarian heritage has become a voyage of personal discovery.
Many of you may have seen this book already, but it just came across my desk recently. This is definitely one of the better books I've seen regarding medieval history in Eastern Europe. Although scholarly in its approach, the writing style is accessible and engaging and is meant to appeal to those who are not necessarily experts in the field.
Sedlar, who is a professor of history at the University of Pittsburgh, deals with various themes and compares these across country and nationality lines, which she does in an interesting and effective way. Topics she discusses include migrations, forming of states, monarchies, the various classes, religion, governments, education, and languages. Countries discussed include present-day Poland, the Czech republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Albania, and the former Yugoslavia.
Maps are included that depict these areas in 1250, 1480, and 1994. As well, I especially like the information in the appendices: a chronology of important events from 681-1699; a list of monarchs and the years they ruled; and place name equivalents for towns and cities. The bibliographical essay at the end of the book is also excellent, and at the beginning of the book, a simple pronunciation guide is perfect for those of us not well versed in Eastern European languages. Alas, the book does not have illustrations.
This volume is part of the "A History of East Central Europe" series, which includes the following other titles: Historical Atlas of East Central Europe; The Beginnings of History in East Central Europe, 300-1000; The Polish-Lithuanian State, 1386-1795; Southeastern Europe Under Ottoman Rule, 1354-1804; The Peoples of the Eastern Habsburg Lands, 1526-1918; The Lands of Partitioned Poland, 1795-1918; The Establishment of the Balkan National States, 1804-1920; East Central Europe between the Two World Wars; East Central Europe since 1939.
All in all, I think this volume would be a valuable addition to your reading list or bookshelf.
-- Katarzyna Kisza
Standard Disclaimer Stuff: Most of us are members of the Society for Creative Anachronism, Inc (SCA) but our Interest Group and its newsletter are not officially affiliated with the SCA. Naturally, then, Slovo does not bear any intentional resemblance to anything that the SCA officially endorses.
The original authors retain the rights to their works. Please contact them directly for permission to reprint. Uncredited material is the property of the publisher.
The publisher and editor is Paul Wickenden of Thanet (Paul Goldschmidt), 3071 Cimarron Trail, Madison WI 53719, 608-288-0255, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. There is no subscription fee and copies of this quarterly newsletter are available free of charge from the editor. Slovo is also available on-line at the Interest Group website (http://www.uwplatt.edu/~goldschp/slavic.html ).