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A few thoughts on the passing of Master El of Two Knives:

Caitlin and I were never precisely close to El, but we knew him -- and knew *of* him -- from our early days in the SCA. He was already a legend by the time we started, one of the few examples of a Pelican who was as legendary as any Duke, and for many of the same reasons: famed for fortitude, chivalry, courtesy and generally exemplifying our ideals. He featured all over East Kingdom history, and in no small parts in Carolingian history: while I wasn't there to attest to any of it firsthand, he shows up in some of the Barony's crucial moments, from the original Carolingian road trip (testing the original Great Helm of Carolingia with a mighty "WHACK! Sproing!") to the Valentine's Day debacle (standing between Baron John and King Angus in their great confrontation).

El could be, let's be clear, an enormous pain in the ass. That was part of his charm. He is one of about a dozen people who I consider my major role models in the SCA -- in his case, particularly in speaking truth to power. El represented the principle that it is the duty of the Peerage to speak the truth, no matter how hard that might be and no matter how mighty and displeased the recipient of that truth. Indeed, the lesson I drew from him is that you speak as gently as possible to the humble, and as forcefully as necessary to the mighty: *somebody* has to tell the King when he's being an ass, and sometimes that message requires a 2-by-4 to get it across.

For all that he could get thunderously indignant at the Royalty, though (and that was, I think, what most people knew him from), he cared greatly about the people around him. He loved to tell stories, and had a gentle nature quite belied by his size. While he was by no means the only person who traveled a distance to get to Jane's funeral, he was probably the one who did so through greatest inconvenience: wheelchair-bound and requiring assistance, he still showed up to pay his respects, quietly on the side.

From beginning to end, though, he was the model Pelican. He was the second Pelican of the East (the first having been John of Ileway, founding Baron Carolingia), having served as a much-needed and forceful Kingdom Seneschal during the East's formative years. And he kept working, as far as his physical capacity allowed, right into his latter days. I will quite miss him at Black Rose Ball, making his way to the front, leaning on his staff and announcing the dances in the next set.

I'll miss him, period. He was one of the good ones...

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(Deleted comment)
My only El story is from when he came to my Laurel vigil. I don't remember any particular "words of wisdom", but somehow the subject came up of the tradition that a Royal Herald recites the names of the Kings and Queens of the East, omitting Aonghais and Ysabeau. Never mind that Ysabeau is a friend of mine, who did nothing wrong in that reign that I know of -- El and I were in complete agreement that "history is history. What happened is what happened. Denying it doesn't change it."

Edited at 2013-10-03 03:01 pm (UTC)

I'd say that "tradition" is too strong a word for it. It's a bit of a political football, and changes from reign to reign depending on the preferences of the Royals.

But my observation has been that Ysabeau usually *is* listed, although Aonghais is sometimes omitted and sometimes "the Scottish Duke"...

I recall this happening at Lucan's coronation - I think it was his first, but they've sort of run together in memory. I was a relatively newcomer then, and happened to be standing near El at the end of court. There was a procession of heralds carrying the personal arms of the various past royalty, and when they reached that point in the rolls, a single herald came out with Ysabeau's arms. El nearly had steam coming out his ears, because we are supposed to be a historical group, and revising our own history to suit our convenience was *just not right*. If memory serves, he got up at the feast later and toasted Aonghais' memory, and then Lucan sent him on a "quest" for the duration of his reign.

I also remember him as being the only person who actually expressed disappointment to me when we stopped printing and distributing the Law and Policy issue of Pikestaff in hard copy.

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