[Bards] The Matter of Ansteorra

Jay Rudin rudin at peoplepc.com
Sun Jan 3 11:15:39 PST 2010

The idea of the Matter of Ansteorra intrigues me.  

I had always thought that the matter of Britain was the Arthurian mythos, and the matter of France was the Charlemagne stories.  But Wikipedia includes all the legends of Britain, thus including Celtic mythology, and also expands the matter of France to include some other French legends, providing a period source for the latter assertion.

I also suddenly discover that classical mythology and military histories comprise the Matter of Rome, which I hadn't heard of before.  The three matters were originally identified by Jean Bodel in the 12th century, who wrote, "There are but three literary cycles that no man should be without -- the matters of Britain, of France, and of great Rome."

I particularly like the fact that the content of the three period Matters is not clear.  That gives us scope for allowing great leeway in understanding the Matter of Ansteorra.  I would certainly include any pieces about Ansteorran legends (Inman, Lloyd, Willow, Tivar, Jan, etc.), any Ansteorran history (Gulf War, start of the kingdom, the great tax revolt, etc.), any piece that has become close to the Ansteorran hearts (Rising of the Star, Born on the Listfield, Karelia's song, Stand Brother Stand), and any period piece whose performance in Ansteorra mattered to people (Sir Orfeo, the work of the Baron's Men, etc.)

I think we should not try to define the limits.  A piece is part of the Matter of Ansteorra if the bards performing it think it is.  This isn't a category to argue over, but a noble idea to think about, to aspire to, and to be inspired by.

I can't make a definite statement yet, because we don't know who will rule the Steppes at Warlord.  But assuming the new Baron and/or Baroness approves, the Steppes Bard competition will require one piece from the Matter of Ansteorra and one piece from the Matters of Britain, France or Rome.

Robin of Gilwell / Jay Rudin
Bard of the Steppes

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