Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Teffania was born on January 6th


This post was written about a year ago.... but I think it still bears publishing.

A number of years ago I realised that my SCA persona was younger than me. I think what cemented this was reading of Constance of Sicily, who married at 28. 28 was considered rather old for marrying, but as an heiress of a kingdom, she was too powerful a political piece to marry off earlier. And indeed Constance had a difficult pregnancy because of this late marriage. I wanted to portray someone young enough still be unmarried, as the only choices I could find for your typical 12th C English minor nobleman's daughter was to marry or enter the church. And I didn't want a fantastical story to explain why Teffania was atypical. So realising that at the time my age was rapidly approaching Constance's, and that I commonly passed for younger, I decided that Teffania was younger than Tiffany. She was young enough to hope for a husband because as a wife she would have some power and position (and likely more power later as a widow) while as a daughter she was her father's property. But she is old enough that her father despairs of finding a match for her - he isn't rich enough to lure a fortune seeker, she isn't a great beauty, and he doesn't have enough connections to get her to court or to have people seeking political alliances with him cemented by marriage. 

Teffania practises her skills with needle and weaving in the hope they might win her a position in court and to make her clothing seem richer than the small budget devoted to it. If she doesn't marry soon, her father might pay her way into a convent, but he cannot afford to pay much (nor would he gain much influence from this move), so she would have to live in a quite modest manner. The convent would appreciate her needlework skills though.

A more recent realisation is that my SCA persona Teffania, was born on a different day to Tiffany. Teffania is derived from the Greek Theophania, via the french Tephanie. The -ia ending is how the name would be spelt in official Latin documents, but in anglo-french it would probably be Teffanie or Tephanie. I believe it should be pronounced T(h)ephanie, although I must admit I actually prefer the sound of the way people naturally pronounce Teffania, but feel I try and pronounce it properly for authenticity's sake. Anyway, aside from the diversion, all these versions of the name are derived from the name of the feast now called Epithany, the day after 12th Night (epithany eve), and people named such until recently were usually born on this day. Why would Teffania be any different? 

January 6th is epithany, in the middle of winter in the northern hemisphere, and this has a certain link to Tiffany, for her birthday is just after winter solstice and it often hails on her birthday, so some of her southern hemisphere experiences can resonate with Teffania's birthday experiences.






Since this has been written, I have been granted a court barony in the SCA.  While I don't want to  incorporate every detail of the modern SCA fantasy into my SCA persona, I think this is one that might be best to incorporate.  And so I muse on how Teffania might become a baroness?  The most likely route seems marriage. But how might she suddenly become a desirable asset and be quickly married?  Well, should her remaining brothers (the ones who haven't died of childhood illnesses, riding or hunting accidents) die on the crusades (for her father was not rich enough to pay for extra knights to spare them from going personally, and besides they sought the adventure), she might become her father's heir. Of course her father was older than her mother (who has already died in childbirth), and is becoming frail, which is probably why has hasn't borne his new wife any children yet.  A nasty ague might be the end of him, leaving Teffania a heiress.  The daughter's portion of a property wasn't much (especially as her mother's marriage portion was small), but ownership of the whole estate is a tidier sum, for laws worked toward keeping the estate together as a larger property rather than dividing it.  While it doesn't bring huge sums of money each year, is a solid investment in the future, a medieval interest bearing bank account. With no brothers to equip with expensive knightly chargers, she can afford to spend a little more on some nice clothes.


Of course the peace won't last long....the king has the right to marry off heiresses (and widows of marriageable age with holdings) if they don't marry by themselves within a year, for property management needs the guidance of a male. (not to mention a will to stamp out any old matrimonial ideas). Teffania might not think a political marriage is on her horizon, but once the king consults her holdings in the Domesday book, she might have an unexpected surprise in store. Let's hope her future husband at least carries a rank like baron that she can keep even after he dies, and that he prefers the company of his knightly companions and the pursuit of war, and is often away leaving her in charge of his holdings. If he's one of those new nobility that the king has been rewarding recently for their efforts in winning new lands, she might actually be in luck. 

And as a married woman she might not be so constantly watched, and might be able to have a courtly lover that she's been reading so much about. (although the realities of her husband may rather dissuade her from anything but wistful looks and poems). But more importantly, she'll be actually able to make decisions, which being an heiress she has rather decided she quite likes.  Of course she'll have to make decisions her husband would like, but that only makes sense, for he is a man and trained to govern, while she is a mere woman.

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