Ástríðr Musi – Order of the Maunche

So another friend was tagged for a thing, a BIG thing, and I was asked to do not only the calligraphy, but the illumination too!

By Meister der Franko-S‰chsischen Gruppe - The Yorck Project (2002) 10.000 Meisterwerke der Malerei (DVD-ROM), distributed by DIRECTMEDIA Publishing GmbH. ISBN: 3936122202., Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=155110

I talked with my Laural and found a layout that would work for a 10th Century Scottish Viking.  The example I found didn’t offer everything I needed, but it was close enough and we decided that Insular Miniscule would be the script of choice.

Initially I wasn’t too worried about the knotwork, then I realized I had to map around a curve.  Fortunitely all four half circles were the same size, so I was able to whip up a graph template to slide behind the perg and then pencil the lines into place.  As a bonus, there was a detail that I noticed that made a world of difference.  There was a little dot in the middle of the diameter of the half circle, compass marks!  The use of a compass made the knotwork on the curves so much easier.

Corners, what to do about the corners.  Can’t put her arms, none currently registered and that would make for an empty corner, no good.  I can slide the Maunche in one easy enough, but the other three… I know, the three major steps in her recent cloak, spinning, weaving, and embroidery.  Then I just have to figure out how to draw it all.  (my Laural just might make and artest of me yet) All in all they turned out really well.  What made it even better was the mice.  I found out from her husband that her nickname was “little blue mouse”, wich was JUST the little detail that was needed for that extra personal touch.


I had planned on doing gold leaf, but I got so wrapped up in doing the knotwork that I’d inked it while waiting for words, and as gold leaf has a habbit of sticking to anything I decided to not chance it.

Words, the words proved to bring a problem I hadn’t anticipated, a poem.  The word count was perfect, but a poem carries an extra consideration that I hadn’t counted upon.  It’s a VERY good thing I believe in using spacing drafts (when time allows) before inking a piece like this.  The 1mm nib was right out.  The 3/4mm nib proved to be literally a hair too big.  The royalswould have had a very tiny space to sign in and Birgantia would have been left out, and we couldn’t have that!  The lines of the poem also would have been just long enough that I couldn’t put the sanzas side by side.  The 1/2mm nib nib turned out to be the key.  Everything fit with plenty of room!  I could have done the body in 3/4mm and the poem in 1/2mm, but then the place for her arms wouldn’t have worked out as perfectly as it did at the end.  I would have had to tuck it into the top arch, very small, or in the bottom, still small.

Though some schedueling issues, the scroll didn’t make it into court on the day that Āstrídr was made a member of the order.  Their excellencies made up for it by pantomiming the words of the scroll as Grim read them aloud.  This did end up affording me a chance to see something few I imagine few scribes get to see, the look on the recipients face when the scroll is presented to them.  My wife, a Kingdom Herald, was able to get teh scroll from Heralds Point, and Their Excellencies Concordia presente it to her in camp, with me by their side.  The reaction was everything I culd have hoped for and more.  All of the little details I included, from the mice, to the pieces of one of her most recent projects, were noticed and appreciated!  There were happy tears and squeils of delight.  I couldn’t as for a better gift of thanks.

Words, By Master Grim the Skald:

In Concordia, there was a woman named Ástriðr Musi.  In year 53, the Empress and Emperor of the East traveled to that land, to celebrate the 50th year of their Empire.  This was the last day of June.  While there, they held court and summoned Ástriðr to speak with her, but before they could say a word an insolent skald called out:

I make mead of Odin
Mindful of gods’ beauty
Wondrous this elms weaves her
Works fine as mouse-whisker
Deftly drafting clothing
Dresses all her homestead
She spins splendid sheep-thread
And spreads draughts of Mimir

This Thruð of thread’s works have
Enthralled all who sees them
This skald speaks this Skaði’s
Skill to great ring-breakers
Surely this shield-Gondul
Shares but few in wisdom
I say she ascends to
Sleeve-adorned order

Emperor Brennan frowned, and was about to call for his guard to seize the skald, but Empress Caoilfhionn said, “Wait!  I have figured out what he just said – that Ástriðr’s skill has earned her a place in the Order of the Maunche.   We should summon that order.”

Emperor Brennan agreed and did so.

And so this was done – on that day Emperess Caoilfhionn and Emperor Brennan granted arms to Ástriðr Musi and inducted  her into the Order of the Maunche.


  • Pergamentata from https://www.johnnealbooks.com/
  • Home made black walnut ink
  • Guache
  • Dr. PH Marints Copperplate Gold Ink
  • 1/2mm Brause Nib
  • Glass dip pen, for ink lining and filling in around knotwork

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