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Richard Sparhawke
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Mundane Name: Richard Bedard

Medieval Name: Richard Sparhawke

Medieval D.O.B: The fall of 1199                                                            

Medieval Place of Origin: Sparrow-Hawke Castle, Sussex, England

Officer Position: None currently (Have served as Baronial Herald, Chirurgeon and Chronicler)

Activities:
Leather crafting, maker of curved wooden heaters, purveyor of songs and writer of poems and stories

Combat: I enjoy all weapon styles but prefer short mass weapons (especially falchions) and Florentine variances.

Awards Earned: AOA

SCA Member Since: Summer of 1990

Email:Richard Sparhawke

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Brief Description of Persona: Richard Sparhawke is a mercenary of Norman/Welsh and Scottish origin.  Educated in France, as per his mother’s wishes and orphaned while there he returned to his homeland then travelled north to Scotland seeking out kinfolk and eventually was fostered into a clan. 

According to his clansmen the last they saw of him was during a bridge battle with some Irish when he was struck in the neck by an arrow and fell into the river below.  A subsequent search for his body was unsuccessful but rumours have surfaced of a fighter with a neck injury who is now recovering in an Irish village quite a few miles downstream.  Apparently he wandered naked and bleeding into the village, speaking what sounded like French, and collapsed at the feet of the most beautiful lady there. 

The rumours are a few years old and so their validity can’t be ascertained but we hear the stranger married the lady and though his memory is scanty he tells tales of exploits typical of a mercenary in Scotland, southern England, France and a land of yellow skinned people whose eyes have the shape of almonds… what an imagination he must have.  They say he speaks like a man who was educated among the wealthy but his demeanour seems that of man of the people… rumours… who can believe rumours?

Sparhawke’s History… and other trivialities

Having been born to well-to-do parents in southern coastal England (in an area history would know as Sussex) I was privy to a good education and training in the fine arts of war of the time. I believe it was near the Year of Our Lord 1210. 

Our lands were in constant conflict with the accursed French until treaties were made and an exchange of cultures was starting to take place in a peaceable manner.  My mother in her wisdom and much to my father’s concern suggested that I be one of the first in our area to travel to the land of the French and study in their schools for the wealthy so I could become more worldly and “of better breeding”.

Being a young lad of eight years I was not too happy but had no choice but to comply although with a multitude of complaints and rebellious gestures (I think setting my father’s stable afire was not the brightest idea and probably swayed him to agree with mother).

So it was that I saw myself aboard a large water-craft the likes of which I not seen before and in the darkness (to protect me from pirates and other unsavoury types) set sail towards the dreaded lands of the French.  I remember seeing a large number of torches on the water to the east as we were leaving but was cut short from questioning the sighting by a large hand cupping my mouth.  Biting the hand did not have the desired effect I had anticipated and when I awoke the men assigned to guard me apologized for their “error in judgement” and assured me that it was for my own protection and then refused to inform me of what had transpired while I was “involuntarily asleep”. 

The coast was now in sight in the light a beautiful dawn unlike the foggy mist I usually awoke to at home and as we approached our landing point the four soldiers asked me if I would accept their vow of fealty to me and my heirs.  I was taken aback as these men had been my mentors in the art of combat and the only friends to a young lad shunned by the local villagers who mistrusted anyone living in a castle, even a small one like ours.  These men were sworn to my father… that thought quickly dissipated when I saw that the men meeting me on the shore were leading a horse of a breeding unfamiliar to me.  It stood 16 hands high, was black as night and had an air of superiority and invincibility that was keeping everyone but the handler away from its imposing presence.

The men on shore, dressed in what I thought to be very effeminate garb, approached me and welcomed me in what I think may have been English.  After an exchange of smiles and directional hand gestures I was shown the stallion and I gathered that it was a gift from my sponsors at the school.  As I neared the animal everyone gasped at the fact that he stood his ground and then lowered his head and accepted my touch.  From that point on we were inseparable until his death in combat when he placed himself between me and my soon to be Scottish captors… but that is another story.

So for the next three years I learned the ways of the French and earned their trust and respect although I was always aware of being an outsider and always aware of some whispered secret that no one would share with me.  I had no news from my parents and was not allowed to leave the castle grounds, even with my guards at my side, for my own safety I was told.  As I aged I became restless to return home and finally decided to leave against the wishes of my tutors and the lord of the castle.  Left with no other choice I chose to leave secretly, with my guards, in the dark of night.  Arrangements were made for our passage across the channel and to my relief and joy my stallion was already aboard.  We sailed quietly towards home.

I was not prepared for the sight that would greet me as we commanded the last turn before my home would be in plain view… it wasn’t there.  All we faced were rubble and old burned timbers now covered with moss and plant growth.

Simon, the eldest of my men, returned from a fact-finding excursion to the village with news of a vicious attack that left no-one, not even my mother and sisters alive to tell the tale of events that led to the slaughter of my family.

As we searched the grounds I found some evidence that pointed to the French nationality of the attackers.  For some reason I remembered my father in a rare tender moment of father/son interaction showing me a hole in the floor of the stable (yes, the one I set afire) where as a child he had hidden childhood treasures.  I quickly found the location and after some digging and moving of debris found the secret treasure hold and cried as I pulled out my mother’s silk scarf, my sisters gold cross and a letter from my father.  In it he had quickly scrawled a quick description of the events that had transpired and his assumption that they would not be here to meet me.  The castle guards were on the south side holding off the attackers so my family could escape but because of the geography of the area, steep cliffs to the north, east and west he knew their demise was soon to come.

Along with his deepest wishes for my safety and expressions of love from mother he included directions to a stone in the corner of the castle where he said I would find enough riches to see me safely to the north where his Welsh and Scottish  relatives would take me in as their own.  The last thing he wrote was a prayer that this event would not harden my heart but that it would teach me to protect those who need protection…even at the cost of my own life… that he would be waiting for me in the hereafter along with my mother and sister and all those who left before us.

I did find the gold and jewels but in a fit of hurt and anger gave all but a small amount to my men and freed them of their vow to me and sent them off as I headed toward the village.  As I rode through the village I felt the stares of eyes hidden in the dark of doorways, full of curiosity, wondering who the finely dressed stranger was… not knowing that I wished them all an accursed ending for not having helped ward off the attackers.  My parents had always been fair in their dealings with the villagers and often held a feast open to all to help celebrate a local wedding or birth… only to be abandoned in their greatest hour of need.

How I wished them ill, and then a man limped towards me cloth wrappings covering what used to the large muscle on his right leg and bearing a scar that traced from above his left eye to where half of his left ear remained.  “Young Richard; tell me it is you!” he cried.  I scarcely recognized the man who had once pruned the plants in my mother’s garden.  Crying on my leg he went on to tell me of the second group of French military deserters and thieves who had attacked the village while everyone was sleeping.  The villagers at least had a chance to usher the women and children to safety; the men hadn’t been so lucky and he told me of grown men crying as they finally were able to fend their way to the castle only to find the charred bodies of my family.  My father had covered the bodies of my mother and sister with his own but the swords that pierced his back had continued through and killed both women… I thanked God that they had not had to suffer a death by fire. 

I was led to their secret burial site and was humbled by the beauty of the memorial.  The villagers had built a wall of stones carefully fitted together and a painting of my family was hung on the entranceway, protected by a sheet of hide which I raised to look into the eyes of those I loved, those I would never see again.  Once inside I was awed by the beautiful shrubbery and flowers that the villagers had vowed to maintain in honour of the family that had treated had done so much for them.

What began as a hateful entry into the village ended as a tearful goodbye and a pack horse loaded down with gifts of food, clothing and some mementos the villagers had recovered from the ruins; things the thieves and murderers had overlooked or considered unworthy of their plunder.  Tears of sorrow and of joy of my survival were in the eyes that bade me farewell.

Those torches I had seen floating on the water had been on the boats the evil horde had used to reach my family; my men had spared me a sure death had they heard my loud inquiries of their origin.  The same men who now, without the binding vow of fealty, chose to follow me north.

Thus began the travels of Richard Sparhawke, a French speaking Welsh/Scottish/Norman orphan turned mercenary.  My sword could only be hired for the protection of those needing it; my word is my bond and my bond is guaranteed by my vow to follow my father’s wishes, his final words to a son he would never see again… until we meet in the hereafter with a God who I pray will guide me, protect me and redirect me when I fail in my quest.

Finale- My registered device is: or, a horse rampant, a bordure embattled sable.  The horse to represent my black stallion “Fortune” and the bordure to remind me of my first home” Sparrow-Hawke Castle”. 

Copyright 2008 Shire of Rhuddglyn Disclaimer: This site is not a corporate publication of the Society for Creative Anachronism Incorporated, and therefore does not delineate SCA policy. Suggestions or comments can be sent to Keri-Anne Lawton. This page was last updated February 11, 2007