Mundane Name: Richard Bedard
Medieval Name: Richard Sparhawke
Medieval D.O.B: The
fall of 1199
Medieval Place of Origin: Sparrow-Hawke Castle,
Officer Position: None currently (Have served as Baronial Herald,
Chirurgeon and Chronicler)
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
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.
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.
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?
History… and other trivialities
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
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.
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.
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”.