An Interview with Baron Adhemar

The Baron de Sainte Claire answers the questions posed by Duke Cariadoc of the Bow in his essay "The Little Things" from Cariadoc�s miscellany.

What kinds of money do you use? What are the relative values of the different kinds?

I use Livres, Sou and Deniers. Preferably from the Toulouse mint, as they are the truest minting. There are also francs, moutons and ecus, which are pretty much the same. They vary from region to region, same as the others. Toulouse livres are best, Rodez and Tours, in the south, have the worst. Paris livres are about the average, and that�s what my clerk uses to keep books. There is also the florin, which is used in Lyon, and which is somewhat less than the livre.

How much does dinner at the inn cost? How much does a horse cost? How much does a skilled worker make per month?

A baffled look crosses the Seigneurs face You know, I have no idea. I haven�t eaten at an inn for so long I couldn�t tell you. Ask my clerk Jehan when you are done here, perhaps he knows. He is the one who pays for these things, any way, I just tell him to pay. Or ask my master of the Horse, in the case of the horses. I couldn�t really say. I pay the men working on the walls here, which I am rebuilding, around 2s per day, that is for the masters, and the laborers get somewhere about 4p per day.

What system do you use to describe what time it is? When does one day end and another begin? How do you tell time (sundial? clock?)?

The day begins at midnight, and is divided into the twelve hours of daylight and twelve hours of dark. To describe the time I use the church hours, Vigils is at midnight, Lauds or Prime is at daybreak, Terce is at mid morning, Sext is at mid day, Nones is at mid afternoon, Vespers is at dusk and Compline is at night. The churches for the most part ring these hours, so you know when they are. There are mechanical clock is the richer towns in my holdings, but of the three I can think of only one works particularly well, the one at Pliesse. Otherwise listen for the church bells. They ring the hours.

What system do you use for describing dates? What is your calendar like?

The year is usually determined by the years since the ascension of the current king, Charles. Currently we are in the twenty-second year of the reign of King Charles, and today is the Feast of St. Edward the Martyr. The first day of any given month is the Kalends, the fifth day is the nones, and the thirteenth or fifteenth is the Ides. Usually days are measured before the day if there is nothing specific to recommend that day in particular, as in three days before the feast of St Genevieve, or five days before the kalends of May. Some people also date the year since the incarnation, which would make this the 1,402nd year.

Can you read? If so, what have you read? What poems, tales, etc. have you heard told?

Of Course. French for law and Latin for religion. I�ve read the Bible, and some of the works of St. Augustine who, I must say, is a bit pedantic. City of God and Confessions. I�ve also read Botheius', The Consolation of Philosophy and the works of Pierre Salmon. Also the history of the Trojan wars, and some others of the classics, and a few romances, le Roman de la Rose and Troileius et Cresside and the like. Frivolous, I know, but enjoyable nonetheless. I have books on Canon law, and Civil law. In all I must have about 350 books in my library. I also read the chronicle that M. de Monstrelet is writing, when he comes by to show me it.

I�ve seen many of the Mystery plays of Notre Dame, and some others. Also a masque of the taking of Jerusalem during the First Crusade that was done in the royal court when Emperor Charles visited. That was breathtaking. Traveling players are usually welcome in my courts. I keep a jongleur who knows the chansons de geste of Roland, Charlemagne and others, and most of the current stuffs.

What do you know about history? Have you heard of Alexander the Great? Julius Caesar? Charlemagne? Vergil? Saladin? What do you "know" about each?

Alexander was a Greek in the time before Christ, and is one of the worthies of the ancient world, as was Caesar. I have read tales of them. Charlemagne is well known, my jongleur, as I have said knows many tales of his prowess, and of his knights. Vergil was a poet of the Romans, and some of his works I have read, but only in passing. Saladin was a King of the Saracens, known for his chivalry despite being a heathen.

What do you know about geography? What is the most distant country you have heard of? The most distant country you have met someone from?

A bit. Here in France more than elsewhere, of course. The most distant country I have heard of is Cathay, where silk comes from they say. I have never been there. The most distant country I have met someone from? Hmmm. I was in Rome when the Byzantine Emperor came to discuss a crusade, and I met some of his court. That would probably be it. I have met Hospitallers who have been to Jerusalem and Aegypt, but that�s not the same as �from� I suppose.

Who is your immediate overlord (title and/or name)? Who is your ultimate overlord?

I�ll have to give you a long answer to that short question. Pause, as the seigneur sighs, and seems to gather his thoughts. That�s a bit tricky. I hold estates in Nomandy, for which I owe fealty to the Prince of France now, though before his fall I owed to Charles of Navarre as Comte d�Eu. I hold lands in Picardy, so the Comte de Picardy is my overlord there. I retain my mothers estates in Brittany, for which I owe fealty to Jean de Montfort who is Duc de Bretagne, but that�s not something I make a lot of noise about in the court all things considered. Also my fathers estates in Navarre for which I owe to Charles of Navarre, though there again, not a thing I speak of much, Aragon, for which I owe to the King of Aragon, Pedro IV and Gascony, for which I owe to whoever is the Duke of Gascony at the moment. Recently I was granted large estates in the Auvergne, for which I owe to the Duke d�Auvergne, whose name for the moment escapes me. I�ll wager you now regret your asking, hey? Smiles ruefully

Ultimately God, of course. He smiles wickedly But of course you meant in the here and now, I know. Well, then, that would be the King of France, Charles.

What is your religion? What duties (prayers, fasts, dietary restrictions, etc.) does it impose? What do you (your persona) know about its doctrines and history?

I am a Christian, and I follow Pope Benedict. Boniface is a schismatic, elected by false cardinals and no true Pope.

What do you eat for breakfast?

A sop of bread and wine, perhaps some cold meat or fish. Some will eat porridge of oats or some such, but I can�t abide the stuff myself.


I do not eat a lunch as such. Normal practice is for breakfast and dinner, more than that is gluttony and indulgence.


Depends. If I am entertaining there are numerous (once up to twenty) courses of meat and fish, pasties of the same, whatever vegetables and fruits can be got, cheeses, sweets of pastry and honey, and so on. If it is just myself and my court, then a simple meal of perhaps four to six courses usually suffices. I do not keep such great state every day.

What do you drink?

Wine. A Bordeaux or Anjou red for a preference, though a Rodelaise merrilac can be good for a change. Bit dry though. I have some vineyards that produce a drinkable white, and my new estates in Poitou bid fair to produce a very nice red. Cider, both from apples and from pears, the latter of which I am extremely fond of.

Where do your food and drink come from?

The kitchens? Again the Seigneur looks puzzled Ahh, I see what you are after. I have farms here about to support the keep. They keep pigs and cows, some goats. Also geese, chickens, ducks. I keep about a dozen swans in the moat, both for the meat and because they are vicious birds, and thus make good guards. Grain and other stuffs are also from my farms, and my velliens bring it in when the harvest comes. I also keep a stocked pond for the fish, and the forests around are good for hunting, which provides deer, boar, rabbit and the like. Some of the farmers keep bees for the honey, as well as for the wax.

How is the food cooked (style of cooking, tools, how does the oven work, etc.)?

On spits, in pots. Shrugs impatiently making a dismissive gesture I don�t really know. Ask Henri, my Chef de Cuisine, he will be able to tell you.

What sorts of wild animals live in your area? Which are dangerous?

Deer, boar, rabbits, squirrels, foxes, wolves, bear, all manner of birds. The boar, wolf and bear are dangerous, mostly the problem is with the wolves. And of course the foxes can get into the chickens and all. That�s perhaps not dangerous, but certainly irritating. There are also some feral dogs about, which can be dangerous. Most people carry sticks when they travel, for that reason.

Which are good to eat? How are the latter hunted?

Almost all of them, except the canine ones. Deer are hunted in numerous ways, from horse, on foot, from hiding. Boar is usually done on foot, though I have heard that in Castille they hunt them from horseback. Squirrels and rabbits are usually caught by my foresters in traps, thought if I go falconing I will take them that way. Bear is also a foot hunt, most horses won�t go near the things. Of course this is all done with dogs and retainers along. I keep a pack of around 40 dogs, of various breeds for hunting with.

What clothes do you wear? What are they made of?

From the skin out? Linen braies, to which I will attach my chausses if I am not wearing full hose. A shirt linen or possibly silk. The chausses or hose are either wool or linen. Over this I will wear a cotte, or cotehardie, of whatever material seems appropriate. I profess a fondness for brocades, though for day to day it's usually linen in the warm weather and wool in the cold. If the day calls for it I will over that wear a houpellande, of various lengths ranging from floor length to just above the knee. The sleeve lengths and styles also vary. This can be made of silk, brocade or velvet, or wool and is sometimes lined with fur for warmth. Shoes of leather, or boots of varying lengths depending on the task, and pattens of wood or leather to keep them from the muck as well as provide a firmer sole for walking.

Where do they come from?

Again that impatient shrug and dismissing wave of the hand They come from my tailor. Louis Tallieur, if you must know, though these days his son is doing a great deal of the work, Louis is getting on a bit. Madame Tallieur does some very nice fine work, and her daughter in law, Alize, is a good dyer.

What crops are grown in your part of the world?

All manner of things. Wheat, rye, barley, turnips, parsnips, beans, onions, peas, grapes, apples, pears, some nuts, strawberries, other berries. No citruses, in general, though some people have tried to grow them inside. The trees themselves will grow, a the allee of limes at Villandry shows, but in this climate they will not bear fruit.

What goods, if any, are exported, and how are they transported? What goods are imported?

I export wine from my vineyards in Picardy and Poitou. Also some of the grains, when there is a surplus though for the most part we store what we do not use in these uncertain times. There are also some wool towns on my Picardy holdings that export their goods to the weavers of Flanders, and a great deal of my wealth comes from the salt I export from Brittany. Wool and salt are always in demand.

For the most part it is best to ship by barges and boats on the rivers, as it's generally faster and less expensive as well. The land routes are chancier.

What language(s) do you speak? What language(s) do other people in your town (city, barony...) speak?

As I noted before, French for Law and Latin for religion. I speak the Langed�oil dialect of the northern parts of France. That gibberish they speak down south is, for the most part, unintelligible to me. In my northern holdings they also speak the langed�oil, and in the south the langed�oc. In Brittany they speak a Bretagne dialect, which I am told, is like the Scot�s speak, though I would not know, having never heard a Scotsman speak. I know some old songs in the tongue, learned from my Grandmother.

If you or one of your friends wrote a poem, what form would you use?

I don�t write myself, but I have commissioned Chanson de Geste, and Romances of the times of Arthur. I could not tell you what the actual style of these was though.

What about a song?

Again, I could not say.

What "mythological" beasts do you know about? Which ones do you believe in? What do you believe about them?

I have heard of tygers in Africa, who are so captivated by their reflection that they will stop whatever they are doing to stare at themselves. There are also said to be dragons still, in Syria. I am fond of the gryphon that appears on my arms, but I do not know as I believe in it.

What faith are you?

I am, as I said before, a Christian. A Latin Christian, if we must get that specific. I am a follower of the Pope Benedict, in this time of Schism.

How ecumenical are your beliefs?

How do you mean, Ecumenical? Am I tolerant of heresy? I would have to say no in general. I do believe that there is a need for reform in the church, but that is not going to come of Schism and heretical teachings.

How tolerant are you of other faiths?

I am fairly tolerant of the Jews who for the most part are quiet and do not make trouble in my domains. They are also He said with cynical smile useful to have around when one needs money. Of the Muslim faith I am less tolerant, for they are a threat to Jerusalem, and a menace in the east. The Eastern Christians are misguided, and worship incorrectly.

Do you want to convert them for their own good?

Of course. I wouldn�t want to do it if I thought it would do them harm.

What regular things do you do to express or maintain your faith?

I go to mass at least once a day, if possible, and spend a portion of each day in prayer and reading devotional books.

What philosophers are you familiar with?

Botheius, St. Augustine, Thomas Aquinas and William of Ockham are the principal ones I have read, and also Pliny and Aristotle.

Are you a nominalist?

I don�t understand the question, I�m afraid.

What system of ethics do you follow? or are you free from ethics because you are moral, or perhaps because you believe in predestination.

I follow the Christian ethics, how can one do else and be a Christian? The question seems frivolous. All men act as God made them to, and with their on will save or damn themselves. That man who is slothful in his every day life will be slow on the road to heaven as to hell, either way. Their actions determine their ends.

Crustus an Mors
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