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The Tadcaster Militia began as a school within the East Kingdom's League of Rapier Academies (LoRA), also known as the "cording" system. The League (now defunct) was formed of various schools: groups that practiced together, looked out for each other's advancement, and performed service as a group. The Militia was one school, but there were many others, such as T.O.A.D., Fitzalan's Fencibles, Woolfe's Dragoons, and Hawkwood Academy, to name but a few.


That covers the beginning. What the Militia has become is another thing entirely. What was once a loose bunch of up-and-coming fencers has become a closely-knit, albeit semi-dysfunctional, family. And by dysfunctional, we mean puts the 'fun' in. The core group camp together, look out for one another, ridicule each other, think bad, bad thoughts together (they share a ferret brain, after all), and generally behave no different than any other large, ungainly family unit you care to think of. Well... any family which is also a powerhouse of fencing skill and knowledge, plus a well-oiled machine of organizational excellence.

The unit is captained by Baron Ian of Tadcaster, Lord Raven, who guides the group with the counsel of the Tadcaster OGRs and Tad Council. It comprises many fearsome and talented fencers from throughout England, Germany, the Low Countries and France. And Scotland. Members can be recognised by the device at the above left, a rapier inverted sable surmounted by a roundel argent ermined vert charged with a raven contourny regardant. The Militia functions as an armed company in service to the Crown of the East, standing ready to defend her borders and her honor from all attackers. While our base of operations is in the Barony of Bhakail in the East Kingdom, we are headquartered in the North of England, on the ancestral lands of the Raven family in Tadcaster, England (on the road between Leeds and York).

Formed as an official entity in September of Anno Societatis XXXVI (corresponding to 2001 on the Gregorian calendar), the core group were all members of the cording system and were regular attendees of the Bhakail practice. It seemed natural to form a school, since we were all influencing each other's fencing already. With that decision out of the way, the first order of business was choosing a name. Several choices were offered and rejected - most for good reason, such as unfortunate initials: the Bhakail Academy of Defense (BAD) and the Academy of the Sable Salamander (ASS).

Eventually, it was decided that since Ian of Tadcaster was the marshal in charge of the home practice, he should be the captain of the group. This led directly to the choice of Tadcaster as a name element... but the Tadcaster What? What sort of term should be used for this kind of group? The discussion on this subject was as fierce as the original name discussions - most terms for this sort of group were either too formal or inaccurate. 'Militia' was settled on as being the best descriptive word for a gathering of fencers that was not baronial per se, nor a standing army, but included members from groups as far away as Iron Bog in the South and Buckland Cross and Hartshorn-Dale in the North, in addition to Bhakail. Thus was the Tadcaster Militia born and named.

We meet weekly to practice, discuss topics of interest, plan for camping as a group, and whatever else strikes our fancy. We cleave together at events under the Tadcaster banner. Rest assured, wherever two or three Tadcastrians are gathered together, hilarious hijinks will ensue – some of them we've even written down – and maybe even some fencing.


The first official group function was a five-man team for the Atlantian Five-Man Melee tourney at Pennsic XXXI - we were soundly trounced.

The second outing fared much better: a presentation of swords to Her Majesty Isabella at King & Queens Rapier Champions in January, AS XXXVIII. Our King had been called to war in far-off desert lands, leaving Her Majesty Isabella, Queen Regnant to run the kingdom alone. As a show of the rapier community's support in her time of trial, we presented Her with a sheaf of swords and roses. This demonstration of the devotion of our hearts and blades brought tears to Her eyes as each Militia member stepped past the bundle to offer a rose.

For a certain period of time, the fencing population at many events was made up primarily of Militia fencers... giving rise to the event schedule on the front page, and the renaming of "events" as "travelling practice sites." Our notoriety even spawned some competition from neighboring groups to field a larger number of academy members!

Since then, we have had successful showings beyond number as a unit: at Landskenecht Veridigung (as the entire fencing population); Something Fishy This Way Comes; Northern Region War Camp*; Southern Region War Camp; Pennsic Rapier Champions (many Tadcasters have been selected as champions or alternates); Pennsic Woods, Field and Fort battles; the Investitures of Lorcan & Sheherazade (Bhakail) and Lawrence & Catherine (Iron Bog); and the memorable invasion of the Bensalem Hooters. At the bottom of this page, you'll find a listing of the awards Tadcaster has garnered as a unit, so far covering two kingdoms and a barony.


What does the future hold? In our time we have grown from a school into a tight-knit household and a prominent force in rapier. As a testament to that, we have on the one hand been nearly banned for irrational exuberance in Royal Court, and on the other, been singled out by the Atlantian army as a specific danger ("If you see anyone wearing this favor, kill them. That's an order."). Several members have been selected as Kingdom Champions at Kingdom Crusades and Pennsic War, two have been King's Rapier Champion, and three have been selected as Queen's Rapier Champion. Our activities are not limited to list fields, either! Many of our members are enormously active in the areas of heraldry, calligraphy and illumination, event stewardship, cooking, fiber arts, military research, and general service to the Kingdom and her populace.

It's a strong bet that most events in the Southern Region (and even in the Central or Northern regions, and some in other Kingdoms, for that matter) will have a significant portion of our group in attendance, generally having more fun than should probably be allowed.


Are you interested in becoming a Militia member? Know that you'll be called a Tad, just get that out of the way right up front. Also know that, should you express an interest in joining us, there will be some time involved for you to get to know us, and for us to get to know you.

The gating factors for joining are somewhat fluid, but are primarilly based on a few things: Do you fence? Do you hang with us? Are you comfortable around us? Are you comfortable with, and do you contribute to the general levity and snark?

Beyond that, joining Tadcaster is like siging up for a family, one which (as pointed out above) puts the "fun" in "semi-disfunctional". Bear that in mind, and things will work themselves out in time. So if you're interested, talk to Ian Raven.


Tadcaster's household awards:

Blue Tyger Legion schwenkleBlue Tyger Legion, Kelson & Genviere II (A.S. XL). Given to groups who have demonstrated exceptional martial prowess on the field. A group inducted into the Legion may hang from its banner a schwenkle (small flag), bendy Purpure and Or, charged with the initials of the inducting sovereigns. No more than one group may be inducted into the Legion during any one reign. A group may be recognized in this manner more than once, in which case the initials of the sovereigns will be added to the existing schwenkle.

Award of the Dragon's TeethAward of the Dragon's Teeth (Midrealm), Lutr (A.S. XLIII). Given to those groups who have performed dramatic deeds in the Arts Martial on behalf of the kingdom, above and beyond that normally expected. It is often awarded on the field at the time the deed was witnessed. Those groups so honored may bear a banner: Argent, on a dance between two broken dragon's teeth Vert another Argent.

Star of Bhakail schwenkleStar of Bhakail, Darmon & Sabine (A.S. XLIV). Given to those groups or households whose impact is such that without them, the Barony is lesser as a whole. Among the Tokens are a mullet of six points on a cord of gules and sable (for individual members), and a schwenkle (small flag) gules, a mullet of six points Sable imfimbriated Or.

"The Tadcaster Militia: Collecting awards from other kingdoms since A.S. forty-three."


*As of AS XXXVIII, after an ill-fated fourteen-hour "three-hour tour", the Militia ardently avoids Vermont.