The Vales: A semi-stateless
society (courts, legislature, no executive arm of government) loosely
modeled on saga period Iceland. See my article:
"Private Creation and Enforcement of Law -- A Historical Case." Journal of Legal Studies, (March 1979), pp. 399-415.
Archery Details: Most are borrowed from J. D. Latham and W. F. Paterson, Saracen Archery,
Holland Press, London 1970, an annotated translation of The Complete
Manual of Archery for Cadets, written in the fourteenth century by
Taybugha al-Baklamishi al-Yunani. The technique for shooting at an
enemy below you, mentioned by Harald to Hen and later used by Asbjorn,
is called "jarmaki." The technique for shooting short arrows to very
long ranges--probably four to five hundred yards---used a device called
a "sipar," a sort of miniature shield attached to the inside of the
forearm of the bow hand to permit the head of the arrow to be
drawn behind the bow. Harald achieves the same effect by sliding his
light archer's shield around to the inside of the arm.
Chapter Subheads: Almost all are from the Elder Edda, mostly from Havamal,
sometimes with a little editing. One subhead, however, is from a book
first published in the twentieth century--again with a little editing.
Cover Illustration: The Ladies
are in plate instead of mail, the Order banner is gold on green instead
of green on gold, the Lamellar armor overlaps down instead of up, and
Harald would never put such fancy barding on any horse of his. But I
like it anyway—there are no chain mail bikinis and the general
feel conveyed by the picture is, I think, just about right.
The Empire: Various elements
are modeled on the Roman and Byzantine Empires and the Abbasid
Caliphate. The political situation was inspired by the conflict between
Haroun al-Rashid's sons. My Emperor, however, is a much more competent
ruler than al-Rashid.
Lamellar Armor: Instructions for making a lamellar klibanion of hardened leather can be found in the article "The Perfect Armor."
The method for hardening leather armor described in that article is
unlikely to be historically correct, for reasons discussed in "The Perfect Armor Improved," which describes a different and at least conjecturally period technique.
"the only things they take with them [when riding to war] are a
large flat stone placed between the saddle and the saddle-cloth and a
bag of oatmeal strapped behind. When they have lived so long on
half-cooked meat that their stomachs feel weak and hollow, they lay
these stones on a fire and, mixing a little of their oatmeal with
water, they sprinkle the thin paste on the hot stone and make a small
cake, rather like a wafer, which they eat to help their digestion."
(Froissart’s Chronicles, Penguin Books translation, describing
Scottish troopers c. 1400.)
1/2 c "Scottish Oatmeal" -- coarsely ground whole oats.
1/4 c water 1/4 t salt
Grind the oatmeal to something intermediate between what you started
with and bread flour; I use a spice grinder for the purpose. Add salt
and water and let the mixture stand for about fifteen minutes. Make
flat cakes 1/4" to 3/8" in thickness, cook on a medium hot griddle,
without oil, about 3-5 minutes.
Stories: The book mentions
various stories that Harald tells. Other than the ones involving events
he was a part of, they are based on stories that exist in medieval
sources. I will leave identifying them—there are at least three—as a
puzzle for readers.