Instructor Interview: Duke Steingrim Stallari

The man now known as Duke Steingrim Wulfharesson Stallari entered the Society almost 40 years ago, dedicated to the life-long dream of being a knight. After achieving this goal in AS X, Duke Steingrim has continued to faithfully serve and support the Current Middle Ages for decades, by word, deed and example, both on and off the field. What fuels such levels of dedication? “The joy of combat, the joy of seeing the Kingdom I helped to evolve grow and prosper, the joy of being a guide to generations of SCA folk, and now the joy of doing honor to a lady.”Duke Steingrim believes that Knightly Combat is the epicenter of the Current Middle Ages, and that everything in the Society derives from that application of the noble code of Chivalry. “Our rulers are chosen by it,” says Steingrim, who was made a Lion of An Tir in AS XXXI. “Our people join in joyfully, and the concepts of Faith, Honor and Courtesie permeate all that is best in the Current Middle Ages.”

But how exactly is that code of Chivalry expressed by this noble Knight, who also bears the title of Baron as well as being a member of the Order of the Laurel? That is, in his own words, a complicated question.

“The Code of Chivalry I espouse, teach and lecture on (at length sometimes!) is based on this: I judge all actions as to would a churl, a peasent, a person of low mean status, a villein do it? If so, than a noble, knight or aspirant to knighthood would not. Simple as that. I will explain: A churl would happily beat an opponent to death in the way least possibly dangerous way to himself. A knight would not: A knight offers his body and his skill up to equal danger from an opponent in any combat, skill versus skill, luck versus luck. No hiding behind a tree, no using an unfair weapon (one that cannot be defended against), no dropping bombs on the enemy. As a system of combat Chivalry is very limiting, in that it excludes by its very nature and code all the safe, easily enacted actions that can kill. Sure, in period Knights did hit each other with shields, gauntlets, the butt of their swords, ride each other down, pour sand in visors and generally do anything to win. They even had a system of wrestling in and out of armor that was very similar to judo. But the Ideal was clean, fair combat between equals who knew and followed the rules. The SCA was founded to promote those Ideals, not the less than savory reality of the Middle Ages, and that it what I have promoted for thirty years.”

Whether fighting for fun at AnTir/West or Estrella (his two favorite wars) or preparing for a crown tournament, Duke Steingrim is motivated by a noble quest – to be a beacon of Honor, and an example of Chivalry to all who choose to see it in the Current Middle ages, to serve his feudal duty to Kingdom and King, and to uphold those ideals and see others follow where he has been.

His advice for new fighters deals both with the physical and the more esoteric. Firstly – Go into learning with the proper attitude.It’s invaluable to be able to set aside modern attitudes and previous assumptions, and truly listen to those who have accomplished what you are setting out to do. Discard ideas about what the “best” armor or weapon is, and dedicate yourself to learning what those who are more experienced are willing to teach you.Find a successful trainer and don’t be afraid to travel to learn from those outside of your immediate area. And, of course, practice, practice, practice. Get yourself into optimal physical condition, to give yourself the best footing for this challenging martial sport.

Duke Steingrim Stallari is a 14th century Norseman, who makes his home in the Barony of Three Mountains, where he pursues the study and creation of period bows as well asbroad spectrum of metal working interests, in addition to his martial studies.He is inspired by his Lady, Viscountess Genvieve de Vendome of the West. His device is Or and Sable, a paly of six, a fess counterchanged, augmented with a leopard regardant in chief, dexter, holding a crown, Or.