Persona Pentathlon

Every year, the Laurels of the Kingdom of Atlantia hold a Persona Pentathlon competition.

The Pentathlon requires five (5) separate items that a single persona would have used or owned. An entry does not have to match the persona of the entrant, but all five (5) items should be from the same time period and culture for a single individual. The categories are as follows (specifics are included at the main competition site:

  • Category 1: Manuscript & Fine Arts
  • Category 2: Garb & Fiber Arts 
  • Category 3: Glass & Pottery
  • Category 4: Medieval Life 
  • Category 5: Performance-Related and Writing
  • Category 6: Metal, Leather, Wood & Other ‘Hard’ Arts
  • Category 7: Miscellaneous

I’ve entered this competition several times – these were my entries.

2020: The Trossfrau’s Food (Winner)

The “trossfrau” is a modern name for a woman who followed the mercenary Landsknecht bands. These women might be the legal wives of the landsknecht, be an unmarried partner of a single landsknecht, or might be a prostitute with or without another job in the company such as musician or seamstress. These women were found throughout Germany from the late 15th century through the late 16th century, though this entry is targeted at the middle of that period, approximately 1535.

The Trossfrau

The apron and shoes in the entry were similar to those shown in art depicting these women, and both the fritters and stewed pork are dishes which could be served in camp (although the sources they are based on are a few years later). The pie is more of a stretch both in date and in socioeconomic status, but might be served in a more permanent camp to the officers, who occasionally (for instance, in the case of François de Lorraine or Richard de la Pole) held noble rank. 

2010: Early 15th Century French Baroness

This entry was inspired by a challenge from a friend to enter Pentathlon despite not having begun preparations until after Ymir. Thus, instead of picking a new persona for the challenge, I chose my “own” persona, that of a Baroness, circa 1425, who attends tournaments and feasts. These items are all ones that she or her family and friends would own or use. 

  • Category 2: A heraldic houppelande, as might have been worn by a noblewoman in 1425. 
  • Category 2: A coral paternoster, as carried by ladies of high rank in the early 15th century.
  • Category 7: A heraldic banner, using techniques set forth in a painters’ manual from 1435.
  • Category 4: A dish of “snails” and snails, as described in cookbooks from 1394 and 1450.
  • Category 4: A dish of wheat pudding, as described in a cookbook from 1450.

2007: A 15th Century French Cook

This entry was inspired by one of its five components – a translation of Le Recuil de Riom. This cookbook was written by an anonymous author in 1466 , and I have chosen to conjecture that it was written by a cook, rather than by someone merely interested in food. This would not be unusual; other cooks of the 14th and 15th century wrote down their works (for instance, Maistre Chiquart, head cook to the Duke of Savoy at the turn of the 15th century, wrote an eloquent description of the items needed to produce a feast. 

A Cook at Work

Given this persona, the entry deals almost exclusively with food. The entries are as follows:

  • Category 7: An English translation of Le Recuil de Riom. To the best of my knowledge, this is the only English translation that has been prepared of this work.
  • Category 1: A calligraphed copy of Le Recuil, in French. This was done in a similar scale and hand to the original manuscript.
  • Category 4: Haricot of Lamb – This dish was based on recipe 20, Ung haricot de mouton, from Le Recuil.
  • Category 7: A Golden Chicken Subtlety. This dish was found not in Le Recuil, but in a contemporary edition of Le Viandier du Taillevent, which shares several recipes with Le Recuil
  • Category 4: A survey of Cameline Sauces. Cameline sauce was one of the most popular sauces in the medieval French corpus, and was found in various forms. It could even be purchased at a sauce vendor. These sauces, however, varied significantly though they shared a name – I have included several variations that may have been used by the anonymous cook.