Nicasia Leontodes at 100 Minutes War 2022
|Resides: East Kingdom|
"Gules, a LION(ess) statant to sinister between three mullets Or, a bordure flory argent" - Juliana de Luna at Pennsic - Date Submitted 2022-Aug-10
|Award & Office Badges|
Presently residing in the East Kingdom (2020-), formerly resided in the Kingdom of Caid (2019-2020).
Interests: Heavies sword fighting, Byzantine history and styles (e.g. Brocaded Silks, Mosaics), volunteering, making new friends. Dabbles in garb-making, interested in culinary arts and research amongst other arts and sciences.
If you would like to see more information, like where this scadian gets her brocades or information about projects she's worked on in more detail, you can visit www.nicasialeontodes.com.
Nicasia Leontodes is a VIth century woman from the Byzantine Empire (aka East Roman Empire or Byzantium), descended from a line of līmitāneī. Her unusual upbringing living under the coregency of Justinian I and Theodora in Constantinople brought her to understand the importance of men and women running the world as intellectual and political equals. In a society where one’s station in life does not often change, various events in Nicasia’s life tell a rare tale of climbing the social ladder from grass to grace in Byzantium.
Nicasia has a slightly Christian aesthetic due to the popular practice of wearing ecclesial depictions through silk textiles, embroidery, and jewelry in noble fashion; though she lives a secular life behind closed doors. While some of the iconographical embellishments of her wardrobe and trinkets depict various biblical characters and religious narratives of Orthodoxy, her upbringing was anything but orthodox. Nicasia can read and speak both Latin and Greek. She is proficient in various forms of swordsmanship and an accomplished businesswoman across the Mediterranean in the Byzantine silk trade. See backstory below for more information.
Having descended from a long line of līmitāneī, Latin-speaking part-time farmer-soldiers along the farmlands of the borders of the empire, Nicasia’s father sought opportunity to change the family’s station in life and leave their humble home. Opportunity to change social status being limited to joining the church, army, or imperial bureaucracy; Nicasia’s father left the farm to join the professional Byzantine army serving Emperor Justinian I, sending Nicasia and her mother to the city of Constantinople to keep them safe from the dangerous territories of the empire’s borders. Nicasia’s mother began trade in the capital via weaving and garment-making. Their move to the capitol required the family to learn the city's Greek language.
Education for women was very limited at the time. Nicasia was educated in the family home learning the family trade of spinning and weaving in addition to studying the Orthodox Bible and the lives of the saints in Latin from her mother as well as in Greek from her neighbors, being fortunate to develop reading literacy in both languages in her youth. Nicasia’s father was able to make better pay as a professional soldier and trained in multiple techniques of swordsmanship from his various expeditions in the army which he taught to his daughter when he visited his new home in the capital. Nicasia’s home education consisting of reading and swordsmanship made for a very unorthodox upbringing compared to her female peers. As a result of her education, and contrary to what was custom at the time, Nicasia was fortunate to not be married as young as 12 years of age seeing as she was deemed to be too rebellious of a future wife for a local boy to take on.
In 542 AD, a wave of the Plague of Justinian passed through Constantinople, taking Nicasia’s mother with it. Nicasia was alone in the capital at only 14 years of age. Concern for her well-being was discussed by neighbours. The topic of marriage was reexamined as she was without a parent present at home, though her unorthodox education continued to conflict with uxorial norms. Nicasia’s father resolved to taking Nicasia out of the capital, retiring from the army to mourn his late wife and spend quality time with his daughter before the day he too would join the Kingdom of Heaven. While grateful his daughter was fortunate to live in the capital during the massive legal reforms for women under the rule of the emperor and empress regnant, he wanted Nicasia to have a better understanding of the world outside of her home in the city that had been shaped by the arson and violence from the riots between the Greens and the Blues, the tensions between the Monophysites and the Oriental Orthodox and Chalcedonian Churches, and the civil destruction that the buboes left in its wake. So, he opted to take her traveling through their known world for what would become the next decade of their lives. During their travels, Nicasia’s father continued his instruction with her on various forms of swordsmanship and weaponry, ensuring to integrate regional variations with every new territory they visited.
On their travels, Nicasia’s father befriended two monks of the Nestorian Church (Church of the East) who were spreading the word of Christianity in India. The monks were impressed with Nicasia’s Christian education of the time, disagreements of Christ's nature(s) from their books aside, and with the endorsement from her father was also able to facilitate a friendship with the monks. The four opted to travel to China next in about 551 AD where they were all surprised to learn the intricate methods of raising silkworms and how the production of silk was conducted. They were especially surprised about where they found this information as it had been believed that silk was made in India. Silk was a highly desirable textile in Byzantium and had become difficult to acquire in that area of the world as a result of the rise of the Sassanid Empire and the Roman-Persian Wars. Importing silk had become very expensive, and the Persians would suspend trade in their territory during times of war. Unlike his noble peers of the Scholae Palatinae or the Excubitores of the Imperial Guard who were limited to civilian missions inside of the empire, Nicasia’s father had been sent out on several expeditions with the professional army under Justinian’s orders to create alternative trade routes for silk to Sogdiana as well as to Crimea and Ethiopia in an effort to work around the limited success of silk importation, all to no avail. Seeing the production of silk in China, Nicasia suggested to her father that they had a unique opportunity to bring silk-making directly into Byzantium without relying on imported goods, possibly having a family business in brocaded textiles in Constantinople itself and raising the family’s social status further.
After much discussion, Nicasia, her father, and the monks agreed to travel together back to Constantinople to tell Emperor Justinian of the opportunity to develop this textile within the empire itself. They returned to the capital in 552 AD and told the emperor of the cultivation of silkworms and the processes of making, dying, and weaving the textile. The life of the silkworm was too short to be carried such a long distance, though it would be possible to transport the eggs if kept dormant in straw and dung. When hatched, the silkworms could thrive on the mulberry leaves, the sole source of nutrition for silkworms, of Europe just as well as they did in China. The emperor offered great rewards for the procuration of silkworm eggs to be brought back to Constantinople. It was decided that the silkworm eggs could be smuggled into the empire inside of the monk’s bamboo canes with Nicasia and her father accompanying the monks for safe passage through this expedition. Their journey took them along the Black Sea and through the Transcaucasus and the Caspian Sea. Only just after procuring the silkworm eggs in China about a year into their journey, Nicasia’s father passed away. Nicasia ensured the safety of the monks and silkworm eggs as they finished their journey back to Constantinople, taking about another year’s time.
Upon arrival at the emperor’s court, Nicasia and the monks revealed the silkworm eggs from their journey to Justinian. They discussed the wealth and occupational changes that awaited the empire, which the emperor defined as a pivotal step for the “Roman Empire to further mirror the Kingdom of Heaven on Earth." Justinian presented the long-awaited awards. Nicasia’s father was posthumously awarded noble status and ranking of honorary candidatus, one of 40 men selected from the Scholae Palatinae to serve as the Emperor’s bodyguard. Nicasia too was awarded noble status. The late empress’ interest in expanding women’s restrictive professional outlets outside of theaters and brothels (the only occupations outside of “work-from-home-and-raise-a-family” jobs, such as weaving, innkeeping, or baking at that time) brought Justinian to award Nicasia the role of overseeing the supply of silkworms and methods of silk-making to what would eventually lead to the occupations of the serikarioi, katartarioi, myrepsoi, Rūmī, and gynaikeion - the silkfarmers, dyers, weavers, and traders of Byzantium - across the eastern Mediterranean. Nicasia's businesses would eventually create and supply much of the noble population with the intricate and in-demand hand-crafted textiles. This award tested a woman’s ability to work publicly outside the traditional family home and earn true income. Nicasia proved herself to be quite the businesswoman. Her many brocaded textiles in her wardrobe would reflect her noble status in addition to advertising her role in her line of work throughout the Mediterranean. Sumptuary laws had small modifications made to permit Nicasia the privilege to wear detailing dyed the imperial purple when conducting silk business on behalf of the emperor, though she always ensured his regency would be supplied with the finest of the brocaded silk. Nicasia’s success had improved prospective matches for marriage, and her children followed in her footsteps to further develop what would become the family business. As the work carried on in each generation, these silk factories eventually lost China and Persia their monopoly on the silk trade as overland silk trading had become far less important. Following the reign of Justinian I, the trade of overseeing the manufacturing and selling of silk had become an imperial monopoly, only to be sold to authorized buyers in the noble class.
Why a Byzantine Persona?
In the real world, this Scadian wanted to choose a persona where women of the time and place had more rights than other historical periods and kingdoms/countries (to her limited knowledge as an unprofessional historian). Originally looking at Viking options, the realization that there was very good possibility that she would not be able to pronounce her own Scadian name if she chose to follow the Viking path steered her into looking at some other historical societies. Her search brought her to Byzantium, specifically VIth century. Oaths were made to both Emperor Justinian and Theodora of the Holy Roman Empire under their co-regency. Laws passed under their rule and societal practices, particularly regarding women's rights, made VIth century Byzantium an interesting period to select for a female persona. The time period also became a rabbit hole of other curious information for this Scadian to fall into, such as the 50+ year whale hunt for Porphyrios (the Byzantine Moby Dick).
Apart from historical interests, an Eastern Roman persona was selected so that Greek/Roman garb could be comfortably worn in the Caid summers in addition to allowing Viking garb for the cooler coastal-desert and cold inland-desert nights using the history of the Varangian Guard for the Byzantine Emperors (this Scadian wearing Viking garb anachronistically as the Varangian Guard started to come about roughly 500 years after Nicasia's time). Her move to the East Kingdom with cold New England winters further confirmed that this was a very smart decision. An Eastern Roman persona also made the lion(ESS), this Scadian's favourite animal, an appropriate selection for Nicasia's heraldry. The time and location allow for some other fun garb choices considering the trade routes throughout the centuries. While this Scadian is not a Christian herself, much of the beautiful clothing and artwork of this period is Christian-based. Some of Nicasia's garb and many of her accessories reflect this history.
- Sword and Shield since January 11th, 2022.
Offices & Positions
- February 18th, 2023: King & Queen's Rapier Championship
Projects & Publications
This section is under construction.
Awards, Honors, and Recognitions
- Award of Arms: presented at Crown Tournament of Matthias and Feilinn of Fall 2023
- Quintavia Keeper of the Torse: Heavy List: presented in of Winter 2022
- Present-Day Squire to the Duke Edward Grey of Lochleven in the East Kingdom (2023-, Former Lady at Arms 2021-2023).
- Presently fighting for and consort to the Honorable Lord Michal Bialy in the East Kingdom (2022-).
- Former Lady at Arms to Duke Mansur ibn al-Sha'bi ibn Rafi' in the Kingdom of Caid (2019-2021).
- Forever Squire Bros with Lord Mikhail Liutognev of the Kingdom of Caid (2019-).
- Commonly affiliated with the populations of the Village of Lochleven, Household of Darostur, and Household of Stormhearth Thunder of the Clans of Rolling Thunder.
Where You May Have Seen My Name Outside of Wiki
East Kingdom Gazette - Crown Tournament May Crown 2023, The Honorable Lord Michal Bialy fighting for Nicasia Leontodes
In Case of Court
In case of court, please contact Duke Edward Grey of Lochleven.
Was recommended to put "Would prefer rewards and scrolls to be in the Byzantine style," here.
Time Period of SCA:
“The Society for Creative Anachronism (SCA) is an inclusive community pursuing research and re-creation of pre-seventeenth century skills, arts, combat and culture. The lives of participants are enriched as we gain knowledge of history through activities, demonstrations, and events."
“The Society for Creative Anachronism (SCA) is a non-profit educational organization devoted the the study of pre-seventeenth century Western culture. It concentrates on the European Middle Ages and Renaissance, and members work to recreate the arts and skills of this era.”
“The SCA time period is set by the governing documents of the SCA as pre-17th Century. That is 1600 to the dawn of time. Common practice is most people stick with 600-1600 but that IS NOT the actual time period for the SCA.”