She loves the Tudor/Elizabethan time period and will be found in clothing befitting a lady-in-waiting in the English Court. She does her own costuming, from the inside out including the construction of patterns and the study of costuming. Serena loves to help others learn to sew, and will on occasion hold sewing sessions at her home.
She can also frequently be found on the tourney or battlefield next to her Knight and the House of St. Ulric War band, or with the Beevairians fighting for her Barony. She fights sword and board, and two stick, and can shoot a decent mark with a crossbow. She is currently working on improving her skills in the martial field, and has recently picked up rapier to help her learn point work and foot work that may help in Heavy fighting. She is Master of Stables for the Barony of Glymm Mere, and holds practices the 1st and 3rd Thursdays of every month, as well as each Sunday.
Serena and her husband Captain Drake are head of the Flashing Rapier household.
Life & Times of a Lady in Tudor England
I am Lady Serena Zane. When my father and I first came to England in 1532, we lived in London, at the pleasure of his patron, King Henry VIII. My father was eventually gifted with our manor house and farm as a reward from King Henry. He also created my father the title of Baron Southwell at the same time. Our estate is located in Nottinghamshire. The terrain is lush with trees and fields alike. It seems the English are partial to farming, and there are many fields of wheat, and rye grown there. The hills gently roll from one to the other, and when the wind picks up on a blustery day, one can almost imagine they are watching the waves of the ocean crash over each other as the fields of wheat bend to the breeze. Coal is also mined in the area to supply heat and other resources to the country.
My father hired a wonderful governess who taught me how to read and write because my father wanted me to have the education of a lady. I read small romances filled with chivalry and love. The stories of Le Morte d’ Artur (English, mid 14th centuy narrative) by Thomas Malory; Orlando Inammorato (Italian Poem, late 15th century) by Matteo Maria Bioardo, are the types of work I love to read. I can speak German, Italian, and English as well as Latin. As is the fashion of the day for young ladies of means, I have been trained in and am knowledgeable in courtly fashions, needlework, music, poetry, drama, and courtly behavior. Archery and riding are fashionable pursuits as well. I was also taught arithmetic, and to keep the books for the estate, as is proper for the mistress of the house.
I have a contract with the English court to entertain her Highness Princess Mary. I receive 50 crowns a year, 2 gowns, and have been granted the use of a townhouse in London. Now, use of a townhouse is not normally granted to one performer, but I have become something of a favored pet, and am granted boons. Mostly, artists are housed in small rooms inside the palace or residence that the court is currently attending. When the Princess is in the countryside, I follow, and am housed and fed at her account. I also enjoy the company of other artists when asked to perform.
When his Majesty King Edward VI asked that I come to court and sing for his sister and her ladies, I eagerly accepted the assignment for I dearly love to sing and play for others. England is currently in a bit of an uproar due to the change in the monarchy, but it is still a prosperous nation. Because I showed aptitude for music, my father sent me to Venice when I was 11, where I was trained to become a Maestra. The mezzo-soprano is rapidly taking the place of the Castrati, surgically enhanced male singers. The Maestra are considered the greatest female singers, composers, and musicians of our time, and I wished to be like them. I spent several years there and eventually was asked to attend the Royal Court of Her Highness Mary Tudor. Many people here are catholic, as am I, but I have learned quickly that it is best when in the presence of her Highness to remain docile and quiet unless I am asked to perform. Recently, I have received a missive from a dear friend who resides in Germany. She asked that I come to court there and visit for a time. I feel that it would be best to leave England at this time due to all the rampant politics of the changing monarchy. After seeking permission from His Majesty, I was released from duty, and booked passage on the ship, the Swallow.
I have given up the use of my townhouse to stay with friends. While living in the townhouse I employed such persons as my lady’s maid, (a lady is not to leave her home without being properly attired), a cook and housekeeper, and my manservant. I also have a beautiful mechanical clock that helps me to keep the time, a gift from my father. French gowns set the tone for the fashion world around here, and we are all now wearing such things as the Henrician gown with its square neckline with long teardrop shaped sleeves. The farthingale, which was first introduced by Kathryn of Aragon into the English court in 1530, is also in wide use to give the gowns their conical shape. I am pleased that the hoops are now worn under the forepart, it looks better to my eye. The sumptuary laws of the day preclude my wearing velvet, as my income is less than 200 pounds a year. I do so wish to wear velvet, and for that I must improve my income. I have a hood of fox fur, which keeps me very warm, even if I am not allowed to wear ermine. I have been gifted with a number of receipts for cooking my father’s favorite dishes. He was able to get his housekeeper to write down the things he enjoys eating the most. He likes beef more than lamb. Deer and boar were both popular meats, as well as pheasant. We have pepper and cane sugar for special feasts. I like to have almond pudding. I like to use lavender and rosewater when I can get them. Eel pie is very good when we can get it. Fish of all sorts are easily had from the fishmongers at the market.
I will miss my dear England when I travel to Germany to visit my friend. As it is inappropriate for a lady to travel alone, I will be accompanied by my cousin Lord Darby until I reach my destination, and he will then continue on tour.
We were crossing the great expanse ‘tween England and the rest of Europe when we were set upon by Spanish pirates! Now, I didn’t know a whole lot about sea travel, but I knew the Spanish were not to be lurking in English waters at the time, and sure enough, before too long another ship appeared bearing the English flag! I was so excited to see her. At the time I had no idea of how to go about defending myself from these marauders. The fearsome William Richard Drake and the crew of the Flashing Rapier quickly took charge of the situation and rescued both myself and the crew of the Lady Jane. I was thrilled to meet the dreaded Capitan Lord Drake, but as I gazed into his steely eyes, I wished that he would steal me away. Capitan Drake took me aboard the Flashing Rapier and made me his cabin girl, he has treated me well, and I fell in love with him the first time we met. He too has fallen for me and it is with great joy that I write of the marriage that has taken place. He has made me his wife. He taught me how to fight, how to defend myself, and how to tie a knot. He brought me here to the kingdom of An Tir to live and build a family.
It seems as though in this great kingdom there are not as many restriction for ladies. I am learning how to use sword and shield and have been taken as Lady-at-Arms by Baron Godric ap Rhys, and am endeavoring one day to be his squire. I am learning many new things such as stitch work, and how to play the lute, a sister instrument to the violin. I am finding a freedom I never thought to have as a Tudor lady.