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The An Tir Handbook, 3rd Edition, May XXXIII/1998

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The University of St. Hildegarde

A History of the University of St. Hildegarde

by Duchess Lao Tao-sheng

The University of St. Hildegarde was established in AS XXVIII, during the reign of Barak and Lao. It was created to focus on the hands-on arts and technologies of the Middle Ages, and to serve as a voc-tech equivalent to the University of Ithra which had been chartered by the Crown in AS XVII.

The University was named after Hildegarde von Bingen, an 11th Century German Abbess and mystic. She was considered one of the leading scholars of her day and a woman far ahead of her time. She wrote nine books ranging from Theological work and biographies of Saints, to natural history and medicine. It was deemed a fitting name for an entity that could assist the Queen in educating Her people, and which would allow her to have lasting impact in areas of primary interest to Her.

The University was governed by a Board of Regents which originally consisted of the reigning Queen, Crown Princess, a Royal member of the Order of the Laurel and of the Chivalry. The founding Regents for the University of St. Hildegarde were Duchess Lao Tao-sheng and Jarl Barak Ravensfury, with Lady Aliena von Bingen functioning as Chancellor. In addition to the Regency structure, it was determined that those who served the University through their efforts and support, should be recognized for their service, and have their voices recognized in the governance of the organization. So it was that the Fellows of St. Hildegarde was born, of which there are about a dozen members.

Each year the University hosts the Festival of St. Hildegarde, a 10-day festival of medieval life, arts and sciences. During this festival, students become immersed in projects which can take up to several days to complete, including felting, dyeing, cheesemaking, papermaking, chainmail, forging and pottery. Other events include the Wool Festival, which celebrates the annual sheep-shearing and wool processing, and Steingrim's Siege, an event which is held twice-yearly for war practice.

The University developed the medieval trade token known as the Barak, named after one of the Founding Regents. Patterned after a 10th-century Byzantine follis, the face side commemorates the reigning King, with the flip-side displaying the Hildegarde emblem, designed by Duchess Lao. New coins are designed be Ian Cnulle to commemorate An Tirian Kings and various out-of-Kingdom wars. The Baraks are now used by several Kingdoms as official trade tokens.

Other projects that the University embarked on included The Boke of Days which chronicled the Festival each year, and The Boke of Divyne Talent which was a directory of instructors in An Tir. The University has sponsored tournaments at Crown events and continues to donate pouches of Baraks as prizes for tournaments and contests that are educational in nature. Instructor's from the University can be seen teaching classes or judging competitions at events both in An Tir and in neighboring Kingdoms.

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