The King and Queen of the Kingdom of Calontir sat in South Park one evening last week, recounting their royal responsibilities and their coronation just two weeks ago before a crowd of 400 in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
Their brocade robes, guilded crowns and scepters sparkled in the last light of day, as their 15-month-old daughter, the cherubic Princess of Dumnonia, played at their feet.
With them were Lady Regina Lisle, her majesty's scribe, and Lord Stephan Graithorne, chronicler of the local shire.
Such medieval nobility appear likely wanderers from the Renaissance Festival, under way weekends through Oct. 18 near Bonner Springs, and in a way they are.
AS MEMBERS of the Lawrence chapter of the Society for Creative Anachronism, the king and queen and members of their court sometimes visit the Society's dell at the Festival to demonstrate armed foot combat and stage exhibits of medieval arts and sciences.
But for such nobility, pre-occupation with the Middle Ages and the Renaissance period is a year-round obsession, not just a fall fling.
Lady Regina is Regina Townsend of Lawrence in real life and local senechal for the society, which means she is chapter president. Lord Graithorne is Lawrence resident Ronald Krause.
"In the beginning," Ms. Townsend said, "there was a party, a graduation party in Berkeley, Calif.," and from that event sprang the now 27-year-old not-for-profit Society, an education organization with chapters around the world.
There are 13 districts, called kingdoms, she said, and more than 20,000 members.
IN 1983, the Kingdom of Calontir, which includes Kansas, Nebraska, most of Iowa, Missouri and a corner of Arkansas, broke off from the Kingdom of the Middle, which goes north into Canada and east to Pennsylvania.
Lawrence is a tiny "shire" within Calontir, but for the next six months it will take on special significance for the group because it is home to the kingdom's new king and queen.
In real life, the king is David Putz, a math teacher at Basehor-Linwood High School, and his queen is his real-life wife, Carol. She recently received her master of science in education in counseling psychology from Kansas University and is job hunting in addition to being a full-time mother to their daughter, Erin.
"I hope it's just a six-month stint," Putz said of their just-launched reign. "That's all I signed up for."
HIS SOCIETY persona is a German knight, Sir Steffen Albert Rheinbauer from his real-life grandfathers who likes to sing and fight, and who won the throne by fighting victoriously for his wife's honor in a "crown tournament" in May in Topeka.
"From that day on," he said, "we've been in training."
In addition to learning the business of running a fantasy kingdom that is part of a real-life non-profit corporation, the royal couple will preside at "court" and other Society gatherings in St. Louis, Rolla, Mo., and Des Moines, Iowa, during their reign.
On such occasions, they explained, they'll honor members of the "populace" for service to the kingdom and mastery of various medieval skills such as fighting, as well as indulge in medieval-style feasting and singing.
MS. TOWNSEND explained there were three orders within the society: fighters who can be men or women in the Order of Chivalry; scholars and artisans in the Order of the Laurel, and service people "who give of themselves" as members of the Order of the Pelican.
Her persona is that of a French protestant woman who worked as a tutor in a manor house during in the late Middle Ages, from about 1550 to 1600, in Scotland.
Her persona, Ms. Townsend explained, springs from one of her own ancestors a man who fled France for Scotland as a result of religious persecution during that era.
Mrs. Putz's persona is Lile ni Mhordha, a young matron and also a singer and a fighter who could make her husband king just as he has made her queen through triumph in battle.
"Lile," she explained, is Irish, "ni" means ``daughter of'' and "Mhordha" is the last name of one of her parents.
"Some of my real ancestors are Irish, so studying about Ireland and people there was of interest to me," she said.
THE COUPLE'S daughter became a named princess on one of her father's royal "whims."
The Putzes, natives of Iowa, joined the society when they were students at the University of Iowa in Iowa City, and they have been members of the local group since moving here about five years ago.
Ms. Townsend discovered the society during her student days as well at Wichita State University, which is in "the Barony of V'tavia," and she felt a natural affinity with its members.
Her third-grade teacher "got me hooked" on Robin Hood and King Arthur, Knight of the Roundtable, she said, so with her already well-developed "fondness for the ideals of the time," she was quickly joined.
After coming to Lawrence in 1982 for graduate study at Kansas University, she got involved with the local group.
HERE, CHAPTER members gather once a week for fighter practice and twice a month for a general shire meeting. Special interest groups, including scholars, costume makers, calligraphers and singers, get together at other times as well.
"Living history should include everyone," Ms. Townsend said, explaining that within the chapter, ages range from babes in arms to "senior citizens," and some entire families are involved.
There also are two artisans in the chapter who make their living as medieval merchants, she said. Greg Anderson "Sir Roderick of Mandrake Hill" is an armor maker and Larry Brow "Lars Viulhamsen" is a potter.
During fair weather, fighter practices are held in South Park, she said, but now that fall has arrived, the group is looking for an indoor location.
"WE ARE colorful as a group," she said. "The fighting, that's the big show. The undercurrent of study and service are not as visible but no less important.
"The Society of Creative Anachronism is more than armor, costumes, service and study (though). It is the shared ideas of people who wish to re-create the area as it should have been ideally."