June 4th – The Festival of Quarto Pamphleteering

Whilst we think of most religions as venerable, indelible institutions, there are of course religions which only last a generation, or a few years. Yet history is strong in Buentoille, this city of cultural hoarders, and everything leaves its mark. The Followers of Bandonelli are now long defunct, disbanding at some point in the late 14th century, but their methods of worship, their central ethos lives on, stripped of its religious connotations.

According to Bandonelli, a self-described ‘hedge prophet’ who had allegedly spent three years lost in some forgotten branch of the Hidden Library, god is knowledge, or at least a conglomeration of knowledge, and that to gather, spread and understand knowledge is to understand and be closer to god. This revelation was apparently gleaned during the prophet’s time lost in the Hidden Library, where the concentration of knowledge allegedly formed a ‘kynd of sponnetanias innetelijents, a presents, a lessere god’ which spoke to her and conferred the teachings she followed. This itself was not a particularly fantastic revelation, having formed part of many other religions before and after, but the particular approach to this form of worship that Bandonelli put forth has remained a small part of Buentoilliçan culture ever since.

Bandonelli had little money of her own, but with her proselytising she managed to secure funding from Thamo Grundy, who gave over one of his printing presses to the cause. Bandonelli surmised that the best way to spread knowledge effectively to the widest available audience was through the printed word, in particular through small, quarto pamphlets (a single large piece of paper printed onto and folded twice) on specific subjects. Because the Followers had no particular hierarchy of subjects, their aim principally being the spread of knowledge, no matter what that knowledge pertained to, they initially printed whatever information they had available, summarising chapters on the proper process for the distillation of acids into handy guides, or paraphrasing epic poetry which charted the formation of empires.

With baskets full of random information, the Followers went out door-knocking to spread it as far and wide as possible. Very quickly they found that certain subjects were far more popular than others, and there was a great demand for those texts covering the proper storage of food, methods of effective contraception, and other such themes of import to everyday life. This is not to say that the more arcane subjects were not received well, just that they required the right person to find them interesting, and the Followers found they had a great surplus of some texts and shortages of others.

Eventually, the Followers realised that the best way to educate the population of Buentoille was to ask them what they wanted to learn about, and provide accordingly. For a small donation to the cause, the Followers canvassed opinion, then spent the following year researching the asked for subjects, collating the knowledge they found into a series of easy-to-understand pamphlets which were distributed about the City. This cycle eventually led to a ‘release day’ when new, long awaited pamphlets would be released, and the creation of this festival day inevitably led to other groups attempting to cash in on the popular event.

Slowly, over the next few hundred years, the Followers’ funding ran dry, and the religious fire that lay beneath their ideals faded out and was replaced by hundreds of different publishers, religious organisations spreading their own ideals, and individual authors. Instead of the donation and consultation model once upheld, today the hawkers who travel door-to-door charge a small contribution for each pamphlet, should the residents wish to buy. Each house can expect to be visited by at least seven hawkers today, each trying to educate the populace in their own way. Authors have often used today as a method of self-publishing, producing short stories or poetry collections for mass consumption, with some creating novels stretched out across various festivals. Historically, before printing became cheap enough, those who did not have the funds to print their offerings handmade them instead, either laboriously copying them out by hand, or by hand-printing with crude stamps.

Whilst many of the quarto pamphlets are semi-disposable, made for quick consumption and uptake of knowledge, some have become collectors items, either because of the small numbers still in existence, the beauty of their printing, or the value or comically antiquated nature of the knowledge contained therein. The Museum of Traditional Antiquities and the Hidden Library both hold large collections, much of which is displayed today in special exhibitions. Another collection of note is within Garrik’s Museum of Infernal and Occult Curiosities, where the various arcane pamphlets on ghosts, fairies, magic and mystical ceremonies have been collated for public viewing. Of particular interest this year is Garrik’s Museum’s recently acquired Reel Lifes ov the Sayntes, an exceptionally rare early pamphlet which made outrageous claims that the various saints of the Chastise Church canon had all gained their Attunement through a deal with the Grenin Waurst, and was subsequently suppressed by Church activists.

Other festivals happening today:

  • The Festival of Bridge Building
  • Deer Following Day
  • The Day of Knife Sharpening