It occurred to me today that some of you might be scratching your heads over my post for the “Known World’s Got Talent” competition and all my recent ramblings on bardic music, Artisan rank, and sewing projects. I hope to remedy that.
See, my husband and I are part of a neat organization called the SCA, or the Society for Creative Anachronism, which is dedicated to the study of life and culture in the medieval and renaissance period (roughly 500 A.D. to 1610). At first glance we look like just a rag-tag bunch of blokes who dress in funny clothes and run around smacking each other with sticks, but I promise there’s more to it than that. 😉 The SCA covers a lot of area, there are divisions for fighting (“heavy combat” and rapier), archery, cooking, arts & sciences, equestrian… The list goes on and on. If there is an area of medieval/renaissance life you are interested in — say, medieval fishing practices — you can study that, and share what you learn with other like-minded folks.
Members are encouraged to develop a historical persona and unique heraldic device, and period-appropriate garb is a must. Along the way you have opportunities to achieve special ranks. Some are awarded by your local Barons and Baronesses, others are awarded by Their Majesties, the King and Queen. Members are strongly encouraged to follow the practices for showing deference and reverence to higher-ranking members (such as curtseying to the Throne, addressing your Baron and Baroness as “Your Excellencies,” etc.). As you may have already guessed, all the regions of the world that play are referred to as “The Known World,” and are divvied up into Kingdoms, then Baronies, and then possibly Cantons, Shires, and Colleges. Every year these territories host events which you can attend for a nominal fee. Most events are weekend camping events (period tent not necessarily required), with fighting, classes, feasting, bardic entertainment, court, and camaraderie. 🙂 In short, everything is organized and ran approximately according to what it would have been in medieval times.
My persona (Lady Emma Godwif) is that of an English sail-maker’s wife (merchant/middle class) in the late Tudor period, specifically during the last years of Bloody Mary’s reign, and into the time of Queen Elizabeth I. I am related to James and Matthew Baker, the famous English shipwrights, (“Godwif” or “goodwife” is a nickname) and met my husband, a well-to-do sail maker, James Elwic, during business negotiations between our families. We are Protestant, and only managed to avoid trouble during the Marian Persecutions due to James’ insistence that we make like Catholics and observe all traditions as such. Needless to say, we were quite overjoyed and relieved when Queen Elizabeth I took the throne. 🙂
My ranks are that of a Lady and Artisan; the title of Lady (an Award of Arms) was granted to me by our reigning King and Queen for being good at and invested in our game, and the rank of Artisan was awarded by my Baroness after I passed a series of tests. In return, I have pledged my fealty to her, to uphold her honor and represent our barony wherever I go, and I get a belt medallion to wear and a beaded favor that resides on my SCA guitar. (My husband is a Lord and a Gallant, we essentially have the same rank, although the rank of Gallant is a fighting rank for rapier. He gets a fancy scarf in our barony’s colors to wear when he is on the fighting field.)
Most people I’ve met since being involved in the SCA are amazing and very personable, I find that during the “event season” (here in the Kingdom of An Tir that’s typically April through October) I count the days and weeks until the next event on my calendar. 🙂 The people we play with are like a second family, and everyone pitches in to make events fun.
If your interest is piqued, I highly recommend locating your chapter and seeing what it’s all about. 🙂