The Society for Creative Anachronism is an organisation focused on medieval – renaissance re-enactment. Unlike other organisations that concentrate on a narrow time span the SCA has people with persona’s stretching from 600CE to 1600CE. There is also a wide spread geographically with personas originating form places as diverse as Roman Era Britain to Japanese Samurai. Having said that, the default and the place many people start from is Europe during the Dark – Middle Ages.
There are two broad avenues of activity in the Society, the Arts & Sciences and the Martial Arts. A&S covers crafts and activities including calligraphy, armour making, period cooking, historic costumes (known was garb in the Society), weaving, embroidery, furniture making, and a wide variety of other endeavours. The Martial Arts are divided into four main areas, heavy weapons, light weapons, ranged weapons, and equestrian. Heavy weapons are used in armoured combat, they are rattan replicas of weapons such as long swords, halberds, and aces. The light weapons specialty takes place with relatively heavy fencing equipment and ranged weapons include archery and throwing axes used on targets as well as the use of “siege engines” and padded arrows used in a war situation in combination with heavy weapons. The equestrian arts take place in a tourney contest with games of skill and competence for horse and rider.
Events in the SCA range from small get togethers in private houses to practice specific crafts to business meetings to wars involving thousands of participants. One the face of it the most exiting stuff happens at large wars such as Pennsic and Estrella. Thousands of people gather, many of them camping in a period manner. There are organized battles with hundreds, sometimes thousands of fighters and marshals taking the field at one time as well as a plethora of workshops offered for non-combatants. IN addition there is usually ample opportunity to shop for your medieval needs and when darkness falls there is no shortage of parties, large and small, organised and impromptu. On the other end of the scale are the small, intimate meetings of like minded individuals pursuing their personal passions and passing on their knowledge to newcomers. These, in my opinion are the heart and soul of the local groups.
This brings me to the organizational structure of the Society. The 30,000 odd members are divided geographically first by Kingdom and then descending in size, by Principality, Barony, University, and Shire. These groups are overseen by the Corpora which is a governing board made up of members from all over the Known World. Each of these groups also has a set of officers lead by the Seneschal which include roles such as Chatelaine (basically a “Welcome Wagon”), Exchequer, Marshal (in charge of all the martial arts), A&S Minister, Scribe, and Children’s Minister. These people as well as many other members give up a great deal of their time to make sure that the behind the scenes mechanisms run smoothly.
In addition there are bi-annual (usually) Crown Tourneys, where a new King or Queen and their Consort is chosen by right of arms. These Heavy Weapons tourneys are some of the highlights of the season. AS a result of this there is generally a reigning King and Queen and a Crown Prince and Princess to take on the ceremonial roles of presiding over courts, presenting Kingdom awards, etc. In contrast to the trials by combat, the Baronies elect their Baron and Baroness on a democratic basis for a term of, for example, five years.
In conclusion there is a system of recognition of achievement within the Society based on three kinds of Peerage; Martial, Service, and A&S based. Each of these have different levels of awards culminating in the Order of Chivalry (Knights known as Sir and White Scarves known as Don or Donna), the Order of the Pelican (Master or Mistress), and the Order of the Laurel (also Master or Mistress). In addition to this there are titles reserved for outgoing royalty. For instance someone who has been King for three times or more becomes a Duke or Duchess, an outgoing Prince or Princess receives the title of Viscount or Viscountess.
This rather cursory summary of the activities of the Society for Creative Anachronism can in no way give a complete picture of the corps d’esprit and sheer enjoyment that is part and parcel of playing the Game. There is room for very different kinds of people; from young singles to retirees, as well as families with children of all ages and they all come together to participate in the Middle Ages As They Should Have Been.