Society for Creative Anachronism — From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Society for Creative Anachronism armored combat participants
The Society for Creative Anachronism (SCA) is an international living history group with the aim of studying and recreating mainly Medieval European cultures and their histories before the 17th century. A quip often used within the SCA describes it as a group devoted to the Middle Ages “as they ought to have been,”½ choosing to “selectively recreate the culture, choosing elements of the culture that interest and attract us.”½ Founded in 1966, the non-profit educational corporation has about 29,000 paid members as of 2012¼ with about 60,000 total participants in the society (including members and non-member participants).¾
The SCA’s roots can be traced to a backyard graduation party of a UC Berkeley medieval studies graduate, the author Diana Paxson, in Berkeley, California, on May Day in 1966. The party began with a “Grand Tournament” in which the participants wore motorcycle helmets, fencing masks, and usually some semblance of a costume, and whacked away at each other with weapons including plywood swords, padded maces, and even a fencing foil. It ended with a parade down Telegraph Avenue with everyone singing “Greensleeves”. It was styled as a “protest against the 20th century.” The SCA still measures dates within the society from the date of that party, calling the system Anno Societatis (Latin for “in the Year of the Society”). For example, 2009 May 1 to 2010 April 30 was A.S. XLIV (44). The name “Society for Creative Anachronism” was coined by science fiction author Marion Zimmer Bradley, an early participant, when the nascent group needed an official name in order to reserve a park for a tournament.
In 1968, Bradley moved to Staten Island, New York and founded the Kingdom of the East, holding a tournament that summer to determine the first Eastern King of the SCA. That September, a tournament was held at the 26th World Science Fiction Convention, which was in Berkeley that year. The SCA had produced a book for the convention called A Handbook for the Current Middle Ages, which was a how-to book for people wanting to start their own SCA chapters. Convention goers purchased the book and the idea spread. Soon, other local chapters began to form. In October 1968, the SCA was incorporated as a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation in California. By the end of 1969, the SCA’s three original kingdoms had been established: West Kingdom, East, and Middle. All SCA kingdoms trace their roots to these original three. The number of SCA kingdoms has continued to grow by the expansion and division of existing kingdoms; for example, the kingdoms now called the Outlands, Artemisia, Ansteorra, Gleann Abhann, Meridies, and Trimaris all are made up of lands originally belonging to the fourth kingdom, Atenveldt, which began as a branch of the West Kingdom.
Main article: Society for Creative Anachronism activities
The SCA engages in a broad range of activities, including SCA heavy combat, SCA fencing, archery, equestrian activities, feasting, medieval dance and recreating medieval arts and sciences, including a broad range of crafts as well as medieval music and theatre. Other activities include the study and practice of heraldry and scribal arts (calligraphy and illumination). Members are afforded opportunities to register a medieval personal name and coat of arms (often colloquially called a “device” in SCA parlance). SCA scribes produce illuminated scrolls to be given by SCA royalty as awards for various achievements.
Most local groups in the SCA hold weekly fighter practices, and many also hold regular archery practices, dance practices, A&S (Arts & Science) nights and other regular gatherings. Some kingdoms and regions also have occasional war practices, where fighters practice formations and group tactics in preparation for large scale “war” events.
Some local groups participate in nearby Renaissance fairs, though the main focus of activity is organized through the SCA’s own events. Each kingdom in the SCA runs its own schedule of events which are announced in the kingdom newsletter (and usually posted on the kingdom web site), but some of the largest SCA-sanctioned events, called “wars”, attract members from many kingdoms. Pennsic War, fought annually between the East Kingdom and Middle Kingdom, is the biggest event in the SCA, but other annual SCA wars include Estrella War in Atenveldt, Gulf Wars in Gleann Abhann (formerly Meridies), Great Western War in Caid, War of the Lillies in Calontir and others. Other annual or semi-annual Kingdom-level events held analogously by most or all SCA kingdoms include Crown Tournament, Coronation, Kingdom Arts and Sciences competition and Queen’s Prize. Additionally, most baronies in the SCA have their own traditional annual events such as Baronial Arts and Sciences competition, a championship tournament, and often a Yule or Twelfth Night feast. Various SCA groups also sometimes host collegia or symposia, where members gather for a raft of classes on various medieval arts and sciences and other SCA-related topics.
Arms of the Society for Creative Anachronism. Blazon: Or, a laurel wreath vert
501(c)(3) non-profit corporation
Website — sca.org
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