The Society for Creative Anachronisms or SCA as it is much more commonly called is a pretty cool historical group. The society focuses primarily on Medieval history and culture by studying the time period and allowing individuals to experience it for themselves. The SCA which is more commonly known for its legendary battles and large gathering was first founded in 1966 and has had a strong presence ever since.
Commonly confused with LARP, or live action role-playing, SCA focuses more upon realistic re-enactments and battle sequences where as LARP is more a role playing board game played out in reality. Because of the vast number of highly engaged medievalists there is plenty of room for both diverse communities to thrive. Like many other historical and re-enactment groups(Civil War or American Rev) the members greatly enjoy it and often build strong bonds around their shared experiences.
SCA allows people to participate in the fantastic traditions and battles of the Middle Ages in a safe and exciting environment. There are numerous different categories of activities that SCA members participate and even compete in at tournaments. These include an amazingly diverse set of activities ranging from battle to crafts and calligraphy. For me personally, the most exciting of these are heroic competitions in archery, armored combat, and fencing. Others prefer the more create and less violent endeavors of horseback riding, medieval dance, and theatre. Whatever your pursuit or passion, if it existed before the 16th century and doesn't involve a touch screen you can probably have fun.
In addition to larger meetings of differing kingdoms, most SCA enthusiasts prefer to practice their craft on a more consistent basis. Most SCA groups have local chapters which meet, usually once per week to perfect their fighting styles and train. Because of the demanding nature of SCA this is actually an excellent method of exercise and helps some members stay in warrior shape.
In SCA, unlike in some LARP formats, partcipants are completely free, actually required to create their own character. The persona may be any type of personage from the Middle Ages as long as it is not a historically significant or famed individuals. This is done because it would be unfair to allow only one guy to be Charlemagne or girl to be Joan of Arc. The freedom of choice allows people to truly express themselves, which nearly unlimited choices of handmade or purchased costume, armor, and persona. Everyone is required to submit their unique name and heraldry(or coat of arms) to the SCA commission before participating.
Because SCA armored combat can be an extremely dangerous, it is of vital importance that its practitioners prepare themselves. The battles are real, non-scripted sequences of war. The medieval swords are made of rattan, a type of wooden material which can still do significant damage if unprotected. Because of the power and strength of some of these combat athletes it is necessary to have quality protective armor to prevent broken bones, trauma, or any life threatening damage. To date there have been no deaths in the thrilling armored combat or any other SCA activity.
There are different standard on SCA medieval armor but it is typically constructed of powerful steel but can be made of leather, plastic, or cloth as well depending on your preference and pain tolerance. The one required standard is an extremely powerful medieval helmet made from 2 mm thick steel. This ensures safety from head trauma or injury.
In SCA unlike Medieval Europe, their our no unfairly inherited kingdoms according to bloodlines or "divine right to rule." Instead the royalty and ruling classes of the SCA realm are earned based on merit. Tournament champions of armored battle are crowned King or Queen of their respective Kingdoms and Princes or Princess also earn their title. Their are numerous other privileged titles such Lords, Ladies, and Masters which may be earned for extraordinairy achievements in other SCA tournament events. The politics of government then begin with the royally appointed representatives such as barons to smaller portions of the kingdom.
As with any medieval society there is a structure and order to the division of people. As with the majority of the Middle Ages, this grouping or power structure is the kingdom. There are 19 powerful kingdoms that control the SCA empire and globe as we know it. These are subdivided as any great kingdom would be, by regions. It was nearly impossible in Medieval Europe to rule vast non-contiguous dominions. The size of the kingdoms may not be equal but the participating citizenry is close to balanced.
The SCA is actually a non-profit corporation with elected leaders and directors but that is all pretty boring. Much more interesting is the division of Kingdoms. The 19 powerful kingdoms of Earth, each of which possess 400 or more SCA participants, are divided into smaller and more manageable prinicipalities. The prinicipality is a smaller area of medieval warriors, ruled by a Prince and Princess, comprising at least one hundred members. Depending on the density of medieval warriors the size can obviously vary with the larger ones encompassing entire states. On the same level as this are Baronies and Provinces which each require at least 25 participants. Baronies however are ruled by barons or baronesses while province have no ceremonial or court representation in the kingdom.
Below this lies the remainder of SCA groupings. Within the medieval barony is the canton which needs at least five individuals and is the equivalent of the riding in a province. The Shire actually does exist in SCA, though there are unfortunately no Hobbits. Shires are local groups of five or more. The remaining three groupings are all instutional branches, Colleges, Strongholds, and Ports and are based at schools or military bases respectively. Sorry about the complex descriptions but I wanted to cater to the reading and visual learning types to help people really interested SCA to learn about its structure.
Coronation: this is a crowning event when the heirs to the throne become king and queen
Crown Tournament: this is the exciting SCA tournament where the winners become the Crown Prince and Princess for the kingdom
12th Night: a celebratory SCA holiday of January 6th.
War: the highlight of SCA training and combat. War includes powerful combat, activities, music, dance and festivals
Apprentice: a student of the accomplished Laurel looking to learn the craft
Chivalry: accomplished fighters who achieved great successes on the SCA battle field and swear their loyalty to the Crown. Also known as knights.
Laurel: an accomplished member with special designation from the King for mastery of arts or sciences
Pelican: an individual who has been honored by the King for their service to the SCA community
Populace: any members or inhabitants of a specific region or kingdom
Protégé: the equivalent of the apprentice but serving under the Pelican.
Royal Peers: members of the ruling class of SCA. This includes Counts, Dukes and of course Viscounts
Autocrat: this is the amazing leader of SCA events who helps everyone in setting up the tournament or activity
Chamberlain: this is the officer who is responsible for keeping track of SCA property
Chatelain: here is the recruiter and helper of SCA. The Chatelain assists new SCA members to joining the amazing community.
Chirurgeon: this officer is crucial in SCA, they are responsible for everyone's health, safety and first aid if necessary
Chronicler: here is the press officer of SCA. The Chronicler helps members know what is up with newsletters.
Exchequer: is sounds like checker for a reason. This SCA officer is reasonable for managing the books and being the accountant.
Marshal: in order to keep intense SCA combats safe, it is necessary to have a skilled officer to prevent unfair or sporting attacks
Seneschal: the last officer of your SCA group is the leader of the area. This officer is the president of the group and performs the executive responsibilities of local SCA chapter.