Dressed up for an old-fashioned fight
Deep within the Kingdom of Atlantia, far-reaching into the Barony of Sacred Stone, lyeth the noble Canton of Hindscroft. And those dutiful noblemen and maidens lying therein make their places of dwelling here in the great land named thereafter Sir Nathanael Greene, known commonly to most dwellers as the City of Greensboro.
Donning helmets and breastplates forged of steel and bearing broadswords the fine noblemen of Hindscroft dutifully rehearse their skills of hand-to-hand combat as to defend their king, such the need arise, whilst the fair maidens work about their crafts of needlework and cookery. Each Wednesday meeteth they in the Park of Sir Daniel’s Lake. Belongeth they to a secret society known to only a few throughout the city; this be the Society for Creative Anachronism (SCA).
The SCA is an international organization made up of smaller ‘kingdoms’ and sects that preserve the way of life, heritage, skills and battle practices of medieval times prior to the 17th century. Within the society are ‘kingdoms,’ such as the Kingdom of Atlantia, which is comprised of North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, Georgia and Maryland. Inside the kingdoms are ‘baronies.’ Within the baronies are cantons, made up of a group of cities or just one particular city within the states. Thus, the group in Greensboro is known as the Canton of Hindscroft.
A big function of the organization is combat, and there’s nothing quite like smiting the crap out of thy brother with a big stick. As boys in elementary school love to beat on each other with whatever they can get their hands on, these grown men are no different. With rattan ‘swords’ they clash and clang while a group plays volleyball nearby as if there’s nothing unusual taking place. Combatant Stan Ingold is struck a deadly blow by his opponent and dies a dramatic death just next to the volleyball net.
Fighting is all about chivalry, and if your opponent strikes a good blow then you are expected to acknowledge it as such. If a fighter is struck in the legs then he must fight from the knees and if struck in the arm them he must fight with one arm. If the fighter receives a blow that would, in a real medieval battle, pierce the armor, slice the neck or in some other fashion be deadly, then you are expected to concede the fight and congratulate your opponent.
Between battles they show off their armor and leather padding to one another ‘— some are hand made with fine detail and etchings while others are crudely made of hockey gear and the like.
The SCA requires that combatants wear covering made of steel, high impact plastic, or leather over the knees, groin, kidneys, hands, elbows and neck. And a helmet made of steel is a must. But these are just the basics. Shoulder, leg, forearm and bicep guards, steel toe boots and chest plates are strongly recommended, and chest plates are a requirement for women fighters. The rattan swords are subject to SCA rules for diameters, tips and coloring or ‘marking,’ and they carry shields of wood or metal that bear their coat of arms.
Every fighter has the choice of whom he or she would like to portray and what region they would like to be from. While some may choose to portray a particular character others may choose to be someone based on their family heritage, and some choose to be someone entirely different, which they say is part of the appeal.
Mark Green, who goes by Sir Marc d’Aubigny, is as Caucasian as they come but when he puts on his armor he becomes a 14th century French knight, taking on a Japanese appearance with red and black breastplate he made himself, an intimidating black helmet with facial features and a sword in each hand. Although anyone can obtain knighthood, Green is currently the only one to have achieved this honor in the Canton of Hindscroft. His official title within the canton is Knight’s Marshall.
Green’s girlfriend Jean Wagner, or better known as Maitresse Alianor atte Red Swanne, is the canton’s minister of arts and sciences. It was she who got Green interested in the SCA when they met. For Wagner, it was the book Mists of Avalon, a tale of King Arthur from a woman’s point of view, that piqued her interest in the early ’80s. Now Wagner, Green and her children attend practices on Wednesdays and some Sunday afternoons, kingdom events almost every other weekend and spend time at home making costumes and weaponry.
‘“It becomes a family lifestyle after a while,’” she says. In her off time she works full time as a data entry specialist.
During the next few weeks the Canton of Hindscroft will be preparing for a much larger battle. They are preparing for Pennsic War, an annual event at Coopers’ Lake Campground in Pennsylvania with the meeting of the eastern and middle kingdoms of the SCA. During the two week camp beginning Aug. 5 there will be hounds coursing, poetry, woodworking, blacksmithing, medieval games, garment making, cooking and lots of fighting. There will be weapon throwing, archery, sword fighting, one-on-one combat and melees, or large group combat. There’s even a battle of dwarves versus giants where those under five foot six battle those over six foot two. There’ll be horseback competitions, large battles fought in woods and forts and castles. There’ll be fights with two-handed swords, with short swords, with a sword in each hand, with battleaxes, crossbows and bows and arrows.
And this is what its all about. Jennifer Abell, whose husband Raymond is working on a crossbow to meet SCA guidelines, says going to Pennsic is like a big family reunion. Everyone feels welcomed, you see old friends.
‘“[You can] kill your enemy in the morning and have a drink with them in the evening,’” someone chimes in.
Thus the king’s noble men and women live on in the hills and valleys of Sir Nathanael Greene’s great land to fight, to defend, and to carry on the traditions of a time when chivalry, daring and loyalty were the only ways one knew to be true.
To comment on this story, e-mail Lee Adams at firstname.lastname@example.org.