Kingdom newsletters include the names of persons to contact in each of your kingdom's groups. If your newsletter does not list the meeting dates and times nearest you, call or write the primary contact person, known as the Seneschal, for more information.
By formally joining the SCA, you provided valued financial support, are counted in the growing ranks of those supporting the Society's aims and ideals, and may receive a discount at many Society events. The SCA is one of the few organizations, however, were you can participate without paying dues, although those who are able are strongly encouraged to become paying members.
To become a paid member, you need to complete and return an SCA membership form. If you don't have one, please ask a paid SCA member for a copy, or send a postcard or letter with your name and mailing address to:The Society for Creative Anachronism Post Office Box 360743 Milpitas, CA 95036-0743 Members may duplicate this work in whole or part for SCA use provided copyright credit is given and no changes are made to the text.
Copyright 1989 by the Society for Creative Anachronism, Inc.
All Rights Reserved
The Society for Creative Anachronism (SCA) is a non-profit educational organization devoted the the study of pre-seventeenth century Western culture. It concentrates on the European Middle Ages and Renaissance, and members work to recreate the arts and skills of this era. Some members study the Middle East and explore the interaction between Europe and Asia during the period under study. The SCA was incorporated in 1968, but recognizes a tournament held in Berkeley, California on May 1, 1966 as its founding date.
An "anachronism" is something that is out of its proper time frame. "Creative Anachronism" takes the best qualities of the Middle Ages and selectively re-creates them in the modern world. Geographically, the SCA covers the globe, with the majority of its members living in the United States or Canada. There are 12 kingdoms, each with its own King and Queen chosen on the field of combat. You are a subject of a kingdom by virtue of where you live for the majority of the year. Your membership is with the Society, not with any particular local group. If you have any questions, contact the person who is listed as Seneschal of your kingdom. Their names appear in Tournaments Illuminated and in each kingdom newsletter.
The kingdoms are independent of each other, and there is a considerable amount of variation among them. Each kingdom has a body of written "law" established by the King and Queen, to define the specific rules it follows, and a larger body of generally accepted custom that gives each kingdom its unique personality. All the kingdoms build their own laws and customs on a framework called the Corpora, which sets overall rules for the Society. Kingdoms are divided into local and regional chapters called principalities, baronies, shires, marches, cantons, colleges, and ridings. The names of these divisions reflect the size of the membership and/or the larger division through whom the local group reports. Your local group might use one of these terms as part of its name.
When you arrive at your first meeting or event, go up to someone and introduce yourself. Explain that you are new and ask who you can talk to about learning more about the group. Some groups have special people (known as hospitaller, castellan or chatelaine) to greet newcomers, but others do not. Approach someone who is working on a project and ask about it. Most people are glad to talk about what they are doing.
At either meetings or events, people may be so involved with what they came to do that they do not notice a new person. Some are too shy themselves to ask if you are new. Begin by observing others and start a conversation about what they are doing. If you see a skill or craft that interests you, ask who might be wiling to teach it. Listen for announcements of guild meetings where people who practice that craft gather to share information and help each other.
If members are so involved in their projects that you feel ignored or unwanted, have patience and persist in coming to meetings. Keep asking questions. Some groups provide special meetings for newcomers to help them learn what they need to know to feel a part of the group. Be sure to attend those. Volunteer to help at any events, if only in the kitchen or with clean-up. Many new friends can be made over hot dishwater!
Do not wear a white belt, sash, or baldric (belt across the chest). White is reserved for members of the Chivalry. Bright-colored belts, such as red, green, or yellow, are often used to indicate that the wearer is a student of a particular person who has been honored for excellence in one of the SCA fields of endeavor. Although the colors are not restricted, in some kingdoms there may be a misunderstanding. Necklaces of chain links without medallions or other pendants are also worn by special groups. You should avoid them until you ask about local customs.
Avoid wearing a sword until you have asked about what is permissible in your kingdom. Many people wear knives. There is a special etiquette about bearing a steel blade. To keep the knife or blade from becoming unsheathed accidentally, many people fasten a cord around it to hold it in place. Before you remove it from the sheath, it is customary to call "Clear" to warn nearby people that there is a bare blade. Do not threaten another person with your knife, even in play. Also, don't handle other people's property without permission. Ask before you touch.
Courteous and honorable behavior is at the core of the Society. It is difficult to be too polite. Respectful terms of address (see "Who Is Who") and avoidance of discussing themodern world add to the medieval flavor of an event. Skill-at-arms, excellence in the arts, and long service are all diminished without respectful and courteous conduct.
If this will be your first piece of "garb", consider a washable fabric in cotton and polyester blend, or a wool and polyester blend. Although an all-polyester fabric is easy to care for, it may look too "modern". The color can range from earth tones to vivid, bright colors, but be careful to avoid the "shrieking", fluorescent, modern hues.
Use 60" wide (150cm) fabric, or sew two widths of 45" or 36" together. (If you have to piece it, it is no more work to use a different color for each piece!) Fold the fabric in quarters, with one set of folds at the top and one fold running the long way down the middle of what will become the front (see diagram).
Take the following measurements, being sure to add an additional 1/2" for se= ams.
Cut out the tunic. When cutting out the neck opening, it is best to underestimate your head size and cut too small at first. Enlarge the opening little by little until it is the size you want. Remember that a little cutting can make a big difference!
With the right sides (the outside of the fabric) together, sew up the side seams. Put commercial bias tape around the neck opening so the fabric does not unravel when you put it on and take it off. Hem the bottom. Put on any trim that you want. Wear it over a turtleneck, pants and boots, or over a lighter-weight version of the same tunic with narrower sleeves. =46or most periods, the more cloth you use, the more upper-class the effect. Also, very long floor-length skirts are easier to wear when very full. Add gores at (A) and perhaps also at center back. The closer you come to a full circle, the better. At that point, you can walk in a skirt four to five inches longer than your neck-to-floor measurement without picking up your skirt.
For men, the length can be anywhere from hip to ankle, depending on the period. The dotted line with stars could be a side seam for men, and also for very early women's dress. (Insert picture "Pattern" here...)
If the event you are attending includes a feast be sure you have made a reservation, if required, and that you bring "feast gear" - a spoon, knife, plate, napkin, and something to drink from. You may also wish to bring a small cloth in case the table is uncovered, a fork, a bowl, small containers of sugar and salt, and a plastic trash bag to put dirty feast gear in after you have eaten. Many people bring their own beverages, but often some form of drink is provided. Iced tea, lemonade, and water are common.
For outdoor events, it is wise to bring a folding chair or a blanket to sit on. Carry a portable supply of water or other beverage, especially if you will be in the sun for part of the day. Bring a hat or other sun-shade for protection. Working on a craft, project, or game can be a good way to meet others at an event when you tire of observing. Although at many events a feast is served in the evening, if you wish to eat earlier, you may need to bring your own lunch or snack. Avoid modern-looking food and drink containers or cover them with a cloth.
When the King and/or Queen are present, people in many kingdoms will make a "reverence" ( a bow or curtsy) each time they walk past the King or Queen. They will also make a reverence when the King or Queen walk past them or when the walk past the Royal Thrones, even if no one sits there. The space some 10' or 20' around the thrones is considered part of the Royal Presence. Walk around it, rather than through it. Watch what others are doing and copy them. Be careful not to stand where you might block the view of the King or Queen. When sitting on the throne, they are not as mobile as you are.
"Court" is a very special event with an emphasis on ceremony and courteous behavior. When called before Their Majesties, in most kingdoms people remove their weapons before approaching. They make a reverence when they come near, then kneel. As they leave, notice that they walk backwards several steps, bow or curtsy again, and then turn to walk back to their seats. Try to sit near the front so that you can see well and watch others as they stand, sit or bow. If necessary, quietly ask someone near you to explain what you do not understand.
The policy on smoking varies but is generally not permitted indoors. Ask about the local policy on flash photography. Some kingdoms forbid it, especially at Court events. Keep in mind that the feast, event, or Court is an attempt to recreate the Middle Ages. Cigarettes and flashbulbs did not exist then and are obvious when used.
You need to pick at least one names that parents would haven given a child during the period the SCA studies, and at least one other name or descriptive phrase to set you apart from everyone else withthat given name. Some things to remember when choosing a name: You may not take the name of any historical or legendary person, nor may you use the full name of a person in fictional literature. You may not use or imply a title such as Sir, Duke, Count, Earl, Lord, Lady, Master, or Mistress. These titles must be earned. You may not use the full name of someone else in the Society. Try to keep your name only one language; two at the most. Your local herald can give you further information on choosing a name and persona. (include 2-page Known World map. Update!)
People who wear crowns or coronets are "Somebody Important." In many cases they are, or were, royalty. They won the right to wear a fancy circlet on their heads. It can be difficult to tell someone's rank, for a person of lesser rank might choose to wear a fancier circlet than someone of a higher rank; it partly depends on personal taste. IF you are in doubt of the rank, address the person as "Your Excellency." For all ranks, the design of the crown or coronet can vary greatly from kingdom to kingdom.
There are additional elevated ranks in the SCA: The Chivalry, the Laurels, and the Pelicans. They are collectively known as Peers of the Realm. In many kingdoms the Order of the Rose is also Peerage-level and in some former royalty are called Royal Peers.
The Chivalry of the SCA consists of the Order of Knighthood and the Order of Mastery of Arms. Members are chosen by the Crown after consulting with the Chivalry for qualities of courtesy, grace, and skill at arms. Knights swear fealty to the Crown and are entitled to wear a white belt. They wear a chain as a symbol of their fealty. Call them "Sir" (name). Mastery of Arms is for those persons who choose not to swear fealty and is equal in rank to knighthood. They wear a white baldric but do not wear a chain since it represents fealty. Address them as "Master" (name) or "Mistress" (name). In most kingdoms, spurs are limited to the Chivalry as one of their signs of rank.
Members of the Order of the Laurel are chosen by the Crown after consultation with the Order for great skill in the Arts or Sciences, for their willingness to teach others, and for using their abilities to benefit the kingdom. They are addressed as "Master" or "Mistress" (name). Their insignia is a laurel wreath, usually colored green on a gold background. Members of the Order of the Pelican have given of themselves to their kingdom, usually for many years and without thought of reward. They are chosen by the Crown in consultation with the Order. Address them as "Master" or "Mistress" (name). Their insignia is a "pelican in her piety," a pelican piercing her breast to feed her your with her own blood. Members of the Order of the Rose are chosen from those individuals who have served their kingdom by ruling as Queen or Consort. In many kingdoms it is Peerage-Level.
In each kingdom there are a number of different awards recognizing different levels of skill in the Arts or Sciences, fighting, or for hard work in behalf of the kingdom or a local group. Ask the local herald or a local officer about your kingdom's various awards.
The term "lord" or "lady" may refer to anyone in the Society if you do not know their rank, but the title "Lord" or "Lady" is reserved for those who have received an Award of Arms (AoA) from the Crown. This is often the first award granted to a person. It recognizes service to the kingdom or a local group and entitles the person to be called "Lord" or "Lady" (name) and to bear Arms.
The brightly colored designs you may see on a shield, banner, clothing, or personal items are part of heraldry in the SCA. In the broadest sense, heraldry encompasses everything that heralds do, from making announcements to helping people devise their own cognizances. These cognizances, sometimes miscalled coat-of-arms, are personal insignia that distinguishes one person from another. The ones that you see are most likely registered in someone's name, so it is not permissible to copy any of those and use it on your shield, banner, or personal items.
A "device" is the term used for any heraldic emblem registered to an individual. When a person becomes an "armiger," the heraldic device is called "arms." An armiger is a person who has been awarded arms by the Crown.
Heraldry uses a limited set of clear, bold "tinctures." The colors are: azure (blue), gules (red), sable (back), purpure (purple), and vert (green). The metals are: Or (gold or yellow) and argent (silver or white). There are also furs which combine the two types of tinctures in a complex repetitive design.
Since it is easier to see things which contrast with their backgrounds, the rules of heraldry state that colors must be placed on metals and metals must be placed on colors. This guarantees that charges do not blend on the field.
"Charges" are stylized versions of everyday objects, beasts, and birds. Charges can be used in multiples or in combination with other charges. They can be placed directly on the field or layered upon another charge. The combination of field, charge, and tinctures results in the final, unique device.
Your device must be different from all other registered devices, including such familiar heraldry from the modern world as the Nutra-Sweet=AE symbol an= d the Shell Oil Company shell. If you would like a heraldic device of your own, talk with your local herald about designing one and registering it with the Society's College of Heralds.
Within each kingdom a number of social and special interest organizations exist. Guilds comprise people with similar interests who work together and study a particular aspect of life in the Middle Ages. Guilds vary among kingdoms from small, local groups to kingdom-wide organizations. They can meet as frequently as once a week or they might meet one or twice a year, sharing information during other times by newsletter. Both kingdoms and local groups may charter a guild. In general, membership is open to anyone expressing an interest in that study area, although there may be specific criteria within the guild for advancement to different levels of membership.
"Households" are groups of people who have joined together to share the work and fun of SCA. They can be as small as a lord and his family or a large group with members from several kingdoms. Households are more common in some kingdoms than in others and many people do not belong to one. Household leaders determine the membership requirements and decide who to invite to join. Each household requires a certain amount of loyalty to the group. As a newcomer, you may not be aware of the alliances that come with each household. Take time before bestowing your allegiance on a particular group and consider what obligations you will need to meet as a member. The SCA encompasses both serious study and frivolity. Those who join for fun, companionship, food, and drink play alongside those who make a serious attempt to authentically duplicate the clothing, skills, and crafts of the Middle Ages. Both aspects, the playful and the serious, and valid but neither should dominate to the exclusion of the other. Those who lived in the Middle Ages worked hard, but they also took the time for recreation and play. People who join SCA for fun can help make the serious work more enjoyable. Those who join for serious study can add depth to the merriment. Be courteous and show respect for the reason that your neighbor entered the Current Middle Ages.
Medieval combat with its swords, shields, and armor attracts much attention. It is often one of the first activities that a newcomer wants to try. Both men and women actively participate in recreating foot combat. Most kingdoms require a combat participant to have reached the age of majority in his or her state, province, or country, but the SCA gives the kingdoms the option of allowing participants as young as 16 to fight with parental consent. Your local marshal will tell you what the age limits are in your area.
As in any sport, there are rules designed to increase the safety of the game. The "Rules of the Lists" set out the Society's standards for SCA combat. Each kingdom adds additional rules and requirements covering acceptability of blows, styles of weapons and fighting and armor. The local marshal should have a copy of the current kingdom rules.
Most local groups offer some form of fighter training, ranging from structured training sessions to an informal "I'll teach you when I have time and if no one else will." A fighter must be authorized in order to fight in tourneys and wars. Authorization procedures vary from kingdom to kingdom. The local marshal can tell you the procedure in your area. Authorization is to confirm that the novice knows the rules of combat and is sufficiently skilled so that he or she will notbe a danger to himself or others. While efforts are made by the Society and participants to reduce the likelihood of injury, bruising and similar minor injuries do occur, and there is the risk of more serious injury for all participants.
Fighters are responsible for obtaining their own armor and weapons. Some people make most of their armor, using metal, leather, or plastic, but most buy pieces, either new or used. Before making any armor, check with your local marshal about the safety standards and requirements, or contact the Kingdom Earl Marshal.
Most kingdoms have a specific guide for newcomers giving details about the kingdom's operation, structure, and practices. If none are available at a local meeting, write to the kingdom chatelaine or information officer to obtain one. There may be a small fee.
Through the Office of the Stock Clerk (P.O. Box 360743, Milpitas, CA 95036-0743 USA) the SCA sells a number of helpful publications at modest prices. The most comprehensive is the Known World Handbook which contains over 200 pages of information on dozens of topics to help the newcomer learn about the SCA, as well as some "how-to" articles. Ask for a list of publications from the Stock Clerk.
If you have suggestions or additions for this newcomer's guide, if something was not clear or was difficult to understand, or if something was missing that you needed to know, please write to the SCA at the address above and let us know.
Keep in mind the three "P's"; patience, persistence, and politeness. Be patient with yourself while you are learning about the Society's medieval world. Be patient with those you meet who may be so involved with their own affairs that they fail to notice a new person. Persist in asking questions, seeking information, and coming to meetings. Be polite and courteous in your dealings with other Society members. Keep these guidelines in mind and you will soon be a welcome member of the SCA.
The SCA wishes to thank those people who directly contributed to the production of this pamphlet, including Mistress Hilary of Serendip, Duchess Carol of Belatrix, Lady Alix Coeurbois (HRM Calontir), Lady Alys Katharine of Ashthorne Glen, Lord Stevyn Silverthorne of Dracamor, and Master Bertram of Bearington. In addition, the following gentles kindly contributed there expertise b reviewing this pamphlet during the stages of its development: Duchess Ysabeau Cameron of Lochiel, Viscount Galen of Bristol, Master Timotheus Zacharia, and Baroness Kate the Curious.
Typed in by David Chute < Ryan of Cour d'Or >
Html transaformation and Updates done Wed September 14, 1994 firstname.lastname@example.org