Sunday, September 16, 2012

Becoming a Modern Medeivalist

   I began my journey into things Medieval in 1998. I met a future friend by the name of Ty. He was a long time player/fighter/rogue/pirate and all around likable anarchist in the SCA or Society for Creative Anachronists. For those who, in the unlikely event don't know who or what that is, they are the single largest medieval group in the world.

They can be found at: www.sca.org/

In their own words they say:

"The SCA is an international organization dedicated to researching and re-creating the skills of pre 17th Century Europe. Our "Known World" consists of 19 Kingdoms, with over 30,000 members residing in countries around the world. Members, dressed in clothing of the Middle Ages and Renaissance, attend events which feature tournaments, royal courts, feasts, dancing, various classes & workshops, and more."

For most Americans, unless you grow up in one of the many multi-generational SCAdian families, one usually discovers the SCA while in college. I think the thing that I love about the SCA is its vitality. It was founded in 1966 by college students in Berkeley, California. It is the continued influx of the youthful passion, and energy which sustains the organization.

I believe it was in October of 1999 at the Las Vegas Renaissance fair I met Jeffrey Hedgecock. We were at a Home Depot acquiring the last minute pieces of hardware that always come up short or missing at an event. I also believe this was the last public showing of the "Red Company," and my first exposure to a living history encampment. Through our meeting, I found my way to his now expired web site bearing the same name. It was an eye opener.

Making a comparison between the SCA and The Red Company is unfair to both. However, our chance meeting, breathed life into a desire that heretofore I didn't know I possessed. Living in a city which had a population of over two million citizens in, one would think the local "scene" would be or could have been more vibrant.-Sadly Las Vegas has a tendency to draw people who are dysfunctional in the extreme. Most who live there are not what one would call "joiners." Sadly the numbers in the local SCA Barony did not increase with the rise in population. 


However there was a rumor of a new group starting up, that wanted to take on a more period presentation. This new group went through several evolution's and eventually became known as "The Company of the Chalice." It was a real eye opener to me, seeing their efforts. A friend of mine is producing a field guide to joining a medieval group. Now this friend lives in Serbia and his English is broken in places, but it is oftentimes better than what I have read posted on Facebook. He best summed up what I saw with my own two eye thus...

Milos Nesovic said, and I am paraphrasing, "You would be amazed at what four friends can accomplish on a weekend if they work together."

I think that barely begins to describe the efforts of the Company. Because three out of the four founding members, had their wives working in lock step with them. They truly created an amazing 14th Century encampment, clothing, cooking utensils, and they even made their own beer! I think the coolest thing they created, was a 3/4 scale Trebuchet!

The company were also the ones who coined the nick name "14th Century Mafia." Through various on-line forums, most notably the Armour Archive-(www.armourarchive.org/) the expression/nick name stuck. I am proud to say I was given a T-shirt with that printed on it. As silly as this might sound to some, it is one of my most cherished possessions from my former life in Las Vegas.

In October of 2001 I met Fredrick Piraux. At the time, Piraux was working very hard to establish a European Jousting League. Although a lot of jousting enthusiasts worked diligently behind the scenes, my friend provided a great deal of energy and strength of character to see the organization born. Meeting Piraux decided several issues for me. The first one being should I continue with my involvement in the SCA. Secondly I should make a real effort to build my equipment up, and eventually try to learn how to joust. Jumping forward to 2005 I finally managed to acquire my first real harness. Two weeks after acquiring said harness, I completely tore my left knee apart.-Complete reconstruction surgery. A year later I managed to make it to Estrella War down in Phoenix, AZ. Three months later in May, I suffered my fourth heat stroke...

Recovering from the knee surgery was painful. Recovering from the heat stroke was life altering. It took me six months to even remember my telephone number. Suffice to say, it ended my wearing of armour, fighting in armour, and just about anything to do with armour went right out the window. But the one thing it didn't do was end my love of history. For me it was analogous to loosing one ability, only to pick up another ability... 

I love to tell stories. I like to report on excellence when I see it. Without being preachy, life is short. I believe that if, I see someone who is doing their best to create something, and excelling, then they should be told. In the coming weeks I hope to profile people who are living their dreams. I think you will enjoy the people you might meet along the way.

DS Baker