The Society for Creative Anachronism

Scope of the Society: Period and Culture

SCA DeviceThe Society is based on the landed nobility of the European Middle Ages and Renaissance. Their dress and music, their literature and sports, and above all the chivalric ideals of their period, all serve to unify our events and activities. Our regional and local organization sets aside the modern pattern of elected representatives to give us a sense of what it was like to live in the world of court and castle, so that our studies can go beyond literature and artifacts into the emotional reality of former times.

Our activities range very widely, including a much broader span of time and culture than most groups in the "living history" movement try to sample. The people we've chosen for models were found of play-acting and pageantry; they would happily base tournaments and revels on ancient history and distant lands, so we can use themes from outside medieval and Renaissance Europe as long as we keep our main period as an anchor. They also reached remote parts of the world, despite the limits of their technology, and people born to other civilizations traveled too, so we can allow for individuals and information from almost anywhere. The task is to weave all this together, so that the events we sponsor are recognizably our own.

For Society members, most of the world can serve as a source for personal research. However, the further afield you go, the less the environment we offer will resemble what someone of your time and country would find natural or homelike. The Society's organized activities reflect the courtly life of the Middle Ages and Renaaissance. If we hold a Roman Games, the participants are assumed to be period Europeans playing at ancient Rome; you can try to act like a real ancient Roman, but you can't complain if the atmosphere is not what you regard as authentic. Likewise, you can be an Asian or African guest at a European court, but you cannot recreate your homeland outside your own household -- like any long-term visitor in a foreign land, you are the one who will have to adapt to the customs you find around you.

Since members have free choice of what areas they will explore, it follows that Society branches can not specialize. The choice of a single time and place for a branch would make it hard for members there to pursue other interests of their own.

People who wish to study one period of history in a group setting can band together in households for the purpose, and such households are free to organize themselves without interference from the Society at large. However if a household wishes to hold a theme event and use the Society's resources for publicity and the Society's name and place in the community to assist in getting a site, its members must work with and through a branch of the Society and follow the Society's regulations for the conduct of events. And when a household attends a Society event as a group, it's internal ranks and regulations can not be used in place of those created by the Society.

Our regulations are designed to protect the Society's legal standing and its reputation, and to support the reality of the kingdom structure. Within those limits, however, it is possible to work out a way to accommodate a very wide vatiety of interests. We recognized that there are some things, even in Western culture in the time period the Society studies, that can't be made to fit, but this is the focus we have developed over the years since the group was formed. As in any art form, the limits are a source of strength.

If the Society's approach doesn't cover your interests, you have many options. Other organizations large and small play with all sorts of corners of history, and if you can not find one to suit you, you can always start your own. The Society administration will be happy to advise you in your search, or on what to do to get started. There's plenty of room for everyone -- just not all on the same field at the same time...

Excerpted from the SCA Organizational Handbook - @1989, 1991, 1992, 1993 The Society for Creative Anachronism, Incorporated