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War breaks out in Gold Beach – all for fun | News

Unbeknownst to most people, a war broke out between the Kingdom of the West and the Kingdom of An Tir near Gold Beach.  Like most wars, an inane reason was concocted for the war: Whose cake was better.  But rather than blood and death, there was sweat, bruises and compliments amidst the clashing of weapons and shouts of war cries.

The event was held by the Society for Creative Anachronism, which is an educational nonprofit corporation, international living history group with the aim of studying and recreating Medieval cultures. 

I infiltrated the war as a mundane. I paid my dues and the former princess of the Principality of the Summits took pity on me and loaned me some garb. The Lazy J Ranch near Gold Beach was filled with medieval tents. A multitude of colorful flags displaying coats of arms fluttered in the wind.  The tents were not the easy-assembly polyester types but were canvas and poles. I was told how anyone arriving would be inundated with volunteers to help erect the complicated tents, even at 1 a.m. 

People were garbed in medieval period clothing from many nationalities all over the world.  Fortunately, thees and thous were not required. Everyone was friendly and loved answering my questions. After a brief walk through the hoards of tents, I made my way to the war field and watched as warriors wandered over with wagons of armor and/or a squire carrying layers of armor and weapons. Eventually 150 (my guess) warriors were girding their armor and practicing heavy weapons or rapier. Then they gathered in the makeshift castle outlined with hay bales and canvas walls. After rules of engagement were discussed stressing safety, the battle began. Blunt bobbed arrows rained down and “dead” warriors, determined by an honor system, made their way to sit on hay bales outside the castle. Eventually arrows ran out and there were heavy clashes as warriors with shields forced their way past lances and spears to do close combat. Between melees, fruit and beverages were handed out to both the dead and living warriors. There were lots of compliments shared as warriors discussed the tactics of how their opponents successfully “killed” them.

As the castle the siege eventually ended. In the midst of imaginary carnage of the castle, a squire was knighted by the reigning King Sven Fallgr Gunnarsson and Queen Rauokinn Eyverska Starradottir of the Kingdom of An Tir. A steel sword was brought and fealty sworn. Per preference of the soon to be knight, he was knighted with his own sword, a ratan sword wrapped in yellow and blue duct tape, weathered and frayed from its use over the year.

At the Equestrian Field, warriors were learning how to do combat while on a horse. I could only imagine how hard it was to control a horse and a weapon. Then armored foot soldier warriors helped desensitize horses to touching from shields and weapons and the noise of their armor. The rule is to never strike the horse. For jousting practice, warriors learned how to ride horses in full and very noisy armor. I cringed as one warrior fell off his horse in a loud clanging of a huge pile of metal hitting ground. He was back on his horse soon after. Eventually he was riding his horse, jousting with a lightweight javelin and hitting a small target painted with a red heart.

At the Town Square, I enjoyed a delectable steak and mushroom meat pie although I was tempted to try out the Scottish egg.  

At the end of the day was court. It was formal and lengthy. I had learned through the day that kings/queens/princes/princesses are awarded to winners and their consorts after winning battle tournaments. There are three elite orders: Knights–obviously masters of sword fighting, Pelican– masters of service and Laurels–masters of arts and sciences. I found at court, the award ceremonies were lengthy worded scripts. However, the garb and decor were beautiful and seemed like a ornate movie set. One recipient of an award came to the ceremony with an entourage dressed in green garb and she was carried on a palanquin.

The Society for Creative Anachronism was started in a backyard party of UC Berkeley medieval studies graduate and author Diana Paxson in 1966. There was a “Grand Tournament” of helmets, fencing masks, some semblance of a costume (garb) and sparring with plywood swords, padded maces and fencing foils. It ended with a parade. The SCA was perpetuated by many science fiction writers of the time like Marion Zimmer Bradley. Now, the SCA has expanded to many medieval arts with illuminated scrolls, tournaments, wars and ceremonies.

The “A & W” Anti versus West War is an annual event (except during the pandemic) but each shire and principality have regular meetings to explore medieval arts, battle and history. If interested start with the website: https://www.sca.org/  You can find meetings near you, using your zip code once you maneuver through the huge website. Or you can attend events like me, as an ordinary mundane.

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