The Society for Creative Anachronism (SCA), founded in California in 1966, is an international organization of medieval reenactors engaged in learning and teaching western martial arts through a combination of armored combat with rattan wasters, rapier fencing and archery, as well as arts and sciences of the Middle Ages and Renaissance (c. 500-1550). Years in the SCA are often reckoned in years of the Society, beginning with May 1966, for ceremonial purposes. So May 1966 to April 1967 was A.S. (Anno Societatis) I, and May 2013 to April 2014 is A.S. XLVIII.
The Society for Creative Anachronism divides its worldwide membership into large regional "Kingdoms", which currently number nineteen. These include most of North America, Australia and New Zealand, much of Europe, and parts of Asia and Africa. Each kingdom is ruled by a king by right of arms, who is the ceremonial head of the kingdom and directs kingdom law. Each kingdom selects its royal successors via a crown tourney. The King and Queen are also charged with presenting awards to the populace in recognition of great deeds or service to crown and kingdom. The administrative head of a kingdom is called the Seneschal, and the kingdom's officers are his deputies.
The award of arms is often a member's first award, and those who achieve mastery of one of the SCA's aspects of reenactment (arts, sciences, archery, martial arts, heraldry, etc.) may be awarded a grant of arms. Those who fully master one of these aspects and take on students in their field may even be elevated to one of the peerage orders. These include the Order of the Chivalry (Knights of the Society), the Order of the Laurel (Masters/Mistresses of the arts and sciences), and the Order of the Pelican (Masters/Mistresses of the services), the royal peers (kings, queens, princes, princesses, dukes, duchesses, counts, countesses, viscounts, viscountesses, barons and baronesses) making up a fourth peerage group.
Local groups are often called baronies, shires, marches, cantons, colleges, strongholds or ports. The designation any given local group receives depends upon several factors including the number of paid members residing within the group's boundaries, the geographical location of the group, or the group's basis around a modern institution. Baronies are generally bigger than shires, and cantons are local subdivisions of a barony. Marches are located near a border with another kingdom, usually on the adjacent kingdom's side of a modern political border. Colleges, strongholds and ports are based around a college or university or a military base or ship, and these are allowed some administrative flexibility due to the transient nature of their population bases.
At times, a king may call his loyal knights and fighters to arms in case of war with another kingdom. These "wars" are some of the SCA's biggest events, involving camping, battles, tournaments, archery and arts and sciences competitions, merchants, and sometimes even a total-immersion experience called the period encampment. At the time of King Richard's Faire, the Middle Kingdom was engaged in such a war with the Eastern Kingdom. Their forces, numbering in the hundreds, met every Spring at a field in Pennsylvania for battles that lasted up to three days. This event, called Pennsic War, has been repeated every year since, its attendance swelling into the thousands, and it continues to be the SCA's largest annual event.
Members may also choose to join guilds and households which are relatively peaceful, though these are not regulated by SCA policy or kingdom law. In the earliest days of the Renaissance Faires (especially in California), members of the Society for Creative Anachronism made up a large percentage of the faire participants, an arrangement that continues in some faires, often to the mutual benefit of both groups.
External Links Official SCA Site