Renaissance Cloaks and The Society for Creative Anachronism

by | Aug 14, 2019 | Costumes and Cloaks, Medieval Capes

Wondering where you can wear renaissance cloaks each and every weekend? You’ll want to connect with the Society for Creative Anachronism (SCA).

Astonishingly, the SCA boasts 60,000 members dedicated to recreating the Middle Ages. Each weekend, members around the world assemble to partake in the following activities:

combat chivalry archery costuming
cooking heraldry metalwork woodworking
calligraphy music dance leather-crafting
Renaissance Cloaks
Photo by David Crochet. Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License.

No Serfs, No Plague

SCA members say its about recreating the fun of the Middle Ages!! There is no pressure to strictly interpret history. Thus, no one has to be a serf or get the plague! Also, women fight and people wear eyeglasses or hearing aids. Really, members pick what they want from the historic Middle Ages.

Berkeley Quirkily

So what are the origins of this unique group? Not surprisingly, the SCA was born at a backyard party in Berkeley. Guests attended a “Grand Tournament” wearing helmets, fencing masks and basic costumes, such as renaissance cloaks. They spent the day sparring with wooden swords, maces and fencing foils. After the party, everyone paraded down Telegraph Avenue singing “Greensleeves”. The host was author Diana Paxson, a UC Berkeley medieval studies graduate. Humorously, the tournament was styled as a protest against modern times (at that time the 20th century.)

The SCA even measures time from the date of the party — May Day 1966! Having an alternative timeline doesn’t seem practical or workable to me, but maybe that’s the point. Another fun detail is that the group’s name was created by science fiction author Marion Zimmer Bradley when she needed a name to reserve a park in Berkeley!

The Ultimate Weekend Warriors

The SCA adds a whole other dimension to the term “weekend warrior.”

Society for Creative Anachronism
Photo by Stephane Guadry

While SCA focuses on more than war and fighting, fighting does seem to be the key activity! In the video below from San Diego Comic Con, the interviewer speaks to a member of the Iron Brigade SCA group in San Diego. This member emphasizes the difference SCA historic reenactment and Larping. He says SCA weapons are never mere props made from PVC or foam as in Larping or costuming. Instead, the weapons are as heavy and can hit as hard as real weapons. However, these are tournament weapons, so that no one is killed!!

Knights train each week in order to do the historical reenactments of medieval fighting, making it similar or the same as a marital arts practice. Additionally, each year SCA members gather in large regional groups of 500-10,000. Like a convention, these wars will include food, games, fiber arts, equestrian arts and much more. But the featured activity is an all-day sword fighting tournament which determines who will be crowned the king for the upcoming year. Hence my conclusion that sword fighting is a primary activity of the Society for Creative Anachronism.


Recreating the Middle Ages As They Should Have Been, Slate Magazine, by Jordan G. Teicher