Knights of Passion

By Isaacson, Rupert | Geographical, January 2000 | Go to article overview

Knights of Passion

Isaacson, Rupert, Geographical

Are the men and women who dress up to recreate medieval warfare a bunch of crackpots or is there a more serious side to their pursuits? Rupert Isaacson joins in the fun and fear of bringing the geography of medieval Europe alive

GEOGRAPHY IS A BIG SUBJECT. It has enough branches, be it physical, cultural, explorative, or geopolitical, for a lifetime of study. Yet geography also has its absolutes; the world is, at the end of the day, always the world, with all its attendant problems and limitations. Who among us has not, in some idle or frustrated moment, wished for a geography, or a world that conformed a little more with our own wants and desires? All of us, probably. And strange as it may seem, some 30,000 people scattered across the globe have gone a little further; turning their imaginary geography into a reality.

Here's an example; readers may be unaware of this, but last summer Britain's geopolitical boundaries were redrawn. While the rest of us sat glued to the tennis at Wimbledon, two opposing armies coverged on a 12th century Norman castle in Norfolk and with swords, pikes, polearms, axes and all the other deadly paraphanalia of medieval warfare, refought the York and Lancaster civil war under a hot July sun. Although more than 500 years had passed since the last time this conflict was decided, it seems that old territorial disputes never die. East Anglia chose 1999 to secede and form an independent Lancastrian outpost. Fortunately, the bid for independence was short-lived; at the Norfolk battle the Yorkists brought East Anglia back into the United Kingdom -- and once again peace now reigns in Britain. Or rather, in the Principality of the Isles, westernmost province of the pan-European kingdom of Drachenwald which forms part of the imaginary geography of the Society for Creative Anachronism, or the SCA.

Founded in California (where else?) some 35 years ago, the SCA has reinvented European medieval culture and re-exported it back to the Old World. Since the mid-1960s, the society has cast its eccentric shadow right across North America, through Europe, to Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. Even such unlikely countries as Japan, Greece and Turkey now participate. Great Britain (sorry, the Isles) is merely one of the newer additions. Divided into 13 kingdoms (kings change every year, by trial of arms), this Knowne Worlde is an intricate mosaic of shires, baronies, duchies, principalities, cantons and households, some conforming to real geography, others existing only in the minds of a given group, or on the Internet.

It's eclectic: individual members of the SCA may adopt any period, or persona they choose, from any culture in the world between AD500 and 1600. For example a real-life lawyer from Surrey might take, as a SCA persona, a 14th century Syrian medic, a swordsman. or seamstress. For the society is not limited to fighting, but also practises the arts, sciences, crafts and culture of the medieval world, forming guilds and collegiums in which to organise research, much of which are geographical, or rather rather geographickal in nature.

The quality of the society's research, as well as the phenomenon of its sheer existence, has begun to attract the attention of academics. Wendy Erisman, or the Honourable Lady Gwillian ferch Maredudd, a 14th century Welsh woman, is a cultural anthropologist at St Edward's University, in Austin, Texas, otherwise known as the kingdom of Ansteorra, which means `Lone Star' in Anglo-Saxon. Erisman wrote her PhD thesis on the SCA after she was drawn into its strange world. She describes it as, an international community, "imagined in the appropriation of space and time by mapping a group geography and developing a communal history and tradition." She is also a medieval geographer, or rather cartographer, busy producing a Knowne Worlde map along the lines of the Mappa Mundi, the famous late 13th century map of the world now housed in Hereford Cathedral. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Cite this article

Cited article

Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25,

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Knights of Passion


Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25,

    New feature

    It is estimated that 1 in 10 people have dyslexia, and in an effort to make Questia easier to use for those people, we have added a new choice of font to the Reader. That font is called OpenDyslexic, and has been designed to help with some of the symptoms of dyslexia. For more information on this font, please visit

    To use OpenDyslexic, choose it from the Typeface list in Font settings.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search


    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.