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Event salutes the Middle Ages

June 16, 2002|by ANDREW SCHOTZ

andrews@herald-mail.com

It was mostly Normans, English and French thrashing each other with rattan swords at Hagerstown City Park on Saturday.

The melee - one of the louder aspects of the 13th Annual Renaissance Festival - was open to warriors from 600 A.D. to 1600 A.D., the approximate time period covered by The Society for Creative Anachronism.

The Society is an international nonprofit group that studies and recreates the Middle Ages. The Barony of Highland Foorde is the Western Maryland part of the Kingdom of Atlantia, which stretches from Maryland to Georgia.

Anachronists from Georgia, Iowa and Tennessee were present Saturday, judging by license plates in the parking lot.

"The entire game is honor and chivalry," said Leslie Cox of North Carolina, who made sure spectators stood a safe distance from the combat. "It started with fighting and it spread."

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Anachronists make leather goods, jewelry or clothing. Others brew ale or cook. Some become bards.

And they choose period names.

Cox calls herself Lucy Rose Falconer. Her husband, Michael State, is known as Martyn Ashton.

State's neck, kidneys, elbows and knees were covered Saturday in full-plate metal armor in the style of the late 14th or early 15th century. The likeliest injuries were "mostly sprains, pulls and heat exhaustion," he said during a break in the fighting, sweat beads glistening on his forehead.

"This is nice weather to fight in," he joked. "It's below 80 (degrees)."

The mid-afternoon melee was a simulated river battle from The Hundred Years War between the French and English, said Vera Messina of Thurmont, Md., who goes by the name Adriana di Salaparuta.

Messina was "basically a referee" during the melee, ensuring that combatants were safe and that those who took mortal blows pretended to die.

After a short break for drinks, the 70 or so fighters went back to the killing field to re-enact the 1415 Battle of Agincourt, which the English won.

Cox said Saturday's festival was a demonstration for the public to watch, as opposed to an event for SCA members.

The fighting was to be followed by lunch, then a court, in which the local baron and baroness handed out awards in many categories. That was to be followed by a feast, dancing and bardic circles around a fire.

Steven Knerr of Manassas, Va., who calls himself Stefan von Kiel, is a fighter who would normally be armored and in the fray, wielding an axe, a knife or a rapier.

This time, he chose to be a vendor, selling leather half-hides that can be worked into armor or clothing. He calls his business "Dwarven Axe Armoury."

He also sold components for making homemade arrows - shafts, tips for the front and knocks for the back. He had a tapering tool for the tips and knocks and he had a fletching jib that allowed feathers to be added to six arrows at once.

Selling is only an occasional thing for Knerr, but he said it's a good way to meet people outside of a melee.

Sharon Hellar of Portsmouth, Va., sold simulated warfare for the tabletop.

Hellar, who goes by Siobhan McKlinchey, had a variety of Middle Ages games with names like Fox and Geese or Nine Men's Morris. Many had Viking roots and were known as "Tafl," or table, games.

In front of her tent, she had a large, ornately carved table game called Alea Evangelii. Hellar said it is based on a sea battle in which a son tried to overthrow his father.

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