In Hollywood, there are many movies set in the medieval times. One that comes to mind for me today is A Knight’s Tale from 2001, starring Heath Ledger. Any of you who have seen this film can vouch for the historical inaccuracy—but for those of you who have not viewed the film, or for those who have not factored history into the plot, take a look at this.
Perhaps the lack of historical accuracy presents itself heavily in the scene where Thatcher (played by Ledger) begins the jousting competition with the 14th century crowd singing “We Will Rock You” by Queen. The video below is the trailer for the movie, which briefly shows what I am talking about.
While we see accuracy in the jousting sport and desire to either participate in it, or watch it—it is obvious through the soundtrack, and clothing choices (which apparently come from a mixture of centuries) that A Knight’s Tale did not seek to be historically accurate. Looking at the other music presented on the soundtrack (David Bowie, Thin Lizzy) shows you that, for sure. Maybe though, it was because society demands something to relate themselves to, and very little music from this time period is known to us.
Regardless of the accuracy, the film did well to mix the medieval elements with the modern ones. The storyline is typical of many movies, having nothing to do with genre, time period of setting, or even cast. Main character has desire to better his or her self, with huge obstacle standing in the way, works around the obstacle in deceiving manners. Main character comes out on top as having accomplished the dream, only to be found out by the public, crushed. Public sees the desire, motive, and good intention forgives the main character and all is well in the movie. Though following this standard plot we see in many films, the medieval time period and the modern elements do their part to set this one apart from the rest.
Historical accuracy is for documentaries, not for comedic value! Obviously, this movie was made for entertainment value, and certainly gave that to the audience. If we were looking for historical accuracy throughout any medieval film, would we not look for a story that presented itself as based on truth?
More or less, this film is a great one for a wide audience—even those of us who may not share an interest in and love for medieval times. However, if you are one to spot and loathe historical blunders within a film, this one is definitely not for you!
What do you think about A Knight’s Tale? Did the historical inaccuracies aid the film, or harm it? Why does society dismiss inaccuracy in some films, yet crave it in others? Share your thoughts below.
Submitted by Cindy Watrous
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A & S in the SCA is more of a major part than combat. This is because A & S, or Arts and Science, encompass more. A & S is the study of period culture and technology, and methods for producing historically accurate artifacts and performances. (http://www.sca.org/officers/arts/index.html)
When first joining the SCA you may not know what you want to do in A & S. This is ok. If you were drawn in by fighting, finding an Art or Science area that interests you may take time, especially if you do not know what all would be included in this category of the SCA. Don’t rush into something just because you think you are missing out on a great aspect of the SCA.
Watch other people work on projects. You can see this at some fight practices and many events. Talk to someone you see doing a project or, if you don’t, ask around. Some groups meet to work on projects and others are individual. You can even become an apprentice to some to learn a certain skill. And you might even find you have a modern day skill that will translate into a medieval one with some slight differences.
Some of the things studied in the SCA are:
• Baric Recitation
• Book Binding
• Bow Making
• Candle Making
• Costuming & Accessories
• Drama & Comedy
• Glass Blowing
• Horn Working
• Instrumental Music
• Lace making
• Leather Working
• Masquing & Mime
• Metal Working
• Musical Composition
• Musical Instrument Making
• Newsletters & Publications
• Paper Making
• Pavilion Making
• Period Fencing
• Rug Making
• Tool Making
• Toy Making
• Vocal Music
• Weapon Smithing
It is not required of anyone to do any of these A & S studies. But it will make your time in the SCA more interesting. And it’s even possible to turn your hobby into a profitable business so you have pleasure in working. All it takes is a step in the right direction.
Before you can fight in any actual combat in the SCA you must authorize. This is the case for both armored combat and fencing. An authorization is to make sure in combat situations you will be safe fighting. There is no set time you must practice before attempting an authorization but you should know the basics before authorizing. I did happen to authorize Saturday in heavy weapons. Here is what is like so if you are thinking of doing it, you know what to expect.
First you must have full armor on and have your sword and shield with you. They check to make sure your sword and shield are within standard and properly padded. All armor is felt to make sure where it needs to be padded it is. You are asked if you are wearing your groin protection however. Your helm is checked to make sure it meets specs so nothing can get in to hurt you and that it will not come off during the authorization. In the SCA safety is first above all else.
Next they pair you up with someone who has been fighting in the SCA for a long time. This is so that during the authorization this person can tell the marshal what you are doing wrong and right. There are two to three marshals who watch the authorization but one is actually conducting it. You and your opponent will probably practice a bit to warm up before actually doing the actual authorization.
When you first start the authorization you bow to the crown. Then you bow to who you are fighting for and finally to your opponent. This is actually done for combat itself to promote chivalry. You will be asked if you know and understand the rules in the marshal’s handbook.
The first bout is to see if you can take and block hits during normal combat. You must attempt thrusts as well as regular shots. During this bout, hits are called out but not acted out. You keep hitting until the marshal says hold. I actually had two rounds of this because I didn’t do enough thrusts the first time. The marshal and my opponent knew going in thrusts were new to me so I wasn’t used to trying them. So since I did not throw as many the first round as they would have liked, I had a second. This can happen depending on the marshals and fighter involved.
The second part was me on my knees defending against him on his feet. Then we switched and I was attacking him on his knees. It is again to make sure during SCA combat you can defend and fight in an advantage/disadvantage situation. The last part of this slow test is fighting off hand. You must have a sword or shield in your normal hand behind your back while authorizing for this part. This idea is to see if you can defend and possibly get in a hit during combat.
Once you get past this you have the full on battle. You will be killed in this battle and actually they want you too so the marshal can see how you die. In melee combat if you take a killing blow you fall down and you must be able to protect yourself from people still fighting around or on top of you. All blows are played out so if you lose a leg, you drop to the ground. When you get the killing blow you must fall to your right side with your sword under your head (if possible) and shield on top of your chest close to your head. I fell the wrong direction and didn’t get my shield the high enough up but I knew the basics so I passed.
It is interesting and a little nerve wracking to go through an authorization. But once you have passed this basic test, you can fight in any combat you desire. Of course for each weapon you fight with you must authorize in it before fighting in combat using it. The only exception to this is sword, mace, and axe. This is because your first authorization is shield and weapon and these three are considered the weapon. So if you pass using one, you can switch to another at any time without reauthorizing in the SCA.
The video shows what an authorization is like.
War in the SCA is the biggest event you can ever attend. There will be hundreds of thousands of people at one along with every kind of merchant you might desire. War is usually between two kingdoms but members from other kingdoms can and do go to fight as well. These are not only neighboring kingdoms either. “Bribes” are made to get one kingdom to fight on the side of an SCA kingdom over another. This can be as simple as 20 dozen cookies to three kegs of alcohol. It is up to the kingdom being asked to fight as an ally to another to make their demands as mercenaries known. So just how many SCA wars are there and what kingdoms to each involve?
Did you join the SCA and now your child wants to participate with you? Do you fight in armored combat and they are trying to pick up your weapons and use them now? Well what levels of SCA youth combat are there? Actually there are only three levels before a child fights in full contact armored combat. Rapier fighting does not have youth availability since the weapons are live with padding to cover the major sharp ends. Youth combat is also referred to as boffer.
The rules for Rapier fencing in the SCA are standard for all kingdoms so that anyone can fight in any combat tournament, war, or melee there is. Only the rules of which weapons are allowed can be different from one kingdom to the next. So if you wanted to fight what would be required in SCA fencing?
SCA combat uses weapons, whether real or symbolized versions. This is for both fencing and armored combat. Weapons from one can not be used in the other style since the armor for each is not designed to protect the wearer from blows of the other weapons. One combat style is not necessarily cheaper than the other to purchase so if you are unsure which you would like to try; do not base it on that. So then what SCA weapons are used in combat for both fencing and armored?
What are SCA heavy armor regulations? If you have thought about fighting in the sport this is highly important to know. Regulations are the same for all kingdoms so anyone can participate any place they desire. These regulations are to keep injuries from happening in the most critical places. So what do you need to fight? It is probably not as much as you think.
Your SCA persona is the person that you would have liked to be had you lived during the time period the SCA covers, which is pre-17th century. It takes some thought and research to create a persona so after joining the SCA, it is one of the first things to begin doing. How do you create an SCA persona?
Having an SCA name is extremely important. It is the name you are called for any awards or recognition within the SCA. It is what people call you when they want to talk to you or introduce you to someone else. So how do you go about picking an SCA name for yourself?