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OU Medieval Society members battle each other and time itself


By Ryan Powers

As the digital world becomes increasingly pervasive and surrounding, as people become older and nostalgic, a societal pocket dedicated to a technologically simpler time remains: Ohio University‘s Medieval Society.

OU's Medieval Society at practice. (Credit: Kaitlin Owens)

OU’s Medieval Society at practice. (Credit: Kaitlin Owens)

Many medieval societies exist throughout the United States, many belonging to a certain kingdoms as determined by region. The kingdoms are each part of a larger group entitled the Society of Creative Anachronism (SCA). OU Medieval Society belongs to Midrealm, the Middle Kingdom.

The Medieval Society is perhaps best known for its public combat displays, but the organization does not disregard the finer points of medieval life. “It’s not just combat,” said OU Medieval Society President Anne Young. “We do everything from archery, knitting, spinning, weaving and I make hats,”

The products made by the organization are “very research based,” according to Young.

“We try to keep it as historically accurate as we can get,” Young said. “But it’s okay if you just make an attempt. No one’s going to ostracize you if you don’t wear wool garb or linen garb, as long as you make an attempt.”

Ian Messner, OU freshman, presented a similar sentiment, stating that “being period” can be sacrificed for safety, especially regarding the creation of items. Messner carved stone for OU Medieval Society.

“I file down stones to make a statue,” Messner said. “I had to stop because when you file it down, white powder comes off, and I was sick, I rubbed my nose, and it didn’t look too good as I was walking out.”

OU's Medieval Society at practice. (Credit: Kaitlin Owens)

OU’s Medieval Society at practice. (Credit: Kaitlin Owens)

The group holds an informal combat practice every Tuesday at approximately 6 p.m. next to Walter Hall. Afterward, at 8 p.m., meetings are held in Grover E206. These meetings tend to attract around 30 people, according to Young.

Combatants decided to gear up for this Tuesday’s event, choosing from a plethora of weapons, armor and garb. “A healthy chunk” of the gear was made by the OU Medieval Society specifically, according to one member. Some of that self-made gear was made from real steel.

Aside from making gear to fight and sweat in, OU Medieval Society has been known to party like it’s 999. This Saturday, Oct. 5, Middle Kingdom crowned its next King and Queen. The coronation has been dubbed “Red Dragon” and was held in Columbus, Ohio.

New royalty is chosen every six months — a summer king and queen and a winter king and queen — through the process known as “right of arms,” according to Young. A participant must win a tournament, and, once a winner is declared, he or she may choose a queen or king to rule with.

The winner is typically a king. “We haven’t had a queen win by right of arms yet, that I know of,” Young said.

Tournaments and other forms of combat are based on the honor system, leaving it up to participants to decide when they are “dead.”

Red Dragon also consisted of distributing various awards, a feast, youth activities, fencing and additional combat. There would also most likely be merchants, Young predicted when she was interviewed last week.

Although most of the goods purchasable from merchants are cheap, one member displayed a helmet that he bought from one for 50 dollars. “It’s made out of really heavy steel, and it takes some skill to make a safe helmet, so that’s why they cost a little more,” Young said.

As for Medieval Society events held on at Ohio University, Young stated that there has not been a major one in years. However, she also stated, “I’m trying to get some more things going on here at the university,” and “next Friday (Oct. 11) we’re having a medieval movie night.”

The SCA does hold a local event at Lake Snowden. However, Young informed Beta Fish Magazine that “We didn’t get to do that this year because of timing with other events, but we might do something in spring or sometime next year.”

Events tend to catch on, though. One example is the annual event known as Pennsic, which brings in thousands of people to southwestern Pennsylvania every year from around the world, according to OU Medieval Society members.

If anyone is interested in joining Medieval Club, Young said he or she has only to show up. There are no official membership dues.

OU's Medieval Society at practice. (Credit: Kaitlin Owens)

OU’s Medieval Society at practice. (Credit: Kaitlin Owens)

As to the benefits of joining, Young cited the “sustainable skills” she has learned from OU Medieval Society during her five years with it.

“I learned how to cook, learned how to sew, (and) I’ve learned a lot about Mongolian society, which has been useful to me in my anthropology studies,” Young said. “It’s a lot of fun and a great way to meet new friends and people.”

Messner enjoys OU Medieval Society because he is a history buff and also, he said, “(Because) we’re a close group. All of us are nerds, so we watch the same movies, same TV shows and all that. And also when you fight, you get closer and get to know each other better. Everyone’s sweating a lot after a practice, so we all just sit and talk about what’s going on and what we just did for a while.

The old world of analog is being consumed by the digital age. Old methods of conducting business are being eschewed in favor of newer, faster technology. However, OU Medieval Society is living proof that the reverse is not only possible, but can be enjoyable, even if it is only temporary.

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