Medieval mystique attracts enthusiasts

Published 12:00 am Thursday, July 18, 2002

Though Edgewater Park is not normally associated with medieval royalty, on Wednesday evening, it was transformed into a place from the days of old when knights were bold.

That was where the local chapter of the Society for Creative Anachronism gathered to meet three regional members of their royalty, who are in the middle of a 1,600-mile journey, visiting some of the smaller SCA chapters of the &uot;Middle Kingdom.&uot;

&uot;If it’s Wednesday, it must be Albert Lea,&uot; said Elise Fleming of North Olmsted, Ohio, also known as Her Royal Majesty Alys Katherine, Queen of the Middle Kingdom.

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Other members of royalty in attendance were Lorine Horvath of Fargo, N.D., also known as Her Royal Highness Fina ingen A’eda, Crown Princess of the Middle Kingdom, and Sue Gilbert of Madison, Wis., also known as Her Stellar Highness Elashava bas Riva, Princess of Northshield. Royalty is short-lived, however. Princes and princess retain that crown for only six months. Kings and queens do the same.

The group is an international non-profit educational organization devoted to learning about the Middle Ages and Renaissance periods. Participants at the event dressed in clothing of those eras and displayed examples of old-world European artisanship. The evening also included a potluck dinner, featuring authentic foods from the period, such as a pork-and-apple stew and cherry pudding.

The group’s love for things medieval doesn’t end there. According to Betsy Bevis of Mankato, almost everyone involved in the society adopts an alias, generally one that reflects the era and place of their interest.Bevis’ alias is Argantan filia Branoc, a name from ninth-century Britain meaning &uot;Argantan, Branoc’s daughter.&uot;

Details like those attract fans of the era to the society. Shawn &uot;Ulfr&uot; Wing, the society’s local chapter president, said that from the time he was in fifth grade he had been interested in the Arthurian legend and all things fantasy.

&uot;When I found out that there was a group of people who lived historically, I had to meet them,&uot; Wing said. &uot;The rest is history.&uot;

Chris Harveaux of rural Albert Lea was drawn to the society by his skill in making armor. Harveaux has made and sold suits of armor for other reenactment groups.

Armoring seems to be a popular trade within the society, at least in the region. Bill Andrews of Blue Earth started making armor about three years ago, crafting his armor in his garage.

&uot;I just have to think of something I can make to outdo Chris’ (Harveaux) creations,&uot; said Andrews.

And what suit of armor would be complete without a sword? Joel Davis, who started out making knives four years ago and &uot;blade smithing&uot; about one year ago, displayed an Anglo-Saxon Viking-style sword and companion axe that he had made. Though not involved with the society, Davis found out about the event through Harveaux, who encouraged him to bring out his work.

The sword Davis brought, however, remains unfinished. Davis once had the opportunity to meet Japanese blademaster Yoshindo Yoshihara, and showed him the sword in progress. Impressed with Davis’ work, Yoshihara chiseled Davis’ name in Japanese characters on the sword handle for him. Though the finished blade would have been worth around $4,000, the blade will end up being proudly displayed in a glass case, unfinished.

&uot;I couldn’t take any amount of money for this,&uot; said Davis. Davis said that if he were to rank swordsmiths, Yoshihara would no doubt be the number one Japanese swordsmith in the world.

Davis, who also makes folding knives, will be featured in an upcoming issue of &uot;Knives Illustrated&uot; magazine.

Other participants included Jenny Saxton of Blue Earth, whose interest lies in the making of costumes. She had on display a Norman gown from 1100s England and an Italian Renaissance gown from 1490s Venice. Her husband, Bart, whom she met through SCA, brought a catapult he has been working with, but which will require some &uot;tweaking&uot; before it is finished.

One hope of the society is to attract more of a local interest. &uot;We actually don’t have that many members in Albert Lea itself, but we’re trying to build membership in this area,&uot; said Bevis. However, membership is not required to participate in SCA events.

For more information about scheduled SCA events, or about how to become a member, contact Chris Harveaux at (507) 826-3298, or visit SCA’s Web site at