Medieval ways dominate a student’s life

By JON-PAUL GALEAS/Montana State News

“Chivalry, courtesy, honor and graciousness are all too often forgotten in our ‘modern’ world. Growing up in the SCA instilled these values in me at such a young age with a group of people who felt the same way. They are my family,” said Sarah Cochran about life in the Society for Creative Anachronism.

Cochran grew up in Helena and at the age of 3 was raised in a household who loved the SCA. “My mom started taking me to the events and read me books about pre 17th century history. I made great friends back then who are best friends of mine now,” Cochran said.

Cochran is an avid reader of classical literature. She says she loves Shakespeare and loves to read books about classical styles of rapier

“When I started growing up and went to more SCA events I became crazy interested in rapier combat, it’s basically the pre-cursor to fencing. So when I got older I started to train and read up on how it used to be fought,” Cochran said.

Upon joining the SCA, members have a variety of activities to choose from. They can brew your own beer or wine, make your own “garb” (medieval clothing), learn to cook medieval recipes, practice archery or any of a hundred other things that were an everyday part of life in the Middle Ages. You can become a fighter (using a shield, rattan sword and real armor) or duel with rapier.

“The heavy fighting (armor, sword and shield) wasn’t exactly suited for my size, since I’m tiny, so rapier was best for me, plus I find it to be a more refined way to fight with a sword. I got pretty darn good at it and easily hold my own at tournament events,” Cochran said.

Every few months the various kingdoms will have events that feature tournaments for members to prove their skill at the variety of activities. Many come to show off the level of craftsmanship they possess with making weapons or costumes, which are all done to period design.

Members of the SCA take their craft very seriously. “The people who do embroidery, bakery, smiting, or fighting do it all as it used to be done back in the 16th century. No modern technology used at all. Baking is from scratch, same with the weapons. It’s no joke. I’m always so impressed by the dedication people have for their craft, they respect their craftsmanship,” Cochran said.

The rapier combat is judged two ways. That of point system per hit and by how accurate their stance is to period style.

The SCA members assume a chosen character. “Each person comes up with a character for themselves. Some take it more serious than others, like for me I have a background story and everything. It’s way too long to get into but my character is of French decent and has royal blood. I flesh it out sometimes based of what I research but people love to make it their own person,” Cochran said.

Cochran is a junior at Montana State University and does her best to get others from the school involved.

“I felt there was a lack of presence at the school from our group. I mean we’re not that big, we have around 80 people who come to our usual events but I know students would love something like this or would at least want to check it out so I do my part to spread the word,” she said.

Cochran is the liaison for the school and tries to bridge the gap between the SCA and MSU. She has created a Facebook page where people can get information but wants people to contact her directly with any questions.

“I do my best to remain open to questions and ask people in my classes if they would be interested. I get some of my own friends and they get theirs. I hope to get posters or notices set up on campus,” she said.

Cochran hopes to get the English and History department on campus involved. Specifically speak with students in classical literature classes and pre 17th century history classes.

“I want to be able to talk a lot of students but a good focus for me would be the English classes and history classes, if there are students reading classical literature or studying 16th century history then hopefully they already have an interest in the time period so gaining their interest with us would be a bit easier,” she said.

Cochran is hoping that next year she can get the word out about The Shire of Silver keep better. Working with the school is her main priority and the use of social media she hopes to make it a trending activity the university knows about.

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