From the Archives: Women as Fighters, Knights, and Sovereigns

For those with an interest in SCA history, it can be intriguing to follow a thread of discussion as Society policy is defined and changed over time. Below is one such example, showing a sequence of entries from the minutes of the Board of Directors discussing women in armored combat over the years 1975–1977.

The Imperial Marshall finds that he cannot deny women the right to fight on the grounds of safety or legality.

Board Minutes, March 1975

Motion: Pending further study of the submitted documents, the Board finds nothing in present rules and policies to prohibit women as a class from fighting upon the field. Moved: David, Second: Bill

There was some discussion of whether or not there is a currently existing policy. Also as to whether the Marshal of the Society ever declared there to be, and if so, whether it was advisable to appear to be overriding the possible declaration. Motion: To table this matter, making it the first item of Old Business for the July meeting. Further, to solicit the opinion of the Marshal of the Society on the matter, but to consider it in July whether he replies or not. Moved: Carolyn, Second: David; Passed. Diana – Yes; Carolyn – Yes; Doug – Yes; Bill – No; David – Abstain

Board Minutes, June 1975

It is requested that the Board further clarify the Society policy regarding women fighting in order that those organizing the Pensic War may know how to proceed. The Board is surprised that their statement last month was insufficient, but will try again. While it has been the general practice that women did not fight on the field, such has never been the policy of the Society for Creative Anachronism, Inc. Unfortunately the Marshal of the Society was misinformed on this point. The Board directs that a letter be drafted for their signature explaining this to those concerned. (The members of the Board are also sending a letter to those concerned concerning Lady Trude, who is the case in point.)

Board Minutes, August 1975

Andrew Smith’s report on women fighting. Andy said that of the 29 letters he had received, 16 were favorable, 9 favorable with conditions, and 4 negative. Andrew suggested changes in the Corpora and By-Laws to deal with some of the problems of women fighting (i.e. terminology, methods of dealing with fighters who don’t want to fight with women, etc.), and he suggested that the kingdoms each decide for themselves. A long discussion followed in which Kings Aonghais and Denis (East and Atenveldt) and Dukes Paul and Andrew (West) explained how their kingdoms had handled the situation and the feelings of the people in their kingdoms. David explained more fully the Board’s actions.

Aonghais said that the letter published from the Board did not give the impression that they were soliciting opinions. Diana said she would write a further letter to the newsletters.

David suggested that a committee be appointed to draft proposed Corpora changes concerning women fighting, the committee to be headed by Douglas.

Board Minutes, January 1976

The Board determined that there is nothing in the By-Laws or Corpora which states that women cannot be knighted. The Board determined to publish as a suggestion the use of the title Sir or Dame, at the pleasure of the lady to be knighted, in absence of kingdom law or custom to the contrary. Comments and other suggestions will be requested from the membership at large.

Board Minutes, September 1976

It was moved, seconded and carried that we respond to the Marshal that there is nothing in his statement that is contrary to Board policy. (David)

“It is the policy of the Society for Creative Anachronism that females be allowed to participate in the martial arts aspect of the Society’s events on an equal basis with men. There shall be no distinction made by any officer of the SCA, Inc. in re the sex of an individual engaged in these martial arts activities save in the interests of personal safety equipment, and that on an individual basis.”

Board Minutes, November 1976

It was moved seconded and carried that the Board accept the recommendation of the committee of the whole which is “each getalman combatent fighting in the lists for the crown shall have a lady to recieve the Queens crown should he be sucessful in combat in combat, each lady combatent fighting in the lists for the crown shall have a gentalman to recieve the Kings crown should she be sucessful in combat. Though his/her name need not be revealed until her/his crown is secure.”

Artical II. 1. D. sahll be changed to read (consorts) Where ever in the corpora the word king appears replace it with Sovereign and where ever Queen appears replace it with Consort.

Board Minutes, October 1977

[Update, May 29:] The “Lady Trude” mentioned above is Trude Lacklandia, who became the Society’s first female Knight in March 1977. For more, see her entry in the Caid Wiki, and the Women Reigning by Right of Arms page in the Middle Wiki.

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