Welcome to the

Shire of Flintheath

We are the local chapter of the Society for Creative Anachronism (S.C.A)  The general geographical coverage expands most of Cambridgeshire, Norfolk, Suffolk, and a bit of Bedfordshire, get in touch for further information.

The shire is comprised of medieval enthusiasts with interests in armoured & rapier combat, archery, arts & sciences and much more, feel free to contact us for more.

The S.C.A is a non-profit, educational society dedicated to researching and recreating the Middle Ages in the present.

News & Updates from the Shire

In light of new government guidelines, in-person fight practice has returned in a limited form; get in touch for further details!In the meantime, your weekly fun historical posts will continue. We also have a Discord server which you're welcome to come and check out if you want to talk to us: discord.gg/AfucYV5The Vatican Secret Archive (or, since 2019, the Vatican Apostolic Archive) sounds like something out of a Dan Brown novel, but is in fact a priceless archive of handwritten documents concerning papal institutions and diplomacy, aristocratic Italian families with papal connections, and religious texts. The word "secret" in its title does not mean the same thing as the modern English word; it would be more accurately translated from the Latin name as "private", since the archive belongs personally to the current pope and is kept separately from the main Vatican Library.It has only had that name and status since the 1600s, just after our period. Before that popes had kept an archive of texts beginning in the earliest days of the papacy and it travelled with them as the papacy moved around. This movement, combined with wars and occasional attacks on and plundering of Rome, led to the loss of many of the documents stored in it.Those surviving include a treasure trove of documents from our period, including records of the trial of Galileo, a petition from the House of Lords asking the pope to annul Henry VIII's marriage to Catherine of Aragon, a letter from Ghengis Khan's grandson demanding homage, the papal bull excommunicating Martin Luther, and a letter from Michelangelo complaining about not being paid for his work on the Sistine Chapel.Access to the Archive is extremely limited; browsing is not allowed and scholars must not only have extensive references but also know exactly what document they are looking for. In order to improve access and preserve the fragile ancient documents, there is an ongoing digitisation project underway aiming to create a searchable database. This is especially difficult because of the ornate medieval handwriting filled with abbreviations used for many of the documents, which can be difficult for humans to read, let alone computers. The project has developed an AI-based system to parse this handwriting and has reached 96% accuracy.Image: Letter from the Peers of England concerning the Marriage of Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon - 1530 - The Vatican Secret Archives, published by Paul Van den Heuvel - VdH BooksIf you're interested, a paper on the operation of the digitisation project: arxiv.org/pdf/1803.03200.pdf ...
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In light of new government guidelines, in-person fight practice has returned in a limited form; get in touch for further details!In the meantime, your weekly fun historical posts will continue. We also have a Discord server which you're welcome to come and check out if you want to talk to us: discord.gg/AfucYV5Saint Catherine of Siena was a mystic, social activist, and author who was instrumental in the return of the papacy to Rome in 1376, though her exact influence is a topic of debate. She also acted as a papal envoy to Florence as part of peace negotiations: an extremely rare activity for a medieval woman. Her letters are considered one of the great works of early Tuscan literature and show her close relationship to the Pope - often addressing him as Babbo ("Daddy") rather than "Your Holiness".Catherine's religious devotion began when she was a child and became more pronounced when she was a teenager. When she was 16, her elder sister died in childbirth and she refused to marry her widower, having already vowed to give her life to God. She started a strict fast and cut off her hair as a protest against her mother trying to encourage her to improve her appearance in order to attract a husband. However, she also rejected the idea of joining a nunnery, choosing to live an active and prayerful life outside a convent as a member of the Mantellate, an association of devout laywomen.Her activism began with giving away food and clothing from her family home, but then moved on to helping people in hospitals and homes, gathering a group of followers around her. After this, she got involved in wider political issues, travelling with her followers in northern and central Italy to advocate church reform as well as dictating letters to the Pope and other powerful authority figures. This included working to convince Pope Gregory XI to return the papacy to Rome.She died in Rome at the age of 33 after a stroke, probably caused by her extreme fasting and asceticism, and was canonised in 1461.Image: St Catherine and the Demons - Artist Unknown - c. 1500 - National Museum, Warsaw ...
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This week several of us are going to be attending an online event: To Uncrown A King: A 15th Century Symposium; get in touch for further details or check out the website at tuak.insulaedraconis.org/#/!We also have a Discord server which you're welcome to come and check out if you want to talk to us: discord.gg/AfucYV5"The Wars of the Roses" is the commonly-used name of a series of succession struggles between different branches of the English royal family in the second half of the 1400s. There's some debate about what event started the wars - one theory dates it to the deposition of Richard II by his cousin Henry, who became Henry IV, the first Lancastrian king. This was the position of the House of York, which was descended from Richard's chosen successor.The wars began in earnest during the reign of Henry IV's grandson Henry VI, who suffered from mental instability and was an extremely weak ruler. This led to the rise of Richard, Duke of York, the Yorkist claimant. Richard's son would go on to overthrow Henry VI and be crowned Edward IV.The wars finally ended when Henry Tudor, the last male member of the Lancastrian branch, overthrew and killed Richard III, the last Yorkist king, at the Battle of Bosworth. Henry then married Richard's niece, Edward's daughter Elizabeth of York, uniting the two lines.Images:- Henry VI's Book of Hours - King's College Chapel- Tudor Rose and Beaufort Portcullis - King's College Chapel ...
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In light of new government guidelines, in-person fight practice has returned in a limited form; get in touch for further details!In the meantime, your weekly fun historical posts will continue. We also have a Discord server which you're welcome to come and check out if you want to talk to us: discord.gg/AfucYV5In England during our period there was only one true male royal consort: the husband of a queen who was not crowned king himself; the role held by the late Prince Philip. Geoffrey of Anjou - also known as Geoffrey the Fair or Geoffrey Plantagenet - was the husband of Empress Matilda, who claimed the throne as the rightful successor of her father King Henry, only to be displaced by her cousin Stephen.The marriage between Matilda and Geoffrey was arranged by her father. She was eleven years older than him and resented the reduction in status that her marriage theoretically brought her; her previous husband had been the Holy Roman Emperor, hence her use of the title "Empress". Despite that, and a stormy beginning, Matilda and Geoffrey seem to have had a functional relationship and they had three sons.When Henry died, Geoffrey supported Matilda in claiming her inheritance. While she led an invasion of England, he secured Normandy and claimed the title of Duke in right of his wife. He then held the duchy until he and Matilda jointly ceded it to their son Henry, the future Henry II of England.Geoffrey also became count because his father married a queen: soon after his marriage to Matilda, Fulk travelled to Jerusalem to marry Melisende, the heir of King Baldwin II of Jerusalem. Baldwin designated Fulk and Melisende as joint rulers on his death, though after a significant power struggle she emerged as the more powerful partner.Images:- Enamel tomb effigy of Geoffrey of Anjou - Museum of Archeology and History, Le Mans- Empress Matilda - The Gospels of Henry the Lion - Evangeliar Heinrichs d. Löwen und Mathildes von England f171v - approx 1188 ...
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In light of new government guidelines, in-person fight practice has returned in a limited form; get in touch for further details!In the meantime, your weekly fun historical posts will continue. We also have a Discord server which you're welcome to come and check out if you want to talk to us: discord.gg/AfucYV5During the Renaissance, there was an increasing demand for music among educated amateurs, driven in part by changing society and in part by technology; the invention of the printing press made it cheaper and easier to distribute music. During this time, polyphony - music with multiple lines of melody and harmony, like modern choral or orchestral music - was also rising in popularity and these musical influences were especially popular in Italy; by the end of the 1500s Venice and Rome were centres of musical activity.An unusual example of the growing popularity of amateur music is so-called "notation knives". These are rare objects originally made in Italy and are essentially what they sound like: knives with musical staves engraved on the blades. They came in sets, with a different line of the harmony on each knife so that when the singers performed the music on their knives it formed a polyphonic song. The ones that survive in museums and collections around the world have a grace on one side to be sung at the beginning of a meal and a benediction on the other side to be sung at the end. They are even marked with the voice part that should have each knife.They were sharpened (carefully so as not to damage the notation, presumably) and their broad blades would have been suitable for cutting and serving meat, while the tips would have worked as skewers, but wealthy diners at grand feasts didn't cut their own meat; they had squires to do that for them. We don't know whether the music was actually performed by these squires or whether diners sang their part of the grace, handed the knife to a squire, and received it back for the benediction at the end!Image: Notation Knife - Artist unknown - Approx. 1550 - Victoria & Albert MuseumMusical recordings based on the notation on the blades of the knives pictured are available at the Victoria & Albert Museum website: www.vam.ac.uk/content/articles/a/a-notation-knife/ ...
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