by Brian Lamar, Assignment Editor
In a land not so far away and only about 2 days ago, children throughout the Pecan Park area of Long Beach could be seen peeping out of their living room windows at a sight that astonished and confused them.
A knight in shining armor known in some circles as Robert De Hull shimmied down the road clanking and squeaking in 90-degree heat in the mid-day sun. Later that evening, motorists were shocked to see the knight cutting his lawn in full medieval battle rattle.
Paul French, an IT specialist that runs NASA’s data center at Stennis space Center has been entertaining his neighbors while struggling and sweating profusely in order to condition himself to his armor on the hottest of days in preparation for an upcoming war.
French, (alias Robert De Hull, an English Sailor from 1421 who went off to fight with a band of Italian mercenaries) who is a historical re-enactor for the society for creative anachronism. SCA is a historical reenactment and living history group. Every Tuesday the group gets together for full armored combat practice.
French’s group is different than a typical Renaissance Faire Group. The SCA focuses heavily on historical accuracy. “We try to be as period-accurate as possible within the bounds of safety and inclusion,” said French.
Although the SCA’s charter is to promote accurate history. French explains that sometimes spectators may see aberrations in costumes. “So obviously, this gets expensive so it is more common to see “un-period” fighters on the field. Especially from a safety angle. We rather you be safe than period. We go from the fall of the western Roman Empire to the death of Elizabeth I. Any culture that could have existed during that time period is welcome and included,” French explained.
French found his calling with the SCA from a lifetime of nerdom. “I was just always a nerd. I played dungeons and dragons throughout my Navy career,” said French.
The general rule for people to participate in period gear is the ten-foot rule. “If I can take a look at you from ten feet away and can tell that you are making an effort, then it is alright. We absolutely don’t turn away people in mundane clothing either. It is one of those hobbies where you get out of it what you put into it. You can go down a rabbit hole…a very expensive rabbit hole,” said French.
French has been piecing his armor together for quite some time. “So, my armor is a mixture of things that have either been bought or things that have been made for me and some of it I made myself,” French said.
According to French, there are multiple ways to participate. Since French is a heavy armor fighter, he is adorned in a full suit of armor. Some members also are what are called rapier fighters, which are more like traditional Olympic fencers. There are also combat archers and people who specialize in siege engines.
The SCA is hosting the upcoming Gulf Wars XXX Oct. 2-10th on the King’s Arrow Ranch in Lumberton. For spectators who are interested can check out more information at the SCA Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/