The Start of the SCA
The SCA started in Berkeley California in 1965. Students there had taken a medieval history course and decided to have a medieval tournament to celebrate its completion on May Day. They had so much fun they decided to do it again, and again. The birthday of the SCA is dated from that event, and May 1 is celebrated as New Year’s Day in the Society. The SCA soon spread to the east coast, and in 1972 there were four kingdoms throughout the United States: West, East, Middle, and Atenveldt. Now over 50 years later, the SCA has grown world wide and is one of the largest historical renenactment organizations in the world.
The History of the SCA in Houston
In AS VII (1972) a group of nine people gathered in Houston to create what would become the Barony of the Stargate. This was the first group in Texas and a part the Kingdom of Atenvelt, a kingdom that stretched from Arizona to the Atlantic Ocean at the time. They had an All Hallow’s Eve revel in a back yard and garage apartment of one of the participants. These people became known as the “Starholders of Stargate”. The Stargate arms includes a 9 pointed start to honor these founding members. Unlike a group that is created today it was customary to create the first branch in new state as a barony. Therefore Stargate is unique in the current kingdom as it has always been a barony. For many years, Stargate was known as “that Barony in Texas.”
Stargate’s first tourney was held in 1973, eight years after the founding of the SCA, in a cow pasture outside of Bryan TX. There was a torchlight tournament, and a march of precedent to honor the arrival of dignities from the far reaches of the kingdom of Atenvelt.
The first baron was Mryddin ap Rhys, and he held his first court in Stargate in October 1974. Stargate’s first Yule revel was held that year as well. Sir Tarl Mapt became the second Baron in 1977 and Arlene the Soother, became Baroness later that year. The the first Pearl of Great Price was given to Lady Ivivis of Cornwall at an event in 1977 known as the Kolache Tournament. In the fall of 1977, Stargate held Crown Tourney to choose the next king of Atenvelt in Anahuac TX. The winner of the Crown List was Sir Koris Natterhelm and came from what would later be Stargate’s current Kingdom of Ansteorra and was the first king who was not from Arizona. This event is notable as it was announced that the former principality of Meridies would become a kingdom and Ansteorra a principality.
Stargate was now part of a new principality with its own awards and officers. Soon the first Ansteorran Coronet List was held to choose the first Prince of Ansteorra. The second Coronet Tourney was held in Stargate during March of 1978. The event was held in Lake Jackson with Sir Randall von Nordlichvald winning the tournament and his Princess was Constance St. Dunstan, both from neighboring San Antoino, TX.
The first baronial championship of the Stargate was held in 1979. The event stewards were Sir William of Weir and Lady Philippa Rookhaven and it was held at Hermann Park on the Miller Outdoor Theatre Stage. A feast was held at Baker Commons at Rice University. The first Baronial Champion was Master Tivar Moondragon. At this time and for the first several years the Baronial Championship it was a 3 part competition. Each contestant had to fight chivalric weapons, rapier, and break ties with a game of chess. The winner of the list stewarded the event the next year.
A landmark event in the history of Ansteorra was the Tournament of Chivalry held at the Renfaire site in 1979. Ladies decided on the winners of the list based on Chivalric behavior. Distinguished guests conducted seminars on Chivalry. At this event Lord Tivar Moondragon became the premier member of the White Scarf of Ansteorra (previously CSCA). It was announced at this event that Ansteorra would become a kingdom.
Sir Jonathan de Laufyson and Mistress Willow de Wisp became the first King and Queen of the new Kingdom of Ansteorra. They had earlier been King and Queen of Atenveldt but were not crowned at the same event, as Willow was unable to attend the coronation. She had her own coronation event in Stargate. At Willow’s coronation, William of Weir (later a baron of Stargate) was knighted and was named Queen’s Champion.
The next major event in the Kingdom was the Anvil War. This was a tournament between the Baronies of Stargate and Bordermarch (Beaumont, TX) to decide the possession of a 500-pound anvil. Pieces of the anvil were given to Their Majesties Ansteorra, the vistiting Majesties Meridies, and Their Excellencies of Stargate. About this time Stargate acquired its first canton, Loch Soilleir, now our southern baronial neighbor and a group in their own right.
William of Wallingford and Gladwen of Ayelsford became Baron and Baroness of Stargate in July of 1982. William and Gladwen established a new baronial service award called the Astral Clarion. Unfortunately, Baron William was severely injured in an automobile accident several months later, and they had to end their time as Baron and Baroness prematurely with Baron William dying soon after stepping down from the Baronial throne. He was a fine man and was greatly missed.
Another momentous occasion in the history of Stargate was the Old Atenveldt Reunion held at the Texas Rennaissance Festival Grounds. This was a gathering of notables from all of the Kingdoms that were formerly part of Atenveldt. The event was marked by immense amounts of rain and people abandoned their tents and spent the night in the privies, they were roomy, dry and flushed.
Sir William of Weir and Pippa Rookhaven were invested as Baron and Baroness of the Stargate in 1983. Baron William and Baroness Pippa started the first children’s award in the kingdom, the Rook of the Stargate. The first recipients were Heidi of Thuringia and Crystal of House Weir, daughters of future baroness Elisena de Bayonne. They also initiated the first baronial titled artisan competition in the kingdom in 1984. This first competition was based on a complete body of work and was won by a newcomer to the barony, and later member of the order of the laurel, Rose Stewart Cathan. She entered calligraphy, spinning, dying, weaving, embroidery, painting, and egg decorating.
Squire’s invitational tournament began in February 1986. A relatively new member of the SCA, named Rebecca, dreamed this event up on the way back from an event. It turned out to be very popular and soon became a showcase for all martial students, squires, cadets, and arcarious.
Bran de Tintrac and Elisena de Bayonne became Baron and Baroness of the Stargate in May of 1987 at a Baronial Championship Tourney.
A few years later the College of Twr Cath, the campus group from the University of Houston, was founded. The college was an active part of the Barony for several years before going dormant. Current baronial members Biatrichi Malatesta Canzionari di Palermo, and Valeria Marcella De’Martinez were charter members of the college, though most charter members have scattered all over the known world.
Two popular tourneys began in AS XXIII 1988-89. The first of these was Five Star, which is a melee tourney with five-member melee teams. The second was Black, White, and Gray, a light-hearted “assassins'” tourney with a different theme every year (it’s not hard to find times of political upheaval to commemorate in the Middle Ages.)
The Tournament of the Nine Worthies began in 1990. This event was the brainchild of Duke Sigmund the Wingfooted. Nine winners were chosen by a panel of judges to represent the traditional Nine Worthies of Medieval Legend. Each Worthy named a lady as one of Nine Heroines. Beginning with the second tourney, the consorts had to answer questions on love while the combatants answered questions on chivalry.
In 1991, the Canton of Gate’s Edge was founded. Their first event was a picnic in Spring Creek Park. In the same year the Canton of West Gate was founded. Their first event was at the home of Count William Miesko and Countess Catherine Blackrose.
The Coronation by the first Queen by Right of Arms in the history of the SCA took place in Stargate in 1991. It was an historic moment when Queen Rowan placed the Crown of Ansteorra on her own head. Her coronation was also held in the barony a few months later hosted by the College of Twr Gath, and included dignitaries from all of the society’s current kingdoms.
The summer revel Summerthing began 9991 as a low-key, low-sweat summertime event. It is generally potluck and still features classes on many SCA activities. Winterthing, an identical winter event, began the same year but is no longer held.
The first Stargate Archery Champion was chosen at the Baronial Championship in 1991. The first champion was James of Innes.
Sindra Gunhild Sigmundsdottir became the next Baroness of the Stargate at the Tournament of the Worthies in April 1992 replacing Baroness Elisena de Bayonne as Baron Bran’s consort. She was carried into court on a shield borne by men at arms, flanked by her arts apprentices, and was invested in a Viking style ceremony. Sindra was a member of the Order of the Laurel, and a skilled weaver among other arts.
Stargate celebrated her 20th anniversary as a barony in grand style at Woodsy Hollow Campground in September 1992. At this event ,Stargate was given a license to “crenellate its fortifications”. This included various anniversary tournaments and a performance by local band The Flying Fish Sailors.
Michael Silverhands and Neassa the Obstreperous were invested as Baron and Baroness of the Stargate at Baronial Championship in 1995 which was held at Double Eagle Ranch. They oversaw the first Children’s champion at the 1996 Baronial Championship tourney and the first Equestrian Champion was created in 1998. The first equestrian champion was Sir Alexis la Bouche. They were both active in the service community and are both members of the Order of the Pelican for their service.
Sir Godwin of Eddington and Mistress Elisena de Bayonne (returning) were invested as Baron and Baroness of the Stargate at the Baronial Championship in 2000. Sir Godwin was often found at crown tournament fighting for Elisena as his consort in addition to presiding over the barony. It was considered a no miss event for knights and their squires. Elisena was active in the service community throughout her SCA career, and to present.
Master Ihon Vinson Macfergas and Mistress Isabeau Quiquandon presided over the barony from 2005-2011. Both Ihon and Isabeau were very active in the arts. He was a skilled performer and she a skilled costumer.
Master Robert McPharlan was baron from 2011-2017, first with Mistress Simone Valery la Rousse and later with Mistress Cristyana Lambrecht. Master Robert had been a long-time baronial member and active in the rapier community for over 30 years. He received dirt from the site of the traditional baronial practice site, Memorial Park, upon his departure to the Kingdom of Trimaris. Mistress Simone was a skilled dancer and both she and Mistress Cryistyana are skilled costumers. Crystiyana is also active in the service community and was elevated to the order of the Pelican at Stargate’s 50th Yule celebration from the hands of Crepinn and Torin the 2nd.
Mistress Brenna MacDonald and Mistress Sarra Asshton of York became the first co-baronesses in 2017 and were invested at Yule that year. Brenna is a skilled equestrian and she and Sarra are active in the service community. Sarra was elevated to the Order of the Pelican in 2020 during her stewardship of the barony from the hands of Sven and former baroness Cristyana.
Our current baron and baroness are Master Alden Drake and HL Ceara inghean mhic an Ghabann. Baroness Ceara presided over our 50th year celebration in 2022 at the annual Yule event, as his excellency was ill. They continue to lead the barony in excellence and growth.
–Thanks to Philippa Rookhaven and Annes Clotilde von Bamburg for their notes and memories to supplement my own.