While there are a fair number of Elizabethans, Landsknechts and kampfrauen, and earlier Burgundians in the SCA, you'll find few late 16th Century Dutch. So what's the draw? In my view, the Habsburg Low Countries of the late 16th century represent a uniquely compelling historical context in the Dutch Revolt against onerous Spanish domination, the religious landscape, the prevalence of the printed word, and the technological breakthroughs of the era.
The SCA is home to a fair number of people portraying 16th Century—or as they’re called in the context of the pre-17th Century milieu of the Society, “Late Period.” Chief amongst those appear to be Elizabethans & Tudors, then German kampfrauen & Landsknechts, followed by Venetians and other varieties of Italians. Spaniards and the occasional Pole (i.e. Hussar) show up from time to time, too.
So why portray a Dutchman?
I’ll be returning to this page in the fall of 2016 to flesh out my reasons and give you, the reader, my best argument for exactly why I find this time and place so fascinating, but until then, here are the highlights in bullet-point format:
- On principle, I’ve found the Dutch Revolt to be incredibly inspiring. The small standing up against the big. Trying to work within the existing system in good faith as far as you can as long as you’re able to before resorting to more drastic measures. Standing up for your political rights and religious liberties (within reason for the late 16th century) to the point where it costs you your wealth, your wellbeing, and even your life. It all sounds so terribly romantic, but as I do further research and reading, the more the gloss and shine wears off. The fact is that even as I cast the Dutch as the “good guys,” there was a lot of difficult moral decisions the rebels found themselves in. It’s also a fact that the Calvinist faction of the Dutch represented the radical fringe and were responsible for bullshit of their own.
- The religious landscape of the era allows me to adopt a non-Roman Catholic persona (important for wholly petty, personal reasons), even as I realize that placing my persona as a member of the gentry of Overijssel most likely would have made him a crypto-Protestant until fairly late in the 1580s.
- The Low Countries were a hotbed of the printed word and cartography: both of which interest my design side.
- This time period, as a whole, affords a lot of excellent opportunities to look at Renaissance Humanism.
- Working, effective firearms. While the SCA isn’t likely to afford any opportunities along these lines in the foreseeable future, a ball-butted wheellock puffer pistol is on my longterm purchase wish list.
- Preposterous costuming opportunities (which I’ve actually grown to quite like)
- The Early Modern era introduces much of the elements of the world that we recognize here in the 21st Century. I quite like that connection and is something I never felt in the more heroic and romantic high Middle Ages.
- Lastly, I’d be lying if there also wasn’t a “special snowflake” consideration in play: there are many hundreds of Norse Vikings in the SCA, and while I rejoice for those that really dive into the historical authenticity side of things, this allows me to specialize on something a little different than what others have already seen.