Pennsic War

Coordinates: 40°58′45″N 80°8′30″W / 40.97917°N 80.14167°W / 40.97917; -80.14167
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Field Battle at Pennsic War XXXII

The Pennsic War is an annual American medieval and Renaissance camping event held by the Society for Creative Anachronism (SCA), a "war" between two large regional SCA groups: the Kingdom of the East and the Middle Kingdom. It is the single largest annual SCA event, with more than 10,000 people attending each year, from as far as China, South Korea, Sweden, Germany, France, Italy, Greece, and Australia.[1]

Pennsic is held in late summer and lasts for 17 days (begins on a Friday, ends on the third Sunday).[2] The event centers on pre-17th century history and culture with all campers dressing in historically relevant clothing. The winners of the battles and other activities receive war points, and the Kingdom with the most war points wins that Pennsic.[3]

The Pennsic War uses numbers to identify each war rather than the year it was held, so the 2019 event was known as "Pennsic War 48", there having been 47 previous events. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, no Pennsic event was held in 2020 or 2021, and so the 2022 event is known as "Pennsic War 49".[2]


The Pennsic War takes place in late July/early August.[2] Prior to 2007, Pennsic took place during the first two weeks of August, and some of the earliest Pennsics were held during September.

According to the HERSTAĐR-SAGA: An Incomplete History of Pennsic,

One day, almost 30 years ago, Cariadoc of the Bow, the King of the Middle, got bored with peace and declared war upon the East, loser to take Pittsburgh. The King of the East read the declaration of war, filed it away and forgot about it. Time passed. Cariadoc moved to New York and subsequently became King of the East, whereupon he retrieved the declaration from the file cabinet and said, "Let's fight." The Middle won, and Cariadoc has the distinction of being the only king who declared war upon himself and lost.[4]

Nearly every person who attends Pennsic has heard this story, and nearly every element of this story is incorrect. Negotiations for an inter-kingdom war had begun in early 1971 under the reigns of Murad (East) and Franz (Middle).[5] The Middle did not prepare its declaration of war until January 1972, by which time Cariadoc had stepped down and Irial had succeeded the throne of the Middle.[6] Cariadoc carried the challenge to the East in the form of a war arrow, which he presented that spring to the Eastern king, Shogun Rakkurai, who broke the arrow and cast it to the floor, saying "that's what we will do with your armies."[7] It took months to arrange the details, so the date and location of the first Pennsic War were not announced until August 1972, by which time Rakkurai had stepped down and Cariadoc had succeeded the throne of the East.[8] The territory of Pittsburgh was never in dispute and never changed hands, remaining part of the East until the formation of Æthelmearc in 1997.[9]


Since Pennsic XXV in 1996, the event has gathered over 10,000 participants most years.[10] These include not only SCA members from across the globe, but also members of various other historical re-enactment groups such as Markland; and martial arts–based organizations, such as the Tuchux or Rome. Pennsic is, however, an SCA event; members of other groups are welcome, but are generally expected to follow SCA rules—especially in regards to armor, weapons and behavior on the battlefield for the various fighting scenarios. According to the official Pennsic website, the final count for 2015 was 10,556.[11] In 2023, the 50th Pennsic War, the final count was 11,384 [12]

Pennsic field battle, 2006




Local impact[edit]

With over 10,000 people, Pennsic becomes the fourth largest populated place in Butler County, PA (after Cranberry and Butler Townships, and the City of Butler). Pennsic's annual economic impact on the immediate area amounts to $1.8 million added into the Butler County economy, and many local businesses cite the period during Pennsic being among their busiest of the year.[13][14] During the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic when no Pennsic was held, regular Pennsic attendees who were aware of the event's historically positive impact on businesses organized fundraising for charities local to the area.[15]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Ganster, Kathleen (August 14, 2005). "10,000 Renaissance buffs converge on Butler County for annual Pennsic War". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
  2. ^ a b c "PENNSIC WAR 43 Deadlines". Archived from the original on 2014-02-27.
  3. ^ a b "PENNSIC WAR 38 - History". Archived from the original on 2009-08-22.
  4. ^ F.L. Watkins (Fólki Þorgilsson). 2005. HERSTAĐR-SAGA: An Incomplete History of Pennsic © Folump Enterprises
  5. ^ "Memorable Bits of Eastern History by Duke Akbar". East Kingdom Gazette. 2015-01-08. Retrieved 2022-05-22.
  6. ^ "Sir Cariadoc of the Bow Interview - Calontiri Wiki". Retrieved 2022-05-22.
  7. ^ Count Rakkurai: Cariadoc's Challenge and The First Pennsic, retrieved 2022-05-22
  8. ^ "WAR!". Pikestaff. Vol. 1, no. 1. August 1972. p. 1 – via East Kingdom Wiki.[unreliable source?]
  9. ^ "History of the East Kingdom". Herb Kauderer. Retrieved 2022-05-22.
  10. ^ "Pennsic War History". Retrieved August 15, 2016.
  11. ^ "Pennsic 44". Retrieved August 15, 2016.
  12. ^ "The Pennsic War". Retrieved September 16, 2023.
  13. ^ Gerard, Joseph (July 2011). "Getting Medieval". Challenge Magazine. Archived from the original on December 6, 2014. Retrieved August 15, 2016.
  14. ^ Miles, Elizabeth (August 9, 2015). "At the Pennsic Wars, Play's the Thing". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved August 15, 2016.
  15. ^ "#100kfromtheSCA: An army of Scadians coming together to fight food insecurity in Butler County, PA". #100kfromtheSCA.

External links[edit]

40°58′45″N 80°8′30″W / 40.97917°N 80.14167°W / 40.97917; -80.14167