Nine Worthies

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The Nine Worthies were nine historical figures chosen by Jean de Longuyon in his Voeux du Paon in the early 14th century as archetypes of chivalry. They are divided into three groups of three. Caxton, in his introduction to the first edition of Mallory's Morte d'Arthur, specifically cites the Nine Worthies to place Mallory's work in context.

The three pagan or Ancient worthies were classical figures, the three Jewish or Biblical worthies were mentioned in the Old Testament and the three Christian or "Modern" worthies were more contemporary figures.

While the Nine Worthies were, and have survived, as a fixed list recognized as authoritative, medieval lists of Nine Worthy Women, where they exist, vary one from another.

The Worthies

The Worthy Women

Culled from a variety of sources, a representative list of the medieval Nine Worthy Women is

Worthies of the Known World

Within the living culture of the SCA, which mimics many of the institutions and mechanisms of medieval societies, the role of the exemplar is useful and understandable. Indeed, selecting Nine Worthies of the SCA has at its root the same motive that drives fantasy football teams and all-time best lists.

In his collections The rede of Gershom and The rede of Zipporah, Master Hector of the Black Height from the Kingdom of Ealdormere set out lists of SCAdians who provided the Known World with examples in the same way the medieval Worthies did for medieval European culture. His lists reflect the form of medieval lists; in each list are three Worthies from the earliest times, three from "middle years" and three from the present (though, happy to say, most of the Worthies from the two earlier periods are still active in the Society).

The Nine Worthies of the Known World

The Nine Worthy Women of the Known World

It may be impossible to compile an authoritative list of Worthies for the Society, a specific Kingdom or any other group. Compiling such a list is an interesting exercise in analysing what makes the SCA work well and what qualities are most valuable to the Society and its members. To circulate such a list, locally or across the Known World, both sets forth positive examplars for others and is great praise for those included in such a list.

An example of such a local list is found here.