11th Century Rus' Lives Again...

Grasses and trees rustle gently on a breezy August afternoon. Sunlight glimmers off the river flowing through this scene. As the river approaches a populated area, farms begin to appear on either shore. The workmen in the fields stop in their labors to watch as a ship passes, its sails creaking in the wind. The Bright Dawn has returned from its voyage abroad. The year is 1035.

The owner and captain of the ship smiles at another successful journey. From humble beginnings as the son of a shipbuilder in the city of Ryazan', he had enlisted as a sailor for a Rus' trading firm, and had learned the rivers and trade routes from the Baltic to Byzantium. With some luck and hard work, he rose in the ranks and became owner of the firm. He now lives in Kiev, where he has a modest estate and influential customers. His name, however, still honored his father and his city of birth: Ivan Matfeevich Rezansky.

The shining gold cupolas of Kiev's churches guide the Bright Dawn toward the city. As the ship draws near its owner's estate, the household bustles to welcome the ship and its crew home....

The Current Middle Ages

My name is John Beebe. I live in Monona, WI, a suburb of Madison. I've always been interested in the Middle Ages and Russia. 

Around 1994, I discovered the Society for Creative Anachronism, a group which studies the Middle Ages through reenactment. The city of Madison has a large, active group known as the Barony of Jararvellir, which is part of the Kingdom of Northshield. Since February 2008, I've been honored to serve as Jararvellir's Seneschal (similar to a chapter president).

Each person chooses a "persona" that suits their area and time of interest, which can be any time from 600-1600 AD. I chose a Russian persona from the height of Kievan Rus', just after the Russian conversion to Christianity in 988. 

In the SCA, I'm most well known as an artist. I study medieval embroidery, Russian culture, and ecclesiastic art, including vestments and icons. Some of my project documentation and pictures of my work can (or will eventually be seen) on the project pages of this website.

My wife Toni and I met in the SCA at an event in 1995. Her persona is Lady Cwenthryth wine (pronounced "winna"), a 9th-10th century Anglo-Saxon. Cwen went to Rome with her family on pilgrimage, then returned to Britain where she served as retainer to Aethelflaed, Lady of the Mercians.

Cwen is an active scribe for the Kingdom of Northshield, and is interested in calligraphy, bookbinding, tablet-weaving, and medieval cooking.