University of Ithra

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University of Ithra

A Note: Up to AS 44 (2012 CE) the essay below the line describes the University of Ithra and also describes the basic format in which it presented sessions during a period of time from AS 10 to AS 45 or so. The organization subsequently began to change, as happens with all things, due to many factors. As time passed, not as many Ithra sessions were organized as stand-alone weekend events, and it became more likely that interested students would find a selection of interesting classes organized by a University of Ithra Chancellor that were being presented during other events such as wars, and at Crown events.

A guiding document for students to keep their own record of the classes they had taken was the Compendium, a booklet each student received upon attending their first session. The Compendium was a 5 1/2 x 8 1/2 multi-page booklet that described the University, how it was organized, and how to participate. The rest of the pages had lists of class titles and lines where a student filled in the date on which they took a particular class.

The degree program to achieve a Lector Artis or Lector Scientae degree had an original core curriculum that was intended to make available the information and basic expertise a person needs to function well in the SCA (how to behave in a courtly way, how to camp, garb oneself, dance, understand heraldry, appreciate medieval heavy combat, etc.) and to learn about the wide-ranging aspects of participating in the SCA, through a variety of classes taught by both volunteer instructors and occasionally by professionals.

--by Rowenna de Manning, OL, OP, Lion of An Tir | University Regent from AS XIV to AS XXXVI (1980 to 2001) written on January 5, AS 55 (2021)


The University of Ithra is a Kingdom-wide educational system focused on sharing knowledge and skills of the Middle Ages and Renaissance as well as of the SCA.

The University of Ithra was established in AS IX. The institution was originally founded as the University of Madrone, but was rechartered to expand outside of the Barony. The word Ithra means excellence in Arabic. University sessions are held throughout the year all over the Kingdom of An Tir. Classes are held on a wide variety of topics. Peak session times are early spring and fall.

There are numerous campuses throughout the Kingdom each headed by a Chancellor whose job it is to arrange sessions for a particular geographic area. The University is governed by a Lord High Regent and a Board of Regents.

The University has much to offer everyone; however it is particularly helpful to newcomers and others desiring a rapid and comprehensive introduction to life in the Current Middle Ages. Many students take classes for their own information and pleasure. It can be truthfully said that the University offers classes that students are not likely to find elsewhere.

Because the University operates through a Central Registry, any classes taken at any of the campuses throughout the Kingdom apply to the earning of Ithra degrees. These degrees are Lector Artis (“Reader in Arts") and Lector Scientae (“Reader in Sciences"). They do not have application in the modern world, save to enhance the student's understanding of history and historic applications.

The badge for the University is Gules, on a sun Or eclipsed gules, an Arabian lamp flammant Or.

The University of Ithra exists only in An Tir -- other Kingdoms have their own educational systems.

General Information

Although SCA membership is not necessary to participate, participants at Ithra must make some attempt at pre-17th century costume. Students must agree to obey all rules and regulations as set forth by the Regents and enforced by the Provost, faculty and staff.

An instructor receives Ithra credit for the class the first time it is taught. A Magisters Degree will be awarded to instructors who teach the same class at three sessions. Instructors also receive a registration fee waiver for the session in which they teach.

All grades are pass/fail, decided by the instructor; non-attendance is a “no show” and all class fees are forfeited, although handouts may be obtained upon request. If you need to cancel your registration, do so at least a week in advance to receive a refund. Any appeal to a grade must be made to the Board of Proctors. Notification will be given only to those who attend but fail a class.

No classes may be audited; this is a long-standing policy of Ithra. Class limits are chosen by the instructor; although the size of a class may be expanded in case of need, this is not a routine or acceptable practice. Overfilling a class will only result in less effective teaching and learning.

All fees must be paid in advance before class sessions begin.

The Matriculation fee, which covers the cost of the Compendium and maintaining the records of classes the student attains, is $2.00 and is only paid the first time the student registers at an Ithra session.

The Registration fee, which covers operating costs, is variable from session to session depending on the costs. This fee is in addition to the Matriculation Fee. If fees do not accompany the registration form, you will not be registered. If you register late and the classes are filled, you will receive a refund or an opportunity to switch to a different class.

Class fees are set by the instructor based on cost estimates for handouts and materials and may include travel costs for the instructor. We do not sell handouts—if you would like to obtain a copy of a handout, speak directly to the instructor.

University of Ithra Campuses

University of Ithra


Excerpts from the 50th_anniversary_of_the_SCA An Tir History written for that event:

Page 5: "The First Session of the University of Madrone was held on July 4-6, AS X (1975) in the Barony of Madrone at the Lakeside School in Seattle, Washington. The event was attended by approximately fifty gentles and featured a Saturday night symposium where about twenty people gathered to share knowledge and present papers on various aspects of medieval culture. A further session on Sunday night ended with a banquet prepared by Shalom ben Avram of York and the other members of the Sable Court and served medieval-style food to around 45 feasters."

Page 6: "(Prince) Edward and (Princess) Fiona ... passed Their Coronets onto Their Heirs, Prince Elrond Blacksabre and Princess Gilrean of Regen, 7th Coronet (January 3, AS X [1976] to May 1, AS X [1976]) who ascended to the throne on January 3, AS X (1976) at An Tir Twelfth Night. The event was held at the Knights of Columbus Hall in Seattle, Washington with Caitlin na Darac and Edward of Stonehaven as the autocrats. King William of Hoghton II, 32nd Crown of the West (January 10, AS X [1976] to May 1, AS X [1976]) also attended this event and Duke Paul of Bellatrix read the new Charter of the University of Ithra (formerly University of Madrone). Chancellor Michael the Black announced the appointments of Duchess Carol of Bellatrix and Baroness Amanda Kendal of Westmoreland as Regents of the University."

Page 7: "On July 30, A.S. XII (1977) at the Purgatorio Coronation Festival held at Big Trees Camp, Redwood Regional Park in Oakland, California, King Paul of Bellatrix VI and Queen Carol of Bellatrix VI, 37th Crowns of the West (July 30, AS XII [1977] to January 7, AS XII [1978]), elevated Michael the Black to the Order of the Pelican and awarded him an Augmentation of Arms: an inescutcheon sable, thereon a lamp within a laurel wreath Or, which represents the University of Ithra, which Michael founded. This was the first Augmentation of Arms to be granted in the SCA."

Page 11: "The University of Ithra also helped the Principality develop more cultural cohesion. The University organized classes and workshops throughout An Tir. In AS XIV (1980), Mistress Rowenna de Manning (OL) was named as the third Regent of the University, and served as Chancellor of the Madrone campus for the next six years. One goal of the University was, and continues to be, to offer classes that can help people function well in the Current Middle Ages. To this purpose, Baroness [Regent] Amanda ensured the development and frequent offering of three SCA- oriented classes that became standards for a University degree: “Chivalry and Etiquette,” “Introduction to the SCA,” and “Marshalling and Fighting Appreciation”."

M'alimma Rowenna writes: During the two decades that followed, Regent and Chancellor Amanda Kendall, Regent Rowenna de Manning, Regent Elayne Greybeard, and Regent Anne-Marie d'Ailleurs oversaw great growth of the University of Ithra, which expanded from two active campuses in AS XIV, Lions Gate and Madrone (later renamed South Sound Campus), to the many campuses listed above.

Mistress Elayne Greybeard, OP, became a Regent of the University as well as Chancellor of the Wealdsmere Campus.

University of Ithra

In the first ten years or so of the University of Ithra, records of the classes students took, and their progress toward earning a Lector Artis or Lector Scientae degree, was kept by Chancellors in huge three-ring binders. There were usually two or three pages for each student, and, as an example, the South Sound Campus had three 3-inch binders to accommodate all the ongoing records.

Chancellors organized sessions of the University of Ithra, in long-ago pre-internet days, using phone calls, letters sent by US Mail, and personal visits. The University Regents followed the precedent set by Founder Michael the Black and trained the Chancellors to request that the sponsoring branch find a facility for an Ithra session that was an environment that promoted learning. Sessions were generally all weekend, or all day Saturday, held at sites that had classrooms with electricity, such as middle schools, high schools, church classrooms, and at real-world colleges and universities where rooms could be rented, but sessions were also held in what was available, such as the four corners of a large open hall where later on a banquet or revel would be hosted by the branch. Classes in medieval combat, archery, lawn games, and other outdoor skills at these locations were held in parking lots, quads, or courtyards of the facilities. Many instructors showed 35 mm slides as part of their class, and needed a carousel slide projector. An Ithra campus sometimes owned -- in addition to a file cabinet and a very sturdy hand truck -- a slide projector, a 40-cup electric coffee percolator, and a host of mugs and other coffee/tea service supplies.

As student participation burgeoned throughout An Tir, the Regents instituted the Student Compendium, a booklet that each student would receive to keep, and to record the classes they took. Keeping records manually in large binders had become logistically untenable. Master Robbyn Greybeard (OP) of Wealdsmere held the office of Central Registry and stored boxes of attendance sheets and Ithra catalogs. Master Jean-Louis de Chambertin created an online database for the University of Ithra designed specifically for student records as well as records of sessions held by the University of Ithra. When the database was completed, a huge project then took place, with many hands doing data entry to enter all the data possible that the University had for each student: classes taken and when, classes taught, degrees achieved, and more.

Maitresse Anne-Marie d'Ailleurs (OL, OP) became a Regent. Regent Rowenna and Regent Anne-Marie together wrote a Syllabus for the basic curriculum that a student sat through to achieve a Lector Artis or Lector Scientae. The objective was to enable more instructors to know the general expectations for presenting the "core" classes intended to orient a person in SCA and Antirian culture and basic skills: Introduction to the SCA Inc, Chivalry and Etiquette, Survey of the Middle Ages, Tents and Encampments, and Marshalling and Fighting Appreciation.

The Regents teamed with the Chancellors and wrote a Handbook for Chancellors to facilitate training, and an Ithra Handbook. Chancellors sometimes stayed in office for extended periods, as their skill and experience in supporting instructors and organizing several sessions per year was so valued by the branches of the Kingdom that they served. Regent Amanda Kendal served as Chancellor of the Lions Gate campus for more than 25 years.

In the first fifteen years of the Kingdom of An Tir, the work being done through the University helped affirm and encourage the culture of An Tir; service, learning, teaching, sharing, and generosity.

The University had by the opening years of the 21st century become administratively weighty and needed to become more nimble and relevant.

This ends my personal knowledge of the work being done by the University of Ithra. I retired as a Regent in the year 2000 after 19 years of serving the University. The University of Ithra has continued as an institution of the Kingdom of An Tir, but the manner of organizing and presenting classes has undergone change, as indeed An Tir has changed in these recent 20 years.

--by Rowenna de Manning, OL, OP, Lion of An Tir | University Regent from AS XIV to AS XXXVI (1980 to 2002) written on January 5, AS 55 (2021)

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