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How full on will it be? Very says Sir Justyn!

He walked into the tent a different man than he had walked out. Less than 30 minutes ago I was putting his armour on and telling him what he might expect in the upcoming duel. I was telling him how the armour was made to function and what his best options would be. I asked if he had a good level of physical fitness to which he said it was reasonably good. I told him this would help him a lot even though it would likely be one of the most physically gruelling things he would likely ever do.
“How full on will it be?” he asked, his curiosity piqued.
“Very full on in terms of physicality but you’ll mostly be safe thanks to the armour. Maybe some bruising and some aches but the risk of significant injury is pretty low.” I replied.
“Is it the fighting going to be for real?” he asked.
“Yes, but your opponent is not trying to kill you or injure you just force you to yield or knock you to the ground.” My reply was casual and it seemed to alarm him a little. “Have you ever done any kind of fighting or martial art in your past” I enquired.
“No, never.” He quietly replied.
“Well with my help and God Willing, you’ll hold your own, suffer little discomfort and be safe in the fact that injury and death in battle is a great honour to a knight.” I clapped him cheerfully on the shoulder I just put armour on.


Eventually he was ready for the fight. He moved well in the armour even though it was not a perfect fir for him; he was longer in limb than I and his limbs were more slender and less robust but he seemed comfortable in my armour. I could tell he was just a little nervous.
Once we commenced his nerves seemed to disappear. The crowd cheered wildly and in the face of his fierce opponent he surprisingly did not shirk or back away.

Each time he was struck I imagined he was close to submitting and I was impressed with his tenacity in combat. At one stage I asked if he was ok. He gave a wink to reassure me that he was fine even when his crew were concerned for his safety. Back into the fray he went without a second thought. The battle went on until the victor was evident.

He was swarmed by admirers and fans who wanted to congratulate him and meet him. I took that opportunity to make my way back to the tent primarily to attend to the falcons for a few moments for our upcoming falconry jaunt but also to avoid the throng and make ready for his arrival. Eventually he walked into the tent.

Wordlessly he entered and I compelled him to sit on my chair as I fetched him fresh water. His shoulders sagged, his eyes were distant and I thought it may have been a reflection on the recent battle, perhaps it was concussion. I asked if I could start to take the armour off but he was happy to sit quietly for a short moment. His crew were concerned.
“Chris? Chris mate, are you OK?” they asked?
“Yeah,” he replied snapping back into the present, ”I’m just shattered.”
I started to take his harness off while my friend Baron Christian Christiansson proceeded to tell his crew he was to have plenty of water for the next few hours to help with re-hydration.
“How do you feel?” I asked him.
“I had no idea when you said how taxing it would be that it would take that much out of me.” He replied with a smile. “It was the hardest thing I think I have ever done.”
I smiled.
“You did well.” I said. “You just went toe to toe with one of the fiercest warriors we have and held your own better than others who I have seen who have trained for many years. This is full contact fighting my friend and you took to it quite naturally. Well done.”
I pointed to the cut on his forehead and casually explained how the compression of the helm under a heavy blow forced the edge of the helm into you’re his forehead causing a light wound.

“It bleeds like mad at first but then it stops quite suddenly.” I explained. “It looks more impressive than it really is.” I held out my hand to give him a handshake. “Welcome to the club my friend! It was an honour to stand beside you this day on the tourney field.”
He smiled and quietly said uncertainly, “I think I’m honoured.”


That my friends is part of the tale of my experience with Dr Chris Brown, Bondi Vet and one of the stars of The Living Room, temporary charge of Sir Justyn and honorary knight of Eslite d’ Corps at the Abbey medieval Festival 2012. I excitedly look towards 2013 to see who comes to play with us next time.

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Swords, Armour, and Chivalry in the Knight’s Order of Lion Rampant!

Knights Order Lion Rampant at the Abbey Tournament. Photo: Neda Lundie.

Knights Order Lion Rampant at the Abbey Tournament. Photo: Neda Lundie.

So, have you been to the Abbey Medieval Festival and have you seen some of the Medieval combats? Want to know more about the people dressed up, and what they do? The Medieval Re-enactment groups represent different groups in Medieval history. Knights Order of Lion Rampant are re-living the age of chivalry and re-creating authentic scenes from a 14th Century high medieval tournament encampment. One of their most glorified performances at the Abbey Tournament is when they bring sword combat to life on the battle field!

We spoke to Lion Rampant member, Toby, and asked him to tell us about being a knight’s valet in Knight’s Order Of Lion Rampant.

Firstly, why did you get involved with KOLR?

Mainly, I wanted to try something new! My neighbour was involved, I was interested and I love medieval history.  It was a natural fit.

How do you get you involved?

I started five years ago when the Abbey Medieval Festival was still held at the school grounds. All you need to do is show some interest in the group and make sure you sign up to QHLF.

What is QHLF?

Queensland Living History Federation. They cover you for insurance, gives you access to licences for restricted weapons, and also help you find out about other re-enactment groups.

Is insurance very important?

Swords are very dangerous! A valet practices sword progressions. You must be 16 years to participate in combat because of the danger. To minimise injury the minimum sword edge is 2mm and the point must be curved no less than the edge of a 10 cent piece

Knight gone down: Knights Order Lion Rampant, Abbey Tournament. Photo: Beard.

Knight gone down: Knights Order Lion Rampant, Abbey Tournament. Photo: Beard

What else does a knight’s valet do?

A valet helps the knight get into armour, give the Knights their swords, laugh when he falls over, help them get up when they get knocked over, give them water when they are in armour, and general help on and off the battle field.

Where do you get the armour? Do you make it?

An armour kit is too tricky to make! It requires a lot of tools. We buy it from armour makers.

Can you describe what is in an armour kit?

Firstly there is the woolen comfort garment – called the aketon – that goes underneath the armour. The knight will then put on his leg armour. The valet helps him put on the chain mail and arm armour, followed by their chest plate and the dupont over the top with the coat of arms. Lastly, the gauntlets, helmet and the sword and scabbard.

What is the most important thing to remember when putting on armour?

Ummm, To make sure the armour isn’t done too tight … or too loose. Otherwise it could restrict movement of the knight.

Any final advice for budding valets out there?

No two knights’ armour is put on the same way!

For anyone who missed out on coming to this year’s festival, here is a short YouTube video of live Medieval Sword Combat!

So, there you have it, The Knights Order of Lion Rampant are much more than fanatics in tin foil! Be sure to check out the knight next time you are at Abbey Medieval Festival.

According to the Knights Order of Lion Rampant, they have “a ‘Court of Chivalry’ for those interested in our combat training and Tournament performance, and we have a ‘Court of Love’ for those interested in the finer, gentler arts. Both are open to both young and old, male and female”.

Keep an eye out for more blog posts on our 39 different re-enactor groups at Abbey Medieval Festival. Remember, if you are using social media, be sure to like us on Facebook to be the first to know when we release a new blog!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Dr. Brown goes down!

A very welcome and surprise guest at this year’s Abbey Medieval Festival, was celebrity Dr. Chris Brown.  Showing up on both Saturday and Sunday of the tournament weekend, held at the well known Abbey Museum near Brisbane, Dr. Brown was in search of a medieval experience.  The crowd was given a special treat. 

A brave and true Knight, Dr. Brown, known as the Bondi Vet and from Channel 10’s Friday night show, ‘The Living Room’, truly embraced his medieval experience.  Not only did he draw a crowd….he drew a sword!

The Abbey Medieval Experience

With borrowed armour from Sir Justyn, and a big smile, Chris Brown from Channel 10's The Living Room has a real medieval experience

With orders not to hold back, his opponent, Sir Leon Sinclair, from the medieval renactment group Eliste d’corps, as honour bade him, obliged! Clad in armour from the generous and accomplished, Sir Justyn, Dr. Brown had his first Abbey Medieval experience.  The pair went at it, hammer and tongs! The crowd became noisy; their thirst for pain and blood was audible; there was no retreat for either of these warriors….(only joking, there was no blood…was there??) but the Oohs! and Aaahs! were clearly audible around the grounds; the ladies shrieked, covering their eyes and imagining the worst for their favourite handsome knight and Sir Blair, the MC, didn’t hold back either! What entertainment!

To give him credit, Chris put up a good fight, rising again and again, to face the sword.  A little slower each time, but he rose, untill the crowd grew silent.  Dr. Brown went down!……….. There was word of concussion!

But Ladies and Gentleman, boys and girls, didn’t he look the true Knight in shining armour at this great medieval tournament? And, unlike in medieval times, he lived to fight another day, which is a good thing because we loved him and the crowd loved him.  And good news!  The footage for Dr. Brown’s battle at the Abbey Tournament is to be aired this Friday night (5th October), ‘The Living Room’ on Channel 10. Book the good seat in advance!

Thanks Chris Brown! Come back next year for your second medieval experience!

 

 

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The Medieval Carnivale: Dampened show, warmed by a Fire Dragon!

Youngest member of Kamilaroi, Sasha Hinchcliff (7), makes her debut at The Medieval Carnivale. Photography: Neda Lundie.

Saturday night at the 2012 Abbey Medieval Festival was Carnivale Night.  Even though the conditions were wet, the crowd still lined up to get in the Jousting Arena to see the show. Friars Folly Tavern was busy serving mead to the costumed folk. The show began with a gypsy wedding display from Shuvani Romani Kumpani. The sounds of ululation and drumming coming from the gypsy encampment set a tribal start to the night.

The Kamilaroi horse vaulting show was scaled back to accommodate for the slippery conditions. Still, the performance had the crowd on edge as the beautifully dressed riders performed handstands and rode without hands. The giant white horses lunged around in circles and the Gypsy drumming added to the suspense as youngest member of the riding team, Sasha Hinchcliff (7), performed her vaulting debut with bravery and style.

New England Medieval Arts Society performs with a Fire Dragon. Photogrpahy: J.G. Fitzpatrick.

The lighting was powered off as New England Medieval Art Society brought out the highly anticipated Fire Dragon! The crowd in the arena was warmed by giant burning fire mosaics. Cheers were heard from the crowd as a brave warrior slayed the dragon with a fire sword.

The Fire Dragon is Slayed! Photography: Neda Lundie.

After the show, dedicated fans of the medieval show stepped into the jousting arena for the public dance workshop. Jackie Menynart from Praxis lead a dancing workshop to the largest group of medieval folk she had ever worked with. The night ran overtime as the public jigged and twirled and tore off in dancing rows for a medieval banana split.

While the weather put a chill on the show line up for many guests,  the quality of the performances still managed to make the night worthwhile to see. Promises of music, costumes, fire, horses and dancing made the Carnivale a show not to miss. It was good to see so many people brave the rainy conditions. Would anyone like to see a day time show at a future Festival? Please leave us your comments and feedback.

Dancing in the rain at The Medieval Carnivale. Photography: Neda Lundie.

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Modern Day Knights In Shining Amour

Ultimate knights in shining Armour at The Abbey Medieval Festival. Photography: Andrew Cumberland.

Hold on to your veils ladies, the Australian Jousting Team proved that modern day Chivalry is not dead!

Not only did the noble Sir Justin Holland win the Jousting competition at the 2012 Abbey Medieval Tournament,  he and fellow jouster Sir Wayne Rigg, took home the previously unrecognised title of “Ultimate Knights In Shining Armour” as they rescued a real-life damsel in distress at the Carnivale Rehearsals.

Our fair maiden had somehow twisted her foot while in the stirrup of her horse as she rode around the arena. The two Knights saw the lady was in distress and rushed to the scene to make sure she was not badly injured.

Upon finding her in pain the Knights took some ice and horse leg bandage supplies from their encampment and without further word had wrapped the damsel’s foot up.

The Knights carefully carried the young damsel into an awaiting carriage and sent her to the hospital to be checked.

News of this anonymous act of chivalry from the Australian Jousting Team have restored our faith in chivalry in modern times! Perhaps you know of other Chivalrous acts that were seen around the Abbey Medieval Festival?

 

Knights showing their respect. Photograpahy: S. Coulson.

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It’s official! 2012 Abbey Medieval Festival a “huge success”

The 2012 Abbey Medieval Festival has been called a “huge success” after the release of the official attendance figures today.

The record-breaking attendance figure of 37,302 is an increase of over 10,000 visitors from last year.

“The Abbey Medieval Festival is an incredible success story and the whole region should be proud of what we have achieved,” said Marketing Manager Suesann Vos.

“We have proved once again it is one of Queensland’s best-loved festivals.

“There are many factors behind this success.

“The exciting television commercials by Oversea Films helped motivate people to come out to the Abbey Medieval Festival.

“We have a fabulous marketing team that has spread the word through the State-wide media, social media and our website.

“The Abbey Medieval Festival has established some really important partnerships with far-sighted supporters such as the North East Business Park, Morayfield Shopping Centre and PR Print.

“There was a strong growth in the popularity of Kids’ Medieval Fun Day on Tuesday 3 July.

“The Festival was boosted by fantastic publicity – we had Weekend Sunrise broadcasting from Abbeystowe on Saturday 7 July.

“Congratulations to Director Edith Cuffe and our dedicated band of 280 volunteers.

“We are now working on how to deliver an even better Abbey Medieval Festival in 2013,” Ms Vos said.

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More Medieval Carnivale Secrets Unveiled!

 

See Roaming Performers at The Medieval Carnivale! Photo: David De Groot.

Well time is approaching fast! The Abbey Medieval Festival is almost here, and you know what that means……

It means each and everyone one of our followers are starting to get excited about what this year is going to bring! If you have been following the blog posts you would have already heard about the Medieval Carnivale. You would already know that Abbeystowe is putting on a Medieval Carnivale  with “Horse Vaulting and Acrobats“, “Colourful Costumes and Dancing“, “Merry Medieval Music“, a “Dragon Fire Twirling Show” and of course The Carnivale will feature the real stars of the show… YOU! All ticket holders will be invited to enter the arena for the last half hour of the show to dance and join in on the merriment.

The wonderful wandering performers at the Carnivale!

See the debut of 'The Velvet Birdcage' only at The Medieval Carnivale! Photo: D. Duncan.

But just when you think you know all about The Medieval Carnivale, this final blog post is letting you in on a few more secrets… The gorgeous stilt walkers from Fire Phoenix Tribe will be at the Carnivale in a stunning costume, new to the Abbey Medieval Festival! Be sure to see the strikingly tall characters as they wander around the Carnivale for all to admire. Join in on the surprise and come dressed in your own costume or mask! We would love to see you dressed in your own Medieval Costume. The Carnivale Night will welcome all folk who wish to see how to celebrate in fabulous Medieval Fashion!

The cheerful folk from All Star Fish will delight the early bird crowd with their mischief and tomfoolery, be sure to keep an eye out for your favourite Medieval Street Performer!

Be prepared for a Carnivale, get your tickets before they are sold out!

If you are as excited as we all are about the Medieval Carnivale then you should be getting there at 5pm to make sure you have time to visit Friar’s Folly Tavern who will be operating from the Jousting Arena especially for this event! Be amused and delighted by the comical Lord Herald, Sir. Blair! This event will sell out. The grandstand will be filled so don’t miss out on your tickets.

Praxis at Friar's Folly Tavern

Medieval Musicians 'Praxis' at Friar's Folly Tavern. Photo: Andrew Cumberland.

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Calling our Abbey volunteers!

Join the wonderful volunteers at the Abbey Medieval Festival

Hooray for volunteers!

WE’VE JUST FINISHED our Kids’ Medieval Fun Day, and our volunteers are dragging off their medieval costumes, and cleaning up Abbeystowe.

Everyone is exhausted, but all our volunteers are smiling, feeling really pleased that we have helped build a very special experience for so many children.

The feeling of satisfaction you get from volunteering keeps many of us coming back and spending hour after hour, day after day, helping our community organisations.

Here at the Abbey Museum and Abbey Medieval Festival, we are blessed with over two hundred volunteers.

We want to make sure our volunteers are looked after, and have all the information and encouragement they need to keep on doing their wonderful job.

That’s why we’ve run our Volunteer Induction days. It is one of the best ways to invest in our volunteers.

To have a look at what we did at the last Volunteer Induction Day, have a look at the video footage taken on the day. See the video here for Volunteer Induction Day.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aw2OoOTwiWc

If you are one of many new (and highly valued) volunteers, we hope you were able to make it.

If so, can you sport yourself in the video. If not, have a look at it. We hope you can make the next one.

In the meantime, we are now getting everything ready for the Abbey Medieval Tournament weekend.

Please leave a comment so we can be sure you have viewed the video.

 

Food….surviving the test of time!

Life in medieval times was generally hungry.  There’s really no way to hide that.  There was however a big variety of food available and if you are lucky enough to attend the Abbey Medieval Banquet, you will have a chance to sample.  However, depending on your social class, food was either more available or less.  For some, the Gentleman’s or the Lady’s hounds, as related by Sir Justyn, ate better.

Taste life as it was for some in the middle ages

Taste the Lamb Shanks m'dear!

Meat was very available, just not to everyone.  People from the higher classes ate fowl, game, beef and lamb.  Spices and preserves became a fashionable way to show wealth (brag factor was always big in the higher social circles) and breads from milled flour, dairy products and fish were readily available, if you were lucky. If you were unlucky, your diet was a little less varied.  Perhaps the ‘Peasant’s Medieval Diet’ is something we should all partake in every now and then, as by all reports it was low in fat and high in fibre.  However, it was also low in nutrition, which for the people of that time was no joke.  Famine was always a reality and people constantly lived in fear of not having enough food.

In many fairytales, the wolf represented hunger!

In many fairytales, the wolf represented hunger!

The subject of food, or lack thereof, permeates through many fairy tales resonating the harsh realities of life as it was in the middle ages.  One of my favourites is the Grimm Brothers story of Hansel and Gretel.  Earlier versions of the story relate how both parents partake in the decision to abandon the children, rather than see them starve.  This was apparently a common occurrence at this time.  The evil witch, whose house is made of food, symbolises the pre-occupation of the time with food.  Little Red Riding hood also explores the subject of food…the wolf looming large!

Sickness and injury was a constant fear for both the rich and poor in the middle ages, but at least if you were rich, and well nourished, and were able to pay for a physician to attend, there was some chance of survival.  Our recent guest bloggers wrote about herbs and medieval surgery, giving us a vivid picture of what may have been.

So, much like today, food was available to some in the middle ages, and not so for others. And many of the foods eaten in the medieval era, have survived the test of time and appear on our tables today. Many of course have not, but we are happy to report that the Abbey Medieval banquet gives us an opportunity to experience the tastes of yesteryear in an ambience which is both authentic and tasteful.

Have fun on Saturday night!

 

 

 

 

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Medieval Hounds

This is the final of our guest-blogger Sir Justyn’s series – ‘The Horses, The Hawks and The Hounds.’  Enjoy.

The Noble Medieval Hound

The third most important animal to nobles of the Middle Ages was the humble hound. So common today are dogs that we can come to neglect their prestige and importance among the lords and ladies of yore.  Hounds were considered most noble of beasts based upon his loyalty, kindness and other qualities of great nobleness. As you may have already surmised nobles kept and used hounds primarily for hunting.

There were in total six types of hounds you might encounter in medieval times:

  • running hounds,
  • greyhounds,
  • alaunts,
  • mastiffs,
  • spaniels
  • lap hounds.

Of these breeds five were used for robust purposes such as the hunting, guarding and fighting spoken of earlier and were well praised by noble men.

The poor little lap hound was considered a ladies hound.  They were used for both companionship and to keep fleas off the lady who kept the hound,  as written by medieval authors Gaston de Foix and Edward of Norwich! They were somewhat considered the lesser hound, especially among the men. It seems not to be until a few centuries later that men became fond of these small dogs.

This medieval illustration is from Gaston Phoebus’ Livre de Chasse

A hound in a medieval noble’s house was very well kept in almost the same way we might keep our dogs today with sufficient bedding, shelter, warmth, good food, clean water and plenty of room to exercise.  Gaston Phoebus, the Count of Foix wrote in his famous book” Livre de Chasse” in the 14thC of a medieval dog pen; “there are two gates to the enclosure; one opened only for the hunt, the other that leads to a sunny outdoor enclosure. The hound house is divided into three sections; one for the hounds, one for the handlers and a third with six sticks with gutters for the hounds to urinate on, the gutters taking their business to an outside area.” He goes on to write that servants must sleep with the hounds and that the kennels are to be kept warm with a fireplace and chimney. Accompanying illustrations in Livre de Chasse show a kennel that looks more expensive than a serf’s cottage. Edward of Norwich, writing his book The Master of Game in the early 15thC, which was largely a copy of Livre de Chasse but with some English flavour and relevant regional changes,  suggests instead stones for the hounds to urinate upon and just one child to sleep in the kennels if the kennels are small. He also, like Pheobus, suggests that a chimney and fireplace be set in the kennel for the comfort of the hounds when they are cold or have swam and need to dry out.

So what of these hounds not suited for the lap of a lady?

This is another medieval illustration from Gaston Phoebus’ Livre de Chasse

This medieval illustration is from Gaston Phoebus’ Livre de Chasse

Running hounds were used more for boar hunting (though some proved also to be good at hunting deer) and needed to be strong, bold, and fast over short distances.  Primarily they used to press a boar and to fight him at close quarters. They were not good at sustaining a chase and gave up the chase relatively quickly. They were not called running hounds for their ability to run but rather to set upon or “run” their quarry into the ground, though it is also hinted that they may be called this because a man can keep pace with them while running.

Greyhounds were prized for their ability to chase quarry over a long distance at great speed and without losing sight of the prey or giving up. They were perhaps the most valued of all hounds and their nature as today was kind, not too fierce, playful and joyous.  Curiously the greyhound is the only hound mentioned specifically by name of its breed in the Middle Ages, perhaps a testament to their esteemed position among hounds. These hounds were well suited to pursuing quarry over long distances, overtaking it and bringing it to the ground usually with a mounted posse of men right behind to assist.

Apollo - of Sir Justyn's Household. Photo by Sir Justyn

Aluants were hounds that were said to be the strongest and best shaped of all hounds and they required more detail to training than other hounds to ensure it was manageable at all times. In fact it was written by Edward of Norwich that an alaunt could be either most gentle of nature or most vicious and indeed men were wounded and at times killed by their own alaunts. Not only are the alaunts the most strong but he writes they are also the most hare brained. The alaunt was able to run as fast as a greyhound over a short distance and any beast he could seize with his powerful jaws he could bring down with little effort and hold and not leave it. These hounds were used for bear and bull baiting in blood sports and also called great butchers’ hounds because they were kept by urban butchers to guard and to clean up the mess that went with the trade. They also served as protectors of their master’s home.

Mastiffs were primarily hounds used to guard their medieval master’s beasts, home and goods. They were considered ugly and churlish in shape and nature and loved for it. Occasionally mastiffs were bred for hunting wild boar or for retrieving prey taken by hawks. Of all the hounds the mastiff is the least described in the medieval books on hunting, suggesting that they were indeed more of a footnote if you will than a prized hound for the hunt.

A 'Bird of the Hawk' on Parade at the Abbey Tournament 2011. Photo by one of our professional volunteer photographers

Spaniels were small hounds used for retrieving prey that was hot at a distance or taken by birds thus giving them a second name; birds of the hawk.

Loyal hounds,  they were described as:

  • always following their master
  • never becoming lost from him even in a crowd
  •  constantly wagging it’s tail
  •  flushing out game chasing fowl and wild beast with much excitement and noise
  • and excelling in hunting quail and partridge.

These hounds were also encouraged to swim and burrow for prey during the hunt but they were also considered a detriment among greyhounds for they would often chase whatever they found regardless of their masters wishes and lead the greyhounds into a chaotic dithering chase.

 

Guest Blogger: Sir Justyn
{ Sir Justyn is a professional medieval educator, performer and fight instructor who attends events, schools and clubs, Australia-wide and internationally, bringing history to life wherever he goes.   You can see Sir Justyn’s Birds of Prey from the Full Flight Conservation Centre in the encampment of Eslite d’ Corps, the 14thC Living History group and household of Sir Justyn at the Abbey Medieval Festival.  Sir Justyn, Eslite d’ Corps (EdC) and Full Flight Conservation Centre can also be found on Facebook.  For more information on falconry and hawking visit EdC Medieval Falconry.}

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Medieval Medicinal Herbs : Wound Herbs

Following on from Monday’s Medieval Surgery post we are pleased to present an offering by our newest guest blogger who has presented us with a list of  3 really useful medieval herbs which are still found in many house-holds nowadays.

Medieval Medicinal Herbs : Wound Herbs

Comfrey; Symphyrum officinallis.

Comfrey has been used for millenia. Photo by Warwick Halse Jnr.

Comfrey, as early as the Dark Ages has been commonly known as “Knit bones”, is one of the most beneficial, of all the “Old Herbs“.

 

 

A Perennial, it  grows to a height of 600-900mm when in flower.
Displaying a beautiful Blue flower, it will ramble across you garden. If allowed to it will become a rampant pest. We accept that it’s country of origin was China, and that it was traded down the “Silk Road” maybe as early as Roman times.
Comfrey was most commonly used as a poultice or a herbal tea, for breaks, bruises, sprains, and internal hemorrhaging.   Young leaves can be added to a Medieval Salad, or fritters. It will thrive in most soil conditions, and is a valuable addition to any compost heap.

Lady’s Mantle; Alchemilla vulgaris.

Lady's Mantle graces many homes and gardens today. This was a popular and useful herb in Medieval times. 'Photo by Warwick Halse Jnr.

The French called it “Pied de Lion”.   A perennial – while this plant is small in stature at 300mm in height, it produces a ‘Major flower and plant of Alchemy’.  This herb is claimed by ‘Venus’ for all women, given that it benefits them most. It was widely used for its drying and binding virtues, and is an amazing wound herb.
Known to help women who have overcome ‘Flagging breasts’, making them smaller and firmer, both when taken internally and applied externally. Again we see the application of a known Medieval herb, as a herbal tea, and an ointment, or poultice.
One of the most endearing features of ‘Lady’s Mantle’ occurs when the dew alights upon it, staying for many hours in a most delicate way. This wonderful herb will grow in most soils and conditions, both in shade and full sun.

Yarrow; Achillea millefolium.

Yarrow is a herb oft used in medieval times. Photo by Warwick Halse Jnr.

Yarrow, with its botanical name,  is linked to one of legends’ greatest heroes. It is said of Achilles that he tended the wounds of his men.  Hence, most of its common names are linked back to war:  ‘Herbe  Militaris’; ‘Soldiers Woundwort’; and amusingly ‘Devil’s Plaything’.  During the Medieval period it was a herb connected with the casting out of witches, and at one time dedicated to the Devil.
Having strong antiseptic qualities, this herb is good for the stomach, kidneys, skin and heart, and as a salve, external wounds. This herb was also known to the Chinese, in ancient times. With 49 Yarrow stalks being a form of divination, connected to I Ching, or Book of Changes.
A perennial herb, growing to a height of 600-900mm. That likes a generally rich moist soil, and loves the full sun.

 

Guest Blogger:  Warwick Halse Jnr.

{I am a Re-enactor with many years of experience attending the Abbey Tournament. Over a long period I have enjoyed several incarnations in re-enacting. In ‘Saga Vikings’ I was a Skarld. During the same period, I was also ‘Lion Herald’ with Knights Order of Lion Rampant. After several good years there I have moved on to ‘Elite de Coups’ as Baron Christian Christiansonn, of the Danish court of King Valdmar IV Attadage (mid 14th century). I maintain a close relationship with ‘Traders of Freiol’ a great Viking period traders group and many other amazing re-enactors here in Queensland.

In my other life, I am the manager of “CREEC” nursery (a small community nursery), at 150 Rowley Rd, Burpengary, 4506. Phone; 07 3888 9285, e-mail; creec@bigpond.com . I have over 20 years within the Queensland Nursery Industry, and now have a strong commitment to the environment, and educating the general public in the many advantages of using Australian Native plants.
My close friendship with Justin Webb, also involves School Shows, and other public performances. Outside of re-enacting, I enjoy surfing, fishing, hunting, being a 5 day a week gym junkie.  My greatest pleasure comes from the people I meet, the ideas I am exposed to, and the wonderful friendship that are the “Silver” lining in my life.}

 

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Music and Dancing at The Medieval Carnivale

Come and enjoy the Music and Dancing at the Medieval Carnivale! Some of you may have heard the jolly Medieval musicians Praxis delighting the crowds with a mixture of Medieval Instruments including the Recorder, Shawn, Gems Horn and of course the magical Hurdy Gurdy!

Bring your dancing shoes to The Medieval Carnivale and join in on the fun that will delight all the merry folk from around the Abbey Tournament. The night will be filled with the fabulous sounds of Medieval Times as the whimsical Fire Twirlers put on an exciting show for the Carnivale. Hear the Gypsy drummers pound away at the drum skins in celebration as horses gallop through the arena.

Bringing Down The Barricades At The Carnivale!

Once the spectacular Medieval Carnivale show is over be prepared to leave your seats as the barricades are taken down for you to dance for the last half an hour to the medieval sounds of Praxis. This is the only occasion public will be allowed into the Jousting Arena! Don’t miss out on this exciting night, be a part of Abbey Medieval History as the first Medieval Carnivale Night is celebrated in style. Wear your Saturday best, find a mask to wear if you wish, or just turn up with your dancing shoes and your Friars Folly Tavern money!

Will You Be Dancing At The Medieval Carnivale?

The sounds of a Medieval Band are hard to ignore as they take you back to a time where music had to be played to be heard! Medieval music was made to be uplifting in times of celebration and was always heard at special occasions. The Medieval Carnivale will be no exception to that rule! Come and enjoy the Carnivale Music and all the festivities to be had in The Jousting Arena on this Saturday evening.

Don’t be left out as the Carnivale comes to Abbeystowe, have your ticket ready as the gates open up at 5pm and be ready to be delighted in Fabulous Medieval Style!

 

 

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Food….preserving the body and soul!

I believe that there’s an inner ‘Foodie’ in most of us, and in reality,  food is linked to survival, a basic instinct.  Personally I’m really happy to see that nowadays food is starting to regain the rightful and honoured place it deserves in our lives.  It’s as much about giving our bodies required nourishment (and let’s not undervalue that) as being a secret ingredient in our social lives enabling us to communicate and connect.

If you have ever visited European countires, particularly Spain, Italy, Greece, and elsewhere,  we see openly how food is loudly lauded in the home and community.  And in our own lives, we all know TV cooking shows and celebrity chefs; we have food festivals and gastronomic holidays, we are award of the role food plays in our health,  we learn about slow food and organic food and as conscientious parents we try to make more time in our lives to give home-cooked food to our children.  So, I think it would be neglectful if we didn’t address the question about how our ancestors ate in the Medieval era of 600AD – 1600AD.  What did they eat? and how did they cook and …….I wonder what it tasted like?

Experience a taste of Medieval times at the Abbey Medieval Banquets
Experience a taste of Medieval times at the Abbey Medieval Banquets

 Good news! For those attending the Medieval Banquets, you will have a fantastic opportunity to experience medieval food at it’s best.  The authenticity of the food available at the medieval banquet, right down to the medieval etiquette on show,  is indisputable and the ingredients and dishes on the menu are exactly as they would have been in that era.  You may be surprised to hear that basic staples of our daily diet today, such as potatoes and tomatoes had not yet reached Europe, so you can search but you won’t find them on the menu!

And outside of the noble classes, for a lot of people in the middle ages, having food meant survival.  And sadly, sometimes, people just didn’t.  A staple diet of the lower classes was ‘The Ploughman’s Lunch’, so it proves to us that a good dish lasts.  Meat was not available for many of the lower classes, untill ironically after the ‘Black Death’, which wiped out a third of the world’s population around about the 13C.

So, over the next few blog posts, I’m going to stay on the subject of food, so that you our readers can have a little ‘taste’ of what was available during the Middle Ages, and surprisingly is still available now.  This will be another opportunity for you to experience an additional dimension of preservation, which is at the heart of the Abbey Museum, in more ways than one!

Till next time.

Caroline

Abbey Medieval Banquet - a taste of the past!

Abbey Medieval Banquet - a taste of the past!

 

 

 

 

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I Just Want To Go To The Medieval Carnivale!

 

This amazing feature is happening on the Saturday Night of the Abbey Tournament.

We’ve had a tad of confusion raising its head a bit this last week amongst our readers, with quite a few enquiries coming our way.

Can I go to Just the Carnivale without going to the Festival?

Yes, you most certainly are welcome to come to the Carnivale withOUT needing to go to the day events first.

This event is a separately ticketed event to the actual Tournament day tickets, and when you are just coming to the Carnivale the gates will be open for you at 5.00pm.

So I don’t have to buy a Day Pass for the Tournament, when I just want to see this amazing spectacular?

YES – you can buy a ticket just for the Carnivale.

The Gate access for those who are just going to the Carnivale is available from 5.oopm onwards.  The Carnivale itself begins at 5.30 pm.

The Carnivale requires its own ticket (and by the way there IS limited seating), and you are able to buy this on-line (limited seating, remember?), or you are welcome to purchase your ticket/s at the gate on the way in.

This means that you don’t have to come (or buy!) the Day passes to the Abbey Tournament to attend the Carnivale.

However, the idiosyncrasies of our booking system means that if you desire to book the Carnivale tickets on-line, you do need to go through the link for the Abbey Medieval Festival.

So how do I access the Carnivale tickets on-line?

Step 1

Follow the link to the Carnivale page where you will find a little more on the doings of the night, or go straight to the one on the bookings page.

Step 2

When you get to the bookings page, you will be asked to choose between four diffent events.

You need to take the Abbey Medieval Festival one. Its the only one that has ‘various’ in the first column.

Step 3.

When you get to the actual booking page, you will find the Carnivale ticket has been pre-filled for you (according to the numbers you entered before).  If you are coming to the Festival too, then here is where you add those tickets that you desire.

Step 4.

I’m sure you know how to proceed from there on.  🙂

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Janissary Barracks and the Ottoman Empire.

A renowned era in history - Janissary Barracks of the Ottoman Empire. Photos by D Duncan

I made a mistake here in the hub of the Abbey Medieval Festival’s 21st Century operation-centre (known any other month of the year as ‘The Office’) the other day.
The first I knew about it was when I received a very polite email asking me to correct an images issue on our blog.  Specifically this post.  It was about our Carnivale and the gypsy influence.
Harriett, one of our bloggers, selected a really lovely image from our burgeoning files which caught her eye and posted it.
And then we received the email.
EEEEEEEKKKKKKKKKK!
The photo was actually one of our esteemed re-enacting groups – Janissary Barracks!!!!!!
This is Leeona Smith dancing in orange costume with white blouse and blue hip scarf and Lee-anne Martin drumming in the background.

Janissary Barracks is a group which focuses on the mid-15th Century Ottoman Empire where the Janissary Barracks itself held great renown.
The mistake was all mine.
I was the one tasked with the ‘photo-sorting’ task.  I was the one who mucked up.  I’m the one who enabled Harriett to access the wrong photo.
One of the reasons I’m passionate about all things ‘Abbey’ is their integrity when it comes to their accounts of history and their constant striving for accuracy and the truth in all of their work.  The Abbey Medieval Festival with its Banquet, Kids Medieval Fun Day and Tournament is an event staged for your pleasure and experience while all the while strict criteria of authenticity and accuracy on all levels are strived for.
So, Janissary Barracks – forgive me.  It was all my (Jo’s) fault.  I’m so sorry.
We all appreciate the re-enactors who present their living history lives at the Tournament for all of our enjoyment. We appreciate you Janissary Barracks.

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Medieval Eye for the Modern Guy

How to make your mark at a banquet without leaving a stain!

Popular culture has done medieval dining a great disservice. A feast was a communal ritual which was governed by a precise etiquette. Gnawing on steaming haunches of boar and throwing the bones over your shoulder is best left to bad Hollywood movies.

banquet is an opportunity to eat, drink and enjoy and if you follow the advice in this short guide you can do so in a way that shows your superiority over those sitting at the other…lesser… tables.

Give me my robe, put on my crown
I should state at this point that this guide is mostly for gentlemen; the ladies do not need my advice on fashion nor manners.

So what’s in for the late Middle Ages?  Hats are in for gentlemen, you can go bareheaded, but hats (without horns) do make a fine statement. Luxurious fur trims are always fashionable, provided of course they have been removed from the animal. Swords are simply passé at dinner as it proclaims that you don’t have a body of armed retainers outside the hall awaiting your call.  All you need know is for your valet to lay out your tightest hose and finest robes for the big event.

Always dress to impress

The Tools of the Trade
To dine in a truly civilized manner you of course need servants, if however you are travelling light you will require the following: a spoon (gold, silver, base metal or horn), a knife (sharp), a bowl or two (clean), a napkin (white linen)] a goblet, glass or other suitable drinking vessel . These items can be used individually, sequentially or in combination with each other; but preferably not all at once. A generous host, such as the Abbey, will provide you with all that is necessary for enjoying the evening’s repast.

Upon arrival at a feast it is customary to be offered a bowl of scented water to freshen up from your journey. This is used for washing your hands; no plunge bathing.

Spoons are employed for eating soups, pottages etc. When not in use they are placed in your bowl, not in your hat or your neighbour’s lap when not in use.  The napkin is for wiping of your fingers, mouth and utensils (eating).

The knife is used for cutting dainty morsels (gobbets) to pick up in your fingers and eat. The knife should be not used to hew and hack at food in the serving dish, nor should it be employed to intimidate fellow diners in standoffs over the last brie tart.  On no account use your knife to carve your name into the furniture, most of us know someone who  can read  and are not easily impressed.

Eight wild boars roasted whole at breakfast, but twelve persons there.
The sharing of a meal was a ritual that central to medieval culture. This was referred to as messing together. A feast will generally consist of a few courses and is often served onto central platters from which everyone helps themselves. Solid foods are transferred from the platter onto your trencher, which is a plate made from bread. Do not eat the trencher, this is an insult to the host, feed it to the dogs or even give it to the poor- but don’t pick at it! Otherwise you are hinting that your hosts are so miserly that you had to eat the table setting to ward off famine.
Etiquette also demands you do not attempt to place a whole roast porpoise on your plate; take the opportunity to mess with the people around you (don’t think it).

Good manners impress the ladies!

Manners makyth man

Food will be served by the Abbey volunteers, do not call them wench or peasant as it displays a lack of breeding and suggests  that you may be one of those unfortunates who have not have inherited your own servants.

Should you need to season your food you wipe the tip of your knife (napkin, not sleeve or neighbour) and use it to gather salt from the open salt cellar and sprinkle it on you food. Spices are taken with the tip of the little finger, so it is good manners to keep your little finger ‘cocked’ whilst eating to avoid getting grease in the spice dish.
Whilst some  folk might stab their food and take it from the point of a knife, they generally are not the sort of people you would wish to socialise with, unless of course you get a kick out of dining out the back of the stables. Do not tear at food with your teeth, cut it into small pieces and pop it into you mouth. Surprise your neighbours by presenting them with a choice gobbet (see above)
Use the occasion as an opportunity to display your rapier/mace like wit and entertain your companions, though not whilst chewing your food.

I would give all of my fame for a pot of ale
It is very good form to share drinks, especially if it is an aged mead or fine wine of Gascony. Conversely if you are drinking cheap Lambrusco, it is good form to keep to yourself. If you are offering someone your cup, wipe the mouth of the goblet before passing it to someone else, they should then wipe their mouth before drinking [napkin not sleeve], drink and then wipe the mouth of the goblet (not gobbet) and pass it back. If you are drinking ale, the new hopped beer or some other heady drink it may be better to not share a cup but offer them a cup of their own.

Good wine is a good familiar creature, if used well

A banquet is a celebration and should be enjoyed. However it is advisable to temper your celebrations as you don’t want to wake up the next day and be informed that you have promised to loan money/go on Crusade/fight a duel/enter a monastery  or marry someone’s ugly daughter.

Remember no better statement of largesse and breeding can be made than to select some of your finest vintages and present them to a writer on medieval etiquette  at the next tournament !

Come, come good wine

 

Appologies to Shakespeare…….again

Damien

 

 

 

 

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The Medieval Horse

Another guest blog post for your pleasure!

Horses were one of the most valued and convenient of commodities in the medieval period.

 The real value of a horse in Medieval Times.

The Medieval Horse filled many roles in life during the Middle Ages.

Look Harold! 16 Leagues to the stook, grinds his own grain, strong enough to carry everything I make and just the right height for me,”

We take horses for granted in our modern age but to the people of the Middle Ages they were as important as a car is to us today.  Of course like cars today, not everyone owned a horse in the Middle Ages.

Most of the common folk got about on foot and it was only the prestigious that owned a horse, important members of society such as but not limited to nobles, merchants, clergy, and servants of the wealthy and well established tradesmen or professionals.

Horses were animals of great importance not just for the use of transporting a rider but also for war, hunting, transporting goods, services and information. This could be done either by a rider on horseback, a man on foot leading a horse (or perhaps a mule) or by cart, wagon and for the very rich, by coach.

 So what kind of horses did they have?

Breeds as we know them today were non existent in the Middle Ages.

Horses were not classified by breed but function.

It was a very simple process of classification.

If you were to

  •  need a riding horse, you buy a riding horse,
  • you need a war horse, buy a war horse.
  • Need a cart horse? You guessed it, buy a cart horse.

There were of course specialised traders and breeders who would deal in a specific kind of horse but not so much specific breeds.

 Horse breeds of  1000 years ago.

Historians and horse enthusiasts are still debating today what breeds of horses were around in the medieval period.

What is almost certain is that none of the breeds that we have today were likely around 500-1000 years ago.

So what’s on the agenda today? The little battle down the road, or are we moving the caravan again?

Selective breeding has more or less made it impossible for us to ascertain, with the exception of some pony breeds such as the Icelandic pony and the Dartmoor pony, exactly what these horses would have been. Instead we see modern “reproductions” or likely suspects. Of all types of horses, the one which has perhaps received the most attention in academic and Living History circles is the war horse.

So important to a knight was his war horse that he could not be considered for knighthood without one and without showing adequate cavalry skills. In fact the word that was used to describe a knight in the languages of the day, were words which described a cavalryman. Chevalier, ritter, caballero; all were words that meant mounted warrior. A man without a horse or the skills needed to ride in battle was not a knight at all.

 

War Horses of the Middle Ages

There were two types of war horse in the Middle Ages, the prized and highly valued destrier and the less expensive, more expendable charger.

And ten more points in the War Games If I can get your Chin Too.

The destrier was the most expensive horse on the market. Vastly specialised and trained in war it was as much a weapon to the knight who rode it as was his lance and sword. These horses were always stallions and their natural aggression was harnessed and encouraged in acts of war. They were also used in tournaments and often knights jousted for the purpose of knocking an adversary from his saddle and claiming the horse for himself as rules oft times allowed. A destrier could cost in the realm of £20-30 which was the equivalent of a common mans earnings of 10 years or more!

Chargers were war horses that were not as highly prized and more commonly found on a battlefield than a destrier. Less costly at around less than half the price of the destrier, they were still very much trained for battle but were less prestigious than their great cousins. They too were stallions for the same reasons.

My great-grandfather said it, and my great-granchildren will say it in the 21st Century… ‘Hurry Up and Wait;

Many people automatically picture a heavy draft when they picture a medieval war horse but this is not the case at all. Most draft breeds did not come about until the renaissance and some not until the time of the industrial revolution and they were bred for pulling heavy loads not for swift and agile manoeuvres in war and combat. Instead the medieval war horse has much in common to it’s descendants of Iberian stock. Andalusian, Lipizzaner, Barb, Lusitano, Knapstrupper and Frederiksborger are all horses which are highly likely to be a good facsimile of a medieval war horse. Clydesdales were never medieval war horses the breed being first recorded in the 19th century and shires originated only a hundred years earlier during the 18thC. It is still debated wether or not the Percheron was around and used as a war horse and if it was it was certainly different to the breed today. Friesians are also subject to an identical debate.

Other types of horses were

  1. courser: a horse used specifically for hunting or for endurance and speed,
  2. rouncey: riding horse,
  3. ambler: another riding horse that could move more swiftly,
  4. sumpter: a pack animal and
  5. hobilar: a rugged and hardy pony which later descended into a “hobby” horse.

All of these horses especially the war horse breeds would have been very fit and strong horses because of the fact that they were in constant use. Today we exercise horses for our events and then transport them to the event whereas in the Middle Ages they were the transport and their exercise was more often than not all of their everyday  practical activities.

This is the way we go to work, go to work, tra lah…..

Modern jousting horses are similar to the medieval horse in that breed is not important (except for those with large bank accounts and a determined approach to authenticity) but the ability and willingness of the horse to take on the task, excel and enjoy it most certainly is of great importance.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Guest Blogger: Sir Justyn
{ Sir Justyn is a professional medieval educator, performer and fight instructor who attends events, schools and clubs, Australia-wide and internationally, bringing history to life wherever he goes.   You can see Sir Justyn’s Birds of Prey from the Full Flight Conservation Centre in the encampment of Eslite d’ Corps, the 14thC Living History group and household of Sir Justyn at the Abbey Medieval Festival.  Sir Justyn, Eslite d’ Corps (EdC) and Full Flight Conservation Centre can also be found on Facebook.  For more information on falconry and hawking visit EdC Medieval Falconry.}

 

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A Dreadful Note of Preparation – 2

Now is the winter of our discount tent……..

I shall not use the word panic; it lacks a sense of urgency. In my last post I was making a list of what I need to do before the tournament weekend and you will be pleased to know that the compiling of that list is progressing well.

Roughing it circa 1390, inside the old pavillion.

There have been some advances, setbacks and a couple of detours.  In regard to my pavilion I decided on the path of least resistance and bought a new one, on sale no less; hence the title of this post (apologies to Shakespeare…again).

This still leaves me with more tasks than I can poke a stick at, though the manufacture of ‘poking sticks’ are thankfully no longer on the list. Yesterday saw the completion of the matched sets of spears to be used in the deeds of arms held in the Order Lion Rampant’s encampment over the festival weekend.  It is only fair, not too mention polite, to provide matched weapons for formal combats and one would hate to be thought ill-mannered by the person whom you are trying to stab in the vitals.

My proposed new helmet is now gracing the head of another, as short of radically modifying my head there was simply no way it was going to fit properly once it was furnished with a liner. Late medieval helmets, by the way, were fitted with padded suspension liners which were most efficient in absorbing the impact of (most) blows. My new, new bascinet is winging its way from Europe, and should, God willing, arrive in time. Another vindication of the theory that a liberal application of funds can overcome a lack of skill and planning.

Our erudite readers will no doubt be aware that armour is produced by a complicated process of cutting, hammering, heating, grinding, polishing and of course; swearing. At this point it should be noted that a suit of armour was referred to as a “harness” and plate armour was oft called white or whyte (polished) harness. As a result the quintessential conflict in re enactor households over what constitutes essential living expenses, e.g. a new fridge or a new helmet, is sometimes referred to as the “white goods vs. white harness debate”. At present whyte harness is winning by a mile!

Whilst on the subject of helmets I have come to the conclusion that the repeated hammering of metal causes of the tiny molecule-thingies that make up its structure to align in one direction and thus causing it to become magnetised. This is the only reason I can deduce as to why swords, axes and various other implements are drawn to my helmet with great speed and accuracy. The more it is hit, the more it dents. These dents need to be beaten out and all of this only serves to increase its magnetic power.

The laws of magnetic attraction undergoing rigerous field testing

I have been expounding this theory of late and my partner has suggested that only someone who has been hit in the head as often as I have could possibly have reasoned in this way. Rare praise indeed!

Less than a month to go!!