Meet the Reenactor Groups 2016



By the early 15th century, the coffers of the Italian city states were overflowing with gold from their trade with the east. Cities like Milan, Florence and Venice had grown in size, prestige and affluence, however their dependence on peasants to fill the ranks of their armies made them prime targets for attack by foreigners and neighbours alike.

 In order to defend their territories, the city states hired large groups of mercenaries called “Condotta”, which were lead by captains called Condottieri.

 Unlike the Knights of other European countries, Condottieri were not necessarily nobles. Many were low born and more than a few were foreigners. Anyone with the skills and determination could become Condottieri; for this they were rewarded with wealth, land, recognition and fame.

However, some were little more than bandits and thieves and it was not uncommon for them to change sides, for the right price, and many of them receiving bribes from towns to avoid being attacked.

The Condottieri attracted all those in society who aspired for greatness; some were adventurers, great captains, statesmen, patrons of the arts, patriots and others, like Hawkwood, Sforza, Malatesta, Federico Da Montefeltro and the Medici’s, were powerful political figures who left their mark on history.


The Condottieri living history group is a group dedicated to recreating the look and feel of an Italian mercenary encampment in the late 15th century. Various aspects of the lives of the nobility, knights, soldiers, craftsmen and camp followers are brought to life for the entertainment and enjoyment of all. This includes the clothes they wore, the foods they ate, the games and entertainment they enjoyed, their arts and crafts and their military and martial skills. All this and much more will be on display at the Abbey Medieval Festival this year.


To see these amazing displays by the Condottieri group this year, buy your tickets now!

Check back here for more on other Reenactor groups.


Meet the Reenactor Groups 2016




Companie of Knights Bachelor is one of Brisbane’s oldest re-enactment groups. Established in 1989, this group re-enacts the splendor of the 12th century and early 13th century, and the heroism of the Crusades. Companie members travel across Queensland as well as interstate to attend events such as the Abbey Medieval Festival, and other living history events, to live out life as a member of the 12th century nobility, either fighting in melees and tournaments, or showing off other medieval skills to the public.

The Companie also runs private Medieval Feasts and Living History weekends, to recreate the society and culture of the 12th and early 13th century with artisan craft displays and heroic swordplay.

At the Abbey Medieval Festival each year, Companie of Knights Bachelor reenact the pageantry and excitement of a medieval tournament. Knights join battle in a test of martial strength. Ladies cheer encouragement for their favorite Knight and partake of the gentler art of courtly love. After the Tournaments, the knights and ladies retire to their authentic encampment at Abbeystowe for some feasting, gaming, singing and dancing.

Companie of Knights Bachelor

Members of the Companie take keen interest in medieval arts and crafts, and study the historical background surrounding the Crusades. They employ a high standard of historical accuracy, encouraging every member to do much historical research. All the gear they use at shows and displays has to be documented, to encourage the highest degree of realism that twentieth-century society can produce. Companie of Knights Bachelor and its members are looking forward to returning to the Abbey Medieval Festival this year and educating and entertaining the public one again!

To come and meet the Companie of Knights Bachelor, buy your tickets now!

Check back here for more on Meet The Reenactors 2016


Meet the Reenactor Groups 2016



jorth gar

Jorth Gar is based on the Gold Coast in Queensland, but have affiliated branches from Stanthorpe, to Rockhampton, to Northern NSW. They are a professional, active group that can field the largest infantry battle force in Queensland and quite possibly Australia.

Jorth Gar concentrates its living history re-enactment primarily on the earlier Varangian Guardsmen of Viking origin, and their many exploits and accomplishments.

These Mercenaries were originally from Sweden and had spent many years of service with Prince Vladimir in Russia, taking down rivals and helping him to subjugate his lands. They had become furious with the Prince’s “incapacity to pay them correctly” and had demanded to be “shown the way to Constantinople”. When Basil II had requested military aid from Vladimir to take down his rival Vardhas Phokas, Vladimir sent these “unruly warriors” to help and rid himself of their financial burden.

Jorth Gar portray the original Scandinavian Mercenaries who were given to Basil II in 988 CE (as part of a military and trade alliance), who formed the nucleus of the Varangian Guard and became his imperial bodyguard in the palace and on the battle field. They cover up until 1066, where the composition of the Guard started to change, and the “Viking era” ended.

Jorth Gar

As the treaty between the Rus and Byzantines was also a trading one, many Scandinavian, Slav and Rus merchants and artisans would have accompanied this force to Constantinople to take advantage of this. Some would establish trade routes, others would seek employment in the Byzantine army to help equip its soldiers. Jorth Gar have a strong artisan / craftsman focus as a result.

Jorth Gar are looking forward to returning to the Abbey Festival again in 2016.


To meet Jorth Gar, buy your tickets to the Festival now!

For more on the Reenactor groups, watch this space!


Artist in Residence – Tania Crossingham


Artist in Residence at the Abbey Medieval Festival



Our talented artist in residence, Tania Crossingham, draws her inspiration from a lifelong love of books, art, medieval history (especially manuscripts) and a deep connection to the Divine. Tania’s early career was inspired by the exquisite illuminated books of the middle ages. Over the years Tania has produced beautiful artworks based upon these illuminated books and has also worked with inks, watercolours, pencil sketches and digital art. Through her beautiful art, Tania hopes to inspire others to see the divine in the world around them and to explore the mystery of self.

During the festival, you can see Tania’s beautiful work for yourself, including original illuminations. You will also have the opportunity to purchase prints, cards, bookmarks and bookplates. Get your tickets now to make sure you don’t miss out on wonderful Medieval-style art!


Giants are coming to the Abbey Medieval Festival

We are very excited to announce that we will be presenting a Giants Parade to celebrate our 25th anniversary; and we want to give you the chance to help us make it possible. We will be joining forces with Upatree Arts Cooperative to deliver a series of workshops on the techniques used to create these puppets, so this is your chance to get involved, get creative and have your work showcased at the Abbey Medieval Festival.

I’m sure some of you may be scratching your heads at the moment, so let us begin with: What exactly is a giant?

I’m glad you asked. To start at the beginning, giants were part of pageantry and celebration during the Medieval and Tudor eras; most famously they featured as part of the Midsummer Watch Parade in Chester from the 1400s. Guilds would band together to create these 12ft tall structures out of buckham and pasteboard that were paraded by two or more men. Unfortunately this tradition was banned in the late 1600s, but has since been revived and is part of many medieval festivals and celebrations throughout Europe today.

So why host a Giants Parade? The Abbey Medieval Festival organising committee wanted to create something special and unique to mark our 25th anniversary, and thought the tradition and pageantry of a giants parade would achieve this. Combining forces with Upatree Arts to deliver these workshops is our small way of saying thank you to those who have supported us over the years.

A wonderful team of artists from Upatree Arts Cooperative will be running 6 workshops on the different phases and techniques used to create these giant puppets and you are invited to attend. Participants will get the chance to learn about screen and sun printing, collagraph, design, costuming and puppet construction.

We kick things off with a workshop on screen printing and collagraph on Saturday, 10th May from 9.00am at the Abbey Museum of Art and Archaeology. More information regarding this and future workshops will be posted on our website very soon.

This is a wonderful opportunity for us to thank our supporters – give you a chance to create a special moment for this event and watch your work with pride at the Abbey Medieval Festival. We hope to see you there!

The Quick and Easy T-Tunic

For those who are searching for a quick-and-easy costume, something that will get you into the spirit of the Festival and conjure the feeling of being in medieval times, I present to you: the Guide to a T-Tunic!

Imagine yourself, ale in one hand and the other handing shading your eyes as you watch the merriment and talent of the reenactors at the Festival, in a costume you made yourself! It’s perfect for those with a sewing machine who can sew in a straight line, who need something to outfit the whole family, and who don’t want to spend a fortune. Just follow this link to the external site to download instructions in the handy PDF, and it covers what you need to be outfitted in your very own medieval tunic.

And check out this picture for inspiration! You too can have your own awesome costume to wow in.

All you need is some trim or ribbon, a belt and voila! You look fabulous!


A Brief Overview of Kirtles

The kirtle is a garment worn by women through most of medieval history and was the main garment in their wardrobes. It went through stages of being worn as a simple overdress is the 12th and 13th centuries by common and wealthy women, and was also used as an undergown. In the later 14th and 15th centuries, it became the main overdress for commoners, and an undergown for the wealthy, being worn under cotehardies, sideless surcotes and houppelandes. 1

In the 12th and 13th centuries, the kirtle was a floor-length and loosely-fitted gown, and had long, tight sleeves. The wealthier women would use more embroidery on their gowns to help denote their status, and the mantles that they wore may be lined with fur, to further enhance their status and display their wealth. 2


The kirtle became more close-fitting as time went on, and in the 14th and 15th centuries they were generally either laced or buttoned closed. We can deduce that laced kirtles were intended to be worn under overgowns, as it would be too expensive to have buttons on a gown that would be unseen, and lacing would create a smoother silhouette. It appears that wealthier women would have lacing at the back of their kirtles, as they would have had assistance with dressing. Buttoned kirtles were generally worn as overgowns, as they could convey the wealth of their owner better. 3

Even later still, they could be constructed by combining a fitted bodice with a skirt whichwas gathered or pleated into the waist seam. This image shows a woman wearing a kirtle over her smock, c. 1626. 4

There are so many variations on the kirtle, that it’s difficult to pin it down and say ‘yes, this is it’. Especially as they’re not always called kirtles, the terms cote, cotte, tunic and gown can all be used as well. This leaves us with room to create something that is elegant, stunning, or simple, depending on our tastes (and sewing ability!) What do you think of this clothing item?


Medieval Music

Music, music, music.

No matter where you go at the Abbey Medieval Festival, you will find music!

From the Kids Medieval Fun Day’s drum-making workshops, to the Gregorian Chanting we present every year at the Tournament, to the live street entertainment wandering the crowds, to the encampments, to the parades, to the stalls, to the Morris Dancing, to the wonderful musicians and musical re-enactor groups we engage for your pleasure – all of this and more is an integral part of medieval life – just as music is today.

Ahhh, sweet sounds for the ears, rhythms for the feet, heart-stirring resonance for vitality – I could go on and on.

The medieval era was pretty important time musically-wise it seems.  Academics and musicians have a wealth of tradition and development of medieval musical presentations, techniques and instruments to delve from this era.



Drum-Beating Workshops at the Kids Medieval Fun Day – an important part of the Abbey Medieval Festival Event held over a week – is a most popular activity for young and old.  I’ve yet to see a face that isn’t delighted to be near this one.


We can’t possibly show you all of the varieties and the exceptional people, instruments, groups and all the ways that Medieval Music pervades the whole of the Tournament and Festival in just this little post – you’ll have to have a look and a listen for yourselves at the Medieval Music array to be experienced!