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Celebrating Shakespeare

‘Eaten me out of house and home’

‘Forever and a day’

‘Good riddance’

‘Wear my heart upon my sleeve’

We’ve all heard one or all of these saying before. But did you know where they came from? Who was the first person to say or write them?

These are just some of the common phrases made popular by the great playwright and wordsmith William Shakespeare!

Ever eat a meal so delicious that the only was the describe it was to say it was “a dish fit for the gods!”

Shakespeare did.

Did your parents ever get so exasperated at your siblings (not you, of course) you hear them say “for goodness sake!”

Yep, that came from Shakespeare.

Every knows a good “Knock Knock, who’s there” joke!

That phrase came from Shakespeare too!

Going on a “wild goose chase”!

Yep, you guessed it. Shakespeare.

 

Mind Blown.

shakespeare

 

Celebrating Shakespeare with the Abbey Medieval House Troupe!

23rd April 2016 marked the 400th anniversary of the death of William Shakespeare, and while the Bard may be ‘dead as a doornail’ (another one, thanks William!), his contributions to literature, theatre and the English language are immense and still celebrated today.

To mark this anniversary, the volunteers of Abbey Medieval House Troupe have been hard at work over the past few months developing and rehearsing a tribute to Shakespeare. Sorting through his plays to find a mere sample of gems to perform has proved to be an endeavour not for the ‘faint hearted’ (they just keep coming!). However the Troupe have managed to narrow it down to a select few including, but not limited to Macbeth, King Lear, Richard III, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and of course, Romeo and Juliet.

We cannot ignore the line we are dancing on with historical accuracy here, the Abbey Medieval Festival celebrates the Middle Ages, specifically Europe and the Middle East from 600 – 1600AD, thankfully for us we just touch on the English renaissance, and ‘as good luck would have it’ many of Shakespeare’s works are believed to have been penned in the late 1500s.

Come and see the House Troupe’s tribute this year!

Join the House Troupe to be a part of amazing shows like this, and many others!

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Black Plague Doctor

 Have you ever wondered who/what the person dressed in black with a white long beaked mask is? Or do you know a little about this person/character, but would love some more info?

Meet

The Black Plague Doctor!

plague

History:

Typically donned head to toe in black, with a white, long-beaked mask, the Black Plague Doctor is one of many iconic figures from the middle ages, largely due to the unique and often terrifying mask. Fully covering the face with glass openings for their eyes, the mask’s prominent feature is the long curved beak shaped nose that typically held dried flowers, herbs and spices to keep away the bad and evil smell of their patients. Although this character has a foreboding presence, seen as the bringer of death, they were instructed to treat patients in a friendly and kind manner.

It was believed that the Plague was spread by smell, hence the stuffed beak and clothing designed to basically cocoon the doctor. A shining example of the archaic medical practice and understanding of medicine and disease at the time.

Today:plague

The Black Plague Doctor is a fascinating character and one we love to profile at the Abbey Medieval Festival. Since 2013, the role of resident Plague Physician has been filled by Murray, a volunteer with the Abbey Medieval House Troupe, who, every year, travels from Victoria to rid Abbeystowe of the deadly Plague. To show that he is not to be feared, Murray has been seen playing ring-around-the-rosy and soccer with patrons at the Abbey. Treating patients is his first priority, and he always likes to lend a helping hand to clear out the dead at the end of the day.

If you spot our wonderful plague doctor at the Abbey Medieval Festival this year, feel free to stop and say hello, ask for a photograph, or treatment advice* – his plague pillows are highly effective!

*Disclaimer: Murray is only qualified to assist with medieval treatment of the black plague.

To meet Murray, whoops I mean, The Black Plague Doctor this year, buy your tickets now!

Join the Abbey Medieval Festival House Troupe!

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CONDOTTIERI

Meet the Reenactor Groups 2016

CONDOTTIERI

condottieri

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.

Condottieri

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.

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COTTEREAUX

Meet the Reenactor Groups 2016

COTTEREAUX

cottereaux

Cottereaux (1189 – 1202)- Company of the Dagger is a 45 member strong reenactment group portraying life on the road for a group of travelling knights, their men-at-arms and their squires.

Cottereaux, derived from a French word meaning ‘dagger’, have a predominantly European background with a smattering of mercenaries from far and wide. The group used to be a mercenary company but with the Papal decree of 1187, in which the use of mercenaries were outlawed, the group, under Baron Ulric de Tracey, have settled in Acre having been awarded a barony.

This group also has a church element represented by Warrior Priests from the Order of St John. With the Company settling down in a Barony, the Company actively seeks artisans and merchants to build on town atmosphere.

Cottereaux

The Company specializes in Siege equipment having built several scale models of counter weights Trebuchets, traction trebuchets, Onagers, Siege Ladder trucks, Battering Rams and sappers penthouse. The Company is currently working on a 7 metre counter weight trebuchet and also have plans for a full size Siege Tower.

Cottereaux will be at the Abbey Medieval Festival again this year, so drop by and see some their amazing equipment!

To meet the Cottereaux group this year, buy your tickets now!

Check back for more on other reenactment groups soon!

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COMPANY OF THE DOVE

Meet the Reenactor Groups 2016

 

COMPANY OF THE DOVE

 

dove

 

Company of the Dove was a free company, a late medieval army of mercenaries acting independently of any government, and thus “free”. They regularly made a living by plunder when they were not employed. They were based in Brittany, France, at the start of the Hundred Years War, a series of conflicts waging from 1337 to 1453 between the Kingdom of England and the Kingdom of France, and their various allies, for control of the French throne.

Starting out initially as a traditional archery group, Company of the Dove are mostly English archers, with some men at arms, and their families, and encourage all interests in the medieval way of life. They have been a loyal visit to the Abbey Medieval Festival for many years, and continue to draw public interest not only in the period of time, but in their individual group’s activities and encampment.

Company of the Dove

Company of the Dove is a family based medieval re-enactment group who adhere to Qld Living History Federation standards, and are involved with weapons training, traditional archery, clothing, furniture, music, encampments, medieval cooking and feasts, as well as studying and re-enacting all facets of medieval life in the mid 14th century (1348-1361).

They run workshops to help their members get more involved in medieval tasks and equipment and they make a lot of our own equipment.

 

To meet Company of the Dove this year, buy your tickets now!

Get to know some of the other Reenactors groups here.

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KNIGHTS OF THE EMPIRE GERMANICA

Meet the Reenactors 2016

 

KNIGHTS OF THE EMPIRE GERMANICA

germanica

Knights of the Empire Germanica is a Medieval German re-enactment group in the High Middle Ages period.
They are a Brisbane based re-enactment group depicting the Germanic nobility of the Holy Roman Empire. They practice armoured combat and try to recreate the colour, traditions and day-to-day life of the nobility and their retainers.

A family orientated group, their aim is to create an environment that enables learning about medieval life. Medieval re-enactment is a way of bringing history to life in an exciting and hands-on way. The members of Knights of the Empire Germanica get to actively create and use their equipment, and find out how it all works in a real-life setting. It is especially rewarding to members to be able to engage in a hobby which can include the whole family.

Knights of the Empire Germanica is a group with many years of activity in Brisbane. ‘KEG’ has close ties with other re-enactment groups with whom they share combat training, public appearances such as attending the Abbey Medieval Festival, and other demonstrations. As a group they share research, cook and share medieval food at feasts, create medieval clothing, armour and equipment, and train warriors to be formidable but entertaining fighters.

Knights of the Empire Germanica are a friendly group and are always happy to interact with the public for discussion or photo opportunities. Come and see them at the Medieval Festival this year!

Knights of the Empire Germanica encampment activities

 

To meet Knights of the Empire Germanica, buy your tickets now!

Read more on other Reenactor groups here.

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COMPANIE OF KNIGHTS BACHELOR

Meet the Reenactor Groups 2016

 

COMPANIE OF KNIGHTS BACHELOR

Companie

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

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KNIGHTS OF THE LONGDOG

Meet the Reenactor Groups 2016

 

KNIGHTS OF THE LONGDOG

knights of the longdog

 

The Knights of the Longdog 
are on a noble quest to educate people about the important role greyhounds (sight hounds) played in medieval times, and about what wonderful pets they make. The group represents a new generation of champions – we don’t wear chain mail, joust, or win sword fights…but we are brave, fearless and loyal, much like our hounds. We show the public and other re-enactors the lives sight hounds would have had, and portray the individuals who would have owned or cared for them during the 12th – 14th centuries in England.

In modern times/the real world, we are a mix of dog lovers who enjoy history and their hounds. We have greyhounds (generally rescued racing dogs), Borzoi (Russian Wolfhounds), and Irish Wolfhounds – all whom would have been called “greyhounds” in the medieval period. We also have an Alaunt who has just joined the group, and brings with her a number of trained rats who help us teach people about the role rats played in the medieval period!

We do a lot of training with our dogs and their owners to ensure the dogs are very comfortable with huge crowds and people of all ages. We do performances at the Abbey Medieval Festival that showcase their skills, and also give people an opportunity to feed the hounds! We give people lots of information on how they lived (they had awesome kennels), what they wore (harnesses, decadent collars, capes), how they were trained (which was mainly food based, just like it is today), who looked after them…you name it, you can learn about it so make sure you visit us this year at the Abbey Medieval Festival!

Knights of the Long Dog

To meet Knights of the Longdog and their amazing hounds, buy your tickets now!

For more on the Reenactors, check back here

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JORTH GAR – NEW VARANGIAN GUARD

Meet the Reenactor Groups 2016

 

JORTH GAR – NEW VARANGIAN GUARD

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!

 

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Order of the Horse

Meet the Reenactor Groups 2016

 

ORDER OF THE HORSE

order of the horse

In the Year of the Horse came the ‘Order of the Horse’, a group of elite Medieval horse warriors.

Order of the Horse is a historical re-enactment group of elite riders and mounted/foot combat, who work along side many other groups. Order of the Horse conducts displays on 12th, early 13th and 14th century horses, cavalry, archery, armour and cooking. They also focus on the history of the 12th, early 13th and 14th century knights and their horses, clothing, etc, with a particular focus on the 2nd and 3rd crusades including Saracens.

Order of the Horse

The members of the group are veterans of the Abbey Medieval Festival and Tournament for last 10 years, that once belonged to other Abbey groups. This group is well respected by QLHF and ALHF and performs at other interstate events as well as the Festival. The members and horses are also internationally prized as one of Australia’s top Napoleonic equestrians. The head and founder of the group was also on the Abbey build board 2015 and is one of the key knights and performers that has been bringing trained horses to the Abbey for the last 10 years.

Returning again in 2016, Order of the Horse are very much looking forward to educating the public on the 12th Century Saracen and 2nd and 3rd Crusades, and giving many amazing and authentic displays.

Buy your tickets now to meet Order of the Horse in person!

Stay tuned for more on Meet the Reenactors

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Blackwolf

Meet the Re-enactor Groups 2016

BLACKWOLF

 

It was a feature of medieval warfare that armies tended to live off the invaded land, foraging wherever they could. In Outremer, the Middle East as we know it today, crops were grown and gathered around the water sources. Controlling the water sources and supply routes meant that you controlled the land.

Invading forces attempted to set up supply lines but often in Crusader times, supplies from overseas failed to arrive and often was too little, too late. Supplies had to be easily transported, not spoil and all fresh meat herded “on the hoof”. To alleviate this, Blackwolf – a 12th-13th century Crusader group – traversed the caravan routes, posing as Bedouin Traders, trading where they could, often preying on opposition caravans for vital supplies.

blackwolf reenactor

Blackwolf were a mixture of European nationalities, local Armenian, Christian Arab, and mercenaries from the plains of the Danube, the Magyars and Kipchak. Any who would join Blackwolf to further Christian interests. This mix of nationalities demonstrated differing garb and customs, and, they use this to reflect a variety of cultures and traditions for the public interest. Some Blackwolf members are combatants, whose principal function is the crash and bash of medieval combat. They are also finding ways to enhance their camp each year expanding crafts and skills such as medieval medicine, Bedouin coffee ceremony, Bedouin cooking and cheese-making. Also adding bone carving and linen production from growing flax. The Bedouin tended to rob wild bee colonies where honey was used as a “currency” and the wax was used to make candles.

Black Wolf

Blackwolf have chosen to portray these Middle Eastern and Eastern cultures in their encampment because this was a little known and unexplored aspect of medieval life. The 12th-13th centuries is a fascinating time of social upheaval, progress and changes in thinking, trade goods and textiles. If nothing else, exposure to eastern trade, medicine and foodstuffs, even the game of chess, did much to renovate Western Europe. There is a great interest in medieval life, what they ate, what they wore and what were their customs so Blackwolf seek to present this to the public in an authentic and enjoyable manner.

 

Check back for more on “Meet the Reenactors 2016”

Buy your tickets now to meet these groups in person!

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The story of Antonio Del Rosa and Annelise von Blau

The year is 1400 and you are welcomed to the the celebration that marks the marriage of Antonio Del Rosa to the Lady Annelise von Blau.

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Antonio Del Rosa is the eldest son of the Del Rosa family, a noble household from the southern Tyrol region of northern Italy. Much to the dismay of his family, the handsome Antonio fell in love with the young and beautiful Lady Annelise of the von Blau family. The von Blau estate is located on the northern side of the Tryols.

These two families have a long and tumultuous history. An ancient feud, whose beginnings have long been forgotten in the mists of time, has seen these families on either side of wars and even today, continues to keep these families at odds.

An age old and somewhat tragic story which you might say echoes the writing of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet:

Two households, both alike in dignity,

In fair Tyrol, where we lay our scene,

From ancient grudge breaks no new mutiny,

Where civil blood past made hands unclean.

From forth the fatal loins of these foes

A pair of star-cross’s lovers made their life

Whose plighted troth the past o’erthrows

Do with their love bury their parents’ strife.

Fortunately for Antonio and Annelise, their story has not had the tragic end of Shakespeare’s characters. And so, we’re to gather here to participate in the Jousting Spectacular in honour of their nuptials.

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Jealous of their honour and ever mindful of former glories and defeats, both families and their partisans will no doubt try to prove their superiority in the joust and foot tournament over their former enemies, without the event degenerating into a civil war.

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The Italian speaking Della Rossa family can be identified by their red livery and the German speaking von Blau family will be clothed in a cool pallet of blues and greens.

The happy couple will sit separately from their respective families. Determined to enjoy this most sumptuous event, they refuse to have the celebrations of their love marred by the ongoing tensions between their families. Truthfully, they hope that these feelings will make for a more exciting and spectacular joust.

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Written by Damien Fegan

Book now to ensure you don’t miss out on the Medieval experience of a lifetime!

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Q&A with Re-enactors!

KMFD2012-Storyteller01-NedaLundieWe got some of our fabulous re-enactors to answer some questions for us! We asked some questions very nicely (they have big swords!) and they were kind enough to answer. Here are some of their answers to some of those hairy questions!

What do visitors to your encampment never fail to ask you?

Do you really sleep in the tent overnight? Do you really eat what you’re cooking (beast on spit)? Where did you buy that? What did they eat?

Is it a real…fire, food, are the swords sharp, is that a plastic pig?

Is that armour heavy? Is that a real fire? Is that a real animal on the spit?

Are they Greyhounds? or What sort of dogs are they? Why are you here? What did Greyhounds do in medieval times? Did they race? Are these dogs safe to pat? Did medieval people keep Greyhounds as pets? Is it hard to walk in those dresses? What are the dogs’ names and ages?

What do you want the public to know about you?

That we’re very ordinary people…who love to hit each other with swords and cook over an open fire.

Can the public join your group?

Absolutely! If you’re interested in joining them, just ask at the Festival!

Is re-enacting an expensive hobby?

Yes and no. Compared to golf or sailing, probably not, but compared to knitting, definitely. The great thing is that members can start off relatively cheaply and then add to their wardrobe and kit each year at a rate they can afford.

Is it a time consuming hobby?

Can be very, but really you’d put as much time as you would any hobby. At least one afternoon a week.

AMF2012-LionRampart-BrettCroese-HighMedievalTournamentNot really, again it depends on your level of interest. Combatant Training is weekly for both garrisons and you are expected to commit to this as you are required to be a safe and competent fighter.

It can be as time consuming (or not) as members want it to be – some of us spend much of the year making clothing and kit, and researching, and others simply put their clothing on for the festival or another show, and they’re ready to go!

What do you get out of re-enactment?

A way of life. Camaraderie. Satisfaction. Constantly learn and develop skills.

Being part of a large Australia wide group (and there are some garrisons overseas) , enables you to learn about history and learn many skills as you can draw on so much accumulated research, knowledge and experience.

We really love interacting with the public and providing them with information about our time period and about the role longdogs played during that time period. We get asked literally thousands of questions over the course of the Abbey and other smaller events, and its always fun to watch people’s reactions to what they learn. And of course, its always fun to dress up and pretend to be a Lady!

Who are your arch rivals in re-enactment?

The wicked Varangian Guard! Death to those evil wretches.

No we keep killing them off 😉 there is no group that does what we do so we don’t have rivals but many friends.

The NVG is a mighty war machine, we train hard and we fight hard – our biggest challenge is at events like Abbey Festival when the two garrisons fight each other.

None and I hope it will remain that way. We are a friendly group and get on with all the other groups we have come across.

What makes your group famous?KMFD2012-MedievalHounds03-MichelleHurst

Beast on a spit. The name Blackwolf and the Bedouin Tent.

Our costumes and our cannons

With over two decades of aggression under our belt, we are known for taking our combat seriously and for also playing hard (after hours of course!)

Our hounds are awesome! They love pats, cuddles, posing for photos, and they’re very photogenic.

 

The re-enactors at the Festival are all lovely, feel free to have a chat with them about what they’re doing, what time they’re representing, how to join, and anything else you might want to know.

Please be mindful of Encampment Etiquette though!

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A Guide to Encampment Etiquette

Now that we’re getting into the last six weeks of frantic preparation before the Festival (have you booked your tickets or volunteered yet?!)

etiquette-banner
Is that a real fire/baby/dog/sword?

Absolutely, so please be careful.

 

Can I go into your tent?

If it’s open, please do. However, if it is closed, it is a private space. Re-enactors encampments are their homes for the weekend, so please respect their privacy.

 

Can I eat your food?

Due to food safety guidelines, re-enactors can’t let you share their meals. But they will be happy to give you the recipe so you can try it at home.

Can I take a shortcut through your encampment?

The ropes that keep the tents upright can be a trip hazard, so please walk around the encampments, not through.

Feel free to chat to the re-enactors, they’re passionate about what they do and love to share! Please also be mindful of their possessions and space, they’ve worked very hard to create everything that you see.

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Shields, steel and saddles: The modern sport of jousting explained

Jousting Abbey Medieval Tournament

Yes, many of the best jousters are women.  Photo: Cumberland

On 6 and 7 July Caboolture will host an international tournament for one of most interesting of modern sports – jousting.  You may think jousting was a historic chivalric pursuit, but it thrives today as a modern contact sport.
Picture this: hundreds of kilos of humans, horses and armour charging at each other, intent on landing  the point of their 3 metre lance on the body of their opponent.  There will be wood flying, dents in armour, and if the crowd gets what they want, someone will be knocked off their horse.
No wonder it is popular.  In fact, so popular there is now an International Jousting League, with rankings, and there are annual prestigious jousting events that attract the best from around the world.

 

Horses, jousting, Abbey Medieval Festival

Horses quite enjoy the jousting at the Abbey Museum.  Photo Alex Hinsch

Sounds modern?  It’s the way the sport was organised in the 13th century.  In medieval times, the best knights would travel from tournament to tournament, and were the “sports celebrities” of their day.
Like all the best sports, the rules of jousting are simple and straightforward, but they allow a great deal of subtlety and gamesmanship from the competitors.
The object of jousting is for a knight to land their lance tip on their opponent – that scores points!   A hit is called an “ataint” and an ataint scores if it is a hit on the shield, body or helmet.  But you get even more points if you shatter your lance upon your opponent.  Yes, wince as you picture that.  The lances are designed to shatter on impact, and the tips are replaced after each ataint.  The breaking point is a set distance from the tip, and a lance must break at that point if it the ataint is to count.
And what does the  jousting “stadium” look like?  Like all sports, there are tiers of seatings all around, so the spectators can see every hit, hear every grunt, and all of the action.  Some things are eternal – it was the same for the gladiatorial games in Rome.
In the middle, picture this:  two horses and riders thundering down the line  towards each other, with a flimsy barrier separating them. The barrier, called a “tilt’, was used from the 14th century to prevent collisions between jousters.
Like most equestrian sports, spectators are more worried about the horses than the humans. Fear not, the horses are safe.  Safer than the jousters.  There have always been great protections built into jousting to protect the horses.  Harming or targeting  the horses is dreadfully taboo.  If a horse is hit, the offending knight loses the tournament and traditionally had to surrender his own horse!
In fact, we think the horses rather enjoy the action and attention.  Like the jousting knights, they don’t hold back.  And that is how all elite modern sports should be .

Jousting Abbey Medieval Tournament

Grace, skill, honour … and determination. Photo by G Beard

As a modern sport, jousting  may even be better than many of the ball-chasing events you see on pay TV.
It is a brief, intense one-on-one  contest where you can’t miss the action.  All the drama is distilled down to a single moment, the moment of impact.   There is noise, there is shiny armour, there are the “oohs” and “aahs” from the crowd.  And sometimes, we see a knight knocked off his horse.
So take your kids to see an international sporting event in July. An event  with no drunken spectators, one where you get to see a result, and one where everyone learns something about the past.  Go to the jousting.

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Just one of the many re-enactors.

One of the perks of coming to the Festival is seeing all the amazing costumes that the reenactors create! We have more than 25 groups who come and make the weekend so special, from the dramatic jousting to the delicate foods of times long gone.

The costuming is arguably one the of best parts of the festival, and it really shows how fashions change, and how innovations of the time help to shape fashions, along with status, wealth, and location.

I’m going to talk about the SCA in this post, as they have such a broad scope it’s great for a non-re-enactor like me to understand what they’re doing!

The SCA (Society for Creative Anachronism) is one of our re-enactment groups coming to the Festival this year, and it’s an international non-profit educational organisation that is dedicated to the research and recreation of pre-17th century European History, with a particular focus on its practical applications in arts and sciences, including costuming, cooking, martial arts, dance, calligraphy and illumination, metalwork, archery and music. They have a broad scope in interests, which means that they can cater to anyone.

They have a huge network of re-enactors, and great resources which are accessible to anyone looking to find more information on their favoured period.

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http://www.sca.org/officers/media/images/clash_lg.jpg

All the groups at the Festival help create the amazing atmosphere and we really couldn’t do it without them!

I’ve developed a love of the late-14th century, and have started delving into every resource I can to find out everything I can.

For more information on our fabulous re-enactor groups, check out https://abbeymedievalfestival.com/get-involved/visitors/ to find out who is doing your favourite period in history! What and who are you looking forward to seeing?

 

What’s a Re-Enactor?

So what do YOU do when you’re not doing your day job?

Some people go home to their acquariums; some people play Farmville on Facebook; some people rebuild steam locomotives; some plan and prepare for the next extreme sport venture; some people knit; some people drink; some people. . . . . you get the idea.  We all fill our lives with that which interests us.

So, What IS a Re-Enactor?

Luckily for us, there are people who are passionate enough about particular era of history and a group, community, tribe, etc from that time-frame that they actually spend their days, their nights, their weekends and sometimes more – really ‘engaging’ with the whole experience of that lifestyle.

I say ‘luckily for us’ because these are the very people who bring with them that passion for that very lifestyle, their diverse knowledge of their special interests, their devotion to ‘getting real’ (which we call authenticity) through their own hands-on experience by actually living those realities of their personal interests, to the not only the Abbey Medieval Festival’s Tournament weekend, but the Kids Medieval Fun Day and the Medieval Banquet as well.

This lot are known as Re-Enactors!

We here at the Abbey Medieval Festival demand high standards of quality re-enacting, and are happy to report that we always have a great many more worthy applications from the very best of the re-enacting realm in Australia than we can possibly accept.  This benefits you dear readers and patrons.

Each year we highlight the groups on our pages, and in order to encompass the 1000 odd years of history that ‘Medieval  History’ covers, we group them into various centuries.  Many of the re-enactors have their own websites as well, and you may even find them on social media too.

If you are a bit of a history buff; if you are an organic gardener; if you are a culinary-oriented person; if you are at all interested in costumes and fabric; if you like the thought of battling with sword and axe, foil or jousting lance; if you are interested in anything that over one thousand years of experience might have in store to delight, surprise, intrigue or engage you – then meeting and listening and talking to our re-enactors might just add a tad to your own interests.

Or perhaps if you are a trading cards buff, you might even be able to get your newly purchased cards signed by the featured group!

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The first cotehardie for the Festival!

Red CotehardieI’ve started on my cotehardies! I’ve decided on a bright red, forest green and navy blue, and I’ll be writing all about them as I make them. I chose these colours as our medieval forebears didn’t do pastel colours (or grey or brown very often apparently), and they only used bright and strong colours. Look away now re-enactors! I’m cheating (only a little!) and using a commercial pattern, I know that it’s not historically accurate but I want to help people get into the groove of things and to be able to enjoy the Festival as much as possible. (Ok re-enactors you can look again now!)

The red dress is finished, and has ended up a size 10-14, 14th century clothing didn’t generally fit exactly to the wearers body -hence the range of sizes it can fit.

It’s a very strong colour – I think I’ve fallen in love with it – and now that I’ve finished the dress I can make a start on the tippets and belt to help pull it together so that you’ll be looking fabulous at the Festival. I’ve even overlocked the seams to help prevent fraying, because you don’t want to be getting a substandard dress now, do you!

I was amazed to find though, that the 100m spool of thread only had a few metres left by the time I finished! There’s an amazing 50m of seams in the dress!

There will be a big reveal of all the dresses when they’re finished, all you’ll get now are sneak peeks!

Do you like the idea of being able to buy a full costume for the Festival?