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?!)

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.

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

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.

 

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 .

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.

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.

http://sca.org/officers/chatelain/photos/Court2-mil.jpg

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!

The first cotehardie for the Festival!

I’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?

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.

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

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

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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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!!