Thursday, 29 August 2013

Medieval Fayre Weapons and Defence - June 2013

Every year Colchester holds a medieval fayre within the grounds of Castle Park. I love it! Stalls and re-enactment groups from my favourite historical era spend a weekend selling their wares and performing traditional plays, puppet shows, battle training, dances, and archery. You can buy anything from herbal remedies to leatherwear, jewellry and clothing up to full medieval battle gear.

But the last few years I've had to miss out, or pay a very fleeting visit. Towing three young children around something they have no interest in, with things like full size swords (even if the edges ARE dulled) is more stressful than enjoyable. But this year, my wonderful husband told me he'd watch the little monsters while I went to the fayre. Bless him!

I didn't go alone though. Eldest and only daughter decided she wanted to go (I think it was more the chance to get away from the boys and spend time with mummy rather than an interest in the fayre, but I'm not going to complain about that). In this post I'm going to cover some of the warfare aspects of the period - sports, weapons and protective gear. In the next post I'll deal with the more civilised entertainments like dancing and music.

Sparrowhawk ( I think?)

Hunting and hawking were popular pastimes for the medieval nobility, and much like the monarchy itself had a strict hierarchy in terms of who could have which birds. Generally the lower classes and peasantry couldn't afford to keep birds of prey in the first place. You can find out more about the sport and history at Medieval Hawking. 

Preparing for the Aisle O'var Country Backswording
Country backswording was a sport played at events such as fayres, involving the use of a single wooden cudgels, with the aim being to 'break' your opponent's head. This simply meant raising blood above the eyeline. For more information on the sport, check out the Aisle Ovar's Backswording Clubbe.

This video wasn't taken at this year's Fayre, but gives you an idea of how it all works.

Archery with longbows

Carved wooden quivers
Leather wares, including an archery arm guard
Goose feather arrows
I used to shoot myself (modern recurve) but watching the archery contests is still a big favourite. It takes a lot of skill, and not necessarily strength, to shoot a longbow.

Chainmail Tunic

More chainmal

Anyone who's seen A Knight's Tale might remember Sir Ulric wearing something like this under his armour.

Protective padded jacket

Helmets, and a few more arrows

Medieval Banner - Dragon
So that's the fighting side of medieval life. For my next post, it'll be some of the other forms of entertainment including dancing and acting, and some of my favourite pieces of clothing from the fayre.

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