Friday, August 8, 2014

"Out History the Historians! or Saving Richard III"

The Flag of Yorkshire Saints.
The flag takes its colors from the shield of the arms of two local Yorkshire saints. Wilfrid (blue) and William (gold). William was martyred in 1154 via poisoning and so a Christian cross is present. Maybe it is time to fly this Flag
once more over Richard III. He certainly spent most of his youth riding beneath its banner.
Since he is to be buried in Leicester, maybe this should be draped over his sarcophagus?
Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.



     There has been a very nice response from the public to my last posting about Richard III. Thank you each and everyone who took the time to read, let alone comment. As most of you know I am the founder and editor of Modern Medievalist on Facebook. I posted the article on my page, and one of my readers brought something to my attention, that had slipped my grasp. We who are outraged at what has been done to Richard III and the terrible foisting off of propaganda have been focused on the slights and injuries he has been subject to, instead of focusing on what can be done instead.

    What can be done? Can we remove him from durance vile? Doubtful at best. Even if someone of the stature of HM the Queen should take an interest, Her Majesty is not above the law. But that doesn't mean that nothing can be done. In fact quite the opposite can be done actually. A friend living in Scotland said, we needed to "Out History the Historians." -I rather liked that sentiment. And since Leicester has been determined to set the bar of excellence so very low, I don't think it is a goal that cannot be achieved.

      As my reader put it, and I am paraphrasing her reply here, "Take over a failed chip shop or storefront that is as close to the Leicester Historical Center and create a time sensitive display of what a Royal Sarcophagus should look like, create a chapel within the shop, showing the general public what a Monarch of England should have as his final resting place. Bring in experts in Art, Armour, Weapons, Clothing and Textiles. Create a board to oversee the "counter historical center," take the monies earned and fold it back into the center until it outshines in authenticity that horrid place. I would visit the current center for five minutes. Something that is truly sensitive and 
historically accurate? I would spend hours in."

     I think the Ricardian Supporters have been going about this not necessarily the wrong way, I just think and I am including myself in this, that we have been blinded by not seeing the forest for the trees in front of us. It is time to beat the blighters at their own game!-(Sorry about that couldn't help myself there.)

    My lovely dainty great aunt from Texas used to say, "Something is only as special as we make it out to be." As I have aged in this life, I have found that to be so very true. Where does that leave us then? I have made inquiries with the fine folks at Kickstart. This idea of building a counter historical center is not even a full 24 hours old. However I believe it has merit. The people who believe history has once again suffered a sever miscarriage of justice can once more have an opportunity to create something worth celebrating.

     I am American and as such have been dismissed out of hand because of my birth, but this is our shared history, as I have ancestors who fought in the War of the Roses and regardless of York or Lancaster it is our heritage and our right as descendants of those who fought, to see that it is treated with respect and dignity. So it is time to gird up our loins and be prepared to fight a different campaign, while taking the high road. If the Ricardians of the world work together they can steal a march on those who are only interested in profit for profit's sake.

    One expert who also happens to be an American did a great deal of work and effort preparing a presentation of what historical arms and armour would have looked like at the time of the Battle of Bosworth. I leave his name out as of this writing as I have not consulted to see if I have his permission to use his name. Regardless his presentation and more importantly his scholarly reputation, and expertise were cast aside in favor of a Carling-(c) Lager Can propped up in the corner. (I hope the Carling Beer Company will forgive what I consider an unfavorable comparison.) 

You be the judge... Suit of Armour with
Christmas Eve Party Crown?









Or can of Lager beer? Which would you prefer representing your monarch? The sweat shop horror or the can of beer? Since crass commercialism is in play I would go for
the beer can.













 
     I would be ashamed to hold my head up in public, when it was discovered that the entire team of experts who had been assembled to undertake the expedition to retrieve Richard III revolted. Or when it was discovered that Plagiarism is no longer a crime so long as it relates to historical documents. I am referring of course to the moving quote York wrote about the loss of their king, that was used in the Leicester center that gave the impression of being written by the city of Leicester. 
    I digress... One of my readers informed me he had made several inquiries into what a cast bronze effigy, wearing historical arms and armour would cost, and startling enough, it would have cost less than what the Kleenex-(c) Tissue Box Dispenser is costing the subjects of the crown. I know many of Britain's armour smiths would gladly create something to show what a real suit or harness would look like. To tell the truth the artistic endeavors would in all likelihood pour in from all over the globe.

    Lastly there is a chance to once more celebrate what English history is all about. Hold a festive tournament in his honor the week before the anniversary of the battle of Bosworth. Make it a big deal! Celebrate with all the pomp and circumstances that only the British people can do. Invite every single reenactment house that participates in the various War of the Roses events. Have them conduct archery competitions, dismounted combat exhibitions, with marches and drills.Let the reenactors show interpretive displays, have them line up before the Jousters and parade before them in the list, with their flags and banners flying! Make the weekend, the premier Medieval History weekend on the calendar. Let them show that although Leicester might have his body, they do not posses his Honor or his future! Let the reenactors and jousters shout, "Out History the Historians!"

     Eventually I would see monies being sent north to York. Let the center support York Minister as Richard III did in his lifetime. Establish an endowment for college bound youth who wish to study history. If all of these things can be done for Leicester, then a healthy bit of competition should eventually make those in Leicester either sit up and take notice or come to their senses and allow the King to be interred in neutral ground with the proper rights. I would suspect if anyone in authority asked nicely, Pope Francis just might hop on a commercial flight and hail a cab to perform a high mass... or at least give a showing for a Catholic Monarch.

-DS Baker

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Richard III Sold! To The Highest Bidder!

Apparently the Richard III Enthusiasts
have begun their protests against
injustices and perceived slights.
Richard III (2 October 1452 – 22 August 1485) was King of England for two years, from 1483 until his death in 1485 in the Battle of Bosworth Field. He was the last king of the House of York and the last of the Plantagenet dynasty. His defeat at Bosworth Field, the last decisive battle of the Wars of the Roses, symbolizes the end of the Middle Ages in England.
Portrait courtesy of the National Portrait Gallery-England.

     I have been following events in England, that have surrounded the search for, and the discovery of Richard III for the better part of two years.  As a self labeled medievalist, I had hoped the discovery would have been handled with taste and decorum. Sadly it seems I overestimated the rapacious greed in Leicester.

    Before going into combat at Bosworth, The Duke of Norfolk found a note tacked to the door of his lodging which said:

"Jacky of Norfolk, be not too bold,
For Dickon thy master is bought and sold."
 
    The Stanley's under the leadership of Sir William Stanley, later made Baron Stanley and Henry 4th Earl of Northumberland, abandoned the King, causing him to fall into despair. Upon hearing of the Duke of Norfolk's death, he bravely or foolishly lead an impromptu cavalry charge aimed at Henry VII, in hopes of ending the conflict.

    Sadly he was not successful and was rumored to have died shouting, "Treason!"  There is even a fable meeting with a seeress who prophesied where his spurs struck so should his head. Crossing the river into Bosworth, Richard III supposedly struck his spurs on one of the stone supports on the bridge he was riding over. When he was being carried back dead, his head allegedly struck the same stone support, and was split open.

     Regardless of the who or why, his skeleton bears witness his betrayal by those he thought loyal in the numerous and grievous wounds he suffered at the hands of his enemies.

    It is now at this point, where I personally thought the stench of betrayal would finally be lifted from his mortal remains and he would be allowed his moment in history to at least be re-examined by those who were not his mortal enemies. I was mistaken, sadly mistaken.

    I guess we come down to the gristle that is stuck in the back molar, which causes slow agony as pressure mounts. Bad teeth. I think that is an apt analogy for what is happening in England today. Standing where once was a car park, there is now a historical center dedicated to Richard III. It is brand new, built in stone to replicate the architecture of the period, it straddles the once muddy hole he had been unceremoniously shoveled into.

    Everything about the new center is a nightmare of purloined quotes, cheap knock off armour from an Indian sweat shop, and a shiny crown that looks like it is fresh from the Burger King-(c) Extra Value Meal.

    The proposed original design entrance had a throne that would have been covered in vast amounts of blood, which in turn would have spilled to the ground, where there would have been bloody words spelled out.-Thank goodness saner heads and a modicum of decorum prevailed in the end. It is one thing to realize that an estimated 50,000 to as high as 80,000 Crown Subjects died during the War of the Roses... there is a fine balance that needs to be struck in recounting history and then there is shlock value.

    Let's discuss the proposed Tomb: Saying that it is a Danish Modern Kleenex Dispenser is being kind. One wit said it looked like a new fancy bicycle rack that would keep your bike upright.

     Instead of giving Richard III the last English monarch to die in combat a tomb that might have been contemporaneous to his time, and his exploits, they have gotten the Kleenex box approved. I am going to post pictures of several tombs that are actually contemporaries of Richard's time line give and take less than a hundred years.



    Władysław III (31 October 1424 – 10 November 1444), also known as Władysław of Varna was King of Poland from 1434, and King of Hungary from 1440, until his death at the Battle of Varna.
Wladyslaw III was a contemporary of Richard III of England. His armour pictured above would have not been out of fashion at Bosworth. 


     The tomb of Mary of Burgundy (13 February 1457 – 27 March 1482). As the only child of Charles the Bold (1433-1477), Mary was heiress presumptive to a vast and wealthy domain, made up of the Duchy of Burgundy, the Free County of Burgundy, and the majority of the Low Countries. She married Archduke Maximilian of Austria who became her co-ruler. 

    The 25-year-old Duchess died due to a fall from her horse on 27 March 1482 near Wijnendale Castle. She loved riding, and was falconing with Maximilian when her horse tripped, threw her, and then landed on top of her, breaking her back. She died several days later, and is buried in the Church of Our Lady (Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekerk) in Bruges, Belgium. The tomb was commissioned by her husband at the workshop of Jan Borman who made the design and who sculpted the statue of Mary based on her death mask


     
     And here is what is euphemistically called the Danish Modern Kleenex Dispenser chosen for the last monarch of England to die in combat fighting for his crown, his throne and ultimately for his people. Designed by Messrs Van Heyningen & Howard.


     
     Here is a vintage Lucite Kleenex (c) Tissue Box Cover. I think you can tell Messrs Van Heyningen & Howard did a real stretch of their mental muscles when searching for inspiration.
   
    At the end of the day, the money people will have ensured that they have created a steady revenue stream for themselves and for the Cathedral property. In the coming years, there will be a new chair in history funded by the revenues generated by the crass display of his plastic bones. Closely followed by graduate students, and the next thing you know one or two lucky individuals and the entire history department at Leicester will have been funded into perpetuity.

    Which is in my mind the reason why the University and the Cathedral fought so vigorously. It is not about preserving history. It is not about documenting a slain monarch. And it is most definitely not about separating Tudor propaganda from reality. Nor is it about doing the right thing and repairing the King to either York or Westminster.

    Lastly the Richard III Society has announced for Leicester Cathedral and Leicester University that there will be a simple re-internment ceremony. Stating and I am paraphrasing here, that his Catholic rights were given to him when they unceremoniously shoveled his brutalized corpse into a muddy hole.

    Once again the supposed experts have been making assumptions as to what rites were performed, or what actually happened when he was buried. Their refusal to at least have a high mass for Richard III smacks of Protestant Bias and Discrimination against letting Catholic Priests back into a building they once owned and operated. The Pope and the Catholic Church have made several open handed overtures, attempting to reconcile the two doctrines. Again, I think it has less to do with faith or doctrine as it does the twin evils of power and money.


    Sadly I leave you with the best piece of written propaganda ever conceived to slander another. Too bad it still seems appropriate:


 “My conscience hath a thousand several tongues, 
And every tongue brings in a several tale,
And every tale condemns me for a villain.
Perjury, perjury, in the high'st degree;
Murder, stern murder in the dir'st degree,
Throng to the bar, crying all, 'Guilty!, guilty!” 
― William Shakespeare, Richard III

I am just sadden to see such a magnificent opportunity to celebrate history and the unique aspect of being "English" squandered by those who are only too willing to drag Richard III through the quagmire of discrimination, filthy lucre, and to continue to perpetuate lies and pass them off as truth. I guess the power players took their cues from Goebbels-Continue to tell a lie and sooner or later people will believe it. Best of luck with your Historical Inaccuracy Center.

-DS  Baker.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Live Action Role Playing in the Czech Republic With: Tomáš Lazar Doležal



   
Tomáš Lazar Doležal. Photo by  Tereza Sára Doležalová
with the group "Ogary Pogoni"

.
One aspect of European History I have always found fascinating was a people's movement which originated in Bohemia Called the Hussites, or followers of Jan Hus. Wikipedia defines them thus-The Hussites (Czech: Husité or Kališníci; "Chalice People") were a Christian movement following the teachings of Czech reformer Jan Hus (c. 1369–1415), who became one of the forerunners of the Protestant Reformation. This predominantly religious movement was propelled by social issues and strengthened Czech national awareness.


After the Council of Constance lured Jan Hus in with a letter of indemnity, then tried him for heresy and put him to death at the stake on 6 July 1415, his followers the Hussites fought the Hussite Wars (1420–1434) for their religious and political cause. Among present-day Christians, Hussite traditions are represented in the Moravian Church, Unity of the Brethren, and the re-founded Czechoslovak Hussite churches. 
The Prague Neighbors from 2007, participating in the Battle of the River Crossing, in the Heraldic Colors of Matthias Corvinus.

I have always found this movement fascinating. I have family members who although three generations or longer have lived in Texas, are still Bohemian in their attitudes and thought. Several have claimed that they were or consider themselves Hussite. I see direct parallels of the Converso population of secret Jews of Spain. The Hussites went underground and kept their beliefs to themselves and when the time was right reemerged. Now with the advent of time, in Bohemia today you can find Live Action Role Playing groups that have chosen the time period of the Hussite Wars to reenact. Incidentally trying to find out information about these groups is hard to find.

Special note: Live Action Role Play, in America is usually associated with fantasy games or worlds. Vampire and Werewolves fighting each other. Magic users and Goblins or Orcs fighting humans. Think anything you could find in a game of Dungeon and Dragons campaign. In Europe they have fantasy LARP groups. Then they have historical LARP and it is much more akin to what we would call Living History. They strive for authentic clothing, arms, and armour. They try to replicate what life would be like in or during the religious wars of mid XV Century. So there are women and children, cooks, tent, and cordage makers, bakers and candlestick makers.
Preparation of wagon defense in 2013 Battle of Sion.
(c)  Petr Zip Hájek.
It is important to note that the Battle of Sion is organized by Civitas Pragensis

"Czech Hussites fighting from a wagon platform at the Battle of the Ford"
(c) g.denik.cz


It has been one of my greatest surprises and honor to meet Tomáš Doležal Lazar of Prague, who found me on-line, and as luck would have it, has been at the heart of Hussite reenactment in the Czech Republic;  We began a remarkable conversation.

Q: Who is Tomáš Doležal Lazar, and when did all this start?

A: Right, the easy answer, born in Prague decade before the fall of Iron Curtain. Actually Lived all my life close to the historic city center. That is probably why I was lead towards history, along with my good elementary school teacher Mrs. Myslínová, and my grandmother who was a tourist guide, and very knowledgeable about history. I actually consider the affinity to history and reenactment something that was always part of me, naturally. Though in the beginning, it was pretty much playing with wooden swords in my friends backyard. Of course fantasy literature played its hand in it too. I was nearly 15 when I got my first sword, and signed up for one of the few fencing schools in my area.

Q: What about reenacting satisfies or fulfills your love of history?

A:  That changed over time many times. For me initially it was the friendships I developed. When I was younger, I simply had my knightly dream and the actual intense action and partly theater involved in it were my drives. Cannot say I ever thought much about this really. The older I am, the more I am interested in LARPing aspect of bringing the history to life and finding curiosities about history, simply learning. Cannot say I would be reenactor all along, I'd say that the last six years can be considered attempts at that? Before then, I was one of the countless people who were making more things up rather than even trying to get historically accurate.
Drill Picture of a close group of friends, "Prague Neighbors"
Photo by  Tereza Sára Doležalová

Q: What group or groups have you had a hand in developing?
A: I suppose the most standout would be my first, "The Prague Neighbors", which started with seven friends at the Battle of Libušín some seven or so years ago. We simply decided that we wanted to go into the battle and closely cooperate. Few months later, I was sitting at home and complaining to my now wife, about how sad it is that only there were only a few doing this in the country, and she told me "Well, grab the reigns and do something about it.", and I did. Eventually the few of us formed a core of what would later become a 50 member Hussite unit, actually more focusing on researching the correct use of historic armament of the era, tactics, strategies, working of command with the tools medieval commanders had at their disposal. Eventually, as it happens with groups of so many people, there were differences in opinions and the more progressive group became Civitas Pragensis, while myself and many of the original group became Ogary Pogoni, the Polish-Lithuanian hussites of Zikmund Korybutovič. Together and with several more groups from around the country we formed the Prague Union, following the historic city union from the Hussite era. Currently we can field around a hundred men at our best. Somewhere along the way, not sure where, the research and reconstruction of things of daily life, customs and such just joined in. The time period we are specializing in is from 1422 to 1437 to be exact.

Q: How many XIV and XV Century Groups are there in the Czech Republic? Do they operate mostly alone or do they come to together for events?

A: I am a very local person, so most of my interaction is with the groups here in the Czech Republic. It is actually not uncommon to find the same people participating in projects concerning all the way from 10th century to the first world war. For me, it is these: Naturally the Prague Union groups for early 15th century, then next comes the "Dvůr hradecké královny Alžběty Richenzy" (The royal court at Of Queen Elizabeth Richeza at Hradec) for early 14th century, and of which I am part of as well. Then it would be Rattenschwanz 1476, as we cooperate on several events due to likeness of equipment, and a little more distantly I am networked through actual Battle of Libušín with Midgard group (viking era reenactment), and people of Curie Vítkov (12th century reenactment). Of course there are other projects that sometimes overlap like Doba Karlova (late 14th century) and several groups focusing on knightly orders.

The Knight is Jerzy Branicki herbu Gryfa, from the group, "Ogary Pogoni" Battle of Sion 2013
(c) Petr Zip Hajek

Q: Several specific questions here: Do you have a war wagon that can be turned into a mobile fortress like the original Hussites? What type of equipment do you field? Is there hand cannons? What about crossbowmen and flails?
Battle of Sion 2013 again by (c) Petr Zip Hájek.
It is important to note that the Battle of Sion is organized by Civitas Pragensis


A: I do believe Civitas Pragensis hold three of such wagons. And as well there are several wagons parked under the Castle of Sion (one of the last Hussite battlefields) which can be loaned for an event. The war wagons are actually a heavy investment that only now seems plausible when everything else was settled. The first of Hussite specific armament that needed to be made was the pavises. We do have a few folk with flails, but since we focus on the city Hussites, the equipment is far from the Hussite field communities. The hand guns (píšťaly and hákovnice) are often utilized, same as the crossbows. However having a plausible number of war wagons, horses or bulls/cows to pull them around, that's something of a lasting dream - one that is not exactly easy to achieve financially.

Q: You hold an event each year. Could you tell us about it?

A: The Battle of Libušín, or History festival at Libušín. I shall start with a little history. The event ran now for long years. So it actually started long before I even considered any reenactment as an idea of Mr. Václav Janda and a fencing group Kyrius. The event started out small and local and eventually evolved to be traditional unlocking of the season (it is held on the weekend nearest the Saint George's day every year). Originally it was more about hitting each other with pieces of metal, then it evolved into something of a meeting with fantasy motives. It was I believe 7 years ago when when Tomáš Lapáček, one of the original group, contacted me and several other stand out people that he would like to evolve the event into a new direction and asked us for help. I should note that among all those names, I was the one least important in my humble opinion. Each of these people represented one of the groups I mentioned earlier. And it was then when we started shifting the focus of the event, away from the battle itself, but more into a concept for people to meet and learn from each other, to have a huge market where they can get new contacts with craftsmen or gear up.
Battle of Libušín 2013, by (c) Karel Křemel

Q: So how did you and the others envision the event?

A: The concept was simple - to invite everyone - the folk who do the history more in a theatrical way, the reenactors, the sports people, and open this all to general public, so they can learn as well. As the event stands now, it is a carnival. Each major era group has own camp where they present themselves. We organize guided tours for visitors among them, each of the groups has a chance to present themselves, give new insights on history. For those who are not into history the HMB tournament takes place in other part of the camp, there are falconers, musicians and alike. The event holds around 2000 - 2500 reenactors and we get between 4000 and 8000 visitors a year depending on the weather. As the highlight of the day, we organize a battle that is in concept a fantasy - so we can field around 1000 soldiers in the field, something that we have no chance to experience anywhere else in the region.
Battle of Libušín 2014 by (c) Michal Doležal

Q: Do you match up groups to have period correct fights?

A: The big event is following a scenario where we try to pit groups with matching equipment against each other. The scenario is however only rough outline of moves of units, nothing else is scripted. We do not do battle for each period, because that is what the people keep doing here all year long. Because that way, they would only stand against 100 enemies at best. So this way, we give them the missing feeling of standing in a line against 500 instead. It also works as a field lab for exercising command tools of medieval times. After the scripted battle, we give people two or three more battles lacking any script at all, where they can simply test their skill.
Battle of Libušín 2014 by (c) Michal Doležal

Q: How many merchants do you have attending this event?

A: I'll only estimate as the market part is not the part of the show I run, but I'd say we have around 40-50 parcels, a parcel being place for the merchant to sell from. Not all are historic items however, the event is also for the viewers who need their children fed and happy. There is about 10-20 historic craftsmen in the market area, however many craftsmen stay in their period camp and sell from there, mainly for reenactors themselves. Our policy is that "the more historic, the less rent for a parcel up to a free place if the craft is also being exhibited for the duration of the festival.

Q: Do you have participants from outside the Czech Republic at this event?

A: We did. I know that last year we had visitors from the United States, we often have folk from Poland, Germany, Austria, and Slovakia. This year Ukrainians visited us, and I am certain there was several more groups. They sometimes sign up under the Czech group they are friends with, so we are unable to keep a complete list of foreign participants. In closing I certainly want to extend an invitation to anyone and everyone who is in any way involved in reenactment X through the XV Centuries. I know I have been told by my friends from the West, at times that the battle looks unnecessarily dangerous, but the battle alone is not the only point of the event. It is all about inspiration and expanding horizons, about talking and sharing knowledge and ideas. I for one am quite curious about reenactment in other countries and I believe that our Czech community has something to offer as well.
For those who like HMB or Battle of Nations style fighting, it
can also be found at Libusin.(c) Karel Kremel



I would like to thank Tomas Lazar Dolezal for his patience and understanding. This article has taken twice as long to produce due to some changes in my life. Děkuji moc Tomas!

Tomas wanted to provide links to various pages, that will give a better view of the Hussite reenactment world:

https://www.facebook.com/BitvafestivalLibusin?fref=ts

This last link is a first person video of life in a medieval camp with scenes of tournament and combat.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e2IBZZq6IWU#t=13

This next link, is what it is like to be in a medieval combat zone.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y09ih0sMy1s

The next link here is further color photography by Karel Kremel.

http://www.karelkremel.com/en/gallery/reportage/2014libusin/76












Sunday, June 15, 2014

King Arthur, a little boy, and Howard Pyle.

The Sangreal or Holy Grail.
When I was roughly at the age of Six years old I discovered King Arthur in a big way. Huge even. I would have mock battle with my friends, dress up in improvised armour and lead battles all over my neighborhood and even go so far as to dig miniature castles and forts in the nearby Mesquite reefs in the open desert of Eastern Las Vegas.

"A Knight" by Howard Pyle.


As a small boy growing up in the wilds of the Mojave Desert, knights in shinning armour held a terrible and gripping fascination for me. I can't explain where this fascination came from. My folks were both from Texas and Oklahoma. My father and mother had both grown up on a farm and cattle ranches. The children and grandchildren of Westward Ho! settlers and immigrants. I could not have been more different from my two older brothers, if the dwellers of the Sidghe had come in the middle of the night and replaced me with small changeling.

I can remember lamenting (my family called it sniveling) about being born on the wrong side of the Atlantic, and how I would never be a Knight because I was not English. I suspect to my Bull Riding father and my mother, the daughter of Panhandle Wheat farmers, it must have seemed like Little Lord Fauntleroy had sprung up in their midst. I can remember saddling up my cousins Shetland Pony named Hiawatha, wearing my beach towel cloak and a yardstick as a handy broadsword riding off to kill giants and slay dragons!

The Knights lined up to see who was the better hand with a lance.
I didn't have to imagine Castles, The Texhoma Oklahoma Grain Growers Cooperative Silos stood in good stead. Made from loamy brown WPA 1930's concrete, they looked like a startling set of fingers jutting up 
into the cerulean prairie sky. Windmills ala Man of La Mancha were in a heaping plenty too. In my head I dubbed myself a Prince of the Prairie, and a Duke of the Mojave Desert. Then at the age of eight or so, I found: "The Story of King Arthur and His Knights" By John F Plummer and Illustrated by Howard Pyle. If I wasn't fatally afflicted with the desire to be a knight, I was well on my way. 

King Arthur Rides Through the Valley of Earthly Delights
In 1973 The MGM Casino and Resort opened for business. My father had been a construction foreman on that project. The owner of the MGM Kirk Kerkorian had also purchased the entire MGM film library. As an added bonus and attraction to his customers who might find themselves too tired to gamble or too broke, he had the MGM Movie Theater built. The entire film library was opened up and my parents, knowing of my fascination for all things King Arthur, took me to see Camelot staring Richard Harris and Vanessa Redgrave.

Imagine a full sized movie theater screen, sitting on leather couch drinking a cold coke a cocktail waitress just brought you, with the darkness of the movie theater enfolding you into its world... watching the rise and fall of King Arthur and His Knights. Softly in the distance you could hear the hammer beating the nails in my affliction for all things medieval.

I will remember this set of images, as they warred with the images Howard Pyle had placed in my head. Here is a link below to the meeting between King Arthur and Guinevere.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bZc2PNoCM2w

King Arthur Meets Lady Guinevere 

So as you can guess I have and I guess I will always be a hopeless romantic when it comes to things related to King Arthur. I would like to see the jousting friends and associates I know, someday put on a historic based tournament where the participants dress up and assume the personas of the Knights of the Round Table. Apparently in the late XIII and early XIV Centuries, it was all the rage. One of the more notable Knights of that time frame, Sir Ulrich von Liechtenstein who was said by himself no less, to have dressed as Venus the Goddess of love and traveled from Venice to Vienna dressed as a lady, breaking over 300 lances in one on one combat along the way. His second quest saw him as King Arthur himself, along with his friends who took on the persona of the Knight of the Round Table, they rode all through Styria and Austria competing and jousting along the way.

I wish I could help it but I have long since given over to my affliction for all things Arthurian. Turn on the movie Excalibur and I am done. I mean no disrespect to the cast and crew,  but it was a crap movie. Horrible. But you can tell they took a lot of cues from Howard Pyle's imagery. Still, turn it on and I am done for the next hour and half or so...


Sir Gawain Son of King Lot of Orkney

"The Herald"


I hope that this has provided you small insight into the forces that helped create the Modern Medievalist. After speaking to a lot of my friends, this affliction or desire to be a knight, like me has been around since we were small. I have a friend who lives in the UK that swears the reason some of us are so strongly drawn to these particular time lines and events, is that we had lived them.-Just that simple.I don't know about that but unless someone who has died recently and comes back to talk about the possibility of a past life, my friends theory makes as much sense as anything else I have heard.

Don't be too alarmed if when we meet I get this distant look upon my face. I might be bashing about in the lists with Sir Kay or chasing the Questing Beast with Good King Pellinore, "What, what, WHAT!"

Thank you.

DS Baker

PS-All illustrations and images courtesy of Wikimedia Commons, and are in the public domain.


Friday, June 13, 2014

"Just for the Hell of it Jousting!-Photo Essay!

Lincoln Cathedral.
(c) Ian Foss.
     Have you ever come across a person you just instantly liked? Funny how that sometimes happens. It is not an ordinary event, so when it does happen, it is best to pay attention. I am somewhat of a fatalist, in that I don't believe things just happen. It is my personal belief, so I am not asking you to ascribe to it. But back to instant friendships, it is always fun when you meet someone and they become a mate.

Arne Koets
for the
International I Want To Be Arne Koets Day
(c) Ian Foss
     I have known Ian Foss for less than a year. But in that year we have become mates. We both share a love of history. And curiously enough we share similar opinions about why we are so incredibly attracted to history, specifically medieval history... This love of history has caused him to make a sea change in his life. He spent years as an IT consultant and troubleshooter, and has just recently switched over to a career as a photographer. I thought I would share some his photos today!

Ryde Pier Isle of Wight
(c) Ian Foss.

Ian has been devoting a great deal of time developing his photographic business along with creating a new career working in the Publishing world, creating book covers and creating new covers for old science fiction classic films that have been and are being re-released through various distributors in the UK.

Here is the link to his Joust For The Hell Of It page on Facebook.
https://www.facebook.com/joustforthehellofit

Thank you Ian!

DS Baker.

Please remember the Modern Medievalist can be found most days at:
https://www.facebook.com/ModernMedievalist



















                                              

Heraldry by Serbian Artist Prof. Ljubodrag Grujic.

Recently I had the occasion to change my Coat of Arms. The original design didn't really fit what or who I am. Luckily for me an adopted sister decided my arms and crest should look as they were originally designed.With six months of hidden planning with famed Artist Prof. Ljubodrag Grujic of Pancevo Serbia, saw my arms re-imagined and corrected.

I have had technical issues with Google in the past six months so hopefully those issues are now resolved, and I can go back to interviewing the amazing people I have had the good fortune to meet and correspond with.

A XV Century Style Jousting Shield with my new Coat of Arms.
My Crest.

My full Achievement as rendered by Prof Ljubodrag Grujic

  http://www.armorial-register.com/arms-us/baker-ds-arms.html

Blog Update.

This blog has been off-line due to some major technical issues created by Google. I have patiently awaited their Techno-Ninjas to come up with a fix. So this is just a test message to see if the various issues have been resolved.

PS-Which it seems it has. Look for articles to be coming forthwith.

DS Baker
One of my all time favorite images from Stephen Moss.
The Castle Gate at Arundel Castle.