Monday, October 1, 2012

Profile of Excellence: Przemyslaw Rey Banner Leader & Museum Director

(c) Arkadiusz Rutkowski
Przemyslaw Rey is today's subject for Profile in Excellence. From Gdansk, Poland.

Q: When did you begin to study or show an interest in things medieval.
A: I don't know. I have always lived with history. I come from one of the more famous Polish families. One of my ancestors was the first Polish Poet to write in Polish. For me it was a natural thing.

-His ancestor once said, "Let it by all and sundry foreign nations be known that Poles are no Anserinae they have a language of their own."-Mikolaj Rej.
*Anserinae are a family with which Geese and Swans are labeled.
Coat of Arms
From the Seal of Jan Rey

A: Cont.-When I look at history, there has always been a male family member involved or mentioned; like the Battle of Grunwald, I had an ancestor there.

Q:When did you decide to begin reenacting?
A: It was in 1996

Q: What type of reenacting was this? Was it more akin to SCA or living history?
A: It has always been more living history than SCA.

Q:Jumping forward a bit, what did you study at University?
A:Management and Marketing.

Q:Was that a help in your Modern Medieval career?
A: Yes. It helps me every year on the battlefield of Grunwald. I'm the Commander of the Great Banner of Cracow and Babilon. (This is the main Polish encampment and the place where most of the foreign fighters stay.) As the Banner Commander I am responsible for all of the logistics, recruitment, finances, accommodations. It also helped me find my present Job, I am the Director of Grodzisko Owidz, an early Slavic village used for historical interpretation and teaching.

Q: How long did it take you to go from beginning reenactor to Banner Commander, which I would think of is a small army?
A: Ten years. It is a sort of small army. In 2010 the 600th anniversary of the Battle of Grunwald I was in charge of 120 fighters from 14 countries, but this was a special event. Normally I have 60 fighters from roughly 10 countries to deal with.

Q: Which countries sent you their fighters?
A: I had fighters from; Belgium, Czech Republic, Finland, France, Lithuania, Poland, Germany, Slovakia, Hungary, Italy, Portugal, Ukraine, UK, and the USA.
(c) Przemek Czyzowski

Q: During the 14th Century armies had support personnel regardless of what they may have been called. Do you have these people helping out in your encampment?
A: If you count the cooks, helpers, spouses or other family, our ranks will normally swell to right at or just over 300 people during the 2010 event, but last year I had exactly 198 persons including fighters.

Q:How many groups do you work with?
A: I belong to four groups. I interact with another two, but for Grunwald I worked with over 40.

Q: How many people attend the Battle of Grunwald, that are not actually part of the reenactment?
A: In 2010 we had an estimated 180,000 to 200,000 visitors. Since then we manage to get 50,000 to 100,000 visitors depending on the weather.
(c) Arkadiusz Rutkowski


Q: That is an amazing amount of visitors! Do they pay anything to view the battle?
A: No it is free, except they may have to pay to park their cars or buses. It should be noted that everyone in the reenactment groups are volunteering too. None of us are getting paid. Rather we pay for playing out of our own pocket.

Q: How do you see Polish reenactment evolving?
A: In the 90's it was sort of Hollywoodish. We used to wear tights... now we make hose and try to research everything before we come out on the field.

Q: Speaking of research, what can you tell us about your new adventure in time?
A: Grodzisko Owidz is a center for medieval knowledge and a bit further past that. It is designed to recreate Polish life from the Xth Century through to the XVIIth Century.

Q: How are you attracting reenactors for your stronghold?
A: I have started a "rent free" program, where they can come to the stronghold and they can stay there as long as they stay in persona, wear period clothes, and do their interpretative work while keeping their house open to the public.

Q: What direction do you see Grodzisko Owidz going towards?
A: We are in the process of signing an agreement with the Polish Academy of Sciences. I also want to make links and agreements with other universities, museums, learning institutions, and various reenactment groups that I know.

Q:Sounds like you are having to do a lot of work...
A: Yes. There is a lot of work. Paperwork, building the stronghold, I even sometimes have to be the stronghold goat herder!-Which is one of the reasons I love being the Director.

I suspect that Przemyslaw Rey will continue to live a historical life, a medieval life, while staying very much in touch with this modern one. I want to thank him for his time, and especially his patience.

All my absolute best!

DS Baker

Battle of Grunwald Official Website:

Here are some video links from You Tube for the 600th Anniversary of the Battle of Grunwald:

Przemyslaw Rey's websites:

Grodzisko Owidz:

No comments:

Post a Comment