Sandwich medieval fayre was a two day event but I was only going up on Saturday evening for the second day. This would be my first proper medieval War of the roses type show and more of a reenactment event like the Napoleonic ones, with a living history camp and set battle times. I had been intent on 'Landskneckting' my stuff up before and so was kindly lent a more suitable (i.e. dull English) hat, a padded jack and a long spear for this occasion.
There was a trebuchet and archery/gunnery display and then some jousting. I was reminded that a few years ago I looked into the plausibility of doing jousting myself, unsurprisingly it wasn't that plausible, although if your very very lucky and know the right people you might be able to start out shoveling horse dung and work your way up to a squire.. and get some goes on the horsey stuff. I had been on a horse once.
..and the horsemanship was amazing, these Knights of the damned do all sorts of film work and base the show largely on 'A knight's tale' (which they worked on) complete with rock anthems for each of them. Having seen plently of Napoleonic near misses with horses going all over the place it was quite a change. I don't think the 'Maces of fire' were that historically authentic though.
We were actually on the French side who raided Sandwich (Baguette?) in 1457 and set fire to the town before English reinforcements came up. The medieval siege society were the hosts and read out a disclaimer about having no legal/insurance liability to anyone setting foot on the battleground and a series of rules of combat (no sharp items on the field, no head strikes, acknowledge hits, aim for padding/armour, etc), then it was the off!
Both the days battles seem a little confusing to me now, a series of advances, clash of arms and retreats, but as a newbie I was mainly concentrating on those rules, whilst some were bodily throwing themselves at people with abandon I was almost polite in my approach, trying to wordlessly communicate 'Excuse me! Im going to attack you there, okay? is it alright to hit your elbow?' I did hit one guy in the elbow and was told to be careful of head strikes. I assume he was talking to me?
I was also trying not to thrust by running the polearm through my forward hand from the rear hand.. which is how I would naturally attack with one but is a no no.
Everyone was good natured but I confess I considered taking up a non combat role, which might seem odd for me, like being a monk going round assisting the injured, giving spiritual solace and also being practical as a water carrier.. maybe I still will.
The archery was interesting, occasionally a line of them would rain down a dozen shots on us and seeing them sail up in the air and level out, coming at you, gave me the same disconcerting feeling I get when standing opposite a cannon at a 45eme show. I seemed blessed though that many hit nearby but not me, infact few were hits except on a 'dead guy' who seemed an arrow magnet. You certainly don't want to get one in the face.
Sandwich was ours though! what could possibly go wrong in the afternoon battle? (part deux).
I was also surprised that I didn't get that hot being in the sun in a padded quilt, gloves, and coif (cap) under a metal helmet. After the show I kept it all on, just as I have the habit of doing with Napoleonics, as did Mr Denyer who I got the lift up with, and we chatted to the public a fair bit.
Medieval shows are a bit more general interest and family themed than most reenactments, I suppose because it is a broader time period and is backed by a lot of media from Braveheart, to Robin hood, To Henry VI to King Arthur to wolf hall (which is about 400 years..) not to mention Monty Python and the holy grail for a descent into silliness. Everyone has an idea of what they think it is all about. People don't say 'There is an age of enlightenment show on at the weekend dear, shall we take the kids?'
Insert dog + tinned food joke here.
The second battle was a reverse of the first with some screaming ladies and smoke rising from the town (The south tent lines) as the Eeenglish approached. after several clashs we started to leave a smattering of dead with each push and as I turned to run back to the ships I met my end as a swordsman slashed me across the back.
I had an ice cream and won some Belgian chocolates on the tombola and so the day drew to a close. I felt I'd learnt a lot and ordered a padded gambeson of my own this afternoon and have a fleur de lis to add to it, I'm thinking of going for being a stranded Frenchmen in English service after his master has died (assuming I don't become a monk, Medieval gives you some scope for your own portrayal) although I shall be campaigning in France when the Free company do the next show at Hever castle.
Onwards and upwards!