Household Q&A Session
In June I offered members of the household the opportunity to submit questions which I then recorded extemporaneous answers to. If you are interested in submitting a question to the next session, join the household on Patreon. I want to thank my patrons for their support. For as low as $1 denizens of the household not only receive access to member only creative influence, such as this Q&A and a member only discord, but they are supporting the entire Turnip of Terror project. One membership covers the continual maintenance and upkeep of the website, curation of the resource lists, multiple podcasts, event coverage, continual updates on living history and reenactment related interests, reenactor focus articles, product reviews, interviews, videos, and more.
Routine Maintenance and Upkeep
The website has received its monthly link reviews with no broken or misleading links found for repair. The Digital Articles and Papers section was expanded with the addition of two papers, one on medieval hunting and one on deer management in medieval England. Having recently gotten my hands on the ever recommended book and getting the opportunity to read it myself, Armor of the English Knight 1400 – 1450 by Tobias Capwell on the Armor Book List has received a ToA (Turnip of Approval). The Groups Billboard has been given a much needed aesthetic boost and all groups on the list, save for the ones in the UK section, have been upgraded with some sort of applicable iconography and a brief description of what their group is all about. UK is going to be a July project. The Medieval Content Creators page has received the same treatment, with all the entries updated to include imagery and description. Ylva the Red has been added to the Merchant Roll and no businesses were moved to the morgue. I am continuing to gather and have recently received some submission suggestions for merchants who do not operate with a secure checkout system, such as those who only sell through Facebook. I am still trying to decide how I want to do this kind of list.
Articles & Conversations
In this article I use the example of a new set of arm harness to break down and illustrate in detail the methodology and considerations involved in the research and development of unique, but historically authentic, armor pieces. This is also the beginning of a series of documentary works highlighting the experience of getting armor custom made and fit by a professional armorer. 4,800 words, approximately 24 minutes to read.
While I have the most experience with public interaction, be it through timeline events or through working public living history, I do not go to as many insular events as I would like. I asked for people to share some examples of closed events they have been to. The stories people shared were great events with intriguing scenarios you may want to emulate yourself for your local group.
- Elisabeth talked about playing music for dancers at many immersive events.
- The Company of Little Dunmow shared how they would go into the natural terrain of member’s farms and camp out, cook out, and go for hikes under the auspices of patrolling the Lord’s land for poachers, or mustering and heading to war.
- Reloph told me about an event he attended, hosted by a history professor, where they reenacted a scenario from MS Ashmoel 1511 Folio 25v, two scenes from the story of King Garamantes. They attempted to copy the depictions, including using a dog to find the king captured by the enemy.
I began a Facebook Discussion about medieval camping, and whether or not we as a reenactment culture bring too much material culture with us at camping events. It is worth reading the conversation on the Turnip of Terror page, and in the SCA Historical Camps. A Unofficial SCA Group Facebook group if you’re a member. However, the general consensus seems to be what I suspected: people did not camp much at all in the middle ages. There were waystations, inns, and public houses along the roads, when the towns themselves were not a walk or a ride’s distance from each other. The medieval person did not enjoy sleeping out of doors and they would strive, even on military campaign, to sleep in a barn or a shed over in a field. Tents were rare, and rarely used in the manner we do (with one person or family to a tent.) When sleeping outside a cloak and a hedgerow would suffice. Those few who intended to stay in the wilderness, such as hunters and foresters, may pack an additional tarp-like blanket of wool, which could be rigged up in a variety of configurations with with deadfall or cut brances, small string carried in a scrip, etc. Soldiers would sleep together, or under carts and wagons. What tents did exist were not occupied alone, and though the knight or lord may occupy the bed in a large pavilion, the floor would be littered with his squares, staff, and other servants, resembling the way in which people tended to sleep in communal arrangements in their houses and manors. We impose a level of privacy on our encampments in modern medieval events which would be unthinkable to the medieval person.
How big is the “average” medieval reenactment or living history group? How small is the ratio of men to women, actually? Are there truly too many chiefs and not enough Indians? These are the kinds of topics which I hear talked about all the time, I’ve spent many a fireside conversation on these topics, but how much of our understanding of these subjects is entirely anecdotal? In my far and wide googling I have been unable to find any concrete data on the subject, and have undertaken a bit of personal social-science. If you are in a medieval era living history or reenactment group, take a few minutes and fill out the following survey. I will analyse the data and write an article on my findings.
If you missed it, I released a new episode in my irregularly scheduled thought-project titled Turnip Talk. I have an idea for a new audio series, separate from (and in addition to) Turnip Talk and How Two Medieval, and as a test run of the workflow on some new audio software I have narrated one of my oldest articles detailing my thoughts on why I chose the turnip for my heraldry. If you cannot find this podcast on your favorite pod-catcher (anything except Apple and Google Podcasts probably) use this RSS feed.
The Medieval HeraulD
Normally this segment of the newsletter is “This Month On The Internet” but I am trying something different this month and piloting a new project idea called The Medieval Herauld (Yes, another project! If you don’t have more projects than time, then what’s the point of getting up in the morning?) Herauld being the Middle English spelling of Herald, the format for this project is a news broadcast which shares the headlines in a simple, direct, and brief manner for stories, articles, videos, news, and developments in the study of medieval history of interest to those seeking to develop authentic and accurate living history and reenactment impressions. This podcast audio will always be coupled with an article of some sort, superior in ease of use than show-notes, where the articles can be linked and shared and interacted with. For your pleasure, here is Episode Zero of The Medieval Herauld.
A Facebook post by the Medieval Arrows page May 16th 2020 is a five photo album demonstrating the process of turning cow horn into knock inserts for arrows by hand. It shows how the whole horn is chopped into sections, boiled to allow it to be flattened, and then cut into strips. Using a knife the strips of horn are split to the desired thicknesses and pieced into the width needed as an insert.
Posted June 13th, Popula Urbanum posted a video about Material Culture. Some videos you can play in the background and enjoy them just fine, but Andrew’s videos are factually dense and deserve undivided attention. This summation, which is appropriately titled “The Why of Items” is a good review of material culture in regards to living history and reenactment. The video is 09:04 minutes long.
In the same way modern education builds on past knowledge, the medieval intellectual looked back to the stories of antiquity to inform their worldview. It was reaching back into classical mythology and knowledge which snowballed into the Renaissance. Koen of The Voynich Temple wrote an article titled Ovid and Hercules in the middle ages, which is a great window into how classical virtue tales were used in the medieval era to tell similar stories in their cultural context. Not only it is interesting to see how mythology was repackaged throughout history, it is also curious to consider how centuries ago people were reading the same myths about the same classical heroes we do today, and how they drew both eerily similar and vastly different lessons from the same stories. Estimated read time 9 minutes.
Fabric is fundamentally important to living history impressions, and I don’t know if I’ll ever stop trying to understand it better, which is why it’s important to read about it whenever you can. An article from February 24th 2019 by April Munday for the website A Writer’s Perspective she touches on the history of the silk road and the introduction of the material from Asia into medieval Europe, the rise of silk production in medieval Europe, the process of making silk (to include how to extract the worm without it breaking your threads) and the types of fabrics used in silk fabric. Though aimed at historical fiction authors, it is a useful overview of a fabric used in many living history and reenactment impressions. Approximate read time 4 minutes.
June 23rd 2020 the Royal History Geeks Facebook page posted a quick thought experiment challenging the claim Margaret Beaufort actively schemed to make her son, Henry VII, the King of England. It instead describes the likely reluctance most medieval nobleman had against attempting to usurp the throne. The short essay outlines different motivations of a medieval noble, which involved expanding land and prestige more than taking the throne itself. The final conclusion of the thought of the writing is how it was more likely in pursuit of these goals, the restoration of title and land ownership, Henry VII followed an unintentional road to being King. Approximate read time 1.5 minutes.
The Royal Armouries are hosting an online conference July 10th 2020 which can be registered for at the bottom low price of free. The theme of the conference is “The Field of Cloth and Gold”, the diplomatic summit and tournament between Henry VIII of England and Francis I of France which remains an example of the apex of medieval deed of arms culture and displays of wealth and pageantry. Richard Barber presents the keynote speech, followed by a lecture by Glenn Richarson and Tobias Capwell. I’m registered, are you?
January 16th 2020 the Polish armorer Kram Stjepana posted a video which is one of the best overviews of all the steps, from wire to weave, involved in riveted mail armor. The only thing it doesn’t show is drawing out the wire. Spooling, cutting the rings, flattening, shaping, drifting, riveting… The volume of unautomated hand work required at every stage of the process is staggering… which is why I try not to balk at the cost if quality mail. At 2:32 seconds the video is quick and watchable, edited well and accompanied by good music.
A judgement by the English government concludes a court battle between the Mac family of Warwickshire and Historic England resulting in a fine of £160,000 (approximately $197,000). Between 2015 and 2018 the Mac family caused irrevocable damage to the Withybrook scheduled monument, the site and physical remnants of a medieval village including earthenworks, trackway, and the site of a medieval building, in pursuit of developing various infrastructure property. The Mac family were made aware of the protected nature of the land when it was purchased and over the years has defied multiple warnings and reprimands from the Secretary of State. If they do not pay the fine by September 23rd 2020 they face automatic imprisonment for 14 months. Approximate read time 5 minutes.
Every month I release some sort of project for the community, be it a long form written article, an audio episode, or a video, or some blend of the above. The items below are the projects I have in various stages of completion, which are at a stage where they are capable of being the headlining topic for next month. Esquires and Knights of the household who support at high level tiers on Patreon have access to a monthly poll where they can choose which topic I will work on for the next month. If you want to cast your voice, become a Patron!
- A “Behind the Metal” interview featuring Trevor Clemons of the Kansas City Sword Guild, focusing on his considerable expertise and success with creating a crossover HEMA and living history group.
- I have a simple, slender belt from Lorifactor I could review. Anything I wear I could review. Do you want more product reviews?
- In the past, I hand drew some diagrams/floor plans for tents to establish an idea to what extent concepts like “headroom” and “floor-space” exist in any given tent. With access to a CAD program now, I have some far superior drawings of a series of Tentsmith Conical tents I could share as a resource. These drawings are very time consuming though, and with how many size/shape variations exist among the preeminent manufacturers of medieval tents, it will take me years to work through them all (or sufficient support to work on the website full time.)
- I went on a mission to find fixes to a persistent wardrobe malfunction where my hosen would bunch up on my feet and bind with the rough leather of my boots when putting shoes on over my footed hosen. I received a list of possible solutions, some of which I have tried and some of which remain candidates for experimentation. An article on the subject would include trying and documenting my experiments with all the suggestions.
- I am collecting old, dead tents to re-purpose their fabric for an “Archer Lean-To.” This project would be to benefit any group or encampment portrayal. The idea: unlike the Knight himself who would purchase a proper tent, the commoners who joined him on campaign might opt instead to take an old cast off tent which could be purchased for cheap or salvaged for free and use it to erect a shelter for themselves while on campaign. Hanging a rectangular swath of canvas, as a tarp, can allows a variety of options as a shelter. It could ornamented with cheap mattresses and other excess material culture to give the impression of three or four men (representing a few archers and camp servant in their absence) and provide a contrast in quality to my tent. I need to research, however, is if this is a speculative construction, a reenactorism I have seen others do without any primary documentation. Part of the project and the article would be doing said research.
- Can you portray an Atheist or Godless medieval impression?
- How to tie an arming point? (Video and/or print guide.)
- How to use a fibula style brooch? (Video and/or print guide.)
- Practical example against cutting corners, using tent stakes and hammers as a reference. (Video)
- An article/video on medieval camping and comparing/contrasting slavishly accurate camping vs. modern reenactment “glamping.”
- Knotwork / ropework guide, either as a single large video/article or in a series (knots, bends, splices, marlinespike skills, etc.)