April went by in a blur. If we’re all lucky this will be the last round-up post I make which has to reference how big an influence Corona Virus had on the month. I spent the first few weeks of April working from home, and homeschooling the little one. At the time it felt like I wasn’t getting anything done, but now I’m back in the office and I sorely miss spending all day with the family and being on the pulse of her schooling and activities. This whole experience has been a profound perception shift in a number of way.
Pilgrim Progress Challenge
April 1st kicked off the inaugural Pilgrim Progress Challenge. The idea being, scattered across the globe as we are, at our own pace we could walk a pilgrimage together. Using the Canterbury Tales as our guide, The Agincourt Soldier and I challenged everyone to get out and get on their feet. Those who walked 25 miles or more were in the running for a pewter pilgrim badge custom made for this event. Those who walked all 67 miles and made it to Canterbury received a sticker as a prize. About two dozen people participated, tracking their mileage in their own Pilgrim Progress log. I am pleased to see about half of those who started, made it to Canterbury! I didn’t quite make it there myself, but I have next year to try again.
Story Time with Uncle T
During the beginning of the month, while I was still working at home, I lent my own contribution to the home schooling burdens of wrangling children all day, every day. Putting a historical spin on story time, I chose a fairy tale each week, something we find familiar like Rapunzel or Cinderella, and dug out the earliest written account of the story I could find. Not all these stories started as medieval fairy tales, but many of them did have oral accounts dating back to the fifteenth century. Fairy Tales also tended to follow certain themes which were replicated across different cultures, which would all add their own spin. The Rumplestiltskin story, for instance, follows the theme of a magical helper provides air in return for some steep payment, a deal which the protagonist can get out of when discovering its true name in some way. One week I read the English version of this type of story. Many of the original or cross-cultural accounts of these tales are far more gruesome than Disney would let you believe. I read them as live streams so the kids had something to watch during the day. I have left all the videos up on the page for reuse by anyone who wants to watch them again. I read a story a week until I went back to work and couldn’t be available during the typical “school” day.
The Great FACE LIFT of 2020
Though it was an “under the hood” project I had been working on for the better part of the year, April 5th I made the decision to pull the trigger on a complete re-build of the website. The decision to change was based on a number of different factors which were all culminating to a make or break head. One of the major motivations to change was based on WordPress architecture, which this site is based on. The template I was using was “retired”, and had been for over a year. It was receiving no more updates, patches, or features. There were going to be functionality issues on the horizon which I wanted to get ahead of. I also received some advice from a friend who does web design professionally. Previously the website was, like basic WordPress sites, a blog roll. I post articles and videos and such a few times a month and traffic surges while I’m publicizing those, but based on the traffic stats the site itself was being used far more consistently, outside of my posting, for the resources I have been building into it, such as the reading list. The front page has been re-tooled to make those most accessible and easy to navigate. At the time I was worried about making the change, but with a month of watching the site operate better than ever under the new style, I am pleased I took the plunge.
My birthday was April 14th, and it was a good one. I was pleased to see The Turnip of Terror community grew in excess of 1000 people in the afternoon on the 14th. It was a great gift. Thank you everyone for your support.
Eyes on DOK 2020
April 16th marked exactly one half year since the last Days of Knights. Being my favorite event of the year I cannot help but start my own personal internal countdown clock, and of course hoping everything returns to enough normal it isn’t cancelled like so many other events have bean.
How Two Medieval
Though the Corona Virus messed with our production schedule and we had to skip a week, we came back strong with a great guest. Ann Asplund came on to talk about women in the reenactment hobby. It was a good illustration of the unique hurdles women face when entering the hobby and some discussion on the roles women can play with their impressions. You can listen here on the website, directly on Anchor, or add the podcast’s RSS into your favorite app.
This Month Online
The Wallace Collection
I could post something from the Wallace Collection daily, but now and again I like to highlight collections I am viewing. Earlier this month I shared the mid 16th century harness which may have been made for Ferdinand, younger brother of the Emperor Charles V, who at the age of 23 became King of Bohemia and Hungary. It is a magnificent display of armor as art, and the pinnacle of the functional technology of plate.
A video by Tod Cutler came across by feed and I re-shared it, as it discussed one of those “did they?” questions about treating the heads of arrows and quarrels.
Mythical Creatures: The Headless Blemmyes
Bigfoot, cyclopes, mermaids; there are the popular cryptids we all know and love, then there are the multitude of mysterious and bizarre mythical beasts which captivated the imaginations of our ancestors. One of these creatures, which has accounts dated back to the medieval era, which many have long since forgotten about are the Headless Blemmyes. Just History Posts did a great little article about them.
Again I pushed out a medieval themed meme, and it has probably been the most popular single image I’ve posted. Not quite viral, but definitely well enjoyed. I’m going to keep doing them. For those who are following long term you’ll notice it was the exact same image as the Bramham Moore meme, but with a far less… nerdy tag line. It was an interesting A/B test. The less intellectual one was far more popular.
Articles and Research Projects
The projects below have no specific order of urgency, so this is an opportunity to voice your suggestions or requests on upcoming content.
- 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 purchase 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.
- I have many video ideas, most of them centering around basic medieval concepts and skills which may embarrass the newest among us to ask, such as what’s the proper way to tie an arming point or how do you put on round fibula style brooches?
What topics would you like me to prioritize for you? What are you seeing on the website or the social media accounts you like or dislike? Drop me your feedback by comment or email.