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Published: November 20th 2016
Jousting is brutal...who said medieval was faire?
The first taste was a bald guy dressed as a monk in a brown habit with a big silver cross hanging on his chest. Not sure whether it was the sunglasses or the walkie-talkie over his left breast that attracted my attention. But when he raised his mobile phone I knew I was on a good thing.
And he was only the parking attendant!
I showed my ticket to a peasant girl then a jester on a unicycle crossed my path.
A grey bearded man in leather pants and Norse jerkin on a small ladder adjusting a noose...climbing down as I approach.
"Please climb back up the ladder again," I plead.
"Who are you to tell me what to do?" he retorts..."Hangings are not 'til 1:30pm."
The hangman nearby with only his eyes visible from his black garb...swapping his big axe from hand to hand as if itching to start the executions here and now!
A medieval village was coming to life around me...crafts of the Middle Ages in the 21st Century alive and well.
Welcome to the St Ives Medieval Faire.
Travel back in time...where the participants work Monday to Friday in the humdrum jobs of our modern age...yet on weekends enter a world of falconry, peasantry, wenching, vikings feasting and in battle, knights in armour clashing broadsword, pike and jousting, life as it used to be...for these folk life as they'd wish it still be.
I wander...eyes wide open in thrall...my camera itching to capture it all.
A potter cutting slabs of clay...blacksmiths preparing spikes for weaponry...a swordsmyth sharpening his wares for the day.
A guy cutting wedges of wood. "What are you?" I ask. "A podger" is his casual reply.
A podger is usually a person somewhat rotund who is inclined to overeat...but in Norse he told me it is a woodworker. "Wow" was my reply.
A guy in a habit with a horned goat's skull on a staff...another in chainmail smiling through his beard...a group of armoured knights just standing chatting...others polishing their boots, shields or helmets...Norsemen warming their hands around a fire...wenches in peasantry henning around.
I was in Medieval Heaven...and for a while I considered joining them.
Then I remembered my touch of Swedish, French,
Scottish, Irish & English heritage...so many brigands...so many disparate groups...never know who'd be an enemy...better not mention it around here!
So I went and got myself enthralled in the Falconry...the Ultimate Raptor Experience...all the way from Bendigo, Victoria...hawks, falcons , owls...even a Wedge-tailed eagle.
Then the activity picked up...group after group on the march...lining up for the Grand Parade.
Now that's when you get an idea how many men and women in all their finery make up a Medieval Faire.
Hundreds from all over Australia!!!
Various garrisons of the New Varangian Guard...re-enacting culture and combat of the Byzantine bodyguard of 9th-11th Centry AD...Miklagard from Sydney, Rusland from Brisbane...Vlachernais from Melbourne.
Various Viking groups including the Huscarls, the elite guard of Scandinavian and Anglo-Saxon kings...the Einherjar demonstrating Glima - Viking wrestling...Jomsborgarlag Sudherd with their black and red crossed shields...and the Forn Vegre - old Norse for "ancient ways."
And if you are into more restive life how about Dark Ages life with the Ancient Arts Fellowship from Canberra...Europa for Dark ages pastimes, crafts and culture...or maybe some weaving and cooking before doing battle with your kin from the NSW Fire & Steel from Newcastle.
Maybe the Crusader Templars - the Poor Fellow Knights of Christ and of the Temple of Solomon of the 13th century is your thing.
The 17th century Musketeers Group looked pretty cool...nothing like the smell of gunpowder after a stoush you might say.
Yet I quite liked the Company of the Staple - life in the English held Calais of 1376 in the Hundred Year War. The Swedish king Gustavus Adolphus was my hero during that war. I wonder if I joined...would they let me be him?
The Revolting Peasants - yep that's their name - celebrating the skills of the lowly peasant class of sewing, cooking and metalwork. I don't know if I'd dress up to do that sort of thing!
How about some exiled Saxon nobles of the Kingdom of Wessex? If you live in Brisbane you can join the Companie Draco Routiers or Dragon Mercenaries...or if you prefer books and history from 1375 to 1415 you could join Ex Libris History.
Wet wigs to them I say. How about a bit of armour, a broadsword, give me a poleaxe...let's get into it good and proper.
The Company of the Cross
- the Yorkist Army of King Richard the Third in the War of the Roses...the Company of St Christopher from 1450 to 1500 if you are willing to fight to preserve the Catholic faith...the Company of the Phoenix - kinda like that name - mercenaries from 1435 to 1480. Yeh maybe.
But here comes the King and Queen - La compagnie du Cygne D'or...with their entourage of courtiers, attendants, bodyguard and general hangers on.
Steel on steel...pike on lance...the grunts of the vanquishers and gurgles of the slain.
Knights battling everywhere but time for the joust. Jousting is brutal...and yikes it's for real
I imagined they'd have wooden lances with rubber ends and it'd be pretty tame and injury and accidents would be rarely enacted.
How wrong can a novice foot soldier be?
These guys were into it for real...yep...knock off your head real!!!
And the lances weighing 20 kg had coronels...triple point metal ends!!!
There were nine knights...professionals who travel the world...jousting!
Gotta make a living somehow you say.
Andrew McKinnon (Australia) from Sydney competes in jousts around the World and 'twas he who
assembled the knights for the St Ives Medieval Faire.
Phil Leitch (Australia)- ex Special forces soldier with long curly hair really looks the part. Full-time professional jouster for 7 years.
Rod Walker (Australia)- World Champion (2004, 2005, 2006), numerous other titles jousting in Nth America, Europe and his native Australia.
Luke Binks (Australia)- an artisan of armour, lance and sword who has plied his trade jousting for15 years in 3 continents.
Simon Tennant (New Zealand) - a member of the Order of the Black Rose with his distinctive 15th Century black armour since 2001.
Jezz Smith (New Zealand) - a stonemason for 45 years and creator of authentic armour having jousted in 10 countries since 2003.
Ivar Mauritz-Hansen (Norway) - starting out as an Olympic fencer, he moved to medieval swords and foot soldiery before gaining his knighthood and jousting around the World for 15 years.
Arne Koets (Netherlands) - an expert in martial arts and the holder of the American Sword of Chivalry since 2008 and numerous other titles over 13 years - one of the favourites to win the St Ives Joust.
Cliff Marisma (Australia) - possibly the least experienced
in the field having only been jousting for two years. But like all of them a master horseman. Cliff was a rodeo and bull rider of renown and had won four of the five jousting tournaments he had competed in before this one.
Let the tournament begin.
Each knight had at least two squires in attendance that helped put on their armour, tie straps, fit helmet, adjust shield and hand up lance.
Each set of armour weighed 36 to 65 kg, hemet alone 10 kgs, and either was from centuries past (mainly 15th C) or authentic replica of and worth up to AUD$40,000.
The horses were powerful wide girthed beasts such as Friesian stallions, trained in the art of jousting and like their knights were tough as.
There was a long timber wall (the tilt) down the centre of the arena to protect the horses...bugles...Sir this v Sir that...galloping waving to the crowd...helmets adjusted...lances readied...each trotting to opposite ends and either side of the tilt...turn and charge.
The Rules are simple - the knight must present his chest to the lance and defence (dodging) is outlawed.
3 to 4
passes per duel.
1 point for the breaking of the lance on the shield.
2 points for the breaking of the lance on the helm (helmet).
3 points if the tips of the 2 coronels collide.
3 points for unhorsing your opponent.
The Knight Marshall the sole adjudicator...the Knight Herald blowing his horn.
Approach each other at the gallop... lower lances...aiming at the shields fixed to chests or the helm...explosions on contact...lances shattering or snapping...horses keeping going...splinters and coronels spinning...audience gasping...knights waving to the crowd.
****** Jousting is brutal.
'Tis said Henry the Eighth was knocked unconscious in a joust and was somewhat short-tempered thereafter.
Makes one wonder if Anne Boleyn would have saved her head if her King had won that joust that day.
On Day 1 of the St Ives Joust, Sir Rod had to withdraw with a shoulder injury and Sir Simon with a damaged hand.
Sir Arne's shield was snapped in half in one pass.
Sir Clifford was knocked off his horse but still managed to be the points leader at the end of the first day (followed by
Sir Luke & Sir Phil).
On Day 2 the hits were harder and the adrenalin pumping off the scale.
And Fox Sports caught every second of the action!!!
Sir Cliff beat his mentor Sir Phil 3-3 on countback.
Sir Luke beat Sir Ivar 5-5 on countback but could not continue due to an injured arm from 2 blows below his shield, so Sir Ivar progressed. I thought they were low blows but in the strike zone so deemed OK.
Sir Cliff was leading Sir Jezz 2-1 when Sir Jezz was disqualified 'cos his horse got flighty. Sir Jezz glaring filthy.
Sir Arne beat Sir Ivar with a glancing head shot.
So the superstar Sir Arne v the least experienced Sir Clifford into the Final.
And what a final it was...will live in the memory of this novice foot soldier.
Charging at each other in that first pass like there was no tomorrow.
Sir Arne's lance into the top of Sir Clifford's shield that snapped into his helmet lifting Clifford's visor with a solid crunch...ooooh...swaying...recovering...staying on his horse.
Simultaneously Sir Clifford's lance impacts the left side of Sir Arne's helm
with a sickening splintering of wood...aaaah....recovering...coronel spinning in the air...both men tossing their splintered lances aside.
Shades of Sir Arne's last bout in Moscow...also to the left side of the head...but that time knocking him unconscious.
This time shaken and stirred.
Sir Arne has had about 15 broken wrists and ribs but is still a champion...but not today...dazed and unable to continue.
Sir Clifford punching the air...horse rising on it's hind legs in salute.
There is no doubt about it. Jousting is brutal...who said medieval was faire?
Hail the victor...a new Champion bows to the King & Queen today.
Relax & Enjoy,
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