Reenacting superstitions

Historic questions, thoughts and other interesting stuff

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Foxe
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Reenacting superstitions

Post by Foxe »

It strikes me that in our attempts to portray life of the past we overlook or gloss over a lot. Religion is hardly ever explored as deeply as it merits for example, probably because to really understand the religious arguments of the past requires a detailed research which few have the time or resources for.

It is as acceptable fact that our ancestors were often deeply superstitious, believing freely in things which we today find absurd. This is something which we rarely address as reenactors, and when we do it's often as a kind of comedic aside.

A couple of times in the past I've tried to put together visible living history displays/personas (whatever you want to call them) to try to show something of the supernatural and superstitious beliefs of the past, but have found my way blocked. Some years back, for example, I did a lot of research into 17thC witchfinding, even to the extent of reading the Malleus Maleficarum cover to cover (anyone who's tried it will know what a task it is!). I prepared all the kit, the spiel etc, and began to moot the idea. Universally I was met with a "not at my event" attitude. If a reason was given it usually included the words "Hollywoody" or "theatrical".

The subject has recently been brought back to mind by various discussions I've had with others about a new idea for a similar role. However, past experiences have discouraged me from putting kit together for a more "arcane" display because I seriously doubt that it would ever be taken seriously, no matter how much genuine research is put in to it.

So what I really want to know is what you folks think about portraying (well researched and presented) aspects of supernatural belief in a living history context?
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Post by sally »

I touch on it a little bit when I'm doing a herb display, I might have a few lines from a psalm or prayer on a strip of parchment and explain that it could be bound to an afflicted limb, or advise carrying a snakestone agains adders, or recommending my lovely fake mandrake for problems with money or lovers. However, I don't do this in a first person manner, I tend to go with an approach that sounds a bit like this:
'If you had come to me complaining of this ailment, I might have recommended one of these remedies. Today, we know that x works, y doesnt and z is pure wishful thinking, but in the fourteenth century we believed that (short explanation)'

I havent tried weaving it into a persona for more first person occasions as yet, I just use it to help demonstrate that the word view was rather different to our current one.

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Post by timbobarnacle »

vikings of middle england have done the Sermon of the wolf in a mobile chapel amongst other scenarios.
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Post by Gobae »

Religion is hardly ever explored as deeply as it merits for example, probably because to really understand the religious arguments of the past requires a detailed research which few have the time or resources for.
Of course for those of us who have personas that either predate Christianity or are simply poorly documented in the historical record, portraying the religious aspects of life are sometimes dubious at best.

However, it would be nice to incorporate more religious activities into re-enactment since they were such a HUGE part of everyday life. And it is surprising to see their lack even eras that ARE well documented.

I wonder how much of the lack of religious re-enactment is due to OUR own religious beliefs? I know I specifically chose my time period and persona because I am not and did not wish to portray a Christian. Now, that's an obvious choice, but how comfortable are say Protestants portraying a Catholic persona? Or visa versa?

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Post by Cat »

To answer Gobae, when I began re-enactment there would always be a number of troops who would refuse to take a knee for the pre-battle battlefield blessing, myself included.

Over the years people have seen the light and realised that in order to make the action convincing for the crowd, everybody should join in.
Hence, I suppose we are 'acting' being Christian, when we're not. It doesn't compromise any other religions. Personally, I've got to the stage where any blessing is a bonus...
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Post by ViscontesseD'Asbeau »

We did the herb stuff years ago in schools and it always went down really well with the kids - in fact, it was the bit they always liked the best.

I've always wanted to work up a 'cunning woman' act, but never even made a start. I guess you'd stir up various prejudices, etc, and it is hard to research but very interesting (and a standard part of English life in the past, surely). I've always liked the idea of leeches, too.... :D
I wonder how much of the lack of religious re-enactment is due to OUR own religious beliefs? I know I specifically chose my time period and persona because I am not and did not wish to portray a Christian. Now, that's an obvious choice, but how comfortable are say Protestants portraying a Catholic persona? Or visa versa?
This is interesting. I did xian stuff for years being a pagan and have no problem with it at all as it's 'only' acting, IMHO. That said, the older I get the more uncomfortable I get with the idea of glorifying things that I disagree with. But then, I was a pagan for years teaching in catholic and C of E schools and no-one ever rumbled me (I know of others too). It's all a matter of acting. I guess if you do it in your real life, it's a smaller step to take when re-enacting. I think people often naturally gravitate to their own comfort zone, though. I've had plenty of Catholic friends 'acting' being radical protestant parliamentarians, without batting an eyelid.

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Post by Aelfric »

As a confirmed and practicing Christian I have never had any problem at all when I’ve been called on to portray a Pagan Viking at ship burnings, boat burials and the like. I’m not a Pagan in real life, but when I’m in kit it isn't real life and I’m not portraying me so my personal views and beliefs are irrelevant. To use an example from another aspect of re-enactment, I have no wish at all to kill someone with a sword or spear (the thought horrifies me) and I’d probably s**t myself in a real battle, but I happily pretend to be ravening, blood lusting Saxon warrior on the battlefield. The point is the same – I am playing a role and trying to make that role authentic to the period in beliefs and outlook as well as costume, I am not just being ‘me’ in funny clothes!

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Post by Alan E »

ViscontesseD'Asbeau wrote:We did the herb stuff years ago in schools and it always went down really well with the kids - in fact, it was the bit they always liked the best.

I've always wanted to work up a 'cunning woman' act, but never even made a start. I guess you'd stir up various prejudices, etc, and it is hard to research but very interesting (and a standard part of English life in the past, surely). I've always liked the idea of leeches, too.... :D...[snip]...
Not that hard to get started on:
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Post by Tuppence »

I prepared all the kit, the spiel etc, and began to moot the idea. Universally I was met with a "not at my event" attitude. If a reason was given it usually included the words "Hollywoody" or "theatrical".
Crap attitude, but soooo typical.

Anything different from the usual run of the mill dull stuff is ignored or frowned upon in most 17th C re-enactment, even by the best groups. They're so staid it's unbelievable.
(Though was fun when a friend and I feigned prostitution to upset the fairfax :wink: - we were run out of the camp, and told off (what, you mean they expected a warning that we were gonna do it??? :shock: )).

I think that any show organiser should jump at the chance of having something like that at a show. It's something else to keep the public interested, after all, and something that's not touched on often enough. Am pretty sure that my ECWS regiment would have welcomed it at the right show (don't want to scare the grannies at the village fete :D ), but they have had events with members screaming anti papal propaganda :D (which is fine, cos we're parliamentarians).

I wonder how much of the lack of religious re-enactment is due to OUR own religious beliefs? I know I specifically chose my time period and persona because I am not and did not wish to portray a Christian. Now, that's an obvious choice, but how comfortable are say Protestants portraying a Catholic persona? Or visa versa?
Speaking as myself, strictly speaking not a christian, I don't really have a problem with it. I kneel when required, I'll cross myself when appropriate (norman = catholic). I do get a bit riled when you get idiots like several at hastings who insist that you have to cross yourselves, or they throw a paddy, but that's more about being ordered about.

The only thing I really won't ever do is carry a rosary. But that's not such a big deal, because it would have been hidden anyway, not on show, and I'm perfectly happy to tell the public that I would have had one at the time.

Also wouldn't have a problem with a religious icon in the tent, which is something we're all working on.

And come to think of, the embroidery I'm doing on site is kind of overtly catholic anyway, being a 12th century religious scene!!
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Post by WorkMonkey »

Surely everything we do is based upon the pretense of historical portrayel?

It is about portraying (or trying to) a person living at a certain time. I don't understand how you can pick and chose certain aspects of what you want to portray if your interest is purely historical accuracy.

I'm not a Christian, I'm not particually religious, I have my own ideas about spirituality but they don't really fit in with Christianity or anything else for that matter, however If I'm meant to be portraying a Catholic Anglo-Saxon, then he would have been a Christian, and would have displayed this because he feared God. I don't fear god, but he did. I'm not a "real" Anglo-Saxon, but he was thus he wore a Crucifix, thus he crossed himself if a Priest blessed him. I don't, he does.

I'm not a Pagan, but if I'm portraying a pagan Germanic who was, I'll wear 5th/6th Century pagan icons.

I don't really believe in violence as a solution to things, or that war is in any way, shape or form a good thing, but they did, am I thus meant to not carry "pretend" weapons because they stand for something I don't believe in?
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Post by Ellen Gethin »

I met a chap a couple of years ago in Kent who said he was a Church of England priest - but as he was portraying a Viking, he was wearing a Thor's hammer round his neck.
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Post by Gobae »

Ok, so it looks like our own personal religious preferences aren't getting in the way of portraying our personas; either because we've actively chosen personas that won't cause a conflict or it's just not a big deal to re-enact religious practices from other religions.

So, why do so many re-enactors skip religion in their re-enactments?

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Post by lidimy »

i dont know - maybe to avoid upsetting the audiences? :?

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Post by Tuppence »

So, why do so many re-enactors skip religion in their re-enactments?
none in our group do. despite my hatred of the church (pretty much all churches, by the way, I'm not just anti catholic :D ), I do wear a crucifix when I'm portraying a norman catholic. I just don't happen to see the point in carrying around something as potent as a rosary when it won't be seen anyway (it'd have been carried in a pouch according to our resident god expert)..
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Post by Phil the Grips »

I'm not particularly religious (though I like a dose of "yells,bells and smells" every now and again, more for the experience than any spiritual matter) but used to portray a Deacon/Priest in my early reenactment years-even officiating at a couple of authentic weddings for Regia at public and private events- so it can be done as long as it is done with respect.

Nowadays I tend to concentrate on historic swordplay and superstition even creeps in there-judges are specifically told to look for protective amulets and one treatise has an appendix so that the winner of a duel may be determined by atrology/numerology for auspicious days to fight so it makes it into my demos if relevant.

The hunting practices I am researching at the mo involve prayers to St Hubert and charmed javelins (bits of cobweb or bat's heart inserted into the shaft) in the C15/16th to make sure they fly true and catch prey so there is no escaping a sense of the "other" pervading any aspect of history and to miss it out would be false to the ethic of "authenticity" many purport.

Essentially if Dawn French, Derek Jacobi or Derek Nimmo can portray clergy without controversy then we can do our bit of am-dram and portrayal of religious practice.
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Post by Karen Larsdatter »

Lately, I've been looking at a lot of the beliefs & legends about animals (as recorded in bestiaries) and gems & minerals (from lapidaries). While I was working on the zibellini/"flea fur" linkspage, I'd come across a reference to one such belief that may explain why the zibellini turn up in portraits of 16th century women.

But there's a whole lot of these sorts of things. Just looking at the text in the Aberdeen Bestiary, for example, you can learn fascinating "facts" of the animal kingdom, such as:
  • [*]Lions "fear the rumbling sound of wheels, but are even more frightened by fire ... If it happens that the lion is pursued by hunters, it picks up their scent and obliterates the traces behind it with its tail. As a result, they cannot track it ... When (the lion) sleeps, it seems to have its eyes open ... When a lioness gives birth to her cubs, she produces them dead and watches over them for three days, until their father comes on the third day and breathes into their faces and restores them to life ... A sick lion seeks out an ape to devour it, in order to be cured. The lion fears the cock, especially the white one. King of the beasts, it is tormented by the tiny sting of the scorpion and is killed by the venom of the snake."
    [*]"The tigress, when she finds her lair empty by the theft of a cub, follows the tracks of the thief at once. When the thief sees that, even though he rides a swift horse, he is outrun by her speed, and that there is no means of escape at hand, he devises the following deception. When he sees the tigress drawing close, he throws down a glass sphere. The tigress is deceived by her own image in the glass and thinks it is her stolen cub. She abandons the chase, eager to gather up her young. Delayed by the illusion, she tries once again with all her might to overtake the rider and, urged on by her anger, quickly threatens the fleeing man. Again he holds up her pursuit by throwing down a sphere. The memory of the trick does not banish the mother's devotion. She turns over the empty likeness and settles down as if she were about to suckle her cub. And thus, trapped by the intensity of her sense of duty, she loses both her revenge and her child."
    [*]"Elephants live for three hundred years. If an elephant wants to father sons, it goes to the East, near Paradise; there the tree called mandragora, the mandrake, grows. The elephant goes to it with his mate, who first takes fruit from the tree and gives it to her male. And she seduces him until he eats it; then she conceives at once in her womb. When the time comes for her to give birth, she goes out into a pool, until the water comes up to her udders. The male guards her while she is in labour, because elephants have an enemy - the dragon. If the elephant finds a snake, it kills it, trampling it until it is dead. The elephant strikes fear into bulls, yet fears the mouse. The elephant has this characteristic: if it falls down, it cannot rise. But it falls when it leans on a tree in order to sleep, for it has no joints in its knees. A hunter cuts part of the way through the tree, so that when the elephant leans against it, elephant and tree will fall together. As the elephant falls, it trumpets loudly; at once a big elephant goes to it but cannot lift it. Then they both trumpet and twelve elephants come, but they cannot lift the one who has fallen. Then they all trumpet, and immediately a little elephant comes and puts its trunk under the big one and lifts it up. The little elephant has this characteristic, that when some of its hair and bones have been burnt, nothing evil approaches, not even a dragon."
    [*]"There is an animal called the beaver, which is extremely gentle; its testicles are are highly suitable for medicine. Physiologus says of it that, when it knows that a hunter is pursuing it, it bites off its testicles and throws them in the hunter's face and, taking flight, escapes. But if, once again, another hunter is in pursuit, the beaver rears up and displays its sexual organs. When the hunter sees that it lacks testicles, he leaves it alone."
    [*]"There is an animal called the ibex, which has two horns of such strength that, if it were to fall from a high mountain to the lowest depths, its whole body would be supported by those two horns."
    [*]"There is an animal called the hyena, which inhabits the tombs of the dead and feeds on their bodies. Its nature is that it is sometimes male, sometimes female, and it is therefore an unclean animal. Since its spine is rigid, all in one piece, it cannot turn round except by turning its body right around. Solinus recounts many marvellous things about the hyena. First, it stalks the sheepfolds of shepherds and circles their houses by night, and by listening carefully learns their speech, so that it can imitate the human voice, in order to fall on any man whom it has lured out at night. The hyena also [imitates] human vomit and devours the dogs it has enticed with faked sounds of retching. If dogs hunting the hyena accidentally touch its shadow behind, they lose their voices and cannot bark."
    [*]"Apes are keenly aware of the elements; they rejoice when the moon is new and are sad when it wanes. A characteristic of the ape is that when a mother bears twins, she loves one and despises the other. If it ever happens that she is pursued by hunters, she carries the one she loves before her in her arms and the one she detests on her shoulders. But when she is tired of going upright, she deliberately drops the one she loves and reluctantly carries the one she hates."
    [*]"Deer are the enemies of snakes; when they feel weighed down with weakness, they draw snakes from their holes with the breath of their noses and, overcoming the fatal nature of their venom, eat them and are restored. They have shown the value of the herb dittany, for after feeding on it, they shake out the arrows which have lodged in them. Deer marvel at the sound of the pipes; their hearing is keen when their ears are pricked but they hear nothing when their ears are lowered. Deer have this characteristic also, that they change their feeding-ground for love of another country, and in doing so, they support each other. When they cross great rivers or large long stretches of water, they place their head on the hindquarters of the deer in front and, following one on the other, do not feel impeded by their weight. When they find such places, they cross them quickly, to avoid sinking in the mire. They have another characteristic, that after eating a snake they run to a spring and, drinking from it, shed their long coats and all signs of old age."
    [*]"The bear is said to get its name because the female shapes her new-born cub with her mouth, ore, giving it, so to speak, its beginning, orsus. For it is said that they produce a shapeless fetus and that a piece of flesh is born. The mother forms the parts of the body by licking it. The shapelessness of the cub is the result of its premature birth. It is born only thirty days after conception, and as a result of this rapid fertility it is born unformed. The bear's head is not strong; its greatest strength lies in its arms and loins; for this reason bears sometimes stand upright. Bears do not neglect the business of healing themselves. If they are afflicted by a mortal blow and injured by wounds, they know how to heal themselves. They expose their sores to the herb called mullein - flomus, the Greeks call it - and are healed by its touch alone. When sick, the bear eats ants. Among bears the time of gestation is accelerated. Indeed, the thirtieth day sees the womb free of the cub. As a result of this rapid fertility, the cubs are created without form. The females produce tiny lumps of flesh, white in colour, with no eyes. These they shape gradually, holding them meanwhile to their breasts so that the cubs are warmed by the constant embrace and draw out the spirit of life. During this time bears eat no food at all in the first fortnight; the males fall so deeply asleep that they cannot be aroused even if they are wounded, and the females, after they have given birth, hide for three months. Soon after, when they emerge into the open, they are so unused to the light that you would think they had been blinded. They attack beehives and try hard to get honeycombs. There is nothing they seize more eagerly than honey. If they eat the fruit of the mandrake they die. But they prevent the misfortune from turning into disaster and eat ants to regain their health."
    [*]"When (the fox) is hungry and can find nothing to eat, it rolls itself in red earth so that it seems to be stained with blood, lies on the ground and holds it breath, so that it seems scarcely alive. When birds see that it is not breathing, that it is flecked with blood and that its tongue is sticking out of its mouth, they think that it is dead and descend to perch on it. Thus it seizes them and devours them."
    [*]"When a murder has been committed, dogs have produced clear evidence of the guilt of the accused, with the result that their unspoken testimony is for the most part believed ... A dog's tongue, licking a wound, heals it. A dog's way of life is said to be wholly temperate. A puppy's tongue is generally a cure for internal injuries."
    [*]"Horses weep for their slain or dying masters. It is said that the horse alone weeps for men and feels the emotion of grief on their account."
    [*]"The hedgehog has a certain kind of foresight: as it tears off a grape, it rolls backwards on it and so delivers it to its young."
And so on and so forth. Today, we call this sort of belief "superstition"; but then, it seems to have been on the level of common knowledge. While we find many of these beliefs to be ludicrous today, some of them (as the widowed turtledove, the mouse-fearing elephant, etc.) can still be found in modern elements of popular culture.

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Post by John Waller »

Pity the beaver is all I can say!
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Post by Fillionous »

I think it is fear of our audances reactions that prevent us from being more acurate in demonstrating the importance of both faith and superstitions (coman knowledge of the time).

Religion is a VERY emotive subject, it gets people riled up quite quickly and can be a cause of much trubble... the sort of fuss no individual person, organiser, group or event would want to attract.

So weather true or not (that it will cause bother / be hard to do etc) it is easier just to sidestep the whole issue, or portray it in the most glossed over terms... ie the quick kneel and cross before a battle or the odd icon in a tent or a mention in a spiel about some herb or stone and the beliefs connected to it and its uses.

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Post by timbobarnacle »

point to note - the church pre reformation and dissolution was not known as the Catholic church - it was Christianity - Protestants did not exist, so you cannot say you were a Catholic Norman - Christian yes.

Also Pagan is not the right term - that is the churches term for non christians - and means of the earth. Vikings followed Asatru - the old ways and gods.

At all our big shows, we have a religious enclave of chapel, calligraphy and doctors surgery - various role play goes on - including sermons, excommunications and manumission. (freeing slaves) - also the priest gets involved in scenarios such as the holmganga - iceland post conversion trying to stop trial by sword - new ways against old - he is rebutted and the audience is educated about the views of the church and men adheing to the old faiths. Iceland was the only place where the conversion was peaceful!
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Post by Tuppence »

true, but in a modern sense normans were catholic.

I use modern teminology, not historical, because I am a modern person.

True that protestants did not really exist, so neither did catholicism. but to call me on that is merely pedantic.
Also Pagan is not the right term - that is the churches term for non christians - and means of the earth. Vikings followed Asatru - the old ways and gods.
likewise - we are all modern people, so to use anything other than modern terminology that's understood by all would simply be daft.
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Post by Neibelungen »

Just to be pedant
point to note - the church pre reformation and dissolution was not known as the Catholic church - it was Christianity - Protestants did not exist, so you cannot say you were a Catholic Norman - Christian yes.
Ignatius uses the term in a letter of 107AD to exclude current heretics

St Cyril (315-390AD) "If ever thou art sojourning in cities, inquire not simply where the Lord's House is (for the other sects of the profane also attempt to call their own dens houses of the Lord), nor merely where the Church is, but where is the Catholic Church. For this is the peculiar name of this Holy Church, the mother of us all, which is the spouse of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Only-begotten Son of God"

Emperor Theodosius defined 'Catholic Christians' in Roman Law in 380AD

St Augustine refers to the Church as the Catholic Church in many of his writings.
"And so, lastly, does the very name of Catholic, which, not without reason, amid so many heresies, the Church has thus retained; so that, though all heretics wish to be called Catholics, yet when a stranger asks where the Catholic Church meets, no heretic will venture to point to his own chapel or house."

It was basically a early definition of those who adhered to the prescribed version and where not considered heretics, so it can include those of the Eastern version as they were Catholic themselves.. as non heretical. ie. followed the Nicean Creed. In this sense, Eastern Orthodox is still Catholic, whilst the 'Catholic church' is heretical since the 1041 fillioque clause.

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Post by guthrie »

Gobae wrote: So, why do so many re-enactors skip religion in their re-enactments?
Because its difficult and complicated. Quite apart from the difficulties an dotherwise of getting someone to authentically re-enact being a priest or a monk or such, there are difficulties and nuances witht he day to day portrayal of ordinary people of whatever period.
(Note that I don't know much about all this)
For example, if I were being a 15th century peasant, what would I know? I suppose I would know the hail marys, know of some saints, and have a good idea of their days, as well as attending church, even though I don't know what the latin means, and am perhaps somewhat overawed by it all. How would this be obvious in my day to day life? Well, maybe a pilgrims badge, and a crucifix might be about it. Did they swear by the saints regularly? I don't know.
Apart from some respect given when passing a man of religion (And how did they do it at that time anyway? They wouldnt have doffed their hats) would they do much more than wear a cricifix? I dont really think so.

So yes, the bare minimum of a crucifix would be a start, but then thats not exactly integrating a full portrayal of religion into your re-enacting, is it?

If you were "middle class", sophisticated, educated, by the 15th century you might be expected to know of the various heresies, and they wycliffites and stuff like that. Maybe you would know Latin, and be able to talk about St Agustine and others. But again, how could you integrate that into your day to day re-enacting?

What I'm driving at is that integrating religion fully into simple weekend re-enacting is rather hard, beyond the easy bit of wearing a crucifix and/ or pilgrims badges, and getting down on both kees when the priest blesses you before battle. Yet trying to go any further would run into problems of what exactly they did at that time. Can anyone provide further information?

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steve stanley
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Post by steve stanley »

Of course,if you do the enlightened 18th cent it's not a problem...except for anti-catholic riots...or viewing Quebec as the seat of the Anti-Christ in America...& those pesky Methodists...but,other than that,it's very enlightened!
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Post by timbobarnacle »

yes it is hard, for example, to show that he is a priest or monk to the public ours wears a brown habit, yet in reality, he would have worn local cloth in the viking and saxon "age" - so compromises do have to be made.

pre reformation, the mass was intended to be very mystical - hence the latin, incense etc. everyone was expected to go to church, and would be frightened not to for the fear of purgatory. when the reformation came along, there was great resistance to the changes, especially the removal of saints tombs such as thomas becket - places of pilgrimage and anywhere with holy relics. I can recommend Raul Dufy's book, the stripping of the altars for good information.

My colleague, mick baker, mmickbaker@webleicester.co.uk, is also very well versed on religion and may be able to help
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Post by guthrie »

Or in other words, in a medieval context, doing a mass properly would require a building or similar, incense, a thurible, several people dressing the correct kit, and someone who know Latin.
I can see why a lot of people dont do it then.

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Post by timbobarnacle »

mikck just happens to be someone who was a trainee monk, and teacher, so he knows latin! a good tip is to have a scroll and read teh latin off. Certainly by the dissolution period, many parish priests did not understand latin, but were able to read it - so they did not understand the mass either! also records of abbots and monks with mistresses when the abbeys and priories were surveyed
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Post by behanner »

tim is right, the first part of Duffy's book is a good place to start but unfortuantely it really doesn't go into many of the details that someone doing living history needs to flesh out religion in daily life and even then religion is such an intrigal part of culture that it is hard to even seperate the two for study.

There are a couple documents that pretty clearly show what certain aspects were suppose to be done or believed, I haven't read all of them yet, and then you get into the side of popular religion, which becomes more complicated but little bits could be easily done. I have thought about collecting some of this together but there seems to be a certain uneasiness with dealing with real religion among many people instead of just bad characatures.

You are right that who you are and where you lived would have affected your religious experience. We even known that parishes which were near eachother were different between rural and 'urban' parishes. If you had some kind of schooling or had learned how to read and read some you more then likely would not have been reading Augustine but would be reading what was popular at the time, which was a variety of spiritual liturature and probably also a prymer, which is basically a book of hours.

It is not really right to say that the pre-reformation mass was intended to be very mystical. That implies, well actually plain says it, intent. The mass developed over centuries and argueably milenia to become what it was in c1500. But your right it was and still is a mystical experience. While mystical experiences can be informed by things, they are mystical because of a variety of things and not just using candles and incense and strange languages. A Rock and Roll show can be a mystical experience.

You don't actually need a building, or incense. All you need is a portable altar, a table, the other stuff, atleast one person with vestments who knows what he is doing and perferably 2 more people one of whom can sing. tim is right for doing one for a day or two of services one would not need to actually need to know latin just be able to pronounce it and have the rubrics put in English and the proper readings put in place.

It is not correct that most parish priests did not know latin before the reformation. Outside of some issues stemming from the black death, after about the begining of the 13th century most parish priests knew atleast basic latin. It is all but impossible to perform the liturgy on a regular basis from a missal without knowing latin. The reason it is popular believed that they did not know latin is best summed up in the title of a disertaion I have on late-medieval german clergy. "Conflicting Expectations". Early 16th century reformers like Erasmus, Luther and various others had a different concept of literacy then had traditionally been expected and so they derided the clergy as being illiterate even though they weren't actually. And there is also the issue of medieval vs renaissance latin and the knowledge of Greek. So most if not all parish clergy by the late-15th century could read enough latin to perform the services they needed too and many if not most certaily could more or less get the gist of what they were reading but probably were not literate enough to pull the Summa Theologia off the bookshelf and sit and read it for fun. Fringe areas may have been different as most of the studies I've read don't deal with the borderlands or welsh dominated areas of Wales.

If you really wanted to add religion to an event a sermon/preacher who is basically preaching straight from a period sermon that way if there is any questions at to content you can just give the references that show that it is right and proper for the period.

Brent

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Post by guthrie »

Prymers and suchlike- I'd forgotten about them. Perhaps a job for an artist or calligrapher would be to produce a few of them, to be left around appropriate living history encampments?

I do know that one or two people are or have invested in tryptichs. Which would obviously be religious and a rich household would likely have had one.

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Post by Zachos »

I was just thinking of suggesting triptychs. I may make one for our group...
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Post by Most Holy »

Zachos wrote:I was just thinking of suggesting triptychs. I may make one for our group...
You will need to get it painted well. I have had one for a year now, but the painting is very very complex.

Like most religious 'tat', it should alos be very very rare ;)
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