What's wrong in WOTR re-enactment?

Historic questions, thoughts and other interesting stuff

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What's wrong in WOTR re-enactment?

Postby craig1459 » Thu Nov 03, 2005 8:53 am

A few misconceptions about hose were picked up in the Costumes section which got me thinking - what else is "wrong" or wide open to debate in WOTR world?

A couple I've picked up on this site so far:
1. Wearing C16 Hose
2. The role (existence) of billmen


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Postby DomT » Thu Nov 03, 2005 9:16 am

I'm sure there were lots of people with pointy sticks around but the use of 'bill blocks' and drill I'll grant you.

Lack of umpty gazillion Archers in any English force.
To Much Plate
Not enough mud
Too many 'Nobs go camping'
Too many teeth
Where are the pack animals?
Where are the carts?


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Postby tonw » Thu Nov 03, 2005 9:44 am

I'm working on the pack animals!

I would love a pack of dogs (when I get a work from home job) they drool lots they would be my anti super shinny tinny weapon

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Postby craig1459 » Thu Nov 03, 2005 9:53 am

Hi Dom T
When you say "too much plate" - do you mean too many armoured men on the field or individuals with too much plate for their role?


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Postby Scraggles » Thu Nov 03, 2005 9:57 am

Used to have archers shoot other soldier like billmen who got too close and billmen would take out archers who got too close. great fun.

now we have archers having a game of ping pong between each other and generaly ignoring other soldiers even when the other side and veryclose, eg one lot shoots the other who duck, shout INCOMING ! and then shoot the other side who repeat until they run out of arrows. The enemy soldiers then ignore the archers collecting arrows until they are clear, very very convincing...

billmen and billwimmin of course who only fight each other, wimmin do fight, but looks naff when dressed as a bloke, but guess there might be some where you struggle to tell the difference from the crowd line, so that's ok :)

too much plate, maybe 10% plate, the rest in jacks or less, but everyone wants tobe a knight and so who cares that onlythe elite soliders could afford the full plate

Not enough camp followers as everyone wants to be in the battle, maybe a scenario with the baggage train being attacked and then defended would not be too hard instead of the usual 2 lines of rufty tufty soldiers trooping into the tiny field, with the punters on the other side of dayglo nylon rope....



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Postby Chickun » Thu Nov 03, 2005 10:06 am

"too many teeth"

Apparently - The misconception that medieval people had black / rotting teeth is wrong. With the introduction of copious amounts of relatively cheap sugar from the colonies in the 16th and 17thC, oral hygiene went downhill in a big way rapidly. Before that in the medieval and earlier periods teeth weren't too bad. Granted they weren't pearly white as they are today but look at bodies that have been discovered, eg the Towton grave - most of them had the majority of their pegs.

There was a really good thread in exactly the same vein as this one on the "old" forum, under the 1100-1500 section.



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Postby DomT » Thu Nov 03, 2005 1:41 pm

Craig>
Too many in Full Plate (Guilty M'lord) and too many others in partial.

Part of this is the previously mentioned desire to be a Knight or at least posh and some of it is purely down to the type of fight as it's evolved in this period re-enactment.

I for one wont fight without plate gauntlets and I'm decidely dodgy about wearing anything other than a visored sallet and bever for face/head protection. One of the reasons I gravitate to WotR Battles is becuase I can get a good hard fight while wearing this kit. I know I can probably get just as good a fight in a earlier fight but I'd miss the bever in particular.

Chikun> Point accepted but we should also have pox scars and the rest.

In short we look like fat prosperous 21stC types far to much and less like 15th C semi-pro fighters than we should.

I'm overweight, had my wall-eye fixed surgicaly and have all my own whitened teeth so I'm as guilty as anyone (I do have a few facial scars from car crashes which help though)


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Postby Segrave » Thu Nov 03, 2005 2:54 pm

Ye gads Sirs

this sounds like you are about to enter the A########Y debate.

I can't comment on specifics as I don't do WOTR (some what earlier myself :) ) althought I doubt it is vastly different from other periods. Having seen the changes over the years in how re-enactment is, or isn't maturing. I would be interested in comments specifically to WOTR regarding the "fun factor". That a bit like the x factor but without the s##t singing and self publicists, ahh no, that IS re-enactment :?

I believe that regardless of what ever else you are into, combat, baggage train, living histroy, trading etc. it is the fun factor that counts. Remove the fun factor and people will start to think twice about attending events!

A few random questions to get the ball rolling:

Would an increase in the level of the A word change the fun factor and increase or decrease the number of people attending shows (and why)?

If there was an increase in the level of safety (probably through stricter rules) how would this change the fun factor and the look of the show?

Should the A word be extended to exclude modern legislation areas such as discrimination (no ethnic minorities, female combatants etc.) and how would this change the fun factor / show?


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Postby craig1459 » Thu Nov 03, 2005 3:41 pm

I have this argument regularly with sara1459, but we are united on the opinion that it should be FUN!
I see it this way - I find the WOTR period fascinating. So many great characters - several great subplots - and many opportunities for discussion and research. It was also on the cusp of the medieval and the modern.
With this is mind we have joined a living history household - the bashing is part of it and is a part I have come to enjoy. The living history element is high on the A factor and we do research and ensure that what we do is as it was done as far as practically possible. I must admit that when I started out the bashing, I took that to be authentic as well, but it has quickly become apparent that much of that is "interpretation".
So what to do? At the end of the day, I enjoy being part of the Saviles and that group is the captain's vision and I am able to enjoy it under the umbrella that it provides. If I wanted to cut down on the A factor there are plenty of groups that I can join with a different take on it. Or I can even set up my own.
This website is an important part of the fun element - even when I do get it wrong, it's even more interesting to be told differently :lol:


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Postby DomT » Thu Nov 03, 2005 4:04 pm

<ssssh>
Everyone might realise that the 'A' word can be fun.

'bit like religion really, it's only when you start pointing fingers and saying 'thou art less than me' which leads to burning little old ladys etc that it gets out of hand.

I really like my fighting and it's where I came into the hobby. However I discovered a love of Living History rekindled my love of History the education system managed to smother for me along the way which is a added bonus.

Now I just have to convert the rest of the 'fight club' types in my neck of the woods :wink:


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Postby Chickun » Thu Nov 03, 2005 4:24 pm

DomT - Yep pox scars and TB coughing etc etc etc. Agreed most re-enactors are "well fed" compared to 15th C people, and under-worked (physically).

If we are talking purely about what is "wrong" with WotR re-enactment in the UK today then it is different really to the authenticity debate, especially when you start talking about what you get out of the hobby. To a certain extent what is and what isn't authentic is either yay or nay, with an accepted margin of error either way due to lack of knowledge or personal interpretation.

Whether the opinions that you choose and the path that you follow are "wrong" is another matter, as it's horses for courses really. There is so much scope in the hobby (and therefore so much faction) that it'd be impossible to label most things either right or wrong. Different people are in it for different reasons, and I think that there is a big gulf between what groups of people want - and this is before impracticalities are taken into account.

Example: person "A" might be into "living history" as it's stated; handstitch their clothes, have hand-woven and naturally hand-dyed cloth of the correct weight, follow a craft or trade and aim for a set, common level of status that represents the accepted norm of their chosen period and location.

person B might be a beer and bash type with inside out jogging bottoms for hose, armour worth more than their car, and little conception of the medieval world that they are portraying.

Both people have fun, enjoy what they do and get out what they want from the hobby. Neither of them would be "wrong" per say as what they are trying to achieve is ultimately different.

If you are talking about what is thought to be inauthentic <duck> then that is a totally differnt kettle of fish!



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Postby DomT » Thu Nov 03, 2005 4:41 pm

Intresting.

Taking those points on board I'd say whats 'WRONG' in our niche of the re-enactment world...

Lack of standards. I'm not talking about what is or what isnt 'orthentick' thats a matter of debate, argument and handbaggery.

What I'm talking about is safety, training and insurance standards and a hoard of other things.

I mean can we agree a standard for polearm fighting, can we heck.
Can we arrange a decent kit standard for multi-group events and then enforce it on the day?


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Postby Chickun » Thu Nov 03, 2005 4:58 pm

Yeah, totally authenticity is, especially on the finer points, a matter of personal opinion.

I guess organising a standard in anything would be difficult without an overall governing body, and even then ther'd be toys out of the pram when somebody disagreed about something.

I guess you could say what is wrong with re-enactment is the lack of compromise and humility for the common good! There certainly isn't a lack of comittment generally.



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Postby Segrave » Thu Nov 03, 2005 10:07 pm

Chickun wrote:Yeah, totally authenticity is, especially on the finer points, a matter of personal opinion.


I fully agree, when you have the "experts" not being able to agree then how are we mortals to know.

Chickun wrote:I guess organising a standard in anything would be difficult without an overall governing body, and even then ther'd be toys out of the pram when somebody disagreed about something.


This touches on the subject I was interested in. If you do not have a central body controlling standards how do you arrange a concensus of what is and isn't correct. If that body is put in place how will this effect the fun factor?

Chickun wrote:I guess you could say what is wrong with re-enactment is the lack of compromise and humility for the common good! There certainly isn't a lack of comittment generally.


Given that legislation is being imposed upon areas that are close to the re-enactment world, (de-activated guns, sword legislation in Scotland ect.)how long will we be permitted to carry on? If we have a form of effective self regulation is there a possibility of avoiding the external legislation?

I agree with Chickun, lack of compromise is a major concern and lack of tolerance for other opinions may end up being the initial crack that leads to the failure of the whole system.


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Postby Ben Rodgers » Thu Nov 03, 2005 11:29 pm

How do u enforce a high level of Authen with newbie groups or new members to a group obviously they do not have the level of knowledge as many other people, nor would they have the cost to afford many of the kit that would be needed, and if a high level of A is imposed would that only serve to deter people away in which case the oppostite effect of fun will occur and so the re enactment society would indeed get smaller

Im not saying that a high level of A is a bad thing but where do you find that happy medium


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Postby Guest » Thu Nov 03, 2005 11:41 pm

What I like about this hobby is the freedom involved. Compared to other things I've done, the breadth of experience and levels of participation are great. It is largely self-regulating and if you don't like the way your group is going you can easily join another.
There is the Federation of the WOTR and from what I have experienced so far there is a general consensus about certain things being allowed/disallowed which at least gives a baseline to work to.
I am now appreciating that there are disagreements and some details are missed. I think a degree of flexibility is important as it gives people more of a "way in". I've looked at certain groups' websites and it really seems like joining the army. Don't do this, don't do that. I must say that the more I read and the more I learn then the more important the A word becomes to me but to somone else it my appear daunting (and expensive) and drive them away before they get the chance to experience just how rewarding this can be at all sorts of levels.
It's the same argument in any hobby I suppose - Star Wars v Arthur C Clarke, Oasis v Radiohead et cetera et cetera et cetera



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Postby craig1459 » Thu Nov 03, 2005 11:44 pm

Oops - didn't know you could post without logging in. :oops:


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Postby DomT » Fri Nov 04, 2005 8:49 am

It's the big issue in our hobby (along with 'Politics', which often rears its head at the same time).

Medieval re-enactment is a haven of freedom, fun and choice compared to say English Civil War or Dark Age. However becuase Medieval lacks the large organising bodies we lack definitive standards for the A word, safety insurance and the network of support that allows for LARGE shows.
Tewksbury is the largest gig we manage, thanks to the hard work of those selfless types that run it (tips hat in direction of the CoBB) but its tiny compared to some Hastings events.

We may be loosing out nationaly on representation by not having a unified voice. I say may becuase the fact there are so many voices may get us noticed more than we deserve.
As I've recently found out lack of a single voice can really mess you up representing a large number of views (In airsoft we managed to get heard nationaly and all was going swimingly untill some dimbat told their MP that we were happy to run around with guns painted pink. Forget what all the national bodies said this one private opinion is about to become law)
Anyway even the few umbrella groups cant agree a common agenda easily (MSS, FED, EMA etc all have different ideas and agenda's and rightly so)


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Postby gregory23b » Fri Nov 04, 2005 6:20 pm

I agree with Chickun the A word and right or wrong are not totally connected.

EG a big battle set in 1460 should not have men with bucket helms and kite shields, we would mostly agree to that, yes? forget things like real wool hose or turn shoes, just a basic overall look. What is interesting is that the A word is used as a hammer, maybe due its vagueness and misapplication rather than an incentive.

There are a number of myths surrounding certain aspects of the A word, cost being one, as Ben has highlighted. In many cases 'getting it right' ie achieving the agreed standards of your group or umbrella body is no dearer than not doing it right. In the literal sense joining a WOTR group and turning up with a 12th cent helmet will give you pitying looks but likely no use of the helm, ergo a waste of money, no matter how good or bad the helmet is in manufacture it is still wrong. That is an obvious example but just take that along to things like shirts. OH NO I CAN"T SEW - well it is amazing how much we learn when we are strapped for cash innit?

As for fun and the A word being mutually exclusive, well I can safely say I will be enjoying making my first pair of hose that will be made from hand dyed worsted - I have saved up/swapped skills for that cloth. the rest of the kit will be made in stages, this is ok by the group that I am in as we are all communally involved in that process. We have one guy, a real hoot who is so proud of his hand sewn (he did it himself with a bit of help) hand dyed jacket - again home done with a bit of help from someone who knows stuff and it is a really nice job, not posh, far from it, but good and convincing. he is not loaded he has merely taken it upon himself to do that, they are not even required standards as far as I am aware. But he has really enjoyed that. I really enjoy researching new stuff to make and the materials etc, it is a challenge I relish, I have done the military thing and it was good but I want new stuff to stimulate me.

Oh Groans I hear, well if I may use an example that does not involve thread counting - there are people who post on this forum who practice western martial arts (a catch all - you anoraks get my drift) with the same level of dedication and pedantry as any geeky seamstress or basket weaver - however they see their activity as fun and A******* but are not always that bothered about the rest of it.
People rarely accuse the sword bashers of being authenty nazis, mostly the opposite as they are constantly trying to strive for realistic looking fights without the realistic blood and guts.

Point is both are worthy and carried out at different levels, but are still fun.

So wouldn't it be nice to marry both those attitudes and remember what we are ALL doing, I wont accept sneering at my tasks from someone who is as anally retentive and boring about their activity as I am about mine, same tune different hymn sheets.

As for what is wrong with WOTR, aside from the A word, well maybe a reluctance to part with some old myths as it is inconvenient to do so, such as exploring not using bill blocks, getting more archers to shoot and fight, having an agreed standard at the very least at 40 yards or so, that way even if the thread counters/sword geeks see it at least looks consistent.

Other than that it certainly is an improvement on the early 90s.

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Postby craig1459 » Fri Nov 04, 2005 6:31 pm

I'm still green enough to enjoy all of it - the research, buying kit, making kit, as well as hitting people with a pointed stick :twisted:

Not to mention the friends and contacts I've made - which is probably the best bit


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Postby gregory23b » Fri Nov 04, 2005 6:51 pm

Hey Craig, you may have hit on something.

Be green and keep keen?

or green keeps you keen? yep better.

As long as there is something to drive you or keep you interested it is a good thing. There is a group for all sorts of A****************** persuasions.

Oh single most fun thing this year was beating down an opponent in poll arm practice in Holland, poor Ed didn't know what hit him: Spoon whittler downed by woodblock mangler. Muhahhahaah


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Postby Ben Rodgers » Fri Nov 04, 2005 11:57 pm

What about the publics view point on WOTR re enactment, does anyone know the reason for them turning up at weekends is it the fact that they just want to see grown men (forgive me if any women that fight are offended) hit each other or do they actually come to see the living history side as well, I have heard comments in the past that to my opinion they have thought that the living history was fab but when it came to the battle they thought it wasnt that interesting, now primarily what do people do re enactment for? obviously the fun of it and im not for one second suggesting that we should scrap the battle because that would again miss the attair point of WOTR but are we missing the point in some cases that we are generally putting on a show for the public and not just entertaining ourselves.

In which case doesnt that bring into account the whole A word again and the emphasis on how important it really should be included in many of the events.


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Postby Fluffster » Sat Nov 05, 2005 12:31 am

There are some fantastic points being made here guys.

I like the green and keen comment. I have just got back into reenactment after a 5 year break. have joined a fantastic group. I then made the mistake of being too keen and trying to get some of the moaners and the like in the group to see things from a new members point of view... Won`t be doing that again.

Yes the A word is a tricky thing as was said you can`t have a governing body without somebody kicking up a fuss. It`s nice to get it right but when does getting it right become being anal?.

I love this hobby, as long as we get it right...ish and have fun and play safe I think we have the best hobby ever... getting back in me box now :lol:


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Postby craig1459 » Sat Nov 05, 2005 1:20 am

There are a variety of shows that group do and I wouldn't say that they are focussed around the battle. Its just that I guess the tournamnt and warfare stuff is best done in the arena.

The living history element takes up the whole weekend whereas the battles and firepower displays for example are much smaller parts of it

The re-branding of Tewkesbury as a "medieval festival" perhaps reflects that


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Postby Guest » Sat Nov 05, 2005 1:42 am

Personally, it'd be better if it didn't exist. Any re-enactment before 1700, and you're just making half of it up, aren't you? Anything before then and even that smart-ass Tony Robinson has to rely on some made-up explaination for every bit of rubbish they dig up.
Just a thought.



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Postby gregory23b » Sat Nov 05, 2005 10:23 am

I would prefer to do post 1980 reenactment, shame is no one would believe the clothes you would have to wear, upturned collars on jackets, sleeve cuffs turned half way up the fore arm, really bad fluffy hair, or baggy peg trousers, or baggy zouave trousers with bad hair and the music oh woe is me.

But Guest - above is making a valid point in that our knowledge of pre 1700 - arguably later than that is sketchy at best, but that should be no barrier to finding stuff out and enjoying the conjecture, which is what we are in theory doing, oh plus having fun.


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Postby craig1459 » Sat Nov 05, 2005 11:19 am

"Personally, it'd be better if it didn't exist"

Do you mean the "re-enacting" of battles or the living history project as a whole?

(Agree about smart-ass Baldrick!)


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Postby WorkMonkey » Sat Nov 05, 2005 11:31 am

Ben Rodgers wrote:What about the publics view point on WOTR re enactment, does anyone know the reason for them turning up at weekends is it the fact that they just want to see grown men (forgive me if any women that fight are offended) hit each other or do they actually come to see the living history side as well, I have heard comments in the past that to my opinion they have thought that the living history was fab but when it came to the battle they thought it wasnt that interesting, now primarily what do people do re enactment for? obviously the fun of it and im not for one second suggesting that we should scrap the battle because that would again miss the attair point of WOTR but are we missing the point in some cases that we are generally putting on a show for the public and not just entertaining ourselves.

In which case doesnt that bring into account the whole A word again and the emphasis on how important it really should be included in many of the events.



When I was 14, a couple of years before I got into re-enactment I went with my parents to Battle Abbey where a group was doing a "Battle of Bosworth" re-enactment, it was rather small scale so I think it would have worked better as a "skirmish" didn't look very impressive as a battle, but the group made the most of their lack of manpower and put on some very cool displays, to fill out the day,

They did some cannon firing,
Archers vs Crossbowmen in rate of fire competition which was very good,
Some rather nice horseback skirmishing,
and something else I cant remember,
I'd been to a few re-enactments before that by several different periods, and that was the most interesting bar Hastings 2000 to watch. It seems the later periods are rather boring because they lack the numbers to make it look impressive plus its just guns going off, but the ECW show I saw at Stonleigh Park was awesome. To make it interesting it needs something in it, not just two forces walking into each other and beating each other to death, it needs scenarios, scripted bits etc.


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Postby craig1459 » Sat Nov 05, 2005 12:05 pm

Agree WM

I saw a US CW display at multi-period event we did in Sheffield.

There was a lot going on - little sub plots here and there, plus Non-fighting participants such as medics and priests

While there is an over-arching script to the WOTR battles based on recorded events and the battles are directed as they happen, it feels like it lacks detail and is developed as it happens.

At Blore for example, rather than attempt a quick "re-enactment" of the pattern of the whole battle with a few hundred bodies, perhaps focus on a specific event in the battle such as the death of Audley and develop that to give a more focussed and detailed "show"


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Postby WorkMonkey » Sat Nov 05, 2005 12:36 pm

craig1459 wrote:Agree WM

At Blore for example, rather than attempt a quick "re-enactment" of the pattern of the whole battle with a few hundred bodies, perhaps focus on a specific event in the battle such as the death of Audley and develop that to give a more focussed and detailed "show"



Yes, an event like the death of a general and his retinue making a last stand would make an excellent show piece if it was angled towards the public correctly.


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