Sunday, May 2, 2010

Yeoman Festivals

The yeoman festivals were games followed by feasts. the games consisted of a variety of things, but basically any physical combat you can think of without armor, and that is what was in these games. some of these things consist of quarterstaff competitions, wrestling, "boxing", team "boxing", team quarterstaff, team wrestling, free for all, individual, pairs, etc. In the feasts they would have drinking, eating, dancing, singing, and instrument competitions, and recitals.

The Quarterstaff:
"Medieval Quarterstaff - This weapon consisted of a long shaft of hardwood

The shaft consisted of a long, thick pole measuring between 6 - 9 feet (3.6 to 5.4 metres)

Quarterstaffs were sometimes reinforced with metal tips usually made of iron

Used as a close contact weapon with thrusting, sweeping, clubbing or striking actions

A blow could apply tremendous force cracking a mans head, or bones if unprotected

The weapon was primarily used for bludgeoning an opponent. It was used both to deliver crushing blows, and also to thrust like a spear

Type or group of weapons - Bludgeoning Weapon

The Medieval Quarterstaff was also known by names such Stave or Balkstaff"

As you can see a quarterstaff was a very effective weapon for any peoples. It was used to increase agility and reaction time. If you could react by blocking a quarterstaff for some time you could block a sword a lot more easily. Though a sword is not slow a sword could not change direction of the blow as quickly as a quarterstaff could. Therefore making the quarterstaff a very lethal weapon. Not only that, but a quarterstaff could crush skulls and bones.

Wrestling and "Boxing":
Wrestling was a brutal form of combat that encouraged taking advantage of your opponent by any means necessary in order to win a fight and stay alive. It is apparent that wrestling was accepted by all masters of weapons as essential to combat. It gave a distinct advantage to those who possessed it and the masters taught their savage techniques throughout the age. With wrestling a warrior could use himself as the weapon, which truly would have been an advantage if all others were lost.


They would try to knowck the other person on the ground and they would wrestle. It is pretty universal what wrestling is, and their form of wrestling was very similair. they would knock the other person on the ground, and would get them in choke holds, and arm holds until the opponent gave up.

In boxing it was also very smple and similair. they would get in a ring usually with small padding, but not a lot, and they would fist fight. they would do these with teams or free for all, and it was the last man standing.

Although the main objective of the Medieval fairs were trade and commerce, every fair contained some element of merry-making. Possibly starting from merchants trying to sell their goods, people were determined to attract the most customers to their stalls. Therefore, from a very early date, there was always fun at the fair. Any entertainment to attract a crowd, singers, musicians, acrobats, stilt walkers and fools. Fairs included various contests such as archery tournaments. Medieval tournaments sometimes coincided with Medieval fairs. Fast food and other refreshments were available. There were lots of opportunities for fun at the Medieval fairs.

Feasts and Banquets:
"Anyone who has seen medieval pictures of banqueting scenes will have noticed musicians almost invariably present, blowing fanfares to herald the beginning of a course or playing to entertain the diners while they eat. Other entertainers might include minstrels, jugglers, mummers, or players putting on a pageant or interlude, a form of theatrical entertainment referred to in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. This poem is also one of many sources of evidence that the guests themselves did a lot of singing and dancing. Since the banqueting in the poem takes place in the Christmas season, much of the singing and dancing consists of carols. But a major source of entertainment at a medieval banquet was apt to be culinary in nature, at least in part."


They would have storytellers telling epics or legends, and a lot of the times they would say riddles. The riddles could be anything, and during the night people would try to figure them out, and sometimes the lords would give a prize to the person who could solve one of the hardest riddles. During the feasting part they would have 5-7 course dinners. Most of them were 6, but with a few exceptions. the most important of feasts had more food, and least important had less food.

Drinking and Dancing:
These are pretty simple. You can dance individually or with a partner, and temas or individuals would compete. they would see who could dance the best, and for the longest. if it was deemed to easy the person(s) were taken out, and the last person standing won. Now for drinking it was whoever could drink the most in a certain amount of time. This was usually ale or beer, and was never wine.(My Father a history nerd like Mr. Lockwood:})

So in all fairs/festivals were usually held on church feast days and or land days such as 1st day of spring etc. There was plenty of entertainment and fun. Fairs were more public like festivals, but there was a special feast after festivals unlike fairs. Fairs were mainly for merchanting, and festivals for showing off skill, and winning prizes. There were plenty of events, and anyone could enter them knowing real well the consequences of joining an event such as wrestling or quarterstaff fights.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Tournaments and Games

During the Renaissance era there have been findings of board games such as Baggamon, Chess, Card games, and even dice games. Dice would be made out of bone, stone, or wood. During the tournaments Jousting, and swordplay took place during the time of tournaments. Jousting consisted of two knights, warriors who rode horses, with lances, which were made of wood, and charged each other. one point would be given if a man were to break the lance between the torso and the neck, two points if they broke the lance on his head, and three points were awarded if the man knowcked the other knight off his horse. when doing this the knight was awarded not only three points, but his horse, and that round of jousting was over.

"Hostory Channel"

"The History of the Medieval Lance evolved over the era. The forerunner of the Medieval Lance was the spear. The spear was a favoured weapon of the Normans as can be seen from scenes from the Bayeux tapestry depicting the 1066 Battle of Hastings. The spear was carried by Normans who fought on horseback. At this point of Medieval history the English did not have a cavalry. Their skills in horsemanship and this type of warfare developed after the Norman invasion. And history saw the spear develop into the Medieval Lance. Tournaments were introduced from France to England in the 12th Century and the lance was strongly featured in these Medieval games."

Tournaments provided a means for knights to practice warfare and build their strength in times of peace. Tournaments were essentially mock battles with audiences. The audience was usually made up of "fair damsels". This was another way in which a knight was expected to act chivalrous. The tournaments had different rules that had to be followed. They were judged by umpires that watched for dishonest play. Tournaments were usually fought between either two people or two teams. If two people fought a tournament, it was usually by jousting. The two knights would gallop across the playing field at each other. They carried long, blunt poles and shields. The objective was to knock the other person out of his saddle. Team play was conducted with fierce mock combat between two bands of fighters. They fought with wooden or blunted weapons so as to reduce the risk of getting hurt. However, this was often not the case. Many people did get hurt or die by accident.

At 1st tournaments were unorganized and many people died within the tournament, but There were also events in sword and mace fighting, where the combatants fought on foot, but the joust was the event that gained a contestant the most glory. It was also the most popular event for spectators.

Knights could make a fortune from jousting. Since early times, they were entitled to keep the armour and horses of their vanquished opponents. These were usually ransomed back to the former owner and the victor could thus amass a considerable fortune.

Squires could also 'win their spurs' and be knighted if they acquitted themselves well at a tournament.

"Accuracy was also an important factor and squires practised "Running at the Rings" where the lance was aimed at a target in the shape of a ring - these rings were obviously much smaller to lance than a man and this skill was therefore difficult to master.

Skill in using Medieval weapons was dependent on weapon practise. The Quintain was used for training in the use of the Medieval Lance. A quintain enabled target practise with a lance. This idea was 'borrowed' from the Romans.

The First Stage of training - A Page would start to acquire the skills required of a Knight by practising the skills of tilting a lance against the quintain. At first a target was erected and the Page would mount a wooden 'horse' on wheels holding a lance. The wooden horse would be pulled along by two other pages towards the target and the page would aim the lance.

The second stage of training - As the apprentice Knights, the squires, acquired the skills of horsemanship they would practise against a shield and dummy which were suspended from a swinging pole. The shield was hit by a charging squire and his objective was to avoid the rotating arms and not get knocked from the saddle. The dummy was often made to look realistic by portraying symbols of the knights current enemy. A dummy would be designed to look like a Saracen, for example, during the period of the crusades.

Weapons practise - Fully fledged knights would also practise at the quintain to ensure their skills using the lance were in peak condition and that their bodies remained fit and agile in preparation for his role as a fighter."

Sports in the medieval ages were pretty much tournaments. They didnt play "sports" as we would call them today. They were tournaments with a little more practices, such as mace fights, sword fights, and archery. in fact archery was so important that lower class people were required by law to practice archery, and this is why.

"Archery was not just one of the Medieval sports of the Middle Ages. Lower Class men were required to practise archery by law! The first Medieval Archery Law was passed in 1252 when all Englishmen between the age of 15 to 60 years old were ordered, by Law, to equip themselves with a bow and arrows. The areas designated for archery training during the Medieval period of the Middle Ages were called the Butts. The power of the longbow was so great that at the Battle of Crecy, in 1346, the French army was decimated. It is estimated that nearly 2000 French knights and soldiers were killed by the longbow arrows. The English lost just 50 men. This explains why Archery Laws were passed and why training at the Butts was so important and included as one of the most important Medieval sports in the Middle Ages!

But there were in fact some sports that we would call sports such as
Archery - Archery contests were especially popular


Colf - the ancestor of Golf ( a sport for the nobles)

Gameball - a simple football game


Hurling or Shinty - a similar game to hockey

Horseshoes - throwing horseshoes at a target

Jousting at Tournaments

Quarter-staff contests

Skittles - an ancestor of modern ten-pin bowling

Stoolball - an ancestor of Cricket



So as you can see, there were little sports played back then, the main thing was jousting. That is how knights proved themselves, how they could get either very rich or very poor, and especially how they trained for war.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Medieval Art

The time period in which the Renaissance art was created was during the Renaissance period. The Renaissance art is distinctive in many ways. The Renaissance was the revival of the learning and cultural awareness that occurred in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. They occurred mainly in Italy, but also took place in Germany and other European countries. This time period was focused on the revival of the ancient Greek and Roman art, which included a focus on science, philosophy, human beings, and their environment. book source

The Renaissance was, fundamentally, a renewal or rebirth of cultural responsiveness and learning that took place during the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. It followed the middle ages, and was essentially a time of the revival of learning after the Middle Ages.

A third popular method of approaching art was known as the romanesque period, which lasted from 1000 to the start of Gothic art in the twelfth century. It originally developed as a result of monasticism in Western Europe, having its start in France. It eventually spread to Christian England, Spain, Germany, Italy, and Flanders, becoming the first medieval style to be widely spread throughout Europe. It was mainly expressed through figurative sculptures that were colorfully painted, which provided an important component to large churches. They were commonly placed in the capitals of the columns that surrounded the magnificent churches, as well as around remarkable portals, that were centered above doors. They best representation of these are found at the Vezelay Abbey and the Autun Cathedral, which express how important this style of art was in creating these buildings.

One of the greatest artists during the Renaissance was Leonardo Da Vinci. He was a supreme example of a Renaissance genius who possessed one of the greatest minds of all times. He drew the first relaxed portraits with misty landscapes in the backgrounds. He was able to potray the misty backgrounds using warm and passionate colors. He was famous for the way he used light in his portaits.

Most of the main types of art that impacted the world then, and does today as well are:

Illuminated Manuscripts (highly decorated book pages)
Fresco (painting in wet plaster on a ceiling or wall)
Panel Painting
Ceramic art (such as pottery)
Stained glass art

Medieval Art

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Saturday, October 24, 2009

The First Crusade

The crusaders in the 1st crusade faced perils such as starvation, exhaustion, deadly disease, and bloodthirsty battles. They face a 3000 kilometer journey to Jerusalem from Constantinople. They showed their will to follow God and their immense brutality against infidels. Even against all of these things, all odds, and from the cost of human suffereing they finally prevailed against the Muslims.Google Book

"The First Crusade played a very important part in Medieval England. The First Crusade was an attempt to re-capture Jerusalem. After the capture of Jerusalem by the Muslims in 1076, any Christian who wanted to pay a pilgrimage to the city faced a very hard time. Muslim soldiers made life very difficult for the Christians and trying to get to Jerusalem was filled with danger for a Christian. This greatly angered all Christians.
One Christian - called Alexius I of Constantinople - feared that his country might also fall to the Muslims as it was very close to the territory captured by the Muslims. Constantinople is in modern day Turkey. Alexius called on the pope - Urban II - to give him help.

In 1095, Urban spoke to a great crown at Clermont in France. He called for a war against the Muslims so that Jerusalem was regained for the Christian faith. In his speech he said:
"Christians, hasten to help your brothers in the East, for they are being attacked. Arm for the rescue of Jerusalem under your captain Christ. Wear his cross as your badge. If you are killed your sins will be pardoned."

Those who volunteered to go to fight the Muslims cut out red crosses and sewed them on their tunics. The French word "croix" means cross and the word changed to "croisades" or crusades. The fight against the Muslims became a Holy War."

Obviously the Christians didn't like the idea that the Muslims took over their holy city and could move on to taking other major cities such as Constantinople and Rome. So in reaction to this the Europeans, who used feudalism as means to build up armies, slightly joined together to fight the Muslims.

"The crusader's 1st aim in the 1st crusade was to take over the city of Nicea which wasnt too much trouble. Next they sought after Antioch, which at that time was heavily guarded, and it took the crusaders 7 months to take the city. Finally they went after Jerusalem.

The attack and capture of Jerusalem started in the summer of 1099. Jerusalem was well defended with high walls around it. The first attacks on the city were not successful as the Crusaders were short of materials for building siege machines. Once logs had arrived, two siege machines were built.

A monk called Fulcher was on the First Crusade. He wrote about the attack on the Holy City and he can be treated as an eye-witness as to what took place.

Fulcher claimed that once the Crusaders had managed to get over the walls of Jerusalem, the Muslim defenders there ran away. Fulcher claimed that the Crusaders cut down anybody they could and that the streets of Jerusalem were ankle deep in blood. The rest of the Crusaders got into the city when the gates were opened. The slaughter continued and the Crusaders "killed whoever they wished". Those Muslims who had their lives spared, had to go round and collect the bodies before dumping them outside of the city because they stank so much. The Muslims claimed afterwards that 70,000 people were killed and that the Crusaders took whatever treasure they could from the Dome of the Rock.

The Crusader attack on Jerusalem - in the foreground is a siege castle

After the success of the Crusaders, the Kingdom of Jerusalem was created and its first king was Godfrey of Bouillon who was elected by other crusaders. He died in 1100 and was succeeded by his brother Baldwin of Boulogne.

The capture of Jerusalem did not end the Crusades as the Crusaders wanted to get rid of the Muslims from the whole region and not just Jerusalem. This desire led to the other crusades.

Before they started their attacks upon the Muslim invaders the crusaders went through perilous times getting to Constantinople. First off they ran out of fresh water, and a historian wrote that they had to drink their own urine, animal blood, or water from the sewage. Also food was scarce, and they had to plunder and pilgrimage cities in order to keepo the soldiers fighting fit.


"Real armies were gathering in the West. Recruits came in greater numbers from France than from any other country, a circumstance which resulted in the crusaders being generally called "Franks" by their Moslem foes. They had no single commander, but each contingent set out for Constantinople by its own route and at its own time.

The First Crusade - The Siege of Antioch
Godfrey of Bouillon, Duke of Lorraine, and Tancred, "the mirror of knighthood," were among the most noted of the leaders of the different divisions of the army. The expedition numbered about 700,000 men, of whom fully 100,000 were mailed knights. The crusaders traversed Europe by different routes and reassembled at Constantinople. Crossing the Bosphorus, they first captured Nicaea, the Turkish capital, in Bithynia, and then set out across Asia Minor for Syria. Arriving at Antioch, the survivors captured that place, and then, after some delays, pushed on towards Jerusalem. The Siege of Antioch had lasted from October 1097 to June 1098.

The First Crusade - The City of Jerusalem
Reduced now to perhaps one-fourth of their original numbers, the crusaders advanced slowly to the city which formed the goal of all their efforts. When at length the Holy City burst upon their view, a perfect delirium of joy seized the crusaders. They embraced one another with tears of joy, and even embraced and kissed the ground on which they stood. As they passed on, they took off their shoes, and marched with uncovered head and bare feet, singing the words of the prophet: "Jerusalem, lift up thine eyes, and behold the liberator who comes to break thy chains." Before attacking it they marched barefoot in religious procession around the walls, with Peter the Hermit at their head. Then came the grand assault.

The First Crusade - The Capture of Jerusalem
The first assault made by the Christians upon the walls of the city was repulsed; but the second was successful, and the city was in the hands of the crusaders by July 1099. Godfrey of Bouillon and Tancred were among the first to mount the ramparts. Once inside the city, the crusaders massacred their enemies without mercy. A terrible slaughter of the infidels took place. For seven days the carnage went on, at the end of which time scarcely any of the Moslem faith were left alive. The Christians took possession of the houses and property of the infidels, each soldier having a right to that which he had first seized and placed his mark upon.

The First Crusade