Saturday, April 12, 2008

14th Century Tournament in the 21st Century?

Incredulous as it sounds, but it's true. The Academy of European Medieval Martial Arts (AEMMA), along with the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) and the Royal Heraldry Society of Canada (RHSC) successfully delivered a colourful and heraldic pageantry of armoured combatants, heralds, pursuivants, marshals and even a Patron, the Lord of Wrentnall. This event was hosted at the ROM in their large Currelly Gallery on March 15, 2008. The museum was at capacity that day with over 10,000 people in the museum, with hundreds spectating the tournament. There were hundreds upon hundreds of people lined up along Bloor Street and south on Avenue Rd. awaiting their entry into the ROM.
Figure 1: Robbie Sprules and his wife, Lucinda lead the opening procession into the fighting lists - photo by Gail J. Smith

The tournament focused entirely on "combats on foot", with the defendants (the home team) comprised of 5 armoured combatants, being challenged by the appellants (the visiting team) comprised of 5 additional armoured combatants, one combatant coming from Gravenhurst, while another from Boston, Mass, and the rest from the Ottawa Medieval Sword Guild or OMSG. The opening procession displayed a spectacular array of heraldry in the form of banners, standards and colourful tabards depicting the coats of arms of the combatants. To add, the combatants themselves, accompanied with their standard bearers, also wore jupons emblazoned with their coat of arms.
Figure 2: David Cvet battling Dale Gienow from Muskoka with steel longswords - photo by Jim Atack

The bouts were configured to three landed blows, by any weapon or weapons chosen for that bout. The blows were required to create visible displacement of the target in order to be counted. The bouts were extremely intense, with a good number of combatants choosing the spear as their weapon of choice.
Figure 3: David Murphy battling Mat Ravignat (OMSG) with poleaxe - photo by Jim Atack

At the end of the tournament, Lady Lucinda, the Patron's wife selected a combatant deemed to be the "best amongst equals" and was presented with a gift, a classic claymore sword. Following the tournament, most of the combatants, their significant others, volunteers and friends and relations attended a medieval banquet at AEMMA's salle d'armes. A glorious day for all involved.
Figure 4: Mathieu Ravignat accepting the award from Robbie Sprules and Lady Lucinda for "best amongst equals" - photo by Gail J. Smith

Figure 5: One side of the tournament medallion depicting the AEMMA arms, the reverse indicting date and location of the tournament. These were presented to each of the combatants at the banquet. Designed and created by Nicolas Facundo-Rico.

After the tournament, a good number of combatants and other participants, friends and family attended the medieval banquet at AEMMA's salle d'armes. With the salle beautifully decorated with arms of all of the combatants depicted on wooden shields, standards, banners, wrought iron candelabras, a medieval musical ensemble and demonstrations of medieval dancing, the banquet achieved what it may have been like in the medieval period. After some remarks and short speeches, Lady Lucinda awarded to each of the armoured combatants a tournament medallion. The medallions were created by an AEMMA student Nicolas Facundo-Rico.



Dr. Kevin Greaves said...

I visited the ROM with my wife and three teen-aged grandchildren on Saturday, the last available day of the March Break. We spent most of our visit attending the medieval tournament, which was for all of us was the most exciting event we have witnessed in many years of ROM visits. Other than being a little slow in getting started, this was an action-filled event that gave a remarkable insight into a number of aspects of medieval life that are not well covered in schools. It was particularly interesting in that this was patently not a staged "re-creation", but the real thing. As a student of heraldry (as is one of my granddaughters -- starting in Grade 4), I found the event's concentration on the colour and pageantry of the tournament well done and fascinating. We had trouble getting the kids away to see other aspects of the museum. Well done, and congratulations on a new and unique display!
Kevin Greaves, MD

Lucie H. said...

I thought it was an amazing event, David did a colossal job organizing. I really liked the way David kept the bouts moving, which is not an easy thing. His intros before each weapon was excellent, just enough information for those who wanted to know the technical aspects, not too much to bore those who were not so inclined. I am used to watching fencing bouts, and I must say that I missed many many hits. So I don't think that there isn't possible to explain enough to fully educate the audience. This overview was well adapted for the audience.

I particularly liked the unarmoured bouts - great idea. I would like to see more of them!

Matt D. said...

First off, David, thank you, it was awesome. You and the amount of work you put in (especially on the decorations) were incredible. I'm proud to have been
able to participate.

Sean W. said...

I think the tournament went very well, and was both entertaining and educational for the audience. I enjoyed playing a part in it, thought we had some excellent fighting, and look forward to the next one. I also very much look forward to the video, especially since I did not get a chance to photograph it. Our booth and backdrops were colorful and
appropriate--the new furniture David made looked very nice, as did the
shields and banners. Lord Lyth (or wherever) was a really good sport
about it, and the presentation sword was very good-looking (though so
heavy). I think our audience really appreciated it, and perhaps even
learned something.

Mike said...

"It was great! I figured the guys must have had practice organizing previously at other medieval tournaments. It was good having Dave describe techniques, hits & fouls for each weapon in advance. Wish we could have heard more of the running commentary, a lot of it happened quickly and what's-his-name's mic was quiet. Pity about the floor, I noticed at the start it was too slippery. I like the way it was set up, royalty at the head (who were they?), and the two "teams", and the trash talk. I was more worried about the marshalls than the fighters, all you guys had for protection was a stick and your responsibility was much greater.... " ,