Monday, March 30, 2009

ROM Pas d'armes

Presentation of the appellants to the Patron of the tournament
Photo credit: Ray Barlow

The day began as any other day at the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM), except that there was something different in the air that spring day on March 21, 2009, which had little to do with the moderate weather the city was experiencing, nor the exhibits in the museum. There was a sense of excitement as the growing numbers of spectators began to accumulate, jocking for the best seats around the fighting lists, feeding the air with expectation awaiting the commencement of the second annual medieval pas d'armes (tournament). Tiny subtle battles between spectators vying to protect their "investment" as more people began filing in to possess available seats offering the best vantage to spectate the armoured combats soon to be unleashed on the floor of the Currelly Gallery later that day.
Combatant defendant Aldo Valente with combatant appellant John Woods from OMSG
Photo credit: Ray Barlow

Combatant defendant David M. Cvet with combatant appellant Dale Gienow from Muskoka
Photo credit: Ray Barlow

Towards the end of the morning approaching high noon, the Gallery was filled with children of all ages, parents, friends, wives, husbands, boyfriends and girlfriends, all awaiting the fanfare which denotes the opening of the grand tournament. Number of spectators having achieved as high as 1,400 spectators during the day. The spectators were treated with a presentation of "How a man shall be armed in the 14th century" by David M. Cvet, with the assistance of his squire Larry Brydon.
Defendants' herald, Dr. Robert Mason (ROM)
Photo credit: Ray Barlow
While this presentation was being made, all of the other combatants defendants and appellants were arming themselves in preparation for the ensuing armoured combat bouts. Immediately following the presentation, the anxious spectators were not disappointed with a lavish opening procession lead by a medieval musical ensemble, followed by heralds and pursuivants bearing their beautifully decorated tabards depicting the arms of the combatants defendants and appellants. These were followed by the marshals, responsible for the monitoring and tallying of strikes in the bouts, who were then followed by the combatants defendants and combatants in full armour wearing jupons depicting their coats of arms, preceded by their squires and banner bearers. Lastly, the combatants were followed by the Patron of the tournament, Robbie Sprules, Lord of Wrentnall and his wife, Lady Lucinda. The final grouping were the lovely ladies of the tournament who had undoubtedly inspired the combatants in each and every bout.
Combatant appellant Mat Ravignat from OMSG with combatant defendant Aldo Valente
Photo credit: Ray Barlow
Combatant defendant David M. Cvet with combatant appellant Jeremy Oneail from Boston
Photo credit: Ray Barlow

Once the tournament was officially opened by the Lord of Wrentnall, the bouts began in earnest. The fighting was intense, the spectators intimidated with the realism of the combats, perhaps not entirely understanding that the combats were unscripted tests of prowess, in which each is attempting to best the other.
Appellants' herald, David Birtwistle (RHSC)
Photo credit: Ray Barlow
Weapons chosen by the combatant appellants were one or more of sword, dagger, spear or poleaxe. This year's tournament featured the first female armoured combatant, Nikki Fourtzialas-Oneail who was accompanied by her husband and armoured combatant, Jeremy Oneail both from Mass., USA.

The first bout matched Matt McKee from the Ottawa Medieval Sword Guild (OMSG) who challenged Matt Brundle (AEMMA) with sword. The bout began without incident, however, in one of the early
Procession herald, Geoff DeMille
Photo credit: Liz Woods
exchanges, Matt Brundle delivered a thrust to the armpit while gripping his sword in the manner known as "1/2-sword". Unfortunately, the odds of incurring serious injury, although low, reared its ugly head, combined with looseness of the mail over the upper arm allowed the sword to penetrate between the mail and gambeson sleeve and struck Matt McKee squarely in the armpit. This injury drew blood to the surprise of Brundle, and McKee was removed from the lists, and had his injury treated at St. Mike's hospital, no stitches required. McKee was able to make it to the post tournament dinner party at the salle, and assured everyone there that he was fine and was on the road to recovery.
Combatant appellant Nikki Fourtziales-Oneail from Boston with combatant defendant Kel Rekuta
Photo credit: Ray Barlow

Without too long of a pause, the tournament continued forward with the next series of bouts in the first round. David, who involved with two battles, the battle against a flu bug, engaged in yet another battle with Jeremy Oneail fighting with spears, who promptly struck David on the inner elbow with the spear. The trauma to the elbow did not manifest itself till later at the post tournamenmt dinner party at the salle where his left arm began to swell and cause pain, which was duly handled with dark rum, purely for medicinal purposes.

Combatant appellant Nikki Fourtziales-Oneail from Boston
Photo credit: Leslie Lemar
The level of prowess was superior to last year's tournment, an obvious testament to improved, dedicated and enhanced training on both sides of the lists. The second round was a bit shorter than the first, due to fighters having become absent, McKee, Brundle (emergency at home), David out due to fever and congestion, and Larry Brydon (who replaced Brian McIlmoyle who was involved with his own family crisis) incurred an injury to his hand. However, the appellants John Woods, Mat Ravignat, Dale Gienow, Jeremy Oneail and Nikki Fourtziales-Oneail demonstrated their prowess to the delight of the spectators, the rest of the defendants including Kel Rekuta and Aldo Valente satisfied the appellants. All fighters had fought with gallantry and good sportsmanship. The combatants defendants identified Nikki Fourtzialas-Oneail as the "first amongst equals" and most deservedly so.

Lady Lucinda and Robbie Sprules, Lord of Wrentnall posing with the OMSG clan
Photo credit: Liz Woods
The conclusion of the tournament included a procession of armoured combatants and their banner bearers, to receive the traditional tournament medalion placed around the neck of each combatant by Lady Lucinda. This year, the medalion's silk cord tincture was "Or" or gold, representing yet another tincture found in AEMMA's coat of arms. The prize of a beautiful poignard dagger for the combatant selected as "first amongst equals" was given to Nikki by Robbie Sprules, Lord of Wrentnall. This was followed by a closing ceremony, equal to the pomp and circumstance of the opening to the delight of the spectators.

AEMMA wishes to thank the Royal Ontario Museum for allowing us to hold the tournaments in the Currelly Gallery, a fine venue and most appropriate for such an event, given the medieval murals painted on the walls. AEMMA also wishes to thank the Royal Heraldry Society of Canada for their support and volunteers, in particular to Society's members, Robbie Sprules and David Birtwistle, the combatants appellants herald.

1 comment:

Jeffry Larson said...

Wish I could have been there.

Well done all!