At my university there is a club called The Quill and the Sword – a medieval reenactment club. While in school I remember seeing club members dressed up on campus, occasionally sword fighting and the like. Now, while I never had any interest in participating in the club I am willing to admit I’m always down for an interactive history lesson, and I think period costumes are awesome. And because of that I have to acknowledge that The Quill and the Sword members fill a, umm… diversity niche and that I respect the club members’ passion.
I know that seems like a super random paragraph but, last week we went to what I can only guess would be something of a dream come true for someone whose club’s main purpose is to educate people about medieval life, warfare and politics. History Live! was basically a glorified
Renaissance Fair. Scratch that, I’ve never been to a Renaissance Fair. It was a glorified what-I-imagine-a-Renaissance-Fair-would-be-like except that it covered British history from Roman times through World War II.
For example, we saw:
A Battle of Hastings (William the Conqueror’s big 1066 take-over) reenactment. Here’s the Saxon line before they fell apart (which is why England lost to “William the Rotter”). Medieval Knight sword fights
Victorian Variety Shows
AND Gladiator reenactors, a War of 1812 battle, a British Civil War battle, Falconry demonstrations, a wild boar burger eaten by Derek, and lots and lots of various historical costumes.
And probably the most exciting, a D-Day battle complete with parachuters, tanks, mortar, and a fighter plane. The battle reenactments were narrated (live) with some pre-recorded bits. During the D-Day battle one of the pre-recorded voice-overs included an American Sargent saying, “Where are those G** D*** Brit vehiculars?” (vehicles). The Crowd laughed at the accent. Derek felt mocked. 🙂
While we didn’t entirely know what we were going to when we left the house that morning (“an action-packed blockbuster and Europe’s biggest historical event” didn’t fully describe it), History Live! was entertaining and informative and I’m glad we went. To be fair, I’m not sure how else the English Heritage website should have described the sort of all-in-one staged battles+Victorian displays+historical music performances and Renaissance nerdiness meets family fun. It was less than an hour away so it was a nice little day trip. And overall we had a lot of fun seeing the battles, learning (and recalling) our history, and talking to people whose passion lies in some bit of history, be it Victorian steam engines, Wild Boar recipes, Medieval games, Tudor clothing, etc.
Stay tuned for our following Saturday’s day trip including a walk back in time and a visit to a world heritage site.
P.S. While we were there I was reminded of this clip from the Big Bang Theory.