Playing with history

Cat_243_dover_31 by Mary Jo

We Wenches all write historical novels so we’re at least history buffs, and several of us are Certified History Nerds.  <g>   In our way, we’re doing our best to counter the general historical illiteracy common among Americans.  (If you’re a regular visitor here, you’re probably a history buff, too,)  Many of our posts contain insights about the past or illuminate interesting information about things like grand dairies, or holiday customs. or the lives of servants. 

But there is another class of folks who love to use history as play.  I was reminded of this a few days ago when I received a  catalog from an outfit called Museum Replicas Limited. ( http://museumreplicas.com/webstore/Home.aspx )

It’s full of cool costumes and weapons and other bits and pieces of the past, reproduced at affordable prices.  There are musketeer tabards and cup hilt rapiers, Viking tunics and Roman centurion armor.  Highwayman coats and wizard’s cloaks and reindeer hides (from reindeer killed to feed Lapps rather than hunted for sport or raised by factory farm methods.)  And pirates and their accoutrements are popular now, not surprisingly. 

Snow_queen My weakness is the gorgeous sweeping cloaks.  There’s a snow queen hooded cape made of faux fur that would have suited Tilda Swinton in The Chronicles of Narnia.   I lust after a burgundy velvet cloak that is supposed to be Regency, though I have my doubts about the detailing.  But what fun to sweep it around one’s shoulders and go grandly to a ball!  I have a friend who has a real Victorian velvet cape that’s similar, and so gorgeous that she risked Regency_cloak getting mugged for it. 

For some people, costumes are just the beginning—they actually live their history.  We’ve all heard of Civil War and Revolutionary reenactors who stage mock versions of famous battles.  The Battle of Bunker Hill is refought every year in Massachusetts.  A serious re-enactor won’t even take along an apple for a snack if it’s a variety that’s no available in his time period.  Nor it is always a “him.” For some women, re-enactments are an opportunity to release their inner warrior.  (Nor is the idea of women dressing as men to go to war historically inaccurate.)

There are societies that go even further back.  Perhaps the oldest and best known is the Society for Creative Anachronism, which focuses on 17th Chronicles_of_narnia_18 century and earlier.  The group I had some personal contact with is the Markland Medieval Mercenary Militia,    http://www.markland.org/descriptions.php  , which is focused in the Mid-Atlantic area.  I think the Battle of Hastings, between the Anglo-Saxons and the Normans, is their totemic event.  They regularly re-enact the battle, and they will do it twice so the Saxons can win the second time.  <g>  (I might add that my information is not particularly up-to-date, and we were never members, but we hung out with members, and it was great fun.  If any Marklanders read this, I hope they’ll forgive me any errors.) 

We once attended one of the winter solstice feasts.  A feature of the feast was to be able to go up and grasp a spear (or was it the pole of a banner?) and swear an oath for the coming year.  This is a lot more dramatic than just writing new year’s resolutions!

The high point was when a determined young lady came up to the spear and swore she’d see the next year in as a bride.  This appeared to be news to her long-term boyfriend (a doctor), but indeed they were married in a Markland themed ceremony later that year.  My companion had rented a Viking horned helmet and looked so cool that he was promptly incorporated into the wedding procession. 

What I particularly liked was how much fun everyone was having.  In this kind of group, it’s usual to create a persona for oneself, with appropriate garb and back story.  A computer programmer by day can become the wizard Gandalf by night.  (There was a strong overlap between Marklanders and the local science fiction and fantasy community.)  A mild-mannered lawyer might become the warrior queen Boadicea.  One can buy costumes as places like Museum Replicas, but the talented can make their own garb. 

Klingon_warrior In a busy mundane world, it’s easy for fantasy and imagination to be and play to be squeezed out.  This is why I admire people who put time and energy into visiting worlds not our own.  Whether your preference is to be a Union soldier at Gettysburg, a staunch Saxon foot soldier, or a member of the Klingon Battle Fleet, playing with history (and fantasy worlds) can enrich your life.  Do you have some form of historical play you love?  Tell me about it!

Mary Jo

68 thoughts on “Playing with history”

  1. Many years ago my husband and I traveled to England with a friend who was a Revolutionary War re-enactor…as a British soldier, even if he did grow up in New Jersey. He got quite a hassle coming back thru customs with all the bits and bobs (and swords) he found in antique stores on our trip. What seemed to bother the customs guys the most is that he participated as an “enemy!”
    The closest I’ve come to “historical play” was when my family got decked out in costumes for one of those “old-timey” photo shoots. None of us smiled, and all the girls were wearing feathered bonnets. The picture is hilarious.

    Reply
  2. Many years ago my husband and I traveled to England with a friend who was a Revolutionary War re-enactor…as a British soldier, even if he did grow up in New Jersey. He got quite a hassle coming back thru customs with all the bits and bobs (and swords) he found in antique stores on our trip. What seemed to bother the customs guys the most is that he participated as an “enemy!”
    The closest I’ve come to “historical play” was when my family got decked out in costumes for one of those “old-timey” photo shoots. None of us smiled, and all the girls were wearing feathered bonnets. The picture is hilarious.

    Reply
  3. Many years ago my husband and I traveled to England with a friend who was a Revolutionary War re-enactor…as a British soldier, even if he did grow up in New Jersey. He got quite a hassle coming back thru customs with all the bits and bobs (and swords) he found in antique stores on our trip. What seemed to bother the customs guys the most is that he participated as an “enemy!”
    The closest I’ve come to “historical play” was when my family got decked out in costumes for one of those “old-timey” photo shoots. None of us smiled, and all the girls were wearing feathered bonnets. The picture is hilarious.

    Reply
  4. Many years ago my husband and I traveled to England with a friend who was a Revolutionary War re-enactor…as a British soldier, even if he did grow up in New Jersey. He got quite a hassle coming back thru customs with all the bits and bobs (and swords) he found in antique stores on our trip. What seemed to bother the customs guys the most is that he participated as an “enemy!”
    The closest I’ve come to “historical play” was when my family got decked out in costumes for one of those “old-timey” photo shoots. None of us smiled, and all the girls were wearing feathered bonnets. The picture is hilarious.

    Reply
  5. Too many! LOL! I grew up in the SCA (my parents liked the Norman period, lots of flowing sleeves that trailed in bloody EVERYTHING).
    I spent my 20s deeply involved in the 16th century “Germany”, and still do lots of events with those friends. In November we just had a big feast and gaming night with reenactors from all over California (San Diego to Eureka) converging in a 15th century wood-paneled room that some lunatic imported from London and set up in it’s own little building at a funeral home. They let us use it for free cause they thought it was so cool that we wanted to.
    My 30s seem to have slid into the 18th century, and a new obsession with all things Georgian. I love the clothes. Love them! I’m still working on getting just the right wig (for less than $600 bucks, any way).
    I have friends who are deeply involved in most of the reenactment communities here in the States (and in several places in Europe). So whether it’s American Civil War, English Civil War, or the War of the Roses, chances are one of my friends owns the clothes, the guns, the tents, sometimes even the horse and tack!
    If you live on the West Coast, one of the most amazing events to visit is the Fort Macarthur Military Timeline Event. You get military reeanctors from Romans up through WWII. There’s just something really funny about watching a centurion, a landsknecht, a cowboy and a doughboy all poking around a WWII amphibious assault vehicle (esp since the centurion in question was wearing tighty-whities, LOL!).

    Reply
  6. Too many! LOL! I grew up in the SCA (my parents liked the Norman period, lots of flowing sleeves that trailed in bloody EVERYTHING).
    I spent my 20s deeply involved in the 16th century “Germany”, and still do lots of events with those friends. In November we just had a big feast and gaming night with reenactors from all over California (San Diego to Eureka) converging in a 15th century wood-paneled room that some lunatic imported from London and set up in it’s own little building at a funeral home. They let us use it for free cause they thought it was so cool that we wanted to.
    My 30s seem to have slid into the 18th century, and a new obsession with all things Georgian. I love the clothes. Love them! I’m still working on getting just the right wig (for less than $600 bucks, any way).
    I have friends who are deeply involved in most of the reenactment communities here in the States (and in several places in Europe). So whether it’s American Civil War, English Civil War, or the War of the Roses, chances are one of my friends owns the clothes, the guns, the tents, sometimes even the horse and tack!
    If you live on the West Coast, one of the most amazing events to visit is the Fort Macarthur Military Timeline Event. You get military reeanctors from Romans up through WWII. There’s just something really funny about watching a centurion, a landsknecht, a cowboy and a doughboy all poking around a WWII amphibious assault vehicle (esp since the centurion in question was wearing tighty-whities, LOL!).

    Reply
  7. Too many! LOL! I grew up in the SCA (my parents liked the Norman period, lots of flowing sleeves that trailed in bloody EVERYTHING).
    I spent my 20s deeply involved in the 16th century “Germany”, and still do lots of events with those friends. In November we just had a big feast and gaming night with reenactors from all over California (San Diego to Eureka) converging in a 15th century wood-paneled room that some lunatic imported from London and set up in it’s own little building at a funeral home. They let us use it for free cause they thought it was so cool that we wanted to.
    My 30s seem to have slid into the 18th century, and a new obsession with all things Georgian. I love the clothes. Love them! I’m still working on getting just the right wig (for less than $600 bucks, any way).
    I have friends who are deeply involved in most of the reenactment communities here in the States (and in several places in Europe). So whether it’s American Civil War, English Civil War, or the War of the Roses, chances are one of my friends owns the clothes, the guns, the tents, sometimes even the horse and tack!
    If you live on the West Coast, one of the most amazing events to visit is the Fort Macarthur Military Timeline Event. You get military reeanctors from Romans up through WWII. There’s just something really funny about watching a centurion, a landsknecht, a cowboy and a doughboy all poking around a WWII amphibious assault vehicle (esp since the centurion in question was wearing tighty-whities, LOL!).

    Reply
  8. Too many! LOL! I grew up in the SCA (my parents liked the Norman period, lots of flowing sleeves that trailed in bloody EVERYTHING).
    I spent my 20s deeply involved in the 16th century “Germany”, and still do lots of events with those friends. In November we just had a big feast and gaming night with reenactors from all over California (San Diego to Eureka) converging in a 15th century wood-paneled room that some lunatic imported from London and set up in it’s own little building at a funeral home. They let us use it for free cause they thought it was so cool that we wanted to.
    My 30s seem to have slid into the 18th century, and a new obsession with all things Georgian. I love the clothes. Love them! I’m still working on getting just the right wig (for less than $600 bucks, any way).
    I have friends who are deeply involved in most of the reenactment communities here in the States (and in several places in Europe). So whether it’s American Civil War, English Civil War, or the War of the Roses, chances are one of my friends owns the clothes, the guns, the tents, sometimes even the horse and tack!
    If you live on the West Coast, one of the most amazing events to visit is the Fort Macarthur Military Timeline Event. You get military reeanctors from Romans up through WWII. There’s just something really funny about watching a centurion, a landsknecht, a cowboy and a doughboy all poking around a WWII amphibious assault vehicle (esp since the centurion in question was wearing tighty-whities, LOL!).

    Reply
  9. I love looking at people dressed up in Regency outfits. I’m just so jealous. LOL 🙂 My only experience with any sort of dressing up is one Halloween I wore a real astronaut blue suit and another Halloween I wore my Starfleet uniform shirt. Nope, no klingons for me. 😉
    Lois

    Reply
  10. I love looking at people dressed up in Regency outfits. I’m just so jealous. LOL 🙂 My only experience with any sort of dressing up is one Halloween I wore a real astronaut blue suit and another Halloween I wore my Starfleet uniform shirt. Nope, no klingons for me. 😉
    Lois

    Reply
  11. I love looking at people dressed up in Regency outfits. I’m just so jealous. LOL 🙂 My only experience with any sort of dressing up is one Halloween I wore a real astronaut blue suit and another Halloween I wore my Starfleet uniform shirt. Nope, no klingons for me. 😉
    Lois

    Reply
  12. I love looking at people dressed up in Regency outfits. I’m just so jealous. LOL 🙂 My only experience with any sort of dressing up is one Halloween I wore a real astronaut blue suit and another Halloween I wore my Starfleet uniform shirt. Nope, no klingons for me. 😉
    Lois

    Reply
  13. Here’s a really cool thing I heard: People are doing their weddings in period costumes. The owner of a costume rental shop in my city told me people often rent Rennaisance or Civil War costumes for weddings. It is actually cheaper than renting tuxes or buying bridesmaid dresses that no one wants to keep anyway. Wish I’d thought of that 30 years ago…Plus, I’ll bet the groomsmen would rather dress as Civil War soldiers than put on a tux. What’s Next? Pirate Weddings? I’m sure someone has done a Klingon wedding…Viking Wedding? Gladiator Wedding? oh, the possibilities are endless….

    Reply
  14. Here’s a really cool thing I heard: People are doing their weddings in period costumes. The owner of a costume rental shop in my city told me people often rent Rennaisance or Civil War costumes for weddings. It is actually cheaper than renting tuxes or buying bridesmaid dresses that no one wants to keep anyway. Wish I’d thought of that 30 years ago…Plus, I’ll bet the groomsmen would rather dress as Civil War soldiers than put on a tux. What’s Next? Pirate Weddings? I’m sure someone has done a Klingon wedding…Viking Wedding? Gladiator Wedding? oh, the possibilities are endless….

    Reply
  15. Here’s a really cool thing I heard: People are doing their weddings in period costumes. The owner of a costume rental shop in my city told me people often rent Rennaisance or Civil War costumes for weddings. It is actually cheaper than renting tuxes or buying bridesmaid dresses that no one wants to keep anyway. Wish I’d thought of that 30 years ago…Plus, I’ll bet the groomsmen would rather dress as Civil War soldiers than put on a tux. What’s Next? Pirate Weddings? I’m sure someone has done a Klingon wedding…Viking Wedding? Gladiator Wedding? oh, the possibilities are endless….

    Reply
  16. Here’s a really cool thing I heard: People are doing their weddings in period costumes. The owner of a costume rental shop in my city told me people often rent Rennaisance or Civil War costumes for weddings. It is actually cheaper than renting tuxes or buying bridesmaid dresses that no one wants to keep anyway. Wish I’d thought of that 30 years ago…Plus, I’ll bet the groomsmen would rather dress as Civil War soldiers than put on a tux. What’s Next? Pirate Weddings? I’m sure someone has done a Klingon wedding…Viking Wedding? Gladiator Wedding? oh, the possibilities are endless….

    Reply
  17. “What’s Next? Pirate Weddings? I’m sure someone has done a Klingon wedding…Viking Wedding?”
    You have no idea . . . I’ve seen Star Wars weddings and Star Trek weddings (not as a guest, but the pics). My parents had a Regency wedding, with all the men in period naval uniforms. My friends have had Victorian (1875 and 1850) and Georgian (1760) weddings (yes, I made costumes for those events!).

    Reply
  18. “What’s Next? Pirate Weddings? I’m sure someone has done a Klingon wedding…Viking Wedding?”
    You have no idea . . . I’ve seen Star Wars weddings and Star Trek weddings (not as a guest, but the pics). My parents had a Regency wedding, with all the men in period naval uniforms. My friends have had Victorian (1875 and 1850) and Georgian (1760) weddings (yes, I made costumes for those events!).

    Reply
  19. “What’s Next? Pirate Weddings? I’m sure someone has done a Klingon wedding…Viking Wedding?”
    You have no idea . . . I’ve seen Star Wars weddings and Star Trek weddings (not as a guest, but the pics). My parents had a Regency wedding, with all the men in period naval uniforms. My friends have had Victorian (1875 and 1850) and Georgian (1760) weddings (yes, I made costumes for those events!).

    Reply
  20. “What’s Next? Pirate Weddings? I’m sure someone has done a Klingon wedding…Viking Wedding?”
    You have no idea . . . I’ve seen Star Wars weddings and Star Trek weddings (not as a guest, but the pics). My parents had a Regency wedding, with all the men in period naval uniforms. My friends have had Victorian (1875 and 1850) and Georgian (1760) weddings (yes, I made costumes for those events!).

    Reply
  21. Gretchen, one of my colleagues went to a Pirate Wedding several years ago. The bride (her niece) and groom were Theater People (a variant of History Nerds, perhaps?) and the wedding included many Dramatic Pirate Moments, costumes, and settings. Reportedly swashbuckling fun was had by all.
    I think a Regency wedding would be fun but probably the men would balk at the high collars and neckcloths.

    Reply
  22. Gretchen, one of my colleagues went to a Pirate Wedding several years ago. The bride (her niece) and groom were Theater People (a variant of History Nerds, perhaps?) and the wedding included many Dramatic Pirate Moments, costumes, and settings. Reportedly swashbuckling fun was had by all.
    I think a Regency wedding would be fun but probably the men would balk at the high collars and neckcloths.

    Reply
  23. Gretchen, one of my colleagues went to a Pirate Wedding several years ago. The bride (her niece) and groom were Theater People (a variant of History Nerds, perhaps?) and the wedding included many Dramatic Pirate Moments, costumes, and settings. Reportedly swashbuckling fun was had by all.
    I think a Regency wedding would be fun but probably the men would balk at the high collars and neckcloths.

    Reply
  24. Gretchen, one of my colleagues went to a Pirate Wedding several years ago. The bride (her niece) and groom were Theater People (a variant of History Nerds, perhaps?) and the wedding included many Dramatic Pirate Moments, costumes, and settings. Reportedly swashbuckling fun was had by all.
    I think a Regency wedding would be fun but probably the men would balk at the high collars and neckcloths.

    Reply
  25. I checked out the Museum Replicas link, and now I want to read medievals again. Maybe all the medieval revival needs is some visual stimulation!

    Reply
  26. I checked out the Museum Replicas link, and now I want to read medievals again. Maybe all the medieval revival needs is some visual stimulation!

    Reply
  27. I checked out the Museum Replicas link, and now I want to read medievals again. Maybe all the medieval revival needs is some visual stimulation!

    Reply
  28. I checked out the Museum Replicas link, and now I want to read medievals again. Maybe all the medieval revival needs is some visual stimulation!

    Reply
  29. (Nor is the idea of women dressing as men to go to war historically inaccurate.)
    And lots of fun for literary inspiration. I’m thinking of Terry Pratchett’s A MONSTROUS REGIMENT. 🙂
    My son once begged me to take him to the parking lot beneath the BART train where the local SCA stickjocks practice fighting in costume, er, full armor for their period. Very interesting, but I am SO glad he decided not to take up the hobby!
    We like to attend the Caledonian Society’s Highland Games in Pleasanton, CA every year. The historical re-enactors are quite good, even if they always look as if they’re about to faint because it’s way too hot for Scotland.
    The last time I actually dressed up was when I attended the Renaissance Faire as a shepherd boy. I was a teenager. I’m overdue!

    Reply
  30. (Nor is the idea of women dressing as men to go to war historically inaccurate.)
    And lots of fun for literary inspiration. I’m thinking of Terry Pratchett’s A MONSTROUS REGIMENT. 🙂
    My son once begged me to take him to the parking lot beneath the BART train where the local SCA stickjocks practice fighting in costume, er, full armor for their period. Very interesting, but I am SO glad he decided not to take up the hobby!
    We like to attend the Caledonian Society’s Highland Games in Pleasanton, CA every year. The historical re-enactors are quite good, even if they always look as if they’re about to faint because it’s way too hot for Scotland.
    The last time I actually dressed up was when I attended the Renaissance Faire as a shepherd boy. I was a teenager. I’m overdue!

    Reply
  31. (Nor is the idea of women dressing as men to go to war historically inaccurate.)
    And lots of fun for literary inspiration. I’m thinking of Terry Pratchett’s A MONSTROUS REGIMENT. 🙂
    My son once begged me to take him to the parking lot beneath the BART train where the local SCA stickjocks practice fighting in costume, er, full armor for their period. Very interesting, but I am SO glad he decided not to take up the hobby!
    We like to attend the Caledonian Society’s Highland Games in Pleasanton, CA every year. The historical re-enactors are quite good, even if they always look as if they’re about to faint because it’s way too hot for Scotland.
    The last time I actually dressed up was when I attended the Renaissance Faire as a shepherd boy. I was a teenager. I’m overdue!

    Reply
  32. (Nor is the idea of women dressing as men to go to war historically inaccurate.)
    And lots of fun for literary inspiration. I’m thinking of Terry Pratchett’s A MONSTROUS REGIMENT. 🙂
    My son once begged me to take him to the parking lot beneath the BART train where the local SCA stickjocks practice fighting in costume, er, full armor for their period. Very interesting, but I am SO glad he decided not to take up the hobby!
    We like to attend the Caledonian Society’s Highland Games in Pleasanton, CA every year. The historical re-enactors are quite good, even if they always look as if they’re about to faint because it’s way too hot for Scotland.
    The last time I actually dressed up was when I attended the Renaissance Faire as a shepherd boy. I was a teenager. I’m overdue!

    Reply
  33. I enjoy the Renaissance faires, but I’ve never been too much into dress up for some unfathomable reason. I think I may be too picky and my subconscious recognizes the effort required and just balks. (I often made my own clothes when I was younger because stores didn’t carry what I wanted.) Besides, I’m lazy, and permapress is easy. “G”

    Reply
  34. I enjoy the Renaissance faires, but I’ve never been too much into dress up for some unfathomable reason. I think I may be too picky and my subconscious recognizes the effort required and just balks. (I often made my own clothes when I was younger because stores didn’t carry what I wanted.) Besides, I’m lazy, and permapress is easy. “G”

    Reply
  35. I enjoy the Renaissance faires, but I’ve never been too much into dress up for some unfathomable reason. I think I may be too picky and my subconscious recognizes the effort required and just balks. (I often made my own clothes when I was younger because stores didn’t carry what I wanted.) Besides, I’m lazy, and permapress is easy. “G”

    Reply
  36. I enjoy the Renaissance faires, but I’ve never been too much into dress up for some unfathomable reason. I think I may be too picky and my subconscious recognizes the effort required and just balks. (I often made my own clothes when I was younger because stores didn’t carry what I wanted.) Besides, I’m lazy, and permapress is easy. “G”

    Reply
  37. No period dressing, but I was once invited to an underwater wedding in the Florida Keys. It was to take place in full SCUBA gear, and I’m guessing that the bride probably wore black. 🙂 But maybe she put a gown over her wetsuit.

    Reply
  38. No period dressing, but I was once invited to an underwater wedding in the Florida Keys. It was to take place in full SCUBA gear, and I’m guessing that the bride probably wore black. 🙂 But maybe she put a gown over her wetsuit.

    Reply
  39. No period dressing, but I was once invited to an underwater wedding in the Florida Keys. It was to take place in full SCUBA gear, and I’m guessing that the bride probably wore black. 🙂 But maybe she put a gown over her wetsuit.

    Reply
  40. No period dressing, but I was once invited to an underwater wedding in the Florida Keys. It was to take place in full SCUBA gear, and I’m guessing that the bride probably wore black. 🙂 But maybe she put a gown over her wetsuit.

    Reply
  41. Some of the long-established re-enactment groups in the UK have done valuable academic research. I am thinking of Roman military groups such as the Ermine Street Guard, which is very strict about accuracy, and has therefore been able to provide some helpful insights about Roman military equipment in use.
    I think one of our oldest such groups is the Sealed Knot, the members of which have re-visited Civil War battles (the English Civil Wars, that is – cavaliers and roundheads) for decades.
    On the other hand, I see no particular interest or virtue in just swanning around dressed up in some romantic approximation of an historic costume. Although that may seem harmless enough, I think that those who get very involed in it may be in danger of blurring the lines between history and fantasy. We owe it to our forebears to get history right as far as we are able, so anything that encourages a casual mingling of fact and fiction needs to be examined very carefully indeed.

    Reply
  42. Some of the long-established re-enactment groups in the UK have done valuable academic research. I am thinking of Roman military groups such as the Ermine Street Guard, which is very strict about accuracy, and has therefore been able to provide some helpful insights about Roman military equipment in use.
    I think one of our oldest such groups is the Sealed Knot, the members of which have re-visited Civil War battles (the English Civil Wars, that is – cavaliers and roundheads) for decades.
    On the other hand, I see no particular interest or virtue in just swanning around dressed up in some romantic approximation of an historic costume. Although that may seem harmless enough, I think that those who get very involed in it may be in danger of blurring the lines between history and fantasy. We owe it to our forebears to get history right as far as we are able, so anything that encourages a casual mingling of fact and fiction needs to be examined very carefully indeed.

    Reply
  43. Some of the long-established re-enactment groups in the UK have done valuable academic research. I am thinking of Roman military groups such as the Ermine Street Guard, which is very strict about accuracy, and has therefore been able to provide some helpful insights about Roman military equipment in use.
    I think one of our oldest such groups is the Sealed Knot, the members of which have re-visited Civil War battles (the English Civil Wars, that is – cavaliers and roundheads) for decades.
    On the other hand, I see no particular interest or virtue in just swanning around dressed up in some romantic approximation of an historic costume. Although that may seem harmless enough, I think that those who get very involed in it may be in danger of blurring the lines between history and fantasy. We owe it to our forebears to get history right as far as we are able, so anything that encourages a casual mingling of fact and fiction needs to be examined very carefully indeed.

    Reply
  44. Some of the long-established re-enactment groups in the UK have done valuable academic research. I am thinking of Roman military groups such as the Ermine Street Guard, which is very strict about accuracy, and has therefore been able to provide some helpful insights about Roman military equipment in use.
    I think one of our oldest such groups is the Sealed Knot, the members of which have re-visited Civil War battles (the English Civil Wars, that is – cavaliers and roundheads) for decades.
    On the other hand, I see no particular interest or virtue in just swanning around dressed up in some romantic approximation of an historic costume. Although that may seem harmless enough, I think that those who get very involed in it may be in danger of blurring the lines between history and fantasy. We owe it to our forebears to get history right as far as we are able, so anything that encourages a casual mingling of fact and fiction needs to be examined very carefully indeed.

    Reply
  45. The Sealed Knot guys are great! My buddy Thorne plays with them (he has lots of fun trying to explain to the folks at the airlines just why he’s taking black powder guns and such with him to England).
    I’m not sure I get you when you say that you “see no particular interest or virtue in just swanning around dressed up in some romantic approximation of an historic costume.” Who/what exactly are you talking about?

    Reply
  46. The Sealed Knot guys are great! My buddy Thorne plays with them (he has lots of fun trying to explain to the folks at the airlines just why he’s taking black powder guns and such with him to England).
    I’m not sure I get you when you say that you “see no particular interest or virtue in just swanning around dressed up in some romantic approximation of an historic costume.” Who/what exactly are you talking about?

    Reply
  47. The Sealed Knot guys are great! My buddy Thorne plays with them (he has lots of fun trying to explain to the folks at the airlines just why he’s taking black powder guns and such with him to England).
    I’m not sure I get you when you say that you “see no particular interest or virtue in just swanning around dressed up in some romantic approximation of an historic costume.” Who/what exactly are you talking about?

    Reply
  48. The Sealed Knot guys are great! My buddy Thorne plays with them (he has lots of fun trying to explain to the folks at the airlines just why he’s taking black powder guns and such with him to England).
    I’m not sure I get you when you say that you “see no particular interest or virtue in just swanning around dressed up in some romantic approximation of an historic costume.” Who/what exactly are you talking about?

    Reply
  49. Kalen, I am not talking about anybody in particular, just saying that I would not be interested, personally, in the wearing of period costume just for the sake of external appearance. Reasonably authentic costume, however, will actually help its wearer (and others) to understand more about the past, and that is the only point I see to it.

    Reply
  50. Kalen, I am not talking about anybody in particular, just saying that I would not be interested, personally, in the wearing of period costume just for the sake of external appearance. Reasonably authentic costume, however, will actually help its wearer (and others) to understand more about the past, and that is the only point I see to it.

    Reply
  51. Kalen, I am not talking about anybody in particular, just saying that I would not be interested, personally, in the wearing of period costume just for the sake of external appearance. Reasonably authentic costume, however, will actually help its wearer (and others) to understand more about the past, and that is the only point I see to it.

    Reply
  52. Kalen, I am not talking about anybody in particular, just saying that I would not be interested, personally, in the wearing of period costume just for the sake of external appearance. Reasonably authentic costume, however, will actually help its wearer (and others) to understand more about the past, and that is the only point I see to it.

    Reply
  53. From MJP:
    I’m not surprised to learn that Wenchlings have lots of experience playing with history! Nor that a bunch of guys might prefer wearing period military uniforms to tuxedos.
    Tigress, while I agree that swanning a round in costumes doesn’t necessarily educate, it is fun. 🙂 And the folks I’ve met who get deeply into Markland and SCA and battle reenactments tend to be quite knowledgeable. The very first Markland event I attended, I got a solid lecture in how to make chain mail. 🙂
    Mary Jo, not envying the caber tossers in summer California!

    Reply
  54. From MJP:
    I’m not surprised to learn that Wenchlings have lots of experience playing with history! Nor that a bunch of guys might prefer wearing period military uniforms to tuxedos.
    Tigress, while I agree that swanning a round in costumes doesn’t necessarily educate, it is fun. 🙂 And the folks I’ve met who get deeply into Markland and SCA and battle reenactments tend to be quite knowledgeable. The very first Markland event I attended, I got a solid lecture in how to make chain mail. 🙂
    Mary Jo, not envying the caber tossers in summer California!

    Reply
  55. From MJP:
    I’m not surprised to learn that Wenchlings have lots of experience playing with history! Nor that a bunch of guys might prefer wearing period military uniforms to tuxedos.
    Tigress, while I agree that swanning a round in costumes doesn’t necessarily educate, it is fun. 🙂 And the folks I’ve met who get deeply into Markland and SCA and battle reenactments tend to be quite knowledgeable. The very first Markland event I attended, I got a solid lecture in how to make chain mail. 🙂
    Mary Jo, not envying the caber tossers in summer California!

    Reply
  56. From MJP:
    I’m not surprised to learn that Wenchlings have lots of experience playing with history! Nor that a bunch of guys might prefer wearing period military uniforms to tuxedos.
    Tigress, while I agree that swanning a round in costumes doesn’t necessarily educate, it is fun. 🙂 And the folks I’ve met who get deeply into Markland and SCA and battle reenactments tend to be quite knowledgeable. The very first Markland event I attended, I got a solid lecture in how to make chain mail. 🙂
    Mary Jo, not envying the caber tossers in summer California!

    Reply
  57. Mary Jo, what a fun post. I can so see you in that luxurious burgundy velvet cape being led off on the arm of the Marriage Mart’s grandest catch. (let’s see… not overly tall, he shall be blonde with laughing blue eyes and lean muscled like a young lion. Yum.)
    As for re-enacting, unless you count playing cowboy at a dude ranch for teens, I’ve never had the pleasure. But, many years one of the fellows in a youth group I helped to lead wanted to do an all-night ST:TNG marathon coupled with one of those who-done-it mystery games. And, since I was the only leader who was a ST fan, I was picked for chaperone. Sentient beings from every race and creed descended upon my little cape cod. I appeared as Deanna Troy, ship’s counselor. Not so much because I look like her, but because my group swore I was empathic. And much to the chagrin of a few, they also learned that I had eyes in the back of my head. All in all, it was a load of fun. Oh, and my dh got into the act too. He dressed up like Warf, makeup and all.
    Nina

    Reply
  58. Mary Jo, what a fun post. I can so see you in that luxurious burgundy velvet cape being led off on the arm of the Marriage Mart’s grandest catch. (let’s see… not overly tall, he shall be blonde with laughing blue eyes and lean muscled like a young lion. Yum.)
    As for re-enacting, unless you count playing cowboy at a dude ranch for teens, I’ve never had the pleasure. But, many years one of the fellows in a youth group I helped to lead wanted to do an all-night ST:TNG marathon coupled with one of those who-done-it mystery games. And, since I was the only leader who was a ST fan, I was picked for chaperone. Sentient beings from every race and creed descended upon my little cape cod. I appeared as Deanna Troy, ship’s counselor. Not so much because I look like her, but because my group swore I was empathic. And much to the chagrin of a few, they also learned that I had eyes in the back of my head. All in all, it was a load of fun. Oh, and my dh got into the act too. He dressed up like Warf, makeup and all.
    Nina

    Reply
  59. Mary Jo, what a fun post. I can so see you in that luxurious burgundy velvet cape being led off on the arm of the Marriage Mart’s grandest catch. (let’s see… not overly tall, he shall be blonde with laughing blue eyes and lean muscled like a young lion. Yum.)
    As for re-enacting, unless you count playing cowboy at a dude ranch for teens, I’ve never had the pleasure. But, many years one of the fellows in a youth group I helped to lead wanted to do an all-night ST:TNG marathon coupled with one of those who-done-it mystery games. And, since I was the only leader who was a ST fan, I was picked for chaperone. Sentient beings from every race and creed descended upon my little cape cod. I appeared as Deanna Troy, ship’s counselor. Not so much because I look like her, but because my group swore I was empathic. And much to the chagrin of a few, they also learned that I had eyes in the back of my head. All in all, it was a load of fun. Oh, and my dh got into the act too. He dressed up like Warf, makeup and all.
    Nina

    Reply
  60. Mary Jo, what a fun post. I can so see you in that luxurious burgundy velvet cape being led off on the arm of the Marriage Mart’s grandest catch. (let’s see… not overly tall, he shall be blonde with laughing blue eyes and lean muscled like a young lion. Yum.)
    As for re-enacting, unless you count playing cowboy at a dude ranch for teens, I’ve never had the pleasure. But, many years one of the fellows in a youth group I helped to lead wanted to do an all-night ST:TNG marathon coupled with one of those who-done-it mystery games. And, since I was the only leader who was a ST fan, I was picked for chaperone. Sentient beings from every race and creed descended upon my little cape cod. I appeared as Deanna Troy, ship’s counselor. Not so much because I look like her, but because my group swore I was empathic. And much to the chagrin of a few, they also learned that I had eyes in the back of my head. All in all, it was a load of fun. Oh, and my dh got into the act too. He dressed up like Warf, makeup and all.
    Nina

    Reply
  61. Got’cha. I totally agree. Reeacting is 70% research, and then about 20% putting said researh into practice to see if you’re right and it works, and maybe 10% swanning about is historically accurate clothing. LOL!

    Reply
  62. Got’cha. I totally agree. Reeacting is 70% research, and then about 20% putting said researh into practice to see if you’re right and it works, and maybe 10% swanning about is historically accurate clothing. LOL!

    Reply
  63. Got’cha. I totally agree. Reeacting is 70% research, and then about 20% putting said researh into practice to see if you’re right and it works, and maybe 10% swanning about is historically accurate clothing. LOL!

    Reply
  64. Got’cha. I totally agree. Reeacting is 70% research, and then about 20% putting said researh into practice to see if you’re right and it works, and maybe 10% swanning about is historically accurate clothing. LOL!

    Reply
  65. I suppose I am the “oddball” male… I have been in the SCA for well over a decade and sci-fi/ fantasy for even longer. I have made my own garb, props and even headpieces for the Klingon persona. I enjoy wearing a kilt and I love doing the research into both the medieval past and the far flung future!
    Doing re-enactments and ‘role-playing’ satisfies a need for creativity that is very often stifled in our society. We have lost many of our “rituals” and coming of age ceremonies (at various age levels). These activities forge strong ties to others and allows a sense of belonging that seems sometimes quite absent. Geek, nerd, history buff or mundane engineer, whatever the title, I’m proud to wear it because *I*, for one, am thoroughly enjoying myself!

    Reply
  66. I suppose I am the “oddball” male… I have been in the SCA for well over a decade and sci-fi/ fantasy for even longer. I have made my own garb, props and even headpieces for the Klingon persona. I enjoy wearing a kilt and I love doing the research into both the medieval past and the far flung future!
    Doing re-enactments and ‘role-playing’ satisfies a need for creativity that is very often stifled in our society. We have lost many of our “rituals” and coming of age ceremonies (at various age levels). These activities forge strong ties to others and allows a sense of belonging that seems sometimes quite absent. Geek, nerd, history buff or mundane engineer, whatever the title, I’m proud to wear it because *I*, for one, am thoroughly enjoying myself!

    Reply
  67. I suppose I am the “oddball” male… I have been in the SCA for well over a decade and sci-fi/ fantasy for even longer. I have made my own garb, props and even headpieces for the Klingon persona. I enjoy wearing a kilt and I love doing the research into both the medieval past and the far flung future!
    Doing re-enactments and ‘role-playing’ satisfies a need for creativity that is very often stifled in our society. We have lost many of our “rituals” and coming of age ceremonies (at various age levels). These activities forge strong ties to others and allows a sense of belonging that seems sometimes quite absent. Geek, nerd, history buff or mundane engineer, whatever the title, I’m proud to wear it because *I*, for one, am thoroughly enjoying myself!

    Reply
  68. I suppose I am the “oddball” male… I have been in the SCA for well over a decade and sci-fi/ fantasy for even longer. I have made my own garb, props and even headpieces for the Klingon persona. I enjoy wearing a kilt and I love doing the research into both the medieval past and the far flung future!
    Doing re-enactments and ‘role-playing’ satisfies a need for creativity that is very often stifled in our society. We have lost many of our “rituals” and coming of age ceremonies (at various age levels). These activities forge strong ties to others and allows a sense of belonging that seems sometimes quite absent. Geek, nerd, history buff or mundane engineer, whatever the title, I’m proud to wear it because *I*, for one, am thoroughly enjoying myself!

    Reply

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