‘He said whaaat?’ Our Visit of The Middelaldercentret, Nykøbing

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Earlier this summer Deventer Burgerscap visited the Middelaldercentret in Nykøbing, Denmark. The reason of this visit was the joust that Bertus was going to do with Joakim (one of the jousters/employees/allround awesome persons of the Middelaldercentret). They decided to do a joust at large (without central tiltfence) with historical solidlances (the real deal), or how I like to call it: cantering towards your opponent on an open field while pointing a medium-sized tree at him.

No joust can happen without a good background story, and this one is truly an 1400 version of a high school drama ending in a fight behind the bike shed. Bertus decided to transform his 1370 Deventer merchant character into a 1407 Lübeck one for a week, which would place him and his household in the Danish setting. Albrecht, this merchant and city councillor from Lübeck, offended the Danish king by accusing him of forgery, because he devaluated the Danish silver coins. Joakim’s character, Sir Laurits, was insulted on behalf of his liegelord and to defend his honor, he demanded an apology because he was like, ‘totally offended’. This apology never came and after some more escalations Sir Laurits challenged the German merchant for a dual.

Our home for the week, by picture Vera Bos

Some of us accompanied Bertus to the Middelaldercentret and we divided the rolls accordingly: Inge came as his mother, Casper as his brother, Elmar as his treasurer, Ville (from Finland who joined our little family for a week) as bodyguard, Christie as Inge’s maid, I went as cook and Marijn went as kitchen help. Of course, this is just a framework. I think it’s important to have a role at the event even if in the end you are not able to completely dedicate yourself to the role. The reason why some roles were not played out all the time is that all of our guys where needed for the joust at large as a squire or groom or to fight in the foot soldier skirmish following the joust. This made it hard for them to, for example, cook during the day.

This event lasted for five days, which made it quite different from most weekend events we attend. I think it was really nice, especially in this setting. There was much to do and to explore, so many new friends to make and old friends to enjoy. It really provided us  time to do some side projects that we normally do not get round to do. We made a small banquet with the Carnis group, Casper and Marijn made a ‘particularly’ shaped Glückshaus board, Bertus finished his lovely 14th century suit of horse armor and I learned to make butter and spoons!

Our gambling party with the ‘particularly’ shaped Glückshaus board, picture by Cathrin Åhlén.

In the Middelaldercentret the volunteers do first-person reenacting. This is a thing that fascinated me for a few months now but I never had the chance to experiment with it. I was interested to see how it plays out with the 21st century visitors of the park. I see the charm and it works well with a lot of people, especially in a convincing setting like the center’s. I do think that you still always must ‘read’ your audience very carefully. Some people are just really not interested in interacting that way and I prefer them having a fun and educational conversation with me as a re-enacter then them being annoyed with me being completely in character. 

Another thing I don't really like about first person reenactment is the certainty in which you have to tell modern visitors about how ‘things were’. But I’m not sure about a lot of things! Our understanding of the period which we so lovingly display is ever changing and this is, I think, a good thing. I prefer to try to be transparent about how and why I think things were as they were. What I like about this is that you can not only discus the period and the reconstruction of it but also the science of history and the art of living history. 

But I would love to know what other people think! Are there advantages to first person interpretation that I’m overlooking? Please tell me about your experiences!

Our posse without Bertus and Marijn but with international friends, picture by unknown. (contact us if you want credits for the photo)

The Middelaldercentret is really the best of its kind. Over the years we visited a few similar places but the center beats them in just about every way. The buildings and landscape they recreated are not only really well executed but also extensive. It makes up two streets with multiple and very divers houses and workspaces. Their interior is the best I’ve seen for it is not only very complete but the objects are there to use. This very welcoming policy is special, because often the museums don’t allow interaction with the reconstruction. Here it’s encouraged. Because of this they are able to attract some of the best living history people all over the world to work and volunteer for them which brings a lot of expertise. There is a really great community feel. This makes it really interesting to work there as a volunteer; You don’t get paid but you get so much back in return.

We hope to return there next year and maybe have another joust!

You Might Also Like

0 reacties | replies