Lets go down to the Melee part 1

In the early days a tournament was essentially a large pitched mock battle between two opposing sides. The idea being to practice for war but instead of killing the opponent you made him your prisoner, entitling you to some ransom or a choice of his armour and horse or both.
Most assuredly this was the way William the Conqueror and Richard the Lionheart thought of a tournament, though it is doubtful they would have ever used that word in the context we know today and doubtless he would have been most perplexed and interested in equal measure at how this test of arms changed with time, so what is a Melee you ask? Follow me and lets find out. Continue reading “Lets go down to the Melee part 1”

Jousting the once and future sport?

Two American made program’s have recently caused me to ask the question is Jousting the next Olympic sport or is it just a fad?

Jousting is being whispered to be the next Olympic sport. It’s a long road from English Heritage events but people are talking about it seriously.
The American tradition of Renaissance Fair’s allowed the sport to re-emerge from obscurity and in 2012 Full Metal Jousting appeared on the History Channel, bringing modern competitive jousting its first international screening.
But does this sport have what it takes to come back to the fore amongst other equestrian sports. In those terms it would seem so, for after all it remained a popular activity all the way from about 1100 to the 16th Century.
The sport is still as violent as ever though. Although events in Britain, where the joust is an officially recognised sport, are relatively tame geared towards crowd pleasing than doing damage, there was one fatality in 2011 and fractures are as common as they are in rugby.
American professional jousting emphasises full contact and violence in the old tradition and injuries are rife, with the use of solid heavy lances made of hemlock in the case of National Geographic’s earlier show, aired in 2011, “Knights of Mayhem” which makes use of traditional armour unlike Full Metal’s modern “Iron Man” take on body protection.
Cutting edge outfits and reality drama aside I am not convinced that Full Contact Jousting will ever become a professional, popular sport until the risk factor is minimised. Polo is the closest thing to jousting today, it is fast, it is dangerous but it is also non contact and injury not as guaranteed, if you get injured in Polo you have probably broken the rules.
Jousting is the “polo” opposite where the infliction of pain is a necessary evil, but does it have to be? I don’t think so.
The Sport of Fencing is arguably much older than Jousting and in the 17th century the violent aspect of training to kill a man in a duel was removed and by 1900 formal rules had appeared.
Unless the practice of War aspect is eliminated from Jousting I don’t think it can progress much further, professional competitor Shane Adams  has said what is missing from the sport is money, I would say that what is missing is safety, money will come when something big changes, for there are no more safeguards now than there was in 1300. Until that happens it will essentially remain an extreme sport.
How to resolve this? I think that jousting would make a great popular sport and by following the example of sword fencing I think it can attain this status.
By making the joust electric you instantly stop trying to hurt the opponent and start trying to score on him, this would further be improved by making the lances out of some sort of either easily breakable material or an incredibly bendy one, so as to lessen the impact. Perhaps there will always be a place for historic jousting but to make it a popular sport things have to change, because things have moved on and though we are sadly bombarded constantly by gratuitous graphic violence in the movies, the need to watch it live has yet to reappear. Traditionally points were awarded according to where you struck your opponent,  and so it would be so again, so and so point awarded for shoulders, chest, waist and so on. By allowing the practice of war to be removed you are left with a modern (possibly Olympic) sport that can be enjoyed with as much adrenaline as any equestrian event but in as much safety as well.

These be my thoughts thanks for reading them, I suggest you stop now or who knows what will happen.

Josh.

What’s in a Name? The Margherita Pizza.

Last night I had a Margherita Pizza for dinner. Yum. And I would like to simply state that I think that this dish is nothing short of Italian Brilliance, possibly that country’s greatest gift to Western Civilisation! Being a Pizza enthusiast I suddenly wondered what the deal with it was and why was it called Margherita?
I Hereby show you my findings.
Pizza in one form or another has been around for centuries, decended from simple MedIterranean flatbreads, the people of Naples had called their simple creations of yeast based bread and paste Pizza long before the thing we buy at the supermarket came along.
In its origional form I don’t think it sounds very appetising, but as time went on the Pizza’s of Naples, cooked by its poorer citizens became a tourist attraction and drew wealthier diners down into the sticks to sample their tasty creations, served by open air vendors, Pizza bakeries or by peddlers. Apparently it was a favourite in winter but it bares little resemblance to what we know as Pizza today. What changed? Well in 1889 the Royal cook Raffael Esposito made three special Pizza’s for the King and his consort Queen Margherita of Savoy. One was a completely new take on the traditional plain pizza, hitherto either topped with a tomato paste (since the 16th century-ish) anchovies or olive oil and presumably that mysterious red paste. It was a pizza made with tomato sauce, olive oil, green basil and Mozzarlla cheese, the vibrant colours on this pie created the illusion of the Italian flag and the Queen enjoyed it so much that not only did cheese become prevalent on all Pizza’s from then on but this favoured creation became known as “The Margherita Pizza” and according to the True Neapolitan Pizza Association, it and the Marinara are the “only” types of Pizza in the world.

Anybody hungry?
Later, Josh.

What’s Your Civ?

Call it an experiment, call it a game or call it a random thought conjured up from the languid torpor of an absent moment, now used as a weapon to annoy travellers, call it what you like but let me ask you a question: Given the choice of three ancient civilisations which one would you choose to be a part of and why? Continue reading “What’s Your Civ?”

King’s Pirate: Henry Morgan’s Attack on Panama part 2

Recommended as Further Reading in Sir Henry Morgan by Don Nardo

Admiral Sir Henry Morgan was a man of his times. He was also the greatest Buccaneer to ever live and probably one of history’s great forgotten commanders. Always jealous of his hard earned reputation he became obsessed with the status he had won at the point of his sword, the unfortunate victims of his lust for position and wealth were the Spanish who thought him a low down pirate, and who were tenuously clinging on to the power they themselves had gained through steel and gold. Morgan fought the Spanish at first because that was what good protestant soldiers did, but their (not unreasonable) view of Buccaneers like him would make him turn his energies more and more to punish them for demeaning and disrespecting the life he had made for himself. It was a career that would get him everything he ever wanted and would lead him from rural Wales to the fabled city of Panama. So what do ye say mates, mayhaps we should learn a bit more about him? Continue reading “King’s Pirate: Henry Morgan’s Attack on Panama part 2”

Waterloo Men.

His Grace Field Marshal the Duke of Wellington 1844

The 18th of June, is the anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo, a pivotal moment in European history. Don’t worry I haven’t been nearly so industrious as to have written a lengthy blow by blow account of the fight, hopefully I have been a little more original, So if you have a moment for commemoration please follow me.

Continue reading “Waterloo Men.”

AD BC.

Though I haven’t yet written about anything prior or past the 17th or 18th Centuries AD I just want to make something clear about my reference to dates in Antiquity.

At some recent time, I don’t know when (ha ha), the traditional way of identifying time prior and post a certain date changed from BC and AD to BCE and CE (or sometimes ACE which I think you will all agree is a word not an abbreviation). Why I don’t know and frankly I don’t care, all that I care about is that you should know that were applicable, on this website all dates will be prefixed or postmarked Before Christ or Year of Our Lord (As the comment below says, After Death, is a popular memory hook, my thanks).

If you being fond of the newer appellations feel vexed about this then I’m sorry,  you will just have to go through the same irritation that I have to every time I read a book with your favoured distinction in it. Call me what you like, say,  your one of those guys who would wear a T shirt reading “When I was a Kid Pluto was a Planet” well I don’t have one of those shirts but it’s quite true nevertheless. Just as true as the fact that when I was a kid we used BC and AD and I like them.

Well having wasted enough of your time on my hang up, I’ll let you get on with your life. The author breaths out a long freeing sigh and relaxes.

Josh.