Chapter 10: Medieval Kingdoms in Europe Flashcards | …
and knights were integral to armies throughout Europe.
I arrived in Ciechanów just before the first battle of the weekend was to take place in the Castle of the Dukes of Mazovia. I was in town fwas there for the third Polish Knights Tournament. The weather had been scorching hot for weeks and looking at the knights in full armour around me, I couldn't help but wonder how they could stand this. “It’s not that bad, the staging of the Battle of Grunwald last month was much harder. The thermometer under the armour reached 70 Celsius," said one of them.
Suddenly, one of the judges shouted "START!" and weirdness was unleashed. Two of the knights got to chasing each other around with swords while the audience cheered and applauded. It could have been funny except with every hit, blades broke on the armours and shields of the fighters. These guys weren’t joking after all.
The tournament had officially started – there was even a tent camp set up around the castle, in which Middle Ages enthusiasts were eating, drinking and shooting with bows and arrows. This is where I met Thomas Duda, governor of the Banner of Knights of Ciechanów and representative of the Polish Association of Medieval Combat. I asked him what it's like to be a Polish knight in the 21st century.
VICE: Could you tell me a little about why there even is such a thing as medieval combat in Poland?
Thomas Duda: The first Polish knights tournaments took place in the 1990s, but the whole thing was more like theatre back then. The fights were arranged and had nothing to do with sports, but that gradually changed as more and more people wanted to do this for real.
1998 was a breakthrough year – it was when we staged the first re-enaction of The Battle of Grunwald. The event grew more popular as time passed and attracted many tourists from Russia and Ukraine.
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What happened next?
Eventually we all agreed that in order to turn our hobby into a real sport, we had to form a union. In 2011, the Polish Association of Medieval Combat was launched. We want medieval combat to become the flagship European martial art – like tae kwon do and karate for Asia.
Besides the Polish Association of Medieval Combat, there is also the Polish League of Knight Fight. That was established two years ago and their main goal is to find knights who would represent Poland in a World Championship. Poland is one of the founder states of IMCF [International Medieval Combat Federation]. So we are essentially determining the direction and the quality of this sport.
So what does one have to do in order to become a member of the Polish Association of Medieval Combat?
Any person who wants to join has to enter the novitiate for a couple of months to learn to focus, fight and to make a medieval costume. The next step is deciding whether he or she wants to become a knight for real.