Friday, 24 April 2009

A trip to the fourteenth century



I studied history at university but was never completely engaged by the it. Too much time spent studying treaties and not enough on actually understanding how people lived. Ian Mortimer's book The Time Traveller's Guide to Medieval England takes an experiential approach to history.

In the same way that re-enactment groups attempt to discover what it was like to live in a different time through donning the clothes, this book demonstrates that understanding the past is as much about experience as knowledge.

Reading the book I came across the 1390 great tournament of St Ingelvert held in northern France. Surely the greatest sporting achievement ever. "For forty days, three French knights try to hold their own against all comers - from England, Spain, Germany, Hungary and Bohemia - and manage it, despite having to fight more than a hundred visiting knights, some of them with uncapped lances. Of course all three of them are repeatedly injured in this extraordinary uneven contest, and have to have days of to recover, but all three survive."

An interesting event format. Not sure who the right brand are to get behind it!