Normally, I use a Dane Axe for training. I’m not amazing with it, but I’ve passed the safety test for it and I’m not awful at it. I just need to be faster.

I decided I really ought to try something new. Considering how I am naturally slow, the choice was not one you’d expect. Yes, I chose florentine.

I decided to use both a hand axe and a mace. It was….. interesting….

I actually had to run a lot more, just so that I could get in range of people to do some damage. It was also a bit of a mindfuck (excuse the language). I could actually use my shield arm for attacking! A lot of this “attacking” was just pushing weapons aside with the heavy mace and hit someone with my axe.

Because of this realisation of just how heavy my mace is, I’m going to be cutting some off the end of the shaft and then re-painting it, so pictures shall follow soon!

I also looked at my hand axe afterwards, and it was more battered than normal. The wood at the top of the shaft had been hit so badly that it was more likely to cause an injury than the blade! So I also will be covering that bit of the axe with leather to try and stop it from being so damaged that it’ll shatter at the first hit. Again, photos shall follow.

What I also didn’t realise was just how tiring it was. If you are using sword and shield, you only need to use one arm strenuously, and the other can rest every now and again. Dane axe, whilst being more physically intensive, still gives your arms a rest mid-way through the swing or you can rest it on the ground whilst still looking awesome. Not so with florentine. You have to keep both arms up at all times for defense, and when you’re tired, you can only put your weapons on your shoulders if you want to still look awesome (a key factor, as you might have guessed). So your arms are never rested unless you’ve actually put your weapons down or sheathed them. So during a 3 hour training session, it took it’s toll. Of course, I couldn’t tell just how much of a toll until the next morning, but still.

I still found it a lot of fun, though. I’ll definitely be using it a lot more, and I might even get pretty good at it! I might even get some kills during competitive fights for once!

The message from this post is: fun=pain


Why even start re-enacting?

When I started university (because yes, I am horribly privileged), during Fresher’s Week my now-fiancée told me about a session he went to with “Batsoc”. “Huh?” was my response. He then went on to tell me that it was the university’s Battle Re-Enactment Society, and they do the Middle Ages (a phrase woefully inept as I would find out). This meant he had spent a few hours walking around a patch of grass in helmet, shield and waving a sword about whilst simultaneously trying not to have an asthma attack.

My first response to this was pretty typical of most people when they hear about it – “why on Earth would you ever want to do that?”. A year later I finally gave it a go. Well, I say I gave it a go. I went to their craft session first, and made a rather fetching red hood and started making a leather pouch (which I still haven’t finished).

Whilst doing any craft in a large group, you inevitably start talking to people – whether it’s asking how they do a certain thing (like “how do you do chain mail?”) to just chatting, you start to talk. Thankfully, these were people who were all like-minded, including someone who let me try on a lovely authentic dress they had made, and let me geek out about fabric and crafty things in all their glory.

So naturally when I next met up with them I tried to kill them.

I will stress that I mean PRETEND kill them, with blunted steel swords, but it still involved a lot of shouting and wonderfully over-the-top pretends deaths. I don’t remember much of the training session, but I do remember trying and failing to keep my shield up at a respectable height towards the end of the session, and trying very hard to yell “OOOT!” and “NORMANDYYYYYYY!” with a very hoarse throat.

Since then, I was hooked.

If truth be told, it wasn’t the prospect of being an amazing swordsman and being able to kill anyone I came across that kept me there. It was the prospect of putting on a good show. I enjoyed the dying more than winning – I still don’t quite know what to do with myself if I win a fight. It bought into my attention-seeking side, and had never quite let itself go.

And then Hastings arrived. What a culture shock. I always hated camping, but a weekend at Hastings fighting Normans, passing my Basic Training test (which meant that I was safe to go onto the field), marching through Hastings, chucking a torch onto a gigantic bonfire, and then fighting more Normans the next day whilst sleeping on the cold ground in a tent was brilliant.

I can safely say that I’m hooked.

I didn’t even LIKE the Crusade period (I study Ancient History for a reason), but being able to re-create it has FORCED me to be interested in it, so I can put on a more interesting show.

Oh, that and the shiny lamella, maille, swords, axes, helmets, and the Eastern kit.