Do you also sometimes wonder what it would be like to be born in the Middle Ages, for example? Fans of history know well that life in previous centuries was no bed of roses. Some of us still want to know and experience what it was like. So, what can you do when watching historical films stops being enough and you want to experience history first-hand? You should get to know living history. What are the rules and why is it quite a struggle to get used to the ways of old?
For starters, we must clarify the difference between historical fencing and living history, often abbreviated as LH. It is not just a hobby or an activity to do 2 hours a week, started and finished at will. Living history is a relatively long-lasting and complex process that seeks to imitate life in a selected historical era, in the most authentic way possible.
LH Is Not Just About Fighting
While historical fencing is dedicated to the re-enactment of the combat style using historical weapons, LH is so much more than that. It incorporates acting and other activities necessary for the portrayal of the old life. Fighting and combat styles are just one part of the historical crafts. Another essential factor that contributes to creating a historical setting is clothing, which has a clearly defined set of rules for each era.
As the saying goes, history is written by victors. That is why it is important to realize what really matters in living history. It is not important if you have a perfectly sharpened sword, or if you can parry enemy attacks. You will be preoccupied with much simpler tasks, for example your own survival.
An LH Event Can Last Days
It sounds simple. You pack your things for a sleepover, meet your friends, arrive at a castle together. You make a fire. After that, you drink wine and sing songs until late in the evening. This is what living history may look like at first glance, but it's not that easy. Each member has a task at the event, and everyone is important. Some members need to stay up to keep the fire going, other members get busy preparing food, and others leave the castle to gather ingredients for lunch. Unless you are a skilled hunter, you will probably need to pick blueberries for a few days. That is, if you manage to find any.
The goal of such events is not to starve yourself and your friends to death, but to really experience the history first-hand. After securing shelter and food, you can look forward to songs and stories about beautiful virgins and heroic deeds. Falling asleep without a sleeping bag and a mat might be a challenge. But if you succeed, you can enjoy a few hours of blissful sleep until you wake up to another day of Middle Ages.
What Will You Need to Portray Historical Life?
The main goal of all your efforts should be historical accuracy and authenticity. That means you can leave all technological devices and inventions at home. No items are allowed at an LH event that did not exist at the time of the portrayed era. If you are short-sighted, you must leave the glasses at home. And you will need to make do without plastic bottles with water. They didn’t exist in the Middle Ages.
The next thing to consider is clothes. If you want to achieve historical authenticity, buying a piece of random fabric and piecing together a shirt will not do the trick. The LH rules dictate that you must also follow the traditional procedures for dressing and for acquiring personal belongings. In some extreme cases, living-history fans start their own sheep farm, shear wool and make their own fabric on a hand-assembled sewing machine. If your enthusiasm doesn’t go that far, you can work around this by buying fabric that was produced in the traditional way. But you will probably not be able to choose colours. You should also refrain from using a sewing machine and sew your clothes manually. Because that's exactly what people used to do.
A Hobby with a Touch of Science
Living history is an activity that combines historical activities, crafts, and dressing styles into a single comprehensive activity. It also incorporates elements of historical culture and religion. You can look forward not only to historical atmosphere, but also a wide range of activities, such as the traditional production of weapons, clothing, and various products of daily use. At the same time, you will have the opportunity to try historical recipes, because food is an important part of LH events. If you are a lover of historical combat styles, we have good news for you! The chances are, there will be a good, historical fight at the end! So get your shields ready!
Many people confuse living history with historical fencing or experimental archaeology. Experimental archaeology attempts to generate and test archaeological hypotheses, usually by replicating or approximating the feasibility of ancient cultures performing various tasks or feats. The goal of living history, on the other hand, is to experience the everyday life of our ancestors with various social status.
Looking for an LH Club in the Czech Republic? There Are Several. Just Choose Your Era!
Not unlike historical fencing, living history has its fans and groups in almost every larger town in the Czech Republic. So, if you want to step back in time, choose your era and get in touch with the nearest LH group. Get appropriate clothes, learn a historical craft and dive into the past!