XV century in all its glory

Full plate armour foot tournaments are becoming an integral part of our major historical projects. Knightly battles have long been an important attraction in many historical events all over the world.

Full plate armour foot tournaments are becoming an integral part of our major historical projects. Knightly battles have long been an important attraction in many historical events all over the world.  In Russia, at the largest festival of the military historical movement “REKON” in St. Petersburg, these tournaments are under continous development by “Courage of the Ages”. In 2019, dueling in full plate armor was included in the program of the HMB World Championship “Battle of the Nations” in Serbia as an experimental, unofficial nomination. Now work is well underway to prepare the regulations for the official inclusion of full plate battles. Maybe we will see them in the list of official nominations for the HMB World Championship “Battle of the Nations” in 2021. The final decision to classify such fights as tournament titles in the World Cup will be announced at the HMBIA General Assembly in the fall of 2020.

Tournaments like these often offer an exquisite show in the whole demonstration of life in the European high societies of the 15th century. HMBIA News decided it was time to learn more about the intricacies of the full plate harness tournaments and spoke to Leonid Manevich. Leonid is the head of the Belfry Castle reenactment group and one of the main organzers of the Saint Michael Brotherhood. He shared his experience with us. 

“Our tournaments are events designed to show how this was done in the 15th century. The fights themselves are only 15-20% of everything that happens during the event  and do not make sense without other constituents. This is not a sport of achievements, but leisure, where it is important to behave and demonstrate your historical knowledge as a reenactor — the everyday routine aspects of that period: costume, heraldry, customs, possession of almost a 10 types of tournament weapons. The highest standards are made on the participants of this tournament: they must have not only the right armor, but also all the necessary tournament attributes – ceremonial shields, helmets, flags, etc. It is also desirable to have a retinue and, certainly, a squire.”

What truly makes a tournament magnificent are the ladies, their maids of honor, the marshals and the scribes. But also the infrastructure and the interaction between all participants. Leonid mentioned that the Brotherhood of the Archangel Michael provides rules that are extremely easy to understand for both fighters and the audience. 

The ladies also play an important role. They judge the participants of the fight and their opinion can affect the outcome of the battle. That’s why the Ladies Court of Honor is an important part of the full plate armour tournament. 

Separately, we need to stress that not everyone can become a marshal in this kind of tournament! Their skillset should not only include the skills of regular HMB marshals, but also a deep historical knowledge. In addition, the marshal must have the appropriate attire.

As part of the full plate armour tournaments, there are a number of nominations for which participants receive prizes:

– “The most warlike” for the greatest number of fights

– “The most victorious” for the greatest number of victories

– “The most courteous” – for the most exact adherence to the etiquette of the time. Prizewinners can be different participants of the tournament, or one that distinguishes itself in all categories.

In addition, unusual fights took place at REKON in 2019 as part of the full plate armour tournament. Participants dressed in protective leather equipment were invited to demonstrate mastery of weapons, accuracy and endurance. The winner in a duel is the one who breaks a blow with a certain destructive element, placed on almost all parts of the opponent’s protective equipment, while preserving his own elements. These fights give an idea of ​​a battle without armor, where the first missed strike and failed defense could become fatal.

We are pleased that the battles in full plate armor are attracting more and more supporters around the world, and we are also looking forward to the verdict of the marshal committee on the rules of such fights within the framework of the “Battle of the Nations” 2021.