Issue 38 MARCH
“Soldier of King Richard’s from Bosworth” by Matthew Ryan 1
Greetings All A huge thank you to Matthew Ryan for the excellent cover art and look out for an interview with Matthew in the next issue. Also thank you to Brendan Halpin for his Anglo Irish Tomb Effigy Armour article, which will conclude in next month’s issue. If anyone has an article or report that they would like to see published in this magazine for the re-enacting world to see just get in touch with me at the address below. Congratulations to the five lucky winners of last month’s competitions. Your prizes will be with you soon! This month there are 2 new competitions with some excellent books up for grabs. Check out the Group and Traders listings too as I have added quite a few new details to the lists.
“Warwick Archer” by Matthew Ryan
Features This Month 1: Anglo Irish Tomb Effigy Armour (Part 1) An Experimental Study by Brendan Halpin
2: Competitions 3: Book Reviews-The Historical Novel Soc. 4: Black Knight 5: Event Listings 6: Dream Catcher Review with Tony Angelo: Interview with Allison Brunning. 7: Prologue: Strategoes To receive a copy of this magazine just send your email address to: firstname.lastname@example.org
First Aid Course for Re-Enactors Saturday May 19th The GreenWood Centre, Coalbrookdale, UK For More information: email@example.com
As always, I am on the look-out for more groups, traders, event details, stories, articles and reports. Please contact me at the normal email address with details! Editor.
firstname.lastname@example.org Competitions: All competitions are free to enter Winners will be selected at random on the 24th of each month for the relevant competition. Winners will be notified via email shortly after the draw takes place. No correspondence will be entered into. The editor’s decision is final. The views and opinions expressed in the articles in this ezine are those of the individual authors themselves and not those of the Editor
Anglo-Irish Tomb Effigy Armour: An Experiential Study Brendan Halpin B.A. M.A. ÂŠ 2011
The following paper began life as a talk for the Postgraduate Conflict Archaeology Conference in Glasgow in October and has been modified for the conference journal. As it relates to reenacting, both directly (the method of my research) and indirectly (an unusual armour type that many reenactors may be interested in), I would like to present it here with the hope that any feedback I receive can help to improve the work, gauge the opinions of my fellow reenactors and attempt to improve our standing in academic circles. To many readers familiar with the mechanics of armour and combat much of my work may seem a case of stating the obvious but the paper was originally aimed at academics with no experience of armour or even the medieval period. If it does seems obvious to you how the armour may move and react then it would justify my argument that reenactors and others familiar with the use of such wargear need to be incorporated into academic research to a much greater extent.
Because of the length of the article it has been split into two parts, with this, the first part, containing the tests done on the armour and the second part will attempt to fit the armour into its historical background and neither part will be complete without the other.
For any feedback, opinions or criticism please don't hesitate to contact me at: email@example.com 4
The aim of this paper is to introduce and examine an armour type unique to Ireland and found only on tomb effigies dating to the Late Medieval period, with a rough spread of between 1450 and 1550. It establishes the most likely methods used to construct the armour, by assembling and testing segments to examine it's ability to move at joints and rivets, while retaining its protective functions. These tests were only possible due to an understanding of medieval weapons and combat skills resulting from both reenacting and more martial-arts orientated combat, based on medieval fight manuals (Rector, 2006). It is my aim to introduce this armour type, the conclusions drawn on its construction and use, as well as demonstrating the contribution combat reenactment and similar experiential knowledge can make to academic studies. Please Note: Because of the nature of this work there are a large number of technical terms, referring to various armour components or other aspects of combat and warfare, to avoid straying from the point or bogging down the work the explanation of these terms has been moved to a glossary at the end. The armour in question is found only on a group of 25 Late Medieval tomb effigies, which until this research, had been almost entirely overlooked with the only work to discuss the armour at all being John Hunt's (1974) study of Irish Medieval tomb effigies, but this was from a sculptural point of view and didn't focus on the armour. The armour was dubbed the Anglo-Irish type, due to the restriction of the majority of the effigies to territory held by Anglo-Irish lords, with the only two known Gaelic-Irish examples lying in lands which were heavily influenced by their Anglo neighbours. The majority of the effigies are found within the borders of the Earldom of Ormond, roughly modern-day Kilkenny, Tipperary and Laois, possibly suggesting a point of origin. The armour falls into two sub-types; the Banded and the Plated styles (Illustrations 1 & 2 respectively), the first consisting of long horizontal bands running the width of the wearer, the second, of which there are only two definite examples, is made from rectangular plates arranged in a brickwork fashion. The number of rows visible below the maille standard, varies between 7 and 13 and the armour is most commonly worn in conjunction with a bascinet and plate armoured legs and arms. The Gaelic-Irish examples fall outside this standard pattern, abandoning plate armour limb protection in favour of maille and carrying Group 2 swords (Halpin, 1986), also known as Irish Claymores (Hayes-Mccoy, 1977) which are closely associated with the Native Irish. This fact is interesting as it could suggest that the effigies were carved based on wargear owned by the family, rather than simply being made by convention and based on what was traditionally shown on effigies. It would be unusual for the Gaelic families to adopt the artistic styles of their regular enemies 5
but it is much easier to imagine them considering the enemy armour a useful addition to their own wargear, and in this way letting it appear on effigies. These anomalies support the theory that the armour developed within the Anglo-Irish territories spreading outwards from there, and also suggests that the effigies represented a real armour, not just an artistic invention. Because the only evidence for this armour is from the stone carvings it is not possible to say exactly how the armour was constructed, indeed it isn't even possible to say for certain that the armour existed at all, but given the level of detail and the other identifiable pieces of equipment shown, the effigies were more than likely grounded in reality. It appears to be made up of rigid bands or plates, presumably of steel (although Cuir Boille is another possibility, but outside the current scope of my research). There are several possible methods used in the construction of the armour, with the two most likely being riveting the metal onto either straps or a full leather foundation. The straps would match the method used on the Roman Lorica Segmentata (Illustration 3) and on the fauld of a plate armour harness, however this would be impossible on the plated version due to the brickwork pattern which would have needed a prohibitive amount of straps (one for each line of plates). If instead the armour is riveted to a foundation of leather, then a clear connection with earlier European armour can be seen. The coat-of-plates was an extremely popular form of torso armour in the late 13th century up into the first half of the 14th century, from then it was slowly replaced with cuirasses and brigandines. Finds from the mass graves at Wisby in Sweden, and the castle at Kussnach in Switzerland (Thordeman, 1939) closely resemble the Anglo-Irish armour except for one detail; the leather is on the outside rather than the inside (Illustration 4). I chose this layout for my tests, rather than the straps as it meant that the plated version could be treated as a related type rather than having a drastically different design. Testing Phase The experimental stage of the research relied heavily on my personal abilities with a variety of medieval weapons, my experiences in wearing armour, watching how other people operate with both and being able to assess the effectiveness of certain attacks and movements. It should be noted that I am no weapons expert and my skills are only at a low level, but the tests were kept simple and they highlight the ease with which an experiential approach can add to the knowledge base established by more traditional academic research methods. Due to the limits of both my finances and time, the materials used were not historically accurate, modern steel and rivets were used instead of their medieval counterparts. It is my assertion, however, that they are sufficiently mechanically accurate; the strength or flexibility of the 6
materials are not the subject of these tests, rather it is simply the way in which they move around joints and how the plate edges slide across each other that is being examined, and for these purposes the modern materials are as reliable as the correct medieval materials. Effectiveness of the Banded Armour The first experiment undertaken was to examine the effectiveness of the banded armour; if it does not offer similar protection to the well known coat-of-plates then it is unlikely to have been worn, and the possibility of it being an artistic invention would greatly increase. This test was done by comparing the abilities of the armour types to protect the wearer from attacks aimed to go through the gaps between the plates, bypassing the actual metal; assessing if there is some inherent difference in the layout that changes the protective properties.
CONSTRUCTION Two test pieces were constructed for this experiment: representing the Anglo-Irish type and the Coat-of-plates. The later would most closely resemble the construction of the Wisby no. 1 type, but both were constructed in the same way with 3 steel plates 45cm long and 15cm wide with 11 rivets across the top edge connecting to a leather backing (Illustration 5), this large number of rivets matches with other extant finds such as from Kussnach in Switzerland (Thordeman, 1939). Each plate overlaps the lower one by roughly 5cm. The bands were riveted in such a way as to let the armour sit as flat as possible, ensuring the least possible gap to exploit.
SET-UP A round block of wood was placed onto a work-bench putting it at roughly stomach height, around this was wrapped a gambeson to help build up the block to fit the armour better. Although it is not clear from the effigies that gambesons were worn under the armour it is almost certain that they were as any heavy impact would break bones even if the armour held, a gambeson or arming jack was needed to dampen the force and spread it out over a larger area. The armour segment was then strapped to the block, this simulates the actual buckling which would have been present and secured it in place, preventing it from slipping either off or down, which would make the gaps unrealistically wide. A piece of cardboard was placed between the armour and the padding, this was a very simple way of allowing any penetration to be seen easily and measured.
METHOD The effectiveness of both layouts was tested by stabbing with a bradawl and by using a replica late 15th century Irish Claymore (Illustration 6). The bradawl, which is used for piercing wood to make drilling easier, does not look like a medieval weapon but acts in a similar manner to a stiff bladed dagger such as the stiletto, miserecord or the Irish scian. These were designed to exploit gaps between armour plates, their narrow tip allowed the maximum force to be focused on the smallest point making them more likely to slip between any gap. The sword was not used for a conventional stab or cut, but instead it was used like a pickaxe, with the blade held as the handle and the quillion points used to attack (Illustration 7). This form of attack, known as the mortschlag (or murderstroke), was used specifically to punch through armour, or at least to crush it under the point of impact and appears in the fight manuals of late 15th century swordmaster Hans Talhoffer (Rector, 2006, Plate 72). The layout of the bands changes the way in which an effective attack can be delivered, the conventional coat-of-plates is vulnerable to downward attacks which will hit the edge of the bands and enter the gaps, while the Anglo-Irish, external layout, is vulnerable to the opposite, upward attacks, going underneath. The tests aimed to examine if there was any significant difference in the level of protection given by the armour types against this style of attack.
RESULTS I began with the conventional layout of the coat-of-plates as it would act as a standard to test the Anglo-Irish layout against. In repeated tests the downward stab with the bradawl easily went through the leather and between the plates, only being stopped by the handle roughly 1Â˝" into the card and a longer blade would have yielded much greater penetration. The sword very easily punched through the leather and split the bands apart, leaving very large holes in the cardboard underneath and penetrating several inches through (Illustration 8). To a medieval combatant this would most likely have been fatal, even if just from a later infection. With the sword wedged between the bands it made an excellent lever to pull the wearer off his feet, even if the padding underneath had been enough to protect him.
When I tested the Anglo-Irish armour the results were surprising, and almost the opposite of what I expected. With the armour bands on the outside they look far more vulnerable, seeming much more likely to part and be easily penetrated but in fact the defenses were strengthened. Firstly against this layout the sword can no longer be used as a lever because the plates are free to just flex outwards, releasing the sword and flattening again once 8
the sword is removed. Both the awl and the sword struggled to pierce the internal leather, with the awl only going through when pushed with a great deal of force after the initial stab, which is a clearly unfeasible attack. After several attempts the most damage caused by the sword was little more than a pin prick in the card (Illustration 9), when this is compared to the damage caused in the first test the stark difference between them can be seen. Though surprising, these results can be explained by two conditions. Firstly, by stabbing against the bands most of the energy is lost before reaching the leather as the blade glances & slides off the metal. In the first test the bands, by tightening the leather across the gap between them actually assist in its piercing, much like the difference in cutting material when it is left loose or held taut. Whereas in the Anglo-Irish form the leather is able to flex inwards spreading the impact and helping expend the energy of the blow, which is already weakened by parting the plates. Secondly an underarm swing is much weaker and less easily coordinated than an overhead one, especially with the sword blow, it uses the weaker muscles of the arms rather than the back as in the case with the over-head Mortschlag . THE BANDED ARMOUR AND CAVALRY A further set of tests were done to examine the effectiveness of the Anglo-Irish banded armour if worn on horseback. To test this, the armour with the external bands from the last test was attached to a tree, at a height of six foot allowing the kind of attacks from low angles that would be possible against a mounted opponent. For comparative purposes the same set of tests were also carried out with the armour at a height of 4 and a half foot, roughly sternum height to an unmounted man. The Irish Claymore was used once again but this time the blade tip, rather than the crossguard, was used to inflict damage, a spear with an eight foot long shaft and a ten inch head was also used. To ensure the maximum power in the sword thrust it was held with one hand on the ricasso of the blade, shortening the range and allowing much more force to be put behind an attack with the point, a technique called halfswording. These weapons are historically accurate replicas used for medieval reenactment, but for safety when fighting they are not sharp. Because of this the resulting damage is obviously lessened, but a general idea of what a sharp blade could do can still be gathered and it was felt more important to use weapons that were otherwise accurate than to find sharp objects that would not match the characteristics of the weapons used historically.
METHOD & RESULTS A thrust was used with both the sword and spear, the hilt or butt of the weapon was held low with the blade pointed upwards at an angle of about 45째. A very powerful stab could be delivered from the stance shown (Illustration 10), with much of the strength coming from the back leg rather than the arms. With both the sword and spear, the attack easily parted the bands on the high mounted armour and, surprisingly, did equally well against the armour when at the lower height (Illustration 11). Due to the blunt tips on the weapons used no penetration of the leather occurred. Despite this lack of penetration most of the attacks caused the leather to pop off the rivets under the point of impact, showing that it was being pushed back and stretched away from the bands, and it seems very likely that a sharpened point would easily have pierced the leather and the padding underneath. Discussion & Conclusions Although the attacks on both the normal and raised targets had a similar effect, I would suggest that a low thrust, especially with a sword, against an enemy on foot was far less likely as it was much more awkward. Against an opponent on your level the thrust would have to be delivered with arms straight and most of the power coming only from the arms and shoulders, causing a weaker, less controlled attack (Illustration 12). Against the raised target the arms can be bent up with the weapon against the chest offering a more stable position and access to more powerful muscles with which to attack, such as the back and thighs. A second difference that makes the lower attack less effective is that the shallower angle makes it more likely to glance off or not penetrate the bands. While the majority of my attacks landed where I wanted them to, a few when attacking the lower height target either glanced off to one side or were not angled to part the bands correctly. In the heat of battle and against a live, moving target, the amount of glancing blows and missed attacks would be vastly increased and may make such an attack impossibly impractical, especially when there are much more obvious targets, such as the face, neck and armpit (which are the classic targets for a thrusting attack such as that used in the test). The test strongly suggests that the increased angle caused by the height of a mounted opponent would have made an upwards thrust an excellent way of penetrating the Anglo-Irish armour especially with the added reach of a spear. PLATED S TYLE One of the most intriguing design aspects of the effigies are marks on the sculpture of James Schorthals from St. Canices cathedral in Kilkenny (Illustration 2 & 13). These marks 10
consist of small circles in the bottom corners of each plate with a slightly raised smaller circle inside. The only previous work to examine the effigies, which was a catalogue of Irish tomb sculptures by John Hunt, explained these mark as 'the heads of the rivets fastening the plates to a foundation of canvas or leather'(1974, p. 185), and they certainly do resemble rivets. However anyone who is familiar with armour and its construction would quickly work out that this is impossible. If they were rivets to attach the plates to the foundation, then the armour would be almost completely immobile. The plates only have marks on their bottom edge, and this, coupled with the fact that the pieces are not flat, implies an overlap (if the armour was made flat there would be visible rivets on the top of each plate as well). As the circular marks are on this overlap, it would mean that the rivets would have to go through the lower plate to reach any foundation of leather, making it virtually immobile both horizontally and vertically. A small section of plates were riveted together in this fashion to test this theory and even with the rivets as loose as possible in overly large holes the armour still had almost no movement (Illustration 14). Although it may be possible to make armour like this it seems extremely unlikely and other methods must be examined.
It is possible that the sculptor simply included the circular marks as a design choice, either as a way of decorating the relatively blank space or misunderstanding the armour and adding marks where they should be none. Neither seem particularly convincing as the level of detail in the suit seems too great for this to be added in mistakenly, the artist was either working from a real example of the armour or had a good knowledge of it. Strengthening this argument is the fact that this effigy was built in 1507 yet James Schorthals himself didn't die until 1539, meaning he was in his fighting prime when he commissioned it and one would assume he would want his personal armour represented and he had thirty years to have it changed if he didn't like the detail on it.
If the marks represented neither a means of attaching the plates to the foundation nor an artistic addition they must have represented something else, with the most likely possibility being that they were anchor points for ties between adjacent plates. Armour made from small plates on the outside of a material foundation would rattle a great deal when the wearer moved or fought, not only could this be a distraction but it would also put the rivets and leather backing under greater strain and be far more likely to break or rip, shortening the lifespan of the armour. More importantly the plates would be much easier to part than on the Banded type as it doesn't have the same weight and rigidity offered by larger segments. By 11
tying the plates together, the rattle and stress would be greatly reduced and the armour would become much more difficult to part, while retaining the greater flexibility offered by the small plates. If the ties were hidden behind the plates (whether for increased protection or aesthetics) then the only sign of their presence would be the rivets used to attach them to the plates. My final experiment acted to test this theory comparing the ease with which the tied and untied armour could be penetrated.
CONSTRUCTION A segment of armour was assembled using 15 7cm square plates arranged in a brickwork pattern, with 3 rows of 5 riveted onto a leather backing. Each plate had 4 rivets running along the top edge, which may seem excessive given the small size of the plates but this same size also makes them more inclined to move and the large number of rivets helped to restrict unwanted movement as well as making penetration through gaps less easy. To further ensure that gaps were minimised, a considerable overlap of close to half the plate length, was used and the plates were curved to match the body-hugging appearance of the armour as shown on the effigies. The armour was then tied, with a gambeson to a tree at chest height for testing. The sword point, spear and bradawl were once more used in attacking the armour.
TESTING The layout without ties was the first to be tested and even before any weapons were used, it was clear that it was not viable armour. Even though shaped to fit the body, the plates naturally point out at the bottom and separate (Illustration 15), making it extremely easy to find a gap. The rattle of the armour was not extreme, the weight of the plates and the number of rivets helping to dampen movement so it seems that there is little danger of the armour failing from stress during a fight, at least in the short term. I would however suggest that the noise and constant low level rattle would be extremely annoying while riding a horse (which is something that cannot be overlooked when the wearer could be riding for days while taking part in a raid) and the bouncing would put unnecessary added strain on the wearer's shoulders and back. When tested against weapons the armour offered very little resistance, the weapon points lifting the plates out of the way with no difficulty, this was due to the lack of weight in an individual plate when compared to the banded armour. Because of the ease with which the weapon could get past the plates, with no real effort or accuracy needed, it was considered
unnecessary to actually do damage to the armour as effectively it would have been a test of the leather rather than the armour as a whole.
The plates were then tied together using thin steel wire (although leather thonging would more likely have been used originally) and put through the same tests. The results were considerably different, the armour sat far flatter, conforming to the body shape closely, with none of the gaps that were present without the ties (Illustration 16). The armour still remained flexible and the ties did not diminish its ability to move in any way. When attacked the difference was just as clear, while penetration was possible it was far less easy and it was the weapon point slipping between the plates rather than lifting them out of the way. The difference between tied and untied is that on the former the combined weight of all plates in the row act against an attack; rather than just a single plate, as is the case with the untied example. Although the tied layout offers drastically better protection than the untied example it is still not as effective as the Banded armour and is still penetrated with greater ease because there is still movement between the individual plates that can be exploited by an incoming attack unlike the solid Banded armour.
Conclusions While it cannot be proved that the circular marks on James Schorthals' effigy represent ties it seems to be the only obvious explanation. I have proven that they cannot represent rivets to the foundation as they simply do not work in that location. Likewise if they are a case of the sculptor misunderstanding the armour and adding marks where there were none, the armour is still unfeasible; it would offer very limited protection and have very obvious weak points. With the ties, however, the armour is effective and offers good protection, although not as good as that of the Banded armour the additional flexibility, mobility and ease of maintenance likely made the armour just as desirable and useful.
This concludes the first part of the article but I urge you to read the second half which will explain how my finding relate to the background of warfare in Ireland and how the armour may have been used in battle.
Aketon/Cuton/Gambeson: Heavily padded cloth armour, designed to prevent blunt force trauma. Bascinet: A Medieval open-faced helmet, often with a visor, worn from the 14 th to the 16th century across Europe Coat-of-plate: Medieval torso armour constructed from over-lapping steel plates riveted to a foundation of leather, canvas or other sturdy material Cuir-bouille: Literally 'boiled leather', hardened leather armour, worn to supplement the protection offered by maille. Cuirass: The combination of a breast- and back-plate, complete torso protection in plate armour Fauld: A piece of plate armour worn below a breastplate to protect the waist and hips. They take the form of bands of metal surrounding both legs, potentially surrounding the entire hips in a form similar to a skirt. Gallowglass: Professional mercenary warriors in Medieval Ireland, usually fought on foot with large axes or swords, wore heavy padding and maille Hauberks for protection. Harness: Refers to a complete suit of armour, rather than its individual components Hauberk: Maille armour protecting the torso and extending at least as far as the knee, generally had full length sleeves Knave: Attendant to Gallowglass and nobility, would often fight in support of their master, entering combat if they got into trouble or needed to rest. Kerne: Main Irish warrior in the Late Medieval period, lightly armed and armoured. Lorica Segmentata: Roman segmented armour constructed from bands of iron riveted to leather straps in use in the early Imperial period. Maille: Armour constructed from interlocking iron rings riveted together, often incorrectly referred to as chain-mail. Quillion: The two points extending from the top of the hilt to form the crossguard on a sword Ricasso: An unsharpened section of a sword blade just above the hilt. Scian: Long bladed Irish dagger. Standard/pixane: Maille protection for the upper chest and shoulders. Western Martial-Arts: Formalized fighting techniques and skills of Western origin such as medieval weapon combat.
Illustration 1: Effigy of Piers Butler, St. Canice's Cathedral, Kilkenny
Illustration 2: Effigy of James Schorthals, St. Canice's Cathedral, Kilkenny
Illustration 3: Internal view of a reconstruction of a Lorica Segmentata (ÂŠ Matthias Kabel Legio XV, Pram, Austria)
Illustration 4: Wisby No. 7 Coat-of-plates internal view (ÂŠ Greenleaf Workshop, England)
Unless otherwise noted all images are from the authors collection 15
Illustration 5: External view of test pieces, Anglo-Irish Banded armour on top, Coat-of-plates below.
Illustration 6: Irish Claymore, note pointed, forward sloping quillions.
Illustration 7: Murderstroke from the work of Talhoffer. (Public Domain image) Illustration 8: Penetration with Murderstroke against coat-of-plates layout.
Illustration 9: Damage caused against Anglo-Irish layout.
Illustration 10: Sword thrust to high target.
Illustration 11: Sword penetration against high target.
Illustration 12: Sword thrust against low target, note unbalanced stance
Illustration 13: James Schorthals Effigy, St. Canice's Cathedral, Note the circular marks and defined overlap.
Illustration 14: Plate flexibility, note lack of movement. Illustration 15: Plated style, untied. Note the natural point to plates and that the sword could lift a single plate.
Illustration 16: Plated style tied. Note the bodyhugging shape and increased difficulty in penetration.
Illustration 17: Art McMurrough Kavanagh & English Cavalry c. 1400 (Public Domain Image)
Emma Darwin was born and brought up in London, with interludes in Manhattan and Brussels. Her debut novel The Mathematics of Love was published in 2006.The Times described it as, “that rare thing, a book that works on every conceivable level. A real achievement” and the Daily Express called it “an addictive, engaging foray into historical fiction that leaves the reader believing in the art of perspective and the redemptive power of love.” The Mathematics of Love was shortlisted for the Commonwealth Writers and Goss First Novel awards, long listed for the Prince Maurice Prize and the RNA Novel of the Year, and has been translated into many languages.
Emma’s second novel, A Secret Alchemy reached the Sunday Times Bestsellers list, and was named as one of The Times Top 50 Paperbacks of 2009. The Daily Mail called it “powerful and convincing”, and the Times “spellbinding”. Emma’s short fiction has been published and broadcast. She now lives in South East London, where she’s working on a third novel. If you ask her, she will admit to being a great-great-granddaughter of Charles Darwin and his wife Emma Wedgwood.
To win a signed copy of both of these book please visit: http://www.emmadarwin.com/ and answer this question: Emma got a place on the MPhil in Writing at the University of…………………? Which University?
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BATTLE WAX At re-enactment events here in England it often rains and even when it does not you only have to put your expensive kit down on damp grass to mean you either have a lot of work cleaning and drying, polishing off rust or you soon have rusty kit. Until now there was nothing designed specifically to protect steel armour, swords, guns and other valuable metalwork. This new product goes on easily and can either be applied, left a few minutes and rubbed in and then buffed to a shine a few minutes later or applied, left a few minutes and rubbed in and then left to dry for a coating to protect over the off season which can be cleaned off easily when required. I use this product to protect items I sell at outdoor events, ask where and when you can see it in use if you want, personally I use a spray bottle from a garden center to apply it as I have large items to coat but it can be applied with a cloth or a brush if you want. It is based on microcrystalline wax as is the main wax used by museums and others on historic artifacts. Supplied here in a liquid form in bottles of 500 ml when filled(aprox.) I can also supply this as a solid wax polish if required. http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=150749752838#ht_500wt_1 147 Nigel Carren I specialize in restoring and reproducing historic European plate armour from the 16th and 17th century, and I also make the same pieces in miniature... right down to 1/7th scale to be precise, and these are not models, but fully articulated working steel suits of armour. The area of particular interest is 'The Cuirassier' armour of The English Civil War, especially the 'Moustachioed' close-helmets/Savoyards. I work for the film and fashion industry, museums and even the MOD where I was brought to provide a historical solution to a modern body-armour problem in Afghanistan. That said, at the moment I am working on yet more Lady GaGa items for one of her 2012 projects though working for The House of GaGA is more hush-Hush than working for the MOD. Aside from the shiny glamorous world of music, film and fashion, the nucleus of my customer base are private collectors and flag-waving re-enactors, who just like me... are crazy about the detail. I working from a 17th century manor in northern France, which is great ambiance but bloody freezing as it is a huge renovation project and there are still holes in the roof. When the house is finished I plan to run a few 'armouring holidays'/weekends, where a select few can pay for a weeks steel-bashing and in the end they either leave with a 3-bar pot or a bridle-gauntlet etc etc... anyway, that is at least a year away, but I will keep my website posted for when this looks imminent. www.nigelcarren.com
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Who has cast a shadow over these lands?
Send your answer for this monthâ€™s competitions along with your full postal address to: email@example.com before March 24th 2012 to be in with a chance of winning!
The Historical Novel Society Review: A PLAY OF HERESY Margaret Frazer, Berkley, 2011, $15.00/C$17.50, pb, 290pp, 9780425243473 During the reign of Henry VI, Joliffe the Player returns to his travelling troupe as they prepare to assist the citizens of Coventry to stage their annual mystery plays. Within common memory, Coventry had been rocked by Lollard heresy, and the disappearance of a merchant between Coventry and Bristol might be linked. Joliffe investigates while he tries to whip the least inspiring of the plays into shape. In wonderful detailed Author’s Notes, Frazer describes the opportunity she had to attend a recreation of the Coventry guild plays at the University of Toronto. How I wish I’d been there! This novel, so much more than a history mystery, may be as close as I'll ever get. The detail and recreation of the players’ craft are brilliant. She has clearly acted, but readers are so lucky she didn't decide to restrict her skills to that calling. Every detail, physical and emotional, is spot on. And where other later installments in other mystery series can leave the novice reader floundering, I know these characters from the beginning pages. -Ann Chamberlin A GOOD AMERICAN Alex George, Amy Einhorn Books, 2012, $25.95/C$30, hb, 400pp, 9780399157592 George, an Englishman now living in Columbia, Missouri, has written an absolutely beautiful book about one immigrant family’s experience in America. Spanning almost one hundred years, from the turn of the 20th century to the turn of the 21st century, this book is both a saga and a series of discrete, always fascinating, stories. Frederick and Jette Meisenheimer emigrate from Germany to the United States in 1904. Jette is pregnant and disowned by her parents. They have their sights set on a job for Frederick in Rocheport, Missouri, but babies come when they want to come, and Jette gives birth in Beatrice, Missouri, and that settles the destiny for the Meisenheimer family. Beatrice residents they shall be, and their story, their children’s story, and their grandchildren’s story are all lovingly recounted by their grandson, James. Through each generation, various truths are illustrated, but never in a ham-fisted way. Frederick, a gregarious man with a love of music, finds himself fighting antiGerman sentiment during World War I. The Great Depression takes its toll through foreclosures and suicides. African American family friend Lomax encounters small-town racism with devastating results. And yet, the overall tone of the book remains buoyant. James is self-deprecating about his quiet life as his brothers, Freddy, the eldest, and Teddy and Franklin, the twins, seem to live more interesting lives. But, James underestimates himself. His clear-eyed view of his family, his relationship with his Aunt Rosa, and how he handles himself when he learns a long-hidden family secret are testaments to his character. This is a tale to savor and then re-read and re-read again. It’s just that good. --Ellen Keith
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COSTUME-MAKING SUMMER SCHOOL with Chalemie Oxford 14-19 August 2012 Come and spend a happy week making a period/historical costume under the expert supervision of Ann Susan Brown Other courses available: Baroque Dance, Commedia, Singing and Instrumental Music Fees: ÂŁ485 for full board and tuition (financial help available, age immaterial) Enquiries and full brochure from Barbara Segal on 020 7700 4293 email: firstname.lastname@example.org website: www.chalemie.co.uk
The Mortimer History Society Spring Conference May 12th 2012 The Earl Mortimer College Leominster, Herefordshire. Marc Morris will be hosting a lively and interactive discussion on King Edward I, Simon de Montfort & Prince Llewelyn. He will be joined by representatives from historical groups and other authors to discuss aspects of the three men. For more details www.mortimerhistorysociety.org.uk
The Festival of History Kelmarsh Hall Northamptonshire, UK
The Battle of Mortimerâ€™s Cross (C1461)
July 14th & 15th 2012
September 15th & 16th
Visitors immerse themselves in 2000 years of England's past during the Festival of History at Kelmarsh Hall, Northamptonshire, presented by English Heritage. The event features everything from falconry, jousting displays and battle re-enactments to music, dance and ale. The Historical Writers Association will also be there with various talks and meet the author sessions throughout the weekend.
Hampton Court Castle & Gardens, Herefordshire Living History Combat Archery Cannon Traders Row Music Dance Barber Surgeon Beer Tent Bring & Buy sale (Sat eve)
This is the real story. Patrick Lambke is the Black Knight, a World Renowned Full-contact Heavy Armour Champion of the Tournament Joust. You will be transported into an emergent subculture of people dedicated to recreating and living out the raw physical aggression and fierce passion of the true knights of the medieval era. Experience the drama behind National Geographic’s “Knights of Mayhem” television series. This book is dedicated to restoring the valour, honour, and integrity of this chivalrous sport for the next generation of knights.
Event Information February 24th – 26th The International Living Fair, Bruntingthorpe, Lutterworth, Leceistershire, UK http://www.pikeandshot.com/index-ilhf.html 26th 1940s market and entertainments at the Winding Wheel Chesterfield, UK www.eventplan.co.uk
March 3rd & 4th Irish War of Independence Exhibition Display & Lecture, Limerick City, Ireland http://irishvolunteers.org/2012/01/irish-war-of-independence-exhibition-display-lecture/ 7th Saul David Discussion “All The Kings Men”, Oxted Library, UK https://www.facebook.com/events/112350748890815/?ref=notif¬if_t=event_invite 16th – 18th The Original Re-Enactors Market (TORM) Ryton on Dunsmore, UK, CV8 3FL http://www.reenactorsmarket.co.uk/ 24th & 25th EMA Training Weekend, UK http://livinghistory.co.uk/forums/viewtopic.php?f=25&t=28035
April 21st 2012 Annual Battle of San Jacinto Historical Reenactment, Texas, USA https://www.facebook.com/events/158428737602728/?notif_t=event_invite 21st St Georges Day Medieval banquet, Westminster Cathedral Hall, London, UK https://www.facebook.com/events/188287221276625/
May 6th & 7th, Fortress Wales, Margam Copuntry Park, Port Talbot, Wales http://www.webster.uk.net/HistoryAndCulture/Re-enactmentWW2SWB/FortressWalesShowInformation.aspx
12th The Mortimer History Society Spring Conference, Leominster, Herefordshire, UK www.mortimerhistorysociety.org.uk/ 12th & 13th Multi-era Grand Historical Bazaar, Rufford Abbey Country Park, Notts. UK www.eventplan.co.uk 12th & 13th Italian Medieval Tournament at Casei Gerola, Italy, (PV) www.caseimedievale.it
12th & 13th Victorian Weekend, Forge Mill Needle Museum, Redditch, UK www.eventplan.co.uk 12th &13th The Cressing Temple Fayre, Cressing Temple, UK www.templars-fayre.co.uk
19th Re-Enactors First Aid Course, The Greenwood Centre, Coalbrookdale, UK Contact: email@example.com 26th & 27th les medievales de CHAUCONIN-NEUFMONTIERS http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=241449812568063
June 2nd & 3rd De Quaeye Werelt, Sterckshof, Belgium http://www.delegendevzw.be/ 2nd â€“ 5th Colchester Medieval Festival, Colchester, UK www.colchestermedievalfestival.co.uk 9th Boerderij aan de Giessen, Grotewaard 38, Noordeloos, Netherlands http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=158081454283009¬if_t=event_invite 16th The Minstrels Court, St. Johnâ€™s Church, Chester, UK www.pilgrimsandposies.co.uk 16th & 17th Tatton Park Medieval Fair http://www.plantagenet-events.co.uk/ 23rd & 24th Wartime Clumber (1940s event), Clumber Park, Notts, UK www.eventplan.co.uk 23rd & 24th The Yorkshire Museum of Farming, Murton Park, Yorkshire, UK www.mitlivinghistory.co.uk 30th &1st Medieval Festival, Harewood House, Yorkshire, UK www.eventplan.co.uk
July 14th & 15th The Battle of Tewkesbury, Tewkesbury, UK http://www.tewkesburymedievalfestival.org/ 14th & 15th The Festival of History, Kelmarsh Hall, Northamptonshire, UK http://www.kelmarsh.com/ 22nd The Battle of Salamanca, 200th anniversary http://www.facebook.com/#!/event.php?eid=183242878392002¬if_t=event_invite 21st & 22nd Berkeley Skirmish, Berkeley castle, Gloucestershire, UK http://www.plantagenet-events.co.uk/ 26
21st & 22nd The Battle of Azincourt, Azincourt, France. http://www.azincourt-alliance.org.uk/ 27th – 30th C13th Event at The Arthurian Centre. Slaughterbridge, Camelford, Cornwall, UK https://www.facebook.com/groups/36242274237/ 28th & 29th Tournement of Walraversijde, Belgium http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=252511704798690¬if_t=event_invite
August 4th & 5th The Second Annual GREAT ROAD ENCAMPMENT 18th Century Encampment 1700-1799, Elliston, VA, USA Contact Henry Bryant at firstname.lastname@example.org 10th – 14th Robin Hood Festival, Sherwood Forest, Notts, UK www.eventplan.co.uk 11th – 13th The Battle of Camlann, The Arthurian Centre, Slaughterbridge, Cornwall, uk https://www.facebook.com/groups/36242274237/ 13th & 14th Lincoln Castle Medieval Market, UK http://www.plantagenet-events.co.uk/Events.html
September 8th & 9th EMA weekend at Caldicot Castle, wales http://www.theema.co.uk/ 8th & 9th On the Home Front 1939-45, Rufford Abbey Country Park, Notts, UK www.eventplan.co.uk 15th & 16th The Battle of Mortimer’s Cross, Hampton Court Castle, Leominster, Herefordshire, UK www.mortimerscross.co.uk 22nd & 23rd Wimpole at War (1940s event), The Wimpole Estate, Cambs, UK www.eventplan.co.uk 29th & 30th Sherwood through the Ages multi-period, Sherwood Forest, Nott, UK www.eventplan.co.uk
October 6th & 7th Hughenden’s Wartime Weekend, Hughenden Manor, Bucks, UK www.eventplan.co.uk
November 24th & 25th Ludlow Castle Medieval Christmas Fair, Ludlow, Shropshire, UK http://www.ludlowcastle.com/ 27
Dream Catcher Review with Tony Angelo Interview: Allison Brunning Tell me a little bit about your life? I am a historical fiction author. My husband and I are currently restoring our Victorian home with hopes to turn it into a bed and breakfast. I love to travel, attend cultural events, photography, and read. I'm a member of the Daughters of American Revolution. When did you start to write? I developed my love of writing in Kindergarten. One day I had brought a tiny book home that we had made in school. My grandmother had recognized my love for writing and decided to foster that love. She bought writing and art supplies then asked me to write her a story. For years I would write her a story then I would read it to her. By the time I was in High School I had made my own books. In college, a few professors had noticed my potential to make it in the literary world and urged me to seek publication. What are you working on now? I’m currently working on Rose, which is book two of the “Children of the Shawnee” series. Rose takes place just after Pierre has returned Rose to France. In book two, Pierre will make a brief appearance. You learn more about Pierre’s life in France. You will meet his French wife and children. You’ll learn why Pierre, although a French duke, has olive skin and raven black hair. You’ll also be introduced to a new character, Thomas. Anna had mentioned him in book one. You will recall Alexander had found her Celtic wedding band on Anna’s dresser and Anna had asked him to find her. In book one, Alexander had also hinted to the reader of Pierre’s marriage to Christine while he was married to Creek. The reader also was introduced to a character by the name of Melinda in book one. She only appeared in one chapter when Calico was ill with childbed fever. Melinda had told Calico, Rose was engaged to her brother. Calico had recognized her. In Rose, you will meet Melinda and her family. You’ll learn more about the connections between her family and Calico’s. There are tiny details in all my books that have significance in later books. I'm also working on another historical fiction series called "The Secret Heritage". "The Secret Heritage" takes place during the early 20th century in Marion, Ohio. The series is loosely based on my great great grandmother's life. Are there any future projects in the works? I have several books that I have started. I plan to finish my two series and possibly write some spin offs. Allison Bruning Author of "Calico" Book One (Children of the Shawnee series) Executive Director email@example.com
Prologue, 1026 AD: The Pontic Forest, Chaldia I circle the grey skies, surveying the thick carpet of autumnal forest below. Then it is broken by a clearing and I am numbed by the sight of the still-smoking ruins and charred bodies strewn in the grass. It is only a small village in the borderlands of Byzantium, but it underwrites a truth that has been with me all my years: man will destroy man. And in this part of the world it is like watching Prometheus live out his agony day after day as civilisations shatter against one another: the Greeks and the Trojans, the Hittites and the Assyrians, the Romans and the Persians. Now Rome’s heir, Byzantium, teeters on the brink of war with the burgeoning Seljuk Empire. My age is almost past and my power cowed, thus I am little more than an observer of cruel fate, and fate has it that Byzantium is mortal. Yes, like all empires, Byzantium will fall, but I believe in the vision I had: the dark leader, not yet born, the one man who can prevent the devastation that fate has in store. The Haga! I sweep over the treetops, following the dirt path that snakes through the woodland. Then, some distance down that track, I sense them, Seljuk warriors, poised in the undergrowth like asps, waiting on their prey; proud men, unaware of their part in the everlasting cycle of destruction. I sense a soul on horseback, approaching the waiting ambush. Then I feel it: he is part of the vision; he is why I was drawn here today. I cannot make this man or any other do my bidding; like a mirror to his soul I can only present to him what he already knows, but I must speak with him so that one day, when the Haga has risen, man can stand against fate. *** Tepid rain fell in sheets, churning the forest path into mire before the depleted column of iron-clad riders. Only seven remained of the twenty five kataphractoi that had set out that morning. At their head, Cydones blinked the rainwater from his eyes and tugged at the beginnings of his dark beard, twisting it into twin points. With the light fading, the forest was becoming an army of shadows. He shrugged to adjust his klibanion, the weight of the iron lamellar vest biting into his collarbone. Set an example, he chided himself and sat tall in his saddle. The men needed their leader to be strong after the events of the day. They had intercepted and slain all but the vanguard and rearguard of the Seljuk raiding party but had lost many friends and colleagues in the process. Yet there was no time to dwell on this latest incursion; the kataphractoi were few and precious and Chaldia was vast, the borders of the thema encompassing an area far greater than the skeleton garrisons and scant collection of full-time riders could hope to protect. As the raindrops rattled on his knuckles, he wondered at his choices in life that had brought him to this daily and brutal conflict. Cydones’ life so far had been based on simple ideals and these were in stark contrast to those valued by the rest of his family. He thought of his older brother, Agapetes, and the wealth and luxury his sibling had amassed back in Constantinople in the family trading business. Cydones had never bonded with his brother, a cold-hearted boy and then a snake of a man who always sought to serve himself first. Agapetes had followed in his father’s footsteps and used his business nous to tap into the riches of the capital’s trade markets. That the poor bastard had died in an overloaded trade cog caught in a storm just off the Hellespont was a bitter irony, but that his father could only grieve at the loss of Agapetes the business partner and not Agapetes the son was a cold reality that Cydones just did not understand. While his father and Agapetes had worked hard to take from the empire, Cydones had only ever wanted to fight for her. He traced a finger along the edge of the bronze Christian Chi29
Rho on the chain around his neck. The symbol of God pierced the skylines of Byzantium’s cities and was painted on the shield of every imperial soldier; it was the symbol that his mother had taught him to respect and obey. His mother had been the only soul who seemed to understand him, her heart touched with warmth. When she died, his father had remained stony-faced and dry-eyed throughout the funeral, often neglecting his part in the ceremonies to attend to business. Cydones finally realised that his time with his family was over the following summer, the day he saw his father weep with joy at clinching a deal to bring regular shipments of wine and honey in from the groves and hives of Southern Anatolia. So Cydones had left the capital and travelled east to the borderlands with only the tunic on his back, the Chi-Rho around his neck and a sling. Coinless, he had caught fish, raided beehives and trapped rabbits on the road to the region known as Chaldia, one of the easternmost thema of the empire. He had then signed up as a regular thema infantryman, a skutatos, committed to working an arid patch of land and then defending it with his life when the empire called upon him. When he had lifted the spathion and skutum, the Byzantine sword and shield, for the first time, it had been like a final closing of the door on his life back in the capital. From that point on, he had patrolled, fought and bled for the betterment of his people, quickly leaving the agricultural half of the soldier-farmer life behind as promotion after promotion came his way and now he was a cavalry komes, in charge of fifty riders. This was his calling, and a brutal one it was. In the borderlands blood was readily spilled; brigands were a constant menace but the relentless westward progression of the Seljuk hordes was like a spear driving into the empire’s gut. They were only getting stronger year on year while the empire faltered under the squabbling of the power-hungry in Constantinople. He had seen an estuary flow crimson after one hinterland battle with the Seljuk riders; so many men dead and all just to limit the loss of imperial territory. The clopping hooves of another mount shook him back to the present. ‘Lovely rain, hides from us all year, lets the sun scorch our crops, has us trailing halfway across the thema for a bucket of water . . . then this!’ Cydones blinked. The young, blue-eyed rider, Ferro, had ridden ahead of his ten to draw level. Ferro closed his eyes. ‘Now I see a fire roaring back at the barracks; a plate of roast lamb and a tray of honey cakes.’ Cydones could not contain a wry chuckle. ‘I’ll add a keg of ale to the table, Ferro, when we get back . . . but keep your eyes on the treeline while we ride. Another night in this mire, then tomorrow, once we’re out of this damned forest, we can ride at a decent pace . . . ’ his words trailed off at the screeching of an eagle. He glanced up at the canopy of forest above; what he could see of the sky was an unbroken grey. When he looked forward again, his eyes were drawn to the undergrowth. A fern shook and then settled. The breath froze in his lungs. ‘Sir?’ Ferro cocked an eyebrow, hand resting on his pommel. Cydones made to raise a hand for a full stop. Then a roar pierced the air. Two packs of men burst from either side of the undergrowth; at least thirty of them, darkskinned and moustachioed. Akhi, Seljuk infantry, hoisting broad-bladed spears and wearing felt caps and jackets. Immediately, two of his men toppled from their horses, impaled on the spears. ‘To arms!’ Cydones roared, ripping his spathion from his scabbard as his horse reared at the oncoming swell of spearmen. He snarled, hacking through the flurry of spear thrusts aimed at him before chopping down on the nearest attacker, snapping through bone and gristle, lopping the man’s arm off in one blow. A hot arterial spray coated his face and the Chi-Rho dangling on his chain. ‘Come on then, you whoresons!’ He bellowed, storming into the fray. He turned to the growing roar of a spearman rushing for his back. He hefted his spathion up to strike and 30
heeled his mount round to face his attacker, but his blood ran cold as his horse struggled to turn in the mire under hoof. He felt time slow as he tried to pull his foot from the stirrup to twist in his saddle. The spearman’s eyes bulged, spear point only a pace away from Cydones, when a sword point burst through the spearman’s neck. The man toppled like a felled tree to reveal the snarling Ferro, dismounted, clutching the hilt of his spathion, the blade coated in crimson gore. Ferro leapt back into the melee and Cydones turned to hack off the spear point of the next akhi before swiping his sword back round to behead the man. The grating of iron on bone was disguised only by the whinnying of horses and the screaming of men, yet the fine armour of the kataphractoi ensured the skirmish was swift, and as the akhi lost their numerical advantage they broke for cover in the forest. At this, the kataphractoi were quick to nock arrows to their bows, felling all but one of the retreating men. Ferro leapt on his mount again and charged after the last of the fleeing akhi. With the flat of his sword, he smashed the man on the back of the head, toppling him like a sack of rubble. ‘Easy!’ Cydones roared as Ferro leapt from his horse and lifted his sword to strike again. ‘Just being careful,’ the rider countered, kicking the dagger from the akhi’s hand and digging his boot into the man’s throat. The felled man groaned, rolling round to face the encircling kataphractoi unit. ‘Your head will sit on a spike on the walls of Trebizond by nightfall,’ Cydones spat. The Seljuk had looked bleary but then his face curled into a sneer. ‘And all of your people will cower under the Falcon’s blade before too long.’ Cydones slid his helmet from his head, running a hand over his bald pate and biting back the instinctive reply that came to his lips, the spiteful rhetoric seeming foolish as his heartbeat calmed. Sultan Tugrul, the Falcon, had indeed cast a shadow across these lands, a shadow that was growing with every passing year. This lone spearman’s life or death would not change that. This must be the rearguard of the raiding party, he realised, lost and terrified in a foreign land. The man he had hoped to catch was gone: Tugrul’s young protégé, the shrewd Seljuk rider who had continuously beaten, and beaten well, the armies of the thema in the last year would be long gone with the vanguard. Enough blood, he thought. ‘Should we just stick the bastard, sir?’ Said the bull of a rider by his side. ‘I don’t fancy taking him all the way back to the barracks.’ Cydones glared at the rider, who dropped his gaze and took to studying the nearest tree intensively. ‘Bind his hands,’ he said, then jabbed a finger at the big rider. ‘He rides with you.’ *** As night cloaked the forest, the rains stopped to present a clear sky above the small clearing. Due to the humidity, the remaining five kataphractoi had chosen not to erect their pavilion tent and lay instead in their quilted blankets on the soft bracken of the forest floor, spears dug into the ground in readiness should there be a night ambush. The Seljuk prisoner was bound to a tree and had fallen into an exhausted sleep. Snoring from the soldiers and the occasional snort from the horses could be heard, breaking the constant rustle of the overhead canopy and the sporadic hooting of owls. Cydones yawned, then muttered a curse at his selfless offer of taking the middle watch, but he knew the men respected a leader who would not baulk at hardship. His belly rumbled; they had eaten a simple meal of toasted bread and salt beef washed down with water, but the rations barely compensated for the full day of riding. Focusing on the toppled beech just a handful of paces ahead, he felt his eyelids droop and his thoughts dance freely, and an instant later, his head lolled forward. Then the piercing screech of an eagle wrenched him to his senses. He leapt up and felt for his spathion but then he realised he had been dreaming and settled back against the trunk with a nervous chuckle. 31
Then he saw her. She wore a grey robe that clung to her knotted figure. Barefoot, her face was puckered, her eyes were clouded milky white and her hair was perfect silver. He felt an unexpected sense of ease and no compulsion to raise the alarm. ‘Be at ease, soldier,’ she said. Her tone was soft, like a mother’s words to a child. She looked nothing like his mother but he felt a familiar warmth touch his heart as she spoke. He made to reach for his Chi-Rho neck chain, but his arms felt curiously leaden. Cydones cast a glance around the forest. There was nobody else. ‘You fought well today,’ the woman spoke. ‘You were there?’ Cydones asked as she sat on a tree stump across from him. ‘I saw it all.’ ‘Then you were with the akhi?’ Cydones asked, suddenly aware of the prisoner, but a glance reassured him that the Seljuk akhi was still safely bound and asleep. ‘No, but I feel for them.’ ‘You’ll have seen us butcher the rest of them?’ ‘As they would have done to you, had you not been on your guard,’ she said. ‘Much blood was spilled and that was a great pity, but you also made a fine choice,’ she nodded toward the sleeping prisoner. ‘That man could have been easily slain and left to rot on the forest floor.’ ‘Two of my men died today at the hands of his party,’ Cydones countered. ‘So his head will still end up on a spike.’ ‘Perhaps, but that will not be of your doing. You made a choice that was unpopular with your men, when it would have been so simple to make things easy for yourself.’ Cydones shrugged. Inside he hoped she was right. Then he noticed her bare feet and gnarled toes; they were clean despite the damp forest floor. ‘Why have you come here? There are no settlements for miles around,’ he asked, thinking back to the incinerated settlement they had passed that morning. ‘You must have walked for . . . ’ ‘You are a young man, Cydones,’ the old woman cut in. She did not flinch when he gawped at her use of his name. ‘You are bound for a long career; some would call it glorious, some would call it ghastly.’ ‘What do you know of my future?’ ‘Little more than you do. You know in your heart that the empire is in great danger from the peoples of the east. The years ahead will be troubled and dark for Byzantium. How dark only the actions of men will decide, but no matter what happens, you are a good man. You must remember this and stay true to yourself and your ideals. Now, you must listen to what I say next and listen well.’ Cydones nodded, uneasy as the woman’s features became taut. ‘When the falcon has flown, the mountain lion will charge from the east, and all Byzantium will quake. Only one man can save the empire.’ She gripped his wrist. ‘Find the Haga!’ ‘The Haga?’ Cydones frowned, thinking of the old Hittite legend: the mythical two-headed eagle. It made no sense. ‘How, where, would I find such a man?’ She leaned in to his ear. ‘You will know when you meet him. He is one man torn to become two.’ He shook his head, frowning, searching for questions. Then he saw that she stood away from him, past the fallen beech. He rubbed his eyes and then saw that she stood even further away, arms outstretched to the sky. Then he blinked, realising he was looking at a sapling beech, two branches sprouting either side. He was alone. An eagle shrieked high above. His thoughts echoed with her words. Find the Haga.
Published on Jun 8, 2012