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The Re-Enactor Issue 49 March

Tokhtamysh ransacking Moscow. A miniature from Russian chronicle of the 16 th century. http://vstyag.narod.ru/LS-16.htm


The walk will take place between April 28th & May 5th


Greetings All I have just returned from The International Living History Fair at Bruntingthorpe where I caught up with plenty of re-enactors and picked up details on a few more groups, traders and events and these have now been added into the magazine.

The Re-Enactor at the ILHF. Feb 22nd – 24th 2013

As of this issue I will be publishing the magazine separate from the groups and trader listings to make it easier for you to get at what you are after. I will leave all magazines online so that you’ll be able to read old copies but I will update the published group and trader listings so that you will be reading the most up to date version. Thank you to Jess Steven Hughes for his donation for this month’s competition and well done to those that won last months. The events listings are starting to fill up but please do let me know of any others that are happening near you. Please send all correspondence to the following email address:

Chatting to a trader at the ILHF Feb 22nd-24th 2013 Pictures by Pat Patrick!

Features This Month 1: The Battle of the Kondurcha. Pt 2 2: Competition No.1 3: Book Review-The Historical Novel Soc. 4: Crusade-2012 Season Report 5: Volcanic Alum Crystal, History & Uses! 6: The M.H.S. Spring Conference 7: Event Information 8: Towton Commemorative Event

To receive a copy of this magazine just send your email address to: thereenactor@btinternet.com

thereenactor@btinternet.com 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

Note: If you have any questions queries thoughts or ideas for and about the magazine please do feel free to contact me and we can discuss them.


Act II: The Battle of the Kondurcha Timur decided to get done with Tokhtamysh in his own territory. But the Golden Horde was protected from the ruler of Samarkand not so much by troops as by long distances. To traverse the thousands of miles through the endless steppes, Timur’s army had to have a sufficient number of horses, and they require daily fodder or grazing. In this campaign Timur demonstrated his outstanding talent of a strategist. He took into consideration that the steppes and the Aral semi-deserts separating the Volga from the oases of Central Asia are covered with grass not all the year round, but only for a few weeks of spring. In those places the grass rapidly grows first in the south, then in the semi-deserts and only then in the steppes east of the Volga. Therefore, Timur, gathering a huge army, began his a campaign against the Golden Horde in May 1391, moving so as to follow the spring. Samarkand cavalry horses ate the grass, which at that time had not yet withered with heat, and the troops fed upon the steppes battues, hunting saiga antelopes. He sent out a reconnaissance group led by the experienced emir Sheikh Daoud. This group brought useful information, and Timur decided to head to the Yaik River (the Ural River). There were three fords across the river, but the cautious Timur considered it more prudent to cross the river in its upper reaches. The army quick-marched, and after 6 days it reached the Samara River. On June 4 Timur crossed the Yaik. According to Sharaf ad-Din Ali Yazdi’s notes, here three warriors of Tokhtamysh were brought to Timur, and they said that Tokhtamysh knew about the army of Timur approaching, because two Edigu’s guards had fled from Timur’s camp and told Tokhtamysh all they knew.

The campaign of Timur across the steppes in the hunt for Tokhtamish in 1391-1392. Source: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Timur_Steppe_campaign.jpg?uselang=ru


Timur's army, which numbered up to 80,000 riders alone, not to mention infantry, reached the shores of the Volga River in its middle course in early June 1391. For Tokhtamysh this sudden advance of the Muslims across the deserts and steppes was a complete surprise. Although was able to put forward against the Emir of Samarkand a more than 150,000-strong army, his troops were gathered in haste, poorly equipped and barely trained, recruited mostly from the conquered peoples who were not eager to die for their enslavers. Tokhtamysh was obviously trying to wear down the forces of Timur, on the correct assumption that the farther Timur went from his bases, the less food his troops would have, and the weaker his soldiers would be. So he began to retreat, thus giving Timur a chance to deploy his forces and to press the Horde troops to the Volga River, crossing the Kondurcha. It was vital for Timur to stop Tokhtamysh as soon as possible and to make him fight. For this purpose he ordered Mirza Omar-Sheikh with a group of 20,000 people to find Tokhtamysh, to engage him in battle and to stop his army. Mirza Omar-Sheikh did precisely this, engaging the vanguard of Tokhtamysh. Tokhtamysh with his army, according to the information received from prisoners and local residents, left for the Kondurcha and was waiting for the approach of the host of the Moscow Prince Vasily Dmitrievich (the eldest son of Dmitry Donskoy, the would-be Vasily I of Moscow) from across the Volga. Timur set his camp and headquarters to the west of the present-day village Koshki on Karaulny (Sentry) Hill. The toponym probably reflects the memories about koshes (tents) of the army of Timur. When all the troops came, and were tested for combat readiness, Timur ordered to form for the battle. The bloody battle between the troops of the Emir of Samarkand and the Golden Horde Khan took place on June 18, 1391 near the confluence of the Sok (the Sukh) and the Kondurcha in the locality of Kundurcha (Kunduzcha) in the valley of the river Kundurcha, in the Bulgar Ulus of the Golden Horde, in what today is Samara Oblast in Russia. The exact place of the battle is still debatable. Timur chose the battlefield very competently. First, it was rough enough to prevent the Golden Horde cavalry from gaining momentum for the powerful clash. Second, the flanks were covered - on both sides the battlefield is cut by rivers. Since ancient times, all the nomadic steppe tribes relied on a flank attack, in this case, Tokhtamysh couldn’t flank properly, and his attacks were repelled. According to Persian sources, Tokhtamysh’s troops far outnumbered those of his opponent. However, the army of Timur, that had a well-armed and trained infantry and a powerful center, was much better organized and combat-ready than the Horde forces of Tokhtamysh: this determined the outcome of the battle. [1] Timur's troops were divided into seven kuls (corps), two of them in reserve, ready to help the center or the wings. Timur’s infantry on the battlefield was protected by trenches and huge shields (chapars). Timur's army was formed up for the battle in the following way: in the center there stood Timur’s kul under the command of Mirza Suleymanshah, behind it was the second Timur’s kul under the command of Mohammad Sultan, next to them were 20 koshuns under the personal command of Timur. On the right flank there was the kul under the command of


Mirza Miranshah, Timur’s son (as its kanbul - flanking escort - it had the kul of Hajjaj Saif ad-Din). On the left flank there was the kul of Mirza Omar-Sheikh (as its kanbul it had Berdibek Sary-Buga’s kul). Wings were considered very important, as is evident from the fact that great attention was paid to the kanbuls guarding the flanks, but the center was particularly enhanced. The vanguard was attached to the center, and, in addition, headquarters of the commander were situated behind the center. There were also reserves decided the outcome of the battle. In the new combat system the center and the wings became the focus of attention. Kanbuls were intended not only to protect the wings from a breakthrough, but also to prevent the enemy flanking movement, which could gain the rear. In view of this kanbuls consisted of the most courageous and experienced in battle koshuns under the command of respected commanders. Army in this war formation, as mentioned above, consisted not only of cavalry, but also of infantry. The foot soldiers stood in front of the horsemen and in the case of the enemy attack, especially cavalry attack, hiding behind their trench shields ("chapars") and tours (turas), gave the first fight. Foot soldiers played an extremely important role in that part of the combat position, which had to act on the defensive. The battle began with the fervent prayer of sayyid Bereke for the victory of Timur. He threw a handful of sand in the direction of the enemy and predicted that Timur would win the battle. Encouraged by this prediction, the chief commander sits down to ... dinner. During his meal the battle unfolded. In this way Timur publicly displayed full confidence in his victory. At the beginning of the battle Tokhtamysh's cavalry tried to flank Timur's army. However, the Central Asian army withstood the assault. [9] Then a large body of Tokhtamysh’s troops, slaying many warriors from the city of Sulduz (now in Iran), broke through their ranks and formed in their rear. Noticing this, Mirza OmarSheikh (the left flank), immediately turned some of his troops to face Tokhtamysh and “putting forward the shields”, plunged into battle. Then Timur with a group of braves charged on the enemies with a sudden flanking attack. At this critical moment, the main banner of Tokhtamysh fell: according to one version it was captured by the soldiers of Timur, according to the other - the standard-bearer of Tokhtamysh betrayed his Khan. The Horde panicked and fled. Tokhtamysh abandoned his troops, crossed the Cheremshan and then the Volga, and escaped. The Horde suffered a shattering defeat. Timur pursued the running hordesmen for over 200 miles to the very banks of the Volga. The last remains of the Horde were pressed to the bank. The battle was incredibly fierce and lasted for 3 days, accompanied by unprecedented bloodshed. According to the chroniclers, the battle was so fierce that the sky was dark with the dust raised by the horses’ hooves, and the Kondurcha ran red with blood. The chroniclers claimed that the land for 200 miles was covered with the corpses of the fugitives. Families and property of the horde warriors went to the winner. The losses of Tokhtamysh as estimated were about 100 thousand people; the losses of Timur were about the same. Fra Mauro on his map indicated 18 graves of tumen chiefs (and tumen chiefs died only if the whole tumen perished, as the warriors were bound to protect their chief to the last: those who fled from the battlefield were later executed as cowards, unless it was a commanded


organized retreat). [4] Timur’s victory was a narrow one, in the Battle of Kondurcha he lost almost half of his army. Therefore, he did not dare to pursue his enemy any farther, refusing to cross to the right bank of the Volga. Timur and his wife Cholpan Mulk, his sons, dignitaries, commanders and soldiers, free from collecting trophies, camped at the foot of a solitary round mound, rising on the plain at the mouth of the Sok flowing into the Volga. According to some reports, the area of Ur-Tyupe stretching at the foot of the mound had long been a summer camp of nomad khans of the Golden Horde. So Timur, placing his tent on the top of the mound, clearly showed all the surrounding lands who the boss was. There is a legend that the top of the mound was covered with cloth of gold, the length of which, if stretched in a ribbon, would be equal to three parasangs. Like a crown on the head of the king of giants, it glistened in the sun to all four sides of the world, confirming the power of the conqueror. Supposedly since that time the mound got its name – Tsaryov (Tsaryov means “The Tsar’s”). Timur spent 26 days feasting: according to historian Sharaf ad-Din Ali Yazdi, there were so many beautiful houri-like girls and young men in the camp that there were 5,000 of those that had been selected personally for Timur. Meanwhile Timur’s soldiers sacked as they could the Golden Horde lands. Along the Sok, the Kondurcha, and the Samara they destroyed Bulgarian unfortified settlements. The largest of them was on the Kinel near the present-day village of Sukhaya Rechka. At the mouth of the Samara they burnt the berths, warehouses, and homes of the river port. The Samar harbour ceased to exist. Timur’s campaigns of 1391 and 1395 wiped out most of the aboriginal population of Volga Bulgaria, several Volga ethnic groups are never mentioned in chronicles any more after these campaigns. On July 16 the commander left for Samarkand, followed by the slowly moving victorious army burdened with the booty. People still say that among the stones that rolled from the top of the mound to the mass grave at its foot, washed out by floods, whitened bones of unknown soldiers could long be seen, until with the course of time they turned to dust. The mound itself, once trodden under the feet of the Iron Lame, is now also almost ruined. But this is quite another story.


Ur-Tyupe, view from the top of Tsaryov Kurgan. Photo by Inna Drabkina.

The mouth of the Sok where it flows into the Volga, the Sokolyi Montains, and Tsaryov Kurgan (the top of the kurgan is marked with a cross). Photo by Oleg Manaenkov.


An Aside: Did Russian troops lose the battle, but win the war? Tokhtamysh called to the banks of the Kondurcha the Moscow Prince Vasily, son of Dmitry Donskoy as a vassal of the Golden Horde. According to one version of events, Prince Vasily came to the camp of Tokhtamysh with a small group of Russian soldiers, most likely just before the battle. He was not yet 20 years old, but he was a skillful diplomat. Prince Vasily managed to explain to Tokhtamysh why he had failed to bring an army of Muscovites: there were allegedly complications on the western borders of the Grand Principality of Moscow, and the Ryazan, Suzdal and Nizhny Novgorod princes were reluctant to let a considerable military force pass through their territory. Only with a small group of warriors he was able to raft in a few boats down the Volga, as the Russians controlled the shipping on the Volga. Tokhtamysh, busy with hectic preparation, understood that Russian troops would not come. After N. Petrovsky, according to some sources, Prince Vasily took part in the battle, cutting down one of Timur’s commanders, Argunshah-Bahadur, and gained the respect of Tokhtamysh. However, he did not accept the Khan’s offer to get away with him to the Kama. Prince Vasily ordered to hide several boats nearby in some Sok arm to be able to lead his soldiers away at first chance. Then when Tokhtamysh lost the battle, Prince Vasily and his surviving warriors escaped by boat and warned the Russians in the port of Samar of the danger. He advised his countrymen to take their property and to flee to the other bank of the Volga; then the fugitives sailed on and landed on the right bank in the mouth of the Syzranka. There Prince Vasily and his men exchanged some horses for the boat. Fearing to fall into the hands of hostile Mordvins or Timur, who could ferry troops across the Volga after Tokhtamysh, Prince Vasily went south. He learnt the way during his escape from Tokhtamysh captivity six years before. As a result, the Grand Prince of Moscow came to Kiev to the Lithuanian Grand Duke Vytautas, who in 1385 proposed his daughter Sofia as Vasily’s wife. Taking his young wife, Vasily protected by Lithuanian troops, returned safely to Moscow. [12]

Prince Vasily and his wife Sofia (a picture of the 19 th century) Source: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Vasily_I_of_Moscow_and_Sophia_of_Lithuania.jp g?uselang=ru According to other sources, Vasily just didn’t manage to gather an army and watched the battle from a distance.


But let us remember that Vasily was called to bring troops to defend the Horde and the man who had devastated his home city, had held him hostage in captivity. Moscow and Rus on the whole were less than eager to aid Tokhtamysh and the Horde. Historians say that during the Mongol invasions three fourths of the population of Medieval Rus in the occupied territories were wiped out. Moscow and most of the other principalities were barely recovering from this blood-letting and beginning their own fight for freedom with the Horde. This respite Moscow and other Russian principalities took helped them to save strength for the battle with Timur yet to come. So, without actually engaging in battle, without suffering heavy losses, the Russian army by its non-participation in the battle paid off Tokhtamysh for the burning of Moscow, and witnessed the defeat of the Horde. The power of the Golden Horde after the defeat at the Kondurcha was severely undermined, which became a major precondition for the liberation of Russia from the Mongol-Tatar yoke. Huge losses of both Tokhtamysh and Timur undermined the power of both the conquerors. Epilogue: Hypotheses, hypotheses ... Where did the battle take place? It is known for sure only that the battle took place on the river Kondurcha, but where exactly? The total length of the river is 324 kilometers. (By the way, if all the members of that battle stood, hand in hand, in a continuous chain, they would form the line from its head to mouth.) Unfortunately for modern scholars, medieval Muslim warriors did not build burial mounds, and the weapons of the killed were taken by the survivors, and so it is very difficult to find the graves. So far no one has found them in the area. According to some hypothesis, the battle took place in the lower reaches of the Kondurcha, near its confluence with the Sok. These historians consider the plot near Kurumoch as the most likely field of the battle. (Yellow circle on the map, Site 1)


(Violet – the Kondurcha river near the alleged places of the battle; red marks: on the bank of the Volga – Tsaryov Kurgan, at the top of the picture – Timur’s headquarters before the battle, near the present-day Koshki; blue mark: allegedly Toktamysh’s headquarters; yellow mark – Site 1; orange mark – Site 2; green mark – Site 3; turquoise mark – Site 4; magenta mark – Site 5, the most likely one)


There is another point of view, propounded by the Samara ethnographer E. Guryanov [6] that the battle took place about 60 kilometers to the north, near the village of Borma, and spread over a wide area of three modern districts of two regions - Samara and Ulyanovsk Oblasts (Orange mark, Site 2). E. Guryanov thinks that the battle took place in the vast area between the small rivers Santimir (left tributary of the Cheremshan) and the Kandabulak (left tributary of the Kondurcha). He believes that the Santimir was named by the locals in honor of Timur and the Kandabulak (in Tatar "Red, or bloody stream") is the place where the battle ranged most fierce. If we carefully examine these theories, M. Arnoldov argues, it appears that neither the one nor the other fully meets the two groups of conditions - namely, the strategic and tactical ones to stage the battle in that location. From the strategic point of view Tokhtamysh couldn’t allow the enemy too deep into his own lands without very serious and, most importantly, irreversible consequences. There were three such conditions, as noted in the "Samara chronicle": 1. Tokhtamysh’s army should not be pressed to the Volga, where it would lose the ability to maneuver, could be easily defeated and thrown into the river. 2. The enemy couldn’t be allowed between the Samara, the Kinel and the Sok, to the rich summer pastures that in the dry season were of special value for the Horde. 3. The army of Tokhtamysh should also cover the northern routes along the Volga leading to the rich Bulgar cities, the looting of which by Timur could lead to an economic crisis in the Horde. It is quite clear that the first version of the battle (at the confluence of the Sok and the Kondurcha) meets only one of these conditions: protecting the northern Bulgar cities. Summer pastures in this case would have been destroyed by the horses of the enemy by the middle of June (there were about half a million horses: two horses per horseman), and the right wing of Tokhtamysh would have been pressed to the Volga. The second version of the battle (after E. Gurianov) meets all three Tokhtamysh strategic aims, but it is weak tactically and, most importantly, does not quite correspond to the chroniclers, who came with Timur and described the relief of the area where the battle took place. E. Guryanov believes that forces of the two enemies had a broad front stretching for dozens of miles from south-east to north-west. However, with such disposition the Horde received significant advantage in their swift flanking attacks. The battle in this case would be broken up into a number of individual battles and could not be controlled from one central point, that is, from the headquarters of Timur. But we know that in reality this did not happen. The battle went on a scenario prepared by Timur, largely due to a specific place chosen by Timur himself. However, he relied on the defensive battle and was guided by certain requirements to the place, meeting which he could hope to win. These conditions as described by Samarkand chroniclers were: 1. Timur's army flanks were covered by the river with fairly steep or marshy banks that would not allow the enemy mobile units to cross and gain the rear. 2. Timur chose for the battle a large field, a limited by a river bend, which could accommodate up to 400 thousand people; the field was fairly even, with no steep hills, but inconvenient, that is, with small hillocks and irregularities to prevent the Horde cavalry to accelerate and pick up the pace. 3. On the front of the battle there were no large forests - steppe and Central Asian warriors did not know how to fight in the woods.


Both of these hypotheses about the place of the battle do not hold water. It is logical to assume that the battle took place in some other location. M. Arnoldov writes that three areas on the right bank of the Kondurcha meet the stipulated conditions. (The left bank should not be considered as the place for the battle, as in this case, summer pastures would have been destroyed by Timur.) The first spot, in this case, is the field near the village of Stary Booyan. Yet there are no serious grounds for this. To the left of it (if you stand facing west) – there is the Kondurcha bend with a steep cliff, on the right – the Booyan rivulet. (Green circle, Site 3)

The Kondurcha near the alleged place of the battle. Source: http://www.nkj.ru/archive/articles/4209/

The Kondurcha farther upstream from the alleged place of the battle. Photo by tars07. Source: http://fotki.yandex.ru/users/tars07/view/482009/?page=1


The Kondurcha near the alleged place of the battle. Source: http://samara.olx.ru/iid181998136 Indeed, the place is convenient for battle. But only for a small one in comparison with the one that took place in June 1391. A major battle will be impossible here because of a number of reasons: 1. In the west there’s a wood (if now it’s big, then it must have been even bigger, because farmer settlers began to cut wood here for their purposes in the 17 th -18th centuries, nomads never touched forests). 2. Too close to the front is a steep slope of a terrace, where (on the high ground Tokhtamysh warriors should gave stood then. Timur could not allow the enemy to see from above all his maneuvers and reserves, especially when he himself could not do so. 3. Area of the field is very small: about 4 sq. km. If 400 thousand people fought here, they could hardly squeeze on this handkerchief of a field. And they had to put their camps somewhere, to keep and graze the horses some place. Timur and Tokhtamish must have understood this. If it was not Stary Booyan, perhaps, the field at the bend of the Kondurcha between the villages Aleksandrovka and Elhovo Ozero? Again not. Here the valley cuts through the forest, dividing a comfortable bumpy field in halves; too close to the front are the hills and the forest, there’s no place for maneuver; the river at this point is too shallow and without terraces, it means that there is a chance of an attack from behind. The most convenient is the place located on the Kondurcha between the villages Novaya Zhizn and Nadezhdino. (Turquoise mark, Site 4) This field, not counting the surrounding rolling hills, is 2.5 times bigger than the field near Stary Booyan (about 10 sq.km.). It is very


convenient in terms of defense and meets all the conditions that Timur could be guided by when choosing the place for the battle: the river here is quite twisty and deep, with steep banks – it means that both flanks were well covered; there’s only one ford and it’s in the rear; the hills are far away on the front, and they are very gentle; there are many hummocks, lakes and swamps on the field – no place for the Horde cavalry to gather speed; there’s no forest, but there are two small groves in which to hide the ambush. In addition, local residents in these places often found large concentrations of animal bones.

The field between Novaya Zhizn and Nadezhdino. Source: http://www.nkj.ru/archive/articles/4209/

Slightly downstream (just ten kilometers), but on the other side of the Kondurcha - where the Kandabulak flows into it - there is one more perfect place for steppe battles: the flanks well covered by two rivers, no forests at all, and the highest elevation is located along the front between the flanks. This place (Krasnoe Poselenie - Petropalovka - Teply Stan; magenta mark, Site 5), is perhaps even better than Nadezhdino, and faces not just south, but the very pastures that Tokhtamysh cherished. In addition, the topology of the area to some extent corresponds to the scheme of battle proposed by E. Guryanov: along the Kandabulak the left wing of Timur was located. The crushed Tokhtamysh troops fled to the Volga, along the right bank of the Kondurcha and the Sok. The brutal massacre ended near the mouth of the Sok, where the remains of the Mongol troops were pinned to the Volga and destroyed. It is here – near Petropavlovka and Nadezhdino – that one should look for traces of that ancient battle namely, mass graves of men and horses, the remains of weapons and equipment. By the way, the big village nearby is called Koshki (from "Kosh" – tents, camp), and Koshkinsky Hill offers an excellent overview of the south and the east. [3] It’s interesting that even today between the Sok and the Kondurcha there is a place called Tokhtamysh’s Arrow, where, according to the legend, his tent stood before the battle. Tokhtamysh’s Arrow is a natural oval object. Folk memory preserved the legend that Tokhtamysh had "a huge arrow." According to local residents even now the "stars above this hill move from time to time to form a silhouette of a man dressed in the oriental robe." The details of the legend are regrettably forgotten, and you cannot find literary reference to that object or to the events directly connected with it. In addition, near the village Bolshaya Kamenka there are 2 objects with the same name: "Arrow" number one (53.6396,50.5396846, or 53 ° 38'25 "N 50 ° 32'28" E) [5]


Photo by V. Pylyavsky. Source: http://www.fihimail.com/fakty-i-domysly/strela-tahtomysa and "Arrow" number two (53.657559, 50.594616). Arrow number one is the one mentioned in legends.

The Unknown Mega-Battle On June 18, 1391 one of the largest battles of the Middle Ages took place. According to various estimates, from 200 to 400 thousand people on the area covering 100 square kilometers fought in it. In this battle fought the troops of rulers of Central Asia and Siberia, the troops of Emir of Samarkand those of the Khan of the Golden Horde. The importance of this battle for the future of Russia and Central Asia is very high: this battle helped to undermine the Golden Horde and, eventually, to liberate Moscow from the Tartar yoke. It seems that such an extraordinary event (and soon after the Battle of Kulikovo and the destruction of Moscow in 1382) should attract most close attention of historians. Surprisingly, in history books this battle on the Kondurcha is never mentioned. What prevents historians from mentioning and studying it? This is one of the mysteries of the battle of the Kondurcha. Compiled and translated from Russian by Inna Drabkina. After:


1. Sharaf ad-Din Ali Yazdi. “Zafar-Nama” (in Russian) - Шереф-ад-Дин Йезди. Книга побед. http://istclub.ru/topic/804-шереф-ад-дин-йезди-книга-побед/ 2. Греков Б. Д., Якубовский А. Ю. Золотая Орда и её падение. — М.-Л., 1950. 3. Арнольдов М. Тайна Кондурчинской битвы. Забытое сражение Тимура с Тохтамышем решило судьбу Руси. "Правда Востока", 30 October 2004. http://www.nkj.ru/archive/articles/4209/ http://www.centrasia.ru/newsA.php?st=1099430580 4. Гагин И.А. Тохтамыш-хан в истории Среднего Поволжья (К вопросу о битве на реке Кондурча в 1391 году). 2009. http://www.ssc.smr.ru/ftp/2009/2009_2/2009_2%20_7_11.pdf 5. Сергеев Олег. Стрела Тохтамыша. http://www.fihimail.com/fakty-i-domysly/strelatahtomysa 6. Гурьянов Е. Ф. Битва на Кондурче // Маяк Ильича. 19 and 24 January 1984. 7. Щербаков А., Дзысь И. Куликовская битва. Экспринт, 2001. 8. Тамерлан http://ru.wikipedia.org/wiki/%D2%E0%EC%E5%F0%EB%E0%ED 9. Битва на реке Кондурче http://ru.wikipedia.org/wiki/%C1%E8%F2%E2%E0_%ED%E0_%F0%E5%EA%E5_%CA %EE%ED%E4%F3%F0%F7%E5 10. Тохтамыш http://ru.wikipedia.org/wiki/%D2%EE%F5%F2%E0%EC%FB%F8 11. Армия Тамерлана http://ru.wikipedia.org/wiki/%C0%F0%EC%E8%FF_%D2%E0%EC%E5%F0%EB%E0%E D%E0 12. Петровский Н. Царёв курган. Битва Тохтамыша и Тимура (Тамерлана) http://samara.name/content/view/122/1/ 13. Противостояние Тимура и Тохтамыша http://www.kalitva.ru/104385-protivostojanietimura-i-tokhtamysha.html 14. Мирзоев Е. Тимур Тамерлан — благодетель Москвы http://www.vokrugsveta.ru/telegraph/history/1190/ 15. Вернадский Г.В. Монголы и Русь. http://statehistory.ru/books/Vernadskij_Mongoly-iRus/24 Notes 1) Rajab – the seventh month of the Islamic calendar. This month is regarded as one of the four sacred months in Islam in which battles are prohibited. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rajab 2) Karnay - a long trumpet with a mouthpiece. It is used in the musics of Iran, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan, where it is considered a national instrument. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Karnay ; the way karnay is played http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q9b2W7TQm_M 3) Genghis Khan - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genghis_Khan 4) The Mongol Empire - existed during the 13th and 14th centuries A.D., and was the largest contiguous land empire in human history. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mongol_empire 5) Dai Viet - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Đại_Cồ_Việt 6) Descent from Genghis Khan http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Descent_from_Genghis_Khan 7) Jochid Ulus (the Golden Horde) - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ulus_of_Jochi 8) Sarai Berke (New Sarai) - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sarai_Berke 9) Yuan Dynasty - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yuan_dynasty 10) Beqlar beg (beylerbey) - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beylerbey


11) Mamai - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mamai 12) Dmitry Donskoy - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dmitry_Donskoy 13) The Grand Duchy of Lithuania http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grand_Duchy_of_Lithuania 14) Transoxiana - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transoxiana 15) Timur - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timur 16) Barlas - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barlas 17) Noyan - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Noyan 18) Chagatai - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chagatai_Khan 19) Moghulistan – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mogulistan 20) Hajji Beg - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hajji_Beg 21) Shahrisabz - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shahrisabz 22) Tughlugh Timur - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tughlugh_Timur 23) Khorasan - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greater_Khorasan 24) Emir - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emir 25) Turan - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Turan 26) Mangyshlak - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mangyshlak_Peninsula 27) Urus Khan - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Urus_Khan 28) Kashgar - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kashgar 29) Zhetysu - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zhetysu 30) Batu Khan - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Batu_Khan 31) Berke - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Berke 32) Azov - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Azov 33) The Battle of Kulikovo - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Kulikovo 34) Jarlig - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jarlig 35) Tabriz - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tabriz 36) Khwarezm - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Khwarezm 37) Yassa - was a secret written code of law created by Genghis Khan. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yassa 38) Nogai Khan - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nogai_Khan 39) The Kipchaks - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kipchak_people 40) Khazars - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Khazars 41) The Pechnegs - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pechenegs 42) The Oghuz Turks - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oghuz_Turks 43) Bunchuk - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bunchuk 44) Tamga - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tamga 45) Wilayah - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wilayah 46) Kebek - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kebek 47) Abdur Razzaq - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abdur_Razzaq_(traveller) 48) Timar - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timar 49) Ghilman - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ghilman 50) Edigu - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edigu 51) Saiga Antelope - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saiga_Antelope 52) Sharaf ad-Din Ali Yazdi - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sharaf_ad-Din_Ali_Yazdi 53) Vasily I of Moscow - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vasily_I_of_Moscow 54) Fra Mauro - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fra_Mauro 55) Parasang - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parasang


Competition One

The Sign of the Eagle is a breathtaking historical novel of action and suspense set in the year 71 A.D. amid the exotic and vibrant streets of ancient Rome. Macha, the strong-willed daughter of a legendary Celtic British king and wife of the Roman tribune, Titus, is the only one who can prove her husband innocent of treason, solve the murders of two slaves who possessed information that could have exonerated Titus, and ultimately save the life of the Roman Emperor Vespasian. I have a copy of this excellent book, kindly donated by Jess Hughes, as the prize in this month’s competition. To be in with a chance of winning this book just visit: http://www.jessstevenhughes.com/ Read the extract from his book and answer this simple question: How old was young Titus?

Send your answer along with your full postal address to me at the following email address: thereenactor@btinternet.com

This competition runs until March 24th 2013 at which time I will pick the winner at random and post the book to them.


PATTON: BLOOD, GUTS, AND PRAYER BY MICHAEL KEANE

In the acknowledgements, Michael Keane describes his work as focused on General George S. Patton’s “formative and guiding principles”. To accomplish this, the author has structured the book in three parts with carefully chosen incidents to expose the man behind the legend. Part I – Blood – describes Patton’s heritage as one steeped in heroes, military tradition, and a father who regretted his decision not to join the army. The section’s concluding chapter is dedicated to Beatrice, a woman who believed in her husband’s destiny and was a steadying force throughout their marriage. Part II – Guts – offers pivotal examples of Patton’s courage and command mixed with episodes for which he was severely criticized. In the final part – Prayer – the reader learns of a man whose faith sustained and motivated him to accomplish great success amidst the frequent possibility of death. Those who knew Patton described him as spectacular, deeply religious, profane, irascible, kindhearted, lacking judgment, easily moved to anger, brash, boastful, humble, uncertain, and brilliant. Though the timeline is occasionally confusing, Michael Keane weaves facts drawn from biographies, family papers, speeches, and Patton’s personal diaries to illustrate the complexities of this famous soldier while telling a compelling story of dedication and leadership.

For other great reviews visit: http://historicalnovelsociety.org/


2012 Historical Re-enactment Season report/ Crusade Re-enactment Society Interview The 2012 season wasn’t the best for historical re-enactment. It wasn’t the best for the whole country, what with the bad weather and subsequent flooding. The weather really hit living history where it hurts though. There’s nothing quite like waking up in an authentic medieval tent in an inch of water, and that was considered to be getting off lightly. Tintagel Castle, an early show in the season, was an indicator of what was to come, when the weather was so foul that the hosts of the show, English Heritage, decided to put the reenactors up in a hotel. The fun didn’t stop there, though. Just the word ‘Kelmarsh’ will put a knowing grimace on many re-enactors’ faces. This huge multi-period ‘Festival of History’ in July put on by English Heritage promised to be one of the biggest and best displays of the year. Anyone arriving Friday afternoon would have said things should have gone off without a hitch, but the grass was still green by then. A light shower as it got dark wasn’t too much bother- the field had good drainage, after all. Overnight was a different story. The Gods did not smile upon us. Instead they laughed at our good drainage and sent us a flood Noah would be proud of. By breakfast rumours were circulating that the show would have to be cancelled, and it was easy to see why. Anyone unfortunate enough to have left their car overnight in the living history field should have been worried about writing it off, let alone driving it out to make the camp authentic, and soon the rumours were confirmed: it was too dangerous to let in the public to see us, and nevermind about fighting in the quagmire. It sure gave a whole new meaning to Kelmarsh. Steve Bax, English Heritage’s Visitor Operations Director for the East of England said “we were very disappointed that we had to cancel the Festival of History but...we were left with no choice.” Sadly more of the same was to follow in October with the annual re-creation of the Battle of Hastings, another English Heritage hosted event, although we managed to get one day out of it, albeit with a few accidents and a lot of slipping around in the hoof-marks made by the cavalry. The weather cleared up enough the second day for another battle and photoshoot with English Heritage and Time Team on a different field, but it was clear a tremendous amount of damage had been done to the site due to the soft ground. As far as I’m aware, groups were still paid for the cancelled shows, so the bill for English Heritage must be enormous. Rumours were also floating around about the Hastings show being cancelled for the next ten years. English Heritage have declined to comment on these issues and give an exact figure about the damage. Re-enactors can look back on the events with a wry smile now, but it was heartbreaking then to see all the hard work and dedication of both the re-enactment groups and the host of the show going to waste. I could also spare a thought for the traders- since they rely on the public for their business as well as re-enactors, particularly food vendors, the wet season must have hit them hard in the back pocket too. Browsing around the living history fairs and markets at the end of the season, I spoke to many a trader who admitted they hadn’t been as successful this year. It’s not all bad news though- we do have a new re-enactment market to attend, held on the same weekend as The Original Re-enactors Market (TORM) that seems to have boosted business. James Farrar, a partner at Fairbow, an authentic archery trader, said that having the new market seemed to have boosted visitor numbers at TORM as well, since people were visiting both. It has also been a relatively good year for my own re-enactment society, Crusade, since we’ve had a lot of success in recruiting new members. I spoke to two of the new members of the Hull chapter of the society, Eddy Gladders and Daniel Crewes, to get their impression on re-enactment in general:


When did you first become interested in historical re-enactment? Eddy- Quite a few years ago. My mum and dad both did re-enactment when they were younger and so I had an urge to try it. I very much enjoy the brutal part of history and the chance to do it for real (brutal but safe of course!) was appealing. Daniel- I've been interested for some years now but I could never find any groups close to home that I could get to regularly, since I’m from London originally. Re-enactment always seemed to me a great way to engage with my love of military history, but also for history to engage with the community. Daniel, you mentioned history engaging with the community. How important do you think it is for the public to get an accurate view of what happened in the past? Daniel- I've found this focus on authenticity to enhance the experience of re-enactment. It takes away the fantasy element it could have if that focus wasn't there and really helps put reenactors in the shoes of those they portray. I think dispelling this 'fantasy' is also very important in public display as we have to take into account that many viewers will take what they see at shows as truthful without questioning it. We have a responsibility to be as authentic as possible so people walk away with an accurate view of the past. What are your favourite parts of re-enactment to get involved in? Eddy- Combat at the moment but I hope to spread onto Living History and Crafting as well, but combat I think will always remain my favourite. It's too much fun. Daniel- So far I've only been involved in combat. I'm open to everything but I don't think I'll ever stop loving the combat side of it most, it's what pulled me into re-enactment and one of the reasons training day is the best day of the week! Finally, what would you say to others interested in historical re-enactment? Daniel- Get out there and give it a go! Especially if you already have a period for which you have a personal passion, find a group doing that period, get in touch and go get involved. If your experience is as good as mine has been so far, which I'm sure it will be, you'll be hooked from day one. Eddy- Join, you don't know till you've tried it and it really is so much fun, everyone is really friendly, unless of course you hit them with an axe! Crusade specialises in medieval re-enactment of the Crusades era. We portray both Western and Eastern cultures and perform living history as well as combat. Our website can be found here- http://www.crusade-reenactment.co.uk/Bringing_history_to_life/Welcome.html It seems the wet 2012 season hasn’t put off our new enthusiasts, but here’s hoping that the 2013 season will be much drier, with lots of successful shows, and be the best year yet!


Volcanic Alum Crystal, its History and Many Uses Natural Potassium Alum Very few natural resources have enjoyed such a long history of international demand as alum crystal. Natural alum crystal is formed next to volcanic fumaroles. Being water soluble, natural alum was originally obtained from desert sources. In the seventeenth century, alum began to be manufactured from impure alum shale which is found in Britain. Due to its unusual properties, alum has long been one of the most valued medicinal, personal, craft and industrial resources. Prehistoric uses The key medicinal prosperties of alum are astringent, antiseptic, antimicrobial and it is strongly deodorizing. We can imagine, in the dawn of time, that hunter-gatherers walking over sun baked alum deposits would have experienced its deodorizing and healing effects. When used appropriately, the analgesic effect of alum is pronounced and wounds are sterilized and drawn closed by the astringent action. Alum also possesses antifungal properties.

A SATELLITE VIEW OF AN ALUM DEPOSIT (ON THE LEFT) OVERLAYING THE DESERT SURFACE

THIS HUGE ALUM BLOCK NEEDS KNAPPING INTO SMALLER PIECES


Historical uses of alum The earliest use of alum is first known from linguistic studies in Mesopotamia where it was used as a mordant for madder dye. Alum use does not seem to begin in Egypt until the end of the eighteenth and twenty-first dynasty (approx 1500 BC to 1000 BC) also for dyeing. Herodotus, writing in the fifth century BC, informs us that the Egyptians were using alum as an agent for mummification - presumably to deodorize the corpse! Re-enactors needn’t to go this far with their experiments! It is more difficult to envisage how alum came to be used in many craft and industrial processes. Yet, the third century Stockholm and Leiden Papyri tells us how to use alum to make (fake) silver, pearls and applications for precious crystals, as well as how to dye textiles. Changing the appearance of base metals was clearly considered analogous to dyeing cloth. Generally artisans must have been very well versed at the subtleties of alum use. In fact these papyri may well have been ‘tawed’ or hardened and protected from fire and mould with alum. Pliny the Elder, the Roman historian (d.79 CE), had described some of the uses for different types alum in Chapter 52 in his 35th book of his Natural History and various applications: wool dyeing, leather tawing, leather tanning, for creating special metal and glass finishes, for medicinal and cosmetic uses. According to Pliny, alum, ‘… has the effect, also, of checking and dispersing perspiration, and of neutralizing offensive odours of the arm-pits.’ An Ancient deodorant Pliny was very certain about the deodorizing properties of naturally formed pure alum (potassium alum) writing how it was used under the arm pits ‘to neutralize offensive odours.’ Cleanliness, to the Romans, was one of the hallmarks of civilization. In fact the volcanic alum is very effective as a deodorant. It kind to sensitive skin, it doesn’t stain costumes, it is portable, authentic for all periods and it is economical to use. Many reenactors can vouch for the deodorizing effects of the pure potassium alum, even after combat on the battlefield or after working at the forge.

A POTASSIUM ALUM CRYSTAL SHOWING THE IRREGULAR FORM OF THE NATURAL CRYSTAL, AND THE SMOOTHED WORKING SURFACE

Early medicinal uses Pliny goes into detail with the medicinal uses of different types of alum, giving thirty eight remedies, many of which came to be used in this country until recently. His examples include the mixing of potassium alum and honey for mouth ulcers, pimples, pruriginous eruptions and putrid ulcers, and using alum infused in water to destroy lice and parasites. He refers also to calcined alum, alum which has been ‘boiled’ or bubbled on a heated tile, in this case with vinegar, then mixed with cabbage juice for leprosy. The boiling drives the water off the alum and turns it from granules into a fine powder. Despite Pliny’s encyclopaedic knowledge, he was not a naturopath and in reality, remedies using


alum in later medical texts include many other herbal, mineral or animal derived ingredients and complex preparation methods ‘according to the art.’

ALUM CAN BE MILLED INTO GRANULES

Pure alum surely came into our rainy country for the first time with the Romans, firstly as medicine and secondly for deodorizing. It is unlikely to have been imported for industrial use at this point. Later, in the Medieval period, when foreign sources were regularly imported, much began to be written about alum in the country, especially by apothecaries. Hence alum appears in every major medical manual. Knowledge of alum came from Greco-Roman texts as well as via Arabic texts such as the Cannon of Medicine by Avicenna and through the School of Salerno. We cannot forget the movement of pilgrims, the clergy and fighting men in bringing knowledge and demand for alum to this country. One of the key spokeswomen at Salerno, known as Trotula wrote in the eleventh or twelfth century not only on the medicinal uses of alum – obstetrics in this case but the author even included a recipe for revirgination using alum – a hint not lost among nineteenth century French prostitutes. Trotula also branched into the cosmetic virtues of alum. Again it is used for dental care and Trotula suggests the use of alum for lighting blemishes of the skin and in hair dyeing. An alum dyeing recipe As demand and availability grew, textile workers turned to alum as a mordant to fix otherwise ephemeral vegetable colours. From the 12th century, alum was established as vital to our growing wool dyeing industry. At this time, alum could not be manufactured from alum shale, so British dyers were completely dependant on importing naturally formed alum (potassium alum). For textile dyers some of the earliest alum recipes are recorded in the Stockholm Papyrus of the third or early fourth century, and such recipes continue with minor variations until our time. Alum was used not only as a mordant when dyeing textiles, wood and bone, alum was used to precipitate some pigment. In the papyrus, the mordanting process is explained in several ways. Here is an extract from Book 3 of Africanus, taken from the Papyrus. ‘Mordanting for any color is done in the following way. First the animal, or else likewise only the wool is washed; then one can allow the mordanting agent upon it. One should then dissolve alum in vinegar and coat the wool, which one desired to dye, with it. After drying in the sun it is washed, and when it is freed from its moisture admit it to any coloring. One must pay attention to that which is mordanted for a day and a night during the mordanting.’ Note the option between mordanting the wool while it is still on the sheep, or waiting until after is has been shorn! Perhaps you could dye a sheep on the hoof too. The Papyrus gives


other methods of using alum for dyeing specific colours such as quince yellow, leek green, rose, madder purple, scarlet red. Importing alum Abundant where it occurs, but being water soluble, alum is absent in its pure crystal form in wet climates such as Britain and Northern Europe. Old World sources of pure alum are North Africa, countries fringing the Mediterranean, the Aegean, Anatolia, the Black Sea, Asia Minor and as far afield as Lake Chad. It is found much further afield in India and China too. Cargos of natural alum loaded on carracks from Genoa, and on occasions Venetian galleys, as well as other ships from Spain and Portugal docked at Bristol, Southampton and London. Alum supplies were transported further north through the activity of the Burgundian and Hansa merchants from the East coast of Britain and westwards to Ireland. From the twelfth century alum was being sourced from Egypt. After the Fall of Acre in 1215 CE, alum sources switched to the Near East and Anatolia. At the same time Italian and Portuguese merchants imported both alum and gold from ports from the Maghreb including Cueta and Tangiers. The importance of the North African link grew through the Elizabethan era due to the increased demand for imports of gold also obtained in Africa. In 1436 a process was applied to rock bound alum in Tolfa, Italy, transforming alum containing rock into industrially produced alum, ammonium alum. Desiring to raise funds from alum sales for another Crusade, Pope Pius II claimed a monopoly on the alum market. Not every European country supported the Papal campaign, even with threats of excommunication. Pope Pius II could not have known that the Reformation was just around the corner and that many other countries would eventually learn his secret process as well. The Genoese maintained their grip over the alum trade as supplies of natural alum more difficult to obtain they began to export the cheaper alum began to be manufactured at Tolfa in Italy. Alum Piracy As a result of a refusal of our country under Henry VII to support the Papal alum project, there began to be alum shortages in this country. During the fifteenth century attempts were made in Ireland, Cornwall, the Isle of Wight and in Dorset to create industrial alum, all ending in failure. As expected, the Papal boycott was continued by Henry VIII and Elizabeth. Due to the shortage, British privateers began to seize ships of Papal alum and divert them to England. In a letter (1529 CE) to Cardinal Wolsey, Sir John Daunce explained that he had seized a ship of alum, whose cargo was secured in a house in London. Sir John felt he could not explain the matter to the Cardinal in person, because, ‘I can not show my face, having been shaved by a barber with an unclean razor.’ Ironically if Sir John’s barber had used an alum crystal as a shaving styptic, it would have sealed the shaving cuts quickly and taken away any shaving rash. Of course a good razor and the right shaving soap would have prevented the embarrassment in the first place. Industrial Ammonium Alum Production Still the Tolfa works dominated production and the complex process remained a secret. Around 1600 interested naturalist, Sir Thomas Chaloner observed the similarities between the plants growing around the Tolfa works and also the geology to those on his own estate. He set out to learn the secret of alum production and to start works at home. Not able to not gain entry to view the whole process, Chaloner resolved to abscond with two key Tolfa workers. He sailed away with them reputedly hidden in barrels. They worked together at Belman Bank, Guisborough and helped to establish the alum industry there. Only in the 1607 was a reliable method developed in Britain, enabling the extraction of native alum from alum shale and Whitby in Yorkshire became a centre of production. Alum shale,


wood, coal, seaweed and human urine were essential to the process. The poor as far away as London were paid for their urine, which was shipped in barrels to the alum works – the selfsame barrels which were loaded with ammonium alum for distribution. The industrial alum manufacturingmethod was granted a patent and a monopoly. In the same year further imports of alum were banned and so the pressure was on, especially as the output did not reach expected levels. Finally in 1635, the Yorkshire facility finally met the demand of some 1800 tones per annum. While these manifold crises unfolded, exactly how any shortfalls were met is our unwritten and unknown history, but piracy and smuggling must played a significant role. Following the Papal precedent at Tolfa, once the production was seen as profitable, a monopoly of British alum was granted to the Crown in 1613. With two years of low profits, the rights were returned to patentees, only to be taken back again by the Crown in 1647. In 1648, the monopoly was abolished, allowing the development of new alum works along the Yorkshire coast and the crown relinquished all its rights in 1679. The last British alum facility at Sandsend closed in 1871. The method for turning alum shale into alum was the precursor for the different industrial methods used today to create ammonium alum from waste from nylon and aluminium factories. The process with the smoking of alum stacks for 5 months or so was highly polluting and for good or worse, it spelt the advent of the Industrial Age. A highly polluting industry, some 100 tonnes of alum shale yielded but 1 tonne of alum. The ammonia based industrial alum is frequently confused with the volcanic potassium alum. Volcanic crystal alum is easy to recognise as each crystal is different and it can not be moulded into a regular and smooth shape. For cosmetic, medicinal, historical uses, the pure volcanic alum is authentic for most periods, performs far more effectively as a deodorant and it is free of industrial contaminants.

THE PURITY OF OUR SOURCE IS ASSURED BECAUSE WE FIND VERY RARE OCTAHEDRAL POTASSIUM ALUM CRYSTALS AMONG THE NORMALLY HOMOGENOUS BLOCK

More recent British medicinal uses Alum continued to appear in British medical manuals until recently and the use of alum was part of everyday knowledge. Recently, I met a midwife who used to work at Kelling Hospital in North Norfolk – she explained how she used powdered alum on the navels of newborns to help the umbilicus dry and stay infection free. While doing our rounds we met an Austrian opera singer who used alum as a compress to sooth the strained larynx. Many older customers have informed me how alum was used on canker of the mouth, in toothpaste to strengthen the gums; on cold sores as well as on athlete’s foot. Of course traditional barbers wielded large blocks of alum styptic to seal


shaving cuts and to calm shaving rash. Alum does sting for some time on open wounds Experimental archaeologists are advised to save alum for minor wounds. Home remedies used in Britain through the Modern period follow Pliny’s recommendations for gargling and mouth washing for gum and throat infections, loose teeth, on pimples, animal and plant scratches as well as on more serious injuries. I would not recommend using alum in the mouth. I have tried gargling with alum – just once! It has an unpleasant and lingering citrus-salty taste, impairing the enjoyment of food and drink for a whole day. Drinking water is purified with ammonium alum, but the water boards use very small quantities! The alum acts as a flocculent, drawing impurities together, allowing them to either sink or float so that they can be separated from the water. Alum leaves the water clear and sparkling. Alum insect bite relief Many people are familiar with using alum crystal to relieve the recent bites of ants, fleas, gnats, mosquitoes, horsefly etc. Using saliva as a wetting agent, the bite is rubbed with the crystal for a minute or so, starting on the outside of the bite and worked inwards. We have received lots of feedback on the cooling effect, lack of itching, swelling and faster healing time.

ALUM PREPARED FOR INSECT BITE RELIEF AND SHAVING CUTS

There is a use for alum which even I won’t be trying. The final glorious entry in a Welsh medical manual, The Physicians of Middfai, published in 1177 CE prescribes a mixture of alum, marsh mallow and egg white so that, ‘…a man might hold a red hot bar of iron without burning.’ Alum does have fire retardant properties. It might have still felt hot, but least we can be assured that the hand wouldn’t have caught alight. Alum was used to fireproof paper, wood and cloth and it is used in fire extinguishers. I can personally recommend alum for sterilizing and sealing a knuckle wounds. These wounds normally keep breaking open, deepening and enlarging. While at Wrest Park April 2012, I ripped my knuckle on a metal cooker grill. Having only just set up the tent at dusk in the hail and without clean water, I spat on the wound and sterilized it for a good few minutes with the piece of alum I carry around with me. I forgot about it until the next morning and then went to wash my hands. A thin flexible scab had formed. Despite attending tent pegs and acres of wet canvas all weekend, the wound never broke open and within no time it healed. In compelling Medieval fashion, I might add: Probatem est! (It is proven).


In Britain we have a long and sometimes intimate connection with alum and its usefulness should ne’re be forgotten. References Bostock, J, 1855, The Natural History, Pliny the Elder, Londy Taylor and Francis [online] Williams Ab Ithel, J., 2010, The Physicians of Myddfai, D.J. Roderick, London Caley, E. R., 1926, “The Stockholm Papyrus : An English Translation with brief notes” Journal of Chemical Education, IV:8 : 979-1002 Dawson, W., 1934, A Leechbook of Collection of Medicinal Recipes of the Fifteenth Century 1934, MacMillan and Co, London Fryde, E.B & Fryde E.B., 2003, Studies in Medieval Trade and Finance, Hambledon Press Biography Sally Mittuch founded Natural Spa Supplies Ltd, a company, specializing in historic washing and cleaning resources. She has the volcanic alum collected from the desert surface in Morocco and exported via the ancient port of Tangier. It is supplied any quantity, as crystal, granules or pebbles, depending on the needs and uses.

The website is www.naturalspasupplies.co.uk or you can call on 01603 474516.


Event Information March 2nd & 3rd Chesterfield Vintage & Forties Weekend. Market, dance & entertainments www.eventplan.co.uk or www.facebook.com/EventplanUK 9th The Mortimer History Society Dress & Textile Group, Much Marcle, UK Study day on Blanche Mortimer’s tomb & Effigy. www.mortimerhisotrysociety.org.uk 15th – 17th The Original Re-enactors Market, UK http://www.reenactorsmarket.co.uk/ 31st & 1st Knights of Royal England jousting Tournament at Knebworth House, UK http://www.knebworthhouse.com/

April 28th – 5th The Roman Walk. Ben kane, Anthony Riches & Russell Whitfield walking Hadrian’s Wall in Roman Kit to raise money for charity. http://www.charitygiving.co.uk/benkane

May 4th – 6th Bentley Medieval Festival, Lewes, east Sussex, UK mark@time-productions.com 4th – 6th Knights of Royal England jousting Tournament at Blenheim Palace, , UK http://www.blenheimpalace.com/ 5th & 6th “Rogues & Outlaws” Sherwood Forest, UK Office@Plantagenet-Events.com 11th The Mortimer History Society Spring Conference, Leominster, UK www.mortimerhistorysociety.org.uk 11th & 12th Knights of Royal England jousting Tournament at Ekenas Castle, Sweden http://www.ekenasslott.se/ May 11th & 12th: A Victorian Celebration, Forge Mill Needle Museum, Redditch. UK www.eventplan.co.uk or www.facebook.com/EventplanUK


May 25th & 26th: Tall Ships ’13, Gloucester Historic Docks. Ships, maritime living history www.eventplan.co.uk or www.facebook.com/EventplanUK May 26th & 27th: Harewood Medieval Faire, Harewood House, Leeds. 2nd major annual "multi-period medieval" festival with 1066 to 1487 timeline. www.eventplan.co.uk or www.facebook.com/EventplanUK 26th – 28th Knights of Royal England jousting Tournament at Hedingham Castle, UK http://www.hedinghamcastle.co.uk/ May 28th June 1st Knights of Royal England jousting Tournament, Leeds Castle, UK http://www.leeds-castle.com/land.php

June 1st & 2nd Templecombe Medieval fair, Templecombe, UK https://www.facebook.com/events/300657233387495/ 8th & 9th History Alive. Fort Lytton National Park, Brisbane, Australia www.historyalive.co..au 15th & 16th Gloucester Medieval Play Festival, UK www.glostheatre.co.uk 15th & 16th Tatton Park Old Hall Medieval fayre, UK Office@Plantagenet-Events.com 21st – 23rd Knights of Royal England jousting Tournament, Cardiff Castle, Wales http://www.cardiffcastle.com/ 21st – 23rd Times & Epochs, Moscow, Russia http://www.facebook.com/historyfest?ref=ts&fref=ts

29th & 30th Knights of Royal England jousting Tournament, Linlithgow Palace, Scotland http://www.historic-scotland.gov.uk/propertyresults/propertyoverview.htm?PropID=PL_199&PropName=Linlithgow%20Palace

July 5th – 7th LARP Camp, Huntley Wood, Staffordshire, UK www.larpcamp.co.uk 6th & 7th Knights of Royal England jousting Tournament, Linlithgow Palace, Scotland http://www.historic-scotland.gov.uk/propertyresults/propertyoverview.htm?PropID=PL_199&PropName=Linlithgow%20Palace

13th & 14th The Battle of Tewkesbury, UK http://www.tewkesburymedievalfestival.org/


13th & 14th Knights of Royal England jousting Tournament, Hever Castle, UK http://www.hevercastle.co.uk/ 20th & 21st Knights of Royal England jousting Tournament, Hever Castle, UK http://www.hevercastle.co.uk/ 26th – 28th Knights of Royal England jousting Tournament, Hever Castle, UK http://www.hevercastle.co.uk/ 27th & 28th Berkeley Skirmish, Berkeley Castle, Gloucestershire, UK Office@Plantagenet-Events.com 27th & 28th Smugglers Island, Appuldurcombe House, I.O.W. UK Email: ednash.1993@hotmail.co.uk July 27th & 28th: Hughenden’s Victorian Weekend, Hughenden Manor, Buckinghamshire. www.eventplan.co.uk or www.facebook.com/EventplanUK 27th & 28th Slaughterbridge Camlann Life and Legend, Camelford, Cornwall, UK heburbeck@gmaiI.c0m

August 2nd – 4th Knights of Royal England jousting Tournament, Blenheim Palace, UK http://www.blenheimpalace.com/ 3rd & 4thThe Midlands Festival of History, UK http://www.mid-fest.co.uk 3rd & 4th The Loxwood Joust, Loxwood Meadow, RH14 0AL, UK www.loxwoodjoust.co.uk 9th – 11th Knights of Royal England jousting Tournament, Hever Castle, UK http://www.hevercastle.co.uk/ 16th – 18th Knights of Royal England jousting Tournament, Hever Castle, UK http://www.hevercastle.co.uk/ 17th & 18th Scotlands Festival of History, Chatelherault, Scotland www.scotlandsfestivalofhistory.co.uk 17th & 18th M5-Multi Period Re-enactment Weekend, Spetchley Park, Worcs UK Website – www.m5show.co.uk 23rd & 24th Knights of Royal England jousting Tournament, Hever Castle, UK http://www.hevercastle.co.uk/ 25th & 26th Knights of Royal England jousting Tournament, Hedingham Castle, UK http://www.hedinghamcastle.co.uk/


25th & 26th The Sheffield Fayre, Norfolk Heritage Park, Sheffield. www.eventplan.co,.uk or www.facebook.com/EventplanUK August 31st & September 1st: On the Home Front 1939-45, Rufford Abbey Country Park, Notts. Annual 1940s show. www.eventplan.co.uk or www.facebook.com/EventplanUK

September 12th & 13th Bexbach 1474 Call To Arms www.1474.eu 14th & 15th The Battle of Mortimer’s Cross, Hampton Court Castle, Herefordshire. www.mortimerscross.co.uk September 21st & 22nd: Wimpole at War, The Wimpole Estate, Cambridgeshire. Annual 1940s event. www.eventplan.co.uk or www.facebook.com/EventplanUK September 28th & 29th: Sherwood through the ages, Sherwood Forest. Annual Ancient to 1980s multi-period event. www.eventplan.co.uk or www.facebook.com/EventplanUK

October October 5th & 6th: Hughenden’s Wartime Weekend, Hughenden Manor, Bucks. Annual 1940s event. www.eventplan.co.uk or www.facebook.com/EventplanUK 12th & 13th International Events of Historical Crafts (EIAH) Portugal Email: artesanatocomhistoria@gmail.com

November 23rd & 24th The Ludlow Medieval Christmas Fair, Ludlow Castle, Shropshire http://www.ludlowcastle.com/pages/events.aspx


The Re-Enactor, Issue 49  

Monthly online magazine for all periods of Re-Enactment history

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