Knights dedicated to their true calling

The Middle Ages have come to life within the stone walls of Minsk’s Palace of Children and Youth, evoking the world of five centuries ago

The Middle Ages have come to life within the stone walls of Minsk’s Palace of Children and Youth, evoking the world of five centuries ago.
The Middle Ages have come to life within the stone walls of Minsk’s Palace of Children and Youth, evoking the world of five centuries ago. Weaponry, shields, axes and chainmail are in evidence, belonging to the Luzern historical reconstruction club, in a secluded corner on the ground floor. Meanwhile, club members train in a corridor and assemble in a meeting hall with a round table. You can also attend a workshop to weave chainmail armour and forge various items: each produced meticulously, to appear authentic.

Members of historical reconstruction Luzern club recreate military traditions
Members of historical reconstruction Luzern club recreate military traditions
Photo: ALEXANDER STARODUB

Armour of antiquity

One of the heads of the club, Andrey Frolov, became involved through his love for cinema. He tells us, “I’d watched The Ballad of the Valiant Knight Ivanhoe, Robin Hood and Braveheart many times over and realised that I was fascinated by this period of history. I set about finding those who felt the same and I learnt about Luzern online. At the time, it was called The Order of the Northern Temple and was engaged in reconstructing the Order of the Temple.”

The club has been recreating the military traditions of Switzerland, from the second half of the 14th century. As to why Luzern isn’t addressing the culture of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, Andrey explains, “We can’t thoroughly reproduce the traditions of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, since very few artefacts remain. Meanwhile, most of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania army was cavalry, and we lack resources to keep a stable of horses. Accordingly, we chose Switzerland, whose army was infantry based.”

The club owns several dozen full sets of armour — each worth quite a lot of money: from one hundred to several thousand Dollars, depending on the quality of the metal and skill of the master. Most club members make their own: weaving chainmail, sewing their own coats and making shields. Only helmets tend to be purchased from veteran blacksmiths, although Mr. Frolov emphasises that it is possible to make your own. However, it takes time and effort. Some even use social networks to locate equipment for sale at minimal cost.

Photo: ALEXANDER STARODUB

If the suit fits

More than ten female members of Luzern club sew costumes for themselves and their ‘knights’: using linen and cotton (no synthetics) and matching in style for each member. Footwear, ornaments and headdresses are all created with care, to reflect the chosen period. The women tell us that they spend time studying their sources, from books and engravings, to learn about the epoch and its traditions, since there are few professional historians among them. Some of the female members also like to don armour and take up a sword. MSLU student Darya Ignatenko, 21, can stop a running horse and loves to take part in battle. She admits that there was a time when women’s participation was forbidden, and would cause an event to be stopped. Now, the Battle of the Nations World Championship for Historical Medieval Fighting has a dedicated women’s nomination.

Luzern club has been taking part in the World Championship for the past five years and has several prizes as a result. In the main display room, one side is filled with armour, while the other boasts huge chests, and there is a table of cups and medals, bestowed on club participants. Mr. Frolov assures us that the idea isn’t to escape reality. Rather, he explains, “Historical reconstruction isn’t just the reproduction of past culture, as it can seem at first sight, but the revival of forgotten production technologies, dances, traditions and customs, which help us to understand historical events and, thereby, ourselves.”

Yuliana Leonovich
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