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söndag 25 april 2010


In Albrechts Bössor we have the ambition to use sources between 1364-1389. It is a rather exact time frame, but it has to do with the reign of the king - he sat on the throne between those years. It is also a nigh impossibility. It's not much more than 20 years, and when it comes to most sources they are not dated as exactly. Normally you will have to do with "latter part of the 14th century" or if you are lucky "the third quarter of the 14th century". To put it short: we use sources from the latter part of the 14th century, but aim for sources 1360-1390.

And we SHOULD use sources from Scandinavia or Germany only. It is hard and sometimes frustrating work. Until a couple of years ago I mainly used French sources for a lot of things. You guys on the continent may well frown and ask yourselves "Why French sources? It is totally wrong!". You are right there. My big problem has been that my German hasn't been good enough to work with German sources (don't ask me how I could find French ones - I have absolutely no idea what so ever how I managed as I don't speak a word French).

Now a days I can manage pretty well, as I used my German to find out stuff and as I made new friends in Germany. And that means that a whole new world has opened up for me, especially when it comes to historical recordings, as for instance Urkundenbücher - books that describes this and that from various areas or cities. I estimate that about 70% of medieval German is so similar to Swedish that I can read it without any greater efforts. Sometimes I miss out on details, but most of the time it's not a big deal.

So far so good. Here come the next problem. We also have an aim to use two or more sources that are independent from each other (unless we are making exact copies - that is rare). That means that it doesn't count to use the same altar piece or manuscript (for example) twice when you are reconstructing something. You can't have two pictures of a similar jacket from the same manuscript and say that they are two sources. It is one and the same.

It is also a question of how meticulous you should be - is it two different sources if you find two sculptures on different geographical locations, where one is made in the 1370's and the other made circa 1380 - by the same sculptor? I am not entirely sure - all it tells us really is a single person's interpretation of the same object. It is really a git.

To summarize:

- Use two sources independent from each other.
- Use sources only from Scandinavia and Germany.
- Use sources from between the years 1364-1389.

In practice I don't believe that anyone in the group has really managed to complete an outfit within these boundaries, but never the less - that is the ambition.

However. Our German trip was part of an elaborate scheme. Me and the new guy Kristofer decided that we were going to be the first to do it. Better still - we aimed for a time frame of 1370-1380 and a geographic limitation of cities in the vicinity of the Baltic sea. And we really thought we were able to succeed.

We started out with Internet research. I asked around on forums and we browsed thousands of pictures in for example to get a grip of which cities could have the most interesting churches and museums. I searched the part west and northwest of Lübeck. Kristofer searched the area to the east of Lübeck. We limited ourselves to go no further south than Hamburg. My parts seemed to be of little interest in comparison, so we chose the Meckleburg-Vorpommern area.

Before long we had found enough places to put together a crazy research trip that was planned by the minute - eat, sleep, travel, visits. And by the look of it, we should have enough sources from 1370-1380 to succeed! We set out with great hopes, Thursday the 1st of April, and drove our car on to the ferry 22:45. We rolled onto German soil in Rostock 06:30 in the morning the 2nd, and set out for our first goal - Lübeck.

fredag 23 april 2010

Why so German?

First of all I would like to explain why I have been going on outings to Denmark and Germany. After all, I do reenact Swedish 14th century, not German and Danish. Yeah, that's right.

But. Swedish 14th century reenactors (really most Swedish reenactors that reenact anything else than the 18th century and onwards) are having a bit of trouble.

- The Royal library burned down in the late 17th century (1698). The oldest (i.e. the medieval) accounts were stored in the back, and weren't saved. Almost all medieval archives went up in flames that horrid night.

- The reformation was particularly ruthless up here. It was backed up by the sly and hard nosed king Gustav Wasa and loads of accounts were destroyed along with monasteries, churches and church art.

- During the Black plague (that reached Sweden in 1350) about 1/3 of the population died. And in a country the size of Sweden with about 1 million inhabitants, the blow was fearsome. There was hardly anyone left to build churches or to decorate them. And after the plague came the agrarian crisis...

- Sweden was a bit backwater by the time. For instance, we had very few knights, and the concept of effigies was little known. We had few mighty cities and as we were situated far in the north, influences from mainland Europe took time to establish themselves. What is left of church art during the 14th century is for the most part kind of crude and poorly kept.

These are some of the reasons for my fascination in German and Danish sources. We simply don't have enough Swedish sources to work with when it comes to art and litterature (I can think of one single manuscript from 14th century Sweden that is adorned with miniatures).

Another reason is that we had lot of contact with both Danes and Germans. Particulary German merchants were abound in Swedish cities - it is even stated in laws from the time that a city can have no more than three German mayors - if there were more, the Germans would have too much influence. Also, in the mountain regions lots of German miners came to lead and develop mining. During the latter half of the 14th century even more Germans came. Sweden had seen German nobles before, but during this time I would estimate that the German nobles were nearly as many as the Swedish - they followed King Albrecht from his homelands in Mecklenburg to be in his service and to receive estates and wealth. Some names of these are Vicke von Vitzen, Rawen von Barnekow, Heyne and Gerhard Snakenborg and Heinrich Parow (the last mentioned is a bloody traitor, but that is a different story :-)).

A third reason is that the guys in Albrechts Bössor reenact so called "Garpar". A Garp is a word with the meaning "a person that is a real pain in the ass". It also means "German person" or "Person of German ancestry". In other words - we reenact German or Swedish/German mercenaries serving the German elite in Sweden, including King Albrecht, who was a duke of Schwerin (and Rostock, I believe).

There you have it. This is why I am so German. I will tell you more about the circumstances under which I try to do research some time in the near future.

torsdag 22 april 2010

Pitiful contributions

I haven't written for quite some time. Work is really a git, and I am still up to my ears in that divorce. Nevertheless. I will soon give you full accounts on the German trip, plus our blackpowder course with test firing. Stay tuned!

tisdag 6 april 2010

Enough said...

...The king has arrived. I posted some notes on this earlier. Look here.

The trouble will be to make it sound right, without freaking out the neighbors...

måndag 5 april 2010

Look here Isis!

I got something for you!

The noble woman Floria Sukow, 1385, Kloster zum Heiligen Kreuz, Rostock. I would say that is pretty much northern Germany...