The Moscow trip

This is a report from Company veteran Jakub Malovany, who visited a Russian reenactment event together with Alain-Gilles Chaussat.

I just returned from a big event called TIMES AND EPOCHS in Moscow. The festival is being held every year, this time focused on middle ages, XIIIth – XVIth century.

Alain-Gilles Chaussat (Photo by Anastasiya Topalova)

First time I did not know what to expect. Going to Russia for such event is that kind of adventure I like, but I still remember rumors about the eastern hard-core battle events, full of severed hands and poked eyes. Fortunately the reality is much more “normal” from the western point of view.

The event has been really professionally organized from the necessary paperwork to the last details or needs which can appear surprisingly during the event program. We received documents from the Russian Ministry of Culture concerning our equipment and medieval weaponry which could be considered as historical artifacts and  therefore as contraband by Russian custom officers. The embassy has been informed about our trip and the visa have been issued for free. Unfortunately the visa process is extremely unfriendly and bureaucratic – for every country different by the way. For UK citizens it was so tough that some of our team – Paul and Rory - were not able to get the visa. Only two of us successfully passed these obstructions and went to the festival.

Finally we flew to Moscow. After few hours spent on a plane I went through the custom office fearlessly showing the documents from the Russian Ministry of Culture. But the officer´s reaction wasn´t so positive: “I´ve never seen such papers. I don´t know the name signed on the papers. The name is not on my list. As I am not an expert about the historical artifacts, you need to wait till somebody in charge will come and make the expertise.” After one and a half hour spent sitting on my bag the officer realized that nobody is able to come, he gave me the official custom declaration form, which has to be filled in Russian, observed my stuff by his own and released me finally on the Russian soil. A guide sent by the festival organizers lead me to the festival site.

Coming to the site I realized that the festival is BIG. The park was a kind of open-air museum of ancient Russian architecture, full of wooden churches, gates and houses from all parts of Russia. The large campsite consisted of different camps (XIIth, XIVth knight camps, camp of XVth companies, Landsknecht camp, a large Golden Horde yurt camp), merchant and craftmens´ market and the centerpiece was an arena. On Saturday and Sunday tournaments and other military entertainment took place there. Jousting, mallet tournament, all the dexterity disciplines showed by the mounted knights and also Mongolian nomads from the Golden Horde.  We met there not only Russian horsemen, but knights from all parts of Europe – Norway, Germany, Netherlands, Belarus, etc. The most pleasant surprise was meeting Arno Koets, who already played with Company in Nykobing 2010. Apart of horse tournaments other military spectacles have been showed. Clashes between halberdiers or pikemen units, swordfights, Landsknecht show black powder shooting or archery. Entertainment for the whole day.

Building Kolomenskoye (Photo by Jakub)

I participated on a conference on Saturday morning. The conference was an opportunity to present the Company and discuss the problems, projects and visions of historical reconstruction in different countries.  I did not know the variety and kind of problems that the Russian reenactors must face: We are really lucky in the Western Europe: there are no private castle owners in Russia – all castles and historical sites are owned by state. And there is no possibility that the state would lend such place for reenactors. Almost no possibility ever!

Conference building (Photo by Jakub)

Some companies and interesting projects have been presented not only on the conference but in presentation tents on the festival site as well.  We met not only Russians but also French group, Bulgarian, Serbian, Israeli from Jerusalem or even from the United States... 

Going through the camps, suddenly I saw tents with Hussite flags and chalice symbols – so I looked forward to meet other Czechs, who reenact this important period of our national history. What a surprise that they were not from Prague or Tabor, but from St. Petersburg! I met so many people; all the Russians are extremely sociable and friendly. They asked a lot, the Company is a kind of icon for most of them and even bigger surprise for me was that most of them knew my Arma Bohemia as well. We spend hours and hours of talking. The authenticity level of the groups there was fair to good, some very good. I saw many companies with very good clothing, tents and equipment; if they avoid visible plastic bottles or modern bags in the camp, they will have nothing left to be ashamed of. Some people would have no problem to blend in a Company camp.

I feel the reenactment in Russia will grow; it has a great potential to improve its quality level. I hope in simpler visa procedures so the cooperation will be easier and the COSG will be able to host more such people or participate on their interesting projects in the close future as well.

By Jakub Malovany, Veteran Company member