So I Went to Russia to Meet Some Reenactors

I have been to Russia lately. Call it a research trip. A trip to meet fellow reenactors from bern.ru and to participate at the presentation of a book I have been involved with. In fact, the book has been presented in Moscow and in Nizhny Novgorod the day after. I attended both presentations together with Ibrahim Karabed, M.A.who wrote several large chapters. Artem Maslov, Ph.D. and Associate Professor at the State University of Nizhny Novgorod wrote most of the rest, while I only added a brief preface. So for me it was more a honorary visit than one I had earned through the work on this project.

If you do not know the guys from bern.ru, then you should take a look at their site. They are one of the bigger Russian reenactment associations. And they are the guys organising much of the Battle of the Nations fighting events (an event they have won this year) and they apparently portray the city of Berne in what is today Switzerland. Hence the interest in Swiss history. 


The spectacular view from Nizhny Novgorod down to the Wolga river (photo Christian Folini)

As you can see, the setup of this trip was very, very queer: A Swiss historian, who used to live in Berne and happens to portray Burgundian military as a hobby, joins with a German historian with Syrian ancestry to travel to Russia and meet people with an interest in Swiss history and a passion for portraying Berne. If this is globalisation, then I want more!

We have been welcomed like very important guests. You could say we have seen the best sides you could see from Russia. Wonderful museums (European 15th century armour, a 15th handgun with an original shaft in the Kremlin in Moscow, a great helm from around 1300 in the historical museum in Moscow, photos from a recently found riveted plate helmet dating to the 2nd century (!) ... in Nizhny), very open-minded scholars at the University in Nizhny, great food in wonderful restaurants, a visit to a joint blacksmith workshop (see below) and generally good company wherever we went. If this is Russia, then I want more!


Beautifully carved decorations on a house in the Museum of Wooden Architecture in Nizhny Novgorod (photo Christian Folini)

It is always interesting to meet other reenactors. They say the farther East you do, the more they like to do battles. In fact, many of the people in this Russian group are mainly into fighting as a sport. Reenactment they way the Company does it a new interest. It is actually an interest that Alexander Davydov, the man leading the book project, wants to encourage; hence the book project which aims to bring more knowledge about the Swiss Middle Ages to Russia.

One of the highlights of my trip was the visit to the Krechet Armoury. A joint workshop of half a dozen blacksmiths around Sergey Vlasov, Peter Polyak and Robert Rybakov. Unlike the Blacksmiths I know, these guys enjoy to work to together. I can only imagine how inspiring it is, to see your partners improve their skill and try out new things constantly. Unfortunately, these guys lack a proper website. You can see some of their work on Facebook and I hope we can cover some piece made in their workshop here sooner or later. As preview, I can show you a photo of a helmet, which was offered to the Company as a gift. Impressive quality.


Russian 17th century helmet, forged by Sergey Vlasov from a single piece of metal (photo by Christian Folini)

 

 

By Christian Folini, Veteran Company member.