This year at Pentecost the Companie of St. George hosted a private event as a replacement for the cancelled siege of Castle Hallwyl at Vallerois-le-Bois (blogpost #1 and blogpost #2) near Dijon in France.
The camp of Mathieu near the castle (Photo by Diana Goodwin)
Chateau Vallerois is a privately owned castle with ample grounds to play at, and the Companie has repeatedly been a welcome guest of the owner family. With five days scheduled and people still somewhat eager for a more militaristic event akin to the cancelled siege, two separate camps of soldiers have been set up. Basically on the same side in the war, but each with a slightly different agenda, so there would be opportunity for friendly visits to the other camps, joint drills and maneuvers, as well as a slighty threatening atmosphere, animosities, spying and skirmishes between the two parties.
The larger camp of about 70 people under command of Captain Mathieu was set up right at the castle, the smaller camp with about half as many troops under command of Captain Georges was about 500 meters away. There was an open field between the camp, surrounded by trees and bushes in a way, that there was no direct line of sight and spies or saboteurs could easily sneak to the respective other camp unseen. It`s noteworthy to say there were Company members and guests in both camps; hand-picked to form interesting and believeable units. It`s not as if the guests were invited to play the “bad guys”. Also, note that with many attendants bringing in personal tents and other equipment, we were able to easily furnish two separate fully functional campsites each complete with kitchens, sanitary facilities, and military units of halbardiers, handgunners/archers/crossbowmen and at least one cannon.
The camp of Georges further away near the woods (Photo by Evangelos Panopoulos)
Camp setup was all Thursday, so we had the full Friday, Saturday, Sunday and half of Monday for living history only. Very few late arrivals, which is so often an issue with longer event. Weather was excellent with virtually no rain at all and nights not too cold, perfect conditions. As usual with the Company, organization and logistics were impeccable, with provisions of straw, firewood and water for both camps, the larger one at the castle even had a medieval oven for baking bread at their disposal.
The baker and what must be his wife with two loaves of excellent bread (Photo by Inge Durst)
As for the actual scenario at the event, I won`t go into too much detail. We had drills, marches, shooting guns small and large, diplomacy, nightwatches with a purpose, distrust, building barricades, nightly missions of sabotage, assassination, less distrust, Sunday service by a 3rd order Friar, more drill, a miracle, traitors, a market, music and dance, a play about the life of St. Lawrence, a secret tavern in the cellar of the castle, a town fallen to siege, a lot of distrust again, great food, chats and laughter with old friends and new, some fighting, and, in the end, a victory. For one of the sides, that is. And all this at a level of quality regarding clothing and equipment you`ll be hard pressed to find elsewhere in medieval reenactment, especially at such a scale.
The secret tavern was a favorite for many participants and a meeting point for both camps (Photo by Diana Goodwin)
There was more roleplay this time around than usual for Company events, but if anything, it contributed to an even more dense atmosphere and a bit of tension between the factions (when you`re good friends in real life, you tend to forget to play “the enemy”). But the level of roleplay practiced here didn`t seem to interfere with the enjoyment of those less inclined to that frivolous pastime, and was, in fact, nothing near that of an actual live roleplaying game. More like the background that gave reasons to the drills and exercises.
Soldiers advancing towards the enemy camp (Photo by Andreas Petitjean)
From my personal point of view this was one of the most enjoyable Companie of St. George events I had the honour to attend so far, set in a gorgeous location, under perfect conditions, with highly motivated participants and impeccable organization. Thank you all who made this possible.
By Tobi Putzo, Company veteran member.