The Jousting Life

Friday, July 20, 2012

Video of the 2012 Re-enactment of The Battle of Grunwald 1410

Translated from the Youtube description:

"A short film production of "The Battle of Grunwald". The re-enactment took place on July 14, 2012, a day before the anniversary of the battle proper.

The Battle of Grunwald was one of the largest and bloodiest battles of medieval Europe.

The conditions for video recording were awful - rain and wind... :) But we managed ;)"

And in the original Polish:
"Krótki film z inscenizacji "Bitwa pod Grunwaldem". Rekonstrukcja odbyła się 14 lipca 2012 roku czyli dzień przed właściwą rocznicą bitwy.

Bitwa pod Grunwaldem była jedną z największych i najkrwawszych bitew średniowiecznej Europy.

Warunki do nagrania materiału mieliśmy fatalne - deszcz i wiatr... :) ale daliśmy radę ;)"

As you can see, this was a huge event involving ground combat, mounted combat and field jousting. An incident where it looks like a horse was hit in the mouth with a lance occurs at approximately the 4 minute mark. This led to a bit of an uproar in the US jousting community. However, here is what jouster Justin Holland of Nova Hollandia, who has participated in this event in the past, had to say:

"I've ridden at this event, and it's a blast, but it is very intense. They practice several times to get all the timing right. I saw two horses collide in a practice charge, with no serious injury, and I also saw a horse kicked by another during practice and that horse was vetted out by organizers...and the bloke who owned that horse had driven from Berlin to participate, so they take their horses' safety seriously.

You need to remember, there are probably 80 - 100 horses on the field, and co-ordinating that is a big challenge. The bloke that hit that horse's mouth probably experienced some 'repercussions' from his actions after the battle. Hitting the horse was unacceptable, but from memory there is a set piece in the battle where some of the Teutonic knights are chased by the Polish knights, so he was probably following the script and got it wrong, in a big way.

This event is very different from a normal joust, where you just have to concentrate on the bloke charging at you. There are dozens of set plays happening simultaneously, and each individual's situational awareness needs to be at peak level for the duration of the battle, or bad shit, like the lance to the horses mouth, can happen.

Just think about this, if you're being chased by a bloke with a lance, and you move off your line for whatever reason, maybe your horse shies at something (and there are lots of somethings at Grunwald), the bloke behind you might only have a split second to pull out before it gets ugly. I'm not saying this is what happened in the video, but it gives you an idea of how difficult this event is." -- Justin Holland

He went on to say:

"I was there in 2010, which was the 600th anniversary, and it was huge. 150,000 spectators on the day. Heads of state (or their reps) from Lithuania, Germany, Poland and many others. The Thursday night before the battle they held a tournament. I think there were some spotlights, but mainly torchlight. I didn't compete, because of bad connections I arrived late.

Grunwald is an awesome event, and I would highly recommend it to any serious jouster or re-enactor." -- Justin Holland

This is obviously a huge event, similar to the American Civil War re-enactments of the Battle of Gettysburg. The amount of blood, sweat and tears that go into producing something like this cannot be accurately measured. I'm sure that every reasonably safety precaution was taken to insure the health and well-being of everyone involved, including the horses. However, it is impossible to eliminate every risk when re-creating a battle scene. Even if the battle isn't real, the chaos is.

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