The Jousting Life

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Photographer Oliver Dunsch: My Day in Sankt Wendel

Today's guest writer is photographer Oliver Dunsch. He attended "The Grand Tournament in Sankt Wendel", took lots of pictures and wrote up this article about his experiences.

My Day in Sankt Wendel
Oliver Dunsch

My friend from childhood days – and still my best buddy in the world – Dirk Breiding came up with the idea of going to "Das große Turnier von Sankt Wendel" ("The Grand Tournament in Sankt Wendel") to do a story about arms, armor, knights and real jousting. We already spent quite a few weekends together on similar events, and I do know quite a bit about the middle ages, armor and effigies. But this one was told to be different, to be unique, THE first REAL tournament since 1512! So he sent me the link to the YouTube promo video from Ben van Koert and I was thrilled from the very beginning.

video by Ben van Koert/Kaos Historical Media

That was months ago. In the meantime he figured out that he would be unable to attend, so my goal was reporting from the event, one whole day, taking as many pictures as I could.

Jousting arena at "The Grand Tournament of St. Wendel"
(photo by Oliver Dunsch Photography)

Still being fascinated by the trailer I got up early Sunday morning, at 4:30 am, September 2nd. I wanted to catch the scene during sunrise with no people around. The weather was perfect, not too cold, a bit foggy which gave the scene a mystic touch.

Morning at "The Grand Tournament of St. Wendel"(photo by Oliver Dunsch Photography)

There were campfires still smoldering and the remains of a "Saufgelage" (drunken revelry) on huge tables. With a bit of imagination you could think of what happened the days before.

Smoldering campfire(photo by Oliver Dunsch Photography)

A huge pile of broken lances with names on were telling stories from the Friday and Saturday jousts.

Broken lances(photo by Oliver Dunsch Photography)

And then, with the sun, people began to crawl out of their tents, all wearing beautifully manufactured clothing, examples of true craftsmanship. That was the first time I was sure I wanted to wear something matching on my next photo-job during a similar event.

Morning discussion about armour(photo by Oliver Dunsch Photography)

Even though it was obvious that I did not belong to the middle age crowd, everyone was friendly, gave me the feeling of being part of the family. And that continued for the rest of the day.

Squires and knights preparing for the final day, beautiful horses being fed and groomed.

Preparing the horses(photos by Oliver Dunsch Photography)

And many more helpers doing a fabulous job to not create a fiction, but to live real history.

Blacksmith at "The Grand Tournament of St. Wendel"
(photo by Oliver Dunsch Photography)

Or even real life, with real virtue, with real honor and true comradeship, placed in the scenery of the middle ages.

Left - Max Knegjens carries the banner for Luke Binks
Right - Andreij Pfeiffer-Perkuhn helps Andreas Wenzel to mount
(photos by Oliver Dunsch Photography)

Probably to have the audience believe even more in what they were privileged to watch and be part of.

Black powder guns(photo by Oliver Dunsch Photography)

I got more and more involved in what everyone was working for and what everyone truly believed: A passion with the potential of making a better human being of every single participant and every single visitor.

The whole program was very interesting, was fantastic and every single part was performed with pride and professionalism: from the hunting scenes

Arne Koets and Joram van Essen demonstrate falconry
(photo by Oliver Dunsch Photography)

to the armor-plating demonstrations,

left - Andreij Pfeiffer-Perkuhn helps Andreas Wenzel with his armour
right - Dominic Sewell is helped with his armour
(photo by Oliver Dunsch Photography)

from the cannons to the swordfights, from the joust to the melée.

Lances with coronels ready for jousting(photo by Oliver Dunsch Photography)

Toby Capwell, Arne Koets, Andreas Wenzel, Wouter Nicolai and Luke Binks enter the field for the melee(photo by Oliver Dunsch Photography)

Per Estein Prøis- Røhjell, Dominic Sewell, Petter Ellingsen, Alix van Zijl and Joram van Essen wait for the start of the melee(photo by Oliver Dunsch Photography)

And these two events, the joust and the melée, were the main events, the reason for everyone to come to St. Wendel. To find what we nowadays would call the world champion of jousting.

Per Estein Prøis- Røhjell jousts Petter Ellingsen(photo by Oliver Dunsch Photography)

The mounted melee at "The Grand Tournament in Sankt Wendel"
(photo by Oliver Dunsch Photography)

At the end of the last day, after the last melée, it was obvious that not only the one with the most points won that beautiful sword, but also the one every other competitor thought would be a worthy owner of that fantastic prize – Joram van Essen – and that to me made all the difference.

Joram van Essen during the mounted melee(photo by Oliver Dunsch Photography)

There was neither jealousy nor envy, but I am sure there now is the need for another tournament next year, to give all these brave knights the chance to win the world's most important tournament.

Joram van Essen holds the tournament prize sword
(photo by Oliver Dunsch Photography)

This year, the success is the prize everyone carries home. The success of a great event I had the privilege to be part of.

I had great people by my side, like Andreij Pfeiffer-Perkuhn, Andreas Wenzel and last but not least my friend Tobias Capwell.

Dr. Tobias Capwell at "The Grand Tournament of Sankt Wendel"
(photo by Oliver Dunsch Photography)

I came to take great pictures, and I learned a lot about the jousting nowadays. Thanks again guys, thanks to everyone I am now friends with on Facebook! See you next year and at every single comparable event. I got infected.

People who helped create "The Grand Tournament of St. Wendel"
(photo by Oliver Dunsch Photography)

To see more of Oliver's pictures from Sankt Wendel, follow this link.