Between the Medieval and The Modern

February 22, 2012

Exploring the Medieval Mind for Lent

Filed under: Uncategorized — Frau Magda @ 8:37 am
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Gluttony A couple of weeks ago I went to my eighth ReenactorFest. (Well, it’s called Military History Fest now, but as a non-combatant, I like the old name better…) One of the great things about ReenactorFest is getting to cross-pollinate with other reenactors. I’m particularly grateful that I’ve gotten to meet Bob Charron, because the man just blows my mind.

In the course of translating Fiore dei Liberi’s martial arts manual, Bob decided that in order to truly understand it, he needed to also understand what a martial arts student of the period would have known. So in addition to medieval Italian, he’s spent several years studying geometry, philosophy, rhetoric, and other subjects that a well-educated renaissance man would have known. A few choice quotes from the two-part article I linked to:

“In my opinion… Fiore’s art was intended for educated individuals who would have recognized the basic principles of Aristotle’s physics and Euclid’s geometry within the art. In effect, the educated person already had what he needed for the basics of the art from the trivium and quadrivium – the undergraduate work of the Medieval educational system.”

“Mathematics and geometry and astronomy and music were taught and learned using the same principles, and were seen as highly related to one another.”

So part of the reason why I’m thinking about Bob is precisely because he felt that the best way to fully understand a medieval/renaissance manuscript was to understand all the things that a medieval scholar would have known.

I have spent the past couple of winters trying to get inside my Bavarian alter-ego’s head. Magda lived during a period of religious upheaval that we now call the Reformation. So I think a solid understanding of both the Catholic faith and the heretics that came to be known as Lutherans and Calvinists is necessary if I’m to understand not only Magda, but the times in which she lived. But one of the hardest things for me about playing Magda is probably her Catholicism. I was raised somewhat agnostic. My parents never took our family to church, although I have attended services with friends. At various times in my life I’ve self-identified as agnostic, Unitarian Universalist, and pagan.

The issue is that I don’t feel like I know nearly enough about Christianity in general, and Medieval Catholicism in particular, to fully understand either Magda or the upheaval that was the Protestant Reformation.

So this Lenten season, I’m buckling down and trying to make a serious dent in the pile of books I’ve acquired on medieval diet (since we’re talking Lent) and medieval saints and relics, which are my two main areas of interest. In addition, I’ll probably be doing some other research, perhaps attending a Catholic Mass in Latin.

I’m also giving up Sloth and Gluttony. Because it’s not Lent if you’re not giving up something you enjoy.


February 13, 2012

Timelines and Reenacting

Filed under: Uncategorized — Frau Magda @ 11:32 pm
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A week ago I was still catching up on my sleep after getting back from my eighth ReenactorFest (aka Military History Fest, but some of us are too used to the old name to change now).

ReenactorFest is the reason I made the move from renaissance faire playtron with an interest in history to 16th century reenactor. I went to my first ReenactorFest with Stephen, Alena, and Tom and a couple others in 2006. Amanda joined us for the trip the next year. And in May 2009 the five of us had the meeting that led to the founding of The Guild of Saint Moritz/Das Geld Fӓhnlein.

Over the past five years, my favorite reenactment events have been timelines. There’s just something about getting to geek out with other reenactors, hearing about what they’re researching, seeing what interesting little bits of material culture they’re collected, and seeing how they’ve chosen to present their little slice of history to the general public. I always come back from ReenactorFest feeling energized and psyched up to dive back into some research.

But one of the coolest things about the trip to ReenactorFest this year was getting to chat with my friend Kass McGann, proprietress of Reconstructing History and her fabulous husband Bob (pictured). Kass gave me a little advance peek into her plans for a Golden Age of Travel dream birthday. I still remember her descriptions of her trip on Cunard back in 2010 (which totally made me want to run out and book a cruise! If only I could arrange to have vacation time and extra money at the same time….).

I spent a lot of time reading Agatha Christie and Dorothy L. Sayers myself, and I’m getting ready to finally start watching Downton Abby on Netflix. It’s going to be a whole lotta fun watching her research the 1930s, construct her wardrobe, and plan this trip. I hope to see the occasional blog post from Bob too. I never did find out his verdict on whether or not his new dry cleaners did an acceptable job on his dress shirts. He does wear that tux rather nicely, doesn’t he?

How can you not love a couple who plan to cruise in proper style? Damn, now I wanna reenact the 1930s too.

#ReconstructingHistory, #Cunard

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