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Reenacting wars - why some and not others?

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LoveHistory
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Post by LoveHistory » Mon October 18th, 2010, 1:54 pm

My sisters and I used to play war when we were little and we all turned out harmless, or at least non-violent. I think in our case it may have had something to do with subconciously working through fears about our Dad's being in the military. I still remember the time my parents sat us down and explained that someday we might get a phone call that Daddy's unit was being called up. I didn't much care for the phone ringing for about a month after that.

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Michy
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Post by Michy » Mon October 18th, 2010, 2:28 pm

[quote=""MLE""]My boys used to re-enact any war they heard about. Now they're grown they like paintball. What is it with guys and projectile weapons?[/quote]

Testosterone is a dangerous thing. :p

Eigon
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Post by Eigon » Mon November 1st, 2010, 8:43 pm

As a re-enactor in the UK, I've come across a wide variety of different periods that are re-enacted. I think the earliest period (unless you count the very cold Ancient Egyptians I met one year) has been Ancient Greeks. A Roman group called The Ermine Street Guard used to be known for liking to parade, but not fight, in case they damaged their (rather expensive) kit. There are a few Iron Age Celts and Romano-British/'Dark Ages' groups, too. Regia Anglorum covers Anglo Saxons, Vikings and Normans, and Conquest covers (obviously) the Norman Conquest era.
I've personally been part of a Welsh village attacked by Vikings (all of us members of the same group). Rather more excitingly, I was in the Saxon line at Hastings in 2006, on the actual battle site, on a year when there were almost as many re-enactors there as there had been soldiers in the original battle!
Most medieval groups tend to re-enact the Wars of the Roses period (prettier costumes, full plate armour). One of my friends went over to France to take part in a re-enactment of the Battle of Agincourt on the original site (I'm an archer - I'd love to do that one some day).
The American Civil War is quite popular here, and there are a few Wild West and Red Indian groups - though Native American groups are really big in Germany for some reason. We also have a large contingent of English Civil War re-enactors, both the Sealed Knot and the English Civil War Society.
The Napoleonic Wars are quite popular, though the uniforms are quite expensive.
I've also seen an entire Victorian military band!
There are quite a lot of Second World War groups, including a Home Guard group that portray the characters from the comedy series Dad's Army!
I've also seen a rather lonely samurai wandering around one of the big re-enactment fairs, where people go to get costume and kit.
The problem with the more obscure periods is that re-enactors in the UK depend on members of the paying public to come and see them. We are hired by castles and stately homes and other big events to put on a show for the public, which tends to limit the choices a little when a group is deciding what they want to re-enact. The group I belong to portrays 13thC Welsh mercenaries - and as mercenaries we can fit in across the UK (some of us fought at Bannockburn one year, on the Scottish side). We can also do Saxons and Vikings.
"There were no full time Vikings back then. Everybody had another job."
Neil Gaiman, from Odd and the Frost Giants.

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Post by G. Alvin Simons » Mon November 1st, 2010, 11:17 pm

[quote=""Ash""]Thanks for that. I'd agree about the type of battles fought making it difficult to reenact some wars, except I know of a lot of WWII enacters.

This is an interesting reader response to the question on TPM:

http://www.talkingpointsmemo.com/archiv ... ?ref=fpblg

This from the above link I found interesting:

Three things surprised me(about Vietnam reinacters): 1) Actual Vietnam combat veterans participated. For them, it's worth remembering, Vietnam was their 20s. It was horrifying, yes, but it was also a really impressive period of their lives, when they made some of their best friends. One Veteran's Day, we interviewed a bunch of veterans on the Mall in DC, and several of them talked about getting together with their buddies in the wake of the war to recreate the firebase experience. 2) The children of veterans used reenacting as a way of getting their fathers to share their experience. They treated the reenacting 'hobby' as a tribute to their fathers, and in one particularly memorable case, a father and son were able to really connect for the first time when the father was invited to be an advisor to the group of reenactors. 3) Current Veterans (of Iraq and Afghanistan) find it relaxing to participate. Non-veteran reenactors look up to them, but they also reported that experiencing these periods of heightened tactical awareness (however contrived) made their transition to regular life a little easier to bear.

And more:

We've gotten reports of everything from Vietnam War reenacting, to reenacted Roman Legions marching down the Appian Way to English Civil War reenacting down to Viking raid reenacting (curious about that last one -- who plays the raided monks?). It still seems right that it's bigger in the US than in Europe, but the disparity actually seems to be substantially less than I might have thought. And there may not be any difference at all. All told, there's a ton of reenacting going on -- and, as you'd expect, for reasons ranging from amateur history research to camaraderie and ideological nostalgia.[/quote]
Ash, thanks for the chuckle. "Who plays the raided monks?" I'm thinking there's a new thread waiting to be born in that question.

Alvin
Last edited by G. Alvin Simons on Mon November 1st, 2010, 11:18 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: Spelling

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Michy
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Post by Michy » Tue November 2nd, 2010, 2:32 pm

Eigon -- thanks for the very interesting post. What a fascinating range of periods you re-enact in the UK! Of course, you have the huge advantage of having all the perfect "sets" -- the castles, the estates, the ruins, whatever. Not too many ancient buildings here in the States. :) Luckily they are not needed for Civil War re-enactments.

An American Wild West re-enactment in the UK -- that sounds interesting! ;)
Last edited by Michy on Tue November 2nd, 2010, 2:34 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by parthianbow » Tue November 2nd, 2010, 2:45 pm

[quote=""Eigon""]A Roman group called The Ermine Street Guard used to be known for liking to parade, but not fight, in case they damaged their (rather expensive) kit.[/quote]

I'd not heard that before about the ESG! :D
Ben Kane
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Spartacus - UK release 19 Jan. 2012. US release June 2012.

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Post by Margaret » Wed November 3rd, 2010, 1:14 am

What is it with guys and projectile weapons?
I think it's genetic. After all, defending the home territory was pretty important once - second only to grabbing the goodies out of someone else's territory. Women would probably have the same gene if they hadn't been encumbered with infants and small children most of the time. There's a car gene, too, which was probably a horse gene in pre-industrial times. :D
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Post by annis » Wed November 3rd, 2010, 4:37 am

Posted by Margaret
There's a car gene, too, which was probably a horse gene in pre-industrial times.
One of the first noises my sons made was "brrrm, brrrm" :) Don't know what the pre-car equivalent was!

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Margaret
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Post by Margaret » Wed November 3rd, 2010, 5:49 am

One of the first noises my sons made was "brrrm, brrrm" Don't know what the pre-car equivalent was!
That's a toughie - maybe an argument for the "intelligent design" folks? God knew cars would eventually be developed, so he dispensed car genes in advance.
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Post by Ash » Wed November 3rd, 2010, 1:11 pm

[quote=""annis""]One of the first noises my sons made was "brrrm, brrrm" :) Don't know what the pre-car equivalent was![/quote]

giddyup, giddyup, or some similar period word for same. (I wondered about the origin - found that it was slant for get up, or get thee up)
Last edited by Ash on Wed November 3rd, 2010, 1:15 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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