By Lady Noelle de la Plume
Time was on the defenders’ side with the La Rochelle battle on Saturday. Whoever held the fort longest, won.
“If you think this fight is so you can prove something, go away,” Master Uadahlrich von Sassmanshausen said. “If you’re not having fun, you’re doing it wrong.”
Historically speaking, La Rochelle was overtaken by sheer numbers on the attackers’ side. Therefore in the La Rochelle Battle at Pennsic, the attackers get unlimited resurrections whereas the defenders only get two.
This battle has been run for the past 11 years and is one of the few in which the sides are not split up by kingdom. Fencers can be on teams with people they usually practice with or could oppose them. The fight continues until everyone on the inside is killed. This year there were about 100 fencers on each side.
“This battle is one of the cleanest and with the fewest issues. Only a few minor bumps and bruises,” Uadahlrich said. “Everyone here had a good time and that’s the whole reason for it.”
The battle begins by the attackers placing a petard at the main gate and the marshals yelling. Eventually, there was an earth-shattering kaboom. A petard was a small bomb used to blow open gates on fortifications, usually made out of a church bell. However, this petard bore an uncanny resemblance to a mini-keg of beer. If the petard got hit with rubberband guns, whether in transition or not, then it blew up and anyone standing within a few paces was killed.
The first battle finished in 12 minutes and 18 seconds. The defenders and attackers switched and the second battle was 12 minutes and 48 seconds. Don Aniasfenne was the last man standing in the first battle. “It was overwhelming,” he said. “I was sleeping in the tower during the beginning. But, if you’re going to die, die gloriously.”
The third battle pitted the fencers with the highest award in rapier against the world. It lasted only 7 minutes and 55 seconds, with the world victorious. There were also no rubberband guns and no resurrections allowed.
“The most fun of La Rochelle was being completely outnumbered as the highest award fencers against the world,” Connor said. “We were proud of the opposing fencers for beating us soundly. It shows us that they’re learning.”
Lysanthria Larkin, who was in a wheelchair during the battle, had Professor Pieter van Doorn be her “horse.” He moved her to engage in battles and backed her up when she died to resurrect. The other fencers were told that Pieter had full armor on and therefore was immune to any sword shots or rubberband shots. Once Lysanthria died, he would become a “fleshy, squishy target,” in Uadahlrich’s words.
“Pieter’s hilarious,” Lysanthria said. “I had fun killing all the people trying to raid my house”
Uadahlrich said that it was different this year having someone in a wheelchair in the battle. Having Pieter act as her horse “was a very worthy thing,” he said. It was “very, very cool” of Pieter to provide mobility for Lysanthria on the field.
“We kept her on the defensive side for safety’s sake,” said Uadahlrich. “She was the mistress of the house. She was really tickled to have the chance to come out and play.”
The technique the defenders would stick to was creating a kill pocket in front of the main gate. After the gate was blown, they would walk up to the gate and line up in an arch around the gate, killing the attackers as they came through. Since the attackers had unlimited resurrections, the defenders tried to only hit the legs to limit their mobility and block more fencers from coming in.
Attackers mostly stuck to the “stab, then die” procedure. They lined up to rush in, attempted to kill someone quickly, and left when killed.
“It’s fun standing around for a half hour in line,” said Armond from Atlantia, sarcastically.
Other ways the fencers could die was touching the bale line (the ones that were not the resurrection bale), going on the bridge over the main gate, or not heeding the marshals. It was up to the many marshals to judge if rules were broken.
Uadahlrich gave a shout out and eternal thanks to the EMS people and chirurgeons who brought water out for them. He thanked all the marshals who volunteered their time, and everyone who came out to play.