Remembering Wars of the Past

Photo by Master Philip the Pilgrim
Crusaders prepare to attack the fort held by the Saracens.

By: Lord Alaric Messer

Taking a break from the massive conflicts of War Week, this Wednesday the battlefield was oddly quiet. But there was no absence of combat. Throughout the day, fighters came together to celebrate their chosen time periods and personas. From Vikings and Normans, to Saracens and Crusaders, and even Samurai from the Far East, it was a day of remembrance for great battles of the past.
Earliest in the day was the Crusaders vs Saracens battle, which attracted some 60 fighters. This event continues to gather a large crowd of fighters, specifically for Crusader and Saracen kits. With some beautiful and historically accurate armor and weapons present, and scenarios based on campaigns of the second crusade, this year’s crusade battle was incredibly successful.
The first scenario was a pair of 7-minute battles in which the Saracens attempted to withstand a siege from the Crusaders. In the historic siege of Acre, the Crusaders overran the defending garrison, but on this day, the defenders prevailed.
Following this, the Crusaders divided their forces into three groups, embarking on a march to conquer the town of Jaffa while facing off against several raids by Saracen skirmishers. The Crusaders fought well, crushing the raiders in the first bout. However, in a second run-through, the Crusaders fell apart when they were flanked by a few well-placed spears.
The final battle was a re-enactment of the Saracen attempt to reclaim Jaffa from Crusader hands. Unlike in history, where the Crusaders held the attackers off time and again, the Saracens crushed the crusading force multiple times.
This event was particularly enjoyable by those who participated. When all the fights had concluded, several awards were given out for best kits on either side and for most-improved Crusader. Everyone who participated was then gifted a coin of Saracen design, a tradition of every Crusader vs Saracen battle.
Shortly after this battle was a tribute to the Battle of Hastings, an event to display Viking and Norman chainmail kits. About 30 fighters in full chain hauberks came to show off their armor, an incredible turnout considering the hiatus this event took last year due to organizers being injured or unable to attend the War.
The scenario held several special rules that made it very entertaining to watch. All fighters were given an extra “hit-point” if they were struck in the helm or on chainmail. It was declared to be a 360-degree engagement zone as well, a daunting prospect for those accustomed to normal rules of engagement. The fighting itself was divided into five regicide battles, with each team electing a King Harald or William the Bastard (soon to be Conqueror) who would have an extra hit-point.
The fighters took to the field with passion and zeal, but history stood the test of time. At the end of the fifth battle, with three victories to two, the Norman forces of William had indeed conquered. The event was concluded with the losing team presenting their conquerors with loot (small gifts of either historic or expedient value). The fighters then took to the field for pick-up fights, Norman and Viking alike.
The third exclusive event was the poetically named Empire of the Sun Battle, for those with Japanese personas and/or armor. The battle was divided into a tourney and melee. The tournament was of a “no shields” format, and the two victors were elected as leaders for the melee forces. The melee was brief but allowed the fighters to display their skill as members of a team as opposed to individual skill.
Upon completion of the combat, the fighters gathered around Ryouko’jin of Iron Skies, the event organizer. He completed the event by declaring his joy for such good comradery, and each fighter was given a drink of sho-chu, a special Japanese liquor of significant strength and flavor. Ryouko’jin described his fellows afterward as having “exemplified the virtues of bushido (the way of the warrior).”
Events like these epitomize the most important aspects of our society through the companionship of our fellows and the immersion in history which we crave. As one Saracen declared, while we fight our battles fiercely, we all live in the end not as enemies, but as friends.