Historical Reinaction: Medieval Period

Figure 1.--These East German boys about 1975 are participating in a medieval recreation. They are dresesed as apprentice boys. I am not sure, however, how common it was for apprentice boys to wear red jackets.

Historical reinaction is popular in Europe. Many European countries sponsor all kinds of medevil historical pagents. Unfortunately, HBC often does not have details on the particular festivals involved. There are countless such festivals. Cities and towns in countless Continental European towns and cities sponsor such festivals. Some of the celebrations date back decades if not centuries. There are parades and processions as well as a variety of presentations and stage performances. Many of these events are elaborately costumed. The medieval period appears to be the earliest such period commonly staged. The medieval era, however, covers a long era of European history. The costuming suggests that generally these events focus on the late medieval era. There may, however, be some recreations involving ancient Greeks and Romans or even the pre-Christians Goths and Germanic people. HBC has little information, however, at this time on such events. The medieval period is the earliest period we have noted. Medieval recerations and events appear popular in many continental countries (France, Germany, Italy, and Spain), but are held in many other countries as well. We know of fewer such medieval festivals in Britain. And of course America was settled after the medieval era, although Renaissance festivals have become very popular. Hopefully our European readers will tell us more about these reenactments.

German Apprentice Boys

One reader reports that in Communist East Germany that medieval festivals often featured boys dressing up as appretices. We are sure just where the festival pictured here was staged (figure 1). This was perhaps in keeping with the Communist orientation toward workers.

German Pied Piper of Hemelin

The town of Hamelin in Germany is a very picturesque place and is famous for the legend of the Pied Piper of Hamelin (or Hamln). According to the story, which has lived for centuries in oral tradition (the origins go back to the year 1284), the city was infested with rats until a piper dressed in multi-colors (the meaning of "pied") came to town and promised to rid the city of its infestation for a price. The city agreed, the pied piper played his pipe and all the rats followed him out of town by means of his magic pipe-playing, and then the city reneged on its promise. At that point, the pied piper used the same magic piping to lure the children out of town permanently as punishment, and they were never seen again. A version of the story was told by Johann Goethe and became part of the collection of Grimm's fairy tales. The most famous account of the story is in a poem by Robert Browning, the Victorian poet, which is sub-titled "A Children's Tale" and has been enjoyed world-wide by many children. It has a gruesome end because the children apparently all die.


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Created: August 28, 1999
Last updated: 1:49 AM 9/30/2010