April 2013

22nd April

Tomorrow, 23rd April, is St George's Day. St George was adopted as England's patron saint after Henry V's victory at Agincourt in 1415 - but he had been revered in this country and abroad for centuries before that. George is believed to have been born in Cappadocia (in what is now Turkey) c. AD 280, and to have served as a cavalry officer in the Roman army - where he established a reputation for valour and virtue - under the Emperor Diocletian. Having converted to Christianity, he bravely opposed Diocletian's persecution of Christians, and his defiance of the Emperor led to his own imprisonment, torture and ultimately his execution near Lydda in Palestine on 23rd April, AD 303. His body is said to be buried at St George's Church in Lydda, but his head was taken to Rome and preserved in a church dedicated to him, and he was subsequently beatified by the Roman Catholic Church.

St George is venerated in the Russian and Greek Orthodox Churches, but he was of course also an inspiration for English Crusaders, and the Order of the Garter created by King Edward III was dedicated to him (as well as the Virgin Mary and Edward the Confessor). So our patron saint occupies a great and noble place in English history, and yesterday the Frei Compagnie was honoured to celebrate his Day by taking part in the annual St George's Day Festival in Morley. The Festival is presented by the Royal Society of St George (Leeds Branch), a non-political organisation founded in 1894, whose objectives are to foster the love of England and its links with the Commonwealth by celebrating English history, traditions and ideals; to preserve the memory of everyone who has served England; to further English everywhere; and to ensure that St George's Day is properly celebrated - which is where we came in! Frei Co member Kevin Morley has organised the living history show at Morley's

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L - R: Stuart Ivinson, Mick Doggett, Rob Atkin, Mick Weaver and Dave Moss prepare to march off for the parade

Rugby Ground for a number of years, and this is the third time we've taken part in it - with our biggest, best team and show ever. We had the Battlefield Society merchandise tent; our usual sumptuous kitchen presided over by Alex; Des, Steve and Hannah with the armoury and big guns; master bowyer Dave with his impressive array of crossbows and other weapons, Lady Frances with her big posh pavilion; and Wayne, who (surprise, surprise) turned out to be a real crowd-magnet with his shiny new armour. Kevin (as usual) led the parade as St George on his white horse, followed by our squad of lads above who joined the British Army, veterans, cadets and re-enactors to march through the centre of Morley watched by an estimated 11,000 people! Then it was back to the field for an afternoon of exciting multi-period action with 14th, 15th, 17th and 20th century (WW2) re-enactors: a 14th century tourney; medieval equestrian skills, including a joust; Des's firepower show; Civil War and Second World war soldiers; and a very noisy, smoky battle finale between Allied and German troops (we won, naturally!):

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Kevin gets ready to joust... ...an Allied mortar squad in action.... ...and 'Crossbow Dave's' wares!

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alex at billet

Meanwhile it's been a busy time for Herstory on the writing front. The discovery of Richard III's remains in Leicester kicked off a lot of ideas; and as well as a couple of blog items on HelenRaeRants!, my piece on King Richard's associations with various sites in Yorkshire has just appeared in the April edition of Yorkshire Ridings Magazine. I also wrote an article for the Spring issue of the Towton Herald on Richard in life and death, which I've just shared on the Articles page... it includes a couple of the University of Leicester's copyright images of Richard's scoliotic spine and the horrendous injuries to his skull, together with my own reconstruction (based on watching the Frei Compagnie's swordsmen in action) of the possible sequence of events immediately prior to his death. My next assignment was another piece for Yorkshire Ridings Magazine, this time on the work of Towton Battlefield Society... and of course I'm still plugging on with Lay of Angor Book 3! I'm now up to Chapter 13, although it's progressing rather slowly at the moment - partly due to Henry Wowler, our solar-powered cat-pal, who is currently so full of the joys of spring that he keeps dragging me away from my crack-of-dawn writing sessions to play with him (just like he did as a kitten). But I'm also wrestling with a Really Important bit... the start of things reaching a major crisis point in Gondarlan, with plot-lines I sowed in Book 1 taking off in a big way. I'm finding it very exciting - I've had some of the impending scenes in my head for literally years and can't wait to finally commit them to keyboard... but nervewracking too, as I have to be consistent and make sure the time-lines all tie up correctly to fit with Breath of Gaia. Still, I'm getting there, slowly but surely... and hoping Wolfsbane will be out on Kindle at least by the end of this year!