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What Blackwolf Represents

By Robbie Robinson

The main question people ask us is how did 12th Century people live?  What did they eat?  Thus, when setting up our group, we set out to answer these questions.

We decided our encampment would be an everyday look at how people lived, how they slept, what they ate.  This then, meant a cooking situation, food that was consumed, herbs and remedies they used to maintain their health. Mediaeval times were also times of war as those in charge jostled to increase or maintain power.

12th century people were tied to the land. Without ploughing the land, sowing the crops, harvesting the crops, tending their animals to see them through winter, without these, everyone starved.  The Lord needed his peasants to achieve this and the peasants needed the Lord to provide protection and maintain facilities, like wells, pastures and forests, which were a source of food and fuel.

Life then, was hard.  Every man carried a staff, and every woman a waister (a stick that came to their waist), to be used as an everyday tool – herding animals, poking holes in the ground to plant seeds and as personal protection.  Every child learned to throw stones accurately to bring down a bird for supper or drive off danger.  Children began work at age 7, and were adults by the age of 14.  Boys also went to war to work around camp, gather firewood and in battle, collect arrows and throw stones.

There was also always a war somewhere, and in order to hold the land a Lord was obliged to provide men to fight for the King.  War also provided an opportunity for these men to gain plunder.  Blackwolf was a group of crusader mercenaries at large in the Middle East – Outremer (French for “overseas”, the  general name given to the Crusader states established after the First Crusade: the County of Edessa, the Principality of Antioch, the County of Tripoli and especially the Kingdom of Jerusalem).

Being people of many nationalities, different cultures, costumes and way of life could be exploited for the public’s benefit.  The fact that Blackwolf posed as Bedouin Merchants and Traders gave them the cover to travel at will throughout the land in search of the various supplies needed by other Crusader groups.  Often supplies failed to arrive when needed or if at all, was too little, too late.  Of course it was necessary to have armed combatants on hand to guard supplies, thus their covert cover was complete.

Having decided who we would portray, the next job was to research and build a Bedouin tent, camel saddles, mobile fire pit and spit – everything within our encampment. There are always travellers, wishing, for reasons of safety, to attach themselves to a caravan.  They too, bring enrichment to the camp with their different skills and reasons for travelling with Blackwolf.

It is an advantage to have the old Duke within the encampment.  Robbie brings over 35 years experience in enactment and his ability to turn his hand to any metal or wood craft is evident.  This has inspired the membership to engage in other crafts, thus bringing to Blackwolf a huge range of interests and abilities.

As we have grown, our ability to be of service to the Public has grown accordingly, given that the 12th/13th centuries were a fascinating time of great upheaval, progress and change in weaponry, food, medicine, and textiles.

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2015 Medieval Season

As we begin the month of February, excitement is building throughout Blackwolf as we anticipate the start of the 2015 medieval season in Queensland.

We are busily learning new skills and mastering old ones, building new additions to our medieval bedouin camp, and adding some new features to the demonstrations we’ll be giving.

We’re also looking forward to more consistent posting here on our Blackwolf website, sharing stories and tutorials, photos and guides to the clothing, food, weaponry, medicine, and other aspects of medieval life.

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Blackwolf Members at History Alive

Blackwolf is comprised of people from all over medieval Europe and the Middle East. Today we’ll introduce you to a few of them, then delve into their back stories, garb, and personas in the months to come.

Our fearless leader, the French Duke.

Our newest member, a medieval Englishwoman.

Our Scottish Piper.

The Scottish soldier.

Our Camp Captain, the medieval Magyar.

Our medieval Berber woman.

Our downtrodden Bedouin slave girl.

The wandering boy of English extraction.

The Mad Turk, Turkish Warrior.

Russian boy.

Medieval Finnish Shaman.

We have several other members who weren’t able to make it to History Alive, but we hope to get them in full regalia soon.

What is your favorite medieval culture?

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Blackwolf Encampment at History Alive

We just returned from a fantastic weekend at History Alive, full of memories that make us laugh and sigh happily when we think of them.

One of the most exciting parts of any medieval encampment is getting the camp set up.

Our Blackwolf standard fluttering in the breeze always draws attention, especially for tourists who recognize their language on the sign.

The first to go up is always the firebox. It is the hub of our camp where we huddle for warmth in the early mornings, cook all our meals, and roast marshmallows at night.

The kitchen tent provides shelter from the elements as we prepare food and cuppas throughout the day. It’s so nice to have a spot out of the wind or searing heat.

The Gathering Tent is our latest addition to camp and we love it! The long tables are a hub of activity all day long, providing a bench for washing dishes, a shady spot for meals, and a cozy place for late night revelries with our neighbors as folks gather for long talks over horns full of homemade mead.

The Bedouin tent is where we all migrate at night. It looks low and small, but inside it is spacious with ample room to stand up and stretch out. We can comfortably sleep 24 people in there! The best part is that no matter how cold, rainy, or windy it gets, we always stay snug and warm inside.

We have three booths as part of our encampment.

The Trade Booth is where our Bedouin slave girl spends her time shackled to a tent post selling handmade jewelry and beautifully wrought pieces of pottery.

The Medieval Medicine booth is the place to go to learn all about medieval surgery, medieval folk medicine, and a wee bit of magic.

Our Medieval Harem booth is where our Moroccan lady plies her trade, selling homemade beeswax candles and hand-carved bone implements, and offering a soft place to rest your head and have a refreshing drink.

It’s a great camp and we love adding to it each year, making it more interesting and informative.

We’re looking forward to Abbeystowe in just a few weeks!!

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Medieval Sore Throat Treatment

With winter coming on, it is definitely the season for colds and sore throats. If you had a sore throat in medieval times, you wouldn’t be able to ease your suffering with a bottle of cough syrup. Instead you might try something like this medieval remedy for sore throats: Sage and Thyme Throat Gargle.

It is simple to make, soothing to the throat, and has a fresh scent that revives.

Simply pick equal portions of fresh sage and fresh thyme. Rinse them well to remove any bugs, dirt, or cobwebs, then place in a non-reactive saucepan or bowl.

Cover with just boiled water and steep to desired strength – I like to let mine cool in the hot water to get out as much goodness as possible.

Then strain the mixture into a sterilized glass jar. Tuck in additional sprigs of sage and thyme if you like. It does make it look pretty and less like a green hued mystery liquid. If you make a lot of medieval medicines, it also helps you remember what is in each bottle if you can take a quick glance and see the familiar stems of sage and thyme.

Store the mixture in the fridge until ready to use. Gargle as necessary or sip as a tea if you can handle the intense herbaceous flavor.

What is your favorite home remedy for sore throats?

NOTE: This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Be sure to consult your physician before consuming any medicine, medieval or otherwise.

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