Now, which side of Knackbrod do you butter? Choose your side, pick-up your arms and take to the field of battle to defend your choice!! But be sure that your arms are period appropriate, so only halberds, battle-axes, maces, swords, and bows will be allowed. Oh, if you happen to have a horse you can use a lance too.
This past weekend, we were lucky enough to stumble across what we thought was just a medieval fair. While the fair and pageantry of knights was quite impressive, we later learned that we had taken part of a 26-year-old medieval event, which is the largest in Sweden, the Double Wars. For nine days, folks commit themselves to living as a member of the European world of the middle ages. For a fee, these folks live in period appropriate tents and partake in a multitude of activities geared around diverse artisan and marshal arts. On the last Friday and Saturday of the event, the public was open to join these folks at Hovdala Slott just outside of Hasselholm.
For us, the experience was more than worth the 45-minute drive south from Älmhult. K just happens to be all about kings and knights to begin with, but now after this…nothing else can occupy his mind. When we returned that night, we could hear K playing in his room with his action figures and yelling, “Bow to your King!” over and over again. M loves horses, so watching the knights, resplendid in their costumes, charge down the field and prove themselves in multiple competitions of horsemanship and medieval weaponry. The market was laden with period treats and spectacles. But what really left S and I so impressed was that it did not feel faked or forced at all, in fact it was incredibly authentic.
Added to this authenticity was the fact that it was all in Swedish too, so talk about a foreign and authentic European experience. I am sure that if it were in English, I would find it more ‘funny’ than ‘authentic’ listening to old English, but with not knowing the language, I took it as authentic. The sounds of arrows thumping into the targets, the medicine man selling his wares, the mingled small talk of the period dressed customers as they haggled with the vendors, and the charge of the horses down the dirt track with the definitive thwack of an apple being smashed by a mace wielded by a knight upon her mount, and the smells of manure mixed in with the blacksmiths foundry and the roasted meat stands all created such an authentic medieval reality. It helped too that Hovdala Castle was a perfect venue for such an event. Tucked away from all other habitations in the rolling pastures and forests of southern Sweden, the bleat of grazing sheep, and the façade of the old manor itself. Simply stunning and a world to get lost in again and again; but unfortunately, we will have to await next year for this particular May event…though perhaps next year we too might commit ourselves to a week of medieval debauchery!