History Day, reenactment festival covering five eras

History Day, reenactment festival covering five eras
On 14 October, teams of historical re-enactment enthusiasts at Sokolniki Park will recreate an Old Rus princely military tent, hold a knights tournament typical of medieval Italy, show the streltsy guards’ weapons from the Time of Troubles in Russia, as well as hussars’ daily life during the 1812 War plus a Red Army headquarters from the time of the Great Patriotic War.  

History Day, a re-enactment festival, will take place on 14 October at Sokolniki Park from noon to 6pm. The event will be held for just one day on the square near the fountain. Teams of between 15 to 20 reenactors will present 5 eras. Admission is free.

On the site dedicated to Old Rus and the early Middle Ages, the reenactors will recreate a 10th-century princely  tent, which will be guarded by warriors wearing chain mail armed with swords. However, the public will be able to take a look  inside to view  the interior. The prince’s temporary dwelling will be built out of  wooden boards and fabric, closely following drawings of tents from Old Rus and Byzantine chronicles.

“In the early Middle Ages, only the very wealthy or noble people could afford fabric tents. These were usually princes and their commanders, ordinary warriors slept in the open air or in small huts,” said Andrei Koposov, artistic director of Sokolniki Park.  

There will be Old Rus artisan workshops located next to the prince’s tent. A blacksmith will be showing people how to make nails and other iron items. These will be given away as souvenirs to anyone who wants them. A scribe will show people how to write on birch bark, the way it was done in Old Rus before the invention of printing, with a pisalo, a sharpened stick made out of bone or iron. Close to the place, there will be table games, which were popular during the times of Old Rus, including tavlei (ancient Russian draughts), chess and Melnitsa, a logic game, in which the object is to form a line of pegs of the same colour. 

On the site dedicated to the history of medieval Europe a tournament of 15th-century Italian knights will take place. Spectators will be able to see warriors’ double-handled swords, armour, shields and spears in every detail. A knight’s armour and weapons weigh up to 30 kilos. Those who are bold enough to don the heavy armour will then be offered the opportunity to pose for a photograph in the guise of a medieval knight.

The tournament will be held in full compliance with the rules. The winning knight will even be able to choose his paramour from among female spectators. The audience will be shown cold arms that were used in battles, including double- and single-handled swords, sabres, halberds, lances, as well as kouzes, which resemble spears with hooks. The Italian knights will even give several fencing lessons.

At another site there will be a streltsy guards’ camp with 17th-century cannons, each weighing about 50 kilos, from the Time of Troubles in Russia. The cannons will be accurate copies of falconets, light artillery guns, which were used against the enemy’s mounted troops and infantry. Aided by streltsy, people will be able to fire several volleys. Cannons will be loaded with petards to only imitate the sounds of the firing, so the volleys will be absolutely safe for the public. Two falconets will fire at least a hundred times.

On the site dedicated to the 1812 Patriotic War with Napoleon there will be  soldiers and officers from the 19th-century Russian imperial army wearing uniforms in keeping with the-then army regulations. They will show how to handle sabres and musketeers with bayonets the way it was done at the time. Another attraction will be the opportunity to play stos, a card game popular in the 19th century.

The fifth epoch will be represented by a retro early 1940s photography studio, a dance floor plus a Red Army headquarters that will be recreated for the occasion. The retro photography studio will invite people to take photographs with equipment used at the time. One photograph will take about15 minutes to produce. Dance music will be pre-war and that from the early years of the Great Patriotic War. Visitors will also be able to peep into the military headquarters.

Military hardware at the site will include copies of two 45-millimetre anti-tank guns made in 1937, a Soviet military motorcycle from the time of the Great Patriotic War and a trophy German BMW car, which a historical re-enactment team assembled themselves.

This is not the first time that there has been a historical re-enactment event at Sokolniki Park. On 10 September, Moscow’s defence line during the Great Patriotic War was recreated at the park.