Frequently Asked Questions

So, What Exactly is a Tournament Company?

Why become a reenactor?

Who becomes a reenactor?

What type of medieval portrayal can I choose?

How do I get started?

How can I contact Redshield?

So, you're a non-for-profit group. Does that mean you accept donations?

What is a Tournament Company?

In the 14th century many tournament companies, societies, and brotherhoods were formed, although they were most often based in Germany there were many other groups throughout Europe. These groups allowed their members to support each other by sharing the considerable trouble and expense of putting on tournaments.

In addition to the companies formed specifically to hold tournaments, there were a great variety of other aristocratic brotherhoods, or confraternities, formed for mutual support, for some pious or chivalric purpose, or even for all three. All followed the model of a very popular medieval organization, the lay confraternity.

These confraternities, very popular from the 13th century onward, were organizations of people joined together for some common purpose. As a rule, these confraternities were distinguished by statutes that specified regular meetings, the appointment of officers, and the admission of members. Most adopted a patron saint, with corporate celebration of the saint's feast day, and many adopted distinctive clothing, or badges, or both. They were organized for a great variety of purposes, pious, social, and practical, from the Knights of the Garter to the local crafts guild.

The tournament companies and other chivalric confraternities shared these characteristics with the great princely orders like the Garter and the Golden Fleece. The princely orders, however, were often limited to a finite body of members, and were always under the control of the founding sovereign. The other knightly confraternities, however, elected their own officers, and depended purely on the resources of their members for support.

The requirements for membership in the chivalric confraternities were diverse. Most of the societies required noble birth without reproach, and descent from four noble grandparents. Many required knighthood of their members. Others, such as the Order of the Croissant founded by Rene of Anjou, admitted squires. Indeed, that order determined its internal precedence only by seniority of membership, and not by any other rank. The Order of the Croissant was also unusual in that, although founded by a prince, the election of its head was entirely under the control of its membership, just as in the less exalted confraternities. A number of Orders admitted women, including the Order of St. Anthony in Hainault, and even, at times, the Garter.

As modern reenactors, we are attempting to approach, as closely as we can, an accurate recreation of the medieval tournament. We have formed this tournament company on a similar model. Like our medieval prototypes, we allow the members to support each other in the common enterprise of recreating the medieval tournament.

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Why become a reenactor?

If you were to ask reenactors for the reasons why they participate in this hobby, the answers you'd receive would be as numerous and varied as the reenactors themselves. While we all may do it for the experience and enjoyment derived from re-living particular moments in time and seeing certain aspects of history firsthand, many of us are seeking that brief perfect moment when we feel transported through time; that magical moment when a knight sees his opponent before him, his lance aimed and ready, and he experiences a feeling of genuine alarm and the ensuing adrenaline rush, or that moment when a reenactor looks around camp and realizes that for just a brief moment, they are in medieval France, or even that simple moment when a reenactor takes that first sip of warmed morning wine from a battered cup, and realizes that it tastes far better than any old cup of coffee. Others take simple pleasure in the brief respite provided by an atmosphere free of computers, cell phones, and modern technology; seeking the calm joy of nights lighted solely by the glow of campfires and candlelight. And we all enjoy the unique camaraderie found at the end of the day seated around a campfire reveling in the company of friends both old and new.

The idea of medieval reenacting is to preserve and perpetuate the memory of the people who did much to shape our world. While working to achieve this goal, reenactors learn about the period through first hand experience. What is lovingly referred to as a hobby appeals to the amateur historian in all of us, for there is no better way to study and appreciate history than to live it. But just as important is the task of keeping this history alive for others rather than allowing these moments to be consigned to the dusty rear shelves of public libraries.

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Who becomes a reenactor?

People of all ages and walks of life become reenactors. Redshield includes men, women, children, and families. Active members of the company range in age from 5 to 45 years old. Medieval reenactment organizations include knights, soldiers, archers, musicians, civilian ladies and gentlemen, and many other impressions. The hobby of medieval reenactment has a role for just about anyone. In general, medieval reenactors are people with a special interest in medieval history, although it's important to realize that there are no requirements on knowledge level as it is always our goal to learn through experience and research. As reenactors the culmination of this interest is an accurate representation to the public, your fellow reenactors, and yourself of a medieval soldier or civilian.

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Your medieval portrayal

Reenactors in Redshield assume a role, or "first-person impression", as a 14th-century individual. What portrayal is best for you? You decide.

Roles for members of the military portion of Redshield are varied. Most male members over the age of 18 portray knights, soldiers, or archers, and learn to fight as mounted or dismounted combatants on the skirmish line during reenactments. We ride horses and some of our members train at the joust in order to improve the visual appeal of our impressions. However, it was not uncommon for soldiers to dismount to fight, using the horses only to get to the battlefield quickly, or to participate in ground combat tournaments. We wear full, authentic armor and use real weapons in our combat simulations. We fight at full speed and strength and depend on our skill and training to ensure safety.

Non-military members of Redshield include ladies and gentlemen who choose to portray civilians of the period. The role of a civilian affords one an almost infinite number of opportunities, including: armorers, craftsmen, merchants, cooks, and even laundress impressions. Civilian reenactors are limited only by their imagination and those occupations which are accurate to 14th century Europe.

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Getting started

Redshield helps new members by having our more experienced members "show them the ropes." We teach practical aspects of reenacting, equipment procurement, and the organization's authenticity standards. We have monthly meetings and/or workshops throughout the year to discuss company issues, work on individual and company projects, and just have general friendly conversation.

If you want to learn more about medieval history, if you want to experience the sights, sounds, smells, and tastes of the 14th century, or if you simply wish to learn more about this captivating hobby then by all means, please read on...

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Contacting Redshield

If any of this sounds like fun, or even if you would just like a little more information, please


We are a New York State not-for-profit educational organization and as such we happily accept tax-deductible donations to help further our school programs, Living History portrayals, and any other activities designed to teach Medieval history to the public.

If you wish to make monetary or property donations to Redshield-1391, Inc. we invite you to contact us for information. If you wish we can list you among our benefactors or allow your donation to remain anonymous.

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