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Viadrina Newcomer's Guide

The quick and dirty on what you need to know to play in the middle ages

About Viadrina

Viadrina is a chapter of the Historical Medieval Society or HMS. HMS is a non-profit society with a mission to bring the Middle Ages to the modern century. We take a focus on the more romanticized version of history. All the dancing, costumes, music, grand camps and royal courts. Come watch Knights is shining armour take to the field with sword and shield as richly dressed lords and ladies cheer. Unlike a Renaissance Fair, the activities we bring to life are something you can come join in, participate, and relive along with us.

Viadrina makes it their job to bring all the culture and society of these ages to life for the enrichment of our citizens and participants. One important part of that enrichment is our values. We are committed to excellence in all of our activities. In that excellence we expect excellence in return. A core belief of the middle ages was Chivalry. A code of 5 values; Piety, Honor, Valor, Courtesy, Chastity, and Loyalty. We used that code to base these values.

  • Be excellent to one another

  • Act in accordance with the 5 chivalric values

  • Be responsible for your own well being and others

  • Deal fairly with those around you

  • Promote a safe and respectful environment you wish to be a part of

  • Viadrina is a no-tolerance branch in regards to any form of harassment as detailed by our harassment policy

Getting Started

Viadrina always recommends to get started out come to visit our local activities. Viadrina hosts combat practice, meetings, crafting days, and more all around the Lower Mainland. You can drop by, say hi, make friends. This is where you will get the most useful information the quickest and get comfortable with our society. You can contact our Hospodar at campviadrina@gmail.com for more information.

Viadrina also hosts regular events throughout the west coast. We strive to host 3 major events a year as well as minor events scattered in between. If you want to jump straight into the action you can join us at any Viadrina event. 
check out our event calendar to find out any upcoming events we host, our practices, meetings, or even events our group wishes to attend.

Youth and Guardians

Viadrina makes an active effort to gear activities to keep children and youth entertained as well as the family. Many events post their offerings for children activities including Middle Age lessons, games, crafts, art, and more.

We are pleased to invite families, parents. and guardians to our events. Medieval reenactment often becomes a generational activity for families. Members have joined, grown, married, had children, and introduced their children to the society.

Safety is our highest priority. Our branch has guidelines on the monitoring of children, workshops and classes become activities that are simultaneous for the parents and the children. Any event with un-supervised children require two supervising adults present. A  background check process is in place for officials who supervise children.

The Society

Viadrina attempts to recreate a vast swathe of the Middle Ages. Our branch favours heavily to the 900s to 1100s Viking era. Largely populated in Scandinavian, Russian, and Germanic regions. Though our citizens are encouraged to recreate whatever era tickles their fancy. Be creative!

In our society we follow a feudal structure. The lands that make up HMS are turned into kingdoms covering large chunks of the real worlds. That kingdom is then broken into chunks controlled by chapters. When joining the kingdom you are recruited into your local chapter so you start off with a family to participate with as soon as you sign up. Viadrina currently populates BC and Alberta. Check out the HMS website to find other chapters in your local area.

Persona and Heraldry

One of the ways participants help Viadrina create an atmosphere that better resembles the "Middle Ages" is by getting into character. There are many common ways citizens can do this. The first is to take on a "Persona". A persona is a period identity you choose to use during any society events. How much of a character you create is entirely up to you. Many choose to simply change their name. It is entirely up to you. Our only big rule is you can not claim to be any person who has actually lived in our real world, and you can not claim any rank or titles you did not earn within our kingdom.

Your persona is who you are in society, what culture you come from, and what period in history. You can pick any culture or period as long as it is before the 17th century. Unless otherwise chosen you are assumed to be of the gentry class, essentially a middle class citizen. Land, a small amount of money, or some sort of title. When portraying a persona please ensure it is sensitive to the culture portrayed.
Let's walk you through a few steps to help dip your toes in the water for your persona.
To start simply pick a culture/country and a period of time. From there the rest comes easily. Research the time period and get creative.

Choosing a Name
An easy step is to choose a name. Simply pick a "period" sounding name that you like and you're done. Researching your culture and period is a good step to help keep your name a little more historically accurate. Many people when they first start have not decided on a persona so an easy first name is your mundane real life name followed by your chapter.
"Josh of Viadrina"

Develop your Persona
To further develop your persona begin to research what life would have been like for someone living in their culture and time period. Were you a craftsman? a Warrior? Many also begin to develop a small story to tell the tale of their persona. Ranging from as simple as a time/culture/name. To full short stories on their many adventures.

Garb
As part of our efforts to bring the Middle Ages to life everyone participating in our events are asked to make an attempt to procure and wear some form of costume. Often referred to as "Garb". An easy and visible way to display your newly created persona is to research the kind of clothing your persona would have worn and being to work your garb in that direction.

Heraldry
A common phrase you may have heard is the "Coat of Arms". A coat of arms is a heraldic visual design to show your families colours and symbols. As a gentry you are entitled to your own family Coat of Arms. You can then register your Coat of Arms within Viadrina to show your family's support and loyalty to your chapter. A coat of arms can help your persona decide your colours and any symbols or decorations you use for your costume. 

This is merely a starting point. Feel free to go as in-depth as you want to help your persona come to life.

Armored Combat

Combat is the often the most talked about and prominent aspects of our society. Armored combat is often a selling point of our society that attracts the largest crowd. We demonstrate a number of period martial arts, however the largest event is our Heavy Combat.

In Heavy Combat we use a rigorous ruleset and operational methods to maintain safety while recreating medieval combat. All of our fights are "live" meaning they are never scripted and the outcome is never pre-determined. Heavy combat is done in single or group melees. Our branch has regular combat practice in the Lower Mainland of BC. This practice is open to everyone however one must be at least 16 years of age to participate in heavy combat at any event.

All heavy combatants wear a set of armor that complies with our combat guides. This armor is primarily composed of a helmet, gorget (neck protection), chest protection, elbow and knee protection, and gauntlets. One of the most commonly asked questions is where we get our gear? Most either make it or purchase it piece by piece over time. You can purchase pieces new or used. Before crafting any of your own armor please contact a local authority within the society for accurate information, equipment requirements, and safety standards/regulations. Our branch also supplies loaner gear at our local combat practice for those looking to get into the sport.

Marhals

To continue our efforts to maintain a level of safety during combat. All combat activities must also have at least on designated safety officer. This will either be the Lord in charge of hosting the event or practice, or a designated official from the branch who holds the "Marshal" titles. A marshal is well versed in the rules and regulations of armored combat within HMS and will have absolute say on who can and cannot fight as well as any activity on the field.

A marshal also has the ability to call a "hold". This is done by loudly yelling "hold" which is then to be loudly echoed by all who hear it and combat is to immediately cease. This is almost entirely used to stop a safety risk before an injury occurs.

Before any fighter can enter a list they must first pass a safety inspection by the reining marshal. This is done by inspecting the fighters armor and asking questions in regards to their understanding of the combat rules prior to entering the field.

Light Combat

Beyond heavy combat Viadrina also provides opportunities for participants to enjoy that are less rigorous and more open to everyone. These combat activities usually involve less physical contact and less armor requirements.
Rapier
Viadrina frequently hosts rapier combat. This is an attempt to recreate a style of unarmored combat. This combat style later evolved into the modern sport of Fencing.
Kendo
Light armor kits are frequently available to practice Kendo. Kendo is a modern Japanese martial art that uses lighter armor and bamboo swords called a Shinai.

Other Martial Combat

At events you will also frequently come upon numerous other martial activities including archery, thrown weapons, siege equipment and more.

Youth Combat

Viadrina also attempts to provide martial programs for children aged 6 through 17 the opportunity to participate in kid friendly versions of our heavy and light combat. These opportunities are determined by number of children participants.

Children are divided into divisions based on age, there are often divisional tournaments and awards.

Arts and Science

Arts and science are a overarching term for all crafts, skills, and technologies practiced in the middle ages. Viadrina hopes to help participants learn and practice these skills.

These skills include but are not limited to Dance, Performing arts, Static arts, and Scribal arts. 

Dance
Dance is a common and popular passtime. At events you will often find dance classes or events. We often attempt to re-create middle age dances from historical documents.

Performing Arts
Bards and musicians are common at Viadrina activities. You will hear a variety of music or tales spun. Viadrina also has a large emphasis on drum circles during events.

Static Arts
The fine arts are heavily encouraged. Painting, drawing, stained glass, glass blowing, pottery, and more. Find classes and merchants at our local events and crafting practices are hosted throughout the months.

Scribal Arts
You will frequently see members showing their scribal arts. This includes handcrafted scrolls and awards, stories written for our enjoyment, and more. You can most frequently find these posted across our social media as they are produced. You can see some of our members work in the Lore section of our website.

Officers

Viadrina is a non-profit society. We are primarily run by unpaid volunteers who do this out of passion and love for the hobby. Without the help of these volunteers at events, practices, meetings, and more we would not be where we are today.

The most common way members serve the chapter is through officer positions. These positions are recognized titles for individuals who take on work loads to help with the daily operation of the chapter.

You can find out who takes on what role and what their responsibilities are at our officer page.
These positions include:

  • Steward

  • Marshal

  • Chamberlain

  • Minister

  • Chronicler

  • Huskarl

Awards and Titles

Viadrina provides awards and titles to citizens of particular accomplishment, nobility, or service to the chapter. These awards come in two forms.
Non-armigerous

bestows neither title nor precedence. These are awarded for specific reasons in specific fields.

Viadrina currently provides the following Non-armigerous awards.

The Stag
For accomplishments in crafting or art.

The Wolf
For acts of loyalty or service to Viadrina.
 

The Horse
Also known as the "Workhorse" award. For acts of effort, usually involving large amounts of manual labor donated to the chapter.
 

The Hare
For acts of entertainment or performance.


All Non-Armigerous awards are presented in the form of a handmade pewter pendent made in the image of their award.

Armigerous
Bestows title and are for particular accomplishments.
Currently Viadrina provides only one Armigerous award. Every year Viadrina hosts a tournament of arms to list our first, second, and third sword. These swords are decided by single combat in a tournament of elimination. These swords compete throughout the year for their position but the holder of the first sword at the end of every year is named the "Champion of Viadrina". They hold that title for one full year until the new first sword takes it. Every champion is listed in the Hall of Valhalla so their name will echo into eternity.

Nobility
Our society also sets a list of titles for the Nobility within each kingdom. These titles are recognized across the entire society beyond Viadrina's borders.
The Ruler of the kingdom is named King/Queen.
The Ruler of a Chapter is named Lord/Lady.
The Ruler of a household is named a Huskarl.

If you marry into a ruling class you will often take the name Queen/Prince consort, or Lady/Lord consort. These titles were granted to provide title without altering the line of succession.

First Event

All this information comes together for how you can personally get involved. This is the easiest question to answer. You can find us online here at our website or at our Facebook page. You can get in contact with us at campviadrina@gmail.com.

You can join us at an upcoming event. For a guide on what you will need and expect at your first event you can go to our Attending Your First Event page.

Becoming a Member
One of the most helpful ways you can consider participating is by signing on and becoming a full fledged member. You can sign on at our membership page.

You are no required to be a member to participate in ANY of Viadrina practices, meetings, or events. However members get discounted entry to Viadrina events and you are required to be a member to participate in certain combat activities or to receive any award.

Additionally the fees help support Viadrina to continue to operate and maintain our insurance.

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