Hello! I was wondering, what are the differences between modern HEMA and how it was used in actual combat? Mainly in how it is/was taught, the way that techniques are/were used, small battles/skirmishes and fully fledged battles. I'm currently drawing from my own experiences with HEMA (longsword) and I know it's different but I'm not sure what all of those differences are, much less how to write them. Thank you!
Honestly, the best advice I have for that is slogging through the treatises from the masters on Wikitenaur or other sites/books that let you get it direct from the horse’s mouth (as it were). If you’re not a trained scholar or used to going through language from a century ago, much less several, I can see how parsing that might be a little difficult.
The second thing to do is study the historical period in which you want to write your fiction or, if writing fantasy, whatever is adjacent. When you want to write any kind of combat scenario, studying the culture is necessary. Whether that’s one you created yourself or history itself.
You’ve got better access to the HEMA community than Starke or I do and that springboard will make it easier to find what you’re looking for. It’s important to remember that what you’re practicing right now is what we conventionally term a “dead martial art”. Like aikido and several other martial arts now enjoying a popular resurgence, the current version did not really exist in the last century. Combat in Europe moved very quickly, rapid advancement lead to many old weapons being discarded that were no longer usable. German fencing was the only form of longsword fencing to survive, and it too is weighed down by rules unnecessary to the time when the longsword was a battlefield choice. Luckily for you, because HEMA itself is so new in its reconstruction, you’re actually far closer to the source material used to revive it than you might suspect.
If you haven’t broached this subject with your instructor, you should. They might know, or know somebody who knows something that can point you in a better direction. They work with the people who work with the people who are theorizing on the past and how to bring this piece of history back to life.
The other thing you need to do is study history. One of the things we do have a lot of surviving records of are historical battles. Lots, and lots, and lots of records.
Pick your medieval historical figure. Pick a period in history. And get to work.
Also, read Sun Tzu. If there is one great historical text for understanding warfare, it’s Sun Tzu’s The Art of War.
Battles are really broken down by three groups:
I’d throw in strategy and tactics but those are under the culture header. To write battles, you need both an understanding of historical warfare and the ability to contextualize those decisions so you can have your characters make new ones. This means figuring out not just the thought processes of the people of history (theorized by gaining a better grasp of their circumstances), but also how your own characters think in relation to the world’s they live in.
Unless you’re writing historical fiction, you can’t just copy the battles from history wholesale. You have to learn how the decisions were made. This is why I recommend looking at the above groups.
Who they are as a people, their history, who they are descended from, how they see themselves, their commander’s experience with warfare, what kind of armies do they possess (if any at all), how does that work, how do they form supply lines, how do they pay for it, all that annoying bureaucratic minutia which will kill your brain but must be figured out. War is about troop movements. You’ve got to get them from Point A to Point B somehow, you’ve got ensure their fed, and if they’ve got mounts or armor all that has to come from somewhere. War is an expensive endeavor. Someone is paying for it. Where does the money come from, where does it go, and who is getting paid?
This is why strategy and tactics land under the cultural header, the more you dig into history the more you’ll find different cultures through different eras approached these problems differently. They also had different tools at their disposal which brings us to…
Technology encompasses your weapons, your armor, and, well, everything else that came to mind. Much as you need to know where your soldiers come from, you also need to know what tools they have at their disposal. If they haven’t mastered metalwork and smithing then they can’t have armor and the type of metal they work with defines what kind of armor they create. If they haven’t developed saddles then they don’t have mounted cavalry, if they haven’t figured out how to use horses to pull things then chances are they don’t have cavalry in the form of chariots either.
The same is true of the bow and every other kind of weapon available. Your tools define crucial parts of your tactics and strategy. They define what is available to use and what is available instructs us on how we fight. As the options narrow and you find your historical period, the tools will be easier to come by. Then, you’ll be able to envisage the battles better.
Warfare is complicated, but at its base is the element of rock, paper, scissors. You develop B, so I come up with X, to counter B, and then you develop Y to counter X. It is all about trying to develop new ways to counter the available options.
You brought foot soldiers to the battle, I guess this is what you’ll choose so I array my soldiers at your front and position cavalry behind to break your lines from the side or rear. You use pikes, position your soldiers in columns in order to break my cavalry’s charge or bring a cavalry of your own (or both). I position archers to bombard your lines with a barrage, and so on.
If you really have trouble with the concept then I recommend trying some good war games like Mount and Blade or the Total War series that help you see the battlefield visually and get some practice in arranging your troops.
However, in order to sell your tactics, you need…
What kind of environment are you fighting in? What is your target? What natural impediments are in the way? You can study Hannibal’s battle tactics against the Romans all you like, but if you ignore the fact that most of his elephants died on the march through the mountains then you’ll miss a crucial element to why he lost.
The conditions you fight in can make or break. Terrain defines how the troops are arranged. If you’re fighting on foreign soil then it can be the difference as to whether your tools will be of any use to you.
Some of it is flat out just luck.
The best way to learn to write battles is learning to think like a commander, and then follow that up with every other member of the army.
When it comes to historical fiction, I always recommend Sharon Kay Penman’s novels. They’re well regarded and well researched, providing some human context to what will inevitably be the dry reading of historical texts.
This kanzashi uniquely corresponds with dance performances of Pontocho maiko and geiko that are organized every year in May (Kamogawa Odori). Hisamomo decorated her hair with lanterns with Pontocho’s crest (plover birds) and a paper element that represents a wooden pier, commonly built at Japanese-style ponds. The pier, in a different form, is also seen at traditional Japanese theaters (kabukiza) and actors, maiko, and geiko use it for scenes that need to be seen closer by spectators. The iris, on the other hand, is a symbol of May and Kamogawa Odori, so her kanzashi just screams Pontocho! ^.^
🌺late spring altar details! I couldn’t resist changing it up with brighter colours and more dried flowers! The lighting bleached out the drawing of flora, dearie me, well I assure you it’s not a framed piece of blank paper! The elemental jars featured will soon be written about and posted for you all too🌺
I became increasingly interested in my early trips to S.E.Asia in using the Paper ephemera, (i.e., litter) to make collage pieces. These were sometimes combined with drawing or watercolor. In the case above these paper elements stand on their own.
'American Gods': Emily Browning on playing a revolutionary dead wife
On paper, the elements of Laura Moon should have horrified Emily Browning: A wife, motivated by the pursuit of love, under the umbrella of a supernatural epic fantasy. They’re all things that the 28-year-old actress says would be major red flags were they on any other show — but then, Starz’s American Gods isn’t any other show, and Laura Moon is far from the clichéd spousal role Browning says she so often encounters.
For one thing, Laura is dead — or was, as her tragicomic reanimation reveals in the backstory-heavy fourth episode of the Starz series. “Git Gone” takes a narrative turn from Neil Gaiman’s 2001 novel by dissecting the relationship between Laura and protagonist Shadow (Ricky Whittle): How they met, why he landed in jail, and exactly how she came back to life. Expanding the character was one of the first breakthrough entry points for showrunners Bryan Fuller and Michael Green when they were first plotting their adaptation of the novel; Gaiman himself even called the Laura-centric episode his “pinch-me” moment in watching the series come alive.
Browning was on set in Toronto last August when EW caught up with her (on Bilquis’ couch, no less). In our interview below, come for Browning’s insight into Laura Moon — whom she calls “the middle finger of the show” — but stay for the actress’ remarkable and necessary deconstruction of the importance of an anti-heroine role like Laura.
EW: What did you immediately latch onto with Laura? And what were you maybe hesitant about? EMILY BROWNING: Well, the first thing I noticed was that in the little character casting breakdown, it said something like, “She’s the wife of Shadow.” Which automatically for me is a red flag. I don’t want to play a wife. It said, “we don’t want to give too much away, but she becomes a cool character,” although it was far more eloquent than that. But I’ve heard that too many times before. I’ve been burnt by that breakdown before. Sure, she does. What does that mean? She has one pathetic fight scene and ends up being saved by him? So then I sort of did a skim reading of the book. She’s one of the coolest characters I’ve ever read. I think she’s definitely the coolest character I’ve ever played.
That’s exceptionally high praise. I feel like guys often get the chance to play the anti-hero. If you think about Walter White from Breaking Bad, by the end of that show he’s a despicable human being, but you’re rooting for him and you hate him and love him at the same time. I feel like there are so many more opportunities for men to play those kinds of roles. Characters who don’t fit into a box and are kind of good and bad and ethically murky. I feel like it’s happening more and more for women, but so often you still read roles that fall into “someone’s wife” or “virgin whore.” I love that Laura is a jerk. She’s a real a–hole. Not only that, but she feels no shame about it. Obviously you want to empathize with the character that you’re playing, and so I’ve thought a lot about where her attitude and views come from, but I love the fact that there will be times when the audience won’t empathize with her at all. I think that’s exciting and interesting. Again, you watch The Sopranos and you’re not always like, “Oh, I understand why Tony’s doing all these things he’s doing!” It’s like, no. Sometimes it’s just sh–ty! Sometimes you just do a shitty thing. And that’s how people work.
How do you think people will react to seeing Laura’s backstory? It’s going to be very specific to the audience member in question. When I first met Michael and Bryan, they were about to describe Laura to me, and I said, “Before you do, please don’t tell me that she’s the heart and soul of the show.” Because I’ve heard that so many f—ing times. It’s justification for a not very well-written character. Obviously, I already knew she was well-written, but so many times, you’ll go in to meet to play “the wife” of someone. They’ll say, “She’s only in a few scenes and she’s only his wife, but really she’s the heart and the soul of the show.” But f— that. I don’t want that. And I remember I was sold on Laura the moment that I said that, and one of them said, “Oh, no. If anything, she’s like the spleen of the show.”
How would you describe Laura’s life before she met Shadow? She’s essentially just kind of treading water. I definitely wouldn’t call her depressed. She’s not fragile in any way. She’s just numb. Like, she stopped feeling. She doesn’t care. One of the first times you see her, she’s in her hot tub and sprays super-toxic bug spray and she’s essentially huffing. A few people even on the crew said to me, “Is she getting high or is she trying to kill herself?” and I’m like, “You know what? I think it’s kind of either or. She doesn’t really care.”
What is it like to play someone who doesn’t care? It’s really fun for me because almost every character I’ve played has been kind of internal and self-aware and empathetic. It’s a real challenge to play a character who couldn’t care less about anyone else’s feelings and has very few feelings of her own. She almost verges on sociopathic sometimes.
Michael Green said that this is a woman for whom being dead is not the worst thing to happen to her. No. If anything, it’s possibly one of the best things, or at least in the sense that it’s frustrating to her but it’s forcing her to kind of be a better person. She didn’t fall in love with Shadow until she died. She thought she loved him, but she didn’t really know what love was. She had sort of just been given the outline that we’re all given: You grow up, you find someone to love, and you marry them. She was attracted to him physically, and she took him home, which I’m sure she’s doing with a lot of people. But then he kind of just stayed.
Yet her motivation in the afterlife is primarily to reach him again. After she dies, we see the world from Laura’s POV, and she sees everything in infrared, which sucks the warmth out of all the images. Everything’s in shades of gray and white and blue. And when she sees Shadow for the first time, he’s gold and glowing and shining. That’s when she realizes like, oh, this is what love is. I need this. And that’s kind of what I love about it, is the irony. She’s not a warm person. She’s not romantic by any stretch of the imagination. And yet this show is all about what you choose to worship, and after Laura dies, the thing that she worships is love. That’s what she’s searching for. That is her god. That’s her north star, which is very funny to me because she’s following love and searching for love and she sees it on the horizon, and yet the whole time she’s doing it with a snarl and swearing like a sailor and beating the shit out of people.
I also admire how she’s not necessarily doing it in any sort of pining way. It never comes across as pining. It’s never, “Oh, my lost love! I must get him back!” I think it’s cool because I’ve always noticed that if you read a script where the girl character’s main motivation in the story is to get back her lost love, it’s almost always a really boring character. It’s kind of sad and like she’s incomplete without the man, whereas if you think about so many different films where the protagonist is a guy and his mission is to get back the girl, he’s almost always a full character with a range of emotions. How come it’s not lame for a guy to take a part whose aim is to get their love back, but for a girl, it’s like no stay away from that? I like the fact that for Laura, that is essentially her goal but she’s absolutely not a damsel in distress. If anything, Shadow’s the damsel.
Guess what I just finished in art class! This is my Bec Blanche mask, from Homestuck! I even made a flower crown for it (not shown). When I actually get to take this home, I might add fur or something to make it soft. Don’t know if I’ll wear it to Cons or anything yet. If you have an questions on how this was made just ask! And PLEASE tell me if I should leave it the way it is or not!!!!!
persona // the last dj, cynicism catalyst, doting father, commitment issues,
graceful in their element,
the corrupter, paper tiger,
dismotivation, sir swears alot, emotionally tongue tied, the fundamentalist, grumpy bear, his own worst enemy, sugar and ice personality, don’t you dare pity me, why can’t we have nice things, foolish sibling, responsible sibling.
needs // long term, boston native friends. fellow parental friends. acquaintance-d club go-ers. fans of his mixes. fellow employees of the local nightclub. people he’s pissed off. people who hate his music. judgemental parents. two exes that dumped his ass for the relationship going nowhere. fwb’s. someone to make eliza jealous. anything you can think of!!!!!