Knights in bright satin

knights 1

IT’S early evening and we call at the Andalucian spa town of Lanjaron because we’ve heard a fiesta is taking place tonight. We discover a mediaeval fair with stalls selling trinkets, soap, candles, wickerwork, implements of torture and barbecued meat, plus music and dancing. It’s all very interesting but curiously familiar . . .

While wandering through the street market and listening to the minstrels, it occurs to me that I’ve always considered the mediaeval period to be a uniquely British chapter in the history of Europe – Ivanhoe; Robin Hood; Richard the Lionheart; bad King John; Runnymede; the legends of King Arthur; Richard Green laughing heartily in the boughs of an oak. That sort of thing.

I’ve obviously fallen into a trap, cunningly disguised with leaves by ITV programme planners back in the 1950s, and assumed we had the monopoly on knights and castles and heraldry, and that once you ventured beyond the Channel there was something else – I don’t know what exactly, just something else. Similar stuff but different, and with a Continental flavour that set it apart.

But here in Lanjaron there are Spanish knights who resemble English knights. There are Spanish ladies who might be English ladies. There are Spanish musicians playing drums and Spanish bagpipes. There’s a Spanish falconer who would not look out of place beneath a bleak grey sky on a windy English heath. Robin Hood could melt into this crowd and disappear. So long as he didn’t start slapping his thigh.

knights 2 knights 3 (2) knights 4 knights 5 knights 6 knights 7 knights 8 knights 9The mediaeval period was dominated by the Crusades, that series of crazy wars when warriors from across Europe flocked behind Christian banners and marched and sailed for thousands of miles to wrest Jerusalem from the hands of Islam.

This part of Spain was, in those distant times, firmly in the grip of the Moors (mostly Arabs and Berbers). It was an integral part of the Islamic world and remained so until the 15th Century. Andalucia was the front line, not a quiet backwater where ladies awaited the return of their lords and ruffians caroused in the greenwood.

knights 10 knights 11 knights 12 knights 13 knights 14It’s interesting to note that the Islamic past and the Christian present appear to have fused together almost seamlessly. This is still very much a land of mixtures and dovetailed traditions. Yet it works, and it feels positive. And that can’t be a bad thing.

So this is Lanjaron’s mediaeval festival – as familiar and as entertaining as mediaeval festivals right across Europe, I suppose. We leave before the end, just in case Sean Connery’s been booked to gallop on for the grand finale with the cross of St George emblazoned on his tunic. Mind you, that always gets a cheer.

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19 thoughts on “Knights in bright satin

  1. Phenomenal. We have grown used to ye olde worlde Englande, and overlook the fact that ye olde worlde exists in other parts of ye olde Europe-e. There’s even a guy (with the donkey) with a Medieval mobile phone.

    The armour in the second to last photo doesn’t look too comfortable, unless that chin piece is full of single malt.

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    1. Hi Chris. I wish I’d thought of ye olde worlde Englande thing. That is exactly what I was driving at. I shall drown my sorrows in the local olde Spanishe tea shoppe.
      The guy with the donkey is great. He was texting all night.
      Cheers, Alen

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Alastair. Once we’ve bought a house and got settled, I intend to pick up the frayed strands of my career. In-flight magazines is a good idea and I shall put it on my list. Thanks for that.
      All the best, Alen

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  2. What fun, Alen, and I love the costumes! Looks such a happy event as well! Yes, in days of old when knights were bold there was a strong connection with Spain and the rest of Europe – even before the Tunnel. Some of the English kings (I seem to remember fuzzily) spent most of their time in Europe.

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    1. Hi Jo. Yes, now you mention it, all those Henrys and Edwards laid claim to vast swathes of France, and I do believe that French was the chosen language for some of them. But I don’t recall Dermot Walsh speaking French in ITV’s Richard the Lionheart (you’re going to tell me you don’t remember that one).
      All the best, Alen

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Hi Alen, been awhile since reading your output and have enjoyed your new blog. I hope you are enjoying your new life there in Spain – certainly looks good. Being doing a bit of my own road trip if only for a short time in California which I have started posting up. Got there before it all burnt up! Lots of work and doing the house up leaves little time for blogging but trying to get back into it. Keep up your posts and I will keep trying to read them.
    All the best

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    1. Hiya Mark. Good to hear from you. Yes, I saw you were out in California. That’s a place I’d like to visit one day, but somehow I can’t see it happening. The fires have been all over the news lately, so you were lucky not to get scorched!
      All the best, Alen

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    1. Hi Yorkshire person. I wasn’t happy with “satin” because they weren’t wearing it. Still, the world’s not perfect. What the hell.
      All the best, Alen

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  4. Entertaining post, Alen. Performances of life in the medieval is as popular as ever, also in Denmark. I think they are the same throughout Europe. They are entertaining in small amounts. However, they are helping to create circulation in the community, which should never be underestimated. Do you remember your comment in the Kentmere Quarry: “I could be a tourist executive and have my teeth polished” 😀
    The festival looks like a success even if you didn’t get a picture of Richard Cœur de Lion.
    Have you ever read Michael The Finn by Mika Waltari?
    All the best,
    Hanna

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    1. Hanna, I don’t know where to start with my reply. I remember that comment about the tourist executive, but that must have been two or three years ago. You have a better memory than me.
      Yes, street festivals like that are are more than just for the tourists, because many local people and organisations get involved. I might get involved myself next time. I could be an English peasant on his way to the Holy Land with his master.
      I haven’t read that book, but I’ll look into it. If it’s available on Kindle I’ll buy it because I’m looking for something to read but all my books are in storage.
      All the best, Alen

      Liked by 1 person

      1. If you get involved as an English peasant you have to break the rule and get yourself a Selfie stick or make sure someone else take a picture. That would brighten up the festival with your participation 🙂
        I hope that soon you will be able to say goodbye to the storage arrangement.

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