Going too far...

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Going too far...

Postby the_power on Sun Feb 01, 2009 9:41 pm

So, we had an (inconclusive) debate a while back about the difference between "re-enactment" and "re-play". Some people expressed reservations about "how real" or "which aspects" of a historical period we play. It was initially about WWII reenactment - how people hareing around in cars is cool, a mock gas chamber would be too far.

I've been reading a lot about Ireland between 600-1000AD, and I was surprised at how often slavery is mentioned. We don't do much about slavery at all at gigs, some people might say it's because no one wants to play a slave. I was thinking "Yeah, we should have more slaves". Then I thought...most of the trade between Dublin/Annagassan and Kaupang in Norway was slaves. Some of the annals show what they thought of how the vikings treat the whole idea of slavery - taking whole populations en-mass, taking Clerics as well as "dóer" (unfree), abuse of women (St. Patrick disapproved, later clerics espoused that if you got your slave pregnant, she should be set free).

So...should we consider explaining this side of society to the public ? Would there be uproar, if you ran a gig that was something like an Irish trading group, selling slaves, leather, wools, grain etc. to Viking merchants ? You could have two different camps, treating their slaves quite differently. Basically, we have loads of gigs that have Vikings....and none that really explain why they were here! We should fix that.

I was wondering; there was no protection under Irish law for foreign merchants. Does that mean Irish came to them, or that they & their property were escorted by an Irish King, or did Irish always make the trip to seafronts and other 'neutral' areas ?

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Re: Going too far...

Postby lordedward on Sun Feb 01, 2009 11:02 pm

I've just dropped in from Living History Worlwide after replying to a similar post about whats "Beyond the Pale" in re-enacting. The English suggested Black and Tans in Ireland :roll: But as you know we do Black and Tans as part as a balanced approach to telling the story of the War of Independence. On the other hand I also pointed out that its far too early to portray Irish Civil War.

I've also been following a debate by our 1812 Canadian cousins who are shying away from highlighting the fact of black slaves in Canada in the war of 1812 period. In fairness its diffcult there because of the race element where the slave is naturally subserviant.

Dublin was at one time the slave trading capital of the world, fact, and your "slaves" are going to be white and speak with Welsh, English, Breton and Irish accents (right?) so the question of race above doesn't arrise. If the slaves can tell their own story (and perhaps get one over on the boss) then it should be possible to do it. Slaves were valuable after all it helps to make the point that its in the best interest of owners esp. traders to look after them.

What I'd like to know is could we do the same for my period 18th Century and Napoleonic when Africans were trans-shipped to the southern states of the US through Cork?
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Re: Going too far...

Postby knightofredemption on Mon Feb 02, 2009 2:17 pm

As you may know there is a display of a slave traders stall in Dublinia. I was working there with a couple of Barry's lads and Fergus the silversmith. I have to confess we got a little bored and took to kidnapping children and trying to sell them off at the slave traders display. :oops:

One of the things to come out of it was a American woman here on holiday who was amazed at the idea of white slaves. She said she couldn't wait to get home and " tell my black friends all about it" We should not gloss over history, and slavery and the slave trade were very much a part of early Irish history.
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Re: Going too far...

Postby gobae on Mon Feb 02, 2009 2:51 pm

A related topic that I'd be interested in adding to our group's re-enactments is the taking of "hostages". This concept is often harder for modern people to understand than slavery, but just as important.
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Re: Going too far...

Postby knightofredemption on Mon Feb 02, 2009 3:08 pm

gobae wrote:This concept is often harder for modern people to understand than slavery, but just as important.


Not sure about that Dan, after all hostage taking is still common today. Or maybe it is the change in political, and social significance you refer too.
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Re: Going too far...

Postby gobae on Mon Feb 02, 2009 3:33 pm

Not sure about that Dan, after all hostage taking is still common today. Or maybe it is the change in political, and social significance you refer too.


Yes, precisely. People are taken hostage today, but they aren't afforded nearly the same rights as they were under AIL/Brehon Law. My sense of it is that a hostage back then retained many of the rights of their station, they just couldn't go home.
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Re: Going too far...

Postby Bandraoi on Mon Feb 02, 2009 4:54 pm

And, how taking hostages (esp children) was tied up (scuse the pun) with the idea of fostering.

There were iron fetters found in the Ardakillen crannog, the O'Connors of Connacht had their residence there. Must get the exact date but I have 10th Cent in my head. About 10 metres of chain, neck clamp, and wrist/ankle clamps were found beside the skull of a youth (male or female, not sure) which had about 20 sword or axe cuts lopped into it.

Interesting stuff :lol: So, who wants to be my slave at the next gig ;) :roll:
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Re: Going too far...

Postby sabrewolfe on Tue Feb 03, 2009 9:05 am

Look at it this way its an ideal job for newbies... keep your mouth shut wear scraps of clothing and do what we tell you. Could be fun? But yeah I do think we should try and include some portrayal of it at gigs, I can see where there can be some problems such as public participation dont wanna make the wrong comment while trying to buy or sell a member of the public as a slave, comments such as "well if you cant cook or sew at least you can warm my bed spring too mind" (by the way you know who you are the last person that said that!)
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Re: Going too far...

Postby vimes on Tue Feb 03, 2009 2:40 pm

We've done some gigs with Laurence and the Conaught Rangers where we did some hangings. they went down prety well, explainations of the origen of "pulling your leg" that sort of thing. but you do have to keep it light. We had one woman in Dungarven ring up the local radio to say we were promothin teenage suicide. How she got that from a bunch of guys being draged to the gallows by an armed guard and then being shoved off I do'nt know
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Re: Going too far...

Postby the_power on Tue Feb 03, 2009 3:49 pm

I saw the hangings too. Pretty gruesome...it certainly changes livinghistory from feeling like pantomime to feeling more like real drama.

Perhaps the woman was concerned that the young men in the locality would rise up again, and get slaughtered, 1798 all over again....

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