Monday, October 3, 2011

Medieval Faire!

Today was the Medieval Faire  in Fort Tryon park. Hawk demos, jousting, sword fighting demos, vendors, music... the day is always packed with activities and packed with people. I figured this would be a good opportunity to delve into some of the history of not-so-ancient Italy.

The Middle Ages started with the fall of the Roman empire around 400 ce and lasted a thousand years, until the renaissance around 1400 ce. This time used to be called "The Dark Ages," and with good reason: Right after the fall of the Roman Empire there were invasions, wars, change of empire, change of religion, conquering, reconquering, crusading and a little thing they call the Inquisition...oy! The average daily life of the average person was a tenuous existence. It wasn't all dark and gloomy and oppressed for the entire thousand years: Venice was founded in 811. In 1060, the country's first university was founded in Bologna. There was also Aradia and tarrochi in the later part of the era. There is a vast, complicated history of who ruled which part of Italy and for how long during this era. I wish I could suggest one single book to get a good handle on it, but there is too much! For the casual observer, I'd say take a gander at the wiki entries on this era and the fall of the roman empire or at this timeline of events.

I'm in for a bit of fluff tonight, so here are pictures of castles built during this era, still standing. This first one was recently on the market!

Castle of Charlemagne built in 808

This next one is the Lari Castle, near Pisa, which was established and written about around 1000 ce.

The last one tonight is Castelvecchio (the old castle!) in Verona. It's thought to have been built on the site of a Roman fort in the 1300s.

The Castelvecchio fortress itself is a site in its own right and dates back to the 14th century. Built by Cangrande II della Scala, Castelvecchio boasts imposing walls and vast towers which lend a magnificence and sense of raw power to the castle complex. It was built alongside the Ponte Scaligero which runs from the castle across the River Adige.

It's now a museum.

Tomorrow! Back to basics!

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