Knights in shoddy armour

It’s been a couple years since I last larped. I really enjoy it but I always forget to register in time.  If you’re late, the player roles are gone and you’re stuck with the non player characters. Those are the ones who have to do what the dungeon masters say. So if you’re just a casual participant you usually end up as cannon fodder, which means wearing a stinky sweaty latex mask and repeatedly being bashed by gangs of burly knights. A lot of the men are just in it for the battles and not so much for the story mode.

Somebody put an archive of larp games online. I had some fun browsing around in it. I am not in many pictures but here is one, with the other people anonymised. Note the very medieval car in the background and the strange wizard in the middle. Looks like a gathering of rangers and wizards judging by the outfits. No knights in shining armour. (not that they usually wear shining full plate armour and real leather fastenings, velcro is king in larpland plus real full plate weighs a ton, well, figuratively speaking)

Here I’m wearing leather with metal washers stuck on them. One extra point of protection compared to just leather I believe. Theoretical protection because when you get hit by someone it hurts as much as with simple cloth in reality. I am not sure why I am carrying a longsword,  (Foam, obviously. If it were real swords, they’d soon run out of players.) Probably just because it was allowed. I’m a shitty swordfighter, but at least it’s great to keep the moths away. Not that there were many moths. We played at Montmédy in winter.

Montmédy (not to be confused with Monthléry, lol) is a citadel in the north of France. Link on the name. There are some houses in the walled section but mostly it were empty military barracks, high walls and deep drops. There was barely anything with regard to accomodation so we slept in one of the barracks on crappy humid camp beds. No doors, no windows, no heating no light. It was freezing cold, literally. There was ice on the puddles in the room and my sleeping bag was not adequate for the conditions and also it got wet during the night. I’ve never been so cold, I think. And others told me it weren’t even the worst conditions they’d played in. Once they had played there when it was even colder and snowing.

We’ve often played in real medieval castles and in ruins which was great.  Larping also helps when you’re writing stories in such a setting. You have some idea what it’s like: being alone for hours in pitch black forests, the adrenaline of a mass battle, being cold and hungry and wet when it’s been raining all weekend, sleeping in armour with one eye open because there could be an attack, standing guard etc. And the bruises and the blood, obviously. But not too often.

My character didn’t survive that weekend, by the way. It was sacrifised by the dark elves.



Woodcut from the Nanceidos, a 16th century book about the battle of Nancy. Found it online somewhere.

Just an update on the Bold this time. For the pretty/funny  pictures I refer to the Chicken site. Link on the right. [I wasn’t really planning on publishing this post today but I hit the wrong button apparently, so here goes… I am still updating this, though]. This is a work in progress.

First a follow-up on the two movies Le miracle des loups.

It seems there is a fictional novel by Walter Scott, Quentin Durward, in which the Bold plays a role.  Somebody uploaded a 7-part tv series with the same name on YouTube. I try to watch it every now. It’s in French but they speak fairly slowly. Also, major disappointment, the tv series The Bold and the Beautiful has nothing to do with Charles the Bold.

Reading pile

The latest addition to the Burgundian reading pile is consists of a many-hand bio of Louis XI –  his arch enemy -, a book in good condition about the history of Bruges and a worn book about the history of Burgundy. The French region, not the wine. I draw the line there.  I haven’t had time to read them as I am trying to keep up with NaNoWriMo in the evenings.

Tracking the remains

The past couple days I have been trying to track the remains of the Bold. Oddly enough, none of the books I have read so far seem to have the complete information so I am reconstructing it from various sources, mostly Wikipedia and other online sources to start with. I’ll correct them as I go along. I will add this to the relevant page. It’s one of main objectives of the quest so I want to devote enough time to this.

In the winter of 1476-77 – being the stupid and reckless little shithead he was – the Bold kept attacking the French and the Swiss. On the 5th of January 1477, majorly overpowered, he was killed in the battle of Nancy by a half deaf, half blind soldier who didn’t recognise him. According to the code of war kings and leaders were usually not killed but captured for ransom money. So he had a bit of bad luck or met his well deserved fate, depending on your point of view.

Charles fell from his horse, shouted who he was but the soldier misunderstood him and split his head in two. C was basically reduced to mincemeat because when he was found he had multiple wounds apart from his split skull. I read somewhere that the soldier who didn’t recognise him died a few months later because of remorse, but that’s just a legend, I suppose.

A couple days after the chaotic battle C still hadn’t turned up in his camp so they went looking for him. The soldier who had last seen him alive led a search party to the borders of a lake near Nancy. They finally found him a little apart from the other dead bodies. The bold’s body was lying face down at the edge of the lake, his face frozen to the ground. He was stripped of all his clothes and belongings and was identified by a number of characteristics, including his missing front teeth, several old scars including the one on his throat from the battle of Montléry, a wound in the groin, ingrown toe nail and his long nails.  He was said to have been partially eaten by wolves but that’s probably also a legend.

He was brought to a house in Nancy. They dressed him in a white satin shirt and a red satin coat (other source says they put a red velvet cloth over his face and put him on a black bed of state. On both sides were two seats for heralds and in the four corners seats for servants holding burning torches. The body remained there for six days. Even if he had been a bitch to many people including his own half-brothers, there were enough tears apparently

he next Sunday he was buried in a fir coffin in the St Sebastian chapel of St George church at Nancy (the church is no longer there).

His wife and daughter only learned after a month or so that he was dead, by the way.

He was exhumed on 22 September 1550 (I also saw 24 somewhere) by Christina of Denmark by request of Charles V, his great grandson.  The remains were brought from Nancy to Luxemburg where they stayed at the convent of the Minderbroeders. In 1553 the remains were brought to Bruges.

On the 7th June of 1553 they were placed in the vault of his daughter.

In 1563 he got his own tomb next to Mary’s.

During the French Revolution the tombs were damaged and plundered. His remains were probably lost (I presume it was a skeleton by then).

In 1806 both tombs were reconstructed somewhere else in the church.

In 1979 the floor of the church was dug up and the tombs were removed and reconstructed in the original place. Mary’s skeleton was found and identified but that of Charles was not there.

There are two additional elements that I found in other places:

Firstly, usually in those times the intestines are removed and placed in little boxes or other more fancy containers to keep at home (this is something that has always fascinated me). I read in a book that Charles’ intestines remained at Nancy. Doesn’t say where and how, so must check this.

Secondly, I read somewhere but I can’t remember where, that the remains that were taken to Bruges weren’t those of Charles to begin with as that body still had all its front teeth. Apparently when they opened the coffin in Nancy, the remains were in ad condition and just a big mess. They could be from his chamberlain, Jean de Rubempré, who also died at Nancy. Must check this but it’s late and I’ve got other work to do.

Maybe he is a DNR (Do Not Resurrect).

Oh my, those ER Hughes paintings are still haunting me…



Quick update

Just a quick update.


Took the Bold and the rest of the WIP to another location with less distractions and better light. Currently working on (apart from the art school assignments):

Two small studies of hands with reflecting objects
Small study of a suit of armour (trying to figure out which parts go where)
A small painting of Louis IX,
Antoine with the arrow (through his head)
Cristo sin rostro
The battle of Ilion (working title):   miniature/Bosch.Breugel style painting on canvas for a change. Made some quick studies just to get the hang of it and test out colour schemes. The figures are slightly adapted woodcuts from an old book. See below for the sketches.
The study of Charles is done but I haven’t done anything about the panel yet.


The Rebis quest: still progressing well, suprisingly.


Other things:

Bought another sword, this time it’s a decorative sabre from the thrift store auction site. It doesn’t have a name yet.

Remodified an old velvet jacket from a major chain store because the sleeves were too short. Work done quite a long time ago: other buttons and sleeves slit open to insert some purple satin with a pattern. Work done now: added some fur on the sleeves.  It was supposed to look Italian but it’s more Burgundian in hindsight, especially the colours.

Fancy belt with fake precious stones: thrift store. Necklace with bird’s foot that can be put over one’s finger: Prague (it was a gift – don’t have one of those ridiculously garish gold chains unfortunately). Decorative dagger from a weapon/tourist shop in Carcassonne. The sabre goes well with it too as it came with a scabbard covered with purple velvet.  I am not sure if Burgundian Goth is a subgenre of medieval goth. If not, then it is now.


Back to Ilion: I’m having a go at a painting with many small characters, sort of Bosch/Breugel/miniature type. I have made some preliminary large scale sketches, just to have drawn them at least once and for testing colours. I took these pictures quite late in the evening so colours are off.

The canvas (40×40 I think)

Separate studies of the scenes:

This escalated quickly:

O yes, I’ve also been studying medieval saddles, they look strange.

That’s it for now.


Sunday update – Philippe

The update of the small Philippe de Croÿ after a van der Weyden is done, it was just a study anyway.  He’s literally still wet behind the ears  at the moment.

There is a big change from the earlier version: the black stuff left of him and on his neck. This symbolises the hatred that Charles of Burgundy felt for him and which is going to devour him eventually

(In reality I accidentally smudged black paint from his jacket all over his neck so I made it look like it was on purpose.)

The sketchbook in which I started working halfway through July is full. Good, now I can choose one with better paper. The last three drawings are another version of Rolin and two preparatory sketches for art school assignments.

Some time of the afternoon was spent creating a pattern for a Renaissance style hat which I had already started last spring but then we had a heatwave and there was not much enthusiasm for warm hats. I came to the conclusion that I don’t have any felt lying around so the real execution will be for another day.





WIP update (on the wrong day)

My blood was stil boiling yesterday evening (see earlier post) so instead of watching tv, I decided to paint some more, to keep the adrenaline under control. It’s a very zen activity, very helpful.

First I worked a bit on the little old de Croy painting. Turns out oil paint over acrylics is not very recommended and it starts to flake a little. Ah well.

After that I touched up the arm of the Ikaros from last year. This one was originally painted in watersoluble oils and  the surface has dried up matte, except where I used stand oil. That part is quite shiny and still sticky. I’ll probably put a glaze over it with a different type of oil. Not the best possible picture of it but it’s this one:

Next I worked a little on Antoine until he was too sticky and then I put another layer on Charles.

I found some info about the painting in the catalogue of the Berlin museum where the original is on display. It is believed to be a good studio copy from a portrait that is perhaps older than 1460. The painting is listed in a medieval inventory but in the original painting C has a parchment scroll in his hand, not a sword. The original is lost, I believe.

The coarse canvas cardboard I’m working sucks up a lot of oil so I don’t think I’ll put many more layers on it, it’ll get too saturated. It’s just a study so no need to go much further and polish it up and smoothe it out. His hair is terrible so maybe it’s a good idea to order a couple of those special hair brushes. I’ll have to do a separate study because the painting is so dark and I can’t make out the lines very well.  I also have to work a little on his hamster cheeks and he doesn’t look mean enough yet. It’ll need more contrast on the final one too.

For a laugh I placed it on an old style frame I have lying around to see what it would look like.

It doesn’t photograph very well and it has not yet yellowed over time, but the frame does upgrade it a little.

Haven’t done any painting so far today, had some other stuff to do. For the classes I’m going to make some studies for two new paintings. But that’s for another day.