The Guild of St. Longinus Fähnlein der Heiligen Lanze or “Company of the Holy Lance”, is a re-enactment group portraying a Landsknecht mercenary unit recruiting for their next campaign. We are currently setting up our muster camp in Sterling Shire at the New York Renaissance Faire, under the watchful eye of Queen Elizabeth. This camp will perform the daily activities of a Fähnlein on the march along with their family and camp followers. Those following the Fähnlein would be known as the tross or “train” as they would march behind the soldiers and form a human train across the countryside. Men will spend their days recruiting soldiers and practicing military formations while the women tend to the children, cooking, sewing and general upkeep of the camp. While times were tough it wont all be warfare and weapons. There will be time during the days for games and celebrating as well. The Guild of St. Longinus hopes to be able to portray the unique family atmosphere this type of military encampment would have as opposed to a Civil War re-enactment which is not a family friendly environment.
The year is 1528 (Ok, we know Queen Elizabeth wasn’t born for another 5 years but we don’t have control over the Queen of the shire), this is 3 years after the battle of Pavia which is the height of the Landsknecht. We are traveling to recruit new members. Mostly vagabonds, thieves, poor farmers and men down on the times. We rein them in with the promise of a small fortune. All they have to do is stay alive. The life of a Landsknecht was usually short and brutal but it could pay off very well if a söldner could learn to wield more than one weapon. A dopplesöldner was just that; a double solider. He would receive double the pay for using double the weapons. If a man had a family, they would usually follow and live on the march with the rest of the Fähnlein. The women would take care of her husbands belonging at camp while the men went off to fight. While a woman would not have been trained in the ways of the sword, many of them would carry a dagger to protect themselves while the men were gone or they would have followed the men behind a battle and finished off any surviving enemies and collected the loot. If a man was killed in battle, his wife would quickly re-marry or face an uncertain (and possibly short) future. It is not uncommon for women to marry the enemy if they had been beaten in battle.
While our guild is not a religious order of any kind, we are recreating a group of mercenaries under the employ of the Holy Roman Empire, during a time when religion played a major role in everyone’s daily life. As such, many Fähnlein would have chosen a Patron Saint, we have chosen St. Longinus. According to Wikipedia, St. Longinus is a legendary figure of Christian history as the name given in medieval and some modern Christian traditions to the Roman soldier who pierced Jesus in his side with a lance, the “Holy Lance” (lancea, as related in the Latin Vulgate Bible) while he was on the Cross. This act created the last of the Five Holy Wounds of Christ. The figure is unnamed in the gospels. The Longinus legend further identifies this soldier as the centurion present at the Crucifixion, who testified, “In truth this man was son of God.” Longinus’ legend grew over the years to the point that he was said to have converted to Christianity after the Crucifixion, and he is traditionally venerated as a saint in the Roman Catholic Church, Eastern Orthodox Church, and several other Christian communions. We decided on this saint after seeing 16th century art depicting him as a Landsknecht using a pike to pierce Jesus.
The Guild of St. Longinus is an educational guild. We will portray a large variety of activities ranging from churning butter to military pike drills. The Landsknecht were primarily pikemen so every man in the group will be versed in the basic movements and commands of a pike or halberd and will wield one during parades. We plan on teaching sewing, cooking, combat basics and fundamentals, period games, brewing, medicine, history, camp life and child care. These will vary depending on the number of members and member knowledge. We plan on adding other weapons training, smithing, leather working, and other mundane chores to the list in the future. Throughout the course of the day, the Trossfrau will prepare meals using a large fire and earthen ovens. Each woman will be able to explain what is being made and how the ingredients used would vary from today. During some down time, the ladies would sit and mend clothing, work on embroidery and take care of the children. The men will spend the bulk of the days running through pike drills, sword fighting, wrestling, recruiting new members and guarding the Queen who has so graciously given us a parcel of land.
Please shoot us a message if you want to join! We’d love to have you!