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History comes alive at dinner attraction

December 11, 2009|By LISA TEDRICK PREJEAN

How would you like to travel back to the 11th century and dine on a feast with chivalrous knights and fair maidens?

While there, take in a tournament featuring jousting, swordsmanship, hand-to-hand combat, skilled horsemanship and ethereal falconry.

After all, medieval Spain was known for elaborate displays of valor, both within and beyond the castle walls.

Yet you don't have to go back in time. This adventure can be found within 90 minutes of Hagerstown.

Medieval Times is a family-friendly dinner attraction at Arundel Mills Mall in Hanover, Md.

Last week my British Literature class went there on a field trip. We found the experience to be exciting and educational.

Before the tournament began, the actors came out and gave several informative talks on life in the Middle Ages. This helped the audience to understand the action of the tournament, which is held in a large arena.

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During the tournament, knights participated in several competitions on horseback and on the ground. The actors explained what weapons were going to be used and how they would be used by the knights.

The weapons included a lance, which is a long wooden shaft with a sharp metal spearhead. This was primarily used to knock an enemy from his horse.

Knights also used a mace, a heavy weapon with a quatrefoil-shaped head. This was designed to crush an enemy's armor with a single blow.

The bola appeared to be the most formidable weapon. A warrior could use this spiked ball and chain on horseback or on foot. By swinging the ball at high rates of speed, the knight could deal his opponent a deadly blow.

While the talks on weaponry were interesting, I preferred the more genteel subjects of the day, among which fashion and court etiquette were most intriguing.

The clothing of the court was quite elaborate and expensive. Many fair ladies possessed only one or two gowns. The gowns were laundered infrequently and the fair maidens bathed infrequently, so the result was unpleasant aroma. This would not do for the fine ladies being courted by knights in shining armor. As a result, perfume was created during this era to mask any unpleasant smells.

In another interesting sidenote, it was considered indecent for ladies of rank to go barefoot. Sometimes they got away with this because their gowns were so long that no one could see their feet.

I think those little tidbits of history are just as interesting as dates, personalities and events. When history comes alive, it is easier to connect to it and to the people who lived it.

o For more information about Medieval Times, go to www.medievaltimes.com or call 888-WE-JOUST (935-6878).

Lisa Tedrick Prejean writes a weekly column for The Herald-Mail's Family page.

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