Banners

I haven’t written anything in a good while now, but there have been no rest in the preparations for the event – it is now less than a month to go and there is so much to do! One important thing I’ve been working with is the banners for the battle. Johan is the artist and chief of design here, but I’ve done some pretty neat seams on them and have some more to look forward to. Now, they aren’t all meant to be white but we’ve been out of proper silk-dyeing colour so only the white one for Bro sätting is all done. 😉

No banners or pictures of them from this time and area is preserved, so we have to make up the motives ourself. The first banner is for Bro sätting and has a golden cross on it. Why? Because Bro church possessed a piece of the holy cross, an exclusive relic that made Bro an important pilgrimage during the 14th century. Johan picked up the shape of the cross on the banner from a 14th century gravestone outside Hejnum church in Bro setting during his pilgrimage there in May. (See his film about it here!)

DSC_0075 A “sätting” is an old word for “a sixth” or 1/6. During history the island of Gotland has been divided in different ways. For the BoW-event the organizers have chosen the term “sätting” as referring to a military unit consisting of as many armed men that could be musterd from a certain sixth of Gotland. Bro and Hejde sätting, the ones closest to Wisby, were represented in the reenacted battle 2011.

The settings of Gotland.

The settings of Gotland.

There are no records today of which sättings that really were represented in the original battle in July 1361. But since the Danes came towards Wisby from the west after paying a brutal visit to Öland (the other great island in Sweden) Hejde and Bro setting are the ones who would have been immediately involved.

I gave it my best try.

The seam on one of the banners. I gave it my best try with a tiny needle and the smallest stitches I could manage.

Banners are important matters, not just a piece of fabric on a stick. If you are to follow, fight and stand up for something, maybe even die for it – it must be held in honour. There is a tradition, I don’t know how old, that a banner is so sacred that it must never touch the ground.

Another well documented tradition of much later date regarding banners is that the soldier entrusted to carry the banner should roll himself up in it and die there, should he fail to defend it… Even thou that is not a medieval custom, our banners are to be handled with the utmost care. The three-crowns-banner of Albrechts Bössor (today the coat of arms of Sweden) and the silver boar of Fraternia Militia Carnis are both in fact ceremoniously blessed with holy water by a priest and therefore literately sacred.

borgeby-2011-fanor

The three crowns Sweden, as used by the reenactment group Albrechts Bössor.

The silver boar of Fraternia Militia Carnis, a 14th century reenactment group

The silver boar of Fraternia Militia Carnis, a 14th century reenactment group

The motif for the next banner we’ve made for the Battle of Wisby is saint Olof, the patron saint of Gotland since he is said to have christened the island around year 1000 evt. He was the first and for a long while the most popular saint in Scandinavia. During his lifetime he was a Norwegian king and he is portraid as a such, wearing a crown and holding symbols of power, the great axe and an golden orb. St. Olof is also the patron saint of farmers. Judging by their simple equipment and the extreme wounds on the remnants of the soldiers, most of the Gotlandic forces during the battle 1361 must have been civilians, probably farmers and simple folk. Therefore St. Olof is a very suitable patron saint for either Hejde sätting or the entire Gotlandic side.

Johan working on the St. Olof-banner

Johan working on the St. Olof-banner

DSC_0111

St. Olof, the patron saint of peasants.

I wish we had had more colours, but there will be before the banners are all ready. The next one is a Danish one, portraying St. Mårten or St. Martin as he is also known. St Mårten is strangely associated with geese and that is what you traditionally eat when he is celebrated today at Mårtensmäss in Skåne, southern Sweden. As you know, on and of during the 14th century, Skåne was Danish territory. And as Mårten is a patron saint for soldiers, he is most suitable for the professional soldiers on the Danish side in The Battle of Wisby.

St. Mårten or St. Martin

St. Mårten or St. Martin

St Mårten is pictured as a travelling man (hence the pilgrim hat) cutting a piece of his cloak to share it with a poor man on the roadside. The pirate-apperance is accidental and due to the huge knife the saint is using for cloak-cutting, I guess that will be less apparent when the banner is done… 😉 (And as banners are so sacred, we would never drink such simple whiskey while making them!)

Read more (in Swedish) about the invasion on Gotland 1361 here http://masterbyhembygdsforening.wordpress.com/masterby/projekt-1361/ or here http://www.masterby1361.se/

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2 Responses to Banners

  1. Mathias Larsson says:

    What a nice chapter on banners!

  2. Wenny says:

    This was very interesting to read! I made a banner of my blazon (http://wennymakesit.blogspot.com/2011/07/to-battle.html) but it’s not period in its structure or fabric. It’s all hand sewn, though. But now I’m excited by your beautiful banners, and I think soon I’ll re-visit my “Almighty Boar” design and make one that’s more suited to the 14th century. Thanks for an inspiring post!

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