Category: history

After strolling the grounds of Plympton Priory…

After strolling the grounds of Plympton Priory, we ventured into the church and got to see a lot of things most folk don’t ever get to see. I was treated like a VIP and it’s humbling to think that some people are honoured or excited to meet me. I’m just a plain old guy, playing dress ups and taking an obsession with the Middle Ages too far. It really blows my mind when I think of all the things I’ve done and wonderful people I’ve met. It’s overwhelming at times and I’m extremely grateful for all of it. #medieval #blessed #thankyoulord #friends #travel #europe #world #middleages #history

Did you know that in England in the Middle Age…

Did you know that in England in the Middle Ages there were over 1700 castles built? Not all are still standing today of course and most are in various state of ruin. Here is one such castle, in Canterbury. A lot of people are not very aware of it bough in the Middle Ages is was a very important center of county administration and justice. #medieval #canterbury #castle #england #history #middleages #ilovecastles #castles #castlesofinstagram

romebyzantium: Justinian I, #Byzantine Empero…


Justinian I, #Byzantine Emperor from 483 to 565 AD, gold coin, Archaeological Museum, #Istanbul, Turkey

Castle day coming up this weekend. You’ll be e…

Castle day coming up this weekend. You’ll be entertained and educated. Lots to see and do so come along. See you there! #medieval #castle #sirjustyn #fun #education #history #entertainment #middleages #knights #kings

The VyneHampshire, England

The Vyne
Hampshire, England

Dating back to the early 16th century, The Vyne is a large Tudor mansion once home to William Sandys – Lord Chamberlain for Henry VIII. Henry visited The Vyne a number of times in his life – including in 1535 CE with Anne Boleyn. Eight months later, William Sandys escorted Anne Boleyn to the Tower of London. William himself was a member of the jury that sentenced her to death.

Deus lo Vult – Interview


War, plague, and gold — in the new board game Deus lo Vult

A new board game, Deus lo Vult, has just been released on Kickstarter. The promo, reminiscent of medieval illuminated manuscripts, shows characters living their own lives; crusaders fight Saracen, steal and raise havoc, suffer from cholera, and perish quite graphically and dramatically when due. We couldn’t help asking the game’s developers why and how did they ended up creating such a stunning thing.


Who we talked to:

Mikhail Badelin, a cultural researcher and producer. He started all this.

Aleksandr Komyakhov, illustrator and restorer. He drew all this.

The hive mind of Hiatus Games, a virtual community of people scattered all over the world, from Dnipro to Chile. They did all the rest.

DM: The style, where did it come from? We almost thought it was the “suffering Middle Ages” project.

Badelin: It’s an old idea, in fact. I’m 40, and for like 35 of those years I’ve been an aficionado of illuminated manuscripts. I had this book on European medieval art when I was a kid; it made my imagination run completely wild and eventually made me get an M.A. in cultural studies in my 20. I’ve had it with me in all my journeys. And Sasha Komyakhov is a painter and restorer, so his background influenced both him as an illustrator and the game’s art.


DM: The description you give on your website (“Deus lo Vult — the most opulent medieval board game of rampage, betrayal and agony”) is quite vague. Could you tell a bit more? What’s it about?

HG: Long story short, it’s a 12-by-12 board, with crusader camps in the corners, Saracen camps by sides, and cities to sack in the center. Each player makes his or her first move with a crusader. Crusaders can attack Saracen and sack Saracen cities and towns. The gold a player loots should be transported to his or her camp, and the competitors try to steal it on the way.


DM: How many people does it take to play the game, with all those crusaders and Saracens?

HG: Oh, wait, the same players control Saracen troops. Saracens can wound or kill crusaders, and players use them to spoil the game for their competitors and prevent their crusaders from stealing the treasures of the Holy Land or transporting the loot to crusaders’ camps. The units killed in action aren’t dead for good; in fact, they go to the Purgatorium to atone for their sins in excruciating pain and then join the game all over again. 

Moreover, every time a crusader army takes a city, a Divine Will event takes place — there’s a plague, or a rat invasion, or a cross procession, or the entire army gets mercilessly drunk. To protect their army from Divine Will events, players can use amenities: a cat protects them from rats, and a pole of shame for drunks makes it easier to control the drinking-bout epidemic. Amenities are scarce and valuable, so crusaders steal them from each other.


DM: Is there a plot of some sort?

HG: Is there one in poker? Kill-’n’-steal kind of gameplay. The main goal, as if it were a real crusade, is to collect as much gold as possible. “Deus lo vult!” literary means “The God wants it!” Each coin is “engraved” with a “lo” for those who still don’t get it; your God wants precisely this gold.

We also plan to add a series of strategic aims based on real historical events, similarly to chess problems. Players will take Cyprus, or Constantinople, or Jerusalem, etc.

DM: You mentioned the excruciating pain in Purgatorium. How’s it played? Like sex dice, or are there rules?

HG: The Purgatorium can hold up to nine souls. When a new one comes in, the others move towards the exit. If you want to save your precious unit from the Purgatorium, you should fill it with the souls of your enemies. There are also cards of Divine Will that can move units up and down the purgatory ladder, so one can speed up the process of atonement or visibly slow it down.


DM: Has the Deus lo Vult got any ancient relatives?

HG: Yes, we decided to adhere to historical canons, not only in graphics but also in gameplay. We wanted it to be free of d20, races, classes, schools of magic and thick volumes of rules and regulations. 

Every major civilization had its board strategy, a must-have for the aristocracy. The Middle East preferred chaturanga; the Far East, shogi (from where we borrowed the two-faced unit tokens and the absence of “irrevocable death”) and janggi (from where we took the concept of value for each unit). And of course, we looked up to backgammon; we owe our moves to this particular granny.


DM: But the volumes of rules are inevitable, aren’t they?

HG: The only text there is are 12 titles of Divine Will cards, and even those are in Latin. Only so many people could read those — almost like it was back then. We wanted the game to have the medieval flavor and spare people from reading long, wordy passages out loud or performing complicated calculations. We encourage people to play for real money, which would be entirely in the fashion of those traditional old games. Back then, people lost kingdoms playing chess, and even small stakes can liven up the game.


DM: By the way, why a board game and not a video/mobile game?

HG: It’s just the matter of authenticity. We’ll consider a video game depending on the demand.

DM: Let’s talk about art. Where did you get those images? Is there copyright for medieval art?

HG: We created everything from scratch. Sasha sought inspiration in The Grandes Chroniques de France, in the Richelieu’s and the National Library of France’s copies, to be precise. The geometrical patterns and four-bladed frames and many other things also originated from those sources. We’d had a hard time choosing between the Morgan Bible and the Chronicles and then finally opted for the later chronicles due to a greater variety of themes and weaponry.


DM: So there’s a chance to learn something about real history?

HG: There is, although somewhat unconventionally. We are fond of the artistic techniques typical of medieval manuscripts, but there’s also this charming naivete with which those artists depicted historical events. The images were astoundingly out of place and time: there were French kings fleeing from burning Troy in Milanese armor with fleur-de-lis, or Joshua taking Jericho by storm, or Julius Caesar’s and Alexander the Great’s coats of arms. 


So we decided to preserve this out-of-place perception because we’re as distant from the Crusades as medieval artists were from Julius Caesar. A dozen campaigns that happened within 200 years we melted down in a single pot to produce a continuous event, a bizarre mix of sacking, looting, massacres, epidemics and religious ecstasy. 

We put together the most characteristic exemplars and events of all crusades and got quite a game of chance with the betrayal of allies and whole armies perishing for stupid reasons, where players nevertheless end up with some gain — just like the crusaders would, we believe.

DM: And why so much toilet humor?

HG: For the sake of authenticity, again! Medieval artists loved this type of jokes, that’s why even the borders of illuminated Bible manuscripts contained butts and dicks and whatnot. 


There’s more to it; we actually had to be much more reserved than our sources because even medieval Christians were less estranged from the works of their bodies’ bottoms than we are now. 


So there’s a touch of anal humor acceptable for our contemporaries, but no genital allusions.

DM: Which picture’s the funniest?

HG: We haven’t drawn it yet, but as long as we’re talking about the affairs of the bottom, there’s a Divine Will card for cholera. 


When a city suffers from cholera epidemics, several soldiers catch it, too. A player might prevent his camp from perishing by using an amenity of a special latrine (such things weren’t popular in the days of crusades, and the latrine amenity is so scarce in our game that other players might put enormous efforts to take it from you).


DM: Are you already thinking about a sequel or add-ons?

HG: We are, indeed. Add-ons will include numerous new units, characters, and cards. We’re currently testing the Kingdom of Cyprus with naval battles, Berber pirates, and Byzantium.

DM: Are you planning a special edition for the lovers of cholera and other medieval stuff?

HG: We’ve got five hand-painted sets on Kickstarter. The hand-painted option is the priciest. A fan, a venture capitalist from Hong Kong, bought one for his collection.

DM: Which board game’s your favorite? Perhaps you’ll recommend something?

HG: It’s mahjong. And This War Is Mine, when it comes to contemporaries; it’s an enormous work and beautifully designed gameplay.

Current price for Deus lo Vult is USD 29, and first shipments are scheduled for March 2019. A full-throttle game takes from two to four players, although perhaps we’ll consider creating solo scenarios too.

Link to the original interview

This looks promising. I’m interested to see the final product.

How effective was the English LONGBOW? Pt. I: …

How effective was the English LONGBOW? Pt. I: The Battle of Crécy:


People I know I’ve been away for a while–I’ve been really freaking busy with this latest video!

It’s the first in a series I’m doing examining the effectiveness of the famed English longbow over the crossbow and French knight. If you’re interested, check it out!

How effective was the English LONGBOW? Pt. I: …

How effective was the English LONGBOW? Pt. I: The Battle of Crécy:


People I know I’ve been away for a while–I’ve been really freaking busy with this latest video!

It’s the first in a series I’m doing examining the effectiveness of the famed English longbow over the crossbow and French knight. If you’re interested, check it out!

“Wise men speak because they have some…

“Wise men speak because they have something to say; fools because they have to say something." – Plato

“Cowards die many times before their deaths;…

“Cowards die many times before their deaths; The valiant never taste of death but once.” – William Shakespeare