Marca brandenburgensis anno domini 1260

It is the year 1260 after the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ. For the past 29 years, the "Markgrafen" (counts) Johann I and Otto III have been reigning the "Mark Brandenburg" in brotherly concord. Formerly a remote frontier area of the German Reich, the Mark has now changed into an important region under the red eagle of the Askanian family lineage. Knights, monks, farmers and craftsmen from Germany, the Netherlands and Flanders are attracted to settle in the Askanian-dominated lands, thus colonising the vast Brandenburg area which was formerly thinly populated by Slavic tribes. New arable land is reclaimed, numerable villages, monasteries and cities are founded. The first mention of the double city of Cölln and Berlin is documented under the reign of the two brothers who were justly nick-named "Städtegründer" (city founders).

It is the aim of our living-history-group to investigate and portray this interesting era in the history of the Berlin-Brandenburg region. To reach this goal, we are studying written and illustrated primary sources as well as archaeological finds from the years 1240 to 1270 AC.

We are a small group of people coming from different occupational backgrounds brought together by our common interest in history, particularly in the everyday life of the 13th century. And although we enjoy the research work, browsing through books and historical journals, exchanging ideas and experiences with other hobby-historians from all over Europe and visiting museums and historical sites in the Berlin-Brandenburg area, we have decided to go one step further on - to try to re-live and re-enact the everyday life in the 13th century in order to gain as much practical knowledge and experience as possible.

Therefore, we founded the group "Marca brandenburgensis anno domini 1260". We are portraying everyday life in the Mark Brandenburg during the years 1240 to 1270. We deliberately limited the portrayal to this era and region, because in these decades, the German eastern colonisation movement reached its climax under the reign of the above mentioned Askanian Markgrafen Johann I and Otto III. The history of the Berlin-Brandenburg area in the 13th century, i. e. the so-called "Mittelmark" region, is the history of rural settlements and agriculture, of villages and farmers. The German, Dutch and Flandric settlers came into contact with the Slavic inhabitants and their totally different culture. To a limited extent, a cultural exchange took place between the German and Slavic inhabitants. Thus, everyday life in our area was quite different from the life in the rest of Germany in the 13th century.

The activities of our group are aimed at performances and demonstrations at living-history events, not at the usual commercial "Medieval Markets". We want to co-operate with museums, particularly open-air museums, local historical organisations and other historical educational programs.

We want to create a "living museum" where the interested visitor can re-live and experience medieval everyday life. Clad in historical garments and using only period materials, tools and everyday objects, we are demonstrating arts and crafts and normal household activities of the portrayed era in our encampment. We are trying to re-live and re-create a normal medieval day - and this portrayal is not limited to the opening hours of an event with direct visitor contact. We enjoy the research work and investigation of our local history, but we are also fascinated by manufacturing our own clothes and kit as well as testing their practicability in the daily chores. Performance and display in front of an interested public is also part of our motivation.

We are portraying a rather typical Brandenburg household, with a lower noble ministerialis and his wife and their servants (maid and man-at arms with their children), accompanied by the "Dorfschulze", a village reeve. On special request, we can also portray a knight of St. John from the Balley of Brandenburg. Additionally, we are also portraying urban craftsmanship from the city of Berlin: a shoemaker and his wife and daughter.

Every group member has to engage himself not only in the general historical background of the 13th century history, but also on background and facts of the portrayed role. While "impersonating" the respective persona in the encampment, we are always willing and able to answer specific questions and demands from the public. Interested visitors are given the chance to touch and test our medieval everyday items.

At the moment we can display the following medieval arts and crafts: manufacture of historical clothing using bone and bronze needles, braiding, tablet and comb weaving, spinning with the hand spindle, lighting fire with iron and flint, medieval cookery (with an introduction into nutrition and agriculture in the 13th century), herbal knowledge (with an introduction into medieval healing practice and medicine) as well as weapons and armoury. Additionally, we can display an insight into 13th century costume - from the historical correct underwear to period shoes and head coverings. The concept is complemented by demonstrations of rural (rope-making) and urban crafts (shoe-making, wood-working).

We are aiming at as much historical authenticity as possible, i. e. our clothing and kit is made according to historic patterns and models (period text and illustrated sources and archaelogical finds of the 13th century) and from historical correct materials. By our rules, group members are not allowed to wear spectacles, watches or smoking cigarettes, for example. Our clothing is made from woollen or linen cloth, mostly hand sewn and decorated with hand woven braids and laces. And of course, we are also wearing authentic underwear and head dressings. Our shoes are manufactured according to period patterns: "turn shoes", i.e. turned inside out after the seams are finished. Items like buckles, belt fittings, brooches, buttons etc. are manufactured according to finds and patterns typical for our region. If that is not possible because regional finds are not available, we are using period models and finds from other German regions. We are cooking and eating from medieval replicate earthenware which was manufactured in museum potteries (displayed types: Siegburger and Pingsdorfer pottery, German and Slavic earthenware from the Brandenburg area). Hand-carved spoons and bowls, hand-crafted baskets and just a few period glass replicas are contributing to our display of a medieval kitchen and table. Besides these every-day items, the visitor can examine and experience period weapons and armour of a typical 13th century man-at-arms and a knight. Additionally, we can display our small but ever growing collection of period realia (buckles, rings, coins, pottery fragments, metal objects etc.).

Please understand that this web-page contains mainly German documents. We are planning to translate most of the texts into English, but this is going to take a while, and we have to ask for your patience.

Meanwhile, you can at least have a look at some pictures. A click on "front page" will lead you back to the German main section of our page. In the "Galerie"-section, you will find some photos from our groupís activities if you click on the "Veranstaltungen"-button. Pictures of our kit are placed under "Ausrüstung", and "Realien" will lead you to our small collection of realia. If you are able to read German, you can find some articles on special topics under "Sachthemen". The button "Kontakt" will lead you to our contact addresses and the "Links" button speaks for itself, of course...

If you have any questions or want some more information, if you would like to contact us or exchange ideas and experiences, please do not hesitate to get in touch with us.

Marca brandenburgensis anno domini 1260

Dr. R. Hirschberg & J. Meinicke

Malchiner Str. 5, D-12359 Berlin



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