Sunday, June 12, 2005

Crusader Marching Band

Crusader Marching Band
Originally uploaded by oiseau.

No, not a scene from Monty Python - that is what you're seeing - saxophone playing knights.

This weekend is the FĂȘtes Johanniques in Reims - which means celebrating all things Joan of Arc.

Reims loves Joan. Joan kicked the English out of France and brought Charles VII to Reims cathedral to be crowned King of France. They seem to forget that another group of French (Burgandy I believe but I'm happy to be told I'm wrong) sold her back to the English for 10,000 so they could burn her at the stake in revenge.

So this weekend there have been celebrations of all things Joan and Reims. It's been marvellous. A medieval village reconstructed in the centre complete with working blacksmith, chain or armour making and the stocks. An open air craft market with some really nice pieces (not just the animal painted enamelware!) and also a tie-in with a Folkloric Dance festival.

I never knew Reims had so many people! The sun was shining all weekend and today culminated in the highlight with a parade of over 2,000 people. This included marching bands, WW1 style horse parades, dance troupes from everywhere from the Cook Islands, via Brazil to Salzburg and other random medieval groups.

Finally Joan came riding through the streets on a horse with Charles VII next to her through the city. A young Reimmoise girl is chosen to be Joan every year. Frog made some quip about a tough search for virgins around here... which I chose to ignore. But I guess it's like Lady Godiva in Coventry but clothed...

It's all been a lot of fun and - yes the English were there in the parade. The twinned city of Canterbury sent a dressed up medieval delegation with what looked like the Archbishop and a set of morris dancers. "Up for England Up for Saint George" shouted by the group didn't seem to be so much appreciated ... but we had a great view from our windows to wave support!

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