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Days of Olde and Knights to Remember – the Medieval Banquet Experience
by Mary McCarney

Oh, for the age of chivalry! Knights in shining amour, fiery black stallions, fair maidens swooning. Somehow the 21st century doesn’t quite have the same romantic appeal. Well, the good news for those of us who fancy a taste of medieval life is that we can now step back in time for an evening of fun, feasting and fighting (even if it is just pretend).

The ‘Medieval Times’ tournament experience recreates the splendor, pageantry and romance of an ancient era. This is serious partying, 11th Century style.

We visited ‘Medieval Times’ at Toronto Castle (there are several other locations across North America) on a cold Canadian winter night, but once inside, warm cries of “Welcome my Lord and my Lady!” greeted us, and suddenly it felt like 1065 all over again. Surrounded by battlements, murals and banners, the Trumpeters of the Realm heralded the start of the evening’s festivities. We were escorted into a grand arena, where the legend of a kingdom threatened by treachery but strengthened by courage would unfold before our eyes.

Our feast of steaming vegetable soup ladled into pewter bowls with chicken and ribs eaten in traditional fashion (without knives and forks, of course) was served by cheery wenches as we enjoyed the show. The atmosphere was lively and rowdy, with guests entering into the spirit of the evening.

The show featured lance-splintering action and glorious pageantry combined with the story of a princess's love for a gallant knight. The magnificent Andalusian horses are specially bred by ‘Medieval Times’ for their fabulous physique, even temperament, agility in battle and ability to carry the great weight of an armed champion in a full suit of armor.

We watched as handsome knights astride the Andalusians charged with 10-foot lances, intent on unseating their opponents. Once unhorsed, the Knights continued their battles on foot employing all the authentic weaponry of the medieval era - sword, axe, mace and bola - in their quest for victory.

Finally, of course, truth, honor and love triumphed over evil, and peace was restored to the kingdom. The beautiful princess was reunited with her brave knight, and they all lived happily ever after.

It was with some regret that we departed this magical, bygone world and once more faced the bitter cold night outside. We found ourselves longing for a medieval carriage with furs to warm us and a handsome knight on horseback to escort us home. No chance. Back in the harsh reality of 2005 we had to make do with a Toronto taxicab instead. My, how times have changed.

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Text © Mary McCarney 2005
Photos © Medieval Times and Mary McCarney

No part of this article may be reproduced without written permission from the author.

Mary McCarney is a teacher and freelance writer from England. She writes articles and reviews books for a range of newspapers and magazines, including The London Times. She is also a contributing author of a new History textbook.