At various parts of the year a number of towns and cities will have a smallmarket. In late November the city of Nuremberg has the ‘Historischer Katharinenmarkt’. Like all these affairs this particular market is great fun. All the stall holders are in dress which is usually brown and beige woolen clothing often with a hooded cloak and a rope like belt, the recreation society members are all in military attire from the middles ages, chainmail and skirts with swords or spears, they tend to congregate around a wooden fire sitting on crudely made wooden chairs and talking and laughing in a way reminiscent of what it must have been like many centuries ago for the local lord’s retainers to be overseeing a market of the day.
There is usually entertainment at these events, in this case a juggler dressed as a jester and a band, in troubadour outfits, playing lively renditions of medieval tunes on medieval instruments – the drum and bag pipe. Such markets usually have stalls selling mead, monastery brewed ales and berry wines, tipples not often found at beer festivals the rest of the year.
The stalls are also an interesting feature of these markets, although some are the familiar wooden huts of the more common beer fests, most are colourful tents, more like pavilions, in fact, of the type we are used to seeing in Robin Hood movies of the 1960s from America, with pointed tops and flowing sides. Many of the wares on offer at these stalls are also surprising. There is usually a fortune teller at the market who does palmistry and tarot cards; you can get a scroll with your family name and its history, or buy a hand-crafted bow or a blacksmith forged sword. A stall selling armour is often present at these fairs as are stalls selling medieval costumes and woolen cloaks. There are herb and spice stalls, a bakery selling freshly baked bread from an on site wood stoked oven and a stall selling drinking horns.
Children are also catered for with one or two stalls selling toy wooden swords, bows and shields and even knight helmets. At this particular market there was a large pavilion set up in the Turkish style in which you can drink beer or tea and smoke on water pipes all whilst sat on large cushions at a low set Arabic metal filigreed coffee table. Of course bars abound, what would a medieval market be without stalls to purchase a flagon of ale (some even serve drinks in pewter mugs) or have something to eat. At many of these occasions they roast an entire ox or goat on a spit and slice the meat directly from the roasting beast.
During the market a parade takes place in which the recreation medieval society marches with banners fluttering in the wind, weapons held high, and musicians playing marching music.
Medieval markets have been part of the annual festivities in many German towns for many years and are only recently starting to be held in other countries.The whole thing is an entertaining day out for the whole family and if you get the opportunity I would highly recommend you go to see one.