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Getting Started

The quick and dirty guide to how things work

The corporation and the re-enactment group are “run” by “the Committee” who establish policies and coordinate the company’s operations. They are charged with fostering research and encouraging the constant improvement of group and individual presentations. They also are the ones who review all published materials and all artifacts and clothing used in La Belle Compagnie presentations.

You start off as a Recruit. Once you fulfill the requirements of a Member and prove to be compatible with the company’s ideals and approaches, the Committee will issue an invitation to become a fully fledged Member (and, yes, there are dues.) We also have folks called Retainers (Members who demonstrate long-term commitment to the Compagnie.) The details of this stuff are in our by-laws.

We hold meetings and workshops to conduct research, exchange information, review gear, consult on event scheduling, and produce gear and equipment. We go through all of this so we can present the results of our work

Our presentations include living history encampments, lectures, demonstrations, and school visits.

Each of our presentations has a “Coordinator” who is supposed to coordinate the Compagnie's participation in the event. It is his or her responsibility to keep everybody informed of the schedule, site specific rules, any judging rules, and any requirements or rules imposed by our hosts.

So how do you get started?

If you’re new to the living history of the Middle Ages, talk to us. We’ll help you find a starting point for your portrayal.

If you’ve done this before, or done something like it, talk to us. Show us your gear. We’ll figure out what will work and what won’t.

Once we all know what your portrayal is going to be, we can work out what you need to achieve it.

Do a little reading.

Get your portrayal together.

Get your stuff together. (We have loaners of some things that can get you out a little sooner, but you need your own gear if you really want to be a member of the Compagnie.)

Get your stuff approved.

Come play.

Getting your stuff “approved”

• We all go through the dread “vetting process.” That’s where all clothing, gear, and equipment is reviewed for authenticity prior to use at a presentation. We want to see it before it shows up at a presentation. Ask any member about how you can get in on this fun and edifying procedure and enjoy the committee’s scrutiny. But remember, you may be asked to document your stuff, especially if it’s something new to us.

• All items should be documented to within the proper time frame for a given presentation, or be shown to be in use in reasonable proximity before and after. In general, earlier is better than later for a convincing argument that an item existed.

• If you can’t get your stuff to a meeting or arrange a session with the committee, we’ll consider looking at photos.

• In extremes, an item may be summarily approved by a committee member or an appropriate “resource person,” but the item needs to go through the formal vetting process at the next meeting.

• Documentation is, by preference, from primary sources such as archaeological finds, museum pieces, period documents, manuscript pictures, etc. We have a number of favorite secondary sources by scholars whose work we find superior. Not all scholars are created equal. Be warned that we don’t like hearing that you saw a reference somewhere or heard about something; we prefer a "hard" citation.