Living History in the late Tudor Age
The Trayn’d Bandes of London are an association dedicated to quality living history for the period 1584-1603, the late Elizabethan period. Historically, the Trained Bands were the core of the English militia during this period; bandsmen were all civilians, typically of the lower to middle classes, who trained in military drill in their spare time to ensure the country’s military preparedness.
As with many living history groups, one of our activities is military drill of the period with musket and pike. However, in keeping with the civilian character of the historical Trained Bands, we also devote attention to civilian aspects of this period, particularly the crafts and entertainments of ordinary folk.
Since 1991 the Trayn’d Bandes have hosted several Elizabethan events each year, as well as taking part in living history events organized by other groups and living history sites. Several Bandesmen participate within the Society for Creative Anachronism (SCA, Inc.), as well as volunteering as costumed interpreters in the Fort at Jamestown Settlement.
Our events typically involve various entertainments and activities of the period: food, singing, dancing, crafts, fencing, games, and often a mock battle. In contrast with many amateur living history groups, we also try to recreate the less tangible social aspects of society, principally through the first-person or ‘persona’ style of living history. We do not require participants to be in character all the time, but we try to foster an atmosphere in which this kind of living history comes easily. In general, our goal is to allow people to immerse themselves in the atmosphere of the past. To assist newcomers, we keep a supply of loaner clothing and equipment; we also have basic written materials available for those who are interested.
The Bandes are also heavily involved in research and education. We have produced a series of publications for living history, as well as having been involved in the production of Daily Life in Elizabethan England, published by Greenwood Press in 1995. At the local level, member groups occasionally take part in public demonstrations of period activities, such as music, dance, and crafts.
The Trayn’d Bandes of London are always interested in contact with others of like mind, and new members are welcome (note that you do not need to be a member to participate in our activities). Note also that women are welcome to take part in military activities, too. If you dress in pants you are considered male, and will assume a male persona.