The Fortress of Love

According to a honourable tradition at the Grand Parish of Hollola between the mighty castles of Häme Castle and Viborg on the border of the great northern wilderness beside the Hollola church on Anno Domini 1418 June 21th-22th a battle is organized over the domination of the Fortress of Love. The combat over the Fortress of Love is an allegory for the relationship of noble women and men, in which it is the duty of every noble woman to defend their virtue with honour and dignity, while the duty of the nobleman is to conquer the heart of their lady by their valour and righteousness and to finally surrender for her service.

The Fortress of Love is a mock-up castle erected for tournament games, when a symbolic battle is to take place for the hearts of the most noble ladies. These ladies set themselves in the fortress after they have led their heroes to the lists on a chain in a parade. Each lady is defended by a champion chosen from among the men-at-arms, while the duty of the chosen of the heart of each lady is to conquer the Fortress from those champions.

The tournament has several different games. New military technology is presented at the tournament, such as handgunnes, cannons and catapult, as well as how they are used to open the gates of a castle during sieges. Audience will be presented with the rules of engagement in tournament games and what is specifically forbidden – even though common – in the field of actual battle. The audience can thus better follow the achievements of the heroes. We recommend that the audience chooses their own favourites, whose efforts and achievements they may support during different contests. The knights and men-at-arms may present their personal prowess by addressing challenges to each other in personal combat, to which the noble ladies shall act as judges (umpires). There will be an archery contest and a presentation of how well the armoured knights can stand a volley of arrows. The climax of the day will be the knights conquering the Fortress of Love from the troupe of champions.

Applying for participation

Volunteers for the tournament show are welcome. All noble ladies, strong men-at-arms and mighty knights, who are not banished, or the enemies of our lord king, are welcome. If the knights and men-at-arms wish to join the tournament they should indicate this by touching the violet shield for combat on foot and the black shield for mounted combat. Both shields are hanging on at the gate of the Fortress of Love. To participate each man entering the lists must present their coat-of-arms to the ladies, maidens, judges, and general public.

The Conquest of the Fortress of Love

Because this is a tournament game, and not a re-enactment of an actual battle, the rules are as follows. The knights attacking the Fortress are “invulnerable”. The men-at-arms defending the Fortress fight as their honour demands until they have taken a third hit, fallen, or surrendered to the knights. Slain men-at-arms set themselves kneeling and pull their heads down to protect their faces. The surrendering men-at-arms do the same, but hand over their gauntlet. Remember, there is no shame in surrendering, but it is a skill to know when to surrender!

Commands about misbehaviour

Item 1: If any a man taking part in the games has spoken ill of noble ladies, without reason, the punishment shall be a beating by all other participants, until he begs for forgiveness from the ladies.

Item 2: If a man enters the lists, who is not a knight of the realm, or even a man-at-arms, but who is a virtuous person, of bourgeois or a freeman family, he should be beaten by the captains of the knights and men-at-arms. This should not be counted as a dishonour but a honour for him.

Item 3: If anyone brakes any of the rules of the tourney and for example harms his adversory, shall it be counted as a shame on his name. If it is considered to be the result of deliberate action, or of negligence, he should be banned out from the games, let him not be welcome in the feasting, nor dance in the evening and may he bear the shame for the rest of his days.