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KNIGHTS?FRATERNITY IN OPOLE

The rising date of the Knights’Fraternity in Opole reaches the year 2000, when a group of few admirers of Middle Ages created an association, which was granted legal personality the year later. In this way came into being Knights’Fraternity in Opole where at present belong several dozen of warriors  and dames from various cities of south Poland. The originator of the association rise was late Andrzej Kowalczyk and a group of people around him, including the chamberlain in that time, Andrzej „Effendi” Kościuk presently occupying deputy’s function at present, commanding and standing on the forefront of the Knights’ Council appointed by members of the fraternity every four years.

Promotion and reproduction of material culture and the realities of  everyday life in Middle Ages is the main profile of the fraternity’s activity. Reproduction of „living history” realised by the members of the fraternity consists of their regular participation in workshops and  fencing trainings where men learn the secrets of former fencing with the special regard of fencing treaties coming from preserved sources.

Activity of people from Opole is also creation of dresses and mediaeval equipment with special care about historical authenticity. They possess dresses representing all the periods of Middle Ages and conditions of the social hierarchy. Thanks to their work, commitment and historical knowledge, they accumulated considerable collections of  Knights’ armament and gears from XIII – XVth centuries, artilleries, equipment of English and Turkish archers, and also mediaeval tents, pieces of furniture, camping equipment, dishes, camp lanterns and other paraphernalia of daily usage.

Due to individual interests OBR members also deal with the practice of calligraphy, quill writing, Latin paleography, compiling the mediaeval scribe’s workshop, producing by their own ink, paper, candles, cressets, camp lanterns and other writing materials. They participate regularly and organise workshops in ceramics, smiths, armoury, mead distillation, old dance, artillery, weaving, embroidery, axe, spear and knife throwing, acting, archery, culinary, purse making, horncraft, coinage, shoemaking and tailoring.

One should remember high level of opolian archers, winning top prizes in archery tournaments in the country and overseas. Demonstrations of horsemanship and stagings of mediaeval battles in the light of burning huts take major part in making their artistic repertoire attractive.

Quite loud attraction in the OBR programme are artillery and pyrotechnical demonstrations with gunshots from  cannons, handguns and fire dance performances.

From the beginning of their existence the members of  Knights’Fraternity  in Opole establish co-operation with various fraternities from the whole Poland, and with Belorussian, Russian, Lithuanian, Latvian, Ukrainian, Austrian and German knighthood as well. Because of the neighbourhood with the Czech border, the cross-border co-operation with Czech fraternities develops very well,  particularly with Šermířský Spolek from Jeseník  which opolians are united with in many common undertakings within the EU projects.

Knights and dames  participate the whole year in mediaeval feasts, tournaments and knights' feasts in whole Europe. One can boldly enumerate half thousand of events with the part of the fraternity within nine years of its activity. One surely can number to the most important foreign undertakings participation  in Belorussian tournaments in Nowogródek and Nieśwież, in Austrian, Czech and German castles and demonstrations in Chicago. They were already hosted in dozens of Polish locks, in nomadic events in forests around Łódź and in many outdoor tournaments organized by friendly fraternities.

Opolanie already had the opportunity to participate in the most spectacular stagings of mediaeval battles. They fought many times on the fields of Grunwald during „Days of Grunwald” - the largest knights’ undertaking in Poland. Every year, they live there for almost a week in the historical camp.

Thanks to conscientious work of the members of Knights’ Fraternity in Opole this association led by the deputy Andrzej Kościuk, possesses considerable place amongst the Polish knights' fraternities. It is very esteemed in the present knights’ movement and willingly invited to the most prestige European events. Unfortunately, due to lack of time and large number of invitations the opolians are not able to participate in all tournaments, taking part in different knights’ event each week-end in the summer season.

From the beginning of their existence the fraternity met in many places in Opole, participating in regular trainings. Since 2007, however  it can be proud of original and only in the world building of this type  - the wooden town.

One can find more information about the town and OBR actions there on the website.grod.pl.tl and www.grod.byczyna.pl.

The artillery tower in Opole together with mediaeval walls administered by opolians since January 2009 is the second seat which knights can be proud of.  Freshly renewed building is placed near  St ks. Stefana Bladego between Odra river and opolian cathedral. This is an excellent touristic attraction, therefore OBR  prepares there many interesting expositions, i.e. exhibition of the torture tools , dresses demonstrations, armament and coats of arms and little shop with souvenirs. Solemn opening joint with artistic presentations and mediaeval fair took place on 25th of  April, 2009.

Knights’ Fraternity in Opole can be proud of organisation of few dozen great historical events where took part from one to seven hundred participants from a dozen countries. These events were seen by spectators numbering from a few hundred to tens of thousands. It is worth to remember  about organisation of all-Polish tournaments castles in Racibórz,  Brzeg, Leśnica, Grodziec, Jastrzębie, Duszniki, Tarnowskie Góry, Rudy, Javorniku, Paczków, Poznań, Opole, Bielsko-Biała, Głogów and Ryn.

Yet the largest glory, also connected with  large work expenditure ,  are serial events of international character:

  • International Tournaments in Byczyna - 2003-2009 (cyclically in first the weekend of May and in September)
  • International Feasts in Opole – Bierkowice – 2001 – 2006 (cyclically in first weekend of August)
  • International Tournaments in Opole – on the Bolko island – 2006 - 2009 (cyclically in first weekend of August)
  • Days of Opole  - 2005 - 2009 (second half of  April)
  • Franciscan Fair in Poznań - 2007-2009 (cyclically - September)