What Happens in a Battle?

The Woodvilles reenact battles from the Wars of the Roses and give combat displays.
Wars of the Roses battles are generally on a large scale and will involve 'fighting' an opposing group using pole weapons, swords and archery. The group is formed into a 'bill-block' and this joins a larger mixed unit called a 'battle'. Each block has a captain and/or a Vintener (like a sergeant). Archers can act as an independent group or join others. A single reenactor will be given responsibility for the direction of all archers during a display. Gunners will also report to a responsible individual. The display is marshalled according to a script decided by the organisers and group captains.

When two blocks meet they will 'fight'. This involves attempting to score a safe hit against an opponent with your weapon. When hitting someone the blow is 'pulled' to prevent full contact. This can be fun and both blocks will approach it with good humour. The blocks will fight back and fourth and move about the field until they are required either to win, or break and be defeated. Those on the defeated side will be expected to 'die' or be 'captured' but not before fighting as best they can against the victors. Whichever side you are on, if you receive a 'killing blow' from an opponent within view of the public you must 'die'. A battle looks pretty silly if the whole of one side remains unscathed! It is important to remember that we are there for the public and should give them the best show possible.

Some battles are 'open ended'. These are usually combat displays with varying numbers of participants. Hits are scored against the opposition until it is decided that the display should end. At this point good hits are taken as killing blows by both sides. Those still standing are the victors. This type of display often involves fewer people, so it is important to make the final combat entertaining for the public.


Some battles will involve horses. The Woodvilles sometimes work with 'Destrier', a group dedicated to the medieval horse in battle and jousting (click here to visit their site).

If you want to bring a horse for display you will need additional equipment and information. Ask the Woodville group captain or another horse owner for advice (we have several riders in the group). Alternatively contact Destrier (click).

How do I join in?

Safety is the most important thing in a battle reenactment. Participants should be responsible individuals. Each group holds public liability insurance and this only remains valid if safety rules are followed.

To take part in a battle you must be 16 or over and wear a helmet. You will also be given some weapons training before you begin.

What Kit do I need?

People can fall, weapons can break and arrows can be blown off course, so even if you don't plan fighting (e.g water carrying) you must wear a helmet.

To fight in a bill-block you will need a helmet, padded jack, gloves and a weapon. An archer will need the same but will have a bow and safety arrows (called 'blunts'). A gunner will also have the same plus a hand gun or cannon.

Once you have the basic kit you can expand upon it. Some start with a jack and helmet and end up in full armour. It all depends upon personal preference and budget.

Click here to go to the next page to find out MORE ABOUT FIGHTING KIT

Back to Top