Inspiration #14, A Varangian Guardsman in Byzantium

In the fourteenth part of the inspiration series, will be have a look at Russian reenactor Yevgeny Danilov, aka Hǫskulðr, who gained my admiration for his approach to historical reconstruction.

Yevgeny comes from Kursk. With his wife Yuliya Danilova, they own a shop that is focused on medieval tents and hand-sewn costumes, named Familia Sartores. He has been involved in historical reconstruction for over 12 years. Most of this time he was devoted to reconstruction of Scandinavian material culture in 9th and 10th century. He also tried to reconstruct 16th century landsknechts, but he soon gave up. In the future he plans to reconstruct 17th century. Since the last year, Yevgeny is focused on reconstructing a varangian in service of the Byzantine Empire during 11th century. And I must admit that he undertook this task successfully.

Yevgeny’s character, Hǫskulðr, was born around 1010 in Gotland. At the age of 16, he killed a man by accident, took his belt with a good knife and fled to Norway, where he was hired by a jarl. In 1027 he took part in expedition of Óláfr the Stout against Danes. A year later, after Óláfr’s defeat, he fled with Óláfr to Sweden and Rus (Garðaríki). Hǫskulðr also accompanied Óláfr in 1030, when he returned to the Norwegian throne and stood by his side in the battle of Stiklestad. After Óláfr’s death, at the age of 20, he went with Haraldr Óláfsson to Russia and got hired by Yaroslav the Wise (Jarizleifr). From there, in 1034, Haraldr went south with about five hundred men and entered the service of the Byzantine emperor. Hǫskulðr the Old was among them.

Yevgeny’s costume consists of linen underpants with eyelets, on which patterned brocade hoses can be attached. The feet are protected by high leather boots, based on finds from Novgorod. The body is covered by a Byzantine-style tunic, a replica of the find from Manazan caves. The tunic is decorated with printed silk (the printed motif can be found at Byzantine dalmatics) and its cut and decoration can be documented in Byzantine pictorial sources. Another part of the costume is a woolen caftan made in the style of a Byzantine scaramangion, decorated with silver buttons and patterned silk. The caftan is belted with a replica of a belt set found in Gotland. A bag and a knife in a scabbard are hung on the belt. On the chest, the caftan is belted with a silk ribbon (pectorarion). The costume is complemented by a battle cloak (sagion) with sewn-on silk tablions and a table cap lined with a ribbon made of silk and silver wire; sometimes he wears a scarf or a hood instead. It is worth mentioning that Yevgeny’s wife Yuliya managed to sew all the textile parts of the costume in three days.

The battle costume consists of a mail, a conical helmet, a single-edged sword type C, a two-hand axe based on a find from Hejde, Gotland, and a replica of a long knife based on yet unpublished Gotland find (so-called “seax from a box”).

A detailed description of Yevgeny’s costume can be found in his costume passport.

I would like to thank Yevgeny Danilov for granting me permission to use his photographs and for detailed description of his costume. Here we will finish this article. Thank you for your time and we look forward to any feedback. If you want to learn more and support my work, please, fund my project on Patreon or Paypal.

19. ledna 2021

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