7 grudnia 2015

An Austerlitz tale / ball, battle and celebrating victory in 1805

There are some events worth waiting for the whole year. When you are thinking over all the historical gowns and things, sewing for days and counting down for a moment you leave home to spent few days in 19th century, it is almost sure, some adventures are waiting just behind the corner. Austerlitz is one of them.

Last year, after a ball in Warsaw, when I was willing for a napoleonic reenactment and Waterloo (I will translate my both Waterloo ball and battle stories to english to at the end of the year, I promise!) looked unattainable, I decided I will go to Austerlitz with soldiers in December - and I did it! The journey with soldiers passed quickly and as soon as we reached our cantonment, we started our ball preparations. I decided to wear my Duchess od Richmond Ball gown with a matching tiara - it seems to be my favourite set! There was still much time to greet many friends and conversate. Two of the new acquaintances offered they can escort us to the ball. We agreeded and soon moved to a Slavkov Castle, where the ball took place.

photo Evzen Petrik
The place before the castle was quite crowded. Everyone was waiting for the special guests and in a minute after they came, the valtz started. We were swirling there quite a long time and when the music stopped, guards started to escort special guests to the castle. We followed them and soon found ourselves in a splendid ballroom - full of light shining in chandeliers and tall mirrors. I enjoyed polonaise, valtzes, quadrilles and contredances, especially because there were young and kind soldiers who accompanied me all the time. I also met there my other acquaintances. A russian prince, I met at the Duchess of Richmond Ball, took a bow and then we exchanged some kind words. I also recognized his adorable wife and sweet daughter in a pink dress, who didn`t miss any dance :)

When it was close to the midnight the beautiful cake was brought and then sliced. Our soldiers brought us some pieces of it and when we all tried to guess if the (torn off secretly) wing of napoleonic eagle was made from marzipan or sugar, I realized there is someone I met before, behind me. I turned around and recognized my friend - musician of the regiment, I had met there, right there 5 years ago. Then we also met at Waterloo and I knew he would be in Austerlitz now as well but he wasn`t allowed to dance. It was so nice, he came to the castle anyway, just to watch us dancing and talk. After the ball ended, he escorted us to the vehicle and we came back to our place.

photo Pav Lucistnik
The next day started very early - it takes much time do get dressed in early 19th century and when I prepared by the one of two big mirrors in the hall, already woken soldiers stopped and stared incredulously, which was a little fun to me. It is not simple to be a historical accurate civilian reenactor and share the room with all the french infantry regiments from Poland at the same time :D
After I prepared, there was a time to march out to the battlefield. We went with soldiers to the Santon hill and then watched a while their maneuvers. I gave them spicy cookies, I baked before and then we left them exercising and moved to Tvarozna for a walk. As we were walking down, a man on a grey horse appeared and greeted us kindly. It was Napoleon himself! We bowed as gracely as the moulded mud under our feet allowed. Then he moved in Santon direction and we went a way to the village chattering about the honor of meeting the emperor himself.

Tvarozna camp, photo Austerlitz.org
There was really pretty camp near the river in Tvarozna. There were crackling fireplaces with the hot tea and soup in the iron pots above. And white tents around. The whole village was so quiet, we could hear the blacksmith`s hammer clanging. Everyone were on the fields. Everyone except some soldiers randomly walking there and back again. One of them turned out to be my friend, who said there is no need for musician to be at the maneuvers. We were talking a while and after that we sat near the fireplace with a cup of hot caj (tea) and a treats we got from russian vivandieres. In short time the troobs came back. We heard their march and drums and soon our regiment called us. It was high time to go for the battle!

We spent the whole battle sitting on a straw and just watching soldiers move. They looked as a toys in the hands of three emperors. But the sun shined bright for Napoleon and brought him brillant victory. Before the dawn it was all finished and the soldiers started to form in sections to go back to cantonment and feast there. We decided to go with some of them to Slavkov. When we came to the village, it was full of excited people. The night was enlighted by the fire and many lights. The spicy hot wine and honey and roasted almonds warmed us while we were walking down the boulevards to wait for the victory parade. The crowd grew and when the parade began, all the people started moving to the castle`s gardens. I was a little scared but then saw heavy cavalry showing the way to castle. Behind the horses regular troobs marched and behind them - vivandieres, we joined as quisk as possible. This helped us to protect from the crowd (I lost my glove and got drenched with spicy wine anyway...) and get into the garden. There were amazing fireworks there! The whole sky was covered with sparkles, twinkles and golden stars which fell down on us to end this beautiful day.

The next morning it was high time to go back home. We tried to stay in 19th century a little longer by taking a walk through quiet and epmty now castle gardens. We also tasted some delicious czech fried potato cakes with cheese and honey as a breakfast. But then it was really high time to be back. As we travelled to 21st century, leaving Austerlitz behind, the dense, wet fog of time oozed the Moravia pine hills creating a memory of the happy, past time in 1805.

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