Napoleonic Civilian Living-Historian Charter
Civilian Living-Historian Charter
I am committed to developing and practicing the most historically accurate portrayal of a civilian of the Napoleonic Wars now possible. The only limitations I place upon the accuracy of my impression are due to a prudent concern for maintaining modern standards of health and safety.
I obtain the most historically accurate clothing, equipment, and accessories available to me. I insist upon the use of proper materials and construction techniques in all reproduction items. I banish all modern materials that were not used during the period represented. I remain very prudent when ordering items from "specialised" web sites destined to re-enactors, where items of a non-historic source or fabrication are very often proposed. I handle my finances in a manner that will prevent financial considerations from limiting the accuracy of my impression. It is preferable to make my clothing and equipement surely and gradually rather than quickly and foolishly, which will mean I would have to start all over again in a very short time.
I recognise that perfection does not exist, there will always be aspects of life that living-history may never be able to recreate. Despite that fact, I will not lose sight of the principal objective: to offer the most realistic representation possible within the limits of possibility.
My impression is based upon serious research into and careful analysis of reliable sources of information. I recognise the need to employ the historian's skills, including the ability to evaluate possible sources of information. I place considerable reliance upon documented research conducted by others, but I do not base my impression upon the claims of those who manufacture goods for the reenacting market, reenacting traditions and customs, superficial or outdated publications, entertainment media, or other suspect sources...I will also put aside conventional folklore that is often vehiculed on events without verifying their exactitude.
I recognise that our understanding of the details of history changes over time and I am prepared to change my impression to incorporate improvements dictated by new historical information as it becomes available to me. I welcome constructive discussion of such matters, and I share information freely.
I am aware that the vast majority of civilians, their view of the period conflicts were totally different to that of soldiers. In order to better recreate period civilian life, it is necessary to create plausible historic scenarios within the historical context of a given event. This underlines the fact that it will be difficult to create such scenarios or justify the presence of civilians on a battlefield without becoming an anachronism. Hence why civilians will need to elaborate their own scenarios within a civilian camp without interfering with those scenarios in the military camp, except when it comes to combat within a town.
Whilst portraying a Napoleonic civilian, I eat food that simulates as closely as possible the rations available to the men in the situation being depicted. However, I do not endanger my health by consuming food known to be dangerous.
I am able to modify my personal representation in order to better correspond to different situations in order to be in equation with a given scenario or historical site.
I will respect standards of hygiene and grooming consistent with that of a civilian during the Napoleonic Wars as much as possible.
I recognise that a successful impression cannot be superficial. My objective is not to conceal modern items but to re-create a historic time and place in detail. Therefore, my impression is as accurate and complete as I can make it on every level - including all of my clothing and the contents of my pockets, my pack, my bag, etc. Further, I am familiar with the material culture of the start of the 19th century in Europe in general.
I realise that Napoleonic soldiers had life experiences before they became soldiers and that the lives of civilians continued through the war, affected to various degrees by it. I am committed to learning about the lives of civilians during the conflicts to better understand the historical context and permit realistic interaction with military reenactors and, I will not eneter a military camp without an escort and, if I'm a woman, without an appropriate reason.
My undertaking is based upon serious research, it is important to share my knowledge with other history enthusiasts or with the general public. Living history is an learning tool that can benefit all interested persons of our experiences, our discoveries and our research.
In no way will I emit critisms to "mainstream" reenactors who chose not to use this charter. I will try as much as possible to make them understand our philosophy and encourage them to adopt as high a level of historical accurary as ourselves and avoid conflict with them. However, during and event with them, I do maintain my own high standards of excellence for portraying Napoleonic soldier life in accordance even if my entourage does not share the same standards.
During events, I adapt my mind-set to that of a man of the period and I limit as much as possible discussions on current events and modern-day reenacting politics.