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Modern Germans Reenact Medieval Battles

While filming our Protestant Reformation documentary in Germany, we decided to use Rothenburg's 16th-century settings to do my "on cameras." It was perfect: Its Medieval Crime and Punishment Museum is the best of its kind.
07/16/2015 01:42pm ET | Updated July 16, 2016
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While filming our Protestant Reformation documentary in Germany, we decided to use Rothenburg's 16th-century settings to do my "on cameras." It was perfect: Its Medieval Crime and Punishment Museum is the best of its kind. Its churches are quiet and stately in a 1500s Protestant kind of way. The ramparts just scream Thirty Years' War. And Jörg Christöphler, the very effective director of the Rothenburg tourism office, made sure we had access to whatever we needed to do our work well. Jörg actually called up his Thirty Years' War (1618-1648) army for us.

I had the joy of commanding about 50 stunningly clad re-enactors. In this clip, we've divided them in two groups so each cameraman could be creative. We wanted to get some artistic clips that Simon, my producer, can use for his treatment of the Wars of Religion that devastated Germany in that period. (We kept thinking Protestant and Catholic Christians 500 years ago are an eerie parallel to Shiite and Sunni Muslims of our era. By 1648, about 20 percent of Germany lay dead.) When we were finished with our work, Commander Jörg declared "100 liters of beer for all!" And our army marched to the nearest beer garden. Life is much better these days.