James Hester is an internationally-renowned specialist in medieval and Renaissance swordsmanship. He began his career as an educator at the Higgins Armory Museum, while also serving as an actor-combatant and fight choreographer on the New England Renaissance festival circuit. He graduated from Salem State College in 2004, having presented his thesis on the Elizabethan fencing master George Silver, before moving to the UK in to complete an MA in Medieval Studies at the University of York. His dissertation, an edition of MS Harley 3542 (aka “The Man That Wol”), a little-known 15th century English fencing manual, received a distinction and continues to be used by the Western Martial Arts community.
He then joined the Royal Armouries Museum, where he gradually rose through the ranks, having the honor of being appointed Royal Armouries Curator of Tower Collections at the Tower of London in 2010. He conducted in-depth research into arms & armour and early fencing techniques, making use of their vast collection of original weapons and surviving treatises on combat. He has lectured and published widely on these topics, led workshops allowing the public to handle and learn from original objects, appeared in several documentaries on fencing and early arms, and offered training and consultation in both historical and stage combat. In 2012, he co-wrote the Introduction of The Medieval Art of Swordsmanship, the newest edition of Royal Armouries MS I.33, with Worcester Art Museum curator Jeffrey Forgeng. Most recently, he was appointed Editor of the newsletter for the Arms and Armour Society, of which he is a long-time member.
In 2015, James was awarded the Arms and Armour Heritage Trust Studentship by the University of Southampton. He currently resides in the UK where he is pursuing his PhD in History, focusing on late medieval edged weapons.