James Hester is a specialist in European arms, armour, and combat. He began as an educator at the Higgins Armory Museum while also serving as an actor-combatant and fight choreographer at several New England Renaissance festivals. 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, continues to be used by the HEMA community.
He then joined the Royal Armouries Museum from 2006-2011. Starting as a Gallery Host in Leeds, he then entered the Collections Department as a Curatorial Assistant for Edged Weapons, and was later appointed Curator of Tower Collections at the Tower of London.
He has lectured and published widely, 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.