Digitising Fencing Treatises at the National Fencing Museum

Last weekend I had the privilege to be assisting fellow fencing scholar-practitioner Guy Windsor in beginning a massive undertaking to digitise the extensive collection of early fencing treatises held at the National Fencing Museum in Worcestershire. The collection of manuscripts and printed books includes some of the most iconic works dating back to the sixteenth century. We got a fair bit done in three days, but there is much more work to do, so stay tuned for updates on this ongoing project.

Working on a pristine copy of Gran Simulacro dell’Arte e dell’Uso della Scherma (1610) by the legendary Ridolfo Capo Ferro
It wasn’t all work of course. In my right hand, a 1687 treatise by Sir William Hope. In my left, a 1729 work by the same author. What is it that drives me forward to keep photographing pages with so many more texts to go, you may ask? Why, nothing less than hope beyond hope.

Lecture on combat in medieval art at 2016 Leeds IMC

Acta Periodica Duellatorum organised a session at the 2016 International Medieval Congress at Leeds this year, entitled ‘Historical European Martial Arts Studies II: The Art of Fighting in Context’, at which I had been invited to present by organiser and fellow scholar-practitioner Daniel Jaquet.

Entitled ‘Depictions of Combat in Medieval Art: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly’, my talk explored some of the initial findings of my PhD research concerning the way in which combatants are portrayed in medieval artwork of various media. I examined the ways in which the weapons were being held, both in attack and preparation for an attack, and the patterns that have begun to emerge as the data set of visual sources are examined as a whole. I then looked at how the depictions in these works of art compare to the way that combatants are depicted in the fencing treatises. Although a very stats-heavy presentation, it was generally well received.

Lecture on blade damage at 2016 Kalamazoo Medieval Conference

Today I delivered a lecture at the 51st International Congress on Medieval Studies in Kalamazoo, Michigan. The session was organised by the Societas Johannis Higginsis, and was entitled ‘”Can These Bones Come to Life?”: Insights from Re-construction, Re-ennactment, and Re-creation’.

My paper, ‘Extant Damage on Late Medieval Edged Weapons and Armours: Initial Findings and Interpretations’, showcased some of my initial discoveries from the object examinations I am conducting as part of my PhD research. I identified some of the types of damage discovered on pieces of arms and armour, and also some of the trends that are beginning to become apparent when they are compared.

James Hester awarded PhD Studentship in UK

Earlier this summer, I was honoured and delighted to have been awarded the Arms and Armour Heritage Trust Studentship to pursue a PhD in History, focusing on late medieval edged weapons, at the University of Southampton in the UK.

While this means that, unfortunately, I will be suspending teaching classes as The School of Mars for now, I look forward to possibly offering workshops and lectures in the UK and the US in the coming years.