The Judgement of Mars: A Challenge to a Passage of Arms at Château de Castelnaud 15-16 September 2018

I, James Hester, having dedicated my life to the study and practice of the sword, and out of a desire to test and improve my knowledge of the art, do hereby declare my undertaking of a passage of arms at Château de Castelnaud, Castelnaud-la-Chapelle, France, from the 15th through the 16th of September in the year 2018.

I therefore invite challengers to face me in an exchange of blows in light armour with the longsword.

The Details

The event, entitled The Judgement of Mars, is an attempt to recreate an Emprise or Passage of Arms, where one or a small group of men-at-arms would ‘hold’ a location against challengers in tournament style combat as a way of honing and showcasing their martial skills.

A maximum of 30 challengers will be able to participate in the course of the weekend, with up to 15 combats held on each day. In addition to the contests, the weekend will include demonstrations and talks by several historical combat groups and specialists.

Having read the rules below, if you are interested in participating, please contact me here. In your message, please specify if you are willing to fight on either day, or if you prefer one in particular.



1. Only armour and equipment of period style (ranging between the years 1380 and 1430) will be allowed to be visible. Period appropriate soft kit (clothing) is required when not dressed for combat.

2. Each challenger will face the defender in a single bout.
When the arena is not in use for other activities, challengers may engage in practice or matches with others as they wish.

3. The combat will be with longswords in light armour.

Requirements for the sword
– Posessing a maximum overall length of 150cm.
– Made of steel with blunted edges in a style consistent with the prescribed time period (no feders).
– Possessing only a simple cross-hilt (no rings or additional guard features).
– The tip must be either rounded or squared off, and either folded over or flared.
– A black rubber blunt must be affixed to the tip. No other colours will be permitted.

Minimum requirements for armour
– For the torso and arms: a padded long-sleeved garment (e.g. a jack or gambeson).
– For the head: a steel helmet with solid steel visor incorporating sights/eye slits (no mesh).
– For the neck and throat: rigid or thick padded coverage (e.g. mail and padded aventail, or steel plates as part of a great bascinet).
– For the shoulders: Either steel spaulders or a mail and padded aventail which extends over the shoulders.
– For the elbows: steel couters/cops.
– For the hands: steel or rigid leather gauntlets.
– For the groin: rigid protection (can be modern since it will not be visible).

4. Each bout will be an exchange of eight strokes. A total of eight successful attacks will be counted out by the marshals (not eight for each combatant). Once these strokes have been made, the marshals will end the fight.

Successful attacks include:
– A clean blow with edge or point
– A strike with pommel or quillons

The target areas shall be the head, torso, and arms.

While grappling actions such as grabbing or pushing aside the weapon/hand/arm are permitted, joint locks, throws, and disarms are not permitted.

5. The marshals will ensure safe fencing in a controlled manner. Fencing that they deem to be unsafe will be met with a single warning. If repeated, the combatant will be disqualified.