Digitising Fencing Treatises at the National Fencing Museum

20 June 2017

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.




IMC Lecture Featured on

9 September 2016

Imagine my surprise to discover that the video my recent talk at the 2016 International Medieval Conference in Leeds has appeared on the renowned, a site that gathers news and articles related to the study of the Middle Ages. What an honour!

Lecture on combat in medieval art at 2016 Leeds IMC

5 July 2016

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

13 May 2016

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

4 August 2015

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.

Lecture on European Swordsmanship in Brookline, MA

10 March 2015

As part of Brookline Adult Education’s Thursday Lecture Series, I will be giving a talk on European Swordsmanship.

When: Thursday 12 March at 7:00-8:30pm
Where: Brookline High School, 115 Greenough Street Brookline, MA 02445
Admission: $6. Pay at the door or online.

New article by James Hester available in anthology on historical re-construction.

7 October 2014

My newest article, “Terminology of Medieval English Fight Texts: A Brief Overview” has been published in Can These Bones Come to Life Vol. 1., edited by Ken Mondschein and printed by Freelance Academy Press. The article examines the only three known English fight texts dating prior to the sixteenth century, and discusses some of their unique features that sets them apart from the wider corpus of martial arts literature in fourteenth and fifteenth-century Europe.