James Hester has been involved with HEMA since the age of 15, when he began performing fight shows throughout New England. He then set his course as an academic and educator, working in museums before completing an MA in Medieval Studies in the UK. He then joined the Royal Armouries Museum, rising over five years to become Curator of Tower Collections at the Tower of London. In 2015 he was awarded the Arms & Armour Heritage Trust Studentship to complete a PhD focusing on late medieval martial arts at the University of Southampton. A summary of the PhD thesis is here.
In this episode we talk about James’s exciting research, particularly about matching up the treatises and other sources we have from the period with the notches and dings found on weapons and skeletal evidence from battlefield graves to work out whether the techniques detailed in the fencing treatises were ones that were actually used at the time. Is it possible to extrapolate from a fencing treatise that this is how people actually fought? Click on the link for a video lecture on some of James’s research into damage on arms and armour.
We also talk about the passage of arms events James has organised, and his attempts to make the armour at these events as historically accurate as possible, i.e. not what we would think of as “safe” by modern standards. To read more about the 2018 passage of arms at the beautiful Château de Castelnaud in the Dordogne, France, see here: A brief write-up of the 2018 Judgement of Mars with some photos. For more photos, see this link from Facebook: Photos by La Mesnie du Blanc Castel of the 2019 Judgement of Mars on their Facebook page.
In the introduction I mention photographs of the treatises at the Fencing Museum in the U.K. You can see these here: https://guywindsor.net/2017/06/a-great-week-for-historical-fencing/
For more information on James and his work, see: