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‘To adorn the great light of Mars’: armed fighting techniques of the Late Middle Ages

‘To adorn the great light of Mars’: armed fighting techniques of the Late Middle Ages
‘To adorn the great light of Mars’: armed fighting techniques of the Late Middle Ages
While medieval warfare has been a long established topic of study, focus to date has been primarily on macro-scale aspects such as the composition of armies, the strategies of commanders, and the overall narratives of battles. Less attention has been given to the fighting techniques practised by the individual combatants comprising these large forces. By examining a range of late medieval sources from 1350-1500 including battle-related damage on arms and armour, portrayals of combatants in visual sources of diverse artistic media, sharp force wounds on medieval skeletal remains, and martial arts techniques portrayed in surviving late medieval European treatises on martial arts, this study attempts to gain deeper insights into the techniques and principles of armed combat with edged weapons (in particular swords, daggers, and staff weapons) practised in Europe at this time. These sources are analysed to answer three primary questions. First, to what extent are these sources consistent in their evidence of armed combat? Second, are non-treatise sources consistent with depictions in the fencing treatises? Finally, can source data be used to support arguments for techniques in the treatises having actually been understood and practised? The findings demonstrate that techniques in the treatises were not merely an idealised form of combat, but rather a sophisticated martial art whose techniques and principles were widely appreciated and utilised. They provide a new perspective into the experiences of individual combatants at this time, and also provide researchers with the means of assessing the degree to which a given source represents an accurate portrayal of late medieval armed combat.
University of Southampton
Hester IV, James Francis
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Hester IV, James Francis
167e9721-9552-48d1-bbd1-a3f5d6213812
Curry, Anne
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Woolgar, Christopher
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Hester IV, James Francis (2018) ‘To adorn the great light of Mars’: armed fighting techniques of the Late Middle Ages. University of Southampton, Doctoral Thesis, 268pp.

Record type: Thesis (Doctoral)

Abstract

While medieval warfare has been a long established topic of study, focus to date has been primarily on macro-scale aspects such as the composition of armies, the strategies of commanders, and the overall narratives of battles. Less attention has been given to the fighting techniques practised by the individual combatants comprising these large forces. By examining a range of late medieval sources from 1350-1500 including battle-related damage on arms and armour, portrayals of combatants in visual sources of diverse artistic media, sharp force wounds on medieval skeletal remains, and martial arts techniques portrayed in surviving late medieval European treatises on martial arts, this study attempts to gain deeper insights into the techniques and principles of armed combat with edged weapons (in particular swords, daggers, and staff weapons) practised in Europe at this time. These sources are analysed to answer three primary questions. First, to what extent are these sources consistent in their evidence of armed combat? Second, are non-treatise sources consistent with depictions in the fencing treatises? Finally, can source data be used to support arguments for techniques in the treatises having actually been understood and practised? The findings demonstrate that techniques in the treatises were not merely an idealised form of combat, but rather a sophisticated martial art whose techniques and principles were widely appreciated and utilised. They provide a new perspective into the experiences of individual combatants at this time, and also provide researchers with the means of assessing the degree to which a given source represents an accurate portrayal of late medieval armed combat.

Text
JF Hester THESIS FINAL - Version of Record
Restricted to Repository staff only until 9 January 2022.
Available under License University of Southampton Thesis Licence.

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Published date: August 2018

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 428636
URI: https://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/428636
PURE UUID: 05f5ed30-a06e-419a-ac2c-43f396d4e965

Catalogue record

Date deposited: 05 Mar 2019 17:30
Last modified: 13 Mar 2019 17:31

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Contributors

Author: James Francis Hester IV
Thesis advisor: Anne Curry
Thesis advisor: Christopher Woolgar

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