The Society for the History of Medieval Technology and Science
A society to promote, popularise and contribute to the study of European, Islamic, and Asian technology and science of the Middle Ages.


Programme


Saturday, 25th November 2017 at 2:00 pm, in the Museum of the History of Science, Old Ashmolean Building, Broad Street, Oxford.

James Hester 'Forensic Fencing: What can damage on blades tell us about medieval swordsmanship?'.

The martial arts of Europe were just as sophisticated as those of Asia. However, as the weapons concerned declined in use, the arts were gradually forgotten. Only in the last thirty years have efforts been made to study surviving sources in an attempt to understand, and perhaps re-create, these lost techniques.

We are fortunate in having a wealth of surviving late medieval arms and armour in collections throughout the world, including many beautiful and well-preserved swords. Closer examination of some of these reveals traces of their former use preserved as notches, rolled edges, and wear patterns on the blade. Having not been previously investigated in detail, this talk will discuss part of my PhD research in which I analyse these damaged blades to gain insights into medieval swordplay. Focusing on the period between 1350 and 1500, this includes the ways in which different parts of the weapon were used, the types of techniques that may have been most common, and also any possible shift in technique that could have taken place throughout the period covered.

Perhaps ‘reading’ the blades will prove a major key to recovering these lost martial arts.




Our June meeting will a talk by Seb Falk on early medieval mathematics, exact date and topic TBD