A Perfect Length II: The Longsword

Last time it was my turn, I made a post about the perfect length of a single handed sword, according to several different masters in the 16th and 17th centuries. This week, I turn my attention to the longsword. However, in order to argue what length it should be, I have to define what it is first. For the purposes of this post, I will be defining the longsword simply as a sword that is designed so that it can be used with two hands on the grip. See Richard Marsden’s recent essay for example1, which argues that the longsword and the two handed sword are intrinsically different weapons. This is not something I agree with, though that said there is some historical evidence for a separation of the two.

Read more

Justification of a medieval Christian soldier

This week I decided to write about a topic that I have often been asked about. How could Christianity which was a religion of peace allow it’s followers to participate in so much warfare during the medieval period? I attended a strict religious school while in the US and as a historian at a university in the UK, where being Christian is considered unfashionable, I often found myself being expected to defend my beliefs and the actions of those who have held my beliefs. I am not the first Christian to have considered joining the military and in fact I found by looking to history I could gain an understanding of one of Christianity’s most apparent contradictions.

I hope you enjoy…

He who takes up the sword will perish by the sword” (Matthew 26:52) How then might a medieval theologian justify the role of the Christian soldier?

Read more

Distance, Range and Timing Seminar for RMAS

Alex and I have just returned from a two day course in Dundee with the Abertay RMAS group. This two day course has been incredible, and I would like to write a review of the event and to describe some of the food for thought that the last two days has given me.

The Dundee mob are a superb bunch, very friendly people and amongst their number are some very skilled martial artists. They are all pretty tough and very fit; they train twice a week for anywhere upwards of five hours per session. The practice on Wednesday started at 5pm and continued until the building closed at 11pm, so six hours of training without any breaks or resting periods. The theme for the course was “distance, range, timing and accuracy” since this is something that has been of particular interest to me for a while.

Read more

It’s always been about fashion! Decorative textiles through the ages.

Uses of Decorative Textiles

From the earliest days clothing and other forms of textiles have been decorated to show skill, affluence and, in some cases rank. Finds involving both textiles and decorative work related to them, have also been useful for reopening historical debate. The finding of beads amongst other artefacts has revised debates of regions involved in the early Indo-Roman trade and has suggested that Dibba may be an alternative site for Omana. Increase in ability in the production of these articles and in the variety of techniques also shows alongside growth of trade, industry and economy, marked technological developments. Documentation of these skills can also be useful in determining the occupation of different genders and classes in different places in different times in history. This work aims to provide examples of the importance of textiles and decorative beadwork to history regardless of period.
Read more