Was William the Conqueror’s victory at the Battle of Hastings the result of his skill as a Commander?

The study of the period of 1066 has proved problematic for historians due to the scarce nature of contemporary sources. Although few, if any, historical sources are totally impartial, the surviving documents concerning the Battle of Hastings are particularly biased. This bias results, in no small part, from the attempt made by the Normans after the conquest to justify William’s actions. Therefore, much of the surviving material is Norman in focus and written some time after 1066.

A second problem with the study of this period relates to the traditional ideas that are held by many concerning the Battle of Hastings. Perhaps most notably, the surviving assumption that Harold was shot in the eye. These pre-held misconceptions make many later sources fundamentally unreliable.

However, this is not to say that it is impossible to find out about the period of 1066. Despite its obvious Norman bias and the fact that it was compiled sometime after the event, the Bayeux Tapestry offers a considerable amount of insight. Similarly, the Anglo-Saxon Chronicles, the writings of William de Poitiers and even some contemporary historians provide valuable interpretations of the events leading to Harold’s defeat and of the battle itself.

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Apologies for missing last Friday

Apologies for missing the article on Friday. According to our hosting service:

“Since mid April a very large brute force attack has been taking place against WordPress sites.

The brute force attacks have been conducted by a large botnet consisting of thousands of unique IP addresses across the world, trying to steal WordPress admin credentials.

This attack is not just isolated to our service, and this seems to be happening on a global scale across multiple web hosts.”

As a result of recent security measures, we were locked out of the blog for the last few days, and have only just been able to log back into it. We are taking steps to ensure that this does not happen again. You can rest assured that there will be a blog article ready to go online on Friday this week as normal.

Thanks for your patience!

Teaching skills, and presenting a class

Today I wanted to talk a bit about instructing, and how to instruct. Instructing is a very important skill, however it can often be ignored, or it can be underdeveloped.

Firstly, I want to point out that being a good fighter does not make you a good instructor. I have been in class by excellent fighters who could not teach very well, and I know I’ve heard plenty of other people say this as well, so it seems to be a relatively well recognised skill. Being a good researcher also doesn’t necessarily make you a good teacher either. More worryingly, even some people who have been instructing for years and seem to think they are good teachers can in reality be poor at teaching.

Teaching is a skill, and one that takes a long time and a lot of effort to be developed. It can’t be done quickly, and it can’t be ignored. When I first started instructing, I thought that I was really good. As I get better at instructing, I realise that how I was instructing previously was actually quite poor, and even now, I don’t let myself get complacent thinking that I don’t need to keep developing my instructing skills, because I really do. I think all instructors can keep developing their instructing skills, and because they can, they should. You can always become a better instructor, and I hope that this post today gives people a few thoughts on how to accomplish that.

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The Advantages to Having a Curriculum and Syllabus

In this article I would like to discuss the concept of the curriculum and syllabus, and why I believe martial arts organisations should have both.

In the Academy of Historical Arts, we have tried various approaches to developing syllabi and curricula, but none of them have been able to survive an increase in members, instructors and affiliated clubs across the organisation. For whatever reason, they may have been too labour-intensive on the part of the instructor, too admin-intensive on the part of club or organisation secretaries, or just too rigid and inflexible to be able to take into account the different needs of different clubs.

At the end of 2012, I proposed a new syllabus for the organisation, which has survived well, without needing any changes. It was abstract enough to accommodate all of our affiliated clubs and all of our instructors with different interpretations, but inclusive enough to ensure that everyone can be working towards the same goals without neglecting any part of their training.

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Scottish Sword Project – The Sources


So this week I have decided to write a post with the beginning documentation of a long term project I am working on. A few years ago I purchased a bare Type X blade from Albion, and have been waiting for a project worthy of the blade so I can hilt it. At fightcamp in August the perfect project appeared while I was visiting a private collection and saw a wonderful example of a Scottish style medieval arming sword. Seeing this example reminded me of something I have often wondered about why Scotland chose a fairly unique sloping hilt style for its medieval swords and more importantly how this would have effected the style of swordsmanship practised. Before I go any further I should warn the reader that this will be a long project and will undoubtedly take at least six months for me to complete, so roughly May 2014. Once I have finished however I will put links to all my posts on the topic here so that they can easily be read in order.

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