Bringing Encased in Steel to its Conclusion

We opened Encased in Steel on the 17th of February 2011, meaning that the blog has been running and posting on a weekly basis for slightly more than six years. However, we are now going to draw the blog to its conclusion, and will no longer be posting on a regular weekly basis. There may still be some new updates from time to time, but it will not be a regular thing.

We will continue to host the blog, and the better quality articles will remain accessible and free of charge, although we may take down some of the older, less relevant and lower quality articles.

I fully intend to keep writing my own thoughts and articles on my own personal blog, over on my new website. Again, it may not see regular updates, at least not in the near future, but I will be continuing to write and to make my thoughts on martial arts available to the community.

It has been a pleasure writing for the community over the last six years, and thank you to everyone who has engaged in discussions resulting from our articles. It has helped us come to terms with our own understanding of HEMA and history, and we hope the blog has helped others in their own journey too.

How to write an Encased in Steel blogpost

This article has been written and submitted by Daria, one of the instructors within the Academy of Historical Arts.

Writing may seem overwhelming, especially if you haven’t done it in a long while (or at all). It often seems to be a large, time-consuming, but surprisingly nebulous task. If you are interested in submitting a guest article to Encased in Steel, this little how-to is meant to encourage you and make the task a little bit easier. What I propose here is by no means the only way to approach the problem. Some steps can be omitted entirely, or they can be rearranged, especially as you become more experienced and more confident as a writer. But it does outline a natural progression of tasks that may be a little bit easier to tick off than just ‘WRITE!’.

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How to run a bakesale

As a group, we like to keep our membership costs low, to stop the costs from being prohibitive. This means however that we need to draw in money from sources other than membership to help us cover the cost of things like equipment. One of the easiest fundraisers to run is a bakesale, and one of our members, Ellie, has written a few words on how to run one.

Last year I decided I wanted to run a charity fundraising bakesale for the AHA and people were enthusiastic about helping out or at least eating the products.  However, these things tend to get put off because when you start thinking about how to put it together it can seem complicated, and suddenly it’s next year.  Then there was a recent initiative to return to the days when fundraising events were a staple of the club, so I revisited the idea of running a bakesale.  This was partly to raise money for the charity to which our university society is affiliated, but mostly because I like making cakes.  Despite a couple of blips, we ran a very lucrative bakesale earlier this week.  (Thank you to everyone who took the time to bake and help out with this.)

If you are thinking about running a fundraising event for your own club there are exciting alternative charity events, but bakesales are amongst the easiest and most popular.  So, here is some basic information on setting one up, including a couple of easy peasy recipes suitable for even the kitchenphobic.  

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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!

Dragon Mythology


This week we have a vary special post. Earlier this afternoon at 13:13 we launched the newest fundraising shop for the Academy of Historical Arts, The Dragon Sanctuary. This shop sell leather dragons and equipment for the keeping and raising of dragons. So we invite you to check it out and in honour of this we have had an essay prepared specially that is a brief introduction to European Dragon Mythology. We hope you enjoy.

The Dragon Sanctuary

The Dragon Sanctuary

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Traits of a Potential Instructor


This week I am going to take a look at what traits we look for in an AHA instructor (aka: a “black shirt”). A big part of my job for the past couple of years has been the identifying of individuals that are suitable to make the transition from student to instructor within the organisation. I thought it may help some of you running your own clubs to see how I undertake that thought process and the reasoning behind those traits being important. Although I identify instructors across all the AHA programmes I will be focusing primarily on the Combat Instructors in this article.

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Women on the Stage

Women on Stage

Today, many of the most notable female celebrities are actresses, or performers of some other kind. However, this is a moderately new development. That women were not allowed on the stage in Shakespeare’s time is ‘common knowledge,’ and the subsequent expectation is that the only role women played in theatre at this time was that of audience member. This is not entirely true, though women were not hailed as actresses and patrons at this time due to the societal expectations of female modesty they did make some contribution, but the progression from the expectation that a pre-pubescent boy would play such extravagantly female roles a Juliet, and the widespread acceptance and adulation for actresses today, was not an easy change.

Although the great Empires of Greece and Rome had enjoyed a theatrical tradition, these sinful performances had been banned by the early Christian church. This was all to change when, in an attempt to spread Bible stories despite widespread illiteracy in the general population, the Church itself resurrected the tradition of theatre with the Miracle Plays. These plays were simplistic retellings of Biblical texts and Christian morals and were performed in public areas, such as town squares, by members of the Clergy. Naturally, these performances did not include women, but there is some evidence to suggest that similar types of plays were performed within female only convents by a female cast, even in the Middle Ages, usually seen as time where women were oppressed in terms of ability to express themselves.[1] Even by 1603, despite having had a female Monarch for decades, English women still had extreme political and societal restrictions, even to the point of being encouraged not to speak their mind freely for fear of being labelled a ‘scold.’[2] Shakespeare’s habit of having his female characters masquerade as men is considered an attempt to bring realism to the stage as these parts would have been played by boys anyway, but it is also true that the shield of masculine clothing allows these women to deliver passionate speeches and condemn the actions of others in a way that, acknowledged as women, it would be unseemly for them to do so.[3]

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I Just Can’t Wait to be Queen


There are many legends surrounding Anne Boleyn. One of the charges laid against her at her trial was that of witchcraft and she has often been claimed to have an extra finger and a large mole on the side of her neck. However, it seems unlikely that a woman with disfigurements which would have been viewed with superstitious suspicion should manage to catch the eye of the king, and it is now widely thought that these stories are false.[1]

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The Nowell Codex and Beowulf


So this week there has been a slight change of plans and I am to post. I luckily found an essay in my hard drive I had forgotten about relating to the Nowell Codex. This fascinating codex contains a copy of the famous epic poem Beowulf. Although I won’t pretend this was my greatest work I felt it would be of interest to you our readers and would be better than anything I could produce on short notice. Also it seems fitting  as today (03/01/13) is the birthday of JRR Tolkein who was one of the leading scholars on the subject of Beowulf and more importantly on the subject of monster texts. So happy birthday Tolkein, this essay will probably make you spin in your grave but oh well…Cheers!

As well as providing this weeks post I also get the pleasure of wishing all of our readers a Happy New Year, I hope 2013 is a wonderful year for all of you and I hope to meet more of you over the year at various events. If you happen to want a broadsword and targe lesson, or a historical crafting lesson get in touch 😉 and we can meet sooner rather than later 🙂

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Announcement of Sponsorship

We are happy to announce the Academy’s first sponsor of 2013. A company called has been kind enough to supply the organisation with a large number of embroidered patches that we can sell to raise money for the Academy and its activities. The company operates a website here:

One main use for money raised by the sale of patches will be to buy in more fencing masks for the organisation. The Academy is one of the biggest such organisations in the UK and the number of our students has outstripped the number of fencing masks that we are able to supply. We would like to open up a couple of children’s clubs in the new year and so  the acquisition of protective gear is going to be top priority!

On behalf of the Academy of Historical Arts, its instructors and its students, I would like to thank for their generous support.
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