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SPQR—a book for the masses

Once upon a time I cut my teeth reading historians like Scullard, Cary and Gibbon. They were good chaps, in their own way, but their time is beginning to wane. We might well say when Byron falls, Rome falls and when Rome falls—the world, but the stuffy old professor approach to classics is finally making … Continue reading SPQR—a book for the masses

Fighting the stabby newb

Facing a master swordsman is terrifying, as is facing someone with a spear when you only have a shortsword. But there’s a danger you might come across that you underestimate, someone who trades you blow for blow or, worse, hits you without being hit in return—and it’s the first time they’ve ever picked up a … Continue reading Fighting the stabby newb

Mary Queen of Scots—Great Film

Go see Mary Queen of Scots. See it for the acting, see it for the history, see it for the Gaidhlig and, most importantly, see it for the unique story it tells. Even if you know what happens, the way they tell it is profound. Very few stories have the message this one does, and … Continue reading Mary Queen of Scots—Great Film

Shillelagh Bataireacht—some thoughts

So, over the last few months I’ve been getting into Irish Bataireacht—that’s shillelagh stick-fighting for the non-initiated. It’s like no martial art I’ve seen before. Trust my ancestors to come up with something so profoundly strange. That’s the Irish for you, aisteach ach alainn mar sin fein! What’s it all about then? Basically, it’s about … Continue reading Shillelagh Bataireacht—some thoughts

How Braveheart and Dead Poets Society tell the same story

They couldn’t be more different if they tried, right? Pikes and kilts and killing the English who invade their land, what could that have that’s similar to sitting around a posh boarding school and wanting to be in a play? And yet, when we get down to it, they tell essentially the same story. Rather … Continue reading How Braveheart and Dead Poets Society tell the same story

Hereward—Bourne Again

How have I not heard of this guy until well into my twenties? I’d like to think after a history degree and a lifetime’s interest in all things historical, I’d know all the key players in the time periods I was interested in. Apparently not. Que James Wilde, and his desire to bring Hereward to … Continue reading Hereward—Bourne Again

Spear and shield—some thoughts

I had the opportunity a while back to experiment with combining spear and shield both in single duels and in larger skirmishes. I wouldn’t say I’ve solved it definitively but I think I’ve got a few points worth adding to the discussion. Let’s start with one-on-one duels. This is where I think the biggest disagreement … Continue reading Spear and shield—some thoughts

Re-watching Rome—the knife-edge of history

“But let us turn to the different, but equally grave, plight of the modern historian… knowing more and more about less and less, sunk without trace in an ocean of facts.” A little while ago I made a post about appreciating the layman when it comes to history. I basically said they’re great at getting … Continue reading Re-watching Rome—the knife-edge of history

“But I blocked it!”—when your defence fails you

So I was re-watching Game of Thrones these last few weeks, you know, as you do, and I saw an interesting fight scene. It reminded me of something I’d learned from studying primary sources in history from a lot to of different cultures and times. Basically, fighting in reality doesn’t play by nice rules where … Continue reading “But I blocked it!”—when your defence fails you