Student Blog: Sword-Fighting with the Ashmole Society

Sword fighting 1Last month Brasenose's Ashmole Society was treated to a fantastic demonstration of 18th and 19th century sword-fighting and pugilism (boxing and wrestling) from Milo Thurston and Simon Scott, both members of the Oxford-based Linacre School of Defence which studies and practises traditional English martial arts.  Starting with a brief and informative presentation placing the School’s work in its historical context, Milo and Simon then went on to give a thorough demonstration of the techniques used in previous centuries.  They both wore modern-day protection (in contrast to re-enactment societies) which meant that they could fight properly without fear of harming each other, adding much to the intensity of their hand-to-hand combat – the wrestling was particularly ferocious!

This lively demonstration was perhaps one of the more unusual things to take place in Lecture Room XI this year but, although the Ashmole Society is Brasenose’s very own history society and is run by 2nd year historians alongside a senior permanent member, we aim to attract non-historians to the subject, and an event such as this really does that: the audience last month contained several make-up clad Shakespearean actors (fresh from their performance in Arts Week’s production of Much Ado About Nothing), a modern fencer, and more than one keen Game of Thrones fan.

Throughout the year we have similarly appealed to a wide audience through a series of diverse events – a mixture of speakers, panels, workshops and socials.  This year, among other things, we’ve debated how the First World War should be remembered, have learnt about the cult of Mussolini from Wolfson Prize-winning author Christopher Duggan, tried our hand at a medieval printing press, enjoyed a pub-style quiz (with a historical twist) in the college bar, and heard about the role of women in sixteenth-century France from TV-featured Dr Suzannah Lipscomb.

We are very lucky to be able to invite world-class historical experts to Brasenose to talk and demonstrate their varied knowledge to the student body, and I would like to take this opportunity to thank the college for their sponsorship of our events.

Catherine Craig-McFeely (Ashmole President and 2nd year Historian)

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