In the Renaissance, Christmas was a popular time to hold jousts, tournaments and courtly spectacles. In the dark, dead of winter, a colourful, glamorous celebration of chivalry very much took on the role of a kind of sixteenth-century ‘festival of light’. In England, Christmas jousts became especially popular under that famous lover of armour and fighting, King Henry VIII.
Such events were a kind of performance art, which fused real armoured combat with fantastical, mythological and allegorical themes. In this lecture, we explore this rich history through the personal experiences of the lecturer, an academic specialist but also one of the world’s foremost jousters and medieval martial artists.
Toby is Curator of Arms and Armour at the Wallace Collection in London and an internationally-acknowledged authority on Medieval and Renaissance weapons. He is the author of numerous books on the subject of arms and armour, including Masterpieces of European Arms and Armour at the Wallace Collection (2011; Apollo Magazine Book of the Year 2012); The Noble Art of the Sword: Fashion and Fencing in Renaissance Europe 1520-1630, ex. cat. (2012); Armour of the English Knight 1400-1450 (2015; Military History Monthly Illustrated Book of the Year 2017); ans most recently Arms and Armour of the Medieval Joust (2018). Toby also appears regularly on television, most recently on A Stitch in Time (2018; BBC4); as presenter and armour advisor on Richard III: The New Evidence (2014; C4), and as the writer and presenter of Metalworks: The Knight’s Tale (2012; BBC4). In 2015 Toby had the unusual honour of serving as one of the two fully armoured horsemen escorting the remains of King Richard III, from the battlefield at Bosworth to their final resting place in Leicester Cathedral.
‘Nothing Says Christmas like an Axe Fight’ will take place on Thursday 14 November at 8pm.
From £10. To book, visit theartssocietychiswick.org.uk