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The February Lecture and Supper

"Longbows, Knight and the Art of Winning Mediaeval Battles:
Myths and Reality"
Dr Tobias Capwell, Curator of Arms and Armour at The Wallace Collection
The February Lecture and Supper 23 Febuary 2011

Setting up before the lecture

When one is so very privileged to have Dr Tobias Capwell, author and internationally-acknowledged expert on Medieval and Renaissance arms and armour, and at present the Curator of Arms and Armour at the Wallace Collection, it is not surprising to find the lecture evening was a sell-out. As such thirty members and their guests congregated at Davy's Wine Bar, Wilson Street, at 6.30pm on the evening of Wednesday 23rd February and enjoyed a pre-lecture glass prior to the main event.

The Master introduces Dr Tobias Capwell

Toby Capwell's lecture was trailed as being a lively and controversial talk. It lived up to all expectations and with those not already 'in the know' a twist in its ending. To attempt to précis the whole nigh on an hour lecture would not do justice to its content but an outline can be attempted. It was delivered in an entertaining and erudite style with more than a little humour thrown in.

Dr Capwell began by dispelling the Hollywood myth that knights in the middle- ages, when in their full armour, had to be winched onto their chargers. False on two counts The total weight of the armour was somewhere in the region of 20-30 kilograms easily carried by a fit young man and half the weight carried by some modern infantry men. Secondly the horses they mounted where not shire-horses but a far more compact animal bred for both strength and speed. The knight could easily mount his steed with probably no more help than 'a leg-up'. Furthermore if the suit of armour was of a good proof and well made it would sustain a direct hit from an arrow shot by a longbow man.

Dr Tobias Capwell in his armour

And how did Dr. Capwell know all this? The answer is quite simple he is a modern jousting knight taking part in tournaments all over the world. Pictures were shown of his horse and he talked about his personal suit of armour its weight, and its proof. It is unlikely that a single arrow would pierce it but a constant rain of many arrows would be an unnerving experience for both horse and knight. While not accepting that the English Bowman was the architect of all English victories in the 100 Years War he acknowledged his effectiveness. On some occasions he was greatly helped by the French Cavalry getting bogged down in soft terrain.

Dr Tobias Capwell at his desk

This excellent talk was followed by a convivial supper, wine and more talk of jousting and medieval battles. During this a vote of thanks was proposed to Dr Capwell for so kindly given up his precious time to share his knowledge with the Company and his contribution to such and enjoyable evening.

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