School of History Conference: Preparing for Battle

The University of Leeds conference 'Preparing for Battle', hosted by the School of History in the Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Cultures, will be held on 20-21 June 2019

 Keynote speakers include Dr Jonathan Boff (Birmingham), Dr Jessica Meyer (Leeds), and Professor John France (Swansea), a medievalist specialist in warfare and crusading. The conference will explore how militaries and the societies which created them have prepared themselves for battle and combat to shed light on a critical aspect of warfare and human history. 

Carl von Clausewitz described war as a wrestling match, in which two opponents attempted to compel the other to their will through force. This analogy is useful for understanding war, as in both warfare and wrestling, the effective application of force is reliant on the months and years of preparation preceding it. This takes many forms, including the development of technical skills, physical capability, and mental preparedness for the challenges ahead. Nor does it involve just the soldier and wrestler. It is dependent on the support and involvement of other individuals and institutions, ranging from family to religion, from priests to medical care. 

The Call for Papers closed 1 February 2019. 


The programe is now finalised and can be seen here.  Panels run concurrently throughout the conference. The following panels will be presented, with two to four speakers in each: 

Thursday 20 June 2019, 9:00-18:30

  • Preparing the Mind/Preparing on Campaign
  • The Hard Work is Done in Rehearsal/Logistics
  • Logistics/Disseminating Knowledge
  • Keynotes: Alan Murray (Leeds), John France (Swansea) 

Friday 21 June 2019, 9:00-18:30

  • Amateurs at War/Is War a Game to You?
  • Battle and Society in the United States/Preparing the State
  • Religion and Battle/Training Pilots
  • The Influence of Individuals/Portraying Preparation
  • Keynotes: Jonathan Boff (Birmingham), Jessica Meyer (Leeds)

IMS and School of History Involvement

Multiple IMS and School of History postgraduate researchers are presenting at this conference, including: 


  • Samuel Bradley ('To Render the Limbs more Robust': Tournaments, Jousts, and Training for War)
  • Eleanor Wilkinson-Keys (The Tournament Space as an Alternative Battlefield)
  • Jacob Deacon (Discourses of Violence: The Relationship between Fight Books and Preparation for Violence in England, c.1400-1600)

School of History

  • Samuel Wallace (How the Allies Learned to Win: The Tunisian Campaign, 1942-43)
  • Harry Sanderson (Practice Makes Imperfect: The Practice Attack in the BEF, 1914-1918)
  • Mark Shearwood (English Military Discipline and the Plug Bayonet in the Late Seventeenth Century)
  • Samuel Dodson (Eighteenth Century Military Literature)
  • Francesca Morphakis (Mobilising Whitehall: The 'War Book' and Institutional Memory)

To view the finalised programme in its entirety, contact the organisers at


Registration is now closed for this event. 


The University of Leeds organisers are as follows: 

More Information

For more information about the conference, the programme, or for any other queries, contact the organisers at