'Medieval Bodies Ignored' Hosted Royal Armouries Trip: 'The Armoured Body'

The organisers of the IMS Leeds Postgraduate Conference 'Medieval Bodies Ignored' hosted a trip to the Royal Armouries open to members of the public, as well as students and faculty of the IMS.

'Medieval Bodies Ignored' Series 
'The Armoured Body', hosted by the organisers of the conference 'Medieval Bodies Ignored: Politics, Culture, and Flesh', is part of a student-run series of lectures and events designed to complement the conference. This series has provided the opportunity to think about the ways in which bodies are displayed, catalogued and cared for in a museums and heritage context. The event was held at the Royal Armouries, Britain's national museum of arms and armour with six themed galleries, on 21 April 2018. 

'The Armoured Body' 
The penultimate event of the student-run series, 'The Armoured Body' prompted participants to think about the importance of medieval armour, identity, and the act of arming the body. A group of twenty participants, including members of the public, undergraduates, and IMS postgraduates, attended. 

Jack Litchfield, IMS PG Researcher studying late medieval discourses of chivalric identity and the body, presented a tour of the armour displayed in the Royal Armouries Tournament's gallery, focusing on the relationship between medieval bodies and body armour. He highlighted Henry VIII's foot combat armours and the famous 'Horned Helmet' in particular, and the discussion drew out the way in which armour could reflect or express the body beneath.  

Keith Ducklin, of the Royal Armouries, followed this tour by giving a demonstration of the arming of a 15th century knight, acting as a squire to 'Sir' David Perry, also of the Royal Armouries. This allowed participants to see how the armour seen on the tour would have fitted onto the body of a knight or man-at-arms prior to a tournament, battle, or training. Furthermore the demonstration also highlighted the weak points of armour. 

The event concluded with a visit to the War Gallery Cinema, where the original IMS group was joined by additional members of the public, for an hour-long discussion with Litchfield and the Royal Armouries team about their historical research and the lived experience of wearing armour now. Topics included the way the body adapts to wearing armour, the practicalities of stealth in full plate, and how to identify a knight in full armour. Children in the audience asked multiple questions about various parts of armour, such as, 'Why are you wearing a metal skirt'?  

More information about 'Medieval Bodies Ignored' events can be found here. One more upcoming lecture on 3 May 2018 will be hosted by the organisers before the conference begins.

The Conference  
The interdisciplinary conference exploring marginalised bodies in medieval culture will be held at the University of Leeds from 4-6 May 2018. More information about the conference, including a draft programme and registration details, can be found here. 

For queries about the conference or associated events, contact medievalbodiesigonred@gmail.com. For updates, follow the conference on Twitter: @BodiesIgnored.