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Poitiers Supper 2019

The Bowyers' 2019 Poitiers Supper took place on Wednesday 13 November, held again at the function room of Bangers Bar & Grill, off Eldon Street. Thirty-five members and guests were in attendance, and were treated to a tasty three-course supper, with excellent accompanying white Burgundy (which turned out to be quite appropriate) and Bordeaux wines.

Our guest speaker was Dr Jan Willem Honig, Senior Lecturer in War Studies at King's College London and a military expert already known to the Company through our charitable connection with KCL, who prior to the meal gave us a presentation on "The Challenge of Firepower on the 15th century European Battlefield". In keeping with recent Poitiers Suppers, Dr Honig's presentation was both interesting and entertaining, if occasionally somewhat provocative – he mischievously argued that the French strategy at Agincourt deserved to achieve victory, but the French were unlucky and the English didn't play by the rules!

He did not however limit his subject matter to our most famous victory, indeed the thrust of his talk argued that military strategies pursued throughout northern Europe did not fundamentally change until World War One, in that it was usually necessary to be offensive to win battles, and to win by use of combined arms (i.e. cavalry, infantry and artillery) – artillery alone would not win battles. Evidence to support his argument was also supplied by examples of the Duke of Burgundy's campaign against the French king in 1417, and the later Duke of Burgundy's fatal defeat to the Swiss at the Battle of Murten in 1476. Dr Honig also offered some revelatory facts about early modern warfare, notably that the average weight of a medieval knight's armour at c.25kg was probably less restrictive than might be presumed, when one considers that the standard kit of an SAS trooper weighs c.40kg!

The event was highly enjoyable, and we hope we will hear again from Dr Honig in the future.

Rupert Holmes

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