My friend Malcolm Mercer, Curator of Tower History at the Royal Armouries Museum at the Tower of London, is featured in a Guardian story about this year’s Agincourt exhibit:
Tower of London remembers Agincourt – with a little help from the French
Battle of 1415 commemorated in exhibition that boasts battlefield model incorporating real mud and treasures from the Louvre and the Musée de l’Armée
Some of the mud that helped give England a victory still famous after 600 years, has been incorporated in a spectacular model depicting the Battle of Agincourt, centrepiece of an anniversary exhibition at the Tower of London.
Along with spectacular loans including treasures from French national collections such as the Louvre and Musée de l’Armée , curator Malcolm Mercer and his colleagues from the Royal Armouries brought back a plastic lunchbox filled with soil from the site.
“It has changed remarkably little,” Mercer said, “it was a ploughed field then and it is a ploughed field now.”
Shakespeare immortalised the 1415 victory in the “band of brothers” St Crispin’s Day speech, which he put into the mouth of Henry V. Whether or not the real Henry managed such oratory, the mud played a significant role in the battle. When Henry goaded the French (“I don’t want to sound jingoistic but he did play to their Gallic character,” said Mercer) to advance under an arrow cloud from the English archers, the wet mud churned up by the cavalry became a quagmire that the French, in heavy plate armour, sank into up to their knees.
More at the link. And speaking of the Tower, the Independent reports that:
Tower of London staff ‘used magic to repel the forces of the Devil’
The Tower of London has arguably been England’s premier fortress for almost a thousand years – but new evidence suggests that despite its impressive fortifications, its staff sometimes felt far from secure.
Research carried out by archaeologists in one of the fortresses’ major buildings has revealed that at least some of its inhabitants felt so insecure that they tried to use magic to give themselves an extra layer of protection.
Archaeologists, carrying out survey work in the residence of the Queen’s representative in the Tower, have found dozens of ‘ritual protection’ marks literally burnt into the timber uprights holding up the roof.
Historic Royal Palaces, which run the Tower of London, says that the discoveries are “hugely significant”. It is believed that the marks – 54 in total – were put on the timbers, mostly between the mid-16th and earlier 18th centuries, as a way of trying to magically protect the building from fire and lightning and to repel the forces of the Devil and the spells of witches.