Tales of bloody battles and cries of war were heard in Rainhill Sixth form last Wednesday afternoon with Historia Normannis delivering an interactive talk as part of the supercurriculum. Welcoming the Year 10 Golden Ticket winners into Sixth Form, the first supercurriculum of 2019 saw a bumper audience of 26 students. One of our most popular and well attended events to date.

History, supercurriculum, rainhill, St Helens, Widnes, Liverpool, Knowsley

Historia Normannis is a 12th Century re-enactment group, who focus on the period between Henry I and King John. The group is run by Dan FitzEdward, whose encyclopaedic knowledge of the subject and enthusiasm kept students thoroughly engaged for the hour.

Beginning the afternoon with a time travelling journey, Dan led the students through a brief history of the Byzantine period. Students were thoroughly engrossed in the quirky facts and gruesome details. From boiled wine being used to treat infections to why soldiers named their swords, Dan certainly knew his soldiers! Students engaged throughout in conversation and asked questions to further deepen their understanding of the fascinating topic.

Fully attired in their re-enactment outfits, Dan moved on to look at the armour of the Byzantine soldiers compared to the European soldiers and this is where the afternoon got interactive.  Students struggled to pass the heavy chain maille t-shirt around whilst Dan explained s whole suit would have been 4 times heavier. Next, Dan explained about the helmet shape and how it was influenced by fashion. Students passed it round and admired each other whilst trying it on.  Sparring with his assistant, David, Dan talked about how armour shaped how Byzantine soldiers fought and how they viewed warfare. Giving the students facts about the death toll of the Battle of Hastings vs the death toll of one battle in World War one Dan highlighted that Byzantine soldiers would have fought to disrupt economics rather than for the kill. Cutting off fingers, which were not covered by armour, or hacking off a limb would have been their preferred method of fighting. A fascinating insight into the changing psychology of warfare.

Dan rounded the talk off by taking the students to the end of Byzantine rule and into the Renaissance period, explaining how the empire fell before inviting the students to ask further questions.

As the bell went for Period 5, still a number of students stayed deeply engaged in conversation and it was lovely to see the students thirst for learning and the true spirit of the supercurriculum being brought to life.