Academic

History

Clubs and Societies

Monmouth School for Boys HistoryBoarders in Year 12 studying History meet on Tuesday evenings to discuss historical issues beyond the courses that they are taking. Topics include developments in the past such as the Renaissance, Enlightenment and political ideas like Communism and Fascism, as well as different schools of historical thought and the impact of war on social trends.

The Agincourt Society for Sixth Form Historians has a stimulating and varied programme of visiting speakers and also holds regular debates. Sixth Form historians from Monmouth School for Girls also attend these events. Once a year, there is a themed dinner for students and staff.

Agincourt Society

The first meeting of the year of the  Agincourt Society, which is a joint Sixth Form History Society run in conjunction with Monmouth School for Girls, was held in September and saw the return of Dr Linda Kirk, the 18th century expert and lecturer at Sheffield University. Dr Kirk gave a compelling talk on the life and beliefs of Thomas Paine and explained how this most modern of thinkers, whose views form the cornerstone of liberal democracy, died penniless and reviled, having played a significant role in both the American and French revolutions. In October there was a debate against the girls who, marshalled by the eloquent and confident Helen (6.2),  successfully defended the  motion “It’s the economy, stupid!” (Bill Clinton)–This House believes that the principal causes of historical change are rooted in economics”. In the week of the American presidential elections in November, our visiting Virginian Fellow, Mr David Wren, gave an impassioned explanation of why Mitt Romney would make a strong president. Also in November, Sixth Formers had the opportunity to learn about the weapons and tactics of 18th century warfare when Kevin Hicks gave a demonstration dealing with the wars of American Independence.

In the Spring Term, local historian David Harrison gave a talk to a packed William Jones Room about local radicalism in 18th century Monmouthshire and gave a very personal twist to the story of Chartists, Scotch Cattle and the power of local landed families which seemed to keep things in check in Monmouth itself. In March there was a meeting focussing on the heritage of Arctic exploration with  Beau 6.2) talking about his great great great uncle , Robert Joiner, who sailed on HMS Alert in the British Arctic expedition of  1875 to try and discover the mythical Open Polar Sea and spent the winter ice-bound. Beau brought several family mementoes which brought this fascinating  story to life  and  was joined by Tudor Morgan  of the  UK Arctic Heritage Trust who gave a very vivid account of the work being done today to preserve the heritage of these early days of exploration down in Antarctica.  Also in February  the Sixth Form historians were entertained by Professor Robert Tombs of St Johns College Cambridge who gave a witty and urbane Duncan Crane lecture on “Britain and France: the real special relationship”.

Junior History Society

In the Michaelmas Term the main focus was on “ 1066: the year of the three battles” as the juniors prepared their weapons, tactics and alliances in advance of October’s re-enactment of the Battles of Fulford, Stamford Bridge and Hastings. There was duly carnage and devastation on the 8th October as once again the Saxon shield wall failed to repulse the Norman charges and William duly seized the throne. In the Spring Term Mr Dorman came in to talk about the Orange Order and the divisions in Ulster caused by revival of memories of the Battle of the Boyne and the victories of William of Orange. Mr Edwards also came in to talk about the foundation of this school by William Jones and the extent that this was intended to change the religious dynamics of this highly-Catholic area in the early seventeenth century. Sixth formers helped to write the script for the trial of William III who was put on trial for seizing the English throne and dragging England into European wars. Mr Tiebosch in the title role gave an excellent performance and an authentic Dutch accent but could not save William from his inevitable fate, nor could  the acting talents of notably Sam as the founder of the Bank of England and Charlie as William’s wife. In the summer term the boys visited a local Norman castle at Dingestow and  Dr Harrison gave a whistle-stop tour of medieval Monmouth which involved a trip up St Mary’s tower to see the outlines of the medieval town.

The Battle of Hastings comes to Monmouth School for Boys

Year 7 and 8 pupils at Monmouth School stepped back in time recently to take part in a re-enactment of the Battle of Hastings.

On a count back of survivors it was evident that, as in 1066, the Viking forces of Harold Hardrada were vanquished at Stamford Bridge.  Only 4 of the initial 45 Norsemen survived the bloodletting on Bigside, despite some impressive efforts by a hard core of berserkers!  The unlucky Saxons saw 12 House carls limp from the fray, axes and spirit broken by the ferocity of the encounter, their leader Harold Godwinson slain.  As on that fateful October day in 1066, it was William the Conqueror’s Normans that emerged victorious, although not without having suffered terrible casualties.  Only 13 Norman Knights lived to enjoy the spoils of war and impose a feudal system on us all.

The Headmaster said, “The re-enactment of the events of 1066 was a terrific success, with thanks going to staff and the Sixth Form ‘gods’.  The boys of Year 7 and 8 also deserve great credit for their behaviour, and also the quality of their weaponry and armour which was no doubt inspired by the visit of the Birmingham Guild of Student Battle Re-enactors the week before.”