14 Months on, we have the prospect of lockdown being fully eased within a few months ... but for now, our 13 year journey following the Shows North team on the move is still stuck at home.
Last year's Virtual SoAC I was, of course, a response to this - the annual Conference I have supported from the start back on 1986 (and co organised in the 90s with Ian Russell Lowell) had to be cancelled, and that year's content (including my presentation on Khalid ibn al-Waleed) was delivered online.
You will be able to see the 'Sword of God' material in a forthcoming issue of Slingshot - but I should probably put a few slides up here to keep the information out there.
So, this year, we hope there will be 2 conferences ... in addition to our second online event over this last weekend, the 'face-to-face' conference, now at Madingley Hall, should be back in the Autumn.
And, assuming the feedback is positive, I imagine the plan is to go forward with 2 conferences a year: an online one in the Spring, and a residential one in the Autumn.
ONLINE CONFERENCE II (line up)
Saturday 22nd May, 4 til 6:
Prof Michael Fredholm: The Early History of the Goths, from Berig to the Battle of Adrianople 378AD.
Dr Gareth C Sampson: Never Mind Mithridates - Lucullus, Pompey and the Armenian Empire.
Sunday 23rd May, 4 til 6:
Mark Fry: Sassanid Infantry - a re-evaluation
Prof Nicholas Sekunda: The Army of Alexander - then and now (where “then" relates to the publication by Professor Sekunda in 1984 of the Osprey Men-at-arms book “The Army of Alexander the Great”)
The hot news from the conference is that Adrianople will be the BattleDay in 2022, so this all hangs together rather nicely. Michael's talk on the Goths follows Simon MacDowall at SoAC 2019 and further enriches our understanding.
Gareth Sampson's talk took us East, to the last gasps of the Republic, and to Tigranes the Great, one of Rome's most resilient opponents. It nicely set up Mark Fry's Sunday session on the successors to the Armenians and Parthians, the Sassanid Persians.
I was fascinated by this talk, as Mark attempted to understand, to reconstruct - and to some extent rehabilitate - the Sassanian heavy infantry ... regular, armoured archers ... heavy, mail-shirted swordsmen etc.
This doesn't hang well with the traditional wargamerly perception of the Sassanids as a cavalry army. However it falls out, large numbers of solid infantry were certainly employed against the Arabs - and Khalid's cavalry were able to defeat their wings and envelope the centre.
So Mark's ideas certainly have some credibility with regard to the Arab wars.