Shrewsbury School

Bastille Society Lectures

Friday 13 March 2020

Two Upper Sixth Formers report on Bastille Society Lectures given by Professor John France and journalist Aidan Hartley. 

Prof. John France on Crusade and Jihad: Origins and Practice of Holy War – Friday 6th March

On Friday 6th March, the Bastille Society had the pleasure of welcoming Professor John France to lecture on ‘Crusade and Jihad: Origins and Practice of Holy War’.

Professor France gave an engrossing lecture on the nature of Jihad and Holy War. He tackled the origins of Holy War, analysing sources from church fathers such as Augustine, and used multiple primary sources to show how crucial both Holy War and Jihad were in the years of the crusades.

The talk was well-received, and provided valuable revision for the Upper Sixth, who will be studying the crusades in their A-level exams. Professor France answered multiple questions concerning Holy War and Jihad, and provided a fascinating account of his extensive travels around the Middle East.


The Society would once again like to extend its thanks to Professor France for taking the time to travel to Shrewsbury and give such an interesting lecture.

Lara Gabbitas (EDH, UVI)

Journalist Aidan Hartley on the Rwandan Genocide - Friday 13th February


Intriguing and harrowing in equal measure, the Bastille society’s latest lecture by acclaimed war journalist Aidan Hartley was held on Friday 13th February. Despite this inauspicious timing, his lecture upon the Rwandan Genocide was a success, with his unique first-hand experience of the events described lending considerable gravitas to his commentary. His description of his time with the Rwandan Patriotic Front, the rebel force which initially discovered many of the Genocide’s atrocities, was particularly intriguing, giving students an insight into many of the groups & individuals central to the conflict.

The complex situation which led to the Genocide was explained, as was the devastating refugee crisis which followed it. This allowed for a sense of context to be applied, a theme which was built upon by Mr Hartley’s differentiation of international understanding of the crisis at the time, and in retrospect. This proved to be a pertinent theme for a lecture theatre full of history students, bringing to a close one of the most thought-provoking Bastille lectures to date.


Alex Sparkes (I, UVI)

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