Given the contribution Andrew Ayton has made to the study of late medieval military history we hope he is not surprised by the production of a Festschrift in his honour. All the editors of this volume were supervised by Andrew for their doctoral studies, and all no doubt thrashed out the general outlines to their theses in one of the infamous ‘Ayton’ meetings that regularly ran into the late evening. Andrew's enthusiasm for his subject was infectious and it is to his credit that many of his former students have gone on to publish contributions on late medieval military and naval history. The papers featured in the present volume highlight the important international impact Andrew's work has had on his students and academic colleagues.
Andrew, a native of Dorset, is in his own words ‘a country dweller at heart’ but has spent much of his working life in the big city. He studied as an undergraduate at the University of Hull in the early 1980s, during which time he undertook several modules taught by Professor John Palmer. John's module on the Hundred Years’ War in particular seems to have kindled Andrew's interest in medieval military history and military communities; it certainly began a fruitful association between two like-minded scholars which was to span some three decades until John's retirement in 2002. Andrew often visited John's home to discuss their latest research and he will be pleased to know he is remembered with some affection by John's children.
After graduating, Andrew spent a brief spell in a ‘real’ job, before returning to Hull to study for his Ph.D. under John Palmer – ‘The Warhorse and Military Service under Edward III’ – and from 1985 to 1987 Andrew was employed, alongside Virginia Davis, on John's Domesday Project. This was a role for which Andrew was particularly well equipped. He had taken John Palmer's special subject on the Domesday Book as an undergraduate, which had provided him with the essential background plus the basic computing skills – in particular related to databases – needed for the research: rare qualifications in the mid-1980s. This period, of course, included the 900th anniversary of Domesday Book, which for Andrew and Virginia entailed a frenetic year, giving lectures and demonstrations around the UK while trying to keep to a research schedule and do some work on their own account.