Swashbucklers & Fops
Rapier & Dagger ·
references on period swordfighting are difficult to locate
and even more difficult to purchase. Fortunately, a small band of
enthusiasts is addressing the problem, by laboriously transferring
these rare texts to the Web.
A Victorian Survey
Sword-Play by Captain Alfred Hutton is edited for the Web with
commentary by Bryan J. Maloney, whose
delightfully titled In Ferro Veritas is
now part of
Classical Fencing: the Martial Art of Incurable Romantics.
Maloney writes: "As a Victorian, Hutton partakes of all the limitations
of his school. He completely discounts all
swordsmanship before the 16th century. He takes a
progressive view of swordsmanship, which
presumes evolution towards greater and greater
'perfection'... He also is very prone to extending the techniques
of his own time and school into the past, whether
or not it was appropriate. However, taking these limitations into account,
the following work is an adequate
introduction to the techniques of swordplay of the 16th through 18th
centuries." Particular lapses of period sensibility are annotated
and corrected in the notes.
[External links in this archive of the article are mostly out of date.]
His True Arte of Defence "showing how a man without other
Teacher or Master may safelie handle all sortes of Weapons,"
"translated out of the Italyan language" of Giacomo di Grassi of Medena
and published by Thomas Churchyard , has been transcribed
from a facsimile of the original text by Patrick Swanson (Elric Dracwin)
and Tom Hudson (Giovan Donato Falconieri). A handful of chapters are incomplete.
The True Art of Defense,
an online version in modern spelling by Ian Johnson. New !
Saviolo his Practise, Booke 1 and
2 , dedicated "to the Right Honorable my
singular good lord, Robert Earle of Essex and
Ewe, Viscount Hereford, Lord Ferrers of
Chartley, Bourghchier and Louain, Master of the Queenes Majseties horse,
Knight of the most noble order of the Garter, and one
of her Highnesse most honorable Privie Councell"
are available from Tom Hudson and Dana Groff respectively.
Defense by George Silver  and its companion
Instructions Upon My Paradoxes of Defence, which was not
published until 1898, have been transcribed by Greg Lindahl.
pages feature brief biographies of
the sixteenth century Masters (among
them Rocco Bonetti, Ridolfo Capo Ferro, and Girard Thibault), an analysis
MS. 2530 (a collection of papers on the Masters of Defense of
London between 1540 and 1590), and excerpts from
Wilson's own The Arte
of Defense: A Manual on the use of the Rapier .
- Inigo: You're using Bonetti's defense against me, ah?
- Man in Black: I thought it fitting, considering the rocky terrain --
- Inigo: Naturally, you must expect me to attack with Capo Ferro --
- Man in Black: -- naturally -- but I find Thibault cancels out Capo Ferro, don't you?
-- William Goldman, The Princess Bride
Some Period Fencing Terms,
extracted from Methods and Practice of Elizabethan Swordplay. New !
collects, copies, and distributes historical manuals of swordsmanship.
Thanks to Bryan J. Maloney for assistance with early versions of this page
Notes on the Illustrations ·
28 February 2004