Masters of the 16th and Early 17th Centuries.
The Following is a brief description of the masters that I have information on.
If you have any to add please send me their name, a description and the source
of the information. Note: All translations and electronic copies
of documents housed at this website (.nau domain) are open for personal use only.
No for-profit use is granted.
master was a theorist who simplified Marozzo's eleven guards to four.
He was regasrded as the man who defined rapier as a thrusting weapon as
well as one to be used for cutting. He published his book "Trattato di Scienza d'Arme" in
Master of a school of fence at Blackfriars in London during the late
1500's. He was critically injured by Austen Bagger, an Englishman,
outside of the school.
Capo Ferro, Ridolfo
Ferro's works are the pinnacle of Italian theory. Like Silver he
described proper blade lengths. He taught that the cut has little place
in rapier play. He taught a linear style of fence. He published his
work "Gran Simulacro dell' Arte e dell' uso della Scherma" in 1610.
William Jherek Swanger and William Wilson have translated this
book into a wroking copy in English.
Caranza, Hieronimo de
This Spanish Master published his book "De la
Philosofia de las Armas" in 1569. His works assumed a knowledge of
mathematics and philosophy. The Spanish school was radically different
from the Italian in that the Italians codified and taught a series of
attacks while the Spanish devoted more to defense. The Spanish system
was so successful that it lasted as a concise system for over 300
years. Caranza was the father and founder of this system 'La Destreza."
A good site on La Destreza can be found at http://members.cox.net/pucknmarycurtis/destreza/index.html
This individual was from Balogna and was the fencing master of Fabio
Pepoli, Count of Castiglione. The importance of this Master is in the
fact that he explained the guards and blows of Marozzo. His work is
French master published his book "Traite
Contenant les Secrets du Premier Livre sur l'Espee Seule etc." in
1573. He is the first known French master that acknowledged the
supremacy of Italian theory. He taught how to hold the left hand in
single sword some two years before Vigianni. However, he only taught
counter attacks; no true parries. His book details how to disarm an
opponent by siezing their sword.
master was born in Bolgna in 1544. He crystallized the best of the 16th
Century theory and practice. He was known to have travelled Germany,
France and Spain and it is surmiossed that he studied fence in these
countries. In 1606 he published "Sienz e
Practica d'Arme." Fabris insisted he students use the thrust. He
taught a flexible and supple play and also taught the use of the sword
itself to parry with.
Giganti is known for fully describing the lunge (stocatta lunga). He
taught during the late 16th and early 17th Centuries. He published his
book "Teatro" in 1606.
Grassi, Giacomo di
Grassi was one of the three premiere Elizabethan masters. He published
his book "His True Arte of Defense" in 1570 and 1599. Grassi analyzed
lines of attack and defense that have been used in fencing to the
modern day. He is called the forefather of the smallsword and was one
of the first masters of fence to hint at using the sword to parry
attacks. He also was a great proponent of using the dagger as a
Hudson's copy of
Not much is known of this master. He was the son of Rocco Bonetti and
was killed by an Englishman named Cheese. He succeeded his father as
the master of the fencing school at Blackfriars prior to it being
rented to Shakespeare.
This German master wrote the earliest known extant book of fence
sometime during 1529 to 1536. The title of his book is "Der Altenn
Fechter an fengliche Kunst."
Lovino, Giovanni Antonio
This individual wrote a treatise in Milan
some time during the 16th C. In particular it appears that he wrote and
possibly dedicated his work to Henry III of France. Lovino was a
Manciolini (manciolino), Antonio
Manciolino was also a Bolognese. He published his book "Opera Nova" in
1531. Like marozzo he covered many aspects of swordplay. Unlike marozzo
he did not deal as much with the concept of honor and the duel.
manciolino said that honour, law, reasons for the duel, etc. are a
matter for the philosopher or the student of law, not the fencer.
Marcelli, Francesco Antonio
This Italian master taught in the mid to late 17th century. He teaches in a baroque rapier style with more parries that utilize dui tempi (two tempos). An electronic copy of his work is available at Google Books - Regole Della Scherma
A Bolognese fencing master,
he published his book "Opera Nova" in 1536 and 1550. Marozzo's study
included single dagger, single sword,
sword and buckler, case of swords, sword and cloak, sword and dagger,
and other combinations. Like most early masters he also covered
polearms. Marozzo included a whole chapter on dedicated to honor.
Click on the image to the right to view the illustrations from Marozzo.
Click here to read a treatise about marozzo's
teching by Giovanni Rapisardi of Italy. Willam Wilson is working
on a translation of Marozzo's Arte dell'Armi. Select sections
have been made available to the SCA audience at this location: http://mac9.ucc.nau.edu/manuscripts/marozzo-sca.pdf.
A full translation of books one and two should be available in
Narvaez, Don Luys Pacheco de
Published his "Libro de las Grandezas de la Espada" around 1599. A
pupil of Caranza, he furthered Cazaza's science of fence.
This master is a contemporary of of 16th C. Italian Masters such as Di
Grassi and Saviolo. His work (Discorso sopra l'arte della scherma) is
relatively unknown and unlike the works of Agrippa and Vigianni is
devoid of mathematical and philosophical discussions. the primary
elements that are of note in Palladini's work is the extension of the
arm and the lunge.
Saviolo arrived in England from Padua in 1590. He is also considered
one of the premiere Elizabethan masters. An eclectic, he taught a
mixture of Italian and Spanish theory and practice. He taught of the
superiority of the thrust over the cut. His book "His Practice" covers
honor as well as practical swordsmanship. He categorized cuts (similar
to Marozzo) as well as thrusts. His moves (footwork) were more after
the Spanish than the Italian style. He taught with Jeronimo in London. Hudson's copy of
Published his book "The Schoole of the Noble
and Worthy Science of Defense" in 1617. He was the fencing
instructor for Prince Henry of England and also Charles I. He taught
rapier and dagger unlike Silver and while some on the continent and in
Italy were moving towards shorter rapiers Swetnam still preferred the
long rapier for rapier play.
A French master of the 17th Century who taught the
Spanish style of fence. He published his book "Academie
de l'Espee, ou se demonstrant par Reigles mathematiques, sur le
fondement Cercle Myst≠rieux... Some of his teachings are similar
to those of George Silver.
An Italian master, Viggiani published his book "Lo Schermo" in 1575. He
taught of the superiority of the thrust over the cut. His guard position
lead to further developments of using a single sword in combat by always
coming on guard with the right foot foreward. He is also the father of
the lunge which he called the punta sopramano.