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.

Agrippa, Camillo

This 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 1568.

Bonetti, Rocco

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

Capo 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

Dall'Agocchie, Giovanni

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 dated 1572.

Didier, Sainct

This 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.










Fabris, Salvator

This 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, Nicoletto

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 defensive weapon.
Hudson's copy of DiGrassi
Dana Groff's Copy


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.

Lebkommer, Hans

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 Milanese.

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

Marozzo, Achille

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:  A full translation of books one and two should be available in late 2003.

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.

Palladini, Acamillo

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, Vincentio

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 Saviolo

Swetnam, Joseph

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.

Thibault, Girard

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.