The Fencing Fraud: How Exercitien- and Fencing Masters scammed their students in 1724

In his extensive “Lexicon of Frauds,” Georg Paul Hoenn disects the fraudulent practices of contemporary professions. The Excercitien-Meister—teaching entirely non-martial fencing and dancing to the fashionable crowd—also was suspected of taking advantage of the unwary.

(Sure, it ain’t Theranos… but some things still sound familiar.)

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Fencing friends: A recent find in a 1590’s Album amicorum from Nürnberg

A 1590’s Fechtboden, a pair of fencers, a pair of dussack-wielders, and—what on earth is the little fellah at the center doing? Look what we just found in a French-owned Album amicorum from Nürnberg!

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Surviving COVID: How our Baltimore fencing club managed to outlast lockdowns and thrive!

As our recollection of the extraordinary events of 2020 begins to fade, here’s a living memory how our Baltimore-area epee group not only made it through social distancing and all, but is now bigger than it was before COVID.

by J. Christoph Amberger

Baltimore’s fencing community was hit hard by COVID-19. The pandemic interrupted all teaching and bouting activities as of March 13, 2020. From one day to the next, venues provided by schools or universities were shut down and students sent home. As the months went by, private clubs, looking at an undetermined period with no revenues, unable to pay the rent, were forced to close.

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The German Connection II: “Balefuls of doubloons” and the Sienese Germanica 

This is a sidelight on the Natio Germanica in Siena, before and around the time Capo Ferro was active as a fencing master at the local university. Other than a brief scene provided in Esch, this article is mostly background as to the presence and influence of German students. Unlike Fabri and the Germanica in Padua, we have not been able to locate specific vectors who may have continued or expanded Capo Ferro’s method abroad.

by J. Christoph Amberger

In Capo Ferro’s Siena, the members of the Natio Germanica were known colloquially as forestieri—meaning “strangers” or “foreigners”—and consisted of High and Low Germans, Scandinavians, Bohemians, Poles, Carinthians, Styrians, and Lombards from every corner and recess of the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation. They occupied the Casa della Sapienza, a former paupers’ hospital that had been converted into a dormitory for foreign students in 1415. The Casa also had living space, lecture and disputation rooms for 30 Sapieanzani who stayedfor a term of up to seven years. 

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Cash and Carry: Why fencing masters prefer payment in advance since 1815

The Fashionable Debtor: Le maitre can’t believe it!
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The Franco-German Pragmatist: Johann Schalch’s ExercierBüchlein provides a glimpse at utilitarian swordsmanship around 1680

A recent find supplements our understanding of late 17th-century fencing practice in the Franco-Germanic cultural sphere.

—by J. Christoph Amberger

The identity of the author, Lieut. Johann(es) Schalch, remains elusive: While he may be related to the 18th-century Swiss painter by the same name, thus far, no additional biographical information has been located to properly place him in a more detailed historical context.

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Saved by the Bell: How Richard Wagner contracted six duels and ended up not fighting a single one!

—by J. Christoph Amberger

In 1831, Richard Wagner enrolled at the Universität Leipzig. He had been acquainted with German student fraternities since the political unrest following the July Revolution of 1830 and managed to get accepted as a Fuchs (pledge) at the Corps Saxonia—just eight days before the Easter vacation began and academic life ground to a hold. 

A duel with bell-guard Schlägers at Leipzig in 1811—21 years before the events in this article, but you see how someone could end up with a debilitating Armfuchser!
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The German Connection, Part I:

Salvatore Fabris and the Ultramontani

by J. Christoph Amberger

  • Was Ridolfo Capo Ferro actually Rudolf Eisenhaupt, German Fechtmeister?
  • Who were the ultramontani and what was their connection to Fabri?
  • Why did a physician who argued astronomy with Kepler break a sword fighting a Paduan city soldier?
  • How on earth did a prosperous Tuscan fencing master end up in Denmark?

More questions than you can shake a stick at… and we answer them all!

Armed with a sword, “according to local custom”: A Paduan student, a few decades before the events of this article…
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An Interview with Chris Amberger

On the Making of Codex Amberger, Life Changes, and COVID.

[We wouldn’t have thought there’d be any interest, but we received several — okay, two! — requests for an English translation of the German-language interview we posted yesterday. So here you go…]

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Ein Ferngespräch mit Christoph Amberger

About the making of the Codex Amberger, life changes, and Covid.

[The following is the transcript of a Zoom conversation between a long-time friend tasked with the unfortunate responsibilities of filling the pages of the annual association newsletter and FencingClassics’ head honcho Chris Amberger. Sorry, German only.]

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