Category Archives: 17th Century

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!

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

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…
Continue reading

Trick Shot: A two-handed thrust backwards into the thigh from the 1630’s

e0e7bd1d854ce2cae68512538c72febfSome modern martialists spend so much time arguing what the martially-minded duelist of yesteryear would have never done, it would seem that European Martial Arts, especially of the 17th and 18th centuries, was something for ultra-cautious, risk-adverse middle-aged veterans wearing leather soles on a freshly waxed floor while carrying a stack of Wedgwood china. And yet, period literature yields interesting indications that things were not what they seem…

Continue reading

FencingClassics to release “missing link” late 17th-ct. German fencing manuscript!


This recently re-discovered transcript by an anonymous German noble could fill an important gap in the documentation of German fencing approaches between Paschen and Schmidt.

Under the sponsorship of the new Administration, we’re preparing a limited release of the manuscript.

Continue reading

Secret History of the Sword: Dead Poets Society—Rencontre in Hog Lane, 1589

Despite their distinct dislike for things Catholic and South European, Elizabethans were suckers for Italian fencing techniques and concepts of honor and dueling.

Some of the most prominent figures of the cultural elite of the period engaged in Italian-style swordplay. Among them was the poet Christopher Marlowe, whom we’re catching on an Indian summer afternoon on the outskirts of London, sword in hand, and ready to engage in moderate mayhem… Continue reading

Free Resources: Fabris’ German edition

Who’d have thought that university archives would ever change their time-honored policy of keeping non-academic riffraff out of their collections—and even throwing their rara open to the Great Unwashed?

The Georg-August-Universität Göttingen, where I spent many a semester doing things other than visiting libraries, has recently put a copy of Salvatore Fabris’ “Italiänische Fechtkunst” online… Continue reading

Swords in the News: The Sword of Lalgarh

Nobody tell us we’re Euro-centric.

(Okay, we are, so sue us!)

But that doesn’t keep us from scouring the world for interesting stories relating to the Sword. Like this one from India, where an ancient sword is a living symbol of resistance against outside aggression… Continue reading

Antiquariat: Forget Facebook, get into fencing books!

Still enraged about Facebook’s recent facelift? We say “Get a life!” Even better—get into something that hasn’t changed one bit in 100, 200, 500 years:

FencingClassics announces it has joined forces with actor-fighter-antiquarian Jared Kirby, to make both antiquarian fencing and Historical European Martial Arts resources and bibliophile appraisal services available to practitioners and collectors. Continue reading

Swords of Shakespeare: “Hurt Him in Eleven Places”

How much did Shakespeare know about contemporary Italian rapier fencing?

William Gaugler follows the clues from his plays into the Italian fencing literature of the 16th and 17th century. Continue reading