Category Archives: rapier

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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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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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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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…

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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.

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Old School: Four Kreusslerian Foils

kr3From the late 1600’s until the first decade of the 20th century, the Kreussler method of thrust fencing dominated the use of the foil and “Rappier”. Here are four representative varieties of the weapons used…

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Salvatore Fabris 1st edition for Sale

Salvatore FabrisThe most important figure in the history of Western fencing was the Italian fencing master Salvatore Fabris.

While in the services of King Christian IV of Denmark, he wrote and published his De lo scherzo, overo scienza d’arme in Copenhagen in 1606. 

This is a complete copy of the Italian-laguage first Waltkirch edition.

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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

Current Auction: Another “Transitional”

A few weeks ago, we examined Eight Dueling Épées.

Today, we noticed a variant of one of the older specimens up for auction: A cousin of “The Transitional”… 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