Ceallach mac Donal - His Musings

Some Fencing Manuals & Fechtbuch of interest to the SCA, by date


Royal Armouries Ms. I.33, also known as "the Tower manuscript" because of its long stay in the Tower of London, is the usual name for the earliest known surviving European fechtbuch, although it deals only with the sword and buckler. The illuminated manuscript, of German origin, is now in the collection of the Royal Armouries at Leeds, England. It is also referred to as British Museum No. 14 E iii, No. 20, D. vi.

Johannes Liechtenauer

Johannes Liechtenauer (AKA Hans Lecküchner; Lichtenaur; Lichtenauer) was a 14th century German fencing master. He was likely born in the early to mid 1300s, possibly in Lichtenau, Mittelfranken (Franconia). What little is known about his person is preserved, together with his teachings, in MS 3227a and later glossa by students of his tradition. According to this manuscript's author, Lichtenauer was a "great master" who had travelled to "many lands" to learn his art.
  • Hanko Döbringer's Fechtbuch, c. 1389, translation and transcription
  • Goliath(MS 2020) is a multi-weapon fechtbuch whose chapters correspond closely with the "Danzig" fechtbuch of 1452 (MS 1449) and contains the Lichtenaur longsword

Fiore dei Liberi

Fiore dei Liberi (c. 1350s - 1420s) was a medieval master of arms and the earliest master of the Italian school of swordsmanship from whom we have an extant manual.

Sigmund Ringeck

Sigmund Ringeck was a 15th century German fencing master, and the author of a fechtbuch, MS Dresd. C 487 preserved in Dresden.

Peter von Danzig

Peter von Danzig was a 15th century German Fencing master. He is the author of the 1452 Fechtbuch known as Cod. 44 A 8 (also known as MS 1449), probably compiled in his later life.


Gladiatoria is a rare manuscript from the mid-1400's. It is one of the more obscure Fechtbucher and one which has not been examined at length before by pracitioners.

Hans Talhoffer

Hans Talhoffer was a fencing-master in southern Germany in the 15th century. He is the author of several Fechtbücher, illustrated treatises describing methods of fighting with various weapons, including unarmed combat (grappling), dagger, long sword, pole weapons and mounted combat. He is a contemporary of fencing-master Paulus Kal (whose manuscript may contain hints of professional rivalry between the two). Talhoffer is part of the German school of fencing of Johannes Liechtenauer.


The Codex Wallerstein (Augsburg University library I.6.4.2) is a 15th century fechtbuch. The title Vom Baumans Fechtbuch appears on the first page, together with the date 1549. The Codex came in the possession of Paulus Hector Mair in 1556. It consists of 221 pages, illustrating techniques of fighting with the longsword, messer, and dagger, armored and unarmored, stechschild, as well a system of grappling.

Filippo Vadi

Filippo Vadi was an Italian longsword master in the tradition of Fiore dei Liberi. A native of Pisa, he wrote manual of arms, De Arte Gladiatoria Dimicandi(c.1482), which he dedicated to Guidobaldo da Montefeltro, Duke of Urbino. This work is very similar to the Pissani-Dossi manuscript, consisting primarily of beautifully painted figures with rhyming couplets.

Albrecht Dürer

Albrecht Dürer (AKA Albrecht Duerer) was a famed Renaissance artist. Düerer was not a Fechtmeister and his book was never completed or published, but he evidently was a student and his sketches are among the best on the subject. As both a practicing Marxbrueder and a talented artist with a tremendous sense for detail, Düerer's illustrations surely depict some of the most realistic examples of period fighting techniques available.

Antonio Manciolino

Antonio Manciolino is another important Italian fencing master for whom we have a treatise surviving. His 'Opera Nova' of 1531 survives in many copies. Manciolino was part of the Dardi/di Lucca school, based in Bologna, and associated with the University. Manciolino and Marozzo's appear to have been contemporaries, though Marozzo seems to achieved greater fame. On some topics Manciolino is a clearer source than Marozzo, though it is unillustrated.

Achille Marozzo

Achille Marozzo was an Italian fencing master teaching in the Dardi or Bolognese tradition. He was probably born in Bologna. His text Opera Nova dell'Arte delle Armi (roughly equivalent to The New Text on the Art of Arms) was published in 1536 in Modena, dedicated to Count Rangoni, then reprinted several times all the way into the next century. It is considered one of the most important works about fencing in the 16th century.

Paulus Hector Mair

Paulus Hector Mair (1517–1579) was an Augsburg civil servant, and active in the martial arts of his time. He collected Fechtbücher and undertook to compile all knowledge of the art of fencing in a compendium surpassing all earlier books. For this, he engaged the painter Jörg Breu the Younger, as well as two experienced fencers, whom he charged with perfecting the techniques before they were painted. The project was very costly, taking full four years, and according to Mair, consumed most of his family's income and property. Three versions of his compilation, and one later, less extensive manuscript, have been preserved.

Francesco Altoni

Francesco Altoni is a master from Florence with two surviving fencing manuscripts. The date of the manuscripts (based on their dedication to Cosimo I de' Medici as the Duke of Tuscany) are from between 1537 and 1569. Like his Bolognese contemporaries, Altoni covered a variety of weapons and weapon combinations, including sword alone, sword and targa, sword and buckler, sword and rotella, sword and dagger, sword and cape, two swords, and sword for two hands.

Acamillo Palladini

Acamillo Palladini (AKA Camillo Palladini). 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.

Camillo Agrippa

Camillo Agrippa was a noted fencer, architect, engineer and mathematician of the Renaissance. Though born in Milan, he lived and worked in Rome. He is considered to be one of the greatest fencing theorists of all time. He is most renowned for applying geometric theory to solve problems in armed combat. In his Treatise on the Science of Arms with Philosophical Dialogue (published in 1553), he proposed dramatic changes in the way swordsmanship was practiced at the time. For instance, he pointed out the effectiveness of holding the sword in front of the body instead of behind it. He also simplified Achille Marozzo's eleven guards down to four: prima, seconda, terza and quarta, which roughly correspond to the modern guards used today.

Giacomo di Grassi

Giacomo di Grassi was an Italian fencing master who wrote His True Arte of Defense, a text on fencing, in 1570. The text was later translated into English and published again in 1594. Di Grassi was one of the premiere fencing masters, and invented many of the tactics used in modern fencing. In particular, he changed a martial art which was based on attack-counterattack into one based on attack-defense. I am in the process (slowly) of transcribing the Italian (1570) version of DiGrassi's Della Vera Arte Adoprare Le Arme.

Joachim Meyer

Joachim Meyer was a self described Freifechter (literally, Free Fencer) living in the then Free Imperial City of Strassburg in the 16th century and the author of a fechtbuch Gründtliche Beschreibung der kunst des Fechten (in English, Fundamental Descriptions of the Art of Fencing) first published in 1570.

Giovanni dall'Agocchie

Another Bolognese Master in the Bardi/Dardi/di Lucca tradition - He dates from perhaps a generation later than Marozzo and Manciolino, and while his art has obviously evolved, he shows a great degree of continuity in the Bolognese tradition; at a time when the rapier treatises were started to predominate in Italy he is still using a much more cut and thrust style.

Henry de St. Didier

Henry de Sainct Didier was a 16th century French fencing master, author of a 1573 treatise, entitled
Traicté contenant les secrets du premier livre sur l’espée seule, mère de toutes armes, qui sont espée dague, cappe, targue, bouclier, rondelle, l’espée deux mains & deux espées, avec ses pourtraictures, ayans les armes au poing por se deffendre & offencer à un mesme temps des coups qu’on peut tirer, tant en assillant qu’en deffendent, fort utile & profitable por adextrer la noblesse, & suposts de Mars: redigé par art, ordre & practique

Angelo Viggiani dal Montone

Angelo Viggiani's Lo Schermo was written around 1550 and published posthumously, ca. 1575

Giovanni Antonio Lovino

Giovanni Antonio Lovino, an Italian from Milan, wrote Traite d'Escrime (1580), an illustrated book covering predominantly the rapier (including dagger, cloak, target, etc.) that also does tiny bit on hand-and-a-half, two-handed, and horseback.

Jerónimo de Carranza

Don Jerónimo de Carranza (AKA Hieronimo/Geronimo de Caranza) is commonly called the "Father of Spanish Fencing" and he wrote his text "Of the Philosophy of the arms, of its art and the Christian offense and defense" in 1582 under the sponsorship of Don Alonso de Guzmán El Bueno, 7th Duke of Medina Sidonia.

Vincentio Saviolo

Vincentio Saviolo (d. 1598/9), though Italian born and raised, authored the first book on fencing in the English language.

George Silver

George Silver (ca. 1560s–1620s) was a gentleman of England during the late 16th and early 17th centuries, who is known for his writings on fencing. Although not a professional fencing teacher (a role mostly played by the middle-class London-based Corporation of Masters of the Noble Science of Defence), he was familiar with the fencing schools of the time, and the systems of defence that they taught.

Salvator Fabris

Salvator Fabris(AKA Salvatore Fabris, Salvador Fabbri) was an Italian fencing master from Padua. During his life he taught in various European countries, most notably in Denmark where he was the fencing instructor of King Christian IV.[1] It was during his time in Copenhagen that he published his treatise on rapier fencing, Lo Schermo, overo Scienza d’Arme, in 1606.

Ridolfo Capoferro

Ridolfo Capoferro or Capo Ferro of Cagli was a fencing master in the city of Siena who published a rapier fencing manual in Italian in 1610, entitled "Great Representation of the Art and Use of Fencing". Printed by Salvestro Marchetti and Camillo Turi in Siena, Ridolfo's origin is unclear. The references to the Holy Roman Empire may indicate that he studied with masters of the German school. Cagli (in the Province of Pesaro e Urbino) appears to be his place of origin, while he was active as a fencing master in Siena (in Tuscany). Ridolfo's teachings, however, do not reflect perceptible German influence, but are soundly in the Italian tradition with a notable influence from the Bolognese (Dardi) school of swordsmanship.

Nicoletto Giganti

Nicoletto Giganti was a fencing master in the city of Venice who published a rapier fencing manual in Italian in 1606, entitled "Scola, overo, Teatro". This manual was reprinted in 1608, with 3 additional reprints in both German and French between 1608 and 1619. Nicoletto Giganti is also reported to have plagiarized a rapier manual written by Salvator Fabris in 1606, by having it reprinted under his own name. His teachings are pretty much in line with the Italian tradition with what appears to be a notable influence from the Bolognese (Dardi) school of swordsmanship (perhaps even being a part of that school).
  • Scola, overo, Teatro c. 1606, page images, PDF
  • Scola, overo, Teatro A Partial translation
  • Escrime Nouvelle c. 1619, page images, PDF. This may be the German/French bi-lingual manual that the German author Hynitzsch claimed in 1676 that Giganti had plaigarized from Fabris' second book.

Luis Pacheco de Narváez

Don Luis Pacheco de Narváez (1570-1640) was a Spanish writer on fencing. He was don Jerónimo Sánchez de Carranza's student and later published a multitude of works based on the Destreza school of fencing. Some of his works were compendiums of Carranza's work while others were less derivative.

Girard Thibault d'Anvers

Girard Thibault -- poet, physician, architect, painter, occultist, and master swordsman, a true Renaissance man -- astonished the courts of Europe with a new system of swordsmanship based on the principles of sacred geometry and Renaissance occult philosophy. In his youth, Thibault studied the art of the sword with the great Dutch fencing master Lambert van Someren, then traveled to southern Spain to learn _destreza_, the revolutionary Spanish system of rapier fencing, from Luis Pacheco de Narvaez and other masters of the art. After his return to the Netherlands around 1610, he won fame as one of the best swordsmen of the age, and set out to put everything he knew about the way of the sword into a single comprehensive textbook of rapier fencing that could be used by students who had no access to a teacher of his system.

Joseph Swetnam

Francesco Alfieri

Francesco Alfieri was an Italian swordsman from Padova who wrote at least two fencing manuals

G.A. (possibly Gideon Ashwell)

Pallas Armata - The Gentleman's Armory