Finding Swetnam’s True Guard – Fabris Plate 60

This plate is, I think, the most similar of Fabris’ plates to Swetnam’s true guard.

Plate 60 - "...a third of sword and dagger, which should be formed with the weapons joined..."

Plate 60 - "...a third of sword and dagger, which should be formed with the weapons joined..."

Fabris shows a guard in which your dagger is held on level with your cheek – Swetnam says “…keepe the hilt of thy dagger right with thy left cheeke.”

Fabris’s guard shows the weapons joined: “the point of thy Rapier two inches within the point of thy dagger, neither higher, not lower;”

The body is bent forward, with both shoulders presented toward your opponent: “and your body bowing forwards, and both thy shoulders, the one so near thine enemie as the other,”

The forward heel here is roughly in line with the middle of the back foot: “the heele of thy right foote should ioyne close to the middle ioynt of the great toe of thy left foote,”
Like Swetnam, Fabris shows that the fencers “Carrie the edge of thy rapier upward, and downward,”


The most serious differences are these:

Swetnam says “Keepe thy rapier hand so low as the pocket of thy hose at the armes end, without bowing the elbow joint,” and he goes on to say “likewise, keepe both your points so high as you may see your enemie clearly with both your eyes, betwixt your rapier and dagger,”

Fabris shows both fencers looking over their blades and with right arms bent. In a typically Italian fashion, the point is much more of a threat to the opponent than in Swetnam’s guard, which is essentially a straightening and lowering of the right arm, with a slight change in dagger placement.


Published in: on January 27, 2009 at 5:44 pm  Comments (2)  
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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Well done. I found your reference for you. Swetnam is describing the ‘castle ward’ for sword and dagger, and others: “I will a little touch them all, or the most part of them with words, although not with pictures, but in the next Impression more at large, both with words and with pictures”. The quotation is on pages 154 and 415 (sic), or sigs [A1v], A 2 2, EEBO image 94. Best wishes – interesting material all this – Roy

  2. Thanks much! I was actually concentrating my search on the first 11 chapters, so it might have been some time before I found this.

    EEBO is an amazing resource, no?

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