Videos

Paul Wagner has posted some excellent video on Silver’s swordplay. It should be very useful when considering the context of Swetnam’s work and even, I suspect, Swetnam’s play at the “backe sword,” though I have done little research there, myself.

Also, over on SFI, Martin Janicina has posted a great video of some of Fabris’ rapier plays. The video provides great contrast with Swetnam’s teachings – he would have disapproved of the close measure in which Fabris fights. Swetnam also does not cavazione or disengage in the Italian fashion – instead he uses motions like Silver (try 0:24 into the Silver vid).

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Published in: on August 13, 2009 at 2:16 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Thesis Complete!

So, I have now finished my undergraduate thesis on Swetnam. I may rework it for publication, so I’m not planning on posting the full thing here. I will, however, post the illustrations I’ve made, along with the Swetnam quotes describing the guard or play. I’ve already started, and next up will be the lunge.

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Published in: on May 4, 2009 at 11:42 am  Leave a Comment  
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Swetnam’s True Guard


Swetnam's True Guard

Swetnam's True Guard

From Swetnam:

Keepe thy rapier hand so low as the pocket of thy hose at the armes end, without bowing the elbow joint, and keepe the hilt of thy dagger right with thy left cheeke, and the point something stooping towards the right shoulder, and beare him out stiff at the armes end, without bowing thine elbow joint likewise, and the point of thy Rapier two inches within the point of thy dagger, neither higher, not lower; but if the point of thy rapier be two or three inches short of touching thy dagger, it is not matter, but if they join it is good; likewise, keepe both your points so high as you may see your enemie clearly with both your eyes, betwixt your rapier and dagger, and bowing your head something toward the right shoulder, and your body bowing forwards, and both thy shoulders, the one so near thine enemie as the other, and the thombe of thy rapier hand, not upon thy rapier, according unto the usual fashion of the vulgar sort, but upon the naile of thy fore-finger, which will locke thine hand the stronger about the handle of thy rapier, and the heele of thy right foote should ioyne close to the middle ioynt of the great toe of thy left foote, according to this Picture, yet regard chiefly the words rather than the Picture.

Carrie the edge of thy rapier upward, and downward, for then thou shalt defend a blow upon the edge of thy rapier, by bearing thy rapier after the rule of the Backe-sword, for this is the strongest and surest carriage of him.

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Published in: on April 27, 2009 at 5:02 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Revised Image List

I’m presenting at Thesis Day tomorrow (i.e. this thing is due!) and I am frantically working to get it all done. I thought I’d take a moment to post the revised list of positions I’m illustrating from Swetnam’s manual (all for rapier).

Swetnam’s True Guard

Stokata Guard

Fore Hand Guard

Crosse Guard

The Lunge

A Passage

A Slippe at Single Rapier (Slippe with cheek cover)

Another Slippe (Disengage to Imbrokata)

A Parry with Both Weapons

Halfsword Parry

Published in: on April 23, 2009 at 5:41 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Direction and Format

I’ve had a meeting with my thesis director, and I now have a better feel for my goal and the format of my thesis.

The working argument is “Joseph Swetnam imitated the Italians, but he applied their style to an English context, and emerged with a fundamentally English system of Defence.”

I am going to illustrate 12 positions that Swetnam describes, starting with guards:

-Swetnam’s True Guard
-Lazie Guard
-Fore-hand Guard
-Crosse Guard
-Stokata Guard
-Broadwarde

Then parries:

-Parry with sword across the body
-Parry with dagger across the body
-Parry with dagger point down
-Parry with both weapons

And, finally, offensive motions:

-The lunge
-The Passage

Published in: on February 10, 2009 at 2:15 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Finding Swetnam’s True Guard – Fabris Plate 59

The next plate that resembles Swetnam’s True Guard is plate 59:

Plate 59 - "...an angled third..."

Plate 59 - "...an angled third..."

Unlike plate 57, there’s not much in the text uniting this stance with Swetnam’s. Fabris does suggest using the dagger to parry with the dagger and riposte below it in third – something that Swetnam also mentions.

However, Fabris spends most of his time talking about how difficult it can be to parry an attack coming in at this angle – something that I do not recall Swetnam ever touching upon.

If this plate had any influence on Swetnam, it would have been as a plate – not an idea. The actual stance is fairly reminiscint of Swetnam’s, with a straightened sword arm and fully extended dagger. Fabris keeps his traditional right foot forward, but also with the left shoulder squared toward the opponent – not standard in Italian fencing (See Capo Fero 4 years later).

I have always imagined Swetnam’s stance as more verticle – something that Eric Meyers also commented (on my post about Fabris plate 57). Swetnam instructs one to “holloweth thy bodie,” while Fabris’ stances feel more like leaning than hollowing to me.

Swetnam’s true guard again for reference:

Keepe thy rapier hand so low as the pocket of thy hose at the armes end, without bowing the elbow joint, and keepe the hilt of thy dagger right with thy left cheeke, and the point something stooping towards the right shoulder, and beare him out stiff at the armes end, without bowing thine elbow joint likewise, and the point of thy Rapier two inches within the point of thy dagger, neither higher, not lower; but if the point of thy rapier be two or three inches short of touching thy dagger, it is not matter, but if they join it is good; likewise, keepe both your points so high as you may see your enemie clearly with both your eyes, betwixt your rapier and dagger, and bowing your head something toward the right shoulder, and your body bowing forwards, and both thy shoulders, the one so near thine enemie as the other, and the thombe of thy rapier hand, not upon thy rapier, according unto the usual fashion of the vulgar sort, but upon the naile of thy fore-finger, which will locke thine hand the stronger about the handle of thy rapier, and the heele of thy right foote should ioyne close to the middle ioynt of the great toe of thy left foote, according to this Picture, yet regard chiefly the words rather than the Picture.

Carrie the edge of thy rapier upward, and downward, for then thou shalt defend a blow upon the edge of thy rapier, by bearing thy rapier after the rule of the Backe-sword, for this is the strongest and surest carriage of him.

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Published in: on January 23, 2009 at 5:44 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Italianated, Mr. Silver?

In “Paradoxes of Defence,” George Silver frequently tirades against the Italian fencing masters and the “Italianated” English masters, with their “Italianated, weak, fantastical, and most devilish and imperfect fights.”

It is therefore interesting to note the 4 “chiefest” variable guards as laid out by Silver:

Stocatta: which is to lie with your right leg forward, with your sword or rapier hilt back on the outside of your right thigh with your point forward to ward your enemy with your dagger in your other hand extending your hand towards the point of your rapier, holding your dagger with the point upright with narrow space between your rapier blade and the nails of your dagger hand, keeping your rapier point back behind your dagger hand if possible.

Or he may lie wide below under his dagger with his rapier point down towards his enemy’s foot, or with his point forth without his dagger.

Imbrocatta: is to lie with your hilt higher than your head, bearing your knuckles upward, and your point descending toward your enemy’s face or breast.

Mountanta: is to carry your rapier pummel in the palm of your hand resting it on your little finger with your hand below and so mounting it up aloft, and so to come in with a thrust upon your enemy’s face or beast, as out of the Imbrocatta.

Passatta: is either to pass with the Stocatta, or to carry your sword or rapier hilt by your right flank, with your point directly against your enemy’s belly, with your left foot forward extending forth your dagger hand with the point of your dagger forward as you do your sword, with narrow space between your sword and dagger blade, and so to make your passage upon him.

Let me repeat those for you: Stocatta, Imbrocatta, Mountanta and Passatta. All used incorrectly (just like Swetnam), but all very much Italian. In fact, Silver’s description of the Stocatta guard is similar to  Swetnam’s “Stokata.”

Who’s Italianated now, Silver?

Published in: on January 9, 2009 at 7:05 pm  Leave a Comment  
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