Italian school of swordsmanship
|Also known as||La Scuola Della Spada Italiana|
|Country of origin||Italy|
|Famous practitioners||Fiore dei Liberi, Filippo Vadi, Achille Marozzo, Antonio Manciolino, Angelo Viggiani,|
|Descendant arts||Modern Fencing|
The term Italian school of swordsmanship is used to describe the Italian style of fencing and edged-weapon combat from the time of the first extant Italian swordsmanship treatise (1409) to the days of Classical Fencing (up to 1900).
Although the weapons and the reason for their use changed dramatically throughout these five centuries, a few fundamental traits have remained constant in the Italian school. Some of these are the preference for certain guards, the preoccupation with time (or "tempo") in fencing as well as many of the defensive actions.
Of especial influence was the Dardi school of fencing with the spada da lato in the 16th to early 17th centuries, which gave rise to the classical early modern style of fencing with the rapier, including Elizabethan Fencing in England and the French school of fencing in the 18th century (which in turn developed into modern sport fencing).
One of the earliest known Italian treatises on swordsmanship and other martial arts is the Flos Duellatorum (Fior Di Battaglia/The Flower of Battle) written by Fiore dei Liberi around 1409. Fiore's treatise describes an advanced martial arts system of grappling, dagger, short sword, longsword, pollaxe, and spear. Another important treatise, De Arte Gladiatoria Dimicandi, was written by Filippo Vadi sometime between 1482 and 1487. Although different, Vadi's work appears to be based upon Fiore's earlier work. It has been suggested that Vadi's style of swordsmanship represents a transitional phase between that of Fiore and the later Bolognese masters.
The 16th century saw the publication of various works generally focused on the so-called cut & thrust sword, although these works often contained significant instruction on other weapons. A general survey of the 16th-century Italian manuals shows instruction for the following weapon or weapon combinations in at least one published manual:
- Sword alone
- Sword and Dagger
- Sword and Small Buckler
- Sword and Broad Buckler
- Sword and Targa
- Sword and Rotella
- Sword and Cape
- Sword and Gauntlet
- Two Swords
- Sword for Two Hands (also referred to as the Spadone by some masters)
- Dagger and Cape
- Ronca (weapon)
- Partisan (weapon)
- Partisan and Shield
- Unarmed against Dagger
The most significant group of authors from this time were those from the Bolognese school and it included such masters as Achille Marozzo, Antonio Manciolino, Angelo Viggiani and Giovanni dall'Agocchie. However, there were other Italian authors not directly associated with the Bolognese school including Camillo Agrippa (who has the distinction of codifying the four guards—prima, seconda, terza and quarta—that survive to this day), Giacomo di Grassi who wrote a manual in 1570 which was translated into English in the 1590s.
With the 17th century came the popularity of the rapier and a new century of masters, including Salvator Fabris, Ridolfo Capoferro, and Francesco Antonio Marcelli. Unlike the manuals of the previous century, those written for in the 17th century were generally restricted to covering only the rapier being used alone or with a companion arm (such as the dagger, cloak or rotella). By the end of the 17th century, the manuals begin to take on a more classical character in both the terminology and the presentation of the techniques.
Although there is a considerable gap in extant Italian treatises, between 1696 and 1800, we can see from the earliest 19th Century treatises that the style had changed very little during that period. The only changes were the addition of certain techniques suitable for the somewhat lighter blades of the dueling swords typically used in 1800 as compared to the rapiers typical for the end of the 17th century (compare the techniques presented by Bondì di Mazo in his 1696 manual with those in the 1803 manual of Giuseppe Rosaroll-Scorza and Pietro Grisetti). Even at the beginning of 19th century techniques for coming to grips were still being taught and the use of the dagger as an accompanying weapon was still discussed (although not as a prominent and popular choice).
By the end of the 19th century, the immediate ancestor of modern fencing had developed with its familiar pedagogy and collection of techniques and theory. At this time, the two predominant schools within the Italian tradition are the Radaellian (after Maestro G. Radaelli) and the Neapolitan. In 1883 the Italian Ministry of War selects the treatise by Neapolitan Masaniello Parise to be the official syllabus of the newly founded Scuola Magistrale of fencing; now called Classical Italian Fencing, Parise's teachings survive to this day almost unchanged, although many of Radaelli's saber teachings were incorporated.
Today, the Italian school of swordsmanship is carefully preserved both in Italy and abroad. In Italy, official fencing schools such as the National Academy (Accademia Nazionale) certify masters in both historical fencing and modern fencing based on careful adherence to the principles of Italian swordsmanship. Abroad, the Italian style is cultivated by professional institutions such as the San Jose State fencing program (California, United States), where Maestro William Gaugler ran a program largely based on the Classical style of Parise. The Italian style is also being taught by a few independent classical fencing schools throughout the United States. Some fencing schools and clubs are looking to revive it, and some instructors have the Italian school of fencing in their lineage.
The Historical European martial arts (HEMA) and the Western Martial Arts (WMA) communities in Europe and the United States have a large number of researchers reconstructing the grappling, dagger, rapier, short sword, sword & buckler, longsword, pollaxe, and spear systems of ancient masters, such as that of Fiore dei Liberi, Filippo Vadi, Achille Marozzo, Salvator Fabris, Ridolfo Capo Ferro, Francesco Alfieri, etc. In the United States, scholarship and reconstruction of the techniques of the Italian fencing masters was initiated by the founders of various HEMA schools and academies, such as Brian R. Price of the Schola Saint George and Bob Charron of St. Martin's Academy (both studying Fiore dei Liberi), and Gregory Mele of the Chicago Swordplay Guild (studying Vadi). Similar study has been carried out by Matt Easton, founder of London's Schola Gladiatoria and Guy Windsor, of Finland's School of European Swordsmanship. The reconstruction efforts of these scholars give the martial arts community a chance to learn fencing with full-size, full-weight weapons such as the longsword, the single-handed sword, the spadone, the rapier and many others.
Although Classical Italian fencing is practiced and preserved in several places around the world (see above), there are no masters who can trace their maestro-pupil lineage to earlier than the second half of the 18th century. There are marked similarities and an obvious consistency between what was taught in the late 17th Century and the early 19th, but it is impossible to trace and call out a direct master-student relationship.
Some treatises by Italian masters:
- Medieval/Early Renaissance
- Fiore dei Liberi, Flos Duellatorum in armis, sine armis, equester et pedester - 1409
- Filippo Vadi, De Arte Gladiatoria Dimicandi - 1482-1487
- Pietro Monte, Exercitiorum Atque Artis Militaris Collectanea in Tris Libros Distincta - 1509
- Antonio Manciolino, Dardi school, Opera Nova per Imparare a Combattere, & Schermire d'ogni sorte Armi - 1531
- Achille Marozzo, Dardi school, Opera Nova Chiamata Duello, O Vero Fiore dell'Armi de Singulari Abattimenti Offensivi, & Diffensivi - 1536
- Anonimo Bolognese, Dardi school, L'Arte della Spada (M-345/M-346 Manuscripts) - (early or mid 16th century)
- Francesco Altoni, Monomachia: Trattato dell'Arte di Scherma - c. 1550
- Camillo Agrippa, Trattato di Scientia d'Arme con un Dialogo di Filosofia - 1553
- Giacomo di Grassi, Ragion di Adoprar Sicuramente l'Arme si da Offesa, come da Difesa - 1570
- Giovanni dall'Agocchie, Dardi school, Dell'Arte di Scrimia - 1572
- Angelo Viggiani dal Montone, Dardi school, Trattato dello Schermo - 1575
- Giovanni Antonio Lovino, Prattica e theorica del bene adoperare tutte le sorti di arme c. 1580
- Vincentio Saviolo, His Practise-1595
- Marco Docciolini, Trattato in Materia di Scherma - 1601
- Salvator Fabris, De lo Schermo ovvero Scienza d'Armi - 1606
- Nicoletto Giganti, Scola overo Teatro - 1606
- Ridolfo Capoferro, Gran Simulacro dell'Arte e dell'Uso della Scherma - 1610
- Francesco Alfieri, La Scherma di Francesco Alfieri - 1640
- Giuseppe Morsicato Pallavicini, La Scherma Illustrata - 1670
- Giuseppe Morsicato Pallavicini, La seconda parte della Scherma Illustrata - 1673
- Francesco Antonio Marcelli, Regole della Scherma - 1686
- Bondì di Mazo, La Spada Maestra - 1696
- Giuseppe Rosaroll-Scorza and Pietro Grisetti, La Scienza della Scherma - 1803 - 1871 3rd ed.
- Giuseppe Radaelli, La Scherma di Sciabola e di Spada - 1876
- Masaniello Parise, Trattato della Scherma di Spada e Sciabola - 1883 1st ed. - 1904 5th ed.
- Masiello, Ferdinando, Trato teorico-pratico della scherma di spada e sciabola - 1884
- Masiello, Ferdinando, and Ciullini The Broadsword - 1889
- Masiello, Ferdinando, La Scherma di Fioretto. 2nd ed. - 1902
- Masiello, Ferdinando, La Scherma di Sciabola. 3rd ed. - 1902
- Pecoraro, Salvatoree Pessina, Carlo. La Sciabola - 1910
- William M. Gaugler "The Science of Fencing. Revised ed." - 2004 ISBN 1-884528-05-8
- German school of swordsmanship
- Spanish school of fencing
- Historical European martial arts
- Italian martial arts
- Venetian school of fencing
- Battistini, A., J. Venni and M. Rubboli, eds. Monomachia - Trattato dell'Arte della Scherma di Sandro Altoni Francesco. Rimini: Il Cerchio, 2007. Print. ISBN 88-8474-147-5
- Butera, Matteo, Francesco Lanza, Jherek Swanger, and Reinier van Noort The Spada Maestra of Bondì di Mazo. Nordkisa, Norway: Van Noort, Reinier, 2016. ISBN 978-82-690382-0-0
- William M. Gaugler, Lance C. Lobo The History of Fencing: Foundations of Modern European Swordplay. 1997. ISBN 978-18-845281-6-3
- Leoni, Tomasso. The Art of Dueling: Salvator Fabris' Fencing Treatise of 1606. Union City, Calif.: The Chivalry Bookshelf, 2004. Print. ISBN 978-1-891448-23-2
- Leoni, Tomasso, tr. The Complete Renaissance Swordsman: A Guide to the Use of All Manner of Weapons ~ Antonio Manciolino’s Opera Nova (1531). Wheaton, IL: Freelance Academy Press, 2010. Print. ISBN 978-0-9825911-3-0
- Leoni, Tomasso, tr. Venetian Rapier: The School, or Salle ~ Nicoletto Giganti's 1606 Rapier Fencing Curriculum. Wheaton, IL: Freelance Academy Press, 2010. Print. ISBN 978-0-9825911-2-3
- Mele, Gregory D., ed. In the Service of Mars: Proceedings from the Western Martial Arts Workshop 1999–2009, Volume I. Freelance Academy Press, 2010. Print. ISBN 978-0-9825911-5-4
- Porzio, Luca, tr., and Gregory D. Mele. Arte Gladitoria: 15th Century Swordsmanship of Master Filippo Vadi. Union City, Calif.: The Chivalry Bookshelf, 2002. Print. ISBN 1-891448-16-1
- Rubboli, Marco, and Luca Cesari, eds. L'Arte Cavalleresca del Combattimento - De Arte Gladiatoria Dimicandi di Filippo Vadi. Rimini: Il Cerchio, 2001. Print. ISBN 88-8474-023-1
- Rubboli, Marco, and Luca Cesari, eds. Flos Duellatorum - Manuale di Arte del Combattimento del XV secolo di Fiore dei Liberi. Rimini: Il Cerchio, 2002. Print. ISBN 88-8474-079-7
- Rubboli, Marco, and Luca Cesari, eds. Anonimo Bolognese - L'Arte della Spada, Trattato di scherma dell'inizio del XVI secolo. Rimini: Il Cerchio, 2005. Print. ISBN 88-8474-093-2.
- Rubboli, Marco and A. Battistini, eds. Opera Nova di Antonio Manciolino. Rimini: Il Cerchio, 2008. Print. ISBN 88-8474-176-9
- Windsor, Guy. The Swordsman's Companion: A Modern Training Manual for Medieval Longsword. Union City, Calif.: The Chivalry Bookshelf, 2004. Print. ISBN 1-891448-41-2
- Windsor, Guy. The Duellist's Companion: a Training Manual for 17th Century Italian Rapier. Highland Village, TX.: The Chivalry Bookshelf, 2006. Print. ISBN 1-891448-32-3