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J.W. Owen




Location: Melbourne, Australia
Joined: 20 Jan 2007

Posts: 6

PostPosted: Mon 27 Oct, 2008 10:51 pm    Post subject: Response to Silver?         Reply with quote

I've been looking for responses to George Silver's criticism of "Italianate" swordplay to try to keep my knowledge balanced but unfortunately everything I've found so far responds only to his character and not to the technical side of things. So my question is are there any responses to Silver, contemporary or modern, which address his criticism on technical grounds rather than just oppose his bigotry?
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Sam Barris




Location: San Diego, California
Joined: 29 Apr 2004
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Posts: 619

PostPosted: Tue 28 Oct, 2008 12:04 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Silver opposed the rapier mostly on the grounds that it was not effective as a battlefield weapon. If it seemed like he was coming down on Italians in general, that was probably due more to the fact that most of the rapier masters operating in England at the time were Italian or at least taught Italian schools. I wouldn't call it bigotry; I'm sure Silver would have loved other Italian swords, such as the schiavonna, but he did hate him some rapiers. Happy

The trouble is, how can you oppose him on technical grounds when his point is actually accurate? The rapier was ill-suited to the battlefield. If you're a lover of the rapier, just admit that your weapon was intended for one thing, Silver's weapon was intended for another thing, and that in the appropriate context both weapons did their job very well. Silver's bias seems to stem mostly from not wanting different weapons and schools of fencing for engaging a line of pikemen or fighting a duel.

Now, I'm not necessarily saying that I agree with Silver's dismissal of the rapier. I rather like rapiers. But I do see why, from his point of view, he thought they were useless. That doesn't bother me when I fence, though. There were many effective forms of combat intended for civilian use, and so long as we don't try to force them into a historical or tactical context in which they do not belong, there isn't a problem. Especially not these days, where no sword makes the battlefield lineup. Wink

Pax,
Sam Barris

"Any nation that draws too great a distinction between its scholars and its warriors will have its thinking done by cowards, and its fighting done by fools." —Thucydides
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J.W. Owen




Location: Melbourne, Australia
Joined: 20 Jan 2007

Posts: 6

PostPosted: Tue 28 Oct, 2008 1:13 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I actually came to quite dislike the rapier from reading Silver. Having noticed this I was hoping to find some reading material to remove any unfair bias I may have acquired. I'm not too concerned with the battlefield as that is rather much a foregone conclusion. However as I understood it Silver was oppose to any use of the rapier as he talks about unnecessarily high mortality rates in rapier duels and further problems.
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Eric Myers




Location: Sacramento, CA
Joined: 23 Aug 2003

Posts: 214

PostPosted: Tue 28 Oct, 2008 7:19 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

J.W. Owen wrote:
However as I understood it Silver was oppose to any use of the rapier as he talks about unnecessarily high mortality rates in rapier duels and further problems.


Yes, but that's just bad swordsmanship, rather than a bad type of sword.

Eric Myers
Sacramento Sword School
ViaHup.com - Wiki di Scherma Italiana
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Steven Reich




Location: Arlington, VA
Joined: 28 Oct 2003

Posts: 237

PostPosted: Tue 28 Oct, 2008 7:55 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

If you look at the match of shortsword against rapier, you see that it generally comes down to a contest of long vs. short, with the longer weapon being optimized for thrusting at the the cost of cutting, and the shortsword being able to deliver a very good cut while suffering the disadvantage of allowing your opponent the chance of the first attack with a thrust. The argument about which has the advantage will go on forever, as depending on the tactical relationship, one or the other will have the advantage (i.e. the rapier from farther out, the shortsword from in close). Added to this is Silver's disdain of carrying a weapon not really optimized for the battlefield (although rapiers were still taken to battle, if we are to believe the plates of Pistofilo, et al.). Additionally, Silver felt the the rapier (or perhaps, rapier-play) wasn't sufficiently defensive--with many encounters ending with both swordsmen being wounded or killed (although it is interesting to note that Swetnam felt that it was the shortsword where encounters were more likely to end with swordsmen wounded).

Steve

Founder of NoVA-Assalto, an affiliate of the HEMA Alliance
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Greg Mele
Industry Professional



Location: Chicago, IL USA
Joined: 20 Mar 2006

Posts: 356

PostPosted: Fri 31 Oct, 2008 11:05 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

If you want to see the *tactical* refutation of Silver's advice on how to fight with the sword against the rapier, some of the late 17th c Italian masters address this. (Steve, I'm blanking, is it Marcelli or Bondi di Mazo?) It isn't a "refutation" (they no doubt had no idea who Silver was), but rather the other side of the equation - how does the longer, slimmer weapon, fight against the short sword?
Greg Mele
Chicago Swordplay Guild
www.chicagoswordplayguild.com

www.freelanceacademypress.com
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Steven Reich




Location: Arlington, VA
Joined: 28 Oct 2003

Posts: 237

PostPosted: Fri 31 Oct, 2008 12:21 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Greg Mele wrote:
If you want to see the *tactical* refutation of Silver's advice on how to fight with the sword against the rapier, some of the late 17th c Italian masters address this. (Steve, I'm blanking, is it Marcelli or Bondi di Mazo?) It isn't a "refutation" (they no doubt had no idea who Silver was), but rather the other side of the equation - how does the longer, slimmer weapon, fight against the short sword?

Marcelli has the Sciabla against the Spada (the Spada being a rapier) and the Spadino against the Spada. The sciabla is sort of like a scimitar or falchion. The Spadino is more or less the smallsword (and Marcelli didn't like it).

Steve

Founder of NoVA-Assalto, an affiliate of the HEMA Alliance
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