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Toni Leivonen




Location: Finland
Joined: 20 Jul 2014

Posts: 16

PostPosted: Fri 12 Jul, 2019 5:26 am    Post subject: Rapiers in Britain         Reply with quote

Hey, can you guys tell me more about rapiers and their usage in the british isles?
I know Silver hated them, and Saviolo taught it, but I've gotten the impression the rapier of Saviolo is a bit meatier weapon than the one you usually would think of a "rapier".
And that's pretty much it, what else is there?
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Mark Millman





Joined: 10 Feb 2005

Posts: 256

PostPosted: Fri 12 Jul, 2019 6:22 pm    Post subject: Re: Rapiers in Britain         Reply with quote

Dear Toni,

On Friday 12 July 2019, you wrote:
Hey, can you guys tell me more about rapiers and their usage in the british isles?
I know Silver hated them, and Saviolo taught it, but I've gotten the impression the rapier of Saviolo is a bit meatier weapon than the one you usually would think of a "rapier".

Although his manual is written in English, Saviolo seems to have followed common Italian practice in not drawing a strong distinction between various types of swords--in this case, primarily thrusting rapiers and cut-and-thrust rapiers. Italian systems in general were meant to apply to any type of sword, and not just the long, narrow-bladed, thrust-oriented weapons we think of when using the English word "rapier".

Quote:
And that's pretty much it, what else is there?

There's a 1594 English translation of Giacomo di Grassi's 1570 Ragione di adoprar sicuramente l'Arme, called Giacomo DiGrassi his true Arte of Defence, which is generally regarded as the first English-language rapier treatise. It's followed by Vincentio Saviolo his Practise. In two Bookes in 1595, and by Silver's Paradoxes of Defence in 1599 and the unpublished Bref Instructions vp§ My Pradoxes of Defence. Then in 1614, G.H., Gentleman, published The Private Schoole of Defence. It consists, like Silver's work, of an indictment of rapier teachers then practicing in England, followed by a very brief exposition of the author's preferred approach to fencing. In 1617, Joseph Swetnam published The Schoole of the Noble and Worthy Science of Defence, which is based on Italian systems with some idiosyncratic additions. Finally, the last English rapier manual of which I'm aware is Pallas Armata. The Gentlemans Armorie, published in 1639 by G.A. (whose identity is not known, but according to J.D. Aylward he may possibly be Gideon Ashwell (1618-1657), a fellow of King's College). On-line copies are hard to come by, but transcriptions are available at plumes.org and at The Association for Renaissance Martial Arts. According to Wiktenauer, it teaches the style of Salvator Fabris.

I hope that this proves helpful.

Best,

Mark Millman
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Sean Manning




Location: Austria
Joined: 23 Mar 2008

Posts: 490

PostPosted: Sun 14 Jul, 2019 1:12 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

You might also enjoy the thread Evolution of rapier blades. My personal definition is that rapier is a style of fencing taught in early 17th century northern Italy, I don't even try to divide 16th/17th century edged weapons into Swords and Rapiers.
www.bookandsword.com
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Daniel Parry




Location: UK
Joined: 08 Apr 2005
Reading list: 39 books

Spotlight topics: 1
Posts: 215

PostPosted: Sun 14 Jul, 2019 12:49 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi there

I think Mark has it covered on the relevant sources and I agree with Sean on the often arbitrary distinctions as to whether something is a rapier or not. In terms of the form of 16th century rapiers of Saviolo's era I don't think there are any material differences between rapiers across Europe. There are some hilt style and decorative differences but they are minor. In the early 17th century you see more variations arising in blade shape, length and weight with English rapiers developing the light weight and somewhat shorter 'duelling rapier', though whether exclusively for duelling is in doubt, and the heavier cavalier hilt rapier/sword plus distinctive dish-hilts in between.

As Sean says, the distinction is often blurred and I think it would be interesting if you had a time machine to show a rapier and a swept hilt sword to a 17th century or 16th century swordsman and say 'what would you call this?' and see if they had different names for them.

Rapier or side-sword with a rapier like hilt or a back-sword with a rapier like hilt (I got one recently which is dish hilt rapier in hilt design but otherwise ad sturdy backsword) and would the people of the era have really made a distinction ?

Daniel
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