Oakeshott Type XIX – Records of the Medieval Sword – Sword-Site.Com: The World’s Largest Free Online Sword Museum! http://www.sword-site.com

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Extract from Records of the Medieval Sword by Ewart Oakeshott

There are a great number of surviving swords of this type, nearly all of them having blade as alike as peas in a pod, and all seeming to have come from the same workshop,. Nearly every surviving specimen bears upon it an Arabic inscription in Nashki script, stating that it was deposited in the Hall of Victories in the Arsenal at Alexandria. Most of these were removed to Constantinople by the Turks, at some time between 1517 and 1935! Now most are in the Askeri Museum in Istanbul, but a few escaped and are in European and N. American collections.
The blades of these Type XIX’s are of a form which until comparatively recently would have been considered not possibly to date earlier that c. 1550, because of their strong, short ricassos and their clean, flat hexagonal section. The ricassos are defined by neatly engraved grooves on each side, coming to a sort of cusp at the lower end against the deep, narrow fuller.
One of these swords which, in addition to a 16th century-looking blade has a single finger-ring below the cross of (style 5), has been published very often, but I have included it here in company with two which as far as I know have never been published. It reside in the Royal Armouries at the Tower of London, and its Arabic inscription gives a date (for its deposition in the Arsenal, not its making) of 1432. There is an almost identical one in Istanbul, with a style 8 cross, and a finger-ring. There are also four others in the Askeri Museum with finger-rings, one with curious flat oval pommel with a small circular recess int he middle. One which i have not shown here, in the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto, is particularly interesting because it bears a date of 1368. This, too, is not the date of its making, which (as an example of a type) can be put back to c. 1350, this giving a very useful early terminus post quem for a very distinctive sword-type.

XIX. 1

Type: XIX
Find-place: Unknown
Collection: Private
Blade-length: 36′ (91.4cms)
Pommel-type: J, recessed
Cross-style: 8
Date: 1380-1400
Condition: Very nearly perfect. When I saw it in 1986 it had still a smooth brown ‘indoor’ patina on it, not having had the oils and dust of the Alexandria Arsenal scrubbed off it. A most elegant, hand, sword, well-balanced though the point of balance is toward the point. The shape of these blades, with their gentle taper, is more akin to the old XIIIa blades of the 13th century. This sword is perhaps the supreme, for elegance, condition and quality, of this type.

XIX. 6

Type: XIX
Find-place: Unknown
Collection: Madrid, Insituto de Valencia de Don Juan
Blade-length: 32″ (81.2cms)
Cross-style: Late, unclassified, complex
Pommel-type: A
Date: c.1460-80
Condition: Very nearly pristine. The original grip, wood covered with brown leather, survives. There is little very mild pitting scattered over the otherwise undamaged surfaces of the blade. There is a only a little wear on the gold damascened decoration (Hispano-Moresque style) on the pommel and cross. The plain gilding on the arms of the hilt and the two short ‘prongs’ sticking out in front is worn through in one or two place. [sic] there is a lettered inscription on the blade which CATHALDO. (ii). This type of hilt -very well developed for its period – shown very often in art, particularly in the paintings by Nuno Goncalves of grandees at the court of Alfonso V of Portugal in the period c.1450-65.
Publication: Laing, op.cit. vol.I: vol.I; Puricelli-Guerra, Arturo, Armi in Occidente, Milano, 1966, No.25. (This shows a beautiful colour photograph of the hilt and upper part of the blade.) Blair, C. EAA, No.51.

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Oakeshott Type XVIII – XVIIIa Records of the Medieval Sword – Sword-Site.Com: The World’s Largest Free Online Sword Museum! http://www.sword-site.com

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Extract from Records of the Medieval Sword by Ewart Oakeshott

This type is the very quintessence of the true, age-old cut and thrust fighting sword; its form nd function goes back to the Middle Bronze ge of c.1000 B.C. Relatively light (its average weight, for is short-hilted version of Type XVIII, is about 2lbs) with enough breadth at the point of percussion (or as someone in Denmark once put it, the Optimal Striking Point) to deliver a totally effective cut, yet below this the blade tapers sharply to a very acute point, perfectly capable of a very lethal thrust. In nearly every case, too, the section is of flattened diamond form with a sharp longitudinal mid-rib, making the blade nice and stiff.
This type of blade, in steel not necessarily bronze, goes back into pre-history or very nearly. Manyo f the fine steel blade os the La Tene culture are of the form, generally about 28″ to 30″ long and about 2″ wide at the hilt (71 cmns [sic] to 76 cms, and 5.7cms. Lying on my table as aI write this is a typical Type XVIII blade from a a Spanish grave which dates from c.200-150B.C. – a typical weapon of Hannibal’s Spanish cavalry units. In the Nationalmuseet in Copenhagen a Roman cavalry spatha, perhaps a century later, which is also so much a typical XVIII that it might well be taken to date c.1450 A.D. It probably would be, if came up for sale in one of the great sale-rooms without a reliable provenance attached to it.
It is perhaps curious that the form, obviously so popular in the Celtic and Roman Iron Age, went out of use in favour of the broad, flat slashing blades of Type X to XIV, form c.50 B.C. – A.D. 50 until the late 14th century of our era. I firmly believe that i was the forms and developments of defensive armour during those fourten centuries which determined the form of the sword’ blade. Once complete and effective plate armour came into general use, something difference was essential, hence Type XV, XVI, XVII and XVIII. Even so, there is a great deal of sound literary evidence in the chronicle, poem and prose history – or what , in the case of the incomparable Froissart, was historical novelism – that swords were virtually useless against a fully armoured man-at-arms. The axe, mace, hammer, pick and poll-axe became the favoured knightly weapon. Even so, the sword remained an essential, primary weapon of honour and prestige, and from the late 14th century until the mid-19th, blades of the his XVIII and XVIIIa form were the most commonly used. The type lasted perhaps longest in the broadswords of the Scottish HIghlanders, the basker-hilted so-called ‘Claymore’ of the 18th century.
There are 3 sub-types for XVIII (see diagram) because this was so useful and popular a form of sword. XVIIIa denatoes a larger XVIII with alonger blade, oftern with a 1/3 length fuller, and a long grip, while XVIIIb is a very long-ripped Bastard sword, while XVIIIc is a shorter gripped one.
THe word ‘Bastard’ sword (generally referred to in English contexts as
hand-and-half sword’ was applied in the 15th/16th centuries to these long-gripped weapons. This usage is well attested by a remark in a treatise o the 17th century by one Marc de Vulson in his Vray Theatre d’Honneur. Describing a duel fought in 1549 before Henry II of France he says of the weapons used ‘Deux epees batardes, pouvant servir a une main ou a deux (‘two bastard swords able to serve with one hand or with two.’)


Find-place: Near Nancy in France
Collection: Private
Blade-length: 29′ (73.7 cms)
Pommel-type: 1
Cross-style: 9
Date: c.1400-25
Condition: Excellent. Obviously preserved indoors, and cared for. The blade is of an unusual section, a very wide flat hexagon, for this type. INsilhouette, very like the Henry V sword.


Find-place: unknown
Collection: The late Mr E. A. Christensen. Formerly Spitzer. Now Nationalmuseet, Copenhage.
Blade-length: 35 3/8′ (90cms)
Pommel-type: 1
Cross-style: 11
Date: c.1400-50
Condition: Good. Not excavated. A church perhaps? The blade shows a close overall patina of largish pits, but the hilt of gilded bronze is an [sic] condition, including the shaped grip of wood bound with fine cord and covered with leather. There is a sword in the Swiss National Museum at Zurich (Inv. No. 6894) which would seem to be from the same workshop, and another similar one in Rome in the Odescalchi Collection (5.35, 196)
Publication: Hoffmeyer, Christensen and HOffmeye; Oakeshott, SAC.


Type: XVIIa
Find-place: Unknown
Collection: Formerly in the Wilczec Collection: now ?
Blade-length: About 35″ (88.8cms)
Pommel-type: J
Cross-style: 2
Date: C. 1400-40
Condition: Perfect. Obviously preserved in a house or armoury. The original grip of wood, bound with fine cord and covered with leather, survives intact. There is shield of arms in the pommel, engraved – a lion rampant. ON the blade there are two Passau ‘Running Wolf’ marks, and close up under the cross, a firmly impressed stamp of a daisy or marigold-like mark.
Note; This photograph was taken over half a century ago – more like a century – when it was still in Count Wilczec’s collection. It doesn’t seem to have been seen, or noted anywhere in publication since then. But is is an absolutely perfect example of the sub-type, and a very beautiful sword into the bargain. It has been suggested that it had belonged to the empereor Albrecht II in 1438/9.
Publication: Wilczec, Count, Die Erinnerungen eines Waffen-ammlers, 1903.

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Oakeshott Type XVII – Records of the Medieval Sword – Sword-Site.Com: The World’s Largest Free Online Sword Museum! http://www.sword-site.com

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Extract from Ewart Oakeshott’s Records of the Medieval Sword


With the coming of this sword-type, we have reached the era of complete plate armour. Thought, of course, complete and homogeneous armour would not have been worn in its entirety, or even at all, by all men-at-arms, knights or otherwise. Mail, and occasional reinforcements of plate, or plain leather was often the only defense of the European man-at-arms. All the same, a type of sword had been devised to have some sort of capacity to deal with, at least to dent and hopefully to bore holes in, complete plate armour. These sword which I have classified as Type XVII had always a long hand-and-a-half grip, and a very stout blade of hexagonal section, occasionally with a shallow fuller, and often very heavy and always very rigid and stiff.
The first wo swords I show in this section are very familiar to me, and though their blades at least look extremely alike, there is a great difference in weight and balance. The first, XVII.1 is in the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge, where I frequently handle it, and the second, XVII.2, now in the Nationalmuseet in Copenhage, once hung upon my own wall. The Cambridge one is surprisingly light and responsive in the and, weighing only just over 2lbs; but the one I had is heavy, even clumsy – a sort of bar of iron, point-heavy and needing a lot of strength to use.
There are many survivors of this type, nearly all of them alike and most not all that handsome. I have shown a few representative examples of a very large class of survivors, those which for some reason seem more interesting (such as those which have long ‘ricassos’ than the general run of what is on whole rather a boring type.


Type: XVII
Find-place: The River Great Ouse at Ely in Cambridgeshire
Collection: The Fitxwilliam Musem, Cambridge
Blade-length: 36″ (82cms)
Pommel-type: T.2
Cross-style: 1, curved
Date: c.1370-1400
Condition: River-found. Almost perfect beneath the smooth, richly dark patina of Goethite. There is no significant pitting in any part. On the tang is stamped a large lombardic letter B and on the blade, in the shallow fuller, is a little dagger-mar inlaid in latten (or possibly, gold?
Publication: Redfern, W.B. ‘Some Choice Sword-Hilts’, Connoisseur, 1923, Laking, vol. I; Oakeshott, AOW; Oakeshott, SAC; Oakeshott ‘Arms and Armour in the Fitzwilliam Museum’, Appolo 1987.
This is a superb sword, in perfect condition, and is the leading example of what has come to be called the ‘Sempach’ family of swords, after two which were found in 1898 in the graces of two of the Austrian knights, Friedrich von Tarant and Friedrich von Griddenstein, who fell in the battle fought near Sempach (near Zurich) in 1386. Similar dagger-marks are to be seen (a) on superb XIIa sword (No. XIIa.2 above) in an English private collection and (b) on the great -two-hand sword of Edward III in St. George’s Chapel at Windsor. This dates c.1350, and the former from perhaps as early as 1300. Similar, though no identical, dagger-marks appear on the Sempach swords from the abbey of Konigsfield, and on a TYpe XVIII sword (XVIII.5 below) in an English private collection, and on another sword of the same ‘family’ found in the lake of Neuchatel. (XVII.7)
This sword in Cambridge, as familiar to me now in 1989 as if it was in my own collection is quite surprisingly light, and is beautifully balanced and ‘ready’ in the hand.
There is a legend, written in horrible white paint, and the side of the blade not shown outward, to the effect that it was found ‘in 1845 in the River Cam at Ely’. This is a geographical impossibility. The river at Ely is the Great Ouse; the Came joins it about 4 miles above Ely, so if it was found in the CAm, it wasn’t at Ely; if it was found at Ely, it wasn’t int he Cam; but it doesn’t matter. The mud of both rivers has the same excellent preservative properties, and a difference of a few miles makes no difference to the sword’s excellence. The only difference perhaps is that a Ely the river could, even in the late 14th century, be approached in order to throw a sword in; but where the Cam joins it, in those days it was all marsh and impenetrable scrub land.
It was in a great private collection, owned by an industrialist named Redfern, until it was bought by the Friends of the Fitzwilliam Museuam in 1947, and has always before been published as the Redfern Sword. A pity, it should be the Ely Sword, but I supose [sic] it is now too well established under its ephemeral collector’s name to be altered.


Type: XVII
Find-place: Unknown
Collection: Formerly Mr. E.A Christensen; now Nationalmuseet, Copenhagen
Blade-length: 36&1/2″ (92.7 cms)
Pommel-type: H.2
Cross-style: 2
Date: C. 1380-1420
Condition: Excellent. Indoor (armoury) preservation. There is an Arabic inscription in Nashki script on the blade giving a date of A.D. 1436-7. There is a cross poten inlaid in copper in the pommel. Perhaps the sword of a Templar – though by the probably date of its making, say 1380, the Templars had been destroyed for over 60 years. The grip is a modern replacement.
Publication: Christensen & Hoffmeyer, p.82, no.57; HOffmeyer, pl. XXe, p.17, no.27; Oakeshott, SAC pl.30b.

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Oakeshott Type XIIa – Records of the Medieval Sword – Sword-Site.Com: The World’s Largest Free Online Sword Museum! http://www.sword-site.com

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Extract from Records of the Medieval Sword by Ewart OakeshottType XIIa

The swords illustrated below I once put into Type XIIIa, but this was a mistake; they have to go into a new sub-type of XIIa, because the blades taper too strongly for a XIIIa style, and are too acutely pointed.
When I worked out my typology in 1958, I did not know of the first of these (XIIa. 1) and because I had then come across no others which would bne made into a ‘Great Sword’ subtype of XII, I forced it into Type XIIa.
Thirty years and many publications later, it may seem strange to admit a careless mistake and to correct it; but it’s never too late to improve one’s work and I believe absolutely essential to admit, and correct, one’s own errors. So here, thirty years on, I present Sub-Type XIIa.

XIIa. 1
Type: XIIa
Find-place: Unknown
Collection: The Burrel Collection, Glasgow
Blade-length: 36″ (91.4cms)
Pommel-type: J
Cross-style: 2
Date ? 1300-50
Condition: Excavated. Good. Some scattered deep pitting.

XIIa. 3
Type: XIIa
Find-place: Alexandria, the Arsenal
Collection: The Royal Armouries, H.M. Tower of London. IX.915
Blade-length: 35&1/2″ (90cms)
Pommel-type: A variant of Type K
Date: c.1350-1400
Condition: Almost perfect, except that the grip is lacking. There is an Arabic inscription incised in the fuller just below the hilt, which has been translated as ‘Inalienable property of the treasury of the marsh province of Alexandria, may it be protected’. There is a smith’s mark on the tang.
This was sold in 1960 in the D’Acre Edwards sale at Christies, where I tried for it myself, and ran Sir James Mann up a a good deal, but of course he beat me.
Publication: Dufty, Plate 4d
Oakeshott SAC, Plate 29, where is is erroneously classified as of Type XVIa, instead of XIIa.

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How to Grind a Fuller on a Sword or Knife

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The elusive fuller. For a long time I struggled with them. For almost as long I was really unhappy with the way mine used to turn out. Then I read Tinker Pearce’s The Medieval Sword in the Modern World, and finally I was able to develop a technique of my own standing on the knowledge Tinker imparts in that seminal book that allowed me to fuller swords with excellent results.

I’m not going to discuss the merits of fullering swords here, so much has been written about it already. I will say though that aesthetically a fuller is a very attractive addition to a sword, and getting them right is challenging. If you know how though, it gets easier and easier each time you do it.

So here’s the dilemma: most modern grinding equipment has a broad face. This means that it is not easy to get grinding gear into the fuller in the first place. The second problem is, when you get the grinder into the fuller, keeping it straight is difficult. People set up rigs, others use mills, others yet use CNC grinding gear. None of them are great solutions though for the following reasons (in order). Rigs tend to require a fuller to be uniformly wide the length of the sword, as do mills. CNC gear is prohibitively expensive for the average sword maker.

The solution I find works best presumes you have a belt grinder. I don’t mean a belt sander either, because take it from me, if you use them to make swords they won’t last long – the wheels they use are not designed for heat and heavy contact like a belt grinder which is designed for metal.

You really need something like this to do a fuller like the one I will be demonstrating. If you don’t you can still do fuller but you’ll need to do them with an angle grinder on a stand, using a rig made of pieces of timber to guide the sword.

First mark out your fuller:


I like Sharpies because the ink has amazing staying power and they are non-toxic, but any permanent marker or engineer’s chalk is fine.

As mentioned above, the contact wheel cannot be run up and down the area where I want the fuller, mine just wouldn’t fit, it’s 2 inches across. You might get away with it with a smaller contact wheel, but you would probably struggle to get the nice round hollow shape that most fullers are.

Next you start grinding! Hold the sword by the tang and the tip. Tinker points out that this part of the sword making is best done before any other grinding has been done, and it’s very true. This is for a bunch of reasons: if you muck it up you can figure out how to fix it more easily, it’s almost impossible to get a good result with a fuller on a sword that has distal taper or the edge bevels in place already. There are other reasons too, take it from Tink though, do the fuller first!

Run the sword up and down, taking a little more off each time. I like using a 60 grit for this stage, but you might prefer a 40 or 80. You could theoretically do this part with a bench top grinder stone if you don’t have a bench grinder belt attachment, but I haven’t tried it so I can’t vouch for it either way.

It will take time, believe me, you will probably be going at this for hours. I get my blanks prehardened so I keep them cool with a watering can I keep outside my grinding room. Always pour water over the sword on the grass outdoors WELL AWAY from powertools! Also, always wear rubber soled shoes when working with electrically driven power tools! I hope I don’t also need to point out that you should ALWAYS, ALWAYS wear eye protection. It only takes one little piece of metal at the right angle to take out an eye, and no sword is worth that. I wear a pretty heavy duty dust mask with a latex frame and replaceable catridge type filters, but I make sword as an occupation, but I understand this isn’t practicable for the average hobbyist so get yourself some good dust masks and make sure they are fitted tightly. I use welding gloves to grind with, as when I was a starter making swords I suffered two major hand injuries from angle grinders, and f$%k they hurt, not to mention that I could have lost a finger. Just remember all this stuff. It can happen to you. That doesn’t mean it will, but why the hell take the risk?

After many hours of grinding when you’re happy with the shape move on to 80, then 120, then 320. Tink then uses a buffing wheel to remove the horizontal lines that will be left in the fuller, which is a fantastic way to finish it off. Unfortunately I don’t have a buffing wheel attachment, so I do the next best thing which is get some emery paper over a small block of wood I rounded off on one side. These are easy to make, and you can make different ones for different types of fullers. The other great thing about ‘blocking’ like this is that it removes any waviness in the fuller. Tink can probably grind a fuller spot on by feel, but I’m not that good, so the block goes a long way to tidying my work up.

You’ll be left then with a very pretty custom fuller like this:


I’ve tried a few other ways of doing this, to say the least, but this consistently produces the best results for me. I’ve tried flap discs but they were problematic because the edges tend to score a crooked line in the fuller when used at an acute angle. I’ve also tried using flap wheels on a dril which results in bumpiness in the fuller.

With practice and a bit of patience you’ll be able to use your bench grinder to create beautiful fullers using the technique described above. I’ve tried so many other ways of doing this, and to date, I’ve never found a technique that works as well.

Happy grinding!

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Finished sword:

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THE PARADOXES OF DEFENSE by George Silver 1599 – Sword-Site.Com: The World’s Largest Free Online Sword Museum! http://www.sword-site.com

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Transcribed by Greg Lindahl. Typed in from a facsimile of the Matthey edition by Steve Hick.


Wherein is proved the true grounds of fight to be the short ancient weapons and that the short sword has advantage over the long sword or the long rapier. And the weakness and imperfection of the rapier-fights displayed. Together with an admonition to the noble, ancient, victorious, valiant, and most brave nation of Englishmen, to beware of false teachers of defence, and how they forsake their own natural fights. With a brief commendation of the noble science or exercising of arms.
by George Silver, Gentleman.
Printed for Edward Blount.

To the right honorable, my singular good lord, Robert, Earl of Essex and Ewe, Earl Marshall of England, Viscount Hereford, Lord Ferrers of Chartley, Bourchier and Louaine, Master of the Queens Majesty’s horse, & of the Ordinance, Chancellor of the University of Cambridge, Knight of the most Noble order of the Garter, and one of her highness most honorable Privy Council.

Fencing (Right honorable) in this new fangled age, is like our fashions, every day a change, resembling the chameleon, who alters himself into all colors save white. So fencing changes into all wards save the right. That it is so, experience teaches us, why it is so, I doubt not but your wisdom does conceive. There is nothing permanent that is not true, what can be true that is uncertain? How can that be certain, that stands upon uncertain grounds? The mind of man a greedy hunter after truth, finding the seeming truth but changing, not always one, but always diverse, forsakes the supposed, to find out the assured certainty, and searching everywhere save where it should, meets with all save what it would. Who seeks & finds not, seeks in vain. Who seeks in vain, must if he will find seek again, yet all in vain. Who seeks not what he would, as he should, and where he should, as in other things (Right Honorable), so in fencing: the mind desirous of truth, hunts after it, and hating falsehood, flies from it, and therefore having missed it once, it assays the second time. If then he thrives not, he tries another way. When he has failed, he adventures on the third & if all these fail him, yet he never fails to change his weapon, his fight, his ward, if by any means he may compass what he most affects, for because men desire to find out a true defence for themselves in their fight, therefore they seek it diligently, nature having taught us to defend ourselves, and Art teaching us how, and because we miss it in one way, we change to another. But though we often chop and change, turn and return, from ward to ward, from fight to fight, in this constant search, yet we never rest in any, and that because we never find the truth, and therefore we never find it, because we never seek it in that weapon where it may be found. For, to seek for a true defence in an untrue weapon, is to angle on the earth for fish, and to hunt in the sea for hares. Truth is ancient though it seems an upstart. Our forefathers were wise, though our age accounts them foolish, valiant though we repute them cowards. They found out the true defences for their bodies in short weapons by their wisdom, they defended themselves and subdued their enemies, and those weapons with their valor(1). And (Right Honorable) if we have this true defence, we must seek it where is is, in short swords, short staves, the half pike, partisans, glaives, or such like weapons of perfect lengths, not in long swords, long rapiers, nor frog pricking poniards: for if there is no certain grounds for defence, why do they teach it? If there be, why have they not found it? Not because it is not so. To say so, were to gainsay the truth. But because it is not certain in those weapons which they teach. To prove this, I have set forth these my Paradoxes, different I confess from the main current of our outlandish teachers, but agreeing I am well assured to the truth, and tending as I hope to the honor of our English nation. The reason which moved me to adventure so great a task, is the desire I have to bring the truth to light, which has a long time lain hidden in the cave of contempt, while we like degenerate sons, have forsaken our forefathers virtues with their weapons, and have lusted like men sick of a strange ague, after the strange vices and devices of Italian, French, and Spanish fencers, little remembering, that these apish toys could not free Rome from Brennius’s sack, not France from the King Henry the Fifth his conquest. To this desire to find out truth the daughter of time, begotten of Bellona, I was also moved, that by it I might remove the great loss of our English gallants, which we daily suffer by these imperfect fights, wherein none undertake the combat, be his cause never so good, his cunning never so much, his strength and agility never so great, but his virtue was tied to fortune Happy man, happy dolt, kill or be killed is the dreadful issue of the devilish imperfect fight. If the man were now alive, which beat the masters for the scholars fault, because he had no better instructed him, these Italian fencers could not escape his censure, who teach us offense, not defence, and to fight, as Diogenes’ scholars were taught to dance, to bring their lives to an end by Art. Was Ajax a coward because he fought with a seven folded buckler, or are we mad to go naked into the field to try our fortunes, not our virtues. Was Achilles a runaway, who wore that well tempered armor, or are we desperate, who care for nothing but to fight, and learn like the the pygmies, with bodkins, or weapons of like defence? Is it valorous for a man to go naked against his enemy? Why then did the Lacedemonians punish him as desperate, whom they rewarded for his valor with a laurel crown? But that which is most shameful, they teach men to butcher one another here at home in peace, wherewith they cannot hurt their enemies abroad in war(2). For, you honor well knows, that when the battle is joined, there is no room for them to draw their bird-spits, and when they have them, what can they do with them? Can they pierce his corslet with the point? Can they unlace his helmet, unbuckle his armor, hew asunder their pikes with a Stocata, a Reversa, a Dritta, a Stramason or other such tempestuous terms? No, these toys are fit for children, not for men, for straggling boys of the camp, to murder poultry, not for men of honor to try the battle with their foes. Thus I have (Right Honorable) for the trial of the truth, between the short sword and the long rapier, for the saving of the lives of our English gallants, who are sent to certain death by their uncertain fights, & for abandoning of that mischievous and imperfect weapon, which serves to kill our friends in peace, but cannot much hurt our foes in war, have I at this time given forth these Paradoxes to the view of the world. And because I know such strange opinions had need of stout defence, I humbly crave your Honorable protection, as one in whom the true nobility of our victorious ancestors has taken up residence. It will suit to the rest of your Honors most noble complements, to maintain the defence of their weapons whose virtues you profess. It agrees with your Honorable disposition, to receive with favor what is presented with love. It sorts well with your Lordship’s high authority, to weigh with reason, what is fit for marshal men. It is an unusual point of your Honor, which wins your Lordship love in your country, to defend the truth in whomsoever, and it adds a supply to that which your Lordship have of late begun to your unspeakable honor and inestimable benefit, to reduce the wearing of swords with hilts over the hands(3), to the Roman discipline, no longer then they might draw them under their arms, or over their shoulders. In all or any of these respects, I rest assured that your Lordship will vouchsafe to receive with favor and maintain with honor these Paradoxes of mine, which if they be shrouded under so safe a shield, I will not doubt but to maintain with reason among the wise, and prove it by practice upon the ignorant, that there is no certain defence in the rapier, and that there is great advantage in the short sword against the long rapier, or all manner of rapiers in general, of what length soever. And that the short staff has the advantage against the long staff of twelve, fourteen, sixteen or eighteen feet long, or of what length soever. And against two men with their swords and daggers, or two rapiers, poniards & gauntlets, or each of them a case of rapiers, which whether I can perform or not, I submit for trial to your Honors martial censure, being at all times ready to make it good, in what manner, and against what man soever it shall stand upon your Lordship’s good liking to appoint. And so I humbly commend this book to your Lordship’s wisdom to peruse, and your Honor to the Highest to protect in all health and happiness now and ever Your Honors in all duty,

George Silver

AN ADMONITION to the noble, ancient, victorious, valiant, and most brave nation of Englishmen.


George Silver having the perfect knowledge of all manner of weapons, and being experienced in all manner of fights, thereby perceiving the great abuses of the Italian Teachers of Offense done unto them, and great errors, inconveniences, & false resolutions they have brought them into, has informed me, even for pity of their most lamentable wounds and slaughters, & as I verily think it my bound duty, with all love and humility to admonish them to take heed, how they submit themselves into the hand of Italian teachers of defence, or strangers whatsoever, and to beware how they forsake or suspect their own natural fight, that they may by casting off these Italianated, weak, fantastical, and most devilish and imperfect fights, and by exercising their own ancient weapons, be restored, or achieve unto the natural, and most manly and victorious fight again, the dint and force whereof many brave nations have both felt and feared. Our plowmen have mightily prevailed against them, as also against masters of defence, both in schools and countries, that have taken upon them to stand upon school tricks and juggling gambols. Whereby it grew to a common speech among the countrymen “Bring me to a fencer, I will bring him out of his fence tricks with down right blows. I will make him forget his fence tricks, I will warrant him.” I speak not against masters of defence indeed, they are to be honored, nor against the science, it is noble, and in my opinion to be preferred next to divinity, for as divinity preserves the soul from hell and the devil, so does this noble science defend the body from wounds & slaughter. And moreover, the exercising of weapons puts away aches, griefs, and diseases, it increases strength, and sharpens the wits. It gives a perfect judgement, it expels melancholy, choleric and evil conceits, it keeps a man in breath, perfect health, and long life. It is unto him that has the perfection thereof, a most friendly and comfortable companion when he is alone, having but only his weapon about him. It puts him out of fear, & in the wars and places of most danger, it makes him bold, hardy and valiant.

And for as much as this noble and most mighty nation of Englishmen, of their good natures, are always most loving, very credulous, & ready to cherish & protect strangers, yet that through their good natures they never more by strangers or false teachers may be deceived, once again I most humbly to admonish them, or such as shall find in themselves a disposition or desire to learn their weapons of them, that from henceforth as strangers shall take upon them to come hither to teach this noble & most valiant & victorious nation to fight, that first, before they learn of them, they cause a sufficient trial to be very requisite & reasonable, even such as I myself would be contented withal, if I should take upon me to go in their country to teach their nation to fight. And this is the trial: They shall play with such weapons as they profess to teach withal(4), three bouts apiece with three of the best English masters of defence & three bouts apiece with three unskillful valiant men, and three bouts apiece with three resolute men half drunk. Then if they can defend themselves against these masters of defence, and hurt, and go free from the rest, then are they be honored, cherished, and allowed for perfect good teachers, and what countrymen soever they be. But if any of these they take fail, then they are imperfect in their profession, their fight is false, & they are false teachers, deceivers and murderers, and to be punished accordingly, yet no worse punishment unto them I wish, than such as in their trial they shall find.

There are four special marks to know the Italian fight is imperfect, & that the Italian teachers and setters forth of books of defence, never had the perfection of the true fight.


The first mark is, they seldom fight in their own country unarmed, commonly in this sort, a pair of gauntlets upon their hands(5), and a good shirt of mail upon their bodies. The second mark is, that neither the Italian nor any of their best scholars do never fight, but they are most commonly sore hurt, or one or both of them slain.

The third mark is, they never teach their scholars, nor set down in their books any perfect length of their weapons, without which no man can by nature or art against the perfect length fight safe, for being too short, their times are too long, and spaces too wide for their defence, and being too long, they will be upon every cross that shall happen to be made, whether it shall be done by skill or chance, in great danger of death, because the rapier being too long, the cross cannot be undone in due time, but may be done by going back with the feet, but that time is always too long to answer the time of the hand, therefore every man ought to have a weapon according to his own stature, the tall man must have his sword longer than the man of mean stature, else he has wrong in his defence, & the man of mean stature must have his weapon longer than the man of small stature, else he has wrong in his defence, & the man of small stature must beware he does not feed himself with this vain conceit, that he will have his weapon long, to reach as far as the tall man, for therein he shall have great disadvantage, both with the making of a strong cross, and also in uncrossing again, and in keeping his point from crossing, and when a cross is made upon him, to defend himself, or in danger his enemy, or to redeem his lost times. Again, rapiers longer than is convenient to accord with the true statures of men, are always too long or too heavy to keep their bodies in due time from the cross of the light short sword of perfect length, the which being made by the skillful out of any of the four true times, upon any of the four chief actions, by reason of the uncertainty & great swiftness in any of these times, they are in great danger of a blow, or of a thrust in the hand, arm, head, or face, & in every true cross in the uncrossing, in great danger of a blow upon the head, or full thrust in the body or face, and being taken in that time & place, the first mover in uncrossing speeds the rapier man of imperfect length, whether it is too long, too short or too heavy, and goes free himself by the direction of his governors.

The fourth mark is, the crosses of their rapiers for true defence of their hands are imperfect, for the true carriage of the guardant fight, without which all fights are imperfect.

Of six chief causes, that many valiant men think themselves by their practices to be skillful in their weapons, are yet many times in their fights sore hurt, and many times slain by men of small skill or none at all.


The first and chief cause is, the lack of the four governors, without which it is impossible to fight safe, although a man should practice most painfully and most diligently all the days of his life.

The second cause is, the lack of the knowledge in due observance of the four actions, the which we shall call bent, spent, lying spent, and drawing back. These actions every man fights upon, whether they are skillful or unskillful, he that observes them is safe, he that observes them not, is in continual danger of every thrust that shall be strongly made against him.

The third cause is, they are unpracticed in the four true times, neither do they know the true times from the false, therefore the true choice of their times are most commonly taken by chance, and seldom otherwise.

The fourth cause is, they are unacquainted out of what fight, or in what manner they are to answer the variable fight, and therefore because the variable fight is the most easy fight of all others, most commonly do answer the variable fight with the variable fight, which ought never be but in the first distance, or with the short sword against the long, because if both or one of them shall happen to press, and that in due time of either side’s fight be changed, the distance, by reason of the narrowness of space, is broken, the place is won and lost of both sides, then he that thrusts first, speedeth: if both happen to thrust together, they are both in danger. Therefore things sometimes by true times, by change of fights, by chance are avoided.

The fifth cause is, their weapons are most commonly too long to uncross without going back with the feet.

The sixth cause is, their weapons are most commonly too heavy both to defend and offend in due time, & by these two last causes many valiant men have lost their lives.

What is the cause that wisemen in learning or practicing their weapons, are deceived with Italian Fencers.

There are four causes. The first, their schoolmaster are imperfect. The second is, that whatsoever they teach, is both true & false; true in their demonstrations, according with their force & time in gentle play(6), & in their actions according with the force & time in rough play or fight, false. For example, there is much difference between these two kinds of fight, as there is between the picture of Sir Beuis of Southhampton and Sir Beuis himself, if he were living. The third, none can judge of the craft but the craftsman, the unskilled, be he never so wise, can not truly judge of his teacher, or skill, the which he learns, being unskilled himself. Lastly, & to confirm for truth all that shall be amiss, not only in this excellent science of defence, but in all other excellent secrets, most commonly the lie bears as good a show of truth, as truth itself.

Of the false resolutions and vain opinions of Rapier men and of the danger of death thereby ensuing.


It is a great question, & especially among the rapier men, who has the advantage, the thruster or the warder? Some hold strongly, that the warder has the advantage. Others say, it is most certain that the thruster has the advantage. Now, when two do happen to fight, being both of one mind, that the thruster has the advantage, they make all shift they can, who shall give the first thrust, as for example, two captains at Southhampton even as they were going to take shipping upon the key, fell at strife, drew their rapiers, and presently, being desperate, hardy or resolute, as they call it, with all force and over great speed, ran with their rapiers one at the other, & were both slain. Now when two of the contrary opinion shall meet and fight, you shall see very peaceable wars between them. For they verily think that he that first thrusts is in great danger of his life, therefore with all speed do they put themselves in ward, or Stocata, the surest guard of all other, as Vincentio says, and thereupon they stand sure, saying the one to the other, “thrust if you dare”, and says the other, “thrust if you dare”, or “strike or thrust if you dare”, says the other. Then says the other,”strike or thrust if you dare, for your life”. These two cunning gentlemen standing long time together, upon this worthy ward, they both depart in peace, according to the old proverb: “It is good sleeping in a whole skin.” Again if two shall fight, the one of opinion, that the warder has the advantage, then most commonly, the thruster being valiant, with all speed thrusts home, and by reason of the time and swift motion of his hand, they are most commonly with the points of their rapiers, or daggers, or both, one or both of them hurt or slain because their spaces of defence in this kind of fight, are too wide in due time to defend, and the place being won, the eye of the patient by the swift motion of the agents hand is deceived. Another resolution they stand sure upon for their lives, to kill their enemies. in the which they are most commonly slain themselves: that is this: When they find the point of their enemy’s rapier out of the right line, they say, they may boldly make home a thrust with a Passata, the which they observe, and do accordingly. But the other having a shorter time with his hand, as nature many times teaches him, suddenly turns his wrist, whereby he meets the other in his passage just with the point of his rapier in the face or body. And this false resolution has cost many a life.

That the cause that many are so often slain, and many sore hurt in fight with long rapier is not by reason of their dangerous thrusts, nor cunning of that Italianated fight, but in the length and unwieldiness thereof.


It is most certain, that men may with short swords both strike, thrust, false and double, by reason of their distance and nimbleness thereof, more dangerously than they can with long rapiers. And yet, when two fight with short swords, having true fight, there is no hurt done. Neither is it possible in any reason, that any hurt should be done between them of either side, and this is well known to all such as have the perfection of the true fight. By this it plainly appears, that the cause of the great slaughter, and sundry hurts done by long rapiers, consists not in their long reach, dangerous thrusts, nor cunningness of the Italian fight, but in the inconvenient length, and unwieldiness of their long rapiers, whereby it commonly falls out, that in all their actions appertaining to their defence, they are unable, in due time to perform, and continually in danger of every cross, that shall happen to be made with their rapier blades, which being done, within the half rapier; (unless both are of one mind with all speed to depart, which seldom or never happens between men of valiant disposition,) it is impossible to uncross, or get out, or avoid the stabs of the daggers. And this has fallen(?) out many times among valiant men at those weapons.

Of running and standing safe in rapier fight, the runner has the advantage.


If two valiant men fight being both cunning in running, & that they both use the same at one instant, their course is doubled, the place is won of both sides, and one or both of them will commonly be slain or sore hurt. And if one of them shall run, and the other stand fast upon the Imbrocata or Stocata, or however, the place will be at one instant won of one side, and gained of the other, and one or both of them will be hurt or slain. If both shall press hard upon the guard, he that first thrusts home in true place, hurts the other, & if both thrust together, they are both hurt. Yet some advantage the runner has, because he is an uncertain mark, and in his motion. The other is a certain mark, and in dead motion, And by reason of this many times the unskillful man takes advantage he knows not how, against him that lies watching upon his ward or Stocata guard.

Of striking and thrusting both together.


It is strongly held by many, that if in a fight they find their enemy to have more skill than themselves, they presently will continually strike & thrust just with him, whereby they will make their fight as good as his, and thereby have as good advantage as the other with all his skill. But if their swords be longer than the other, then their advantage is great. For it is certain (say they) that an inch will kill a man. But if their swords be much longer than the other, then their advantage is so great, that they will be sure by striking and thrusting just with the other, that they will always hurt him that has the short sword, and go clear themselves, because they will reach him, when he shall not reach them. These men speak like such as talk of Robin Hood, that never shot with his bow, for to strike or thrust just together with a man of skill, lies not in the will of the ignorant, because a skillful man always fights upon the true times, by which the unskillful is still disappointed of both place and time, and therefore driven of necessity still to watch the other, when & what he will do. That is, whether he will strike, thrust, or false. If the unskillful strike or thrust in the time of falsing, therein he neither strikes or thrusts just with the other. He may say, he has struck or thrust before him, but not just with him, not to any good purpose. For in the time of falsing, if he strikes or thrusts, he strikes or thrusts too short. For in that time he has neither time nor place to strike home, and as it is said, the unskillful man, that will take upon him to strike or thrust just with the skillful, must first behold what the man of skill will do, and when he will do it, and therefore of necessity is driven to suffer the skillful man to be the first mover, and entered into his action, whether it is blow or thrust. The truth of this cannot be denied. Now judge whether it is possible for an unskillful man to strike or thrust just together with a man of skill. But the skillful man can most certainly strike and thrust just with the unskillful, because the unskillful fights upon false times, which being too long to answer the true times, the skillful fighting upon the true times, although the unskillful is the first mover, & entered into his action, whether it is blow or thrust, yet the shortness of the true times make at the pleasure of the skillful a just meeting together. In the perfect fight two never strike or thrust together, because they never suffer place nor time to perform it.

Two unskillful men many times by chance strike or thrust together, chance unto them, because they know not what they do, or how it comes to pass. But the reasons or causes are these. Sometimes two false times meet & make a just time together, & sometimes a true time and a false time meet and make a just time together, and sometimes two true times meet and make a just time together. And all this happens because the true time and place is unknown unto them.

George Silver his resolution upon that hidden or doubtful question, who has the advantage of the Offender or Defender.


The advantage is strongly held by many to be in the offender, yea insomuch, that if two minding to offend in their fight, it is thought to be in him that first strikes or thrusts. Others strongly hold opinion that the warder absolutely has still the advantage, but these opinions as they are contrary the one to the other, so are they contrary to true fight, as may well be seen by these short examples. If the advantage be in the warder, than it is not good any time to strike or thrust: if the advantage is in the striker or thruster, then were it a frivolous thing to learn to ward, or at any time to seek to ward, since in warding lies disadvantage. Now may it plainly by these examples appear, that if there is any perfection in fight, that both sides are deceived of their opinions, because if the striker or thruster has the advantage, then is the warder still in danger of wounds or death. If again, if the warder has the advantage, then is the striker or thrust in as great danger to defend himself against the warder, because the warder from his wards, takes advantage of the striker or thruster upon every blow or thrust, that shall be made against him. Then thus do I conclude, that if there is perfection in the Science of Defence, they are all in their opinions deceived. And that the truth may appear for the satisfaction of all men, this is my resolution: that there is no advantage absolutely, nor disadvantage in striker, thruster, or warder, and their is great advantage in the striker, thruster & warder, but in this manner. In the perfection of fight the advantage consists in fight between party and party, that is, whosoever wins or gains the place in true pace, space and time, has the advantage, whether he is striker, thruster or warder. And that is my resolution.

Of Spanish fight with the Rapier.


The Spaniard is now thought to be a better man with his rapier than is the Italian, Frenchman, high Almaine (German — ST) or any other country man whatsoever, because they in their rapier-fight stand upon so many intricate tricks that in all the course of a man’s life it shall be hard to learn them, and if they miss in doing the least of them in their fight, they are in danger of death. But the Spaniard in his fight, both safely to defend himself, and to endanger his enemy, has but one lying, and two wards to learn, wherein a man with small practice in a very short time may become perfect.

This is the manner of the Spanish fight. They stand as brave as they can with their bodies straight upright, narrow spaced, with their feet continually moving, as if they were in a dance, holding forth their arms and rapiers very straight against the face or bodies of their enemies, and this is the only lying to accomplish that kind of fight. And this note, that as long as any man shall lie in that manner with his arm, and the point of his rapier straight, it shall be impossible for his adversary to hurt him, because in that straight holding forth of his arm, which way soever a blow shall be made against him, by reason that his rapier hilt lies so far before him, he has but a very little way to move, to make his ward perfect, in this manner. If a blow is made at the right side of the head, a very little moving of the hand with the knuckles upward defends that side of the head or body, and the point being still out straight, greatly endangers the striker. And so likewise, if a blow is made at the left side of the head, a very small turning of the wrist with the knuckles downward, defends that side of the head and body, and the point of rapier much endangers the hand, arm, face or body of the striker. And if any thrust is made, the wards, by reason of the indirections in moving the feet in manner of dancing, as aforesaid, makes a perfect ward, and still withal the point greatly endangers the other. And thus is the Spanish fight perfect: so long as you can keep that order, and soon learned, and therefore to be accounted the best fight with the rapier of all other. But note how the Spanish fight is perfect, and you shall see no longer than you can keep your point straight against your adversary: as for example, I have heard the like jest.

There was a cunning Doctor at his first going to sea, being doubtful that he should be sea sick, an old woman perceiving the same, said unto him: “Sir, I pray, be of good comfort, I will teach you a trick to avoid that doubt. Here is a fine pebble stone, if you please to accept it, take it with you, and when you are on ship board, put it in your mouth, and as long you shall keep the same in your mouth, upon my credit you shall never vomit.” The Doctor believed her, and took it thankfully at her hands, and when he was at sea, he began to be sick, whereupon he presently put the stone in his mouth, & there kept it so long as he possibly could, but through his extreme sickness the stone with vomit was cast out of his mouth. Then presently he remembered how the woman had mocked him, and yet her words were true.

Even so a Spaniard having his rapier point put by, may receive a blow on the head, or a cut over the face, hand or arm or a thrust in the body or face, and yet his Spanish fight perfect, so long as he can keep straight the point of his rapier against the face or body of his adversary, which is as easy in that manner of fight to be done, as it was for the Doctor in the extremity of his vomit to keep the stone in his mouth.

Yet one other pretty jest more, scarce worth the reading, in commendation of outlandish fight. There was an Italian teacher of Defence in my time, who so excellent in his fight, that he would hit any English man with a thrust, just upon any button in his doublet, and this was much spoken of.

Also there was another cunning man in catching of wild-geese, he would have made no more ado, when he had heard them cry, as the manner of wild-geese is, flying one after another in rows, but presently looking up, would tell them, if there had been a dozen, sixteen, twenty, or more, he would have taken every one. And this tale was many times told by men of good credit, and much marvelled at by their hearers, and the man who would have taken the wild-geese, was of good credit himself. Merry they said, indeed he did never take any, but at any time when he looked up, and seen them fly in that manner, he would with all his heart have taken them, but he could no more tell how to do it, then could the cunning Italian Fencer tell how to hit an Englishman, with a thrust just upon any one of his buttons, when he listed.

Illusions for the maintenance of imperfect weapons & false fights, to fear or discourage the unskillful in their weapons, from taking a true course or use, for attaining to the perfect knowledge of true fight.


First, for the rapier (says the Italian, or false teacher) I hold to be a perfect good weapon, because the cross hinders not to hold the handle in the hand, to thrust both far & straight, & to use all manner of advantages in the wards, or suddenly to call the same at the adversary, but with the sword you are driven with all the strength of the hand to hold fast the handle. And in the wars I would wish no friend of mine to wear swords with hilts, because when they are suddenly set upon, for haste they set their hands upon their hilts instead of their handles, in which time it happens many times before they can draw their swords, they are slain by their enemies(7). And for Sword and Buckler fight, it is imperfect, because the buckler blinds the fight, neither would I have any man lie aloft with his hand above his head, to strike sound blows. Strong blows are naught, especially being set above the head, because therein all the face and body are discovered. Yet I confess, in old times, when blows were only used with short Swords & Bucklers, & back Swords, these kinds of fights were good & most manly, now a days fight is altered. Rapiers are longer for advantage than swords were wont to be. When blows were used, men were so simple in their fight, that they thought him a coward, that would make a thrust or a blow beneath the girdle(8). Again if their weapons were short, as in times past they were, yet fight is better looked into these days, than then it was. Who is it in these days sees not that the blow compasses round like a wheel, whereby it has a long way to go, but the thrust passes in a straight line, and therefore comes a nearer way, and done in a shorter time than is the blow, and is more deadly than is the blow? There fore there is no wise man that will strike, unless he is weary of his life. It is certain, that the point for advantage every way in fight is to be used, the blow is utterly naught, and not to be used. He that fights upon the blow especially with a short sword, will be sore hurt or slain. The devil can say no more for the maintenance of errors.

That a blow comes continually as near as a thrust, and most commonly nearer, stronger, more swift, and is sooner done.


The blow, by reason that it compasses round like a wheel, whereby it has a longer way to come, as the Italian Fencer says, & that the thrust passing in a straight line, comes a nearer way, and therefore is sooner done than a blow, is not true, these are the proofs(9).

Let two lie in their perfect strengths and readiness, wherein the blades of their rapiers by the motion of the body, may not be crossed of either side, the one to strike, and the other to thrust. Then measure the distance or course wherein the hand and hilt passes to finish the blow of the one, and the thrust of the other, and you shall find them both by measure, in distance all one. At let any man of judgement being seen in the exercise of weapons, not being more addicted unto novelties of fight, than unto truth itself, put in measure, and practice these three fights, variable, open, and guardant, and he shall see, that whenever any man lies at the thrust at the variable fight, (where of necessity most commonly he lies, or otherwise not possible to keep his rapier from crossing at the blow & thrust, upon the open or guardant fight,) that the blows & thrusts from these two fighters, come a nearer way, and a more stronger and swifter course than does the thrust, out of the variable fight. And thus for a general rule, wheresoever the thruster lies, or out of what fight soever he fights, with his rapier, or rapier and dagger, the blow in his course comes as near, and nearer, and more swift and stronger than does the thrust.

Perfect fight stands upon both blow and thrust, therefore the thrust is not only to be used.


That there is no fight perfect without both blow and thrust: neither is there any certain rule to be set down for the use of the point only(10), these are the reasons: In fight there are many motions, with the hand, body, and feet, and in every motion the place of the hand is altered, & because by the motions of the hand, the altering of the places of the hand, the changes of lyings, wards, and breaking of thrusts, the hand will sometimes be in place to strike, some times to thrust, sometimes after a blow to thrust, sometimes after a thrust to strike, & sometimes in a place where you may strike, and cannot thrust without loss of time, and sometimes in place where you may thrust, and cannot strike without loss of time, and sometimes in a place where you can neither strike nor thrust, unless you fight upon both blow and thrust, nor able to defend yourself by ward or going back, because your space will be too wide, and your distance lost. And sometimes when you have made a thrust, a ward or breaking is taken in such sort with the dagger or blade of the sword, that you can neither thrust again, nor defend yourself unless you do strike, which you may soundly do, and go free, and sometimes when you strike, a ward will be taken in such sort, that you cannot strike again, nor defend yourself, unless you thrust, which you may safely do and go free. So to conclude, there is no perfection in the true fight, without both blow and thrust, nor certain rule to be set down for the point only.

That the blow is more dangerous and deadly in fight than a thrust, for proof thereof to be made according with Art, and Englishman holds argument against an Italian.


Italian: Which is more dangerous or deadly in fight of a blow or a thrust?

Englishman: This question is not propounded according to art, because there is no fight perfect without both blow and thrust.

Italian: Let it be so, yet opinions are otherwise held, that the thrust is only to be used, because it comes a near way, and is more dangerous and deadly, for these reasons: first, the blow compasses round like a wheel, but the thrust passes in a straight line, therefore the blow by reason of this compass has a longer way to go than the thrust & is therefore longer in doing, but the thrust passes in a straight line, therefore has a shorter way to go than has the blow, & is therefore done in a shorter time, & is therefore much better than the blow, & more dangerous and deadly, because if a thrust does hit the face or body, it endangers life, and most commonly death ensues, but if the blow hits the body, it is not so dangerous.

Englishman: Let your opinions be what they will, but that the thrust comes a nearer way, & is sooner done that the blow, is not true, and for proof thereof read the twelfth paradox. And now will I set down possible reasons, that the blow is better than the thrust, and more dangerous and deadly(11). First, the blow comes as near a way, & most commonly nearer than does the thrust, & is therefore done in a shorter time than is the thrust. Therefore in respect of time, whereupon stands the perfection of fight, the blow is much better than the thrust. Again, the force of the thrust passes straight, therefore any cross being indirectly made, the force of a child may put it by. But the force of the blow passes indirectly, therefore must be directly warded in the countercheck of his force, which cannot be done but by the convenient strength of a man, & with true cross in true time, or else will not safely defend him, and is therefor much better, & more dangerous than the thrust. And again, the thrust being made through the hand, arm, or leg, or in many places of the body and face, are not deadly, neither are they maims, or loss of limbs or life, neither is he much hindered for the time in his fight, as long as the blood is hot: for example:

I have known a gentleman hurt in rapier fight, in nine or ten places through the body, arms, and legs, and yet has continued in his fight, & afterward has slain the other, and come home and has been cured of all his wounds without maim, & is yet living. But the blow being strongly made, takes sometimes clean away the hand from the arm, has many times been seen(12). Again, a full blow upon the head or face with a short sharp sword, is most commonly death. A full blow upon the neck, shoulder, arm, or leg, endangers life, cuts off the veins, muscles, and sinews, perishes the bones: these wounds made by the blow, in respect of perfect healing, are the loss of limbs, or maims incurable forever.

And yet more for the blow: a full blow upon the head, face, arm, leg, or legs, is death, or the party so wounded in the mercy of him that shall so wound him. For what man shall be able long in fight to stand up, either to revenge, or defend himself, having the veins, muscles, sinews of his hand, arm, or leg clean cut asunder? Or being dismembered by such wound upon the face or head, but shall be enforced thereby, and through the loss of blood, the other a little dallying with him, to yield himself, or leave his life in his mercy?(13)

And for plainer deciding this controversy between the blow and the thrust, consider this short note. The blow comes many ways, the thrust does not so. The blow comes a nearer way than the thrust most commonly, and is therefore sooner done. The blow requires the strength of a man to be warded, but the thrust may be put by by the force of a child. A blow upon the hand, arm, or leg is maim incurable, but a thrust in the hand, arm, or leg is to be recovered. The blow has many parts to wound, and in every of them commands the life, but the thrust has but a few, as the body or face, and not in every part of them either.

Of the difference between the true fight & the false. Wherein consists (the Principles being had with the direction of the four Governors) the whole perfection of fight with all manner of weapons.


The true fights be these: whatsoever is done with the hand before the foot or feet is true fight. The false fights are these: whatsoever is done with the foot or feet before the hand, is false, because the hand is swifter than the foot, the foot or feet being the slower mover than the hand, the hand in that manner of fight is tied to the time of the foot or feet, and being tied thereto, has lost his freedom, and is made thereby as slow in his motions as the foot or feet, and therefor that fight is false.

Of evil orders or customs in our English Fence schools, & of the old or ancient teaching of weapons, & things very necessary to be continued for the avoiding of errors, and reviving and continuance of our ancient weapons, and most victorious fight again.


There is in my opinion in our fence schools an evil order or custom in these days used, the which, if it might stand with the liking of our Masters of Defence, I think it necessary to be left. For as long as it is used, it shall be hard to make a good scholar. That is this, at the single sword, sword and dagger, & sword and buckler, they forbid the thrust, & at the single rapier, and rapier & dagger, they forbid the blow. Either they are both together best, or the thrust altogether best, or the blow altogether best. If the thrust is best, why do we not use it at the single sword, sword & dagger, & sword & buckler? If the blow is best, why do we not use it at the single rapier, rapier & poniard? But knowing by the art of arms, that no fight is perfect without both blow and thrust, why do we not use and teach both blow and thrust? But however this we daily see, that when two met in fight, whether they have skill or none, unless such as have tied themselves to that boyish, Italian, weak, imperfect fight, they both strike and thrust, and how shall he then do, that being much taught in school, that never learned to strike, nor how to defend a strong blow? And how shall he then do, that being brought up in a fencing school, that never learned to thrust with the single sword, sword and dagger, and sword and buckler, nor how at these weapons to break a thrust? Surely, I think a down right fellow, that never came in school, using such skill as nature yielded out of his courage, strength, and agility, with good downright blows and thrust among, as shall best frame in his hands, should put one of these imperfect scholars greatly to his shifts. Besides, there are now in these days no grips, closes, wrestlings, striking with the hilts, daggers, or bucklers, used in fencing schools. Our plowmen will by nature will do these things with great strength & agility. But the schoolmen is altogether unacquainted with these things. He being fast tied to such school-play as he has learned, has lost thereby the benefit of nature, and the plowman is now by nature without art a far better man than he. Therefore in my opinion as long as we bar any manner of play in school, we shall hardly make a good scholar. There is no manner of teaching comparable to the old ancient teaching, that is, first their quarters, then their wards, blows, thrusts, and breaking of thrusts, then their closes and grips, striking with the hilts, daggers, bucklers, wrestlings, striking with the foot or knee in the cods, and all these are safely defended in learning perfectly of the grips(14). And this is the ancient teaching, and without this teaching, there shall never scholar be made able, do his uttermost, nor fight safe. Again their swords in schools are too long by almost half a foot to uncross, without going back with the feet, within distance or perfectly to strike or thrust within the half or quarter sword. And in serving of the prince, when men do meet together in public fight, are utterly naught and unserviceable. The best length for perfect teaching of the true fight to be used and continued in fence schools, to accord with the true statures of all men, are these. The blade to be a yard and an inch for men of mean stature, and for men of tall statures, a yard and three or four inches, and no more(15). And I would have the rapier continued in schools, always ready for such as shall think themselves cunning, or shall have delight to play with that imperfect weapon. Provided always, that the schoolmaster or usher play with him with his short sword, plying him with all manner of fight according to the true art. This being continued the truth shall flourish, the lie shall be beaten down, and all nations not having the true science, shall come with all gladness to the valiant and most brave English masters of defence to learn the true fight for their defence.

The grounds or Principles of true fight with all manner of weapons.


First judgement, lyings, distance, direction, pace, space, place, time, indirection, motion, action, general and continual motion, progression, regression, traversing, and treading of ground, blows, thrusts, falses, doubles, slips, wards, breaking of thrusts, closings, grips, & wrestlings, guardant fight, open fight, variable fight, and close fight, and four governors.

The wards of all manner of weapons.


All single weapons have four wards, and all double weapons have eight wards. The single sword has two with the point up, and two with the point down. The staff and all manner of weapons to be used with two hands have the like.

The sword and buckler, and the sword and dagger are double weapons, and have eight wards, two with the point up, and two with the point down, and two for the legs with the point down, the point to be carried for both sides of the legs, with the knuckles downward, and two wards with the dagger or buckler for the head. The forest bill is a double weapon by reason of the head, and therefore has eight wards, four with the staff, four with the head, four of them to be used as with the staff, and the other four with the head, the one up, the other down, and the other sideways.

The names and numbers of times appertaining unto fight both true and false.


There are eight times, whereof four are true, and four are false. The true times are these. The time of the hand.
The time of the hand and body.
The time of the hand, body, and foot.
The time of the hand, body, and feet.
The false times are these.
The time of the foot.
the time of the foot and body.
the time of the foot, body, and hand.
the time of the feet, body, and hand.

Thus have I thought good to separate and make known the true times from the false, with the true wards thereto belonging, that thereby the rather in practicing of weapons a true course may be taken for the avoiding of errors and evil customs, and speedy attaining of good habit or perfect being in the true use and knowledge of all manner of weapons.

Of the length of weapons, and how every man may fit himself to the perfect length of his weapon, according to his own stature, with brief reasons wherefore they ought to be so.


To know the perfect length of your sword, you shall stand with your sword and dagger drawn, as you see this picture, keeping out straight your dagger arm, drawing back your sword as far as conveniently you can, not opening the elbow joint of your sword arm, and look what you can draw within your dagger, that is the just length of your sword, to be made according to your own stature.(16)

As I have here made a figurative demonstration, to know the perfect length of the sword, as afore is said, so have I in the page following, for the plainer understanding of the reader, set forth a form of standing, to know the lengths of the short staff, half pike, forest bill, partisan, and gleve, or such like weapons of advantage, as shall also best fit the statures of all men.

The perfect length of your two handed sword is, the blade to be the length of the blade of your single sword.

To know the perfect length of your short staff, or half pike, forest bill, partisan, or glaive, or such like weapons of vantage and perfect lengths, you shall stand upright, holding the staff upright close by your body, with your left hand, reaching with your right hand your staff as high as you can, and then allow to that length a space to set both your hands, when you come to fight, wherein you may conveniently strike, thrust, and ward, & that is the just length to be made according to your stature. And this note, that these lengths will commonly fall out to be eight or nine foot long, and will fit, although not just, the statures of all men without any hindrance at all unto them in their fight, because in any weapon wherein the hands may be removed, and at liberty, to make the weapon longer of shorter in fight at his pleasure, a foot of the staff being behind the backmost hand does no harm. And wherefore these weapons ought to be of the lengths aforesaid, and no shorter, these are the reasons: If they should be shorter, then the long staff, morris pike, and such like weapons over and above the perfect length, should have great advantage over them, because he may come boldly and safe without any guard or ward, to the place where he may thrust home, and at every thrust put him in danger of his life, then can the long staff, the morris pike, or any longer weapon lie nowhere within the compass of the true cross, to cross and uncross, whereby he may safely pass home to the place, where he may strike or thrust him that has the long weapon, in the head, face, or body at his pleasure.

Of the lengths of the battle axe, halberd, or black bill, or such like weapons of weight, appertaining unto guard or battle.


In any of these weapons there needs no just length, but commonly they are, or ought to be five or six foot long, & may not well be used much longer, because of their weights, and being weapons for the wars and battle, when men are joined close together, may thrust, & strike sound blows, with great force both strong and quick. And finally for the just lengths of all other shorter or longer weapons to be governed with both hands, there is none. Neither is their any certain lengths in any manner of weapons to be used with one hand, over or under the just length of the single sword. Thus ends the length of weapons.

Of the vantages of weapons in their kinds, places, & times, both in private and public fight.


First I will begin with the worst weapon, an imperfect and insufficient weapon, and not worth the speaking of, but now being highly esteemed, therefore not to be unremembered. That is, the single rapier, and rapier and poniard.

The single sword has the vantage against the single rapier.

The sword and dagger has the vantage against the rapier and poniard.

The sword & target has the advantage against the sword and dagger, or the rapier and poniard.

The sword and buckler has advantage against the sword and target, the sword and dagger, or rapier and poniard.

The two handed sword has the vantage against the sword and target, the sword and buckler, the sword and dagger, or rapier and poniard.

The battle axe, the halberd, the black-bill, or such like weapons of weight, appertaining unto guard or battle, are all one in fight, and have advantage against the two handed sword, the sword and buckler, the sword and target, the sword and dagger, or the rapier and poniard.

The short staff or half pike, forest bill, partisan, or glaive, or such like weapons of perfect length, have the advantage against the battle axe, the halberd, the black bill, the two handed sword, the sword and target, and are too hard for two swords and daggers, or two rapier and poniards with gauntlets, and for the long staff and morris pike.

The long staff, morris pike, or javelin, or such like weapons above the perfect length, have advantage against all manner of weapons, the short staff, the Welch hook, partisan, or glaive, or such like weapons of vantage excepted, yet are too weak for two swords and daggers or two sword and bucklers, or two rapiers and poniards with gauntlets, because they are too long to thrust, strike, and turn speedily. And by reason of the large distance, one of the sword and dagger-men will get behind him.

The Welch hook or forest bill, has advantage against all manner of weapons whatsoever.

Yet understand, that in battles, and where variety of weapons are, among multitudes of men and horses, the sword and target, the two handed sword, battle axe, the black bill, and halberd, are better weapons, and more dangerous in their offense and forces, than is the sword and buckler, short staff, long staff, or forest bill. The sword and target leads upon shot, and in troops defends thrusts and blows given by battle axe, halberds, black bill, or two handed swords, far better than can the sword and buckler.

The morris pike defends the battle from both horse and man, much better than can the short staff, long staff, or forest bill. Again the battle axe, the halberd, the black bill, the two handed sword, and sword & target, among armed men and troops, by reason of their weights, shortness, and great force, do much more offend the enemy, & are then much better weapons, than is the short staff, the long staff, or the forest bill.

Of the insufficiency and disadvantages of the rapiers-fight in battle.


For the single rapier, or rapier & poniard, they are imperfect & insufficient weapons: and especially in service of the prince, when men shall join together, what service can soldier do with a rapier, a childish toy wherewith a man can do nothing but thrust, nor that neither, by reason of the length, and in every moving when blows are a dealing, for lack of a hilt is in danger to have his hand or arm cut off, or his head cloven. And for wards and grips, they have none, neither can any of these fine rapier men, for lack of use, tell how to strike a sound blow.

Of the vantages and sufficiency of the short sword fight in battle.


The short sword, and sword and dagger, are perfect good weapons, and especially in service of the prince. What a brave weapon is a short sharp light sword, to carry, to draw, to be nimble withal, to strike, to cut, to thrust both strong and quick. And what a good defence is a strong single hilt, when men are clustering and hurling together, especially where variety of weapons are, in their motions to defend the hand, head, face, and bodies, from blows, that shall be given sometimes with swords, sometimes with two handed swords, battle axes, halberds, or black bills, and sometimes men shall be so near together, they shall have no space, scarce to use the blades of their swords below their waist, then their hilts (their hands being aloft) defend from the blows their hands, arms, heads, faces and bodies. Then they lay on, having the use of blows and grips, by force of their arms with their hilts, strong blows, at the head, face, arms, bodies, and shoulders, and many times hurling together, scope is given to turn down their points, with violent thrusts at the faces and bodies, by reason of the shortness of their blades, to the mighty annoyance, discomfort, and great destruction of their enemies. One valiant man with a sword in his hand, will do better service, than ten Italians, or Italianated with their rapiers.

That all manner of double weapons, or weapons to be used with both hands, have advantage against the single rapier or single sword, there is no question to be made.

That the sword and buckler has the vantage against the sword and dagger.

The dagger is an imperfect ward, although borne out straight, to make the space narrow, whereby a little moving of the hand, may be sufficient to save both sides of the head, or to break the thrust from the face or body, yet for lack of the circumference his hand will lie too high or low, or too weak, to defend both blow and thrust. If he lies straight with a narrow space, which is to break the thrust, then he lies too weak, and too low to defend his head from a strong blow. If he lies high, that is strong to defend his head, but then his space will be too wide to break the thrust from his body. The dagger serves well at length to put by a thrust, and at the half sword to cross the sword blade, to drive out the agent, and put him in danger of his life, and safely in any of these two actions defend himself. But the buckler, by reason of his circumference and weight, being well carried, defends safely in all times and places, whether it be at the point, half sword, the head, body, and face, from all manner of blows and thrusts whatsoever, yet I have heard many hold opinion, that the sword and dagger has the advantage of the sword and buckler, at the close, by reason of the length and point of the dagger, and at the point of the sword, they can better see to ward than with a buckler. But I never knew any, that won the close with the dagger upon the sword and buckler, but did with himself out again: for distance being broken, judgement fails, for lack of time to judge, and the eye is deceived by the swift motion of the hand, and for lack of true space with the dagger hand, which cannot be otherwise, for lack of circumference to defend both blow and thrust, it is impossible for lack of true space in just time, the agent having gotten the true place, to defend one thrust or blow of a hundred. And it is most certain, whosoever closes with sword and dagger against the sword and buckler, is in great danger to be slain. Likewise at the point within distance, if he stand to defend both blow and thrust with his dagger, for lack of true space and distance, if he has the best eye of any man, and could see perfectly, which way the thrust or blow comes, and when it comes, as it is not to deny that he may, yet his space being too large, it helps him nothing, because one man’s hand being as swift as another man’s hand, both being within distance, he that strikes or thrusts, hurts the warder. The reason is this: the agent being in the first motion although in his offense, further to go than the warder to defend, yet the warder’s space being too large, the blow or thrust will be performed home, before the warder can come to the true place to defend himself, and although the warder does perfectly see the blow or thrust coming, so shall he see his own ward so far from the true place of his defence, that although he does at that instant time, plainly see the blow or thrust coming, it shall be impossible for him to recover the true place of his ward, ’til he his wounded. But let the warder with his dagger say, that it is not true which I have said, for the eyes to behold the blow or thrust coming, so has he as good time to defend himself. Herein he shall find himself deceived to, this is the reason: the hand is the swiftest motion, the foot is the slowest, without distance the hand is tied to the motion of the feet, whereby the time of the hand is made as slow as the foot, because whereby we redeem every time lost upon his coming in by the slow motion of the foot & have time thereby to judge, when & how he can perform any action whatsoever, and so have we the time of the hand to the time of the feet. Now is the hand in his own course more swift than the foot or eye, therefore within distance the eye is deceived, & judgement is lost, and that is another cause that the warder with the dagger, although he has perfect eyes, is still within distance deceived(17). For proof that the hand is swifter than the eye & therefore deceives the eyes: let two stand within distance, & let one of them stand still to defend himself, & let the other flourish & false with his hand, and he shall continually with the swift motions of his hand, deceive the eyes of him that stands watching to defend himself, & shall continually strike him in diverse places with his hand. Again, take this for an example, that the eyes by swift motions are deceived: turn a turn-wheel swift, & you shall not be able to discern with your best eyes how many spokes are on the wheel, no nor whether there are any spokes at all, or whereof the wheel is made, and yet you see when the wheel stands still there is a large distance between every spoke. He that will not believe that the swift motion of the hand in fight will deceive the eye, shall stare abroad with his eyes, & feel himself soundly hurt, before he shall perfectly see how to defend himself. So those that trust to their fight, the excellency of a good eye, their great cunning, & perfect wards of the daggers, that they can see better to ward than with a buckler, shall ever be deceived. And when they are wounded, they say the gent was a little too quick for them. Sometimes they say they bear their dagger a little too low. Sometimes they are thrust under the dagger, then they say, they bear it a little too high. Sometimes a thrust being strongly made, they being soundly paid therewith, say, they were a little too slow, & sometimes they be soundly paid with a thrust,& they think they were a little too quick. So they that practice or think to be cunning in the dagger ward, are all the days of their lives learning, and are never taught(18).

That the sword and buckler has the vantage against the sword and target.


The sword & target together has but two fights, that is the variable fight, & the close fight, for the close fight, the number of his feet are too many to take against any man of skill having the sword & buckler, & for the variable fight although not so many in number, yet too many to win the place with his foot and strike home. The sword & buckler man out of his variable, open & guardant fight can come bravely off & on, false & double, strike & thrust home, & make a true cross upon every occasion at his pleasure. If the sword & target man will fly to his guardant fight, the breadth of the target will not suffer it, if to his open fight, then has the sword & buckler man in effect the sword and buckler to the single, for in that fight by reason of the breadth, the target can do little good or none at all.

The short staff.


Now for the vantage of the short staff against the sword and buckler, sword & target, two handed sword, single sword, sword and dagger, or rapier and poniard, there is no great question to be in any of these weapons. Whensoever any blow or thrust shall be strongly made with the staff, they are ever in false place, in the carriage of the wards, for if at any of these six weapons he carries his ward high & strong for his head, as of necessity he must carry it very high, otherwise it will be too weak to defend a blow being strongly made at the head, then will his space be too wide, in due time to break the thrust from his body. Again, if he carries his ward lower, thereby to be in equal space for readiness to break both blow & thrust, then in that place his ward is too low, and too weak to defend the blow of the staff: for the blow being strongly made at the head upon that ward, will beat down the ward and his head together, and put him in great danger of his life. And here is to be noted, that if he fights well, the staff man strikes but at the head, and thrusts presently under at the body. And if a blow is first made, a thrust follows, and if a thrust is first made, a blow follows, and in doing of any of them, the one breeds the other. So that however any of these six weapons shall carry his ward strongly to defend the first, he shall be too far in space to defend the second, whether it be blow or thrust.

Yet again for the short staff: the short staff has the vantage against the battle axe, black bill, or halberd: the short staff has the advantage, by reason of the nimbleness and length: he will strike and thrust freely, and in better and swifter time than can the battle axe, black bill, or halberd, and by reason of his judgement, distance and time, fight safe. And this resolve upon, the short staff is the best weapon against all manner of weapons, the forest bill excepted.

Also the short staff has advantage against two swords and daggers, or two rapiers, poniards and gauntlets(19), the reasons and causes before are for the most part set down already, the which being well considered, you shall plainly see, that whensoever any one of the sword & dagger men, or rapier and poniard men shall break his distance, or suffer the staff man to break his, that man which did first break his distance, or suffer the distance to be one against him, is presently in danger of death. And this cannot in reason be denied, because the distance appertaining to the staff man, either to keep or break, stands upon the moving of one large space always at the most, both for his offense or safety. The other two in the breach of their distance to offend the staff man, have always four paces at the least therein they fall too great in number with their feet, and too short in distance to offend the staff man. Now there rests no more to be spoken of, but how the staff man shall behave himself to keep that distance, that one of the sword & dagger men get not behind him, while the other shall busy him before. To do that is very easy, by reason of the small number of his feet, as it were in the center point of a wheel, the other two to keep their distance, are driven to run twenty feet for one, as it were upon the uttermost part of the circle of the wheel, all this while the staff man is very well. Then it comes thus to pass, whether they both labor to get behind him, or one keeps directly before him while the other gets behind him, yet before that is brought to pass, they shall either be both before him or just against both sides of him, at which time soever the staff man finding either within distance, he presently in making of his play, slays, with blow or thrust one of them, or at the least puts him in great danger of his life. If the staff man takes his time, when they are both before him, that is to say, before they come to the half ring, just against both sides of the staff man, then he that is nearest within distance is slain by blow or thrust, or put in great danger of his life. But if the sword and dagger men do keep their distance until they come to the just half ring against the sides of the staff man, and then break distance, that man that first breaks distance is slain with blow or thrust, or sore hurt, and in great danger of death, and the staff man in making that play at that instant, must turn with one large pace, which he may easily do, before the other can get near enough to offend him by reason that he has to make with his feet but one large pace, but the other has to make with his feet but one large pace, but the other has at the least three paces. But if the sword and dagger men will in the time they are before him, keep their distance in the time of their being upon the middle part of the outside of the circle, right against both sides of him, & will labor with all heed & diligence to be both or one of them behind him, that troubles the staff man nothing at all, for in that very time, when he finds them past the middle part of the circle, he presently turns, by the which he shall naturally set himself as it were in a triangle, and both the sword and dagger-men, shall thereby stand both before him in true distance of three paces, from offending of him at the least, as at the first they did. And take this for a true ground, there is no man able to ward a sound blow with the sword and dagger, nor rapier, poniard and gauntlet, being strongly made at the head, with the staff, and run in withal, the force of hands in such, being in his full motion and course, that although the other carries his ward high and strong with both hands, yet his feet being moving from the ground, the great force of the blow will strike him with his ward, and all down flat to ground. But if he stands fast with his feet, he may with both weapons together, strongly defend his head from the blow, but then you are sufficiently instructed, the thrust being presently made, after the blow full at the body, it is impossible in due time to break it, by reason of the largeness of his space.

The short staff has the vantage against the long staff, and Morris pike, and the Forest Bill against all manner of weapons.


The reasons are these. The short staff has the vantage of the long staff and Morris pike in the strength & narrowness of space in his four wards of defence. And the Forest bill has the vantage of all manner of weapons in his strength and narrowness of space in his eight wards of defence. And the rather because the bill has two wards for one against the staff or Morris pike, that is to say, four with the staff, and four with the head, and is more offensive than is the staff or Morris pike. Yet a question(20) may be made by the unskillful, concerning the fight between the long staff and the short, in this sort: Why should not the long staff have advantage against the short staff, since that the long staff man, being at liberty with his hands, may make his staff both long and short for his best advantage, when he shall think it good, and therefore when he shall find himself overmatched in the length of his staff, by the strength of the short staff, and narrowness of space of his four wards of defence, he can presently by drawing back of his staff in his hands, make his staff as short as the other’s, and so be ready to fight him with at his own length? To this I answer(21), that when the long staff man is driven there to lie, the length of his staff that will lie behind him, will hinder him to strike, thrust, ward, or go back in due time. Neither can he turn the contrary end of his staff to keep out the short staff man from the close, nor safely to defend himself at his coming in.

Again of the vantages of weapons.


Make this for a general rule, all long staves, Morris pikes, Forest bills, Javelins, or such like long weapons, of what sort soever, being above the true lengths, the shortest has the advantage, because they can cross and uncross in shorter time than can the longer. And all manner of short weapons to be used with both hands, as staves, and such like, being under the perfect lengths, the longest have the advantage, and all manner of weapons to be used with one hand, that are above the perfect length of the single sword, the shortest has the vantage, and all manner of weapons under the just length of the short sword, as falchions, skaines, or hangers, woodknives, daggers, and such like short weapons of imperfect lengths, the longest has the advantage, because the fight of these weapons consist within the half or quarter sword, wherein by the swift motions of their hands, their eyes are deceived, and in those weapons, commonly for their hands lie no defence. And if two shall fight with staves or swords, or what weapons soever, the one of them having his weapon longer than the perfect length, and the other shorter than the perfect length, he that has the longer has the vantage, because the shorter can make no true cross in true time. The short staff or half pike, Forest bill, Partisan, or glaive, or such like weapons of perfect length, to be used with both hands, have the advantage against two swords and daggers, or two rapiers, poniards and gauntlets, and against all other weapons whatsoever, the Forest bill excepted.

Again for the short staff or half pike.


The short staff is most commonly the best weapon of all others, although other weapons may be more offensive, and especially against many weapons together, by reason of his nimbleness and swift motions, and is not much inferior to the Forest bill, although the Forest bill is more offensive, and has more wards, because the Staff is very uncertain, but the Bill is a more certain mark, by reason of the breadth of the head, whereby as the Bill has advantage in his wards in the head, so therefor has the staff the like defence, or rather more, to play upon the head of the bill, not only to make a perfect good ward, but thereby, the rather to cast the Bill out of the right line, whereby the staff man may thrust safe, and endanger the Bill-man: and the rather because therein he is the first mover, wherein there is great vantage, both in time and force. And if the Bilman is not very skillful (all vantages and disadvantages of both sides being considered,) the short Staff will prove the better weapon. Lastly note this(22), that long Staves, Morris pikes, and such like weapons of imperfect lengths, being to be used with both hands, notwithstanding their imperfect lengths, are perfect weapons to be used, the one against the other, and their fights therein perfect, because in drawing of them back betwixt their hands, their motion is swifter backwards, than is the time of the agents feet forwards, by which all their lost times are redeemed. Therefore these weapons in their fights, the one against the other are perfect. And these weapons in the night are the best weapons of all others, and have great advantage against the Forest bill, short staff, or any manner of short weapons whatsoever, for these causes: they boldly make home their fights, and if need be against desperate men, that will venture themselves to run in, they redeem their lost times. But the other with shorter weapons for lack of light, can make no true defence. Thus ends the vantages of weapons.

Questions and answers between the scholar and the master, of the vantages and disadvantages between a tall man, and a man of mean stature, having both the perfect knowledge in their weapons.


Scholar: Who has the advantage in fight, of a tall man, or a man of mean stature?

Master: The tall man has the vantage, for these causes(23): his reach being longer, and weapon unto his stature accordingly, he has thereby a shorter course with his feet to win the true place, wherein by the swift motion of his hand, he may strike or thrust home, in which time a man of mean stature cannot reach him, & by his large pace, in his true pace in his regression further, sets himself out of danger, & these are the vantages that a tall man has against any man of shorter reach than himself.

Scholar: What vantage has a man of mean stature against a tall man?

Master: He has none: because the true times in fight, and actions accordingly, are to be observed and done, as well by a tall man, as by a man of mean stature.

Scholar: Why then if this is true, that tall men have the vantage against men of mean stature, it should seem in fight there is no perfection, other then this, when men of like stature, reach, & length of weapon, shall fight together, the which will seldom or never happen, but either in the length of their weapons, statures or reaches (if their swords should be of just length) some difference most commonly will be in their reaches.

Master: Yes verily, the tall man has still the vantage, and yet the fight is perfect, although the men that shall happen to fight, shall happen to be unequal in their statures, reaches, or lengths of their weapons.

Scholar: That can I hardly believe, unless you can tell me by art how to avoid or safely defend my self, being but a man of mean stature, against a tall man.

Master: I will tell you. There belongs unto this art of defence only to be used with the feet, progression, regression, traversing, and treading of grounds. In any of these you playing the part of the patient, or patient agent, your feet are swifter in their motion than are the agents, because his weight and number of his feet in his coming in to win the place to strike or thrust home, are greater than yours, and therefore the true time is yours to avoid him, or safely to defend yourself. So the art is still true, and the tall man has still the vantage.

Scholar: Yet I am not fully satisfied herein, because you tell me still that the tall man has the vantage, and notwithstanding you say the art is true, wherein then has the tall man the vantage, when by your art you can defend yourself against him?

Master: I will satisfy you herein thus. The tall man has the vantage, he can maintain his fight, both by nature and by art, with more ease than can the man of mean stature, because the man of mean stature has thereby a further course with his feet to pass to the place, wherein he may strike or thrust home, and in winning of that place, is driven by art to come guarded under his wards to defend himself, because in the time of his coming, the tall man may have both naturally or artificially strike or thrust home, in which time, if the man of mean stature should fail in the least iota of his art, he should be in great danger of death or hurt. But the tall man can naturally(24) and safely come to the true place open, without any artificial wards at all, and therein also endanger the other, or drive him still to traverse his ground, with all the artificial skill that he has to defend himself, and all this the tall man does by reason of his length of weapon, large pace, short course, and long reach, with great safety, pleasure and ease. And for those causes the tall man has still the vantage of men of mean stature, and not withstanding the noble science of defence most perfect and good.

Of the single rapier fight between valiant men, having both skill, he that is the best wrestler, or if neither of them can wrestle, the strongest man most commonly kills the other, or leaves him at his mercy.


When two valiant men of skill at single rapier do fight, one or both of them most commonly standing upon their strength or skill in wrestling, will presently seek to run into the close. But having both skill, not without special care of their guard or cross, the which they may safely do, by reason of the length of the rapiers: but happening both of one mind, the rather do bring themselves together: that being done, no skill with rapiers avail, they presently grapple fast their hilts, their wrists, arms, bodies or necks, as in lustring(?), wrestling, or striving together, they may best find for their advantages: whereby it most commonly falls out, that he that is the best wrestler, or strongest man (if neither of them can wrestle) overcomes, wrestling by strength, or fine skill in wrestling, the rapier from his adversary, or casting him from him, either to the ground, or to such distance, that he may by reason thereof, use the edge or point of his rapier, to strike or thrust him, leaving him dead or alive at his mercy. But if one of these valiant men shall seek to run into the close, and the other shall use his skill in traversing of his ground, or otherwise by standing upon his guard or Stocata ward, to take all manner of advantages at his coming, yet all avails him not, because the rapiers being long, the crossing of the blades cannot be avoided. That being made, the oppressor runs faster forwards than can the the defendant backwards, and so are brought together, as in the first assault they were, &every action therein performed.

Of the rapier and poniard fight betwixt valiant men, having both skill.


If two valiant men do fight at rapier and poniard having both skill, one or both of them will presently press hard to win the place, wherein in his judgement he may thrust home. If both are of one mind, the time is doubled in winning the same, whereby it comes to pass, that then he that first thrusts, endangers, kills or hurts the other, and if they both thrust together, as they may do by the equal time of their feet, then they are most commonly both slain, or both hurt. And this is well known unto all men of skill, that the place being once gotten, there is neither judgement, space, pace, nor time, either by wards with their rapier blades, or by breaking with their poniards, or flying back, that can preserve or defend them. But if but one of them will seek to win by passage, hard pressing, or otherwise the place, wherein in his judgement he may thrust home, it is impossible for the other to deny him the same, because the length of the rapiers wins him the cross. The cross being taken, the place is had. The place being had, he that first thrusts, first speeds: if both thrust together, they are both in dange: then presently follows (unless it please God otherwise to have it) the stabs with their daggers, wherein there lies no defence.

Of the long rapier & Poniard fight between two valiant men, the one having skill, the other none, he that has no skill has the vantage.


When two valiant men shall fight with long rapiers and poniards, the one having skill, the other none, he that has no skill most commonly proves himself the better man, for these causes or reasons following. First the skillful man as knowing the other to have no skill, or find it to be so by his shape or manner of coming towards him, will presently yield to take the advantage of his coming, or else with all speed put himself into his short ward, to be ready at his coming to make a strong Stocata (as the Italians call it) the other knowing his imperfection in fight, assures himself there can be no great good for him to stand long out at the point, presently redoubles or revives his spirits with perfect resolution, to make short work, courageously with some offensive action, such as nature shall best yield unto him, flies in with all force and agility. The skillful man stands watching to take such advantage as his schoolmaster has taught him, in which time, many times it falls out, he is taught a new time, seen by an unskillful man that never fought before, is sore hurt or slain. And if it happens they both miss in their offensive actions, then by reason thereof, and of the imperfect length of their rapiers, they come to stabbing with their poniards, wherein their lies no defence, because distance being broken, judgement fails, time is lost, and their eyes (by the swift motions of their hands) are deceived.

Of the long single rapier, or rapier and poniard fight between two unskillful men being valiant.


When two unskillful men (being valiant) shall fight with long single rapiers, there is less danger in that kind of fight, by reason of their distance in convenient length, weight, and unwieldiness, than is with short rapiers, whereby it comes to pass, that what hurt shall happen to be done, if any with the edge or point of their rapiers is done in a moment, and presently will grapple and wrestle together, wherein most commonly the strongest or best wrestler overcomes, and the like fight falls out between them, at the long rapier and poniard, but much more deadly, because instead of close and wrestling, they fall most commonly to stabbing with their poniards.

Of the imperfection and insufficiency of rapiers in general, of what length soever they are.


If two fight with long rapiers, upon every cross made with the half rapier(25), if they have poniards, they most commonly stab each other, which cannot be avoided, because the rapiers being long, the cross cannot be undone of either side, without going back with their feet, the which likewise in due time cannot be done, because the hand is more swift than the feet, and the feet more swift in their course forwards than backwards, neither can the cross be prevented, because the point of necessity lies too far off in his offense, or else within compass of the true time of the hand and body, by reason of his imperfect length, and so by the like reason, if two fight with long single rapiers, upon every cross made therewith, within the half rapier, the close cannot be avoided, whereby it comes to pass most commonly, that the strongest man or best wrestler overcomes. Now if two do fight with short rapiers, or rapiers of convenient length, such rapiers are inconvenient also for lack of hilt to defend the hand and head from the blow. For no eye (in making a perfect ward for the head, to defend the blow, can discern to take the same within three or four inches, whereby it may as well and as often fall upon the hand, as upon the blade of the rapier. Again, the hilt as well serves to defend the head as the hand, and is a more sure and strong ward, than is the blade of the rapier. And further, understand this for truth, that in gardant and open fight, the hand without a hilt lies open to most blows that shall be struck by the agent, out of gardant or open fight, because in the true carriage of the gardant fight, the hand must lie above the head, in such straightness and narrowness of space, that which way soever the agent shall strike or thrust at the head, face, or body, the removing of two or four inches shall save all. And now somewhat more for the shortness or convenient length of rapiers.

Rapiers having no hilts to defend the head, the rapier man is driven of necessity to lie at the variable fight or low ward, and being there he can neither defend in due time, head, face nor body from the blows or thrusts of him, that shall fight out of the gardant or open fight, but is continually in great danger of the agent, for these causes following. First, because his space is too wide to defend his head from blow or thrust. Secondly his pace standing upon that fight, will be of necessity too great or too narrow. If too narrow, too weak, if too large, his weight and number of his feet, are too great to endanger him, that is upon his gardant or open fight.

Of the imperfection and insufficiency of the fight of the single rapier, rapier and poniard, rapier and buckler, rapier and cloak, and rapier and glove of mail.


The rapier fight, whether it is single or accompanied with the poniard, buckler, cloak, or glove of mail, is still by reason of the insufficiency or imperfection of the rapier, an imperfect fight. Imperfect instruments can make no perfect music, neither can imperfect weapons make perfect fight. Let men that handle them have all the knowledge that may be in all manner of weapons, yes the full height, or perfection, and habit by his great labor and industry, even as it were naturally effected in him, yet if the weapons that they shall fight withal be imperfect or insufficient to perform whatsoever appertains unto true fight, as concerning the perfection of their safety, it avails them nothing. What shall we then say for the rapier? Is the rapier an imperfect or insufficient weapon to perform whatsoever appertains unto true fight? Yes. Wherefore? Because unto the true fight there appertains four fights, gardant fight, open fight, variable fight, and close fight, without all four of these fights it is impossible to fight safe. But the rapier for lack of a hilt is an imperfect weapon, and therefore insufficient to fight safe upon these four fights, for the are already set down in the Paradox before, but is inferred to loose the benefit of two of the best fights, gardant and open fight, and to fly from them, and trust only unto variable fight, and close fight. Now having proved through the imperfection or insufficiency of the rapier, the imperfections of the rapier fight, it remains that I speak of the rest of the weapons, or instruments appertaining unto rapier fight.

The rapier and poniard fight, the rapier & buckler fight, the rapier and cloak fight, & the rapier & glove of mail fight, all these fights by reason of the imperfection of the rapier, and the rapier fight, are also imperfect fights, for proof of the uncertainty and impossibilities of the safety in any of these fights, thus it stands. These fights depend altogether upon variable fight and close fight. In any of these fights it is impossible in true space of offense to keep the blades of their rapiers from crossing, or from breaking with the poniards, buckler, cloak or breaking or catching with the glove of mail, because in any of these two fights, the agent has still in true space the blade of the patients rapier to work upon. These things by letters cannot be made more plain, neither is it unknown to the skilful, or in fight by any means to be avoided. The weapon being too far in true space to be wrought upon, the place cannot be denied, do the patient Agent what he can for his life to the contrary, either by blows, thrusts, falsing or doubling of thrusts, going back, indirections, or turnings of the body, or what else soever may in the highest touch of wit or strength, or agility of body be devised or done, to keep out the agent: but still the agent by narrowness of space brings himself by strong guard to the place, where being brought, it is impossible to fight safe, as it is for two desperate men set together being both blind. Because in the true place (won in rapier or variable fight) their eyes by the swift motions of their hands are deceived, the crosses in that fight are false, their distance, judgement and times are lost, either to offend in safety, or safely to defend themselves, and these reasons, rules, or grounds of the feats of arms are infallible or invincible.

Now, oh you Italian teachers of defence, where are your Stocatas, Imbrocatas, Mandrittas, Puntas, & Punta Reversas, Stramisons, Passatas, Carricados, Amazzas, & Incartatas, & playing with your bodies, removing with your feet a little aside, circlewise winding of your bodies, making of three times with your feet together, marking with one eye the motion of the adversary, & with the other eye the advantage of thrusting? What is become of all these juggling gambols, apish devices, with all the rest of your squint eyed tricks, when as through your deep studies, long practices, & apt bodies, both strong and agile, you have attained to the height of all these things? What then avails it you, when you shall come to fight for your lives with a man of skill? You shall have neither time, nor place, in due time to perform any one of them, nor gardant nor open fight safely to keep out a man of skill, a man of no skill, or scholar of your own teaching, from the true place, the place of safety, the place of uncertainty or mischief, the place of wounds or death, but are enforced to stand in that mischievous, uncertain, dangerous, and most deadly place, as two men having lost in part their chiefest senses, most furiously with their rapiers or poniards, wounding or slaying each other.

Thus ends the imperfect fights of the rapier with all manner of weapons or instruments thereto appertaining, with their imperfections, through the true grounds and rules of the art of arms, truly displayed & brought to light.

All laud be unto the Almighty God.

That the reasons used by the Italian fencers in commending the use of the rapier and poniard, because it makes peace, makes against themselves.


It has been commonly held, that since the Italians have taught the rapier fight, by reason of the dangerous use thereof, it has bred great civility among our English nation, they will not now give the lie, nor with such foul speeches abuse themselves, therefore there are fewer frays(26) in these times than were wont to be. It cannot be denied but this is true, that we are more circumspect of our words, and more fearful to fight than heretofore we have been. But whereof comes it? Is it from this, that the rapier makes peace in our minds; or from hence, that it is not so sufficient defence for our bodies in our fight? He that will fight when he is armed, will not fight when he is naked: is it therefore good to go naked to keep peace? he that would fight with his sword and buckler, or sword and dagger, being weapons of true defence, will not fight with his rapier and poniard, wherein no true defence or fight is perfect: are these insufficient weapons therefore the better, because not being sufficient to defend us in fight, they force us into peace? What else is it, but to say, it is good for subjects to be poor, that they not go to law: or to lack munition, that they may not fight, nor go to the wars: and to conclude, what more follows through the imperfect works of the Italian peacemakers? They have made many a strong in his fight weak, many a valiant man fearful, many a worthy man trusting to their imperfect fight, has been slain, and many of our desperate boys and young youths, to become in that rapier fight, as good men as England yielded, and the tallest men of this land, in that fight as very boys as they and no better. This good have the Italian teachers of Offense done us, they have transformed our boys into men, and our men into boys, our strong men into weakness, our valiant men doubtful, and many worthy men resolving themselves upon their false resolutions, have most willfully in the field, with their rapiers ended their lives. And lastly, have left to remain among us after their deaths, these inconveniences behind them, false fencing books, imperfect weapons, false fights, and evil customs, whereby for lack of use and practice in perfect weapons and true fight, we are disabled for the service of our prince, defence of our country, and safety of our lives in private fight.

That the short sword has the advantage against the long sword or long rapier.


Whereas for the most part opinions are generally held, that the long sword, or long rapier, has the vantage in fight against the short sword, which the Italian teachers of defence, by their false demonstrations have brought us to believe. I have thought good that the truth may appear which has the vantage, to add my help unto the reasons they use in their own behalf, for that yet I could never hear them make a sound reason for the same. These are the reasons(27). First with my long rapier, I will put myself into my guard or Stocata, holding my hilt back by the outside of my right thigh, keeping in short the point of my rapier, so as he that has the short sword, shall not be able to reach the point of my rapier, to make his ward or cross with his dagger, buckler, sword, or cloak, without stepping in with his foot, the which time is too long to answer the time of the hand, by reason of my distance. I can there stand safe without danger of blow or thrust, playing the patient’s part. If you strike or thrust you do it too short, by reason of my distance. If you seek to come nearer, you must do it with the time of your foot, in which time I may safely thrust home. If in that distance you break it not, you are slain. If you do break it, yet you do me no harm, by reason of my distance, and I may stand fast and thrust again, or fly back at my pleasure. So have you put yourself in danger of your life, and having hardly escaped, are driven again to begin a new bout, as at the first you did. Again, if I please, I can be the oppressor, keeping the same guard, and my point in short as I did before, and pressing strongly by putting in by little and little of my feet, until the place of my foot is gotten, wherein (in my judgement) I may thrust home, the which I may boldly and safely do, without respect of any ward at all, by reason of my distance, in which time of my coming he must strike, thrust, ward, or go back. If he goes back, it is a great disgrace, if he strikes or thrusts, it is too short, if he stands to defend, the place being already gotten, where I may thrust home, the thrust being very quick & strongly made, such is the force and swiftness thereof, that it is impossible by nature or art, for any man to break one thrust of an hundred. These reasons in my opinion may suffice to confirm the wise, that there is no question to be made, but that the long rapier has the advantage against the short sword.

Sir you have prettily handled your discourse(28), concerning the vantages of the long rapier against the short sword, especially at the first show, and according to common sense, but for the substance and truth of the true fight, you have said nothing, because for the performance of any of your allegations, you have neither true pace, place, time, nor space. These are the reasons. Your pace of necessity must be too large, because otherwise you cannot keep safe the point of your long rapier, from the cross of the short sword, unless you will with a narrow pace keep back your hilt so far, that the space of your offense will be too large or too long in distance, and your body unapt to move and thrust both strong and quick in due time, nor aptly to keep your distance, to win the place with your feet, to thrust home. So now you may plainly see, if you have skill in the art or science of defence, that is to perform anything which you have alleged, you have neither true pace, place, time nor space. But if you will stand upon the largeness of your pace, to keep back or save the point of your long rapier from the ward or cross of the short sword, or upon your Passatas, in all these you have great disadvantages. And these are my reasons. Your number will be too great, as thus. Whenever you mean out of your large pace to thrust home, you must of necessity make four times with your feet, and one with your hand, or two times with your feet, and one with your hand at least. And whensoever you make any of your passages, the number of your feet are greater than the greatest of any of these times done out of the large pace. But the patient with his short sword, to avoid you, or disappoint you of your thrust, has but one time with his foot, at or before the which time, as he in his judgement shall find you in your motion, has by the slow and great number of your motions or times, sufficient time safely out of all danger to make himself ready to take his cross with his short sword. Now sir, whether you thrust or not thrust, whether you play the part of an agent, or patient, it helps you nothing, for he that has the short sword has four times or motions against the long rapier, namely bent, spent, lying spent, and drawing back, in all manner of fights these are to be observed both by the patient and agent. Now note, he that has the long rapier must of necessity play upon one of these four motions, or be patient, which soever he shall do, he is still in great danger of the cross of the short sword, because if he is agent, his number is too great, he falls into one of the four motions, the patient with his short sword, having but the time of his hand, or hand & foot, safely upon these actions or times takes his cross with the short sword. That being done, he presently uncrosses and strikes or thrusts at his pleasure him that has the long rapier, in the head, face, or body. Now here is again to be noted, that when the cross is made, if he that has the long rapier stands fast, he is wounded presently in the uncrossing of the short sword, if he steps or leaps back to save himself, yet the time of the hand being swifter than the time of the foot, overtakes him, with blow or thrust in the arm, hand, head, face and body. Now if he that has the long rapier will be patient & make no play, but lie still watching to make his thrust or Stocata just in the coming or moving of the agent’s feet with his short sword, then he has as great disadvantage as he had when he was patient, because then the agent with his short sword has but hand and foot to make his cross, which is most safely to be done in that time, which we call bent, and is as impossible for the rapier man to prevent, as it is for an unskillful to strike or thrust just together with a man of skill. Then thus do I conclude, that he that fights with a long rapier, against him that fights with short sword, can do nothing in due time to defend himself, or hurt the other, but is still in danger of his life, or at the mercy of him that has the short sword, or else has no safe way to help himself, but only Cob’s Traverse(29). This Cob was a great quarreler, and did delight in great bravery to give foul words to his betters, and would not refuse to go into the field to fight with any man, and when he came to the field, would draw his sword to fight, for he was sure by the cunning of his traverse, not to be hurt by any man. For at any time finding himself overmatched would suddenly turn his back and run away with such swiftness, that it was thought a good horse would scarce take him. And this when I was a young man, was very much spoken of by many gentlemen of the Inns of the Court, and was called Cob’s Traverse and those that had seen any go back too fast in his fight, would say, he did tread Cob’s Traverse.

George Silver his military riddle, truly set down between the perfection and imperfection of fight. Containing the handling of the four fights, wherein true consists the whole sum and full perfection of the true fight, with all manner of weapons, with an invincible conclusion.

Gardant fight stays, puts back, or beats gardant fight.

Open fight stays, puts back, or beats open fight.

Variable fight answers variable fight in the first distance, and not otherwise, except it be with perfect length against imperfect.

Close fight is beaten by gardant fight.

Variable close & gardant fight, beats gardant fight, open fight, variable fight, and close fight.

Gardant fight in the imperfection of the agent or patient, wins the half sword, and presently the close, and whosoever first ventures the close, looses it, and is in great danger of death, and not possible to escape or get out again without great hurt.

There attends most diligently upon these four fights four offensive actions, which we call certain, uncertain, first, before, just, and afterward. They are to be performed through judgement, time, measure, number and weight, by which all manner of blows thrusts, falses, doubles, or slips, are prevented, or most safely defended. And thus ends my riddle.

Now follows the conclusion, that whosoever shall think or find himself in his fight too weak for the agent’s, or patient agent, and therefore, or by reason of his drunkenness, or unreasonable desperateness shall press within the half sword, or desperately run in of purpose to give hurt, or at least for taking of one hurt, to give another, shall most assuredly be in great danger of death or wounds, and the other shall still be safe and go free.

Veritas vincit.


There were three Italian teachers of offense in my time. The first was Signior Rocco, the second was Jeronimo, that was Senior Rocco his boy, that taught gentlemen in the Black Friars, as usher for his master in stead of a man. The third was Vincentio. This Senior Rocco came into England about some thirty years past. He taught the noblemen & gentlemen of the court. He caused some of them to wear leaden soles in their shoes, the better to bring to nimbleness of the feet in their fight. He disbursed a great sum of money for the lease of a fair house in Warwick lane, which he called his college, for he thought it great disgrace for him to keep a fence school, he being then thought to be the only famous master of the art of arms in the whole world. He caused to be fairly drawn and set round about his school all the noblemen’s and gentlemen’s arms that were his scholars, amd hanging right under their arms their rapiers, daggers, gloves of mail and gauntlets. Also, he has benches and stools, the room being very large, for gentlemen to sit round about his school to behold his teaching. He taught none commonly under twenty, forty, fifty, or a hundred pounds. And because all things should be very necessary for the noblemen & gentlemen, he had in his school a large square table, with a green carpet, done round with a very broad rich fringe of gold, always standing upon it a very fair Standish covered with crimson velvet, with ink, pens, pen-dust, and sealing wax, and quivers of very excellent fine paper gilded, ready for the noblemen & gentlemen (upon occasion) to write their letters, being then desirous to follow their fight, to send their men to dispatch their business. And to know how the time passed, he had in one corner of his school a clock, with very fair large dial. He had within his school, a room the which was called the privy school, with many weapons therein, where he did teach his scholars his secret fight, after he had perfectly taught them their rules. He was very much beloved in the court.

There was one Austin Bagger, a very tall gentleman of his hands, not standing much upon his skill, but carrying the valiant heart of an Englishman, upon a time being merry among his friends, said he would go fight with Signior Rocco, presently went to Signior Rocco his house in the Blackfriers, and called to him in this manner: Signior Rocco, you are thought to be the only cunning man in the world with your weapon, you that takes upon yourself to hit any Englishman with a thrust upon any button, you that takes upon yourself to come over the sea, to teach the valiant noblemen and gentlemen of England to fight, you cowardly fellow, come out of your house if you dare for your life, I am come to fight with thee. Signior Rocco, looking out at a window, perceiving him in the street to stand ready with his sword and buckler, with his two hand sword drawn, with all speed ran into the street, and manfully let fly at Austin Bagger, who most bravely defended himself, and presently closed with him, and struck up his heels, and cut him over the breech, and trod upon him, and most grievously hurt him under his feet. Yet in the end Austin of his good nature gave him his life, and there left him. This was the first and last fight that ever Signior Rocco made, save once at Queen Hith he drew his rapier upon a waterman, where he was thoroughly beaten with oars and stretchers, but the odds of their weapons were as great against his rapier, as was his two hand sword against Austin Bagger’s sword and buckler, therefore for that fray he was to be excused.

Then came Vincentio and Jeronimo, they taught rapier fight at the court, at London, and in the country, by the space of seven or eight years or thereabouts. These two Italian fencers, especially Vincentio, said Englishmen were strong men, but had no cunning, and they would go back too much in their fight, which was great disgrace unto them. Upon these words of disgrace against Englishmen, my brother Toby Silver and myself, made challenge against them both, to play with them at the single rapier, rapier and dagger, the single dagger, the single sword, the sword and target, the sword and buckler, & two hand sword, the staff, battle axe, and Morris pike, to be played at the Bell Savage upon the scaffold, where he that went in his fight faster back than he ought, of Englishmen or Italian, should be in danger to break his neck off the scaffold. We caused to that effect, five or six score bills of challenge to be printed, and set up from Southwarke to the Tower, and from thence throughout London unto Westminster, we were at the place with all these weapons at the time appointed, within a bow shot of their fence school. Many gentlemen of good account, carried many of the bills of challenge unto them, telling them that now the Silvers were at the place appointed, with all their weapons, looking for them, and a multitude of people there to behold the fight, saying unto them, now come and go with us (you shall take no wrong) or else you are shamed for ever. Do the gentlemen what they could, these gallants would not come to the place of trial. I verily think their cowardly fear to answer this challenge, had utterly shamed them indeed, had not the masters of Defence of London, within two or three days after, been drinking of bottled ale hard by Vincentio’s school, in a hall where the Italians must of necessity pass through to go to their school, and as they were coming by, the masters of Defence did pray them to drink with them. But the Italians being very cowardly, were afraid, and presently drew their rapiers. There was a pretty wench standing by, that loved the Italians. She ran with outcry into the street: “Help! Help! The Italians are like to be slain.” The people with all speed came running into the house, and with their capes and such things as they could, parted the fray, for the English masters of Defence, meant nothing less than to soil their hands upon these two faint hearted fellows. The next morning after, all the court was filled, that the Italian teachers of fence had beaten all the masters of defence in London, who set upon them in a house together. This won the Italian fencers their credit again, and thereby got much, still continuing their false teaching to the end of their lives.

The Vincentio proved himself a stout man not long before he died, that it might be seen in his lifetime he had been a gallant, and therefore no marvel he took upon him so highly to teach Englishmen to fight, and to set forth books of the feats of arms. Upon a time at Wels in Somersetshire, as he was in great bravery among the many gentlemen of good account, with great boldness he gave out speeches, that he had been thus many years in England, and since the time of his first coming, there was not yet one Englishman, that could touch him at the single rapier, or the rapier and dagger. A valiant gentleman being there among the rest, his English heart did rise to hear this proud boaster, secretly sent a messenger to one Bartholomew Bramble, a friend of his, a very tall man of both his hands and person, who kept a school of defence in the town. The messenger by the way made the master of defence acquainted with the mind of the gentleman that sent for him, and of all what Vincentio had said. This master of defence presently came, and among all the gentlemen with his cap off, prayed master Vincentio, that he would be pleased to take a quart of wine with him. Vincentio very scornfully looking upon him, said unto him: “Wherefore should you give me a quart of wine?” “Merry sir” said he, “because I hear you are a famous man at your weapon.” Then presently said the gentleman that sent for the master of defence: “He is a man of your profession.” “My profession?” said Vincentio, “What is my profession?” Then said the the gentleman, “He is a master of the noble science of defence.” “Why,” said Vincentio “God made him a good man.” But the master of defence would not thus leave him, but prayed him again he would be pleased to take a quart of wine of him. Then said Vincentio: “I have no need of your wine.” Then said the master of defence: “Sir I have a school of defence in the town, will it please you to go thither?” “Your school?” said master Vincentio, “What shall I do at your school?” “Play with me (said the master) at the rapier and dagger, if it please you.” “Play with you?” said master Vincentio,”If I play with you, I will hit you 1, 2, 3, 4 thrusts in the eye together.” Then said the master of defence: “If you can do so, it is the better for you, and the worse for me, but surely I can hardly believe that you can hit me. But yet once again I heartily pray you good sir, that you will go to my school and play with me.” “Play with you?” said master Vincentio (very scornfully), “by God let me scorn to play with you.” With the word scorn, the master of defence was very much moved, and up with his great English fist, and struck master Vincentio such a box on the ear that he fell over and over, his legs just against a buttery hatch, whereon stood a great black jack. The master of defence fearing the worst, against Vincentio his rising, caught the black jack into his hand, being more than half full of beer. Vincentio lustily started up, laying his hand upon his dagger, & with the other hand pointed with his finger, saying, very well: “I will cause to lie in the Gaile for this geare(?), 1, 2, 3, 4 years.” And well said the master of defence: “Since you will drink no wine, will you pledge me in beer? I drink to all cowardly knaves in England, and I think you to be the very most coward of them all.” With that he cast all the beer upon him, notwithstanding Vincentio having nothing but his gilt rapier, and dagger about him, and the other for his defence the black jack, would not at that time fight it out: but the next day met with the master of defence in the street, and said unto him: “you remember how misused a me yesterday, you were to blame, me being an excellent man, me teach you to thrust two feet further than any Englishman, but first come you with me.” Then he brought him to a mercers shop, and said to the mercer: “Let me see your best silken points.” The mercer then did presently show him some of seven groats a dozen. Then he paid fourteen groats for two dozen, and said to the master of defence: “There is one dozen for you, and one dozen for me.” This was one of the valiant fencers that came from beyond the seas, to teach Englishmen how to fight, and this was one of the many frays, that I have heard of, that ever he made in England, wherein he showed himself a far better man in his life, than in his profession he was. For he professed arms, but in his life a better Christian. He set forth in print a book for the use of the rapier and dagger, the which he called his practice, I have read it over, and because I find therein neither true rule for the perfect teaching of the true fight, nor true ground of the true fight, neither sense nor reason for due proof thereof. I have thought it frivolous to recite any part therein contained: yet that the truth thereof may appear, let two men being well experienced in the rapier and dagger fight, chose any of the best branches in the same book, & make trial with force and agility, without which the truth between the true & false fight cannot be known, & they shall find great imperfections therein. And again, for proof that there is no truth, neither in his rules, grounds or rapier fight, let trial be made in this manner(31). Set two unskillful men together at the rapier and dagger, being valiant, and you shall see, that once in two bouts there shall either one or both of them be hurt. Then set two skillful men together, being valiant at the rapier and dagger, and they shall do the like. Then set a skillful rapier and dagger man, the best that can be had, and valiant man having no skill together at rapier & dagger, and once in two bouts upon my credit in all the experience I have in fight, the unskillful man, do the other what he can for his life for the contrary, shall hurt him, and most commonly if it were in continuance of fight, you shall see the unskillful man to have the advantage. And if I should choose a valiant man for service of the prince, or to take part with me or any friend of mine in a good quarrel, I would chose the unskillful man, because unencumbered with false fights, because such a man stands free in his valor with strength and agility of body, freely takes the benefit of nature, fights most brave, by loosing no opportunity, either soundly to hurt his enemy, or defend himself. But the other standing for his defence, upon cunning Italian wards, Punta reversa, the Imbrocata, Stocata, and being fast tied unto these false fights, stands troubled in his wits, and nature thereby racked through the largeness or false lyings or spaces, whereby he is in his fight as a man half maimed, loosing the opportunity of times and benefit of nature, & whereas before being ignorant of these false rapier fights, standing in the free liberty of nature given to him by God, he was able in the field with his weapons to answer the most valiant man in the world, but now being tied unto that false, fickle uncertain fight, thereby has lost in nature his freedom, is now become scarce half a man, and every boy in that fight is become as good a man as himself.

Jeronimo: this gallant was valiant, and would fight indeed, and did, as you shall hear. He being in a coach with a wench that he loved well, there was one Cheese, a very tall man, in his fight natural English, for he fought with his sword and dagger, and in rapier fight had no skill at all. This Cheese having a quarrel to Jeronimo, overtook him upon the way, himself being on horseback, did call to Jeronimo, and bade him come forth of the coach or he would fetch him, for he was come to fight with him. Jeronimo presently went forth of the coach and drew his rapier and dagger, put himself into his best ward or Stocata, which ward was taught by himself and Vincentio, and by them best allowed of, to be the best ward to stand upon in fight for life, either to assault the enemy, or stand and watch his coming, which ward it should seem he ventured his life upon, but howsoever with all the fine Italianated skill Jeronimo had, Cheese with his sword within two thrusts ran him into the body and slew him. Yet the Italian teachers will say, that an Englishman cannot thrust straight with a sword, because the hilt will not suffer him to put the forefinger upon the blade, nor to hold the pommel in the hand, whereby we are of necessity to hold fast the handle in the hand. By reason whereof we are driven to thrust both compass and short, whereas with the rapier they can thrust both straight and much further than we can with the sword, because of the hilt. And these are the reasons they make against the sword.


1 English masters of defence, are profitable members in the commonwealth, if they teach with ancient English weapons of true defence, weight and convenient length, within the compass of their statures and strength of men to command, because it makes them safe, bold, valiant, hardy, strong, and healthful, and victorious in wars, service of their Prince, defence of their friends and country. But the rapier in reason not to be taught, because it makes men fearful and unsafe in single combat, and weak & unserviceable in wars.

2 To this it will be objected, that in the wars we use few rapiers, or none at all, but short swords. To that I answer: Those are insufficient also, for that they have no hilts, whereby they are insufficient in their defence, and especially for the hand, which being struck although with a very small blow, most commonly is the loss of a man, because the force of his hand being taken from him, he is neither able to defend his life, nor greatly to offend his enemy. And again, since the rapier-fight has been taught, for lack of practice they have lost the use of the blow.

3 Why should we leave the hand naked, since thereby our limbs & lives are defended, our enemies discomforted, wounded, and executed? I see no reason but that the hand should be as well armed and provided for, as any other part of the body.

4 A great favor to give them choice of their weapons, because professors of arms ought to be skillful with all manner of weapons.

5 Yet they persuade us that the cross of the rapier without hilt or gauntlet is sufficient.

6 No fight perfect that is not done in force & true time.

7 These counterfeit shows are enough to carry the wisest that know not the true fight from the false, out of the right way.

8 And if their weapons were short, as in times past they were, yet they could not thrust safe at body or face, because in guardant fight they fall over, or under the perfect cross of the sword & to strike beneath the waist, or at the legs, is a great disadvantage, because the course of the blow to the legs is too far, & thereby the head, face & body is discovered. And that was the cause in old time, that they did not thrust or strike at the legs, & not for lack of skill, as is these days we imagine. Again, if man in these days should have fought with a long sword, they would presently have put him into Gobb’s Traverse.

9 A confutation of their errors.

10 This in truth cannot be denied.

11 The blow more dangerous than the thrust.

12 A blow cuts off the hand, the arm, the leg, and sometimes the head.

13 He that gives the first wound with a strong blow, commands the life of the other.

14 In the wars there is no observation of Stocatas, Imbrocatas, times, nor answers.

15 Long weapons imperfect.

16 If the sword is longer, you can hardly uncross without going back with your feet. If shorter, then you can hardly make a true cross without putting in of your feet, the which times are too long to answer the time of the hand. The like reason for the short staff, half pike, forest bill, partisan, or glaive, or such like weapons of perfect length.

17 The eye is deceived by the swift motion of the hand.

18 The dagger is an imperfect ward.

19 The short staff or half pike has the advantage against two sword and dagger men, or two rapiers, poniards, and gauntlets.

20 A question.

21 Answer.

22 Note this.

23 Tall men have the vantage against men of mean stature.

24 Four invincible advantages consist in a tall man against a man of mean stature. Long reach. Short course. Length of weapon. Large pace.

25 If they stand upon breaking with their daggers, he that first wins the place, and thrusts home, hurts the other for lack of the circumference. If both thrust together, they are both sped, because their spaces of defence are too wide to answer the time of the hand, and by the swift motion thereof, the eye in that distance is by the same deceived. The feet in their course, but not in the first motion, always note for the avoiding of great errors.

26 There are fewer frays, but more valiant gentlemen slain now than were then.

27 These reasons are used by the Italians.

28 A confutation of the Italians’ reasons.

29 Cob’s Traverse.

30 I write not this to disgrace the dead, but to show their impudent boldness and insufficiency in performance of their profession when they were living, that from henceforth this brief note may be a remembrance and warning to beware of (bad advise?).

31 Proofs against the rapier fight.

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Bill Blake – Alae Swords


BRIEF INSTRUCTIONS UPON MY PARADOXES OF DEFENSE – George Silver – Sword-Site.Com: The World’s Largest Free Online Sword Museum!

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Transcribed by Greg Lindahl. Intially typed in from a facsimile of the Matthey edition by Steve Hick. Facsimile here: www.sirwilliamhope.org/Library/Silver/Silver.php?title=Matthey&plate=4


for the true handling of all manner of weapons together with the four grounds and the four governors which governors are left out in my paradoxes without the knowledge of which no man may fight safe.
by George Silver Gentleman

[Sloan MS. No. 376]


For as much as in my Paradoxes of Defence I have admonished men to take heed of false teachers of defence, yet once again in these my brief instructions I do the like, because divers have written books treating of the noble science of defence, wherein they rather teach offence than defence, rather showing men thereby how to be slain than to defend themselves from the danger of their enemies, as we may daily see to the great grief and overthrow of many brave gentlemen and gallant of our ever victorious nation of Great Britain, and therefore for the great love and care that I have for the well doing and preservation (?) of my countrymen, seeing their daily ruin and utter overthrow of the diverse gallant gentlemen and others which trust only to that imperfect fight of that rapier, yes (?) although they daily see their own overthrow and slaughter thereby, yet because they are trained up therein, they think and do fully persuade themselves that there is no fight so excellent and whereas among diverse other their opinions yet leads them to this errors one of that chiefest is, because there be so many slain with these weapons and therefore they hold them so excellent, but these things do chiefly happen, first because their fight is imperfect for that they use neither the perfect grounds of true fight, neither yet the four governors without which no man can fight safe, neither do they use such other rules which are required in the right use of perfect defence, and also their weapons for the most part being of an imperfect length, must of necessity make an imperfect defence because they cannot use them in due time and place, for had these valorous minded men the right perfection of the true fight with the short sword and also of other weapons of perfect length, I know that men would come safer out of the field from such bloody bankets and that such would be their perfections herein that it would save many hundred mens lives. But how should men learn perfection out of such rules as nothing else but very imperfection itself? And as it is not fit for a man which desires the clear light of the day to go down into the bottom of a deep and dark dungeon, believing to find it there, so is it as impossible for men to find perfect knowledge of this noble science where as in all their teachings every thing is attempted and acted upon imperfect rules, for there is but one truth in all things, which I wish very heartily were taught and practiced here among us, and that those imperfect and murderous kind of false fights might be by them abolished. Leave now to quaff and gulp no longer of that filthy and brineish puddle, seeing you may now drink of that fresh and clear spring.

O that men for their defence would but give their mind to practice the true fight indeed and learn to bear true British wards for their defence, which if they had it in perfect practice, I speak it of my own knowledge that those imperfect Italian devices with rapier and poniard would be clean cast aside and of no account of all such as blind affections do not lead beyond the bounds of reason. Therefore for the very zealous and unfeigned love that I bear unto your high and royal person my countrymen pitying their causes that so may brave men should be daily murdered and spoiled for want of true knowledge of this noble science and as some imagine to be, only the excellence of the rapier fight, and where as my paradoxes of defence is to the most sort as a dark riddle in many things therein set down, therefore I have now this second time taken pains to write these few brief instructions there upon where by they may better attain to the truth of this science and laying open here all such things as was something intricate for them to understand in my paradoxes and therefore yet I have the full perfection and knowledge of the perfect use of all manner of weapons, it does embolden me here to write for the better instruction of the unskillful.

And I have added to these my brief instructions certain necessary admonitions which I wish every man not only to know but also to observe and follow, chiefly all such as are desirous to enter into the right usage and knowledge of their weapons and also I have thought it good to annex here unto my paradoxes of defence because in these my brief instructions, I have referred the reader to divers rules therein set down.

This I have written for an infallible truth and a note of remembrance to our gallant gentlemen & others of our brave minded nation of Great Britain, which here be minded to defend themselves and to win honor in the field by their actions of arms and single combats.

And know that I write not this for vainglory, but out of an entire love that I owe unto my native countrymen, as one who laments their losses, sorry that so great an error should be so carefully nourished as a serpent in their bosoms to their utter confusion, as of long time have been seen, whereas they would but seek the truth here in they were easily abolished, therefore follow the truth and fly ignorance.

And consider that learning has no greater enemy than ignorance, neither can the unskillful ever judge the truth of my art to them unknown, beware of rash judgment and accept my labors thankfully as I bestow them willingly, censure me justly, let no man despise my work herein causeless, and so I refer myself to the censure of such as are skillful herein and I commit you to the protection of the almighty Jehovah.

Yours in all love and friendly affection,

George Syluer

ADMONITIONS to the gentlemen and brave gallants of Great Britain against quarrels and brawls written by George Siluer. Gent.

Whereas I have declared in my paradoxes of defence of the false teaching of the noble science of defence used here by the Italian fencers willing men therein to take heed how they trusted there unto sufficient reasons and proofs why.
And whereas there was a book written by Vincentio an Italian teacher whose ill using practices and unskillful teaching were such that it has cost the lives of many of our brave gentlemen and gallants, the uncertainty of whose false teaching does yet remain to the daily murdering and overthrow of many, for he and the rest of them did not teach defence but offence, as it does plainly appear by those that follow the same imperfect fight according to their teaching or instructions by the orders from them proceeding, for be the actors that follow them never so perfect or skillful therein one or both of them are either sore hurt or slain in their encounters and fights, and if they allege that we use it not rightly according to the perfection thereof, and therefore cannot defend ourselves, to which I answer if themselves had any perfection therein, and that their teaching had been a truth, themselves would not have been beaten and slain in their fights, and using of their weapons, as they were.

And therefore I prove where a man by their teaching can not be safe in his defence following their own ground of fight then is their teaching offence and not defence, for in true fight against the best no hurt can be done. And if both have the full perfection of true fight, then the one will not be able to hurt the other at what perfect weapon so ever.

For it cannot be said that if a man go to the field and cannot be sure to defend himself in fight and to come safe home, if God be not against him whether he fight with a man of skill or no skill it may not be said that such a man is master of the noble science of defence, or that he has the perfection of the true fight, for if both have the perfection of their weapons, if by any device, one should be able to hurt the other, there were no perfection in the fight of weapons, and this firmly hold in your mind for a general rule, to be the hayth(?) and perfection of the true handling of all manner of weapons.

And also whereas that said Vincentio in that same book has written discourses of honor and honorable quarrels, making many reasons to prove means and ways to enter the field and combat, both for the lie and other disgraces, all which diabolical devices tends only to villainy and destruction as hurting, maiming and murdering or killing.

Animating the minds of young gentlemen and gallants to follow those rules to maintain their honors and credits, but the end thereof for the most part is either killing or hanging or both to the utter undoing and great grief of themselves and their friends, but then to late to call it again. They consider not the time and place that we live in, nor do not thoroughly look into the danger of the law ’til it be too late, and for that in divers other countries in these things they have a larger scope than we have in these our days.

Therefore it behooves us not upon every abuse offered whereby our blood shall be inflamed, or our choler kindled, presently with the sword or with the stab, or by force of arms to seek revenge, which is the proper nature of wild beasts in their rage so to do, being void of the use of reason, which thing should not be in men of discretion so much to Degenerate, but he that will not endure an injury, but will seek revenge, then he ought to do it by civil order and proof, by good and wholesome laws, which are ordained for such causes, which is a thing far more fit and requisite in a place of so civil a government as we live in, then is the other, and who so follow these my admonitions shall be accounted as valiant a man as he that fights and far wiser. For I see no reason why a man should adventure his life and estate upon every trifle, but should rather put up divers abuses offered unto him, because it is agreeable to the laws of God and our country.

Why should not words be answered with words again, but if a man by his enemy be charged with blows then may he lawfully seek the best means to defend himself and in such a case I hold it fit to use his skill and to show his force by his deeds, yet so, that his dealing be not with full rigor to the others confusion if possible it may be eschewed.

Also take heed how you appoint the field with your enemy publicly because our laws do not permit it, neither appoint to meet him in private sort lest you wounding him he accuse you of felony saying you have robbed him, etc. Or he may lay company close to murder you and then report he did it himself valiantly in the field.

Also take heed of your enemy’s stratagems, lest he find means to make you look aside upon something, or cause you to show whether you have on a privy coat, and so when you look from him, he hurt or kill you.

Take not arms upon every light occasion, let not one friend upon a word or trifle violate another but let each man zealously embrace friendship, and turn not familiarity into strangeness, kindness into malice, nor love into hatred, nourish not these strange and unnatural alterations.

Do not wickedly resolve one to seek to the other’s overthrow, do not confirm to end your malice by fight because for the most part it ends by death.

Consider when these things were most used in former ages they sought not so much by envy the ruin and destruction one of another, they never took trial by sword but in the defence of innocence to maintain blotless honor.

Do not upon every trifle make an action of revenge, or of defence.

Go not into the field with your friend at his entreaty to take his part but first know the manner of the quarrel how justly or unjustly it grew, and do not therein maintain wrong against right, but examine the cause of the controversy, and if there be reason for his rage to lead him to that mortal resolution.

Yet be the cause never so just, go not with him neither further nor suffer him to fight if possible it may be by any means to be otherwise ended and will him not to enter into so dangerous an action, but leave it until necessity requires it.

And this I hold to be the best course for it is foolishness and endless trouble to cast a stone at every dog that barks at you. This noble science is not to cause one man to abuse another injuriously but to use it in their necessities to defend them in just causes and to maintain their honor and credits.

Therefore fly all rashness, pride and doing of injury all foul faults and errors herein, presume not upon this, and thereby to think it lawful to offer injury to any, think not yourself invincible, but consider that often a very wretch has killed a tall man, but he that has humanity, the more skillful he is in this noble science, the more humble, modest and virtuous he should show himself both in speech and action, no liar, no vaunter nor quarreller, for these are the causes of wounds, dishonor and death.

If you talk with great men of honorable quality with such chiefly have regarde to frame your speeches and answers so reverently, that a foolish word, or forward answer give no occasion of offence for often they breed deadly hatred, cruel murders and extreme ruin etc..

Ever shun all occasions of quarrels, but marshal(martial) men chiefly generals and great commanders should be excellent skillful in the noble science of defence, thereby to be able to answer quarrels, combats and challenges in defence of their prince and country.


Brief Instructions upon my Paradoxes of Defence for the true handling of all manner of weapons together with the four grounds and the four governors which governors are left out in my paradoxes without the knowledge of which no man can fight safe.

Cap. I.
The four grounds or principals of that true fight at all manner of weapons are these four, viz. 1. judgment, 2. distance, 3. time, 4. place.

The reason whereof these 4 grounds or principals be the first and chief, are the following, because through judgment, you keep your distance, through distance you take your time, through time you safely win or gain the place of your adversary, the place being won or gained you have time safely either to strike, thrust, ward, close, grip, slip or go back, in which time your enemy is disappointed to hurt you, or to defend himself, by reason that he has lost his place, the reason that he has lost his true place is by the length of time through the numbering of his feet, to which he is out of necessity driven to that will be agent.

The 4 governors are those that follow

1. The first governor is judgment which is to know when your adversary can reach you, and when not, and when you can do the like to him, and to know by the goodness or badness of his lying, what he can do, and when and how he can perform it.

2. The second governor is measure. Measure is the better to know how to make your space true to defend yourself, or to offend your enemy.

3. 4. The third and forth governors are a twofold mind when you press in on your enemy, for as you have a mind to go forward, so must you have at that instant a mind to fly backward upon any action that shall be offered or done by your adversary.

Certain general rules which must be observed in that perfect use of all kind of weapons.

Cap. 2
1. First when you come into the field to encounter with your enemy, observe well the scope, evenness and unevenness of your ground, put yourself in readiness with your weapon, before your enemy comes within distance, set the sun in his face traverse if possible you can, still remembering your governors.

2. Let all your lying be such as shall best like yourself, ever considering out what fight your enemy charges you, but be sure to keep your distance, so that neither head, arms, hands, body, nor legs be within his reach, but that he must first of necessity put in his foot(1) or feet, at which time you have the choice of 3 actions by which you may endanger him & go free yourself.

1. The first is to strike or thrust at him, the instant when he has gained you the place by his coming in.(2)

2. The second is to ward, & after to strike him or thrust from it, remembering your governors

3. The third is to slip a little back & to strike or thrust after him.

But ever remember that in the first motion of your adversary towards you, that you slide a little back so shall you be prepared in due time to perform any of the 3 actions aforesaid by disappointing him of his true place whereby you shall safely defend yourself & endanger him.

Remember also that if through fear or policy, he strike or thrust short, & therewith go back, or not go back, follow him upon your twofold governors, so shall your ward & slip be performed in like manner as before, & you yourself still be safe.

3. Keep your distance & suffer not your adversary to win or gain the place(3) of you, for if he shall so do, he may endanger to hurt or kill you.

Know what the place is, when one may strike or thrust home without putting in of his foot.

It may be objected against this last ground, that men do often strike & thrust at the half sword & the same is perfectly defended, where to I answer that the defence is perfectly made by reason that the warder has true space before the striker or thruster is in force or entered into his action.

Therefore always do prevent both blow & thrust, the blow by true space(4), & the thrust by narrow space that is true crossing it before the same come in to their full force, otherwise the hand of the agent being as swift as the hand of the patient, the hand of the agent being the first mover, must of necessity strike or thrust that part of the patient which shall be struck or thrust at because the time of the hand to the time of the hand, being of like swiftness the first mover has the advantage.

4. When your enemy shall press upon you, he will be open in one place or other, both at single & double weapon, or at least he will be to weak in his ward upon such pressing, then strike or thrust at such open or weakest part that you shall find nearest.

5. When you attempt to win the place, do it upon guard, remembering your governors, but when he presses upon you & gains you the place, then strike or thrust at him in his coming in.(5)

Or if he shall strike or thrust at you, then ward it & strike or thrust at him from your ward(6), & fly back instantly according to your governors, so shall you escape safely, for that first motion of the feet backward is more swift, than the first motion of the feet forward, where by your regression will be more swift, than his course in progression to annoy you, the reason is, that in the first motion of his progression his number & weight is greater than yours are, in your first motion of your regression, nevertheless all men know that the continual course of the feet forward is more swift than the continual course of the feet backwards.

6. If your enemy lies in the variable fight, & strikes or thrusts at you then be sure to keep your distance & strike(7) or thrust at such open part of him as are nearest unto you, at the hand, arm, head or leg of him, & go back withal.

7. If 2 men fight at the variable fight, & if within distance, they must both be hurt, for in such fight they cannot make a true cross, not have time truly to judge, by reason that the swift motion of the hand, being a swifter mover, then the eye deceives the eye, at what weapon soever you shall fight withal, as in my paradoxes of defence in the — chapter thereof does appear.

8. Look to the grip(8) of your enemy, & upon his slip take such ward as shall best fit your hand, from which ward strike or thrust, still remembering your governors.

9. If you can indirect(9) your enemy at any kind of weapon, then you have the advantage, because he must move his feet to direct himself again, & you in the mean time may strike or thrust at him, & fly out safe, before he can offer anything at you, his time will be so long.

10. When you shall ward blow & thrust, made at your right or left part, with any kind of weapon, remember to draw your hind foot a little circularly(10), from that part to which the same shall be made, whereby you shall stand the more apt to strike or thrust from it.

A declaration of all the 4 general fights to be used with the sword at double or single, long or short, & with certain particular rules to them annexed.

Cap. 3.
1. Open fight(11) is to carry your hand and hilt aloft above your head, either with point upright, or point backward, which is best, yet use that, which you shall find most apt, to strike, thrust, or ward.

2. Guardant fight(12) in general is of 2 sorts, the first is true guardant fight(13), which is either perfect or imperfect.

The perfect is to carry your hand & hilt above your head with your point down towards your left knee, with your sword blade somewhat near your body, not bearing out your point but rather declining it a little towards your said knee, that your enemy cross not your point & so hurt you, stand bolt upright in his fight, & if he offers to press in then bear your head & body a little backward.

The imperfect is when you bear your hand & sword hilt perfect high above your head, as aforesaid, but leaning or stooping forward with your body & thereby your space will be wide on both sides to defend the blow struck at the left side of your head or too wide to defend a thrust from the right side of the body.

Also it is imperfect, if you bear your hand & hilt as aforesaid, bearing your point too far out from your knee, so that your enemy may cross, or strike aside your point, & thereby endanger you.

The second is the bastard guardant(14) fight which is to carry your hand & hilt below your head, breast high or lower with your point downward toward your left foot, this bastard guardant ward is not to be used in a fight, except it be to cross your enemy’s ward at his coming in to take the grip of him or such advantage, as in divers places of the sword fight is set forth.

3. Close fight is when you cross at the half sword either above at the forehand ward(15) that is with the point high, & hand & hilt low, or at the true or bastard guardant ward with both your points down.

4. Close is all manner of fights wherein you have made a true cross at the half sword with your space very narrow & not crossed, is also close fight.

Variable fight is all other manner of lying not here before spoken of, whereof these 4 that follow are the chiefest of them.(16)

(1) Stocata(17): 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 hand extending your hand towards the point of your rapier, holding your dagger with the point upright with narrow space between your rapier blade, & 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.

(2) Imbrocata(18): is to lie with your hilt higher than your head, bearing your knuckles upward, & your point depending toward your enemy’s face or breast.

(3) Mountanta(19): is to carry your rapier pommel in the palm of your hand resting it on your little finger with your hand below & so mounting it up a loft, & so to come in with a thrust upon your enemy’s face or breast, as of out of the Imbrocata.

(4) Passata: is either to pass with the Stocata, 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 forward as you do your sword, with narrow space between your sword & dagger blade, & so make your passage upon him.

Also any other kind of variable fight or lying whatsoever a man can devise not here expressed, is contained under this fight.

Of the short single sword fight(20) against the like weapon.

Cap. 4.
1. If your enemy lie aloft(21), either in the open or true guardant fight, & then strike at the left side of your head or body your best ward to defend yourself, is to bear it with true guardant ward, & if he strike & come in to the close, or to take the grip of you, you may then safely take the grip of him as it appears in the chapter on the grip.

2. But if he does strike & not come in, then instantly upon your ward, uncross & strike him(22) either on the right or left side of the head, & fly out(23) instantly.

3. If you bear this with forehand ward, be sure to ward his blow, or keep your distance, otherwise he shall deceive you with every false, still endangering your head, face, hand, arms, body, & bending knee, with blow or thrust. Therefore keep well your distance, because you can very hardly discern (being within distance), by which side of your sword he will strike, nor at which of those parts aforesaid, because of the swift motion of the hand deceives the eye.

4. If he lies aloft(24) & strike as aforesaid at your head, you may endanger him if you thrust at his hand, or arm, turning your knuckles downward(25), but fly backward withal in the instant you thrust.

5. If he lies aloft as aforesaid, & strike aloft at the left side of your head, if you will ward his blow with forehand ward, then be sure to keep your distance, except he come so certain that you sure to ward his blow, at which time if he comes in withal, you may endanger him from that ward, either by blow thrust or grip(26).

6. If he lies aloft & you lie low with your sword in the variable fight, then if you offer to ward his blow made at your head, with true guardant ward your time will be too long due in time to make a sure ward, so that it is better to bear it with the forehand ward, but be sure to keep your distance, to make him come in with his feet, whereby his time will be too long to do what he intended.

7. If 2 men fight both upon open fight, he that first breaks his distance, if he attempts to strike the other’s head, shall be surely struck on the head himself, if the patient agent strike there at his coming in(27), & slip a little back withal, for that sliding back makes an indirection, whereby your blow crosses his head, & makes a true ward for your own, this will that be, because the length of time in his coming in.

8. Also if 2 fight upon open fight, it is better for the patient to strike home strongly at the agent’s head, when the said agent shall press upon him to win the place than to thrust, because the blow of the patient is not only hurtful to the agent, but also makes a true cross to defend his own head.

9. If he charge you aloft, out of the open or true guardant fight, if you answer him with the imperfect guardant fight, with your body leaning forward, your space will be too wide on both sides to make a true ward in due time, & your arm and body will be too near unto him, so that with the bending of the body with the time of hand & foot, he may take the grip of you.

But if you stand upright in true guardant fight, then he cannot reach to take the grip of you, nor otherwise to offend you if you keep your distance, without putting in of his foot or feet wherein his number will be too great(28), & so his time will be too long, & you in that time may by putting in of your body take the grip of him, if he press to come in with using only your hand, or hand or foot, & there upon you may strike or thrust with your sword & fly out withal according to your governors, see more of this, in the chapter of the grip.

10. If he will still press forcibly aloft upon you, charging you out of the open fight or the true guardant fight, intending to hurt you in the face or head, or to take the grip of you, against such a one, you must use both guardant & open fight, whereby upon every blow or thrust that he shall make at you, you may from your wards, strike or thrust him on the face, head, or body as it appears more art large in the 5th chapter of these my instructions.

11. If you fight with one standing only upon his guardant fight(29) or if he seeks to come in to you by the same fight, then do you strike & thrust continually at all manner of open places that shall come nearest unto you, still remembering your governors, so shall he continually be in danger, & often wounded, & wearied in that kind of fight, & you shall be safe, the reason is, he is a certain mark to you, & you are an uncertain mark to him.

And further because he ties himself into one kind of fight only, he shall be wearied for want of change of lying, & you by reason of many changes shall not only fight at ease, & much more brave, but you have likewise 4 fights to his one, to wit, guardant, open, closed and variable fight, to his guardant only, therefore that fight only is not to be stood upon or used.

12. But if all this will not serve & although he has received many wounds, will continually run to come in, & forcibly break your distance, then may you safely take the grip of him, & hurt him at your pleasure with your sword, as appears in the chapter of the grip, & he can neither hurt nor take the grip of you, because the number of his feet are too many, to bring his hand in place in due time, for such a one ever gives you the place, therefore be sure to take your time therein.

In the like sort may you do at sword & dagger, or sword & buckler, at such time as I say, that you may take the grip at the single sword fight, you may then instead of the grip, soundly strike him with your buckler on the head or stab him with your dagger & instantly either strike up his heels or fly out, & as he likes a cooling card to his hot brain, sick fit, so let him come for another(30).

If 2 fight & both lie upon the true guardant fight & that one of them will need seek to win the half sword by pressing in, that may you safely do, for upon that fight the half sword may safely be won, but he that first comes in must first go out, & that presently, otherwise his guard will be too wide above to defend his head, or if fit for that defence, then will it be too wide underneath to defend that thrust from his body which things the patient agent(31) may do, & fly out safe, & that agent cannot avoid it, because the moving of his feet makes his ward unequal to defend both parts in due time, but the one or the other will be deceived & in danger, for he being agent upon his first entrance his time (by reason of the number of his feet) will be too long, so that the patient agent may first enter into his action, & the agent must be of force an after doer, & therefore cannot avoid this offense aforesaid.

14. If he come in to encounter the close & grip upon the bastard guardant ward, then you may cross his blade with yours upon the like guardant ward also, & as he comes in with his feet & have gained you the place, you may presently uncross & strike him a blow on the head, & fly out instantly, wherein he cannot offend you by reason of his lost time, nor defend himself upon the uncrossing, because his space is too wide whereby his time will be too long in due time to prevent your blow, this may you do safely.

15. If he comes in upon the bastard guardant ward, bearing his hilt lower than his head, or but breast high or lower, then strike him soundly on the head which thing you may easily do, because his space is too wide in due time to ward the same.

16. If your enemy charge you upon his Stocata fight, you may lie variable with large distance & uncertainty with your sword & body at your pleasure, yet so you may strike, thrust or ward, & go forth & back as occasion is, to take the advantage of this coming in, whether he does it out of the Stocata, or Passata, which advantage you shall be sure to have, if you observe this rule & be not too rash in your actions, by reason that the number of his feet will be great(32), & also because when those 2 fights are met together, it is hard to make a true cross, therefore without large distance be kept of them, commonly they are both hurt or slain, because in narrow distance their hands have free course & are not tied to the time of the foot, by which swift motion of the hand the eye is deceived, as you may read more at large in the — chapter of my paradoxes of defence.

You may also use this fight, against the long sword, or long rapier, single or double.

Upon this ground some shallow witted fellow may say, if the patient must keep large distance, then he must be driven to go back still, to which I answer that in the continual motion & traverses of his ground he is to traverse circularly, forewards, backwards, upon the right hand, & upon the left hand(33), the which traverses are still a certainty to be used within himself, & not to be prevented by the agent, because the agent comes one upon a certain mark, for when he thinks to be sure of his purpose, the patient is sometimes on the one side, & sometimes on the other side, sometimes too far back, & sometimes too near, so still the agent must use the number of his feet which will be too long to answer the hand of the patient agent, & it cannot be denied but the patient agent by reason of his large distance, still sees what the agent does in his coming, but the agent cannot see what the other doeth, ’til the patient agent be into his action, therefore too late for him either to hurt the patient, or in due time to defend himself, because he entered into his action upon the knowledge of the patient, be he knows not what the patient agent will do ’til it is to late.

17. If the agent says that then he will stand fast upon sure guard and sometimes moving & traversing his ground, & keep large distance as the patient does, to which I answer, that when 2 men shall meet that have both the perfection of their weapons, against the best no hurt can be done, otherwise if by any device one should be able to hurt the other, then were there no perfection in the use of weapons, this perfection of fight being observed, prevents both close fight, & all manner of closes, grips & wrestling & all manner of such devices whatsoever.

18. Also if he charges you upon his Stocata, or any other lying after that fashion, with his point low & large paced, then lie you aloft with your hand & hilt above your head, either true guardant, or upon the open fight, then he cannot reach you if you keep your distance without putting in his foot or feet, but you may reach him with the time of your hand, or with the time of your hand & body, or of the hand, body & foot, because he has already put in his body within your reach & has gained you the place,& you are at liberty & without his reach, ’til he puts in his foot or feet, which time is too wide in that place to make a ward in due time to defend his head, arms & hand, one of which will be always within your reach.

Note still in this that your weapons be both short and of equal & convenient length of the short sword.

19. If out of this variable fight he strikes at the right or left side of the head or body, then your best ward is to bear with the forehand ward(34), otherwise your space will be too wide & too far to make your ward in due time.

20. If he lies variable after the manner of the Passata then if you lie aloft as is above said, you have the advantage, because he that lies variable cannot reach home, at head, hand or arm, without putting in his foot or feet, & therefore it cannot be denied, but that he that plays aloft, has still the time of the hand to the time of the foot, which fight being truly handled is invincible advantage.

21. If he lies variable upon the Imbrocata, then make a narrow space with your point upward, & suddenly if you can cross his point with your blade, put aside his point strongly with your sword & strike or thrust at him, & fly out instantly, ever remembering your governors that he deceive you not in taking his point.

22. If he strike or thrust at your leg or lower part out of any fight, he shall not be able to reach the same unless you stand large paced with bending knee(35), or unless he comes in with his foot or feet, the which if he shall so do, then you may strike or thrust at his arm or upper part for then he puts them into the place gaining you the place whereby you make strike home upon him & he cannot reach you(36).

But if he stands large paced with bending knee, then win the place & strike home freely at his knee, & fly back therewith.

23. If he comes to the close fight with you & that you are both crossed aloft at the half sword with both your points upward, then if he comes in withal in his crossing bear strongly your hand & hilt over his wrist(37), close by his hilt, putting in over at the backside of his hand & hilt pressing down his hand & hilt strongly, in your entering in, & so thrust your hilt in his face, or strike him upon the head with your sword, & strike up his heels, & fly out(38).

24. If you are both so crossed at the bastard guardant ward, & if he then presses in, then take the grip of him as is shown in the chapter of the grip.

Or with your left hand or arm, strike his sword blade strongly & suddenly toward your left side by which means you are uncrossed(39), & he is discovered, then may you thrust him in the body with your sword & fly out instantly, which thing he cannot avoid, neither can he offend you.

Or being so crossed, you may suddenly uncross & strike him upon the head & fly out instantly which thing you may safely do & go out free(40).

25. If you be both crossed at the half sword with his point up & your point down in the true guardant ward, then if he presses to come in, then either take the grip of him, as in the chapter of the grip, or with your left hand or arm, strike out his sword blade towards your left side as aforesaid, & so you may thrust him in the body with your sword & fly out instantly(41).

26. Do you never attempt to close or come to grip at these weapons unless it be upon the slow motion or disorder of your enemy,

But if he will close with you, then you may take the grip of him safely at his coming in(42), for he that first by strong pressing in adventures the close looses it, & is in great danger, by reason that the number of his feet are too great, whereby his time will be too long, in due time to answer the hand of the patient agent, as in the chapter of the grip does plainly appear.

27. Always remembering if you fight upon the variable fight that you ward upon forehand ward, otherwise your space will be too wide in due time to make a true guardant ward, to defend yourself.

28. If you fight upon open fight, or true guardant fight, never ward upon forehand ward for then your space will be too wide also, in due time to make a sure ward.

29. If he lies aloft with his point towards you, after the manner of the Imbrocata, then make your space narrow with your point, & strike or thrust as aforesaid but be sure herein to keep your distance, that he deceive you not in taking of his point.

Of diverse advantages that you may take by striking from your ward at the sword fight(43).

Cap. 5.
1. If your enemy strikes at the right side of your head, you lying true guardant, then put your hilt a little down, mounting your point, so that your blade may cross across your face(44), so shall you make a true ward for the right side of your head, from which ward you may instantly strike him on the right or left side of the head, or turn down your point, & thrust him in the body, or you may strike him on the left side of the body, or on the outside of his left thigh.

Or you may strike him on the outside of the right thigh, one of those he cannot avoid if he fly not back instantly upon his blow, because he knows not which of these the patient agent will do.

2. If you lie upon your true guardant ward, & he strikes at the left side of your head(45), you have the choice from your ward to strike him from it, on the right or left side of the head, or to turn down your point, & thrust him in the body, or you may strike him on the outside of the right or left thigh, for the reason above said in the last rule, except he flies out instantly upon his blow.

3. If he charge you upon the open or the true guardant fight, if you will answer him with the like, then keep your distance, & let your gathering be always in your fight to ward his right side so shall you with your sword choke up any blow that he can make at you, from the which ward you may strike him on the right or left side of the head, or thrust him in the body.

But if he thrust at your face or body, then you may out of your guardant fight break it downward with your sword bearing your point strongly towards your right side(46), from the which breaking of his thrust you may likewise strike him from the right or left side of the head, or thrust him in the body.

4. If you meet with one that cannot strike from his ward, upon such a one you may both double & false(47) & so deceive him, but if he is skillful you must not do so, because he will be still so uncertain in his traverse that he will still prevent you of time & place, so that when you think to double & false, you shall gain him the place & there upon he will be before you in his action, & your coming he will still endanger you.

5. If you fight upon the variable fight, & that you receive a blow with forehand ward, made at the right side of your head or body(48), you have the choice of 8 offensive actions from that ward, the first to strike him on the right side, either on the head, shoulder, or thigh, or to thrust him in the body, or to strike him on the left side either on the head, shoulder or thigh, or to thrust him in the body, the like you may do if he strike ever at your left side, as is above said, if you bear it with your forehand ward(49).

6. In this forehand ward keep your distance, & take heed that he deceives you not with the downright blow at your head out of his open fight, for being within distance the swift motion of the hand may deceive your eye, because you know not by which side of your sword his blow will come.

7. Also see that he deceive you not upon any false offering to strike at the one side, & then thereby you have turned your point aside, then to strike on the other side, but if you keep distance you are free from that, therefore still in all your actions remember your governors.

8. If he will do nothing but thrust, answer him as it is set down in the 16th ground of the short sword fight & also in diverse places of the 8th chapter.

9. Also consider if he lies at the thrust upon the Stocata or Passata, & you have no way to avoid him, except you can cross his sword blade with yours, & so indirect his point, therefore keep narrow space upon his point, & keep well your distance in using your traverses(50).

But if he puts forth his point so that you may cross it with forehand ward, for if you watch for his thrust then lie upon forehand ward with point a little up if he lies with his pointed mounted, & if you single your thrust upon the outside of your sword to ward your right side, or back of your sword hand, strike or bear his point out towards your right side, & thereupon putting forward your body & left foot circularly toward his right side you may strike him upon his sword arm, head, face or body(51).

Or if you take it on the inside of your sword blade to ward your left side(52) then with your sword put by his point strongly & suddenly towards your left side, drawing your left circularly back behind the heel of your right foot, & strike him on the inside of his sword hand or arm or on the head, face, or body, & fly out according to your governors.

This may you use against the sword & dagger long or short, or rapier & poniard, or sword & buckler.

10. Also remember if he has a long sword & you a short sword, ever to make your space too narrow, that you may always break his thrust before that be in force if possible you may, & also to keep large distance whether he charge you out of the Stocata, Passata, or Imbrocata, etc.

Of this you may see more at large in the 8th chapter.

The manner of certain grips & closes to be used at the single short sword fight, etc.

Cap. 6.
1. If he strike aloft at the left side of your head, and run in withal to take the close or grip of you, then ward it guardant, & enter in with your left side putting in your left hand, on the inside of his sword arm, near his hilt, bearing your hand over his arm, & wrap in his hand & sword under your arm, as he comes in, wresting his hand & sword close to your body turning back your right side from him, so shall he not be able to reach your sword, but you shall still have it at liberty to strike or thrust him & endanger the breaking of his arm, or the taking away of his sword by that grip.

2. If you are both crossed in the close fight upon the bastard guardant ward low(?), you may put your left hand on the outside of his sword at the back of his hand, near or at the hilt of his sword arm & take him on the inside of the arm with your hand, above his elbow is best, & draw him towards you strongly, wresting his knuckles downward & his elbow upwards so may endanger to break his arm, or cast him down, or to wrest his sword out of his hand, & go free yourself.

3. In like sort upon this kind of close, you may clap your left hand upon the wrist of his sword arm, holding it strongly & therewith thrust him hard from you, & presently you may thrust him in the body with your sword for in that instant he can neither ward, strike, nor thrust.

4. If he strike home at the left side of your head, & there withal come in to take the close or grip of your hilt or sword arm with his left hand, first ward his blow guardant, & be sure to put in your left hand under your sword & take hold on the outside of his left hand, arm or sleeve, putting your hand under the wrist of his arm with the top of your fingers upward, & your thumb & knuckles downward, then pluck him strongly towards your left side, so shall you indirect his feet, turning his left shoulder toward you, upon which instant you may strike or thrust him with your sword & fly out safe, for his feet being indirected, although he has his sword at liberty, yet shall he be not able to make any offensive fight against you because his time will be too long to direct his feet again to use his sword in due time.

5. Also if he attempts to close or grip with you upon his bastard guardant ward, then cross his sword with the like ward, & as he comes in with his feet you have the time of your hand & body, whereby with your left hand or arm you may put by his sword blade, which thing you must suddenly & strongly do, casting it towards your left side, so may you uncross & thrust him in the body with your sword & fly out instantly, for if you stay there he will direct his sword again & endanger you, this may safely be done, or you may uncross & turn your point up, & strike him on the head, & fly out instantly.

6. If he presses in to the half-sword upon a forehand ward, then strike a sound blow at the left side of his head turning strongly your hand & hilt pressing down his sword hand & arm strongly, & strike your hilt full in his face, bearing your hilt strongly upon him, for your hand being uppermost you have the advantage of the grip, for so may you break his face with your hilt, & strike up his heels with your left foot, and throw him a great fall, all this may safely be done by reason that he is weak in his coming in by that moving of his feet, & you repel him in the fullness of your strength, as appears in the chapter of the short single sword fight, in the 23rd ground of the same.

7. Remember that you never attempt the close nor grip but look to his slip, consider what is said in the 8th general rule in the second chapter, & also in the 26th ground of the single sword fight in the 4th chapter.

Of the short sword & dagger fight against the like weapon

Cap. 7.
1. Observe at these weapons the former rules, defend with your sword & not your dagger, yet you may cross his sword with your dagger, if you may conveniently reach the same therewith, without putting in your foot, only by bending in your body, otherwise your time will be too long, & his time will be sufficient to displace his own, so that you shall not hit it with your dagger, & so he may make a thrust upon you, this time that I here mean, of putting by of his sword is, when he lies out spent with his sword point towards you, & not else, which thing if you can do without putting in your foot, then you may use your dagger & strike strongly & suddenly his sword point therewith up, or down, to indirect the same, that done, instantly therewith strike or thrust at him with your sword.

2. Also you may put by his sword blade with your dagger when your swords are crossed, either above at forehand ward, or below at the bastard guardant ward & therewith instantly strike or thrust with your sword & fly out according to your governors, of this you may see more at large in the chapter of the single sword fight in the 24th ground of the same.

3. Also if he is so foolhardy to come to the close, then you may guard with your sword & stab with your dagger, & fly out safe, which thing you may do because his time is too long by the number of his feet, & you have but the swift time of your hand to use, & he cannot stab ’til he has setted in his feet, & so his time is to late to endanger you or to defend himself.

4. Know that if you defend yourself with your dagger in other sort than is aforesaid, you shall be in danger to be hurt, because the space of your dagger will be still too wide to defend both blow & thrust for lack of circumference as the buckler has.

5. Also note when you defend blow & thrust with your sword, you have a nearer course to offend your enemy with your sword than when you ward with your dagger, for then you may for the most part from your ward strike or thrust him.

6. You must neither close nor come to the grip at these weapons, unless it is by the slow motion or disorder of your adversary, yet if he attempts to close, or to come to the grip with you, then you may safely close & hurt him with your dagger or buckler & go free yourself, but fly out according to your governors & thereby you shall put him from his attempted close, but see you stay not at any time within distance, but in due time fly back or hazard to be hurt, because the swift motion of the hand being within distance will deceive the eye, whereby you shall not be able to judge in due time to make a true ward, of this you may see more in the chapter of the back sword fight in the 12th ground of the same.

7. If he extends forth his dagger hand you may make your fight the same, remembering to keep your distance & to fly back according to your governors.

Every fight & ward with these weapons, made out of any kind of fight, must be made & done according as is taught in the back sword fight, but only that the dagger must be used as is above said, instead of the grip.

8. If he lies bent upon his Stocata with his sword or rapier point behind his dagger so you cannot reach the same without putting in your foot, then make all your fight at his dagger hand, so that you may cross his sword blade with yours, then make narrow space upon him with your point & suddenly & strongly strike or bear his point towards his right side, indirecting the same, & instantly strike or thrust him on the head, face arm or body, & fly back therewith out of distance still remembering your governors.

9. If he lies spent upon his variable fight then keep your distance & make your space narrow upon him, ’til you may cross his sword or rapier point with your sword point, whereupon, you having won or gained the place, strike or thrust instantly.

10. If he lies bent or spent upon the Imbrocata bear up your point, & make your space narrow & do the like.

Of the short sword & dagger fight against the long sword & dagger or long rapier & poniard.

Cap. 8.
1. If you have the short sword & dagger, defend with your sword & not with your dagger, except you have a gauntlet or hilt upon your dagger hand, then you may ward upon forehand ward, upon the double with the point of your sword towards his face.

2. Lie not aloft with your short sword if he lies low variable upon the Stocata or Passata, etc., for then your space will be too wide to make a true cross in due time, or too far in his course to make your space narrow, which space take heed to make very narrow, yes, so that if it touches his blade, it is better.

3. I say make your space narrow until you can cross his sword blade strongly & suddenly, so shall you put by his point out of the right line, & instantly strike or thrust, & slip back according to your governors.

But take heed unless you can surely & safely cross go not in, but although you can so cross, & thereupon you enter in, stay no by it but fly out according to your governors.

4. If with his long sword or rapier he charges you aloft out of his open or true guardant fight, striking at the right side of your head, if you have a gauntlet or closed hilt upon your dagger hand, then ward it double with forehand ward, bearing your sword hilt to ward your right shoulder, with your knuckles upward & your sword point to ward the right side of his breast or shoulder, crossing your dagger on your sword blade(53), resting it there upon the higher side of your sword bearing both your hilts close together with your dagger hilt a little behind your sword bearing both your hands right out together spent or very near spent when you ward his blow, meeting him so upon your ward that his blow may light at your half sword or within, so that his blade may slide from your sword & rest with your dagger, at which instant time thrust forth your point at his breast & fly out instantly, so shall you continually endanger him & go safe yourself.

5. If he strikes a loft at the left side of your head, ward as aforesaid, bearing your sword hilt towards your left shoulder with your knuckles downward(54), & your sword point towards the left side of his breast or shoulder, bowing your body & head a little towards him, & remember to bear your ward to both sides that he strike you not upon the head, then upon his blow meet his sword as aforesaid with your dagger crossed over your sword blade as before, when his sword by reason of his blow upon your sword shall slide down & rest upon your dagger, then suddenly cast his sword blade out toward your left side with your dagger, to indirect his point, & therewith thrust at his breast from your ward & fly out instantly, the like may you do if his sword glance out from yours, upon his blow.

All this may safely be done with the short sword & closed hilted dagger or gauntlet.

6. Stay not within distance of the long sword or rapier with your short sword, nor suffer him to win the place of you, but either cross his sword, or make your space very narrow to cross it before his blow or thrust be in force, yet keeping your distance whereby he shall strike or thrust at nothing, & so shall be subject to the time of your hand against the time of his feet.

7. Keep distance & lie as you think best for your ease & safety, yet so that you any strike, thrust or ward, & when you find his point certain, then make your space narrow & cross his sword, so shall you be the first mover, & enter first into your action, & he being an after doer, is not able to avoid your cross, not narrow space, nor any such offense as shall be put into execution against him.

8. Having crossed his long sword or rapier with your short sword blade, & put his point out of the straight line by force then strike or thrust at him with your sword & fly out instantly according to your governors.

9. Stand not upon guardant fight only, for so he will greatly endanger you out of his other fights because you have made yourself a certain mark to him, for in continuing in that fight only you shall not only weary yourself, but do also exclude yourself from the benefit of the open, variable, & closed fights, & so shall he have four fights to your one, as you may see in the chapter of the short single sword fight in the 15th ground thereof.

If he lies in open or true guardant fight, then you may upon your open or guardant fight safely bring yourself to the half sword, & then you may thrust him in the body, under his guard or sword when he bears it guardant, because he is too weak in his guard, but fly out instantly, & he cannot bring in his point to hurt you, except he goes back with his foot or feet, which time is too long to answer the swift time of the hand.

If he puts down his sword lower to defend that thrust then will his head be open, so that you may strike him on the head over his sword & fly out therewith, which thing he cannot defend, because his space is too wide to put up his blade in due time to make a true ward for the same.

11. Understand that the whole sum of the long rapier fight is either upon the Stocata, Passata, Imbrocata, or Mountanta, all these, and all the rest of their devices you may safely prevent by keeping your distance, because thereby you shall still drive him to use the time of his feet, whereby you shall still prevent him of the true place, & therefore he cannot in due time make any of these fights offensive upon you by reason that the number of his feet will still be too great, so that he shall still use the slow time of his feet to the swift time of your hand.

Now you can plainly see how to prevent all these, but for the better example note this, whereas I say by keeping of distance some may object that then the rapier man will come in by degrees with such ward as shall best like him, & drive back the sword man continually, to whom I answer, the he can not do, by reason that the sword man’s traverses are made circularly, so that the rapier man in his coming in has no place to carry the point of his rapier, in due time to make home his fight, but that still his rapier will lie within the compass of the time of the sword man’s hand, to make a true cross upon him, the which cross being made with force he may safely uncross, & hurt the rapier man in the arm, head, face or body, with blow or thrust, & fly out safe before he shall have tie to direct his point again to make his thrust upon the sword man,

12. If the rapier man lies upon the Stocata, first make your space narrow with your short sword, & take heed that he strikes not down your sword point with his dagger & so jump in & hurt you with the thrust of his long rapier, which thing he may do because he has commanded your sword, & so you are left open & discovered & left only unto the uncertain ward of your dagger, which ward is to single for a man to venture his life on, which if you miss to perform never so little you are hurt or slain.

13. To prevent this danger you must remember your governors, & presently upon his least motion be sure of your distance, & your narrow space, then do as follows.

14. If he lies upon his Stocata, with his rapier point within or behind his dagger hand out straight, then lie upon variable in measure with your right foot before & your sword point out directly with your space very narrow as near his rapier point as you may, between his rapier point & his dagger hand, from which you may suddenly with a wrist blow, lift up your point & strike him on the outside or inside of his dagger hand, & fly out withal, then make your space narrow as before, then if he thrust home at you, you are already prepared for his thrust, or you may thrust at his dagger hand, doing which you may think best, but your blow must be only by moving your wrist, for if you lift up your hand & arm to fetch a large blow then your time will be too long, & your space to wide in due time to make a true ward to defend yourself from his thrust, so shall you hurt him although he has a gauntlet thereon, for your thrust will run up between his fingers, & your blow will cut off the fingers of his gauntlet, for he cannot defend himself from one blow or thrust of 20, by reason that you have the place to reach home at his hand, & for that cause he cannot prevent it, neither can he reach home to you without putting in his foot or feet, because the distance is too large, but upon every blow or thrust that you make at his hand slip back a little, so you shall still upon every blow or thrust that you make at him, be out of his reach.

But if upon your blow or thrust he will enter in with his foot or feet to make home his Stocata or thrust upon you, then by reason of you sliding back, you shall be prepared in due time to make a perfect ward to defend yourself with your sword.

Therefore ever respect his rapier point & remember to make & keep narrow space upon it with your sword point, that you may be sure to break his thrust before it is in full force.

15. If he thrust at your higher parts with his point a little mounted, then make narrow your space with your point upon his, if you cross his blade on the inside between his rapier & his dagger, if he presses in then from your cross beat or bear back his point strongly towards his right side, & having indirected his point, strike him on the inside of the rapier or dagger hand or arm, or on the head, face, or body, & fly out instantly.

Or you may upon his pressing in with his thrust slip your point down as he comes in, & put up your hilt & ward it guardant, & therewith from that ward cast out his point, & suddenly strike him in one of the places aforesaid, & fly out instantly remembering your governors.

16. If he lies fast & does not come in, then strike & thrust at his dagger hand, with your wrist blow & slip back therewith every time.

17. But if he lies fast & beats down your point with his dagger, & then thrusts at you from his Stocata then turn up your hilt with your knuckles upward & your nails downward, taking his blade upon the backside of yours towards your left side & bear it guardant towards that side, & so may you offend him as before is said upon that ward.

18. The like may you do upon him if he lays out his point, when you have crossed the same with yours, & then strike it to either side, & so indirect his point, and then strike or thrust & fly out.

19. The like you must do, if he lies with his point direct towards your belly.

20. But if you cross his point so mounted or directed as above said, upon the outside of your sword with his point a little higher than your hilt, so that you may cross his blade, then if he thrust over your blade single uncrossing the same, then you may break it with your forehand ward out towards your right side, & if he comes in therewith, then strike him on the outside of his rapier hand or arm, or on the head or face, & fly out therewith.

21. But if he thrusts in over your sword as above said & presses in his blade strongly double with the help of his dagger, then put down your point & turn up your hilt guardant, so shall you safely defend it bearing it guardant out towards your left side & from that strike him in between his rapier and dagger in one of the aforesaid places & fly out.

But if from the cross he slips his point down to thrust under your sword, then strike down his point towards his left foot & therewith strike him on the outside of his rapier hand or arm, head, face, or body & fly out instantly, according to your governors.

Also you may upon this of his point down, then turn your point short over his blade in your stepping back, & put your point down in the inside of his blade, turning up your hilt guardant as aforesaid, & then if he thrusts at you, bear it guardant towards your left side, & then have you the same offensive blows & thrusts against him as is above said upon the same ward.

22. If he lies after the Stocata with his point down towards your foot, then cross his blade on the outside, & if he turns his point over your blade to make his thrust upon you, bear it out towards your left side, & from that ward offend him as aforesaid.

23. Also in this fight take heed that he thrusts you not in the sword hand or arm, therefore ever respect to draw it back in due time, remembering therein your twofold governor, in your coming in, to make your cross or narrow space.

24. If at sword & dagger or buckler he strikes in at the outside of your right leg ward it with the back of your sword, carrying your point down, bearing you knuckles downward & your nails upward(55), bearing your sword out strongly towards your right side, upon which ward, you may strike him on the outside of the left leg, or thrust him in the thigh or belly.

25. The like may you do if he strike at your other side, if you ward his blow with the edge of your sword your hand and knuckles as aforesaid(56), casting out his sword blade towards your left side, this may be used at short or long sword fight.

26. You must never use any fight against the long rapier & dagger with your short sword but the variable fight, because your space will be too wide & your time too long, to defend or offend in due time.

27. Also you must use very large distance ever, because out of that fight you can hardly make a true cross because being within distance, the eye is deceived to it in due time.

28. Remember in putting forth your sword point to make your space narrow, when he lies upon his Stocata, or any thrust, you must hold the handle thereof as it were along your hand, resting the pommel thereof in the hollow part of the middle of the heel of your hand towards the wrist, & the former part of the handle must be held between the forefinger & thumb, without the middle joint of the forefinger towards the top thereof, holding that finger somewhat straight out gripping round your handle with your other 3 fingers(57), & laying your thumb straight towards his, the better to be able to perform this action perfectly, for if you grip your handle close out- thwart(?) in your hand, then you cannot lay your point straight upon his to make your space narrow, but that your point will still lie too wide to do the same in due time, & this is the best way to hold your sword in all kinds of variable fight.

But upon your guardant or open fight then hold it with full gripping it in your hand, & not laying your thumb along the handle, as some use, then shall you never be able to strongly to ward a strong blow(58).

This have I written out of my entire love that I bear to my countrymen, wishing them yet once again to follow the truth, & to fly the vain imperfect rapier fight, the better to save themselves from wounds & slaughter, for who so attains to the perfection of this true fight which I have here set forth in these my brief instructions, & also in paradoxes of defence, shall not only defend themselves, but shall thereby bring those that fight upon the imperfect fight of the rapier under their mercy, or else put them in Cobb’s traverse(59), where of you may read in the 38th chapter of my paradoxes aforesaid.

Of the sword & buckler fight.

Cap. 9.
Sword & Buckler fight, & sword & dagger fight are all one, saving that you may safely defend both blow & thrust, single with your buckler only, & in like sort you may safely ward both blows & thrusts double, that is with sword & buckler together which is a great advantage against the sword & dagger, etc., & is the surest fight of all short weapons.

Of the two hand sword fight against the like weapon.

Cap. 10.
These weapons are to be used in the fight as the short staff, if both play upon double & single hand, at the 2 hand sword, the long sword has the advantage if the weight thereof is not too heavy for his strength that has it, but if both play only upon double hand, then his blade which is convenient length agreeing with his stature that has it, which is according with the length of the measure of his single sword blade, has the advantage of the sword that is too long for the stature of the contrary party, because he that can cross & uncross, strike & thrust, close & grip in shorter time than the other can.

Of the short staff fight, being of convenient length, against the like weapon.

Cap. 11.
The short staff has 4 wards, that is 2 with the point up, & 2 with the point down.

1. At these weapons ever lie so you may be able to thrust single & double, & to ward, strike, or thrust in due time, so shall your enemy, if he strikes only upon double hand be driven of necessity, seeking to win the place, to gain you the place whereby you may safely hurt him, & go free yourself by reason of your distance, & where you shall seek to win the place upon him he shall not be able to gain the place upon you, nor keep the place from you whereby he shall either be hurt, or in great danger of hurt, by reason of your large reach, true place & distance, your fight being truly handled keeping itself from close & grip.

2. And in like sort shall it be between two, which shall play upon the best, that is, if they play both double & single handed.

3. If you find yourself too strong for your adversary in any manner of ward, whether the same be above or below, put by his staff with force, & then strike or thrust him from it,

4. But if you find him too strong for you upon his blows from aloft, so that you can hardly bear them upon your ward, then when he strikes in aloft at your head, & by his main strength would beat down your staff, & so give you a hurt before you shall be able to come again into your ward.

Against such a one give a slip in the sort, suddenly draw back the higher part of your body a little & your foremost foot withal, & slip in the point of your staff under his staff, & thrust single at him, & fly out with all, so shall you be sure to hit him & go out free.

5. If he lies aloft with his staff, then you lie with your back hand low, with your point upwards towards his staff, making your space narrow because you may cross his staff to ward his blow before it comes into full force, & then strongly & suddenly misdirect his point & so thrust at him single, the which you may do before he can remove his feet, by reason of the swiftness of your hand or fly out therewith, do this for both sides of the head if cause requires it, so shall you save both your head, body, and all parts, for your upper parts are guarded, & your lower parts far out of his reach.

6. If he lies low with his point down, then lie you with your point down also, with your foremost hand low & your hind most hand high, so that you may cross his staff, & do all things as said in the other.

7. If he lies upon the thrust then you lie with your space narrow lying up or down with your point in such sort as you may cross his staff, & thereby you shall be able to put or beat by his thrust before it is in full force, & then strike or thrust, ever remembering your governors.

If upon this any will object that if this is true, then it is in vain to strike, to thrust, because he that does it is still in danger, this doubt is answered in the short single sword fight, in the 12th ground thereof.

8. If your adversary strikes aloft at any side of your head or body, ward it with your point up & making your space so narrow that you may cross his staff before it comes in full force bearing or beating down his blow strongly, back again towards that side that he strikes in at you, & out of that ward, then instantly, either strike from that ward turning back your staff, & strike him on that side of the that is next to your staff.

Or lift up your staff again, & so strike him on the head or body, or thrust at his body double or single, as you may find your best advantage ever in holding your staff, let there be such convenient space between your hands, wherein you shall find yourself most apt to ward, strike or thrust to your best liking.

9. If you play with your staff with your left hand before and your right hand back behind, as many men find themselves most apt when that hand is before, & if your adversary upon his blow comes in to take the close of you, when you find his staff crossed with yours near his hand, then suddenly slip up you right hand close to the hind side of your foremost hand, & presently loosing the hind side of your foremost hand & put in under your own staff, & then cross or put by his staff therewith your hand take hold of his staff in such sort that your little finger be towards the point of his staff, & your thumb & forefinger towards his hands, & presently with your right hand mount the point of your own staff casting the point thereof over your right shoulder, with your knuckles downwards, & so stab him in the body or face with the hind end of your staff, but be sure to stab him at his coming in, whether you catch his staff or not, for sometimes his staff will lie to far out that upon his coming in you cannot reach it, then catch that arm in his coming in which he shall first put forth within your reach, but be sure to stab, for his staff can do you no hurt, and having so done, if you find yourself too strong for him, strike up his heels, if too weak fly out.

10. The like must you do if you play with your right hand before, & your left hand back behind, but if you need not to slide forth your left hand, because your right hand is in the right place on your staff already to use in that action, but then you must displace your left hand to take hold of his staff, or the grip as is aforesaid, & to use the stab as is above said.

11. If both lie aloft as aforesaid, & play with the left hand before, if he strikes at the right side of your head or body then must you cross his staff before his blow is in full force, by making your space narrow, & then strike it strongly back again towards his left side, & from that ward you may turn back your staff & strike him backward & therewith on the left side of his head, or lift up your staff & strike him on the right or left side of the head, body, or arm, or thrust him in the body, the like blows or thrusts any you make at him whether he strikes or thrusts, having put by his staff, remembering your governors.

The like order must you use in playing with the right hand foreward.

12. But if he thrusts at you continually then ever have a special care to consider, whether he lies aloft or below, & does continually thrust at you therefrom, then look that you always lie so that you make your space so narrow upon him, that you are sure to cross his staff with yours, & put it before it is in full force, and from that ward, thrust at him single or double as you find it best, & if he remembers not to fly back at the instant when he thrusts it will be too late for him to avoid any thrust that you shall make at him.

Of the short staff fight against the long staff.

Cap. 12.
1. If you have a staff of the convenient length against a staff of longer length than is convenient, then make your space narrow, & seek not to offend until you have strongly & swiftly put by his point which you shall with ease accomplish, by reason of your narrow space & your force, then strike or thrust him as you shall think best.

2. This short staff fight against the long staff is done in the same sort that short staff fight to short staff fight is done, but that the man with the short staff must always remember to keep narrow space upon the long staff, where so ever the long staff shall lie, high or low, continually make your space narrow upon him, so shall you be sure if he strikes or thrusts at you, to take the same before it is into its full force & by reason that your force is more with your short staff than his can be at the point of his long staff you shall cast his staff so far out of the straight line with your short staff, that you may safely enter in with your feet, & strike or thrust home at him.

3. Yet this present shift he has at that instant, he may slip back his staff in his hands, which time is swifter then your feet coming forward, whereby he will have his staff as short as yours, yet by reason that at the first you cast his staff so far out of the right line, that you had time to enter with your feet, you shall then be so near him, that you make narrow space upon him again, so that he shall have no time to slip foreward his staff again in his former place, nor go back with his feet, & so to recover the hind end of his staff again, because if he slips forth his staff to strike or thrust at you, that may you safely defend because of your narrow space upon him, & therewithal you may strike or thrust him from your ward, either at single or double.

4. But if he will go back with his feet thinking by that means to recover the whole length of his staff again, that can he not do in convenient time because the time of your hand is swifter than the time of his feet, by reason whereof you may strike or thrust him in his going back.

5. Again it is to be remembered in that time that you keep him at bay, upon the drawing in of his staff, the hind end thereof lying so far back behind will be so troublesome for him, that he can make no perfect fight against you & commonly in his drawing in of his staff it will be too short to make a true fight against you, neither to offend you or make himself safe.

6. If he attempts the close with you then stab him with the hind end of your staff as said in the fight of the 2 short staves of convenient length, in the 9th ground thereof.

Note: Remember that at the Morris pike, forest bill, long staff & two handed sword, that you lie in such sort upon your wards that you may both ward, strike & thrust both double & single, & then return to your former wards slips & lie again & then are you as you were before.

The like fight is to be used with the javelin, partisan, halberd, black bill, battle axe, glaive, half pike, etc.

Of the fight of the forest bill against the like weapon & against the staff

Cap. 13.
1. The forest bill has the fight of the staff but it has 4 wards more with the head of the bill, that is one to bear it upwards, another to beat it downwards so that the carriage of your bill head is with the edge neither up nor down but sideways.

The other 2 wards are one to cast his bill head downwards towards the right side, & the other towards the left.

And upon either on(e) of these wards or catches run up to his hands with the head of your bill & then by reason that you have put his staff out of the right line, you may catch at his head, neck, arm or legs, etc., with the edge of your bill, & hook or pluck him strongly to you & fly out withal.

2. If you cast his staff so far out that your bill slides not up to his hands, then you may safely run in sliding your hands within one yard of the head of your bill, & so with your bill in one hand take him by the leg with the blade of your bill & pluck him to you & with your other hand defend yourself from his gripping if he offers to grapple with you.

If you fight bill to bill do the like in all respects as with the staff in your fight, for your bill fight & staff fight is all one, but only for the defence & offense with the head of the bill, & where the staff man upon the close if he uses the stab with the butt end of his staff, the bill man at that time is to use the catch at the leg with the edge of his bill in the second ground above is said.

4. Remember ever in all your fights with this weapon to make your space narrow whether it is against the staff or bill so that whatsoever he shall do against you, you shall still make your ward before he is in his full force to offend you.

5. Also if you can reach within the head of his bill with the head of your bill then suddenly with the head of your bill snatch his bill head strongly towards you, & therewithal indirect his bill head & forcibly run up your bill head to his hands, so have you the like advantage as above said, whereas I spoke of running up towards his hands.

6. If he lies low with this bill head then if you can put your bill head in over the head of his bill, & strongly put down his bill staff with your bill head, bearing it flat, then you may presently run up your bill head single handed to his hands & fly out therewith, so shall you hurt him in the hands & go free yourself.

7. The like may you do with your bill against the short staff if you can press it down in the like sort, but if he has a long staff then run up double handed with both hands upon your bill, which thing you may safely do because you are in your strength & have taken him in the weak part of his staff.

8. If he lies high with his bill head then put up your bill head under his & cast out his bill to the side that you shall find most fit, so have you the advantage to thrust or hook at him & fly out.

Or if you cast out his bill far out of the right line then run in & take him by the leg with the edge of your bill, as is said in the 2nd ground of this chapter.

9. If you ward his blow with the bill staff within your bill head then answer him as with the short staff.

Note: That as the bill man’s advantage is to take the staff with the head of the bill so that the staff man by reason that the head of the bill is a fair mark has the advantage of him in the casting aside of the head of the bill with his staff or beating it aside, the which if the bill man looks not very well into the staff man thereupon will take all manner of advantages of the staff fight against him.

Of the fight of the morris pike against the like weapon

Cap. 14.(60)
1. If you fight with your enemy having both morris pikes with both points of your pikes forewards, low upon the ground, holding the butt end of the pike in one hand single with knuckles upwards & the thumb underneath, with the thumb & forefinger towards your face & the little finger towards the point of the pike, bearing the butt end of the pike from the one side to the other right before your face, then lie you with your arm spent & your body open with your hand to your right side with your knuckles downwards & your nails upwards.

Or you may lie in that sort, with your hand over to the left side with your knuckles upwards & your nails downwards, whereby all your body will be open, if then he shall suddenly raise up the point of his pike with his other hand & come thrust at you, then in the mounting of his point or his coming in, suddenly toss the point of your pike with your hand single & so thrust him in the legs with your pike & fly out therewith.

Or else you may stand upon your ward & not toss up your point but break his thrust by crossing the point of his pike with the middle of your pike by casting up your hand, with the butt end of your pike above your head, & so bearing over his point with your staff, to the other side as for example.

2. If you lie with your hand spent towards the left side of your body, then suddenly bear his point over strongly towards your right side.

If you lie with your hand spent towards your right side then bear his point towards your left side, & thereupon gather up your pike with your other hand & thrust him & fly out.

If he continues his fight with his point above, & you lie with your pike breast high & higher with you hand & point so, that you make your thrust at his face or body with your point directly towards his face, holding your pike with both your hands on your back hand with your knuckles upwards & your foreward hand with your knuckles downwards & there shaking your pike & falsing at his face with your point as near his face as you may, then suddenly make out your thrust single handed at his face & fly out withal, which thrust he can hardly break one of 20 by reason that you made your space so narrow upon his guard, so that you being first in your action he will still be too late in his defence to defend himself.

4. But note while you lie falsing to deceive him look to your legs that he in the mean time toss not up the point of his pike single handed & hurt you therewith in the shins.

5. If he lies so with his point up aloft as you do then make your space narrow mounting your point a little & cross his pike with yours & strongly and suddenly cast his point out of the right line & thrust home from the same single or double as you find your best advantage, & fly out therewith.

Or you may run in when you have cast out his point finding both your hands on your staff ’til you come within 3 quarters of a yard of the head of your pike & stab him through with one hand & with the other keep him from the grip.

6. Now if he is a man of skill, notwithstanding the making of the fault in suffering you to do so yet this help he has, as you are coming in he will suddenly draw in his pike point & fly back withal, then have you no help but to fly out instantly to the middle of your pike & from thence back to the end & then are you as at the first beginning of your fight you were.

7. If you find that he lies far out of the right line with his point or that you can so far indirect the same then cast your pike out of your hands, cross over upon the middle of his pike, by which means you shall entangle his pike, then while he does strive to get his pike at liberty, run you in suddenly drawing your dagger & strike or staff at him.

8. Then if he has the perfection of this fight as well as you, he will be ready with his dagger as you are with yours, then must you fight it out at the single dagger fight as is shown in the 15th chapter: then he that has not the perfection of that fight goes to ruin.

9. And here note that in all the course of my teaching of these my brief instructions if both the parties have the full perfection of the true fight then the one will not be able to hurt the other at what perfect weapon soever.

10. But if a man that has the perfection of fight shall fight with one that has it not then must that unskillful man go to ruin & the other go free.

Of the single dagger fight against the like weapon

Cap. 15.
1. First know that to this weapon there belongs no wards or grips but against such a one as is foolhardy & will suffer himself to have a full stab in the face or body or hazard the giving of another, then against him you may use your left hand in throwing him aside or strike up his heels after you have stabbed him.

2. In this dagger fight, you must use continual motion so shall he not be able to put you to the close or grip, because your continual motion disappoints him of his true place, & the more fierce he is in running in, the sooner he gains you the place, whereby he is wounded, & you not anything the rather endangered.

3. The manner of handling your continual motion is this, keep out of distance & strike or thrust at his hand, arm, face or body, that shall press upon you, & if he defends blow or thrust with his dagger make your blow or thrust at his hand.

4. If he comes in with his left leg forewards or with the right, do you strike at that part as soon as it shall be within reach, remembering that you use continual motion in your progression & regression according to your twofold governors.

5. Although the dagger fight is thought a very dangerous fight by reason of the shortness & singleness thereof, yet the fight thereof being handled as is aforesaid, is as safe & as defensive as the fight of any other weapon, this ends my brief instructions.


Sundry kinds of play or fight.

1. Uncertain variable
2. Single
3. Guardant

3 different kinds of fight:

1. That forces or presses on
2. He that goes back with some blow or thrust
3. He that stands on his wards or Passata

all these with an imperfect ward & out of the way.

1. Against him that presses you, naked play is best because he uses his foot, the open lofty play the hand.

2. The 2nd is best followed with the variable & uncertain handling else should you be a mark to your enemy & too slow in motion.

3. The third must be encountered with the guardant play wherein you shall try him at the Backsword(61) or how can escape the parting blow or thrust?

When you gather keep your place & space equal & only be a patient & remember your guardant play bringing you safely in & keeping your enemy out.

Know this order of play else you best may be deceived, to be used against all these differences & bring the goodness thereof in suspicion, for all these pays are good in their kind, time & occasion offered by diversity of play, but not one of them to be continually used & played upon as perfection against every assault.

1. In the naked play you must set your self upright with your feet in a small space, observing the place of your hand where you may strike or thrust most quickly & readily & so take the time of him that presses on (using the time of his feet) with your blow or thrust where he is most open.

1. In the variable play, you drive him to his shifts changing yourself into sundry kinds of blows thrusts & lyings, which you must not stay upon,

2. Seeking to cross him still in his playing as you may, whereby you shall force him to fly, or else to stand to the proof of his backsword play.

3. The guardant play is to be used against the blow, thrust or Passata that comes within danger of hurt, for treading that right way & keeping your place & hand in space & strength you cannot loose time to defend from either of these offers.

These judged of in reason & known by some practice will make you deal safely against all sorts, skillful or unskillful, so that fear of anger hinders not your knowledge.

Of Times

1. The time of the
hand & foot
foot & hand. naught

Of place space, strength, & time

1. The time of the hand is when you strike from a ward or stand in place to strike.
2. The time of the foot is when you step forward to strike or when you gather towards your own right side.

3. The time of the hand & foot is when you tread your ground in course to strike rather that pressing forwards, or when you slide back or go back, your hand & foot being then of equal agility.

4. The time of the foot & hand is when you handle your guardant play using then a slow motion in both.

There is but 1 good way to gather upon your enemy, guardant. All other are dangerous & subject to the blows on the head or thrust on the body.

For no way can ward both but as aforesaid.

Your hand & feet in good play must go together, whether it is in quick or in slow motion.

In gathering forewards or towards your right side your hand falls from your place, space, time, & strength, & so falls out the loss of time.

When you gather & suffer that govern your fight, defend only. When you do, be single, or not fixed towards any single lying, but also the quickness of your hand in its proper place carried.

In breaking the thrust when you lie aloft single or guardant & space your arm somewhat bowing in warding the blow, have respect to your place of hand & strength, your arm straight. This course in your time is best performed, the one of these with your hand aloft your point down the other your hand in place your more high your space less curious.

Double (fence defence treble
|time ward
|place way
|space slow motion
hand | double (false
arm,weapon true single | spacious
body straight | obscure
foot manifest |
II. Time is chiefly to be observed in both actions upon which place 93re or space waits.
Upon these 3 the 4 following, upon these 4 the first 3, upon these the latter 3.

To hurt or defend, a time in both is observed to the furtherance of which place is to be gotten, without which time will be too long to perform that which is intended, the space is to be noted between 2 opponents & in respect of touching, or in regard of saving as also for preserving of time, by the small way it has either to the body, or putting by the weapon.

The next 4 must be used together to perform the other 3 rules, for the hand being nimble & quick of itself may else be hindered in the want of any of these, the weapon must be framed & inclined to serve the agility of the hand either in hurting or defending.

4. The body upright or leaning to the weapon, that it hinders not the disposition of the other 2 the foot answerable to them plying the hand & ward all in straight space, the ward with the hand high with the point down, the arm straight out as ready for both actions

The way under the ward withdrawing the body from harm, the motion slow that the action of the hand is not hindered.

The rest are the dispositions of the placed displaced handlings

slow foot : swift hand : quick foot : slow hand
tread : stride : follow : fall-away

When you seek to offend with blow or thrust, your place of the hand is lost, the way to redeem it is to slide back under your lofty ward as aforesaid always that your adversary lie aloft ready to strike or thrust or use his hand only.

If you would offend him that lies low upon the thrust when you displace your weapon from aloft you may after your blow at head or arm or nearest place, stand & thrust before you go back because he is out of place & space & cannot cross, & thereby losses his time to annoy you & you may thrust & retire for a new assault.

this is not so sound,

In striking or thrusting never hinder your hand with putting forth your foot but keep the place thereof ’til you have offended with the one only the bending of your body very little foreward any suffice, else you loose a double time, one in setting forth your foot, the other in recovering your lost place of your foot both to the loss of time & your purpose.

Strike : thrust : ward : break
the double offense is in striking & thrusting

The 3 fold defence: warding the blow, breaking or putting by the thrust, flying back under your hanging ward

win the place : stand fast, strike home
offend, defend, & go safe

All under play is beaten with most agile, single & the lofty

the lofty with the guardant,

His when with his foot he seeks the low lying is out of place to offend defend or not so for lack of time space & crossing, if he lies out with his longer weapon it is put by from aloft, who has place, time & reach of body & arm all with the cross. (93re the reading the entertaining of other things thereto adjoining)

The lofty naked play is beaten with the ward because of cross, space, time.

To defend, the lofty naked single loose play serves to win the time of the low & double play.

The bent guardant requires your arm straight high & outside the point towards (93 re II well) the body & foot that way inclined

Notes presumably by Cyril G. R. Mathey:

1 “put in his foot,” i.e. advance
2 “His coming in.” It must be remembered that in Silver’s time the lunge was unknown, at least to English fencers & the only movements of the feet were “passes” and “traverses” which with “slips” constituted a great part of the defence as well as of the attack. “Passes” were either forwards or backwards and the “traverses” were steps in a lateral direction. “Slips” were little short steps either lateral or backwards. These movements were also much used in feints of attack.

3 “To win or gain the place;” i.e. to come within striking distance.

4 “Space” is the distance which the sword blade has to traverse in changing from one position to another: thus from “medium” to “quarte” or “tierce” would be a “narrow space” while from “tierce” to “septime” or from “seconde” to “quarte” would be a very “wide space”

5 A time hit or thrust

6 Parry and reposte. Silver is very careful to emphasize the necessity of “flying back,” i.e. getting away immediately after an attack, whether it be successful or otherwise.

7 Time hits & thrusts

8 The “grip” is the seizing of the sword hilt with the left hand – for this purpose a “quanto da presa” or gripping gauntlet with the palm protected with fine mail, was sometimes used.

9 To “indirect” is to either maneuver or force him from the true line or direction

10 a demi-volte

11 The “Guardia alta” of Marozzo & “Terza guardia” of Viggiani

12 A “hanging” guard.

13 “True guardant” is high prime.

14 “Bastard guardant” is a kind of high seconde, but more central.

15 “Forehand ward” is a medium guard.

16 The Italian terms were imperfectly understood in England at the end of the XVI century, & Silver has misconstrued them.

17 “Qunita guardia” of Capo Ferro.

18 “Prima guardia” of Capo Ferro, “Guardia alta” of Alferi, & “Guardia di becca possa” of Marozzo.

19 “Quarta guardia: of Alferi.

20 The “short single sword fight” was a fight with a one-hand sword, and without the assistance of a defensive weapon in the left hand. The “sword double” is any kind of single-hand sword assisted by a defensive weapon in the other.

21 A high prime

22 A direct “riposte.”

23 “Fly out” suggests a lateral movement of the feet, but also might mean a backward one.

24 A familiar guard is favored among modern Austrian saber players.

25 A time thrust in “quarte” at the sword hand.

26 A “quarte” parry, followed by “reposte” or “grip”

27 A time hit with “opposition”

28 “Number will be too great,”i.e. will have to make too many steps or passes.

29 A variety of guard to be used to prevent fatigue.

30 In “Sword and Buckler” or “Sword and Dagger” fighting, strike with the defensive weapon instead of gripping, and trip up his heels. Lonergan 1771

31 The “patient agent” is the man who stands upon the defensive, the “agent” being the one who attacks.

32 “The number of his feet will be too great” — i.e. he will have to make too many slips or “passes”

33 This is exactly the traverse recommended by Roworth

34 Parries of “tierce” and of “quarte.”

35 From this it appears that in Silver’s time the knees were very little bent.

36 A time hit or thrust at the arm or upper part.

37 Forcible pressure in “tierce” at “half-sword.”

38 Recommended also by Lonergan, 1771

39 Beating the sword away with the gantleted left hand.

40 An alternative

41 Again the alternative of “gripping” and beating the sword off.

42 When he closes, “grip” him.

43 “Parrying” and “Reposting”

44 A parry of “high tierce” with its ripostes.

45 A parry of “prime” with its ripostes.

46 A thrust parried with the “seconde,” and its repostes.

47 To “double” = to “remise.” To “false” = to “feint.”

48 A parry of “tierce” with its repostes.

49 A parry of “quarte.”

50 How to engage with a man who uses his point.

51 A “demi-volte” after a parry of “tierce”

52 A “demi-volte” after a parry of “quarte.”

Notes presumably by Steve Hick:

53 Cross block with the sword in “quinte” and the dagger in “quarte”?
54 Cross block with the sword in”quarte” and the dagger in “sixte.”

55 Parry “octave” and reposte with cut to the thigh or body thrust.

56 Parry “septime”and reposte.

57 The “french” grip.

58 A “hammer” grip.

59 A reference in “Paradoxes of Defence” meaning to “run away.”

60 “the Chapter on the Morris pike is unique, as no other work speaks of parries with that weapon.”- W. London

61 Backsword is alternate term for the single short sword.

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Bill Blake – Alae Swords