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At the end of Giovanni Dall’Agocchie’s On The Art of Fencing (1572), there’s a wonderful aside in which he explains the basics techniques he’d teach a complete fencing newbie who must fight a duel of honour in thirty days. In this post, I want to point out the similarities with the single sword system of Dall’Agocchie’s contemporary, Joachim Meyer, whose Art of Combat (1570) includes an extensive chapter on use of the rapier.
I can’t summarise Dall’Agochhie’s essential actions better than has already been done by Steve Reich (Nova Assalto).
Dall’Agocchie proposes to teach the prospective duellist only one of […]
In his Art of Combat (1570), Joachim Meyer unifies feints, parries and strikes and thrusts into a schema inherited from his version of Leichtenauer’s longsword practice. He calls these actions either provokers (feints), takers (parries) and hitters (cuts and thrusts). This schema provides a very useful mental framework for thinking about how and why you act in a bout, regardless of the weapon being used.
As we’ve all discovered, attacking someone standing in a solid guard position is a sure way to get hit. The best you can hope for is that you both hit each other. To the problem […]
Niccolo Machiavelli is the odd man out on my Italian Renaissance reading list in that he is a political theorist rather than a poet and lived around 150-200 years are the other three authors on the list: Dante, Boccaccio and Petrarch. He’s also completely misunderstood by people who have only read his other famous book, The Prince.
Discourses on the First Ten Books of Livy (1517) is Machiavelli’s reactions in essay form to reading the Roman author’s history of the great Republic and looking at the political world of his own day and, in particular, of his home town, […]
What happens when you face an opponent who read my last post and is standing in front of you in Straight Parrying or, to a much lesser extent, Iron Gate? What do you do?
Meyer is not particularly clear on this point but, as he says, he gives a range of examples from which the reader is supposed to deduce the principles at work, many of which will be familiar from the section on the longsword or from other schools of rapier play. He says in general that “ you should not go out more than a hand’s breadth to […]
Next on my Italian Renaissance reading list is the father of Humanism, Francesco Petrarca, better know in the English speaking world simply as Petrarch (1304-76). He spanned the gap between Dante and Boccaccio, being friends with the latter and his dad mostly likely being an acquaintance of the former.
I’ve read and studied Petrarch before, at university and after. Reading him in translation is always a bit of a disappointment. The translator can choose either to convey his carefully nuanced meaning complete with complex classical allusions or to capture the easy flowing music of his words. No single translation can […]
Next on my reading list of the Italian Renaissance is the Divine Comedy (or Commedia) of Dante Alighieri, written some time between 1308 and 1321 after his exile from his beloved Florence with the expulsion of the White Guelphs. It can in some ways be seen as Dante’s way of dealing with this blow in the same way as Boethius wrote the Consolation of Philosophy to deal with his impending execution.
Before saying a few words about each of the three books of the Commedia, I want to point out a couple of things about the whole which I […]
I’ve just finished read the Decameron, as part of my literary tour of the Florentine Renaissance, and I want to say a few words about my reactions to it in order to enlighten those poor, benighted illitates out there who haven’t experienced the joy of reading this book. I’m not going to say anything about Boccaccio himself or the book as a whole as you can look that up yourself.
The first thing the struck me was the lengthy description of how the Black Plague hit Florence only a couple of years before. Even across a gap of some 650 […]
My fascination with the Italian Renaissance, its history and in particular its literature, continues to grow. To feed it, I’m embarking on a small reading project which covers the greats of the period. Here’s the list of those authors who made the grade (notice that they’re all either Florentine or intimately associated with Florence). Let me know of any others I should add to the list.
All of these authors I’ve read before but either in excerpt or a long, long time ago in a university far, far away. Now, I can give them the time and appreciation they deserve. […]