This is a great week for historical fencing. I spent three full days at the National Fencing Museum with a decent camera and a book-photography rig, taking hi-res images of the cream of their amazing collection of treatises, with the kind assistant of James Hester, and Malcolm Fare (whose collection this is).
I have 122 gigabytes of raw images, that will in due course be processed into a more web-friendly format, and put online for free into the public domain to be used by anyone as they please.
We have Hope: New Method (1707), Fencing Master (1687), and Advice to his Scholar (1729).
We have McBane (1728), Viggiani (1575), Sainct-Didier 1573), De La Touche (1670), Senese (1660).
And we have goddam Thibault (1628).
Plus eighteen other treatises, dating between 1540 and 1838. The ones I am most excited about are Senese, Viggiani, and Alfieri. But having both the 1610 AND the 1629 editions of Capoferro is pretty cool too. Not to mention the marginalia, like this detail from this copy of De La Touche:
And this is only about 10% of the museum’s collection.
There is a huge amount of work to do to crop, order, rotate, enhance, and otherwise process these files, and if anyone with the necessary skills would like to help, please do volunteer.
Most of these are in Italian, English, and French. But Spanish? We got Spanish: Narvaez, 1672. Russian? We got Russian. Ficher, 1796. And this is an especially good week for German-reading historical fencers, because we have Schmidt from 1713:
This work includes fencing:
And even gymnastics, back when gym horses had heads and tails!
Note that these photos here have been heavily reduced in resolution to be transportable. The originals are breathtaking. I can’t do them justice in this format, but this close-up might give you an idea. Each photo is about 25mb in the raw format.
We have the 1600 Meyer.
And to cap it all, when I got home from the trip, I found a box waiting for me: full of the brand-new German edition of my The Medieval Longsword book.
This was translated by my student Frank Polenz, and published by Wieland-Verlag. You can find it here. The designer has done a stunning job of the interior, and frankly, I’ve never looked so good 🙂 You can see some interior shots on their webpage. Incidentally, Wieland have incorporated this book into their own series of “Schwertkampf” books, so don’t be mislead by the series number; it’s #2 in Mastering the Art of Arms, but #3 in Schwertkampf.
This will go very nicely with Der Mittelalterliche Dolch!
And in other news, I’m wrapping up the final edits to my re-translation of De Arte Gladiatoria Dimicandi, so it should be here by the end of the year…
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