This guide contains a list of recommended books and online articles for those interested in exploring the world of period rapier combat. For a more complete list of resources and websites concerning period combat techniques please visit the Historic Combat Resource guide available on the SCA’s website:



This guide was written, and is maintained, by Lady Elysabeth (Lissa) Underhill, and it is a work in progress. If you have any comments, suggestions, corrections, or additions, please submit them to sitecomments@rapier.eastkingdom.org.

Bullet Historic Martial Arts
Bullet The Masters & Their Manuals
Bullet Recreating Period Technique
Bullet The Rapier
Bullet Realistic Wounds
Bullet Styles of Fencing
Bullet The London Masters of Defense


Historic Martial Arts

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The resources in this section seek to define “historical martial arts,” provide background information on the history of martial arts in Medieval Europe and discuss the study of these arts in the present day.

Bullet Defining Historical Fencing
Defines historical fencing and discusses the difference between Historical Fencing and other types of fencing (classical, sport, theatrical, etc)


Bullet Getting to the Point: The European Art of Fencing (by Ken Mondschein (2001))
An overview of the history of fencing from ancient history to the present day. Published in the online Journal of Western Martial Arts


Bullet A Short Introduction to Historical European Martial Arts
Provides an overview of martial arts in both the early and late middle ages as well as the modern research and practice of these ancient arts.


Bullet Top Myths of Renaissance Martial Arts


Bullet Martial Art and Pastime of Fops: How fashion and social issues shaped modern fencing (by J. Christoph Amberger (2002))
The role of fashion in the rise in popularity of the rapier.Published in the online Journal of Western Martial Arts


Bullet The Martial Arts of Renaissance Europe (by Sydney Anglo)
(Book) A comprehensive study of European Martial Arts from the 15th to 17th centuries.



The Masters and their Manuals

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The resources in this section provide an outline of important period fencing masters and discuss their fencing manuals.

Bullet A Timeline of Selected Publications by Italian and non-Italian Masters in the 16th and 17th Centuries


Bullet Masters of the 16th and Early 17th


Bullet Renaissance Martial Arts Literature (by J. Clements)
Discusses some of the major fighting treaties published during the middle ages.


Bullet Setting the Record Straight: The art of the sword in Medieval Europe (by S. Mathew Galas)
Focuses on the earlier period treatises composed before the 16th century, starting with the earliest known manual written about 1300.



Recreating Period Techniques

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The resources in this section talk about how to learn about and accurately recreate period techniques using period manuals and other sources of information.

Bullet Rules for the Study & Education of Historical Combat Techniques within the SCA


Bullet The Importance of Studying Fechtibucher (by Bartholomew Walczak)
The history, practice, and value of using period fighting manuals


Bullet Teaching and Interpreting Historical Swordsmanship (by Brian R. Price (ed))
Book containing a series of articles, some on researching and practicing practice historic combat, and others on teaching



The Rapier

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The resources in this section present definitions of what a “rapier” is and provide information on the classification of historic rapiers.

Bullet The rapier: facts, factoids and unanswered questions (by Maestro Tom Leoni)
A definition of the rapier, a description of its parts, and a discussion about the various myths surrounding the rapier and its use.


Bullet The rapier revisited (by Maestro Tom Leoni)
A follow up to the above article that includes new information learned by the author.


Bullet The Rapier & Small-Sword: 1460-1820 (by A.V. Norman)
Book (out of print) discussing the parts of a rapier, and classifies in detail the many variation of rapiers that existed in period. Includes pencil sketches and descriptions useful for learning about the way rapiers changed over time and for dating a rapier to a specific period in history. Includes not only the outer guard, but the inner guard, pommel styles, and more.


Bullet European weapons and armour: from the Rennaisance to the Industrial Revolution (by R. Ewart Oakeshott)
Book with a chapter on rapiers and daggers from the SCA time period.


Bullet A Study of Period Rapiers (by William E. Wilson)
A brief overview of various types of period blades with pictures


Bullet A Bref Discussion upon Rapiers and their Properties (by Don Garrick Mapmaker (Gregory Stauf))
Provides examples of period blade measurements (length, balance point, weight, etc) and general trends in the construction of period rapiers.


Bullet Some Examples of Sizes of Rapiers in the Wallace Collection (by Don Terence the Arcane)



Realistic Wounds

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The resources in this section discuss and present evidence to show what effect a rapier wound might have on the body. Both modern medical information and historical accounts are included in these articles.

Bullet The Dubious Quick Kill (by Maestro Frank Lurz)
Two-part article about swords wounds and their possible effects on the respiratory, musculature, skeletal, and nervous systems.


Bullet The Science and History of Rapier Wounds and Deaths (by Iolo FitzOwen and Christian Richard Dupre)
Summarizes the findings of a 1976 forensics paper on stab wounds, sites historical accounts of rapier injuries, and details the results of tests done by the authors to simulate sword wounds in order to evaluate how accurate SCA blow calling rules are to what would actually have happened in period.


Bullet Medical Reality of Historical Wounds (by Richard Swinney & Scott Crawford)
Article published in SPADA 2. Discusses some of the unrealistic expectations historic fencers have about sword injuries and attempts to replace those false expectations with more realistic ones.


Bullet A treaties Concerning Leg Wounds and the Foolishness of the Concept of Continuing Combat after Receipt of the Same (by Don Aubrey de Baudricourt and Lord Joachim van den Has)



Styles of Fencing

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The resources in this section present information related to the study of a particular style of rapier combat (Italian, Spanish, or English).


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Bullet A Brief Glossary of Italian Rapier Concepts (by Maestro Tom Leoni)


Bullet Period Fencing Terms (by William E. Wilson)



Bullet Italian Rapier Combat: Ridolfo Capo Ferro (by Jared Kirby(trans))


Bullet Capo Ferro Translation (by William E. Wilson and W. Jherek Swanger(trans))


Bullet The Art of Dueling: 17th century rapier as taught by Salvatore Fabris (by Maestro Tom Leoni(trans))


Bullet DiGrassi: The True Arte of Defense (by Giacomo DiGrassi)


Bullet Vincent Saviolo his Practice


Bullet A Video-Enhanced Rapier Tutorial (by Giacomo DiGrassi)


Period Rapier Texts and Translations Online

BulletCamillo Agrippa 1553


BulletDon Jerónimo Sánchez de Carranza 1582 Spanish Style of Fencing



BulletGiovanni dall’Agocchie 1572


BulletGiacomo di Grassi 1570

http://www.cutandthrust.org/manuals/diGrassi/ http://www.musketeer.org/manuals/diGrassi/digrass2.htm#18

BulletSalvator Fabris 1606

http://www.schoolofthesword.com/The%20Art%20and%20The%20Science%20-%20Introduction%20to%20Fabris.pdf http://www.higginssword.org/guild/demo/muse/rapier/index.html

BulletGiovanni Antonio Lovino


BulletAchille Marozzo 1536


BulletVincentio Saviolo


BulletGeorge Silver 1599

http://www.cutandthrust.org/manuals/silver/paradoxes/ http://www.cutandthrust.org/manuals/silver/brief/

BulletJoseph Swetnam 1617



Bullet The Duellist’s Companion: a training manual for 17th century Italian rapier (by Guy Windsor)


Bullet Practical Capo Ferro (by William E. Wilson)


Bullet Introduction to the Italian Rapier: The work of Rudolfo Capo Ferro (by Lord Lorenzo Gorla)


Bullet The Practical Saviolo: parts 1-5 by Stephen Hand (2003)
Published 2003 in the online Journal of Western Martial Arts: ejmas.com/jwma/


Bullet A Brief Look at Achille Marozzo and the Bolognese School (by Marco Rubboli)


Bullet Foundations of Italian Rapier (by William E. Wilson)
Published in SPADA: Anthology of swordsmanship . Focuses on the techniques of Achille Marozzo.



Bullet Arte of Defence: An Introduction to the Use of the Rapier (by William E. Wilson)


Bullet Italian Circle Theory: A study of the applied geometry in the Italian Renaissance (by Gary Chelak)
Article published in SPADA 2: Anthology of swordsmanship


Bullet La Scherma Italiana: Basics of Italian Rapier Fencing


Bullet It’s All in the Timing: concepts of combat in Historical Italian Swordsmanship (by Ken Mondschein)


Bullet A Matter of Time (by Stephen Hand (2000))
Published in the online Journal of Western Martial Arts


Bullet Understanding Tempo (by Maestro Tom Leoni)


Bullet Understanding Gaining the Sword (by Maestro Tom Leoni)


Bullet Finding the Sword or Stringere (by Maestro Tom Leoni)
(Article) Published in SPADA 2: Anthology of swordsmanship


Bullet Understanding Measure (by Steven Reich)



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Bullet Academy of the Sword: The Mystery of the Spanish Circle in Swordsmanship and Esoteric Arts (by Girard Thibault d’Anvers)
John Michael Greer(trans, Book)



Bullet La Verdadera Destreza: The true art and skill of Spanish swordsmanship


BulletDestreza Translation and Research Projects: Theory and Practice (by Puck and Mary Curtis)


Bullet The Demystification of the Spanish School: Part 1-3 (by Maestro Ramón Martínez)


Bullet Spanish Influence in the Rapier Play of Vincentio Saviolo (by Stephen Hand and Maestro Ramón Martí)
(Article) Published in SPADA: Anthology of swordsmanship


Masters and the Magic Circle

Bullet Jeronimo de Carranza’s “Philosophy” of Arms (by Maestro Ramón Martínez)


Bullet The Mysterious Circle
Daniel Willens



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Bullet Paradoxes of Defense (by George Silver)


Bullet Brief Instructions Upon My Paradoxes of Defense (by George Silver)



Bullet English Swordsmanship: The True Fight of George Silver (by Stephen Hand)



The London Masters of Defense

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The resources in this section provide information about the group known as The Company of Masters of the Noble Science of Defense, a chartered guild, based in London, which offered instruction in many forms of martial arts, including rapier, during the 1500’s and into the 1600’s. This group is relevant for fencers in the East Kingdom because the League of Rapier Academies is loosely based upon this group.

Bullet The Schools of Defense in Elizabethan London (by Jay P. Anglin)
[Renaissance Quarterly, Vol. 37, No. 3 (Autumn, 1984), pp. 393-410: (Journal Article)

This article is available in the JSTOR Database, a scholarly archive of journal articles to which many libraries, primarily academic libraries, subscribe. Talk to a librarian if you need help accessing this resource. Public libraries may be able to obtain this article through Interlibrary Loan. You may also be able to purchase a copy from the publisher.


Bullet The Noble Science: A Study and Transcription of Sloan Ms. 2530, Papers of the Masters of Defence of London (by Herbert Berry)


Bullet Prizes of the London Masters of Defense (by Don Dylan ap Maelgwn)


Bullet The London Masters of Defence- Playing the Prize in Elizabethan England (by J. Clements)



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