Fashion in the Age of Datini

A Bibliography of Historical Fencing

Around the year 2009, I had reason to read a lot of books to help me understand European martial arts in the 14th, 15th, and 16th centuries. These are some of the ones which were most useful other than period fencing manuals and modern interpretations of them. This is not a comprehensive list of academic publications like a student would compile during a PhD (go ask Daniel Jaquet for that!) but a selection of what I found practically useful. Because historical martial arts do not yet have what Thomas Kuhn called a paradigm, there are many competing visions of what counts as evidence and what counts as a valid argument, so it is not possible to sit on Mount Olympus and provide a dispassionate assessment which other researchers can agree with and build on.

I have not been following this research closely since 2014, so when in doubt ask someone who is still active. I compiled this list in 2021 based on a suggested reading list I had compiled a few years earlier.

General References

Anglo, Sydney (2000) The Martial Arts of Renaissance Europe (Yale University Press: New Haven and London)

Condottieri di Ventura {Catalogue of military contractors attested in Italy 1350-1550, check out Piero del Verde who fought one of Fiore's students

Dupuis, Olivier (2020a) “When Fencers and Wrestlers were the Children of the Sun.” In Martial Culture in Medieval Town, 26/02/2020

Dupuis, Oliver (2020b) “Timeo Clipeos et Plagas Ferentes, or the Accidental Death of a Fencing Master in 1331,” in Martial Culture in Medieval Town, 20/04/2020,

Noel Fallows (ed.), A Cultural History of Sport in the Medieval Age (Bloomsbury Academic, 2022) {various references to fencing, jousting, and shooting among other sports}

Farrell, Keith (2018) “How to begin working with a HEMA source.”

Gelli, Jacopo (1895) Bibliografia Generale Della Scherma 2. edition. Said to be of dubious scholarly quality

Hand, Stephen (ed.) (2002) Spada: An Anthology of Swordsmanship, Volume 1 (Chivalry Bookshelf: Union City, CA, 2002) {excellent chapter on the effects of wounds and the ability of 16th century medics to treat them} siglum: spada-i

Hand, Stephen (ed.) (2005) Spada: An Anthology of Swordsmanship, Volume 2 (Chivalry Bookshelf: Highland Village, TX, 2005) siglum: spada-ii

Hand, Stephen / Wagner, Paul (2002) “Talhoffer’s Sword and Duelling Shield as a Model for Reconstructing Early Medieval Sword and Shield Techniques.” In Stephen Hand (ed.), Spada: An Anthology of Swordsmanship, Volume 1 (Chivalry Bookshelf: Union City, CA) pp. 72-86

Hand, Stephen (2005) “Further Thoughts on the Mechanics of Combat with Large Shields.” In Stephen Hand (ed.), Spada 2: An Anthology of Historical Swordsmanship (Chivalry Bookshelf: Union City, CA) pp. 51–68

Knight Jr., Hugh T. (2020) "Combat with Sword and Shield: Armored Sword and Shield Combat on Foot in the High Middle Ages"

Mallett, Michael (1974) Mercenaries and their Masters: Warfare in Renaissance Italy (Bodley Head: London). Reprinted Pen & Sword Military, 2009.

Manning, Sean (2013) “What the Works of Fiore dei Liberi Tell Us About Mnemonics in Popular Culture”

Mele, Gregory D. (ed.) (2010) In the Service of Mars, Vol. 1: Proceedings from the Western Martial Arts Workshop, 1999-2009 (Freelance Academy Press: Wheaton, IL, 2010) {excellent chapters on pedagogy, the Italian duel, and an eccentric one on reading in medieval Europe} siglum:in-service-to-mars-i

Mele, Gregory D. (ed.) (2015) In the Service of Mars, Vol. 2: Proceedings from the Western Martial Arts Workshop, 1999-2009 (Freelance Academy Press: Wheaton, IL, 2015) siglum:in-service-to-mars-ii

Mondschein, Ken (1998) "Daggers of the Mind: Towards a Historiography of Fencing."" The Association of Historical Fencing ( {an essay on Sidney Anglo's Martial Arts of Renaissance Europe and the limits of its 'armchair' perspective and belief in a golden age of brutal efficiency succeeded by a refined but less effective age}

Toebler, Christian (2010) “Chickens and Eggs: Which Master Came First?” in Christian Henry Tobler, In Saint George’s Name: An Anthology of Medieval German Fighting Arts (Freelance Academy Press: Wheaton, IL, 2010) pp. 5-10 {n.b. I am told that some professional scholars in Germany are more confident of the date of the Nürnberg Hausbuch to c. 1389, but this essay asks useful questions}

Windsor, Guy (2018) The Theory and Practice of Historical Martial Arts (Spada Press: n.p.)

The biggest gaps I know of are a study of the use and carriage of arms in Northern Italy 1350-1450, and a study of the use and carriage of arms in Central Europe 1350-1450. Many fencers seem to extrapolate back ideas from Central European cities in the 16th century which don’t match the evidence or the spirit of the late 14th century world I am most interested in. Central Europe in particular is difficult to study in English and I don’t know of books in Italian or German which would fill these needs.

Wiktenauer is a mighty labour of love, but it reflects the editors’ feuds and friendships rather than dispassionately summarizing what different people have argued. Articles on early Italian fencing erase ideas from some influential researchers, and misrepresent some books and articles published in the United States in English. So be very careful about trusting it to summarize research in other languages or on martial arts you have not studied! It is best used as a quick and dirty reference.

Jean Henri Chandler is doing a lot of work finding and sharing material on the context of the German tradition which is very hard to find if you are in North America.

I am sure this is missing things, such as books on duels from the University of Victoria library which I read in 2009 and the books on the art of memory and how manuscripts were made which I cite in my paper on manuscript culture. There are also topics I was never able to find good books on, such as conventions for depicting bodies and motion in 14th, 15th, 16th, and 17th century Europe. Again, I lost contact with the fencers and changed the focus of my hobby research around 2014.

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What is a Martial Art?

Vincent le Chevalier, "My approach of HEMA" (2014)

I think my interest in HEMA was born from my interest in swords. At some point I felt that in order to understand these objects, you have to understand how they were used. Written sources are invaluable because they contain some of that original knowledge, which helps understanding how people back then thought swords had to be used. This does not have to be the most efficient way to use a weapon, by the way. For me historicity trumps efficiency, firstly because our efficiency tests are never entirely accurate, and secondly because I see no point in being efficient now: the weapon is obsolete, none of us is realistically intending to use it in earnest. It’s really what people thought was efficient which offers insights as to to how the weapon was designed. What they believed, why they believed it, how they structured their presentation of the art, that’s what I want to study on the theoretical side.

MacYoung, Marc (n.d.) No-Nonsense Self-Defense

Manning, Sean (2020) “What is a Martial Art?” 7 March 2020

Miller, Rory (2007) “Small Circle and ABT”

Aside- not all martial arts teachers are teaching about violence or about self-defense. If people are playing for fun or training for competition or adjusting their chi or getting healthier or learning about another culture that is great, and far purer and better than someone who wants to kick ass trying to learn from someone with warrior fantasies. … Pretending these things don’t happen or won’t come in to play is talisman thinking- pulling blankets over your head and hoping the magic words will keep the monsters in the closet. Almost every system I’ve seen, especially the systems that arose in places and times where the level of violence was horrific by modern standards, deals with these concepts. The much maligned x-block of traditional karate deals wonderfully with the range, power and surprise of a real close range ambush attack (How do attacks actually happen) and works with the SSR (how the body works under stress). Instructors or generations of instructors look at how ineffective it is in sparring and drop it. All this stuff is there, but the instructors as well as the students need to learn to see it.

Miller, Rory (2008) “Mr. Rubber Meet Mr. Road”

Many years ago I asked a karate instructor why we practiced kata and kihon when we didn’t use any of the moves in sparring. It wasn’t anything like ‘fighting’. He didn’t have a good answer. Four years later after wrestling with a street fighter under a roulette table in a casino I drew a shaky breath and said, ‘Shit, that wasn’t anything like sparring!’”

Miller, Rory (2008) Meditations on Violence: A Comparison of Martial Arts Training and Real-World Violence (YMAA Publication Center: Boston, MA) I read it for his explanation of the fake in every kind of martial arts training, his categories of violence, and what his Japanese martial art uses as its most advanced and dangerous kind of training. Those are not the bits that most of the fencers I talked to got out of it.

Miller, Rory (2015) “Thoughts from Today.” 13 October 2015

There are a lot of things, especially in traditional martial arts, that work great for real situations but are difficult or suck in sparring. The hip and shoulder throws in judo are hard to get and involve turning your back on the opponent, but in real life people jump on your back. Karate’s x-blocks are all but useless in sparring, but they are a godsend when something unexpected and shiny suddenly arcs towards your belly– a big, gross-motor move that covers a lot of area and gives you a lot of close-range options. There is stuff that works under close-range assault, and there are options that only work with sparring timing and distance. Do not, ever, confuse the two.”

Thompson, Christopher Scott (2010) “Deep Attacks vs Shallow Attacks.” Sword Forum International {touches on whether to practice cutting up things with swords, and the limits of sparring and competition as evidence for how a fight with sharp swords works}

Wagner, Paul (2021) "Love Poems to Welsh Bucklers," The Sword Guy Podcast #69 (3 September 2021)

So the context of use of both Silver and Swetnam is not very well trained people who are probably pissed with bad quality weapons, which they don't really know how to use, trying to kill you in a drunken street fight. That’s what it’s designed for. It’s not for winning tournaments. It’s not for genteel fencing. It's for defending yourself from people who are not particularly sophisticated, but bloody murderous.

Windsor, Guy (2015) “Why I love the HEMA tournament scene”

Around 2012 there was a rush of articles by instructors who teach at WMAW on their interpretation of wide and narrow play. I found these articles intellectually interesting but not satisfying or helpful.

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When I got involved with fencing, I was stuck that martial arts inspire people to make incredible numbers of very confident but easily falsified claims. I am still trying to understand in my heart why this is, because it seems much worse than other physical disciplines such as woodworking or tailoring. In addition, many questions which martial artists ask are inherently hard to answer. One reason why I am not very interested in 'self-defense' is that it raises all kinds of questions about ethics and law and how to know what works when there are no neutral witnesses and every participant is very excited. So this is a section on how we know what isn't so, and on how many claims by martial artists can't survive a minute in the ring with Socrates.

Russell, Gillian (2010) "Epistemic Viciousness in the Martial Arts." In Graham Priest and Damon Young (eds.), Martial Arts and Philosophy (Open Court, 2010)

Wetzler, Sixt (2014) "Myths of the Martial Arts," JOMEC Journal: Journalism, Media and Cultural Studies Vol. 5 {a different perspective from my own}

Some of the books which show that if you have heard of a martial art, it was probably invented in the 20th century (such as Olympic fencing, karate, or kendo), and if not then it almost certainly can't be traced back in a recognizable form before the 19th century (such as Anglo-American boxing and Yang Family T’ai Chi). I read one of them in 2011 or 2012 but am not sure of the title, Ben Judkins or Ellis Amdur can point you to specific books.

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Specific Traditions

Cameron, Christian (2017) “Metaphisiks of Armizare”

Charrette, Bob (2011) Fiore dei Liberi’s Armizare (Freelance Academy Press)

le Chevalier, Vincent (2012) “Interpreting Silver’s times,” December 2012 {argues that “the hand before the foot” means “the movement of the hand necessitates the movement of the food,” so passing into measure with a strike is a false time} siglum: le-chevalier-interpreting-silvers-times

Forgeng, Jeffrey L. (ed.) (2018) The Medieval Art of Swordsmanship: Royal Armouries MS I.33 (The Royal Armouries: Leeds)

Fratus, Stephen (2020) With Malice & Cunning: Anonymous 16th Century Manuscript on Bolognese Swordsmanship (n.p.)

Ijäs, Antti (2022) Study of the Language and Genre of Royal Armouries MS I.33. PhD Thesis, University of Helsinki, {I have not seen this, and academic work on historical martial arts sometimes falls between two horses}

Leoni, Tom (2010) The Complete Renaissance Swordsman: Antonio Manciolino’s Opera Nova (1531) (Freelance Academy Press)

Leoni, Tom / Reich, Steven (2006) Bolognese Swordsmanship. The Order of the Seven Hearts (unpublished PDF)

Mondschein, Ken (2018) “On the Art of Fighting: A Humanist Translation of Fiore dei Liberi’s Flower of Battle Owned by Leonello D’Este.” Acta Periodica Duellatorum, volume 6, issue 1 pp. 99-135 DOI 10.2478/apd-2018-0004

Moya Montes, P. (2017) “La esgrima vulgar en los siglos XV y XVI.” Thesis, Universidad de Cantabria

Reich, Steven (2010) “Forming and Understanding the Guards of Coda Lunga Stretta and Porta di Ferro Stretta”

Terminello, Piermarco / Reich, Steven (2014) “Florentines Doing ‘Florentine’: Combat with Two Swords According to Francesco di Sandro Altoni (c.1540) and Marco Docciolini (1601)”

Thompson, Christopher Scott (2011) “The Three Kingdoms Backsword Tradition and the Origins of the Highland Broadsword Manuals.” Journal of Western Martial Arts, April 2011

Windsor, Guy (2004) The Swordsman's Companion: A Modern Training Manual for Medieval Longsword (Chivalry Bookshelf: Highland Village, TX). Reprinted by the author's Spada Press after the publisher failed to pay royalties.

Windsor, Guy (2006) “Half full? Meza and Tuta in Fior di Battaglia”

Windsor, Guy (2008) “Finding Bicorno”

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Arms and Armour

Arms and armour are one of my passions, so here are some places to start learning. If you have read these and still have questions, I can give a much longer reading list.

Barbara Grotkamp-Schepers, Isabell Immel, Peter Johnsson und Sixt Wetzler (eds.), Das Schwert - Gestalt und Gedanke = The Sword: Form and Thought (Deutsches Klingenmuseum: Solingen, 2015) {contains the Elmslie typology of messers and falchions}

Ewart Oakeshott, The Sword in the Age of Chivalry {there is no equivalent for European swords of the 16th and 17th century; on long knives Elmslie in The Sword: Form and Thought is supposed to be good}

Blair, Claude (1958) European Armour, circa 1066 to circa 1700 (Batsford: London, 1958)

Norman, A.V.B. (1980) The Rapier and Small-Sword, 1460-1820 (Arms and Armour Press, Lionel Leventhal Limited: London, 1980) Reprinted Ken Trotman Books {a typology of rapier and smallsword hilts with notes on topics like sheaths and scabbards}

David Edge and John Miles Paddock, Arms & Armour of the Medieval Knight (Bison Books Ltd.: London, England, 1988)

Tobias Capwell, Armour of the English Knight, 1400-1450 (Thomas Del Mar: London, 2015)

Richardson, Thom (2012) The Medieval Inventories of the Tower Armouries 1320–1410. PhD Thesis, University of York, November 2012 {this has since become a book which I have not seen}

Kohlmorgen, Jan (2002) Der Mittelalterliche Ritterschild: Historische Entwicklung von 975 bis 1350 & Anleitung zum Bau eines kampftauglichen Schildes

Schmidt, Herbert (2015) The Book of the Buckler (Wyvern Media) ISBN-13 978-0-9929918-3-8

John Waldman, Hafted Weapons in Medieval and Renaissance Europe: The Evolution of European Staff Weapons between 1200 and 1650. History of Warfare, Volume 31 (Leiden: Brill, 2005)

Roland Warzecha, "From Viking Warrior to Medieval Sword-Fighting: The Impact of Historical Shield Design," 18 May 2015 {overview of his view of the relative advantages of flat centregrip shields and domed centregrip shields, and of different styles of Viking Age pommel}

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Manuscript Production and Book Culture

Brown, Michelle P. (1994) Understanding Illuminated Manuscripts: A Guide to Technical Terms (J. Paul Getty Museum: Malibu and British Library: London)

Kwakkel, Erik (2018) Books Before Print. New edition (Arc Humanities Press)

Long, Pamela O. (1997) “Power, Patronage, and the Authorship of Ars: From Mechanical Know-How to Mechanical Knowledge in the Last Scribal Age,” Isis, Vol. 88, No. 1 (March 1997), pp. 1-41 {puts the manuals in context of other MSS on the mechanical arts}

Maas, Paul (1960) Textkritik (B.G. Teubner: Leipzig) {the standard advanced textbook for classicists, an English translation by Barbara Flower entitled Textual Criticism is available}

Trachsler, Richard (2006) “How to Do Things with Manuscripts: From Humanist Practice to Recent Textual Criticism,” Textual Cultures 1.1 (2006) pp. 5-28 {short and readable explanation of the two approaches to creating an edition of a text, the critical edition which tries to reconstruct the author's intent from many error-filled manuscripts (Lachmann), and the diplomatic edition which converts one manuscript to type as directly as possible (New Philology)}

Odd Einar Haugen, Caroline Macé, and Philipp Roelli (eds.), PARVUM LEXICON STEMMATOLOGICUM: A BRIEF LEXICON OF STEMMATOLOGY {a free online alternative to Maas}

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Pedagogy (primary sources)

Flavius Vegetius Renatus, de Re Militari book 1 {= Hrabanus Maurus and John Neele’s Knyghthood and Bataille}

Ulrich von Zatzikhoven

The Norwegian King’s Mirror (c. 1250)

Lynn Thorndike, “Advice from a Physician to his Sons,” Speculum, Vol. 6, No. 1 (January 1931) pp. 110-114 with a swordfit program for rainy days (and advice to practice using the club now in one hand, now in the other!) Transcription and translation at The Regime of Petro Fagarola

Seifrit's Alexander (1330) verses 605-618 which distinguish between vechten which is ritterlich and linked to jousting and tourneying, and schirmen which seems to be taught by someone else

Chany, Book of Chivalry ch. 16, 17

Jean Froissart on Jean le Mangre dit Boucicaut (before 1400)

Duarte I of Portugal (d. 1438), Regimento para aprender alguas cousas armas. Translated in Hick, Steve, “Dom Duarte and his advice on swordsmanship,” in Spada, Vol. 1 (Chivalry Bookshelf: Union City, CA, 2002) pp. 65-71. Text in A. H. Marques (ed.) Livro dos conselhos de el-Rei D. Duarte (Livro da Cartuxa) (Lisboa: Editorial Estampa, 1982), p. 270 tr. Anton Stark, facebook

Don Duarte’s book on horsemanship

Tirant lo Blanc (the Cyropaedia, but for knights)

Trevor Dean on negotations between the city of Bologna and Lippo di Bartolomeo Dardi and Acta Periodica Duellatorum 2016

Sir Thomas Elyot’s List of Exercises (England, 1537)


Chris Slee (tr.), The Art of Fencing Reduced to a Methodical Summary: L’Art de Tirer des Armes Réduit en Abrégé Méthodique (said to be an 18th century smallsword manual which focuses on how to teach the art)

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Pedagogy (traditional martial arts)

Edelson, Michael (2017) Cutting with the European Sword: Theory and Application (CreateSpace, 2017) ISBN-13 978-0999290385 (hardcover) 978-1979910972 (softcover) review

Grandy, Bill (2012) “From Drills to Free Play: Putting Practice into Practice (Part I)”

Grandy, Bill (2014) “From Drills to Free Play: Putting Practice into Practice (Part II)”

Hayes, Sean (2012) “Developing Tactical Skills at Longsword”

Hayes, Sean (n.d.) “The Importance of Skill Progression in the Western Martial Arts”

Leoni, Tom (2005) “The Most Common Mistakes Beginning Rapier Students Make - Their Consequences and How to Avoid Them”

Leoni, Tomasso / Reich, Steven (2011) "Legitimate Teachers in the WMA Community: Advice on How to Spot Bad European Budo" (archived on the Internet Archive)

Russ Mitchell, Basic Body Mechanics for Martial Artists (self-published, 2018)

Mondschein, The Art of the Rapier

Ken Mondschein, "Feature Article: How to Teach Fencing," Tournaments Illustrated 185 (4 pages)

Smith, Jason (2017) “The Teaching Circle”

Swords, Sam (2017) “I would like to ask for a method of practising more on reading the opponent and being slower” slglum: swords-reading-opponent

Swords, Sam (2018) “I have someone I trust who does martial arts to practice with, but I’m afraid I’m more likely to hurt them (or myself) while sparring. What should I do?” siglum: swords-trust-sparring

Windsor, Guy (2008) “Notes on Training: Forms, Intervals and Skill Progression”

Windsor, Guy (2012) “I Am Slow” 11 October 2012 {the first statement of his argument against the ‘sports scientists’ that some sports may benefit from doing everything as fast as possible, but musicians and combat shooters have an approach more like traditional martial arts, and its not obvious that one has more authority than the other}

Windsor, Guy (2014) “Why You Should Train with Sharp Swords, and How to Go about It Without Killing Anyone” {Vincent le Chevalier has a slightly different take on this passage of Viggiani} siglum: windsor-train-with-sharp-swords

Le Chevalier, Vincent (2017) "Training with sharps, present and past." Ensis Sub Caelo blog

Cory Winslow and Mike Edelson, "An Alternative Interpretation of the True Fight of George Silver" (2020) {see also le-chevalier-interpreting-silvers-times, some of the authors' statements about Italian fencing are hard to agree with if you know actual Italian fencers}

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Pedagogy (martial sports)

I have not seen any of the books in this category, but they have been recommended to me by people I respect.

Zbigniew Czajkowski, Understanding Fencing

Aladar Kogler, The Mental Preparation of Fencers and Others (SKA SwordPlay Books, 2013)

Johan Harmenberg, Epee 2.5

Steve Pearlman, The Book of Martial Power

Kaja Sadowski, Fear is the Mind Killer: How to Build a Training Culture that Fosters Strength and Resilience (2019)

Some people draw on so-called ‘sports science’ to tell people how to train. I don’t find this approach very helpful, and neither do the teachers I most respect, but if you can make sense of it or your goal is specific enough that you can pick a clear goal to optimize for, it could be helpful to you. One of Fiore’s students might have to stop an assassination in his street clothes, skirmish on horseback in light armour as part of a team of several dozen lances, or do arms in harness on foot, and those wide-ranging needs sound more like military training than sport-specific training to me.

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Dupuis, Oliver (2015) “The Roots of Fencing from the Twelfth to the Fourteenth Centuries in the French Language Area.” Acta Periodica Duellatorum 3.1 pp. 37-62 doi: 10.1515/apd-2015-0002

Leoni, Tom (2006) “Philology in Historical Research: Some helpful tools for tackling the Renaissance fencing texts”

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Mindset (Primary)

Jean le Bel on penniless knights

“Prenegard prenegard thus bere I myn baselard”

Christine di Pisan, Livre des fais d’armes et de chevalerie

Baldassare Castiglione, Il libro del Cortegiano

Joseph Swetnam, The Schoole of the Noble and Worth Science of Defence (London, 1617) ch. 1

But I say there is great ods betwixt fighting in the field and playing in a fence-schoole, for in the field being both sober, I meane if it be in a morning upon cold blood, then every man will as much feare to kill as to be killed, againe a man shall see to defend either blow or thrust in the field then in a fence-schoole, for a man will be more bold with a foile or a cudgell, because there is small danger in either of them.

But when they come to tell their tale at the point of a rapier, thy will stand off for their owne safety; go not into the field in the afternoone, partly for the avoiding of the common speech of those which will say it is a drunken match, neither goe not presently upon the suddain falling out; for choller overcometh the wits of many a man, for in a mad fury skill is little thought upon, and therefore very dangerous to both; for although thy memory serve thee well; and so thou being carefull and not bearing any mind to kill, yet thy enemy if he be but a ranke coward, upon drink or fury, or upon hot blood, will be so desperate, that if you favor him he will endanger thee.

There is seldome or never any quarrell begun but in an afternoone, for then commonly the drinke is in and the wit is out, ...

Sir John Smythe of Little Badow, various

Blaise de Montluc, various

Kinsley, D.A. Various self-published accounts of sword fights from the 18th and 19th century available in English. These include a lot of old men’s musings, and very rarely give the French, Yemeni, or Sikh perspective on the same incident, but there is some value if you have time to sift through them. Titles often change between editions. Keith Farrell has a chronology of the books by D.A. Kinsley

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Mindset (Secondary)

Amberger, J. Christoph (1999) The Secret History of the Sword: Adventures in Ancient Martial Arts. Revised and expanded edition (Muli-Medial Books: n.p.) {quirky, opinionated, and focused on the 19th and 20th century}

Anglo, Sydney (2000) The Martial Arts of Renaissance Europe (Yale University Press: New Haven and London)

Pascal Brioist, Croiser le fer: violence et culture de l’épée dans la France moderne (Champ Vallon, 2008)

David Eltis, "Towns and Defence in Later Medieval Germany." Nottingham Medieval Studies vol. 33 (1989)

Ute Frevert, Men of Honour: A Social and Cultural History of the Duel, trans. Anthony Williams (Cambridge, MA: Blackwell Publishers, 1995)

Jones, Terry (1980) Chaucer’s Knight: The Portrait of a Medieval Mercenary (Weidenfeld and Nicolson: London) {beautiful on the merciless financial logic of military service after the Black Death}

Muhlberger, Steven (2005) Deeds of Arms: Formal Combats in the Fourteenth Century (Chivalry Bookshelf: Highland Vilage, TX)

Origo, Iris (1957) The Merchant of Prato: Francesco di Marco Datini (Cape: London)

Markku Peltonen, The Duel in Early Modern England

Lois Schwoerer, Gun Culture in Early Modern England

Pieter Spierenburg, A History of Murder, Personal Violence in Europe from the Middle Ages to the Present (Cambridge, Polity Press, 2008)

B. Ann Tlusty, The Martial Ethic in Early Modern Germany (Palgrave Macmillan: 2011)

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Wounds and their Treatment

Weapons are tools for disabling bodies. If you study a martial art that was not just meant for play, it is a good idea to study what bodies can and can't stand up to.

Pascal Brioist, Croiser le fer: violence et culture de l’épée dans la France moderne (Champ Vallon, 2008) {think that smallswords lack stopping power? if the Seine could speak it would disagree}

Chouinard, Maxime (2020) “Very Perilous: A sword wounds compendium by the surgeon Ravaton,” HEMA Misfits (I don’t do longsword) 2 April 2020 Based on Hugues Ravaton’s Chirurgie d’armée (1768)

Lurz, Frank (n.d.) “The Dubious Quick Kill” part 1 and 2

Swinney, Richard / Crawford, Scott (2005) “Medical Reality of Historical Wounds.” In Stephen Hand (ed.), Spada 2: An Anthology of Historical Swordsmanship (Chivalry Bookshelf: Dallas, TX) pp. 5–21 {based on a book on military surgery from the 16th century and one author’s experience in emergency medicine}

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Psychology of Violence

Keep in mind that psychology is never as universal or scientific as its most enthusiastic advocates want it to be, and that there are real questions whether studies of people in the USA in the 20th and 21st century can be applied to people from different cultures hundreds of years ago. A lot of psychological research is designed to comfort US persons, and “be helpful to a specific audience” is not quite the same goal as “describe the world as accurately as possible”.

The works of Dave Grossman ("Killology" / On Killing) and S.L.A. Marshall are widely taken as authorities by martial artists. The works of both have utterly collapsed under gentle criticism, but somehow this criticism does not reach as wide an audience as the works it refutes. If you want to learn why thoughtful people reject their arguments, the works I cite will get you started.

For primary sources on how people behaved in combat and play see mindset (primary). This section is about the 20th century academic discipline of psychology and its fringes.

Downey, Greg (2010) “We agree it’s WEIRD, but is it WEIRD enough?” 10 July 2010

when I brought one of my Brazilian subjects to an American university at which I previously taught, his characterization of the American students’ differences from young Brazilians with whom he had more contact focused on none of these traits (Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich, or Democratic). He was more struck by their large size (both height and BMI, to put it nicely), their frumpy androgynous clothing (anyone here not wearing a sweatshirt?), their materialism, their clumsiness and physical ineptitude, and their ethnic and personal homogeneity. If my Brazilian colleague were to characterize the oddness of the WEIRD, he wouldn’t focus on the traits Henrich and colleagues have chosen in their designation. … In my own research, the physical abilities of WEIRD university students stand out more clearly as strikingly odd than many of their other traits, and I’m convinced that the extraordinary inactivity of this population, coupled with their high calorie diets, has more diverse and wide-ranging effects than simply leading to an epidemic of obesity, Type-II diabetes, and other diet-related health problems. For example, capoeira instruction, a subject close to my heart, has to start at a much different place for American youth than it does with Brazilian kids in Salvador where I did my field research. Even teaching salsa lessons at a Midwestern US university drove home the profoundly different motor starting point, prior to the lessons, of young adults in the US compared to Brazilians (and I suspect, to many populations in Latin America, the Caribbean, Africa and elsewhere).”

Engen, Robert (2009) Canadians Under Fire: Infantry Effectiveness in the Second World War (Montreal & Kingston: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2009) {Dave Grossman and S.L.A. Marshall give you propaganda to change the world, Engen gives data to describe it. My review is here}

MacYoung, Marc (n.d.) No-Nonsense Self-Defense

Miller, Rory (2008) Meditations on Violence: A Comparison of Martial Arts Training and Real-World Violence (YMAA Publication Center: Boston, MA) {I read it for his explanation of the fake in every kind of martial arts training, his categories of violence, and what his Japanese martial art uses as its most advanced and dangerous kind of training. Those are not the bits that most of the fencers I talked to got out of it.}

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Legal Context (primary)

Challenge of the Viscount of Rohan to Signeur of Beaumanoir, 1309

Old Prague city laws on bearing swords and stabbing knives: law 19 from 1327 (limits the bearing of swords and stabbing knives to those with a substantial amount of property, and fines anyone who carries a knife concealed in their shoes or clothing) and laws 37 and 38 from 1331 (bans the bearing of swords and stabbing knives), law 90 from 1339 (penalties for anyone who deliberately cuts or strikes with a fist, knife, or club). In the main bibliography as roessler-altprager-stadtrecht

The laws of Brno (Brünn in modern Czechia), especially Schöffenbuch clauses 95 and 541 (probably 14th century) and King Wenzel's laws from 1243 clauses 16 (no running to a fight with a drawn bow or with a crossbow), 17 (no drawing a naked sword in the market on market day and wounding people), 23 (no carrying a knife called Stechmesser hanging from the belt or hidden in hose or shoes within the walls of the city), 88 (no wielding a pointed sword within the city) and miscellaneous Schöffen number 206. The editor's note p. LIX calls these laws "unusually strict."

Challenge of Pierre Touremine to Robert de Beaumanoire, 1386

The laws of Nürnberg,1 especially page 38 (Ban on carrying sword or pointed knife and all forbidden weapons except the Landrichter and his household and the Schulthaze and his daily people (schult-heiʒe "judge"?, page 51 (Because of manslaughters, maimings, woundings and disturbances, henceforth nobody, whether burger, resident, or visitor, may bear any weapon in the town by day or by night, except a straight breadknife (slechte ungeverliche protmesser), and in the public houses (leythewser Lexer s.v. lît-hûs) and the brothels they may not even bear any pointed bread knife) and page 54 (No shooting in the town with guns or crossbows because it harmfully disturbs and frightens people and especially pregnant women, children, and sick people)

Honoré Bouvet, The Tree of Battles (1387) Excerpts are translated at

The Strassburg ban on bearing long knives or daggers from 1452 "Our lords masters and councils and the 21 have come to agreement and have recognized that no-one, whoever he may be, high or low, shall henceforth wear any long knife or dagger (tegen) in our town, whether by day or by night, which is longer than the measure, and no sheath which is longer than it by more than a fingerbreadth." Transcription and partial translation at Laws on Having and Bearing Arms at Strassburg.

Werner Ueberschär und Daniel Burger, "1487 – Privileg Kaiser Friedrichs III. für die Meister des Schwerts."

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Legal Context (secondary)

Duggan, Lawrence G., Armsbearing and the Clergy in the History and Canon Law of Western Christianity (The Boydell Press, 2013)

Elema, Ariella (2012) Trial by Battle in France and England. PhD thesis, Centre for Medieval Studies, University of Toronto. and on Google scholar

Elema, Ariella (2019) “Tradition, Innovation, Re-enactment: Hans Talhoffer’s Unusual Weapons.” Acta Periodica Duellatorum, volume 7, issue 1

Green, Thomas A. (1972) “Societal Concepts of Criminal Liability for Homicide in Mediaeval England,” Speculum, Vol. 47, No. 4 (October 1972), pp. 669-694

Bastian Koppenhöfer, "Ungewoenliche Lange Messer: Weapons Regulations in Southern and Western Germany in the 15th Century," {makes some stated and unstated assumptions which I disagree with, such as that the sword-sized Messer of the fencing manuals must have been a weapon which all free men could wear in town}

Randall P. Moffett, "How Common Men Shall Be Armed: Equipment of the Common Soldier of England 1450 to 1500," Martial Culture in Medieval Town, 01/10/2021-10-01,

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Lawrence Stone, The Crisis of the Aristocracy, 1558-1641 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1965)

Paul Kirchner, Duelling with Sword and Pistol: 400 Years of One-on-One Combat (2004)

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How to Start a Study Group

Cameron, Christian (2016) “Learning Armizare, or, where can I do all that cool stuff?”

Windsor, Guy (2016) “How to start a HEMA club: 3 principles and 7 steps”

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Brian Kennedy and Elizabeth Guo (eds.), Chinese Martial Arts Training Manuals: A Historical Survey. Second edition (Blue Snake Books, 2008) {I think this was the book on martial arts in China before the Quing which I read in Calgary}

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Research 2013-2022

I built this list of research on Italian fencing before 1600 by emailing people and asking on corporate social media. I would argue that research is finding fewer new results than research from 1992 to 2012 (and the list of researchers is not rapidly growing either). If you want research on Spanish, German, Dutch, or even English martial arts, ask someone who practices them!

Guy Windsor has various books and online courses

Mike Edelson published a book on how one Japanese martial art uses the sword to cut tatami mats in 2017 [review]

Connor Kemp-Cowell and Ian Davis published a new interpretation of Filippo Vadi's treatise in 2021 [lulu]

Freelance Academy Press published a series on the Fiore dei Liberi MSS beginning in 2017 (do my gentle readers know of any book reviews?)

Stephen Fratus published the first complete English translation of the Ravenna MSS on fencing in 2020 (With Malice & Cunning [Lulu])

There are two translatoions of Pietro Monte's Collectanea (a free online resource by Mike Prendergast and Ingrid Sperber and a scholarly book by Jeffrey L. Forgeng [Amazon])

In the year 2015, Trevor Dean found some archival documents where the city of Bologna negotiates with Lippo di Bartolomeo Dardi in 1443 (see above¸ IIRC he was hired by Brian Stokes)

In May 2022, Rob Runacres claims to have found a new fencing treatise from circa 1500 [hellbirdsite]

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Places to Search and Names to Think Of

This is sort of a miscellaneous section as I try to remember names and figure out which produced something which belongs on this page.

Publishers, Societies, and Libraries

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Personal Sites and Blogs

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Miscellaneous Places to Mine

A few miscellaneous blogs, vlogs (I remmeber the Broadsword Academy Manitoba and some Fioreists in Italy), and podcasts (Mike Edelson’s “HEMA as a (sic) martial art” (2017) and Kunst des Fechtens Conversations with someone called Cory Winslow and TZlongsword of Squinting Rabit Productions

Sean Hayes, Guy Windsor (scribd), Jean Henry Chandler, Steve Reich, Tom Leoni. Jherek Swanger, William Wilson, Devon Boorman

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What manuals have I read?

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