(lGeorge Silver (late 1500’s) was an English sword master. Most well known for his “true time” and “false times”, the essence of which is that an attack with the hand is faster than an attack that needs a movement of the body and hand. He is also insistent that you must be rounded, i.e., you must know how to to cut as well as thrust as well as fight close. His third major point is that weapons should be a “perfect” or natural length and that too long a weapon can be disadvantageous. Silver also has is Four Grounds (Judgement, Distance, Time, and Place) and Four Governors (Judgement, Measure, Fly In, and Fly Out), which are pretty much what they say. Silver wrote Paradoxes of Defence (1598) and Brief Instructions Upon My Paradoxes of Defence (1599), a companion volume not published until 1898 when Cyril G.R. Matthey assembled The Works of George Silver comprising “Paradoxes of Defence” and “Bref Instrutions upon my Pradoxes of Defense”.”Perfect fight standeth upon both cut and thrust.” –George Silver, Paradoxes of Defence, 1599Joseph Swetnam was the fencing instructor for Prince Henry of England and also Charles I. He was also likely a member of the Masters of Defense of London. He taught rapier and dagger (unlike Silver) and while some on the continent and in Italy were moving towards shorter rapiers Swetnam still preferred the long rapier for rapier play. Swetnam published his book “The Schoole of the Noble and Worthy Science of Defense” in 1617.Henry Blackwell (Late 17th century to 18th century) Henry Blackwell was a professional Master of Defense in England from the late 1600s until the mid 1700s. The title of his first treatise was The English Fencing Master: or, The Compleat Tuterour of the Small Sword. Wherein the Truest Method, after a Mathematical Rule, Is Plainly Laid Down. Showing also How Necessary It Is for All Gentlemen to Learn This Noble Art. In a Dialog between Master and Scholar (1702 & 1705). He later published The Gentleman’s Tutor for the Small-Sword (1730). His approach to smallsword fencing was not as a sport, or exercise. He perceived the art as lethal combat. His first two books looked extensively at the smallsword, but in 1730, he thought the smallsword was dying. At this point, he wrote The Gentleman’s Tutor for the Small-Sword with influence from the Italian rapier instead of the smallsword.
Henry de Sainct-Didier (1500s) was a French fencing master whose treatise named fencing’s major movements and most of those names have survived into modern times. His work had a ridiculously long title: Traicté contenant les secrets du premier livre sur l’espée seule, mère de toutes armes, qui sont espée dague, cappe, targue, bouclier, rondelle, l’espée deux mains & deux espées, avec ses pourtraictures, ayans les armes au poing por se deffendre & offencer à un mesme temps des coups qu’on peut tirer, tant en assillant qu’en deffendent, fort utile & profitable por adextrer la noblesse, & suposts de Mars: redigé par art, ordre & practique (1573).Girard Thibault d’Anvers was a French swordsman who wrote Académie de l’Éspée (1628). Aka Academy of the Sword. His style of fencing was reminiscent of the Spanish Destreza. (see Spanish swordsmen)Wernesson de Liancour aka Le Sieur de Liancour (Mid 17th Century – 1732) was the first influential master of the French style of fencing. He originally published his book Le maistre d’Armes, ou L’exercice de L’espee seulle dans sa perfection (The Master of Arms, or The Exercise of the Single Sword in Its Perfection) (1686) in Paris. Liancour published the treatise again in 1692 in Amsterdam, and rewrote and reduced it for clarity’s sake. He is the one credited with developing the modern lunge technique. He died well before Domenico Angelo became a master, but he remains one of the influences behind Angelo’s work.
Unlike many of the other masters, he wrote his treatise early on in his life, shortly after entering Paris. He went on for another 40 years to teach and work on the art of swordplay. His text had images strewn throughout the treatise. The scenes were dramatic, and meant to entertain the reader as well as instruct them, helping the reader visualize what was described in the text.In teaching the conventional movements of the period de Liancour emphasized the need for pupils to take a lesson as if their lives depended on it, “for fencing is by no means a sport, it is an exercise by which one learns to defend one’s life.”Monsieur L’Abbat was a French swordsman who wrote The Art of Fencing, or the use of The Small Sword (1734 Dublin).Domenico Angelo (1717-1802) One of the most well known masters of the smallsword was Domenico Angelo, who published L’Ecole des Armes (The School of Fencing) in 1765. He founded the most famous school of fencing in London, where he taught the art of the French smallsword amidst the age of pistols. He stressed the value of fencing, not only as an art form, but also as a way to keep fit. He thought that fencing was “an exercise and sport of skill to be practiced for the improvement of health, poise, and grace.”
The people of future generations regarded his book well. Diderot and D’Alembert selected his treatise as the text to use in their entry on “Fencing” in the encyclopedia they co-edited, which was finished in 1772. Even today, it is still a well-regarded text for those who are interested in the art of historical swordplay.Guillaume Danet (Mid to late 18th Century) Danet came after Domenico Angelo. Unlike Angelo, Danet was active in France instead of England. He attempted to codify and simply what was in Angelo’s The School of Fencing. His book was titled L’art des Armes, ou La maniere la plus certain de se servir utilement de l’epee, soit pour attaquer, soit pour se defendre, simplifiee & demonstree dans toute son etendue & sa perfection, suivant les meilleurs principes de theorie & de pratique adoptes actuellement en France (The Art of Arms, or The Most Reliable Method to Profitably use the Sword, Either for Attack or Defense, Simplified and Demonstrated in All its Perfection According to the Best Principles of Theory and Practice Currently Adopted in France) (1766 & 1767). In this publication, Danet made bold changes to the art forms, which his peers criticized openly. He published a second volume to explain himself and to answer the criticisms of other masters of the time.
Johannes Liechtenauer was a 14th century German fencing master and may have been the most influential master of arms in Europe from the 14th to the 16th centuries. Not much is known about Liechtenauer the man, but it is surmised that he was born in the early to mid 1300s. He traveled to “many lands” and studied with many masters to learn his art. What he learned and subsequently taught was, a system known today as, the German school of swordsmanship, comprising the techniques of the two-handed longsword (Langschwert) that spread throughout the Holy Roman Empire from the 14th to the 17th century. Liechtenauer’s system was not however limited to longsword and also taught a variety of techniques for sword and buckler, dagger, messer (curved single-edged sword), unarmed grappling both armored and unarmored, and even in mounted combat. Liechtenauer’s teachings were set down in cryptic verse (possibly to prevent the uninitiated from learning the techniques), in a combat manual (fechtbuch), MS 3227a which dates to 1389.
Liechtenauer’s legacy was so great that most subsequent masters claim lineage to the Liechtenauer tradition. Some of those masters are listed below. Most are known to us through their published combat manuals that survive to this day.
Sigmund Ringeck was a 15th century German fencing master, and the author of a fechtbuch, MS Dresd. C 487 most likely composed in the 1440s. The manuscript consists of 148 folia (22 of them empty). The text is written in two hands. Ringeck is mentioned as schirmaister (fencing master) of the time of Albrecht III (1401 – 1460), Duke of Bavaria. Ringeck’s manuscript is dependent on Johannes Liechtenauer, and the first testimony following MS 3227a (ca. 1389) after a gap of some 50 years. Ringeck’s greatest contribution was his interpretation and commentaries on Master Liechtenauer’s cryptic verses making them accessible to the average reader.”Princes and Lords learn to survive with this art, in earnest and in play. But if you are fearful, then you should not learn to fence. Because a despondent heart will always be defeated, regardless of all skill.” – Fechtmeister Sigmund Ringeck, 1440Peter von Danzig was a 15th century German fencing master. He is the author of the 1452 Fechtbuch known as Cod. 44 A 8 (also known as MS 1449). von Danzig’s fechtbuch draws on Ringeck’s text.
Paulus Kal was a 15th century German fencing master. In 1460, he wrote a combat manual describing the art of fencing (Cgm 1507, 95 folia).Hans Talhoffer was a fencing-master in southern Germany in the 15th century. He is the author of several Fechtbücher, illustrated treatises describing methods of fighting with various weapons, including unarmed combat (grappling), dagger, long sword, pole weapons and mounted combat. He is a contemporary of fencing-master Paulus Kal (whose manuscript may contain hints of professional rivalry between the two).Johannes Lecküchner (ca. 1430s – 1482) was a 15th century priest and fencer of the area of Nuremberg. Two fechtbücher for the grosses messer (curved single-edged sword) written by Lecküchner are preserved, Cod. Pal. Germ. 430 (Heidelberg, 1478), which contains no illustrations and is considered a draft for Cgm. 582, Munich, 1482. The Cgm 582 manuscript on 216 folia (432 pages) gives instructions for the fencing with the grosses messer, illustrated by 415 drawings of fencers. His system may, go back to the teachings of Liechtenauer, who emphasized that his longsword fencing is derived directly from the principles of messer fencing (3227a:82r).Hans Lebkommer, This German master wrote the earliest known extant book of fence sometime during 1529 to 1536. The title of his book is “Der Altenn Fechter an fengliche Kunst.”Paulus Hector Mair (1517 – 1579) was an Augsburg civil servant, and active in the martial arts of his time. He collected Fechtbücher and undertook to compile all knowledge of the art of fencing in a compendium surpassing all earlier books. For this, he engaged the painter Jörg Breu the Younger, as well as two experienced fencers, whom he charged with perfecting the techniques before they were painted. The project was very costly, taking full four years, and according to Mair, consumed most of his family’s income and property.Joachim Meyer was the author of a 1570 fechtbuch Gründtliche Beschreibung der kunst des Fechten ( Fundamental Descriptions of the Art of Fencing). Meyer’s book was reprinted in 1600, and may have an influential source for other 16th and 17th century German fencing books. Meyer’s book itself describes a system of combat designed primarily for sportive, civilian swordplay rather than a system meant for dueling or battlefield combat. His book mostly consists of descriptive text, with only a few dozen woodcuts, each of which depicts several players enacting various techniques described in the text itself. The book consists of five chapters, covering the long sword, dussack (a training weapon not unlike the messer), Rappier (a single-handed sword, but heavier than the thrust-oriented rapier), dagger, and pole weapons.
Fiore Dei Liberi (1350 – c.1415) The earliest of the recorded Italian masters, he was born in the mid-14th century, the son of Sir Benedetto dei Liberi, a scion of a minor noble family who had received their ennoblement from the Holy Roman Emperor in the 12th century. From childhood dei Liberi was interested in learning the arts of wrestling, sword, axe and lance, and sought instruction from several German and Italian masters. At some point dei Liberi began traveling as a swordmaster for hire throughout the northern Italian states. Apparently the local masters were not keen to have competition. On 5 different occasions he was challenged to duels using sharp blades with nothing for protection but a pair of leather gloves. Fiore tells us that, each time he came away from the encounter uninjured and with his honor intact. Maestro Fiore also fought as a independent condottiero (mercenary) in defense of the town of Udine during a civil war in 1383. To this day there is street in Udine named for him. After his work in Udine was done, dei Liberi once again traveled the country as a hired sword and swordmaster who trained many condottieri. In 1399 dei Liberi arrived in Pavia where he entered the service of Niccolò III d’’Este, Marquise of Ferrara (1383-1441) at whose request Fiore wrote Il Fior di Battaglia in 1409. Dei Liberi dedicated his treatise to the marquise. His work, Flos Duellatorum, was composed in 1410. Though there is no documentation of his life or death after 1410, it is believed that Fiore dei Liberi died some time before 1420.Filippo Vadi (1400s) was a native of Pisa who, to use is own words, learned the art of swordmanship “”from many masters in various and different countries”. Vadi’s work was very similar to that of dei Liberi, Vadi was one of the last Italian masters to write in the style of verse. In 1482 Vadi dedicated and presented a beautifully illustrated handbook on the use of arms (De Arte Gladiatoria Dimicandi) to Guidobaldo da Montefeltro, shortly after the latter’s ascension to the ducal throne of Urbino. Though it is not certain that Vadi was ever in the Duke’s service, even though his treatise is dedicated to him, the considerable cost of producing such a painted book suggests the sort of patronage the Duke of Urbino would have supplied.“So from this art comes all sorts of good, with arms cities are subdued and all the crowds restrained; and in itself has such dignity, that often it brings joy to the heart, and always drives out cowardice …If you will be renowned in the art, you’ll never be poor, in any place. This virtue is so glorious that, if even once poverty would show you his cards, then wealth will embrace you thanks to your art.” – Maestro Filippo Vadi, Liber de Arte Gladiatoria Dimicandi, c.1482Filippo Bartolomeo Dardi was an astronomer and mathematician at the university of Bologna, and founder of the Bolognese School”. He was said to have lived and opened a sala d’armi (training hall) in the parish of Santa Cristina di Porta Stiera, between 1413 and 1443. Dardi wrote a now-lost treatise on the relationship between fencing and geometry and is said to have died in 1464.Guido Antonio di Luca, a disciple of Dardi, is considered by many to be the greatest master of the Bolognese tradition. He lived in the parish of Santa Maria delle Muratelle, and while he left no written treatises, the fame of his students has survived the centuries. Amongst the most famous were the fencing masters Antonio Manciolino and Achille Marozzo, who said of his teacher, “”more warriors came from his school than from the belly of the Trojan Horse”.” Di Luca is believed to have died in the early 16th century.Achille Marozzo (1484 – 1553), maintained a sala d’arme near the Abbey of Saints Naborre and Felice in Bologna, and wrote a massive fencing treatise, entitled Opera Nova, in 1536. The book was published multiple times in many cities – Modena (1536), Bologna (1546), Venice (1550). It was revised and republished by his son, Sebastiano in Venice under the title Arte dell Armi in 1568. Marozzo’s teachings remained so popular that an edition appeared in 1615, long after the rise of the rapier.Camillo Agrippa (1500s) An engineer, Agrippa began to apply scientific and geometric analyses, precision and simplicity to the complexity of Italian fencing. He pioneered several trends which took hold in Italy, including the increased use of the thrust and the simplification of technique. In 1568 Agrippa published Trattato di Scienza d’Arme, in which he simplified the guards and hand positions to 4 each. (Marozzo, an earlier Italian master, used over 30 guards) The impact of his terminology and guards on subsequent masters cannot be overestimated. He was regarded as the man who defined rapier as a thrusting weapon as well as one to be used for cutting.Giacomo di Grassi (1500s) was an Italian fencing master in Treviso in the 16th century. Grassi was one of the three premiere Elizabethan masters. His most important work was His True Art of Defense, which was first published in 1570, and in 1594 in an English translation. This treatise was very important, for its emphasis on the thrust over the cut, the detailed analysis of the blade itself, and the detailed examination of both attack and defense. He is called the forefather of the smallsword and was one of the first masters of fence to hint at using the sword to parry attacks. He also was a great proponent of using the dagger as a defensive weapon.”There is no doubt but that the Honorable exercise of the Weapon is made right perfect by means of two things, to wit: Judgment and Force: Because by the one, we know the manner and time to handle the weapon (how, or whatsoever occasion serves:) And by the other we have the power to execute therewith, in due time with advantage.” (di Grassi, The True Art of Defense)Angelo Viggiani dal Montone (1517 – 1555), a Venetian innovator whose work, entitled Lo Schermo (Fencing”), actually preceded Camillo Agrippa’s by three years, but because he instructed his brother to wait fifteen years after his death before publishing, it was not printed in Venice until 1575 and in Bologna in 1588. In his treatise, Viggiani simplified the tradition, reducing the number of guards to seven and introducing a less metaphorical nomenclature. Viggiani presented a basic framework of the inter-relation of guards, blows and parries, explicitly defined through Aristotelian physics, and including one of the first detailed discussions of tempo. He boasted that in a half-hour lesson he could teach a student enough to survive a duel. This lesson consisted of the seven guards and their relationship to the blows, a universal parry, the rovescio ascendente, (first found in dei Liberi), combined with a universal attack, the punta sopramano (an overhand lunge).Giovanni dall’Agocchie (1547 – ), the last documented master of the old Bolognese school, published, Dell’arte di Scrimia in 1572. His treatise maintained the old nomenclature and guards of the tradition, but in keeping with the increased focus on civilian combat limited its focus to the sword used alone and with the buckler. Shields, polearms and the spadone were ignored altogether, although the last section of the book did discuss using the lance from horseback. For modern students, dall’Agocchie’s greatest virtue is a detailed explanation of the guards named, but not defined, by Marozzo, and his section on “”how to win a duel in 30 days” which, like Viggiani, presents a fencing primer, but moves beyond the universal parry and overhand thrust.Rocco Bonetti – An Italian fencing master teaching in at Blackfriars London during the late 16th century. He was known for his precision in fighting, allowing his opponent to pick which of the buttons on their doublet that he would hit. This habit was immortalized by William Shakespeare in his description of Juliet’s cousin Tybalt, “The very butcher of a silk button, a duelist, a duelist!” He was critically injured by Austen Bagger, an Englishman, outside of the school. Jeronimo – Not much is known of this master. He was the son of Rocco Bonetti. He succeeded his father as the master of the fencing school at Blackfriars prior to it being rented to Shakespeare. He was killed by an Englishman named Cheese.Vincentio Saviolo – Saviolo arrived in England from Padua in 1590. He is also considered one of the premiere Elizabethan masters. An eclectic, he taught a mixture of Italian and Spanish theory and practice. He taught of the superiority of the thrust over the cut. His book “His Practice” covers honor as well as practical swordsmanship. He categorized cuts (similar to Marozzo) as well as thrusts. His moves (footwork) were more after the Spanish than the Italian style. He taught with Jeronimo in London.Salvatore Fabris (1544 – 1618), born in Padua, Italy, became one of the most famed, and influential fencing masters of his day, and produced perhaps the most complete treatises on Italian rapier fencing. His skill as both swordsman and teacher, brought him both fame, and fortune as the master to many influential, and wealthy patrons, from Johan Frederik (Duke) of Schleswig-Holstein-Gottorp and Archbishop of Bremen, to his final patron, King Christian IV of Denmark, whose service he entered in 1601, as the royal fencing instructor. During employment at the King’s court, Fabris was made Supreme Knight of the Order of the Seven Hearts, a testament to his prestige and regard at court. It was also under Christian’s patronage that he wrote and published his opus, the enormous rapier treatise Lo Schermo, overo Scienza d’Arme (1606), with Jan Halbeeck, the court painter, as his artist. Fabris’ book is somewhat unique, both for its plain language, and its breadth of detail. In Book I, Fabris laid out the technical, tactical and mechanical foundation of his art, with the sword alone, and combined with both cloak and dagger. This is in a similar, though somewhat more detailed, vein to the work of his contemporary, Giganti, and later masters, such as Alfieri and Marcelli. But Book II is unique amongst the entire corpus of rapier manuals, —a series of advanced techniques and tactics building upon the lessons learned with each weapon combination in Book I. Lo Schermo became a sensation, translated into multiple languages, and continually republished until 1713. Shortly after the publication of his book, Fabris informed King Christian that he wished to return home to his native Padua, to finish out his days. He returned to Padua, amidst some pomp, and remained there until his death by fever on November 11, 1618 at the age of 74. Hailed by other masters as “a man of the greatest name in our profession,” he was accorded a princely funeral and a monument was erected in his honor. Yet his fame continued beyond death, especially in Northern Europe, writing the foreword to a bi-lingual 1677 edition, Johann Joachim Hynitzsch, himself a student of a master trained directly under Fabris himself, said that the “Salvatoran Art” had been spread to Denmark, France, Germany and Poland by a number of masters, most notably the famed Kreuselers, a fencing dynasty who taught at the university of Jena, until well after Fabris’ fame faded as the age of the rapier came to a close in the early eighteenth century.Ridolfo Capo Ferro (1600s) of Cagli was one of the great Italian fencing masters of the 16th and 17th century. His greatest contribution was his manual on rapier defense Gran Simulacro Dell’arte e Dell’uso Della Scherma or “Great Representation of the Art and Use of the Sword”, published in 1610. It is considered by many to be the greatest, most detailed, scientific treatise on rapier fighting and Italian martial arts ever written. Additionally, Capo Ferro had a systematic approach to most all aspects of fencing, and he had a significantly more detailed approach to guards than other masters in his time period. He taught that the cut has little place in rapier play. He taught a linear style of fencing characterized by careful positioning and a long, fast lunge.”For one who wishes to become a perfect [fencer] it is not sufficient to only take lessons from the Master, but it is necessary that you seek to play with diverse [fencers] daily. Being able, you must always exercise with those who know more than you, because through the interplay with such practiced engineers you will become most perfect in this virtue”. (Capo Ferro, 51-52)
|Scottish SwordsmenSir William Wallace (1272 – 1305) of Elerslie, hero of Scotland and true patriot, his desire for peace and freedom united the clans, gained the loyalty of the people, struck fear into his enemies and defied the cruel hand of an evil, warring and invading King – Edward ‘Longshanks’ Plantagenet I of England.|
Scotland at that time was heading into civil war, infighting between rival families and rival towns was heating up, as well as the fight against English occupation. Brawling turned to riots – riots turned to ambush and sporadic battles. William’s father and his older brother were killed by the English in one of these ambush type battles in 1291 at Loudoun Hill. This was the start of William’s personal resentment of the English which would later develop into utter hatred.
Later that same year, the young son of an English constable named Selby and a number of his English friends cornered the 19 year old William and began to make remarks about his attire and basically demanded William surrender the handsome dirk he wore at his belt. William grabbed Selby by the collar, and thrust the dirk through his heart. William then struck out with his dirk, killing or wounding most of the gang before making his escape.
Now with a price placed on his head William went to stay with his uncle Sir Richard Wallace who lived in Riccarton. While he was there he and a friend were out fishing for his uncles supper five English soldiers riding past, demanded he turn over his catch. An disagreement ensued and the ring-leader of the five Englishmen drew his sword and lunged for William. William defended the blow with his fishing-pole and struck the soldier knocking him to his feet and sent his sword flying. William rushed for the sword in order to arm himself, he detached the head of the soldier with a hard blow to the neck and turned to the other soldiers who had already dismounted and were making their way to aid their fallen comrade. William then dispatched two of the other soldiers while the other two ran off.
William fought to free Scotland from English rule at the battle of Stirling Bridge, the sacking of York and the battle of Falkirk before he was betrayed by John de Menteith, a Scottish knight loyal to King Edward ‘Longshanks’ Plantagenet I of England, who turned him over to English soldiers near Glasgow. Wallace was transported to London and tried, where he responded to the treason charge by saying, “I could not be a traitor to Edward, for I was never his subject.” Wallace was declared guilty.
On 23 August 1305, Following the trial, Wallace was taken from the hall, stripped naked and dragged through the city at the heels of a horse to Smooth Field. He was strangled by hanging but released while still alive, emasculated, eviscerated and his bowels burnt before him, beheaded, then cut into four parts — at the Elms in Smithfield. His preserved head was placed on a pike atop London Bridge.The sword pictured above which supposedly belonged to Wallace is now in the Wallace National Monument near Stirling. Sir William Hope (1660 – 1724), a Scotsman, became familiar with the French school of fighting with the smallsword early on in his career and feeling the school did not have the best methods in terms of defense, sought to change it. While most masters of the time foucused on thrusting and offensive methods Hope wrote many treatises concentrating on having a proper defense. Hope did believe that the thrust was deadlier then the cut, but advised against taking a cut to deliver a thrust, because a well placed cut to the head or neck could render a swordsman mortally wounded. While Hope’s primary interest was the smallsword, in his later works he also examined techniques of the broadsword. His published works are: The Scots Fencing Master (1687) The Sword-man’s Vade Mecum, or, a Preservative Against the Surprize of a Sudden Attaque with Sharps (1691) The Compleat Fencing Master (1692) (Revision of “The Scots”) The Fencing Master’s Advice to his Scholar (1692) The New, Short and Easy Method of Fencing, or, the Art of the Broad and Small-Sword Rectified and Compendiz’d (1707) A Vindication of the True Art of Self Defence (1724)
Donald McBane (1664 – c.1730) was a Highlander, born near Inverness. An army officer and writer on swordsmanship, he was also a self-proclaimed scoundrel, who supplemented his professional soldiers’ income by running a fencing school out of his wife’s brothel and gambling house. Though he participated in battles in both Great Britain and Europe in his infamous career, he undoubtedly fought in more duels, the last of which took place in Edinburgh in 1726 when McBane was 62 years old. At the request of several noble men McBane accepted a challenge match. He broke his young opponent’s arm and wounded him seven times.
The following year McBane finally resolved to fight no more and “repent for my former wickedness” and wrote the autobiographical masterpiece for which he is known, the “Expert Swordsman’s Companion.”, which was first published in Glasgow in 1728, a work which includes instruction in Broadsword, Backsword and McBane’s weapon of choice, the Smallsword.
Robert Roy MacGregor, (1671 – 1734) usually known simply as Rob Roy or alternately Red MacGregor, was a famous Scottish folk hero, an outlaw and a loveable rogue of the early 18th century. He is sometimes known as the Scottish Robin Hood, though others would have called him a thief and cattle rustler. Rob Roy is anglicized from the Gaelic ‘Raibeart Ruadh’, or Red Robert; this is because Rob Roy had red hair, though it darkened to auburn in later life.
His trade in adult life was as a cattle owner and herdsman and he was an accomplished swordsman. During the uprising of 1715 he led his Clan to fight for the Jacobites. For this he was charged with treason and had to become an outlaw.
According to the Dewar Manuscript, Rob Roy and Charles Stuart of Ardshiel argued over their actions at the Battle of Sheriffmuir in the year 1715. Rob Roy challenged Charles Stuart to a duel. Stuart was a reknowned Jacobite, who survived the battles of Sherrifmuir and Culloden, commanding the Stuarts of Appin there. He also was regarded as one of the greatest swordsmen in Scotland in his day. Their duel took place in an inn near Stirling, and ended when MacGregor was slashed on the chin. Charles Stuart was the only person to defeat the outlaw Rob Roy in a duel. Years later, in 1734, Rob Roy died from blood poisoning which was said to have been from this wound on his chin.
Daniel Defoe wrote a fictionalized account of his life in 1723 called Highland Rogue, making Rob Roy a legend in his own lifetime, and influencing George I to issue a pardon for his crimes just as he was about to be transported to the colonies. William Wordsworth wrote a poem called “Rob Roy’s Grave”, during a visit to Scotland in 1803. The publication of Rob Roy, by Sir Walter Scott in 1817, further added to his fame.
For years the sword that was said to have caused the death of Rob Roy was owned by a Borders family and in 2007 they took the sword that belonged to Charles Stuart to sword maker, historian and sword restorer Paul Macdonald in Edinburgh so that it could be restored. The sword has been in the family for generations and has been handed down throughout the centuries. Macdonald was able to arrange to reunite this sword with the Rob Roy sword that now belonged to a family in Moidart in the West Highlands of Scotland. He restored both swords that included working on the leather scabbard of Stuart’s sword and removing surface rust from the Rob Roy sword. Both owners agreed to display the swords at an exhibition in London and then at the National Museum in Edinburgh that is less that 40 miles where Rob Roy and Charles Stuart fought their duel.Rob Roy’s sword is on the left and Charles Stuart’s is on the right.
Pedro de la Torre (Seville 15th century) Maestro of La Destreza Comun. Along with Pons he is another author that is quoted in various books, however we only know about his existence through other authors.Menauguerra (1460s) He wrote Lo Cavaller in 1490 and it is one of the few treatises that was written in archaic Valencian.Jaime Pons (Perpiñan, Majorca 1474) Maestro of La Destreza Comun. His treatises are constantly mentioned in the books of Narvaez although no originals are preserved nowadays.Francisco Roman (Seville 1500s) Roman published various books and all have been preserved except for one, Bartolomé Perez (1532), which is often cited by Narvaez. He is one of the few Masters of La Destreza Comun that was eulogized by later authors from La Verdadera Destreza.Don Jerónimo Sánchez de Carranza (Seville 1550s) is commonly called the “Father of Spanish Fencing” and he wrote his text “Of the Philosophy of the arms, of its Art and the Christian Offense and Defense” in 1569 under the sponsorship of Don Alonso de Guzmán El Bueno, 7th Duke of Medina Sidonia), however it was not published until 1582. Although it was not his intention to change Spanish swordplay, his new ideas and the analysis of the techniques gave raise to a whole new fencing school. His work on Destreza, the Spanish school of swordplay, was the foundation of a fighting system that lasted almost 300 years.Cristobal Cala (1570s) He was a supporter of Carranza’s methods. His second book was published in 1642 although we know the existence of another book published by him in his introduction however no copy from the first book is preserved.Don Luis Pacheco de Narváez Born in Baeza, Jaén, Spain in the 1570s, Narváez was a student of don Jerónimo Sánchez de Carranza’s and a prolific writer who published his first treatise in 1600, his Abridgment of the Philosophy and Art of Arms of Jerónimo de Carranza. He wrote a number of other fencing treatises during his lifetime which culminated in his 750+ page treatise that was published posthumously New Science and Philosophy of the Art of Weapons, its Theory and Practice. Pacheco’s first works were derivative of Carranza’s, but he later attempted to discredit Carranza to further his own reknown which led to a split between the Carrancistas and the Pachequistas in the Spanish fencing community. In 1624, he was named Head Master of Arms by King Phillip IV. Pacheco died in 1640.Girard Thibault d’Anvers was a French swordsman primarily known for producing the most massive, lavishly illustrated fencing manual of the time, Académie de l’Éspée (1628). Aka Academy of the Sword. Published in Leyden. Interestingly, his fighting style is the distinct Spanish style of swordplay, La Destreza, Mysterious circles. He was reviled by the other Spanish masters, one of whom referred to him as “a bastard son of the Spanish school”.Francisco Antonio de Ettenhard (1640s) In his book published in 1697 he explains his teachings from a mathematical point of view used by most authors of La Verdadera Destreza.Don Alvaro Guerra de la Vega was a Spanish swordsman who wrote Comprension de la Destreza (1681).Nicolas D. Tamariz was a Spanish swordsman who wrote Cartilla y Luz en la Verdadera Destreza (1696).Don Francisco Lorenz de Rada was a Spanish swordsman of the Destreza style who wrote Nobleza de la Espada (1705).Manuel Antonio de Brea In 1805 he wrote a book combining the Spanish, Italian and French systems described using the principles of La Verdadera Destreza.Don Enrique de Leguina In 1904 he published a book about the bibliography and history of Spanish fencing. This is one of the most complete reference compendiums of Spanish swordplay.