The use of the saber in the army of Napoleon (Bert Gevaert) - APD4/1(2016)

Citation Information: Acta Periodica Duellatorum. Volume 4, Issue 1, Pages 103–151, ISSN (Online) 2064-0404, DOI:, May 2016


Though Napoleonic warfare is usually associated with guns and cannons, edged weapons still played an important role on the battlefield. Swords and sabers could dominate battles and this was certainly the case in the hands of experienced cavalrymen. In contrast to gunshot wounds, wounds caused by the saber could be treated quite easily and caused fewer casualties. In 18th and 19th century France, not only manuals about the use of foil and epee were published, but also some important works on the military saber: de Saint Martin, Alexandre Muller… The saber was not only used in individual fights against the enemy, but also as a duelling weapon in the French army.

The French staff material from Johann Georg Pasch (Olivier Dupuis) - APD4/1(2016)

Citation Information: Acta Periodica Duellatorum. Volume 4, Issue 1, Pages 53–101, ISSN (Online) 2064-0404, DOI:, May 2016


Johann Georg Pasch was a very prolific author who published a large number of books during the third quarter of the seventeenth century. Some of these included physical exercises with a long staff and presented by Pasch himself as coming from France. Among all the known editions, four different versions can be isolated; this offers the possibility to study the filiation of the edition process. This study is combined with a textual criticism of the material, beginning with a comprehensive biography from the author and finishing with the questioning of the French origin.

A Well Regulated Militia Political and Military Organisation in Pre-Napoleonic Switzerland (1550-1799) (Jürg Gassmann) - APD4/1(2016)

Citation Information: Acta Periodica Duellatorum. Volume 4, Issue 1, Pages 23–52, ISSN (Online) 2064-0404, DOI:, May 2016


The period sees the transition of the ordinary fighter from feudal levy, yeoman or city burgher militia, to subject in an absolute polity, to today’s concept of the free citizen in a democratic state. In the period, the Swiss Confederacy was the only major polity that was not monarchical, but republican, and at the same time eschewed a standing army in favour of continued reliance on militia throughout.

A commonwealth’s military organisation is clearly one of fundamental importance to its own understanding of the nature of rule - its “constitution”. The article traces the transition and relates it to the concept of government under the different theories of the period.

Investigation on the collation of the first Fight book (Leeds, Royal Armouries, Ms I.33) (Fanny Binard/Daniel Jaquet) - APD4/1(2016)

Citation Information: Acta Periodica Duellatorum. Volume 4, Issue 1, Pages 3–22, ISSN (Online) 2064-0404, DOI:, May 2016


This paper investigates the collation of the first Fight Book, the Leeds, Royal Armouries, Ms I.33. It critically reviews previous hypotheses about the composition of the quires and the identification of the material lacuna, and proposes a new hypothesis. This investigation is based on observation of the original after restoration (2012) and the simulation of the previous hypotheses with a working document composed of laminated sheets into which reproductions were inserted. Bifolia were physically attached, forming quires by successive folds. This simulation phase allowed us to analyse textual and pictorial content according to the various postulates and to propose identification of the material lacuna. The pivot point allowing a new argumentation are the two counterfoils of the two flying leaves (fol. 19 and 26), which were not taken into account by previous researchers. Several synoptical diagrams of the representation of the quire are enclosed for the reader to follow the developments.

A Long Time Ago in a Library Far, Far Away ... The Adventures of the Gladiatoria Manuscript from New Haven (Dierk Hagedorn) - APD3(2015)

Citation Information: Acta Periodica Duellatorum. Volume 3, Issue 1, Pages 183–208, ISSN (Online) 2064-0404, DOI: 10.1515/apd-2015-0006, September 2015


In this paper I will describe the adventurous history of an important late medieval German fechtbuch—a fighting manual—that belongs to a number of manuscripts known as the Gladiatoria group. In the beginning, the extent and the characteristics of this group of codices are explained; later on I will deal with one specific specimen that formerly belonged to a library in Germany—the Herzogliche Bibliothek in Gotha—from where it vanished during or after World War II. Until quite recently this manuscript was believed to be lost. I was able to identify a Gladiatoria manuscript from the Yale Center for British Art in New Haven, Connecticut, as that missing manuscript. The article presents a detailed description of the manuscript; it follows the path of the many places the codex passed through from the days of its creation until the present time; it offers a thorough line of argument that proves on one hand that the manuscript from New Haven is in fact identical to the one that disappeared from Gotha, and that verifies on the other hand an assumption by the renowned researcher Hans-Peter Hils that it is identical to yet another believed-to-be-lost manuscript that was sold by auction in Heidelberg in the 1950s and 1960s as single leaves; and finally it makes an attempt to reconstruct the original structure of the manuscript after it had been pulled apart.

Honour and Fighting Social Advancement in the Early Modern Age (Jürg Gassmann) - APD3(2015)

Citation Information: Acta Periodica Duellatorum. Volume 3, Issue 1, Pages 139–181, ISSN (Online) 2064-0404, DOI: 10.1515/apd-2015-0005, September 2015


The article considers the importance of military service in social advancement, here understood as filling the role of “prince” in feudal law and thus participating in the government of an estate, in the transition from the Late Middle Ages to the Renaissance or Early Modern Age. In the context of a city burgher or a petty noble or knight advancing into a government role, did honour require that the individual have experience in fighting – in war, military organisation and leadership? How did mercenaries figure? What role, if any, did Fechtmeister, Fechtbücher, Fechtschulen or Kriegsbücher play?

A comparative analysis of literary depictions of social violence in two important 16th Century autobiographies (Jean Chandler) - APD3(2015)

Citation Information: Acta Periodica Duellatorum. Volume 3, Issue 1, Pages 101–137, ISSN (Online) 2064-0404, DOI: 10.1515/apd-2015-0004, September 2015


In the late 16th century two interesting individuals made substantial contributions to the relatively new genre of the autobiography. In 1595 Bartholomäus Sastrow (1520–1603), a north German burgher, notary, diplomat, and eventually burgomeister of the Hanseatic City of Stralsund, penned his life story. Benvenuto Cellini (1500–1571), goldsmith, soldier, musician and famous Renaissance artist from Florence, wrote his memoir between 1558 and 1563. Though they were born twenty years apart, both men had similar backgrounds. Both were from the lower-middle strata of society but rose to high status, both were widely traveled and directly acquainted with the most powerful individuals of their time (as well as some of the most lowly) and both experienced firsthand some of the most dramatic and important political and military events of the mid-16th century.

Amidst a backdrop of war and severe religious conflict, Sastrow, a German and a Lutheran, traveled to Italy, and Cellini, an Italian Catholic, travelled through Germany to France. This allows us to see each region from both a native and an outsider’s perspective. Both men participated in or were witness to numerous incidents of social violence and warfare during their lifetimes, as described in detail in their memoirs. These accounts give us an opportunity to examine the depiction of incidents of social violence by people who witnessed or participated in them first-hand, allowing us to contrast these episodes with the principles of self-defense as portrayed in the fightbooks. We can also compare these personal anecdotes with documented written and unwritten rules governing dueling, fighting, and the carrying of arms. This will help grant us further insight into the reality of personal armed conflict in the era of the fightbooks, and improve our understanding of their context and meaning.

The Roots of Fencing from the Twelfth to the Fourteenth Centuries in the French Language Area (Olivier Dupuis) - APD3(2015)

Citation Information: Acta Periodica Duellatorum. Volume 3, Issue 1, Pages 37–62, ISSN (Online) 2064-0404, DOI: 10.1515/apd-2015-0002, September 2015


This article offers a partial overview on fencing, as recognized through archive records, as well as French epics and romances from the twelfth to the early fourteenth century. In the twelfth century, fencing was only attested through knightly vocabulary as a way to describe actions performed during single combats involving a combination of shield and another weapon, most commonly a sword. Fencing was progressively dissociated from the knightly arts and there were even few mentions of its use by common people. There are archive records from the thirteenth century of individuals bearing the nickname “fencer”, although there is rarely enough context to be certain that they were really practicing the art. At the end of the thirteenth century, archives and narrative fiction show an established fashion for a certain form of fencing with a short round shield, the buckler. This is clearly established in London where surviving manuscripts include many regulations on fencing, however the fashion was also spread in the continent, even though it seems to be less documented.

Historical European Martial Art a crossroad between academic research, martial heritage re-creation and martial sport practices (Daniel Jaquet / Claus Frederik Sørensen) - APD3(2015)

Citation Information: Acta Periodica Duellatorum. Volume 3, Issue 1, Pages 5–35, ISSN (Online) 2064-0404, DOI: 10.1515/apd-2015-0001, September 2015


Historical European martial arts (HEMA) have to be considered an important part of our common European cultural heritage. Studies within this field of research have the potential to enlighten the puzzle posed by past societies, for example in the field of history, history of science and technology, or fields related to material culture.

The military aspects of history are still to be considered among the most popular themes of modern times, generating huge public interest. In the last few decades, serious HEMA study groups have started appearing all over the world – focusing on re-creating a lost martial art. The terminology “Historical European Martial Arts” therefore also refers to modem-day practices of ancient martial arts. Many of these groups focus on a “hands-on” approach, thus bringing practical experience and observation to enlighten their interpretation of the source material. However, most of the time, they do not establish inquiries based on scientific research, nor do they follow methodologies that allow for a critical analysis of the findings or observations.

This paper will therefore propose and discuss, ideas on how to bridge the gap between enthusiasts and scholars; since their embodied knowledge, acquired by practice, is of tremendous value for scientific inquiries and scientific experimentation. It will also address HEMA practices in the context of modern day acceptance of experimental (or experiential) processes and their value for research purposes and restoration of an historical praxis. The goal is therefore to sketch relevant methodological and theoretical elements, suitable for a multidisciplinary approach, to HEMA, where the “H” for “historical” matters.

Analysis of a Feder (Ferenc Rádi) - APD2(2014)

Citation Information: Acta Periodica Duellatorum. Volume 2, Issue 1, Pages 255–273, ISSN (Online) 2064-0404, DOI: 10.1515/apd-2015-0020, December 2015


This paper covers an analysis in the cross section of sword fencing and the field of analytical mechanics and computer analysis. It aims to get answer to following questions in case of a normal blow with a feder on another feder: where are critical cross section/sections, where is the biggest stress, might the feder maybe break or not?

To inspect this question a model for the feder was created in a reliable, realistic, simple and closed form. Modeling a single blow acceleration and speed state at the chosen time will be calculated. Based on this input data equations and conclusions from the analytical mechanics were applied, where D’Alamberts principle is used. Results will be validated by finite element computer aided modeling and also applied on specified real life cases.

Organization and Regulation of Fencing in the Realm of France in the Renaissance (Olivier Dupuis) - APD2(2014)

Citation Information: Acta Periodica Duellatorum. Volume 2, Issue 1, Pages 233–254, ISSN (Online) 2064-0404, DOI: 10.1515/apd-2015-0019, December 2015


During the nineteenth century, many sources were published about the regulation of fencing in Renaissance France. Comparing those sources shows significant though incomplete uniformity in the formalities observed in the training of students of fencing, particularly in the process followed by the neophyte in his passage to mastery of the art of defence.


The Bolognese Societates Armatae of the Late 13th Century (Jürg Gassmann) - APD2(2014)

Citation Information: Acta Periodica Duellatorum. Volume 2, Issue 1, Pages 195–231, ISSN (Online) 2064-0404, DOI: 10.1515/apd-2015-0018, December 2015


The Bologna archives preserve the bye-laws of 24 „armed societies”, dating from between 1230 and the early 1300s, written in good notary Latin. Though known to exist in other Italian city-states, only few non-Bolognese armed society bye-laws are preserved. These armed societies had disappeared everywhere by the Late Middle Ages.

This article explores the function of these armed societies and the feudal law aspects of the bye-laws - was their function predominantly military, social or political? Why did they suddenly appear, and just as suddenly disappear?

How did they fit into Bologna’s constitution - how did they relate to the civic authorities, the guilds? How did these armed societies operate? Who were the members? What arms did they have? Did they participate in the warfare between the city-states, the battles of the Lombard League and the Holy Roman Empire, the struggles between the Emperor and the Pope, the feuds between the Ghibellines and the Guelphs?

Liegnitzer, Hundsfeld or Lew? The question of authorship of popular Medieval fighting teachings (Daniel Jaquet / Bartłomiej Walczak) - APD2(2014)

Citation Information: Acta Periodica Duellatorum. Volume 2, Issue 1, Pages 105–148, ISSN (Online) 2064-0404, DOI: 10.1515/apd-2015-0015, December 2015


In numerous 15th and 16th century Fightbooks several sets of teachings appear alongside the glosses of Liechtenauer’s Epitome on armoured fighting and fighting on horseback (Harnischfechten and Rossfechten) often enough to be considered auctoritas on these subjects. However, their authorship from various witnesses are attributed to different authorial figures - Andreas Liegnitzer, Martin Hundsfeld, Jud Lew.

From 1452 until 1570, a number of diverse teachings are ascribed to them or faithfully reproduced without attribution: the most widely copied include the entitled Shortened sword for armoured hand and Shortened sword from the four guards, sword and buckler, dagger, wrestling and fighting on horseback. By a comparative analysis of existing witnesses, and by establishing the filiation tree of the related sources, we attempt to determine their original authorship. The analysis also yields additional conclusions regarding the influence of these authorial figures on other texts, proposes the filiation tree of the examined witnesses and presents the attempted study as a model for further research.

Thibault and Science I. Measure, Distances and Proportions in the Circle (János Majár/Zoltán Várhelyi) - APD2(2014)

Citation Information: Acta Periodica Duellatorum. Volume 2, Issue 1, Pages 67–104, ISSN (Online) 2064-0404, DOI: 10.1515/apd-2015-0014, December 2015


In this paper we investigate the basic mathematical and philosophical tool of Gérard Thibault d’Anvers, the Circle. One of our main goals was to describe the Circle with coordinate geometry, and to estimate the rate of accuracy of his work. Furthermore, we also wanted to test the statements made by Thibault in his fencing manual, Academy of the Sword [Thibault, 1630; Greer, 2005]. To do this, we compared his observations and calculations with the results of available modern day and historical anthropometrical data sets. Based on our results, we also want to give some practical information about Thibault system for the fencers who study his art in our time.

The guild and the swordsman (Jean Chandler) - APD2(2014)

Citation Information: Acta Periodica Duellatorum. Volume 2, Issue 1, Pages 27–66, ISSN (Online) 2064-0404, DOI: 10.1515/apd-2015-0013, December 2015


Guilds have a well-established association with the fencing systems of medieval Europe, and the phenomenon of guilds has been the subject of a great deal of new academic research in the last 20 years or so. A thorough summary of the recent scholarship on guilds and their structure and history will help provide context for what may be loosely described as armed guilds. Though armed guilds have not yet been the subject of a proper systematic analysis, it is possible to tentatively identify four types. Combining the summary of ‘civilian’ guilds with the emerging evidence of armed guilds, including the fencing guilds, may help us better understand the social relevance of martial arts in medieval and Early Modern Europe. This may in turn contribute positively to the ongoing efforts to interpret the medieval fightbooks.

The Neapolitan School of Fencing: Its Origins and Early Characteristics (Charles Blair) - APD2(2014)

Citation Information: Acta Periodica Duellatorum. Volume 2, Issue 1, Pages 9–26, ISSN (Online) 2064-0404, DOI: 10.1515/apd-2015-0012, December 2015


The Neapolitan school of fencing, which received official sanction after the reunification of Italy in the nineteenth century, originated in the seventeenth century. It was originally best known as a system of sword and dagger fencing. It is documented as such in both Italian and Spanish sources during the reign of Carlos II and the War of the Spanish Succession (1665-1714). This article discusses the evidence from both sets of sources during this period, comparing and contrasting the Neapolitan approach to previous, contemporary and subsequent approaches in order to provide the necessary historical context for its origin and development.

HEMA in the map of science (Mátyás Miskolczi) - APD1(2013)

Citation Information: Acta Periodica Duellatorum. Volume 1, Issue 1, Pages 80–91, ISSN (Online) 2064-0404, DOI: 10.1515/apd-2015-0011, December 2015


This article aims to place HEMA on the map of science. To be able to start this work I have to find an appropriate definition on science and on discipline (field of science). After describing main characters of a discipline I investigate HEMA if it shows this characteristic or can be recognised as an interdisciplinary field. The second question I focus on is the place of this field between disciplines and interdisciplinary topics. For this investigation I review methods of bibliometrics and scientometrics and choose a fitting method to be able to get an answer. I also choose a relevant sample of publications the chosen method can be performed on. After mapping HEMA and having result of the chosen method I try to give a picture on the development of in-field usage of HEMA-related works (how often relevant articles are cited by other HEMA-related articles).

A fifteenth-century fencing tournament in Strasburg (Olivier Dupuis) - APD1(2013)

Citation Information: Acta Periodica Duellatorum. Volume 1, Issue 1, Pages 67–79, ISSN (Online) 2064-0404, DOI: 10.1515/apd-2015-0010, December 2015


An undated paper from the archives of Strasburg contains a set of rules approved by fencing masters for a fencing tournament. The dating of this document is uncertain but could be established around 1470-71. A complete and unpublished transcription will be supplied and completed with a detailed study of the final set of rules but also the subset which received some modifications. Even if some key points remains obscure, it’s possible to find some comparison between this text and the contemporary knightly tournaments or the German Fechtschulen.

Fighting in the Fightschools late XVth, early XVIth century (Daniel Jaquet) - APD1(2013)

Citation Information: Acta Periodica Duellatorum. Volume 1, Issue 1, Pages 47–66, ISSN (Online) 2064-0404, DOI: 10.1515/apd-2015-0009, December 2015


This article discusses the role played by Fightmaster (master-at-arms, Schirm- or Fechtmeister ) in the Fightschools (Fechtschulen ) taking place in the swiss cities at the end of the middle ages. The strong link between these lessstudied events and the practice of martial arts according to the technical literature (Fechtbücher) will be examined, as well as the figure of the Fightmaster.

By collecting references out of normative documents regarding those events, it is possible to sketch both the fighting praxis inside the fightschools and the expertise of the Fightmaster in relation with the town’s authorities. Doing so, the questions of the professional performances, the reputation and the representation of the Fightmaster will be addressed. This approach will be illustrated by the case study of a master at arms, Peter Switzer.

Keywords: Fencing schools (Fightschool); Fightbook; master-at-arms (Fightmaster); duel; art of combat