We are proud to announce that we have formed a new sister organization to determine if there is interest in starting a classical fencing salle in Springfield, MO:
Queen City Classical Fencing.
Our hope is to cultivate interest and focus that eventually leads to smallsword instruction.
Please visit us at our site or on social media, and consider liking and sharing to develop a presence. It would be greatly appreciated.
The American Smallsword Symposium has been scheduled for 11-12 September, 2021. The event will be held entirely outdoors at the Carlyle House in at Alexandria, VA. There is ample parking, several hotels, and B&B’s in town. Early reports indicate the focus will be on Angelo this year. More details will be forthcoming. Check the American Smallsword Symposium group on Facebook and check back here for updates.
André Hajjar Sesé has released his English interpretation of de Brea’s 1805 destreza manual, Principios Universales Y Reglas De La Verdadera Destreza Del Espadin… on his blog, Destreza Nova. La Verdadera Destreza refers to the Spanish school, a school of rapier uniquely rooted in geometry, philosophy, and an amazing use of footwork. For the uninitiated, it may appear somewhat like a geometric alchemy.
Some may argue that Destreza is tangential to the study of the smallsword, and there is some merit to that argument. However, one can consider Destreza somewhat as an ancestral cousin of the smallsword. Regardless of where you fall in this argument, there is no doubt that a smallsworder of the French or English school could easily have crossed swords with a Spanish practitioner. To that end, I offer you Angelo’s plate 43 from his 1783 publication:
Hajjar Sesé interpretation has focused on the practical use of the Spanish school while omitting the mathematical and philosophical components. His efforts are substantial, resulting in a nearly 100-page publication.
We have added a citation to our Study page that links to Destreza Nova’s publication page, in part due to the expectation that filenames will change in the future as Hajjar Sesé addresses errata. The citation and link is also presented below.
de Brea, D. M. A. (2021). Principios Universales Y Reglas De La Verdadera Destreza Del Espadin, Segun La Doctrina De Francesa Italiana Y Española, Dispuestos Para Instrucción De Los Caballeros Seminaristas Del Real Seminario De Nobles De Esta Corte, por su Maestro D. Manuel Antonio de Brea, Maestro Mayory Examinador de Todos los del Reyno. [The Epic Study & Interpretation of the1805 Manuel de Brea’s Destreza-FencingTreatise]. (A. Hajjar Sesé, translator). Québec:, Canada: destrezanova.ca. [English] (Digitally sourced from destrezanova.ca here).
The original Spanish version of de Brea’s 1805 manuscript has also been added to the SmallswordProject.com’s online resources. It can be accessed via the study page or at the the link below:
Escrime Mont Royal Escrime Mont Royal (EMR), located at the NDG Community Center in Montreal, offers both modern & historical fencing. Within its approximate 120 members, 21 participate in the Historical Fencing program. Early French Smallsword is their main weapon; Basket Hilt & French Cane being secondary weapons under study.
Kévin Côté is the head Instructor for the Historical Program.
This early French smallsword (ca. 1655 C.E.) has few parallels. Its style reflects early French Classicism from the reign of Louis XIV, and was likely made in Paris. Its hilt features ornate foliage and figure motifs executed in gold inlay, and a faceted pommel. Its length measures 41″ (104.1 cm) overall with a blade length of 34 1/2″ (87.5 cm). The fullers on both sides of the blade are marked, “XX INTE X DOMINE X ESPADERO X” with an anchor-like cross at the forward end of the groove followed by three flat indents. Courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum, accession no. 2011.63.
Jamson and Crawley have teamed up to transcribe and digitally present a legible edition to McArthur’s 1780 smallsword manual. Crawley states, “McArthur is the most accessible smallsword treatise for starting out yet the least available” so he and Jamson have made it available via the Smallsword Symposium. The SmallswordProject.com mirrors it here with permission to help disseminate McArthur’s work.
Angelo, demonstrating the 5th position of the salute, Plate 14, 1763.
Domenico Angelo rocked the fencing world. He was an Italian trained in France, appointed as Royal Fencing Instructor by George II where trained the future King, George III, in escrime. In 1763, working with artist Gwyn Delin, he published L’Ecole des Armes in London, entirely in French. It featured clear wording and beautifully detailed plates which came to be the definitive fencing manual, much to the dismay of French fencing masters. Angelo went on to publish a bilingual edition of L’Ecole des Armes in both French and English in 1765.
Hanns Osterle, Bladesmith, Nuremberg, 1569. Tempera on parchment. Artist unknown. Courtesy Die Landauerschen Nürnberger Zwölfbrüderstiftung.
Although rapiers ruled the day and transitional smallswords would emerge a century later, this image of Hanns Osterle, a Nuremberg bladesmith at work in 1569, offers a priceless glimpse into history. Osterle sits in front of his anvil and strikes his hammer on a red-hot blade which he holds with pliers. More blades are in the hearth in the background, on the ground, and on the table. Several blades have tangs and fullers formed.
Perhaps Hanns Osterle’s workshop sounded something like this:
Anonymous, 1569. Tempera on parchment, 298 x 207. Courtesy Die Landauerschen Nürnberger Zwölfbrüderstiftung. Band 1. Nürnberg 1511-1706. Stadtbibliothek Nürnberg, 279.2° Folio 48 verso (Landauer I).