by Guy Windsor
by Marco Rubboli and Luca Cesari
Chapter I begins.
If you wish to truly know
If fencing is an art or science
Hark my words, I say.
Ponder this, my conclusion:
It is a true science and not an art
As my brief eloquence shall show.
Geometry divides and separates
By infinite numbers and measures,
And fills her papers with science.
The sword is placed in her care,
So measure blows and steps together
So Science keeps you safe.
From Geometry fencing is born,
And under her it has no end;
And both of them are infinite.
And if you heed my doctrines,
You'll know how to answer with reason
And pluck the rose from the thorns.
Music adorns this subject,
Song and sound enshrine the art,
To make it more perfect through science.
To make your opinion clearer,
And to sharpen your intellect,
So you may be able to answer to everyone:
So Geometry and Music combine
Their scientific virtues in the sword,
To adorn the great light of Mars.
Now if you like what I have said,
And the explanations I have written
Keep them in mind, so you will not fall.
So answer true as have told you,
In fencing you will find no end,
as every backhand finds its fore,
Counter by counter without end.
Se alcun volesse intender e sapere
se lo scrimir è arte over sienza
io dico che tu noti el mio parere
Considera bene questa mia sente(n)za
che l’è scienza vera e non è arte
e mostrallo con breve eloquenza.
Chapter II Measures of the two handed sword.
The sword should be of the just measure,
The pommel should come under the arm
As it appears here in my writing.
As you wish to avoid any trouble,
The pommel should be round to fit the fist
Do this to not enter the trap.
And do this as it is always done:
The handle should be always a span
If it is not of this measure there is confusion.
So your mind is not deceived,
The crossguard should be as long as the handle
And pommel together, and you won't be condemned.
You want the crossguard strong and square
With a wide and pointed iron,
It must cut and thrust to do its duty.
Take note and understand this guide
If you wish to test the sword in armour,
Make the cutting edges four fingers from the point,
With the handle as is said above,
With pointed crossguard, and note well the text.
Chapter III Principles of the sword
Grasp the sword manfully,
Because the cross is a royal weapon,
Together with a bold spirit.
If you have a sharp mind,
You must consider here,
The way to climb these stairs.
The art of the sword is just in crossing,
Suiting thrust or cut to their context,
To make war on he who stands against you.
On one side you make defence
The forehand blows go on one side,
The backhands attack from the other.
The true edge falls on the forehand side,
And note well this truth
The backhand and false edge go together.
And follow then as the saying goes,
Place yourself in guard with the sword in hand,
If you pass forwards or back remain side-on.
So that you will not play in vain,
Face the side to which you turn,
And enter there, if this is not strange.
Letting your sword go hunting
Against the companion with your point in his face,
Ready to strike immediately.
You must be very shrewd,
Keep an eye on the weapon that can strike you,
Grabbing the tempo and measure together.
Make your heart agree with your defence
The feet and the arm with good measure,
That you may take all the honour.
And note well and understand my text
That if the companion strikes with his sword,
With yours acquire the crossing.
Your guard should not go out of the way,
Go with the cover and with the point raised
The blows hammer the head.
Play of the cross and you will not be conquered,
If the companion crosses wide and you thrust,
You want to not be divided from him.
When you are joined with him at the half sword,
Constrain him as reason desires,
And leave the wide play and confront him.
Also sometimes it is so,
That a man doesn’t feel himself very strong,
Then he needs cunning, not words.
Pass out of the way with skill,
With the cover of the good backhand,
Redoubling swiftly with a forehand.
If you don’t feel your cunning has been lost
Leave the wide and find the constrained play
Make strength change sides.
And take note of and understand this saying,
That when crossing, cross with strength,
To lessen the threat from his sword.
Know that cleverness always overcomes strength,
Make the cover and immediately strike,
In wide and constrained you’ll beat down strength.
And if you want to make him feel your point,
Go out of the way with a pass across
Make him feel your point in his chest.
With the point high and the pommel low
And the arms inside with a good cover,
Pass to the left side with a good pace.
And the point will find an open way,
Passing to the outside do not fear,
In every way you will make your offer.
Control him and grasp the grip of his sword,
If this cannot be done well,
Crushing his sword does the duty.
Always match your passes
With the enemy’s, and when you find him
This I say- do not let go!
When you see that the sword moves,
Or if he steps, or strikes,
Or you pass back, or make him find a bump.
Wisdom, strength and boldness act
With him who desires honour in arms,
Lacking these, he must exercise more.
You must have a bold heart,
If a big man appears strong
Using cunning will give you favour.
Be as certain as death
That your play is not courteous,
When the other tries to shame you
And note well this text of mine,
You know your heart, not the companion’s
Do not wish ever to use that fantasy.
Make yourself great in trickery
If you wish for success in this art
That will bear good fruit.
Note well and understand this part
Who wishes of the art to act in opposition
Of a thousand, one will dirty his cards.
He loses honour for one single failing
If he believes low things to be high
And from this alone will be often against others.
Often he makes from this other complaints
Being in opposition he comes to quarrel
Showing that with him who is versed in the art
If the tongue could cut with reasons,
And strike as does the sword,
The dead would be infinite.
And make sure your mind does not fall
But grasp with reason your defence,
And with justice go justly.
If you go without reason to offend others,
Certainly damns his soul and body
And makes his master ashamed.
And you must always keep in mind
To always honour your teacher,
Because money does not repay such a debt.
If you would be dextrous, and master the sword,
You must be accomplished in teaching and learning,
Raising to give you the act of the left.
If loyalty for them gives you (their) love,
You can talk to princes and kings,
Because this art is used by them.
Because they are expected to govern
And each to maintain justice,
For widows, orphans and other affairs.
All sorts of good things come from this art,
By arms the cities are kept down
And the crowds are kept under control.
And she maintains in herself such dignity,
That it always warms your heart,
Driving out cowardice.
Acquire both riches and honour
And this passes above all other things
Be always in your lord’s good graces.
If you would have fame in this art,
You will never be poor, anywhere,
Because this virtue is so glorious.
If poverty shows you the cards
Only once, then you will see,
By this art, riches will embrace you.
Sometimes you will find yourself
Being like a spent light,
Do not doubt that you will soon return.
To find this art I have spared no pains,
I speak not of the old but the new
To make her known I am content.
I have kept her firmly imprisoned,
But as I release her, I truly swear
She gave me wealth, and as it happened to me,
So it will be for those in whom we find this virtue.
Piglia la spada in mano virilmente
perché l’è croce e è un’arma reale.
Insieme acorda l’animo valente.
Si tu averai nel cervel tuo sale
This art is so noble and refined,
She makes masters of men who follow her,
Makes the eye quick and bold and noble.
This art teaches you to turn well,
Teaches also to cover and be strong,
And cuts and thrusts, it teaches the good parry.
How many are those, the numberless dead
To whom the art did not appeal,
And so they closed their doors to life.
There is no greater treasure than life,
And everyone strives to defend it,
To hold onto it as hard as they can.
Abandon material goods, and all valuable things,
Defend your body with this art,
And you will have honour and glory.
Oh what a laudable and good thing it is
To learn this art that costs you so little,
And a thousand times gives you life.
Oh in how many ways it can have a place with you
Without searching you will find quarrels
Blissful is he who can push the other’s fire.
My art is new and made with reason
I speak not of the old, that I leave
To our ancestors and their beliefs.
If you do not want your honour to be thrown down,
Measure your tempo and that of the companion.
This is the foundation and base of the art.
Open your ears to the great text,
And understand its beautiful reason,
To not give your teacher cause for complaint.
Make it so the swords are always sisters
When you come to fence with someone
And choose the one you want from them.
Do not give advantage of the sword to anyone
You will be in danger of being shamed,
And this is something to be followed by anyone.
Good eye, knowledge, speed are needed,
And if you have strength and heart together
You will scratch anyone’s mange.
Understand my sentence well,
A big man should have a long sword,
And a little man should have a short one.
A man of great strength can break the guards,
But natural cleverness will keep that in check,
It gives a good chance to a small man.
Who makes many blows brings venom
Who makes few does so with great effort,
In the end a black wind can be pleasant.
And if you come to the edge of my line,
And grasp the reason of this art,
She must extract you from trouble.
And note well that of which I speak,
Do not display the secrets of the art
So you won’t be injured for this reason.
Also understand well this other thing,
The sword that is longer is deadly,
You cannot play with it without danger.
Make sure they are of equal measure,
As I said in the first chapter
Of our book, that is above.
I only esteem the sword of two hands,
And this is the only one I use at need,
And of which the verse of my book sings.
And so you will not be shamed,
Avoid fighting more than one
Who makes against the other one the reed-pipe.
If force constrains you to contend
With more than one, then keep this in mind,
Take a sword that you can really use.
Choose a weapon that is light, not heavy,
So it is easily controlled
And you are not given difficulty by the weight.
At need you can take another way,
And you leave the thrust and employ
Other blows to return here,
As you will hear in my text.
Chapter V Of Thrusts and Cuts
The sword has a point and two edges,
But note well and understand this text,
That memory will not fail you.
One is the false, and the other the true,
And reason commands and desires,
That this is fixed in your brain.
Forehand and true edge go together,
Backhand and false edge stay together,
Except the fendente which wants the true.
Understand my text well,
The sword goes with seven blows
Six cuts with the thrust that strikes.
So that you will find this seam,
Two from above and below and two in the middle,
The thrust up the middle with deceit and suffering,
That our Air is often calm.
Chapter VI The seven blows of the sword.
We are the fendenti and we make quarrels,
To strike and cut often with grief,
The head and the teeth with the right reason.
And all guards that are made low to the ground,
We break often with our cunning,
Passing from one to the other without trouble.
The blows make a bloody mark,
When we mix them with the rota
We support the entire art.
Fendente for striking we are well endowed,
Returning to guard from pass to pass,
Note we are not slow to strike.
I am the rota and I have in me such a load,
That you want to mix me with the other blows,
I place a thrust often at a bow.
I cannot be courteous or loyal
Turning I pass through forehand fendente
And destroy arms and hands without delay.
People call me Rota by name,
I seek the false of the sword
I please the mind of he who uses me.
We are volanti, always crossing
And from the knee up we go,
Fendente and thrusts we often banish.
By crossing us pass without fail,
The Rota that come up from below,
And with the fendente warms our cheeks.
Semo fendenti et famo costione
de fendere e tagliare spesso con pena
testa e denti con deritta ragione
Ed ogni guardia che se fa terrena
rompemo spesso con lo nostro ingiegno
passando l’una e l’altra senza pena
Colpi facem de sanguinoso segno
se noi ne mescolamo con la rota
Chapter 7 Of the thrust.
I am he that quarrels with
All the other blows, and I am called the thrust.
I carry venom like the scorpion.
I feel so strong, bold and quick,
Often I make the guards plough again
When I am thrown at others and confront them
By my harmful touch, when I join them.
Chapter VIII The quarrel of the cuts and thrusts.
The rota with the fendente and the volante
Say to the thrusts “we will show
That you are not so dangerous”.
And when they come to us,
All the blows can make them lose their way
Losing in this joust the chance to strike.
The blow of the sword does not lose its turn,
Little worth the thrust to him the quick turn,
It makes it go very wide, the blows going that way.
If you don’t have a slack memory,
If the thrust doesn’t strike it loses the strike
All the others deem it weak.
Against just one the thrust finds its place,
Against more it doesn’t do its duty,
This is found in the text and the act.
If the thrust throws a rota do not fear
If it does not immediately take a good fendente,
It remains fruitless against my parry.
Keep in mind here,
If the thrust enters but does not swiftly exit,
It lets the companion strike back hard.
Your sword is expert at slicing a blow,
The thrust will lose its way to the strike,
It is mocked with the help of the low cross.
I make a straight fendente at you with the sword,
And break you out of that guard.
So that you are forced into a bad spot.
Do not lose a single hour of learning.
The great blows with a serene hand,
Will place you above the others and give you honour.
Break all low guards
Low guards await small loads,
And so heavy ones pass without difficulty.
Heavy arms do not go quickly to the step,
Light ones go and come like an arrow in a bow.
La rota coi fendente et coi volante
dicon contra le ponte e sì li mostra
che le non sonno pricoloxe tante.
E quando vengon’ a la presentia nostra,
tutti i colpi li fan smarrir la strada,
perdendo pur el ferrir per quella giostra.
Non perde volta el colpo della spada:
poco val la punta a chi presto volta
se fan far largo i colpi pur che i vada.
Si tu non hai la memoria sciolta,
se la punta non fere perde el trato
tute gli altri ferrir là te ne scolta.
Contra un sol la punta trova patto,
e contra più non fa già il suo dovere:
questo rechiede el documento et l’atto.
Se punta butta rota non temere,
se subito non piglia el bon fendente
remane senza fructo al mio parere.
Chi fa che ponghe un poco la tua mente,
se punta intrata non ha presto usita,
te fa el compagno de ferrir dolente.
Tagliando un colpo tua spada è perita
se punta nel ferrire perde strada
o ‘n deritta croce di sotto t’aita.
Ricto fendente farotte de spada
e tirarotte de tal posta fora,
Chapter IX Of the Cross.
I am the Cross with the name of Jesus
My sign is made both in front and behind
To find many more defences.
If I find myself against a different weapon,
I do not lose my way, this has been proven
This I often go looking for.
And when I find a long weapon,
Then with reason I make my defence,
To gain the honour in every venture.
Chapter X Discussion of the half sword.
Wanting to follow in this great work,
It is necessary to explain bit by bit,
All the strikes of the art.
So that you will understand and use
The system well, I wish to first make clear
The turning principle of the sword.
And with arms extended
Bring the edge to the middle of the companion.
And if you wish to appear great in the art,
You should go from guard to guard,
With a slow and serene hand,
With steps that are not out of the ordinary.
If you wish to make a stramazone at someone
Do it with a small turn to the face
Don’t make a very wide turn
Because all long movements are for nothing.
Making the roverso you will be helped,
Passing out of the way with the left foot,
Following with the right foot too,
Keeping an eye out for a good parry.
When you wish to enter in to half sword
As the companion lifts his sword,
Then don’t hold back,
Grab the tempo or it will cost you dear.
Place yourself in the guard of the boar,
When you enter with the thrust at the face
Do not leave your point in the face,
Turn quickly a roverso fendente.
And draw a mandritto, and keep this in mind.
So that you understand my intention,
With clear reasoning,
I hope to show you the way.
I don’t want your blows to be solely roverso,
Nor just fendente, but between one and the other,
If between is the common one.
Hammering the head on all sides.
Also I advise you when you have entered,
Be with the legs paired with his
You will be lord, and clear,
To constrain and strike valiantly.
And when you strike a roverso fendente,
Bend the left knee, and note the text,
Extend the right foot,
Without changing it, i.e. to the other side.
Also, if you see you are going to be attacked,
The left foot and the head now,
Because they are closer together,
So don’t use the direct line, but remain on the diagonal.
So you will be safe from every side,
So you want the fendente, strike from the right,
You need to bend
The right knee: and extend well the left.
Clearly the head will also be attacked,
With the right foot that is closest.
This is the better way.
This is not the footwork of our ancestors.
It is not necessary that anyone contradict this,
Because you will be stronger, and more secure,
Hard in defence,
And make war with shorter movements.
And neither can anyone throw you to the ground.
Volendo nui seguir questa degna opra,
bixogna dechiarar a parte a parte
tutti i ferrir de l’arte.
Acciò che ben se intenda e che s’adopra,
la ragion vol che prima ve descopra
Del rotare principio de la spada.
E’ con braccia stexe vada
Chapter XI Principles of Swordplay.
When you are joined at the half sword,
Make a mandritto or roverso,
Be sure to grasp the sense
Of what I say, because it is to the point.
If you are there, keep a sharp eye out,
And look quickly with the cover,
And hold the sword up,
So your arms play above your head.
I cannot say in a few words,
Because the matter is of the half sword,
So that you will be better pleased,
When you parry, parry with a fendente.
Brush aside the sword, a little shortened,
Treading on that of the companion,
You will make a good deal,
Parrying well however many blows.
When you parry the roverso, keep in front,
The right foot, and parry as I have said.
Parrying the mandritto,
Keep in front your left foot.
You should also keep in mind,
When you strike a roverso fendente,
To keep a careful eye out,
So that a mandritto doesn’t come from underneath.
And if the companion strikes and you all of a sudden
Parry, making then to the head
A blow with the false edge
And as he lifts it, strike a good roverso.
From below, through his arms,
Redoubling then with a quick mandritto,
And note also this,
That you do not fail the Reason of the Art.
If you strike a mandritto, then beware,
His roverso so he doesn’t strike you,
Make it that your sword
Parries with a fendente, so you are not caught.
And if it comes to you then to want
To enter underneath and grab his handle.
And then do your duty,
Hammering his moustache with your pommel,
Being very wary that hindrance does not grab you.
Quando tu sei a mezza spada gionto
Facendo tu el diritto o voi el riverso
farai che piglie el verso
di quel ch’io dico poi che sei al ponto:
Se tu vi steggie, tien pur l’ochio pronto
e fa la vista brive con coverta
et tien la spada erta,
che sopra el capo tuo le braccie gioche.
Non posso dire con parole poche,
perché gli effecti son de mezza spada.
Acciò che più ti agrada,
quando tu pare, para de fendente,
Scosta la spada un poco acortamente
da te, calcando quella del compagno.
Tu fai pur bon guadagno
parando bene i colpi tucti quanti.
Quando pare el riverso porge inanti
el destro piede, e para come ditto,
parando tu el drito
porai inanzi poi el tuo piè stancho.
El te bixogna aver la mente ancho
Et si el compagno tresse, et tu de botto
quando tu trai el riverso fendente,
aver l’ochio prudente
Ch’il mandiritto non venisse sotto.
para facendo poi a la testa cenno
Chapter XII Discussion regarding the Feints of the Sword.
Again I advise you, and note my words well,
That when you have entered into half sword
You then well from every side
Following the art with good feinting.
Feints call out to obfuscate
They hide from the other’s defence.
Do not let him understand,
What you want to do from one side or the other.
I cannot show you so well,
With my words how to do it with a sword,
Make your mind go
To investigate the art with my sayings.
And grasp valour with reason
As I admonish and as I teach you
And do it with cunning
You follow that which I have written in so many verses,
To discover the depths and the banks of the Art.
Chapter XIII Principles of the half-sword.
Being then joined at the half sword,
You can well hammer more and more times,
Striking on only one side,
Your feints go on the other side.
And when he loses his way with parrying,
And you hammer then on the other side,
Then you should decide
If you need to finish by closing in.
And if you want to throw blows,
Let a fendente roverso go,
Turning it acrossAnd a false edge with the point in his face.
Do not be divided from his point,
With roverso or mandritto
With whichever you can work.
Because the knees bend on every side.
Following that which I showed you above,
I repeat for you again this addition,
Always enter with the point,
Forcing upwards from below, finishing in the face
And you can strike just at the right time.
Chapter XIIII Theory of the half tempo of the sword
I cannot show you in writing
The theory and method of the half tempo
Because it remains in a knot
The shortness of the tempo of his strike.
The half time is just one turn
Of the knot: quick and immediately striking,
It can rarely fail
When it is done in good measure.
If you note well my writing
One who does not practice will parry badly
Often the turning
Breaks with a good edge the other’s brain.
Of all the art this is the jewel,
Because it treats as one the strike and the parry,
Oh what a valuable thing,
So practice it with good reason,
And it will let you carry the banner of the art.
Chapter XV Theory of the sword against the rising blow
There are many who make their base
In turning strongly from every side
So be advised,
As his sword turns, move
And you turn and you will win the test,
Harmonise yourself with him and also with the strikes
And make your going thus
With your sword directly to his.
To clear your mind of illusions,
You can also go into boar’s tooth guard,
And if he with the turning,
And you escaping from below up.
Listen and understand my reasoning,
You who are new to the art, and experts too,
I want you to be sure,
That this is the art and the true science.
Grasp this, that is a steelyard’s trace,
That if the companion is in the iron door guard,
Lock this into your heart,
You should be in the archer’s guard,
Watch out that your point does not waver,
That of the companion covers his sword;
Go a little out of the way
Straightening the sword and the hand with the point.
When your sword is joined at the crossing,
Then do the thirteenth constrained action,
As is you can plainly see
Pictured in our book of seven leaves.
You can also use in this art
Striking and closing that are more handy,
Leave the more left-handed,
Keep those that favour your hand,
So you will often have honour in the art.
Chapter XVI Mastering the sword
It is necessary that the sword should be
A great shield that covers all,
And grasp this fruit,
That I give you for your mastery.
Be sure that your sword does not
Make guards or strike far away,
O how sensible this thing is,
That your sword makes short movements.
Your point should watch the face,
Of the companion, in guard or striking,
You will take his courage,
Seeing always the point staying in front of him.
And you will make your plays always forwards,
With your sword and with a small turn,
With a serene and nimble hand,
Often breaking the tempo of the companion,
You will weave a web different than spider’s.
Bixogna che la spada sì te sia
un targone s’te copra tucto.
I am callipers, that divide into parts,
O fencer heed my reason,
Thus measure the tempo similarly.
The nature of the bear is to turn,
Going here, there, up and around
Thus your shoulder should move,
Sending your sword out to hunt.
I am a ram, always on the lookout,
Naturally always looking to butt,
So your cut should be clever,
Always parry when there is an answer.
The right hand should be prudent,
Bold and deadly as a serpent.
The eye with the heart should be alert,
Bold and full of foresight.
With the left hand, the sword is to thrust
Or to strike when it is joined
And if you want the strike to be complete
Make it as quick as a greyhound.
And he who does not have these keys with him
Will make little war with this play.
The legs keys it is well said,
Because you close them and also open them,
You see the sun, that makes great turns,
And where it is born it returns.
The foot with the sun should return together,
If you want the play to adorn your person.
The left foot firm without fear,
Make it constant like a rock
And then your body will be completely safe.
When one or other foot bothers you
Turn it quickly like a mill wheel,
The heart must be foresightful,
That expects shame and honour.
These are the blows of the two-handed sword,
Not those of the mezo tempo, they remain in a knot.
I am the rota and I often turn,
Finding the falseness of the sword.
We are the volante, always crossing,
From the knee up we go destroying.
We are the fendenti and we start the fight,
Breaking the teeth in our direct way.
I am the thrust, dangerous and quick,
Mistress of the other blows.