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|Illustrations||Katholieke Universiteit Leuven||Wiktenauer|
|Transcription||Matt Galas||Index:Compendio y Philosophia y Dztreza de las Armas (MS R4-B274)|
I recently made a trip to the Corble Collection in Leuven, Belgium with Bart Walczak. Among other things, we found a 20th century copy (on tracing paper) of a Spanish fencing manual from 1625. The manual, previously unknown, is dedicated by Master Gelanio Fermara (or possibly Ferrara) to his patron. It is interesting because it belongs to the poorly-documented Esgrima Comun (common fencing) tradition of Spain, as opposed to the better-documented Verdadera Destreza, which traces to Jeronimo Carranza and Pacheco de Narvaez.
The manuscript is also interesting because it consists entirely of illustrations with brief captions, which is unusual for the sparsely-illustrated Spanish texts of the time. The whereabouts of the original remain unknown. However, this is still a find of great interest, since some Spanish researchers (notably Marc Gener and Alberto Bomprezzi) are working on reconstructing the Esgrima Comun of Spain. I've already provided the illustrations to them; hopefully, this will assist them in their work.
A brief description of the manual and a transcription of the short captions appear below.
- Matt Galas
Corble Collection, 4-274, Catholic University of Louvaine, Belgium
- The manuscript copy is bound in a black and white cover labeled 4-274. This is the call number from the Corble Catalog. The title on the spine reads: "Copy M.S.S. Early Spanish Fencing. 1625." The binding contains two sheets of opaque paper followed by 33 sheets of transparent vellum tracing paper. The vellum sheets are followed by another two pages of opaque paper. The transparent sheets are numbered; the opaque pages are not.
- The work is dedicated to Don Juan Ferdinando, Baron of Gruenburg by his fencing master, Gelanio Fermara (or Ferrara). It is dated 1625. On page 13 is a note that the book belonged to the library of Joannie Friderici Nudruchess (or Nudrachess) in 1650. A note from the transcriber indicates that this ex libris was found on the inside cover of the original manuscript.
- On the vellum sheets are two full-page diagrams and 31 illustrations of fencers. Text and illustrations are in pencil. The fencers generally have one or more letters at their feet, denoting the proper footwork. Some have lines or arcs shown on the ground as well. Other illustrations show lines which indicate a possible attack or a line of sight. The vast majority of techniques show single rapier; a few illustrations show techniques against sword and buckler, or sword and dagger.
- The transcription below replicates the arabic numbers as they appear in the notebook; the roman numerals designate the opaque pages (which are not numbered). Areas of uncertainty are indicated in [brackets].