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Alfonso Falloppia

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Alfonso Falloppia
Born Lucca
Occupation Fencing master
Patron Ranuccio Farnese
Genres Fencing manual
Language Italian
Notable work(s) Nuovo et brieve modo di schermire (1584)

Alfonso Falloppia was a 16th century Italian soldier and fencing master. Little is known about his life, but he identifies himself as a native of Lucca, and describes himself as "Ensign of the Fortress of Bergamo".

In 1584, he published a treatise on the use of the rapier entitled Nuovo et brieve modo di schermire ("New and Brief Method of Fencing"). It was dedicated to Ranuccio Farnese, who was 15 years old at the time of publication and would become Duke of Parma, Piacenza, and Castro.

It has been suggested the Falloppia may be the student of Silvio Piccolomini in Brescia mentioned in 1580 by the French diarist Michel De Montaigne during his tour of Italy.

On Monday I dined at the house of Sir Silvio Piccolomini, very well known for his virtue, and in particular for the science of fencing. Many topics were put forward, and we were in the company of other gentlemen. He disdains completely the art of fencing of the Italian masters, of the Venetian, of Bologna, Patinostraro (sic), and others. In this he praises only a student of his, who is in Brescia where he teaches certain gentlemen this art.

He says there is no rule or art in the common teaching, he particularly denounces the practice of pushing your sword forward, putting it in the power of the enemy; then the passing attack; or repeating another assault and stopping, because he says this is completely different to what you see by experience from combatants.[1]

While the timeframe is plausible there is no further evidence to corroborate this theory, and it remains speculation. Furthermore there are no marked similarities between the treatises of Falloppia and Federico Ghisliero (a self-declared student of Piccolomini) although curiously they both dedicate their respective treatises to the same patron, Ranuccio Farnese, within three years of each other.

Treatise

Additional Resources

References

  1. de Montaigne, Michel. Journal du voyage de Michel de Montaigne en Italie, par la Suisse & l'Allemagne en 1580 & 1581, Volume 1. Paris, 1774.p.284.
  2. The palmo (plural palmi) is an antique unit of measurement. Its precise length varied by location, but was typical around 25cm.
  3. The braccio is another antique unite of measurement, whose length varied by location. A Milanese braccio for example was 59.49cm, or approximately 23.4 inches.
  4. Contrapassare.
  5. In other words, towards the right.
  6. This seems to refer to the outside of the dagger arm, not the sword arm.
  7. In the original: passo giusto.