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Angelo Viggiani dal Montone

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Angelo Viggiani dal Montone
Died 1552
Bologna (?)
Relative(s) Battista Viggiani (brother)
Occupation Fencing master
Genres Fencing manual
Language Italian
Notable work(s) Lo Schermo (1575)
Manuscript(s) Cod. 10723 (1567)
Translations Traduction française

Angelo Viggiani dal Montone (Viziani, Angelus Viggianus; d. 1552) was a 16th century Italian fencing master. Little is known about this master's life, but he was Bolognese by birth and might also have been connected to the court of Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor.[1]

In 1551, Viggiani completed a treatise on warfare, including fencing with the side sword, but died shortly thereafter. His brother Battista preserved the treatise and recorded in his introduction that Viggiani had asked him not to release it for at least fifteen years.[1] Accordingly, a presentation manuscript of the treatise was completed in 1567 as a gift for Maximilian II (1527-1576), Holy Roman Emperor. It was ultimately published in 1575 under the title Lo Schermo d'Angelo Viggiani.


As the older text, the 1567 presentation manuscript is used to structure the treatise on this page. Viggiani's printed book includes side notes that indicate the topic discussed in a particular region of each page; because we can't display them that way on this site, they're added into the text at the beginning of the paragraph they describe.

Note: This article includes a very early (2002) draft of Jherek Swanger's translation. An extensively-revised version of the translation was released in print in 2017 as The Fencing Method of Angelo Viggiani: Lo Schermo, Part III. It can be purchased at the following link in softcover.

Additional Resources

The following is a list of publications containing scans, transcriptions, and translations relevant to this article, as well as published peer-reviewed research.


  1. 1.0 1.1 Unspecified service to Charles is mentioned in his brother's dedication on page 3.
  2. Literally, “Braggart”.
  3. Literally, “Iron Mouth”.
  4. It is conspicuous that in every other instance in the present text, (at least, in the sections translated here) Viggiani uses the term “da giuoco” (of play/practice) to refer to practice arms. Sydney Anglo (The Martial Arts of Renaissance Europe p.324, footnote 102) refers to evidence showing that in late 16th century Spain the spada da marra was considered to be an Italian equivalent of the spada negra, a blunted weapon with a button, and discusses the significance of the different terms. “Marra” in modern Italian is “hoe, fluke of an anchor”, and is given by Florio (A Worlde of Wordes, 1598) to mean “a mattock, a spade, a shovell, a rake to mingle sand and lome together, a pickaxe, or such rusticke instrument.” Thus “spade da marra” may simply mean “swords of blunt metal”, and represent a standard type of practice weapon. Of possible relevance, “smarra” is used to refer to the practice rapier by Marcelli (Regole della scherma, 1686) and others, presumably as a linguistic descendent of “spade da marra” (Gaugler, The History of Fencing, 1998, p. 92); turning again to Florio, “smarrare” is given as “to pare or shave down” and so “smarra” may simply derive from the meaning of “a sword whose point has been pared down”, rather than a contraction of “spada da marra”. It is intriguing to speculate that the term was originally pejorative, suggesting something akin to “swords like shovels”.
  5. Psalm 45:3.
  6. The word for which I substitute the phrase “dull edge” is, in the original, “costa”; the relevant meaning given in Florio is “the back of a knife”. Viggiani uses it to refer, first, to a dull false edge (as in a backsword); and second, to a dull portion of either the false, or, more likely, both edges (as an extended ricasso). I am unaware of a discrete word in English that could stand in adequate stead.
  7. Psalm 149:6-7.
  8. This is almost certainly an error in the original. The text reads “se nascerà la punta dalle parti dritte, chiamerassi punta rovescia”. This is, of course, the complete opposite of what is meant by “punta rovescia”, and Viggiani immediately contradicts this statement on pg. 56V, endnote immediately following.
  9. Here the correct definition (contrary to the preceding endnote) is given: “Se si ferirà con la punta, o nascerà dalle parti diritte, & chiamerassi punta diritta, o dalle parti stanche, & chiamerassi punta rovescia…
  10. "C" is upside down.
  11. This is the same as the statement from Rodomonte two paragraphs down in the printed book.
  12. This is the same as the statement from Rodomonte two paragraphs up in the manuscript.
  13. Interpreting this maneuver is problematic. It may refer to the practice of arresting a fendente by meeting it at the agent’s hand, hilt, or at worst, forte; yet no mention is made of the patient closing distance to do so, creating the impression of simply putting a hand or forearm in harm’s way rather than take the blow in the head. The relevant passage in the original is “…il suo braccio stanco tien cura, & custodia della testa in pigliare il colpo con la mano, o in ritener co’l braccio la forza sua…
  14. A braccio is a unit of length of approximately 60 centimeters. The specified distance is therefore about 30 cm, or one foot.
  15. This is, of course, in full, “guardia larga, offensiva, imperfetta”.
  16. Misnumbered 73.