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Captain Peloquin

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Captain Peloquin
Born 16th Century
Died 17th Century (?)
Occupation Fencing master
Nationality French
Patron Henri Ⅳ of France
Genres Fencing manual
Language Middle French
Notable work(s) Cabinet d’Escrime de l’espee et poingnardt
Archetype(s) Currently lost (ca. 1585)
Manuscript(s) MS KB.73.J.39 (1600s)
Translations Traduction française

Captain Peloquin was a 16th century French soldier and fencing master. He is described as "one of the four leading fencing masters of France", and his treatise notes that he trained King Henri IV of France in fencing. This likely occurred in the 1570s, giving us an approximate time frame for Peloquin's career.

Toward the end of the 16th century, Peloquin authored a fencing treatise titled Cabinet d'escrime de l'espee et poingnardt ("Showcase of Fencing with the Sword and Dagger").[1] The only extant copy, current MS KB.73.J.39, was made by J. de La Haye, a friend of Peloquin's, between 1600 and 1609. Peloquin's treatise is distinctive for its abstract diagrams consisting of floating weapons and feet with lines connecting them to disembodied hearts and faces.

Treatise

Additional Resources

References

  1. Matt Galas estimates that it was written in the 1580s or 1590s based on internal evidence.
  2. An alternative translation of “premier” could be “foremost”.
  3. This seems to refer to King Henry Ⅳ of France.
  4. A little further down in the treatise, after the Riposte from fourth guard, the primes are described as attacks given from close measure where further advancing is not required. The premieres are defined as attacks given whilst advancing into measure. The movements indicated on the four diagrams showing the guard may demonstrate the prime that can be made from each guard.
  5. Your right foot.
  6. The phrase “faisant deffaicte” provided some difficulty. Possible translations include “to avoid” or “to miss”, but whether it relates to an action of the body/feet or of the sword is unclear. Throughout the treatise we have chosen to translate it as “voiding”. In this instant it can mean either voiding a possible counter, for instant by stepping offline, or it could mean avoiding a possible defence with your sword. Neither of these avoidances is specifically indicated in the accompanying diagram.
  7. Most likely this ambiguous section indicates that during the first (assaulting) you must cover with the sword and during the second (riposting) you must cover with the dagger.
  8. The French word “Tirade” seems to indicate a feint performed with a (partial) strike that is quickly drawn back for a second strike to be made to a different target. It is one of the three types of feint described in the treatise, together with a feint by cavade (“Cavement”) and afeint by arching (“voûtement”).
  9. Voûtement” from ”voûte”, which in turn derives from old French “volte”. Despite the similarity to the Italian term “volta” a blade action is intended here, whereby the blade is curved upwards around the cover placed by the opponent. Instead, “incarter” is used for the volta-like stepping action. This has been translated here as “turning”, as in “turn with the left foot”.
  10. From the context it is not clear what “the first” refers to. Possibilities include the first tirade (i.e. the tirade from first guard) and the simple riposte.
  11. This most likely refers to using a feint as second as mentioned in the nota after the “Tirade in first guard”.
  12. Here, “making it miss” might be a better translation.
  13. The sentence “faisant déffait ou retraitte” suggests that both are actions of the body/feet. You either retreat (backwards) or void (going sideways).
  14. From context, the most likely translation might have been “as second [attack]”.
  15. It is unclear what exactly is meant with “en batterie”. Possibly the author either meant that the enemy's sword is in the process of making a beat, is in a position where it can be beat, or it could be a reference to artillery where “en batterie” means prepared to shoot. In this case, that could mean that the sword is aimed at you in a position where you can easily beat it aside (and that the opponent is ready to attack).
  16. “Liaison” or bind seems to indicate a harder, stronger engagement.
  17. This is a literal translation of “Chevallet”. Likely, a grappling or wrestling move, potentially a throw, is meant by this.
  18. This most likely refers to the “Cunning blow of the dagger in fourth guard”.
  19. I.e. an invitation.
  20. According to Cotsgrave French-English dictionary of 1611, the French word “désesperade” means “a long mournful song”. Here, “faire désesperade” was translated as “make despair”.
  21. Here, “faisant deffaict” could mean either avoiding his dagger with your sword, or voiding in general.