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Marc'Antonio Pagano

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Marc'Antonio Pagano
Born Early XVI century
Died 1560 ca.
  • Pietro Pagano (father)
  • Gioan Girolamo (nephew)
  • Mutio Pagano (nephew)
Occupation Fencing master
  • Juan Ramires de Montalvo
  • Luigi Carafa, prince of Stigliano
Movement Neapolitan Swordmanship
Genres Fencing manual
Language Italian
Notable work(s)
  • Le tre giornate di Marc'Antonio Pagano, Gentiluomo Napolitano, dintorno la disciplina de l'arme et spetialmente della spada sola (1553)

Marc'Antonio Pagano (1500-1560 ca) was a Neapolitan fencing master, who lived in the first half of the 16th century and wrote the first known treatise of southern Italy.

Marc’Antonio was born around the beginning of the XVIth century, probably in the area between Salerno and Naples. Little is known about his private life. He belonged to a very ancient feudal family of the Realm, deeply involved in warfare and administration, and very close to the royal house of Aragon. With the advent of the viceroyalty, the family obtained relevant positions inside the military and a lot of its members followed the career under the Imperial sign. Many of them died during military actions, like one of the young protagonists of the dialog, Mutio, who was killed in Flanders. The most important information about Marc’Antonio is reported in a book written by one of his nephews, Cesare. Cesare states that since the age of 7 Marc’Antonio was dedicated to fighting on foot and on horse. At the age of 49, he dedicated himself to teaching. He died ten years later. In his work about equitation, Antonio Ferraro gave us another clue about the career of Marc’Antonio as a teacher. It seems, in fact, that he was master of arms for a branch of the house of Carafa, one of the most important in the Realm. This branch was the same that held the title of princes of Stigliano and duke of Mondragone, the place where the dialog is set. He was also the master of other relevant personalities. The famous erudite and historian Summonte also reported the interesting point that Marc’Antonio was a member of the Seat of Porto, one of the organizational structures of the nobility in the city of Naples. In 1547 he took part in the uprising against the introduction of the inquisition in the Realm: citizens armed with capes and swords and other weapons assaulted the garrison of Castelnuovo, which was armed with pikes and muskets. In 1553 he wrote his most remarkable work Le tre giornate. Throughout his work we can find different references to the martial traditions of other parts of Italy and of other European countries and this could be evidence of the mobility of the author or, at least, of the exchange of knowledge between the Realm and the rest of Europe. It’s quite obvious if we think of the employment of Neapolitan soldiers all around the world.

Additional resources

  • De Filippo, Marco, Le tre giornate di Marc'Antonio Pagano, gentil'huomo napoletano, d'intorno alla disciplina de l'arme et spetialmente della spada sola, Edizioni Spring, 2015, ISBN 978-88-9703-323-3