'New' French rapier and dagger text

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'New' French rapier and dagger text

Postby admin » 22 Oct 2008 14:04

From Matt Galas:

Last year, I located a previously unknown fencing manual by a prominent French master named Captain Peloquin. The manual is titled "Showcase of Fencing with the Sword and Dagger, Composed in Former Times by Mr. Peloquin, Captain and One of the Four Leading Fencing Masters of France." The manual is undated, but was clearly written before 1608, when it was listed in a library catalog. Internal clues make it likely that it was actually written some time in the 1580s or 1590s.

The manuscript is actually a copy of an older manuscript in the possession of the copyist. The copyist says that he was a good friend of Master Peloquin, who was one of the four best masters of France. The copyist also says that he trained King Henri IV of France in the use of arms. Because of textual clues, it is likely this training occurred some time in the 1570s. This makes the author roughly contemporary with Henri de St. Didier, whose fencing manual was published in 1573.

The most interesting aspect about Peloquin's work are the bizarre diagrams which appear on every page. They consist of a floating sword and dagger; curved or angular lines depicting the movement of the weapons; disembodied eyes and hearts, representing the targets; and footprints similar to those found in St. Didier's manual. On top of this is superimposed a grid that relates to height of the target. Numbers on both bladework and footwork indicate the tempo in which each is supposed to move. Together with the text, these diagrams are actually quite good at conveying the fencing action.

Given the small number of surviving French works on swordsmanship from before 1600, this is a significant find. The fact that it was written by a prominent master who trained the King of France makes it even more significant. Unfortunately, it is comparatively short (28 folios) and only deals with the rapier and dagger. Still, this represents a large increase in our knowledge of the French martial tradition.

I have transcribed this short manual, and have finished the first draft of a translation. I am currently refining my translation, with assistance from Fabrice Cognot. I also plan on presenting a lecture on this manual at this year's Annual Gathering of HEMAC in Dijon. This manual will likely be published in the Dijon publication for this year.

The following is a description of Captain Peloquin's work, which contains the title at the top of each page:


1r Title: Cabinet d’Escrime de l’espee et poingnardt, composé jadis

par Monsieur Peloquin, Capitaine et l'un des quattre premiers maistres d'escrime de


1v Blank

2r-3v Dedication

4r-v Les Hauteurs et les Gardes (with diagrams)

5r Garde Premiere . Avec les Primes (w/ diagram)

5v Garde Seconde (w/ diagram)

6r Garde Tierce (w/ diagram)

6v Garde Quarte (w/ diagram)

7r Assaut et riposte basse . en garde premiere (w/ diagram)

7v Haute . en garde Seconde (w/ diagram)

8r Assaut et riposte . Gauche, en garde tierce. (w/ diagram)

8v Droitte en garde tierce (crossed out) Quarte. (w/ diagram)

9r Les Tirades . en garde Premiere. (w/ diagram)

9v Tirade en garde seconde. (w/ diagram)

10r Tirade en garde tierce (w/ diagram)

10v Tirade en garde quarte. (w/ diagram)

11r Les Cavemens. en garde premiere (w/ diagram)

11v Cavement en garde Seconde. (w/ diagram)

12r Cavement en garde tierce. (w/ diagram)

12v Caveent en garde quarte. (w/ diagram)

13r Voutements en garde premiere. (w/ diagram)

13v Voutement en garde seconde. (w/ diagram)

14r Voutement en garde tierce. (w/ diagram)

14v Voutement en garde quarte (w/ diagram)

15r BATERIES, en garde premiere. (w/ diagram)

15v Baterie en garde seconde. (w/ diagram)

16r Baterie en garde tierce. (w/ diagram)

16v Baterie en garde quarte.(w/ diagram)

17r DOUBLE BATERIE aveec l'espee en garde premiere. (w/ diagram)

17v Double Batrie avec lespee en garde seconde. (w/ diagram)

18r Double baterie en garde tierce. (w/ diagram)

18v Double baterie en garde quarte. (w/ diagram)

19r ESTRAMAÇONS en garde premiere. (w/ diagram)

19v Estramaçon en garde seconde. (w/ diagram)

20r Estramaçon en garde tierce. (w/ diagram)

20v Estramaçon en garde quarte (w/ diagram)

21r Estramaçon en Double Baterie en garde .I.(w/ diagram)

21v Estramaçon en Double Baterie en garde seconde. (w/ diagram)

22r Estramaçon en Double Baterie en garde tierce. (w/ diagram)

22v Estramaçon en Double Baterie en garde quarte. (w/ diagram)

23r Coup de Ruse du Poingnart. en garde premiere. (w/ diagram)

23v Coup de Ruse du Poingnardt en garde seconde. (w/ diagram)

24r Coup de Ruse du Poingnardt. en garde tierce. (w/ diagram)

24v Coup de Ruse du Poingnardt. en garde quarte. (w/ diagram)

25r Coup de Ruse en garde Premiere. (w/ diagram)

25v Coup de Ruse pour couper le poignet de son ennemy en garde. (w/ diagram)

26r Liaison de l'Espee et poingnardt. en garde tierce (w/ diagram)

26v Liaison de l'espee et poingnardt. en garde quarte. (w/ diagram)

27r Traict D'Alechement. en garde premiere (w/ diagram)

27v Traict d'Alechement. en garde seconde. (w/ diagram)

28r Double cavement en garde tierce. (w/ diagram)

28v Double cavassy en garde quarte. (w/ diagram; text of technique simply ends; there is no text denoting the end of the work.)

(blank leaf at end)


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Postby Cutlery Penguin » 22 Oct 2008 16:40

I'd love to see this, it sounds fascinating.
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