Hi Harry, welcome to the forum.
I'll give some brief responses, but leave a fuller response to people studying this period.
Harry J J Gardner wrote:I have begun a personal project of researching all areas of society and life in Elizabeth’s the 1st London in the last 13 years of her reign (1590-1603) and was interested to know what fencing styles were prevalent during this time in London and England as a whole?
As far as I can see, you have a lot of different fencing styles interacting in London at that time:
- The traditional style taught by the Masters of Defence
- The 'other' English styles being taught/practiced by people not in the Masters of Defence (eg. Silver)
- The 'hybrid' styles which took influence from Italian and Spanish fencing (eg. Swetnam, perhaps)
- I am not sure if this was openly being taught in England at the time (as the Spanish were the 'enemy'), but certainly fencers in England knew about it, as shown by Silver's text. Thibault's treatise was later widely published and available.
- Hanging Sword Lane in the City of London was full of Italian fencing schools apparently. There seem to have been a lot of Italian fencing teachers in London at this time, and most people wrongly state that the first English language fencing treatise was Silver in 1599, when it was actually Saviolo in 1595. Understandably people like Silver and the Masters of Defence got annoyed that the Italian teachers had come along and taken a lot of their trade. By the early-1600's though it is obvious that there were also English teachers who embraced the new Italian weapons and terminology and started developing their own hybrid styles (eg. Swetnam and the Duke of Newcastle).
The main swords carried and used at this time could probably break into 4 main categories:
1) Basket-hilted broadswords/backswords
2) Swept-hilted cut and thrust 'sideswords'/broadswords
3) Swept or Cup-hilted rapiers with blades primarily designed for thrusting
4) Tucks/estocs, with hilts like 3), but with narrow, sometimes triangular-sectioned, thrusting-only blades
Also would you be able to tell me which fencing masters/teachers were based in London and where were their schools. I know of Rocco Bonetti, his son Jeronimo, Vincentio Saviolo, Giacomo di Grassi and the official guild, English Masters of Defence. But what of others?
The best source for this that I know of is Aylward's book 'The English Master of Arms' -http://www.abebooks.co.uk/book-search/t ... /sortby/3/
My 2nd question is what did rapiers look like during this period? Did styles change dramatically in these 13 years or did they generally keep to a consistent look, and would we have seen the Pappenheimer hilts alongside Swept hilts or other variations.
The best source I know for that question is Norman's 'The Rapier & Smallsword':http://www.waterstones.com/waterstonesw ... d/7453951/
Most rapiers in 1600 were various styles of swept-hilt and cup-hilt. There were distinctive English styles of hilt - Armour Class in Scotland make an example. Pappenheimers are somewhat later, I think.
And last but not least I know George Silver was prominent during this time and advocated the use of the backsword, so again what did the backswords and basket hilts look like during these 13 years.