Georgina Methuen

THIBAULT, G. Academie de l'espee (Leiden, 1628)

Lovis, De Bovrbon dict le lvs te, par la Grace de Dieu Tres-Chrestien Roy de France ct de navarre, Treizlesme de ce nom 1628

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When looking at the text from this image it would appear to be in French. The text taken from this image is obviously a dedication to someone who is noted as a member of the French nobility in 1628. The presence of a dedication is common within this type of book typically being to an individual who would have helped to finance its creation. This book appears to be a fighting manual of the 17th century (commonly referred to within the German speaking parts of Europe as ‘fechtbuch’ or literally fight book). The book would also appear to be centred around the use of the rapier in personal or civilian duels as opposed to military use.

Contained within the image are a range of features. The date on this particular image is 1628, the top of the back drop appears to be a deep red cloak hanging down between two pillars as well as two heraldic shields with a crown on top coloured in yellow. The colouring may be there to point out the importance as the rest of the image is left uncoloured and bland.

Tabula I

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This image contains a variation of the anatomy of the human body and the combination of footwork and blade work. This image is split up in different sections.

Ciculus 1, is of the anatomy of the human body separated using the alphabet, one thing worth noting is the lack of the letter J throughout.

Ciculus 2-5 is a combination of anatomy and footwork.

Along the bottom of the image are two rapiers. The first in numerical value and the second in numerical value as well as the written value. The importance of this is to show the strength of the blade from the tip to the hilt by visually separating out the different sections of the blades length. What’s interesting to note is the detail of the hands upon each rapier, as this would seem to be showing the reader the correct method of gripping the handle.

Other diagrams on this image are lettered A-K again the letter J is missing. These diagrams show men in different positions or stances using a sword. Letter F is shows the reach of the sword vertically whereas letter I suggests the distance horizontally with regards to the footwork and letter K showing the distance of the blade again horizontally and at ground level. Again this would seem to be in accordance with other books of this type giving a visual representation of martial principles to the reader.

Tabula XI

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This image is particularly interesting as it contains the use of a long sword against a rapier. Or rather would seem to be visually showing the reader why the author believes the rapier to be the superior weapon when duelling.

This image contains a variation of diagrams numbered 1-15. Each of these sub diagrams which make up the larger image display techniques relating to the rapier versus the longsword. What may be worth noting here is that there is clear evidence (i.e. use of the thumb grip), from the positions and techniques that the German school of fencing with the longsword is being used within the diagrams to explain the authors apparent point. For example diagram number 9 shows 2 men on a foot work type diagram fighting in a high position. Also worth noting on the foot work diagram is the shadows of the swords to show the reader the blades orientations, helping to give the sense of a three dimensional image to a two dimensional diagram. Another point to make is the clothing worn by those in the image. This type of clothing appears to be quite standard continental clothing of the 17th century, with hints of fashions from the previous century. This can be helpful when trying to date images such as this.

Bibliography

Michael. G. Thomas, Fighting Mans Guide to German Longsword Combat (Great Britain: Sword Works, 2008)

Jason Vail, Medieval and Renaissance Dagger Combat (Colorado: Paladin Enterprises, 2006)

Georgina Methuen