Author: Reinier van Noort

The Dutch Experiment – De Hollandsche Methode, Christiaan Siebenhaar, and fencing in the Netherlands in the 19th Century

In the mid-19th century, not that long after the Belgian war of independence, an experiment was taking place in fencing in the Netherlands. The main proponent of this experiment was Christiaan Siebenhaar (1824-1885), fencing master in the Dutch army.[1] In his own words, the purpose of his experiment was to “introduce the Dutch language in the Art of Fencing” so that “soon nobody is found in the Netherlands anymore who teaches this art in a foreign language”.[2] However, the real purpose of this experiment appears to have been more ambitious than that: to create a Dutch School of Fencing...

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Follow some Lessons with Dagger and Rapier

In a previous article, a detailed introduction to manuscript Cod. 264.23 was presented along with an English translation of the first two sections, dealing with the single rapier. In this contribution, a translation is presented of the third part (pages 61-83), dealing with fencing with rapier and dagger. While the first two parts of Cod. 264.231 appeared to have been written directly by the unknown author, this third part is a partial copy containing 44 pieces from Hans Wilhelm Schöffer von Dietz’s treatise “Gründtliche vn eigentliche Beschreibung der freyen Adelichen vnd Ritterlichen Fechtkunst”, published in Marburg in 16202, and two pieces (33 and 46) for which corresponding lessons were not found in that treatise. There are however some minor changes in the copy presented here, mainly in the spelling of certain words and the use of commas rather than slashes. Additionally, the illustrations from the original are missing in this manuscript, and the references to the plates have not been included in the copy. For comparison, with all lessons here, the numbers of the corresponding lessons from the printed edition are included between braces: […]. New considerations about the identity of the Fencing master “Hans Wilhelm” On page 5 of the manuscript, the anonymous author mentions the name of his fencing master “Hans Wilhelm”. In the previous article3, it was theorised that this “Hans Wilhelm” might be Hans Wilhelm...

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Some Fencing Rules

The following translation of the manuscript Cod. Guelf. 264.23 contains the notes of an unknown German speaking student about his fencing lessons at the knight academy at Sorø (Ritterakademie Sorø). It was most likely written over the period of several months to years, though all title pages are dated to the 10th of July 1657. This manuscript is of particular interest due to the perspective that it provides. Most Fechtbücher were written by experienced teachers with the purpose of conveying their prowess. In contrast to this Cod. Guelf. 264.23 was only written for personal use. The author directly wrote down the lessons that he received on the fencing floor, using the diction and methods of his teacher, and brought in his own views and thoughts while doing so. The concept of a student who is sitting at a table in his room at the knight academy in the evening, to once more reflect upon the fencing lessons of the day by the flickering light of a candle flame to make notes, which are then collected in his own notebook, is fascinating. Description of the manuscript Cod. Guelf. 264.23 Extrav. of the Herzog-August Library in Wolfenbüttel consists of 47 leaves of 20 x 16 cm and was created around 1657 at the knight academy in Sorø1. It was written in German in a cursive hand. However, certain technical terms were...

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A short note on strengeren, or “gaining the blade”.

What’s our problem? The main purpose of any fencing art is to keep the fencer safe from the hostile intentions of his opponent(s), i.e. defense. However, in all of these arts it is recognized that through defense alone, a fencer will eventually lose, because as his opponent continues throwing attacks, inevitably some attacks will pass through the fencer’s defenses. Therefore, the fencer is taught to attack his opponent, in order to prevent them from continuing their offense. Such an attack, however, can only be made if the fencer can safely come into range, execute his attack, and then move...

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