A gentleman’s guide to duelling

Vincentio Saviolo’s rules and ettiquette of honour and honourable quarrels As the title of the book says this is a book on duelling. In fact as far as the 16th century in England goes, this is the book on duelling in Elizabethan England. The book even goes so far as to suggest it inspire Shakespeare and was a popular guide in the Court of Queen Elizabeth. When I was first looking for a HEMA group, Saviolo was one of the first names I discovered thanks, mainly due to Google and the 1595 group based in Brighton. At the time, I felt I needed something a bit more local so went down the earlier German Longsword tradition but have always been intrigued by Saviolo, in how a Italian from Padua, could rise so high in London society. It must be said this is not a HEMA sword manual – it is a aide to help people who practice the arts of this period by providing the real context of why things we re done a certain way. I think without this insight it is difficult to understand the techniques that Saviolo taught at his salle in Blackfriars. At the same time as George Silver who had himself published a fencing manual, paradoxes of defence. It seems like a golden age in English fencing. The book is an easy read as it is jam packed with not only his work but biographical information about him and his contemporaries. One thing that struck me was the influence the Italians had on England at that time. I thought the book was going to be much more of a traditional hema manual but it is much more than that. It appears at least to me to be the dummies guide to living in Elizabethan England by someone who was influencing culture at the highest level as in the land. When reading the book, I would suggest you pay attention to the footnotes as there is huge amount of value in them. It must have been quite a complicated existence as book provides a discourse of single combats and who they come about. It seems to Saviolo that simply looking at someone the wrong way can get you in a fight. There is then a section on the etiquette of the challenger and defender. This was clearly a serious business. It appears somewhat similar to the warrior codes of the samurai , bushido if you will. The book continues on with a lot of discourse on how things get resolved. The book ends with a section on the nobility of women which within the context of duelling seems a bit at odds with the rest of the book until you remember we had a strong female queen on the throne. I really enjoyed the book and was also excited by the section on finding school Saviolo taught at. Next time I am in London I am going have a look around the area and look for the red lion sign – read the book, you will know what I mean. Appendix B, the almost whinging Silver’s description of Saviolo and his teaching – oddly seems hardly gentlemanly. A great read.  Available on Amazon Please note I was not paid to write this review but was sent a review copy of the book. All comments are my own, and the publishers have not amended the review in any way. < BACK