The Martial Arts of Renaissance Europe (Anglais) Relié – 1 août 2000
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IT WAS WITH this martial example that Thomas Hobbes, in his Leviathan of 1651, sought to clarify what he saw as the essential difference between Prudentia and Sapientia - that is between wisdom acquired on the one hand by experience and, on the other, by science. Lire la première page
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L'histoire de l'escrime ancienne - de défense et de duel- est réécrite dans une perspective contemporaine avec force commentaires et une critique acérée.
Les techniques médiévales sont également à l'honneur dans cette ouvrage en plus des traités de la Renaissance et de l'époque moderne.
Ce livre ravira les pratiquants des arts martiaux occidentaux et les historiens de l'escrime et de la violence. "Croiser le fer " de Pascal BRIOIST, Hervé DREVILLON, Pierre SERNA le cite volontiers.
C'est un must-to-read dont le seul défaut est de ne pas avoir été traduit en Français.
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Sydney Anglo plunges the reader into a hidden world of combat activity whose presentation has no equal by virtue of its sheer scope and erudite analysis. Lavish illustrations taken from some of the most popular and some of the rarest fighting manuals of renaissance Europe combine with carefully documented and annotated critical commentary to produce a work unparalleled in the field.
The thorough academic approach, combined with Anglo's intelligent and at times humorous personal style, is providing a backbone of respectability and credibility to a subject matter that frequently does its darndest to self-implode any claims to being taken seriously by overvaluing the emotionally affirmative needs of some modern practitioners.
Of course, this book is no How-to-Manual. It does not contain detailed analysis of individual techniqes. Nor does it quite answer the question in which specific combative scenarios the arts summarized under the modern Anglo-American pop culture handle "Martial Arts" were applied. (This particular aspect of mainly legal and extra-legal history might make for a book in itself.)
But that's not the point.
Short on brawn and long on brains, Anglo introduces us to the very core of these arts... the masters themselves... the way they thought... the methods they (and their graphic artists) employed to transmit complex ideas and sophisticated systems of ethics, philosophy, and physical skill to students, patrons, readers, and of course to us.
What makes this book relevant not only to the enthusiast of medieval and renaissane arts, but to the entire Western martial arts community: Anglo foregoes the pat shoe-boxing usually associated with focus on a partiular period. His work doesn't leave the reader stranded in an era that is hermetically sealed off from the modern period:
While rightfully emphasizing the differences between modern sport and ancient art, Anglo provides tantalizing glimpses of continuities... manifest in the literary traditions of individual systems that track the influence of a particular work -- through its reprints, translations and plagiarisms -- from the Renaissance far into the modern period.
One of the Great Books of combative history!
At 384 pages and with more than 200 illustrations this is an immense treasure-trove for all those interested in swordsmanship and the history of European combat. Dr. Anglo begins his volume not with a "history of fencing", but with the documentation for "masters of arms" (or masters of defence) within European civilization from the 13th to the 17th centuries. His primary concern is how they created systems of notation to convey information about combat movement, the various ways they went about achieving this communication, and what they thought they were achieving as a result. He establishes that, fitting within the classic Western tradition of arts and letters, many masters of arms were purposely recording their martial teachings as literary works for the education of future students. He achieves a detailed task of putting the works of the masters of arms into their historical and social context while discussing the limitations of researching these texts. He also presents the material with frequent dry humor and appreciation for irony.
The book is hard to put down and pleasantly written to avoid either academic jargon or lightheartedness. Most any chapter can be opened and read on its own. The work contains fascinating sections such as "Foot Combat With Swords: Myths and Realties", "Diagrams, Mathematics, and Geometry in Swordplay", "Lawyers, Humanists, and the Martial Arts", and "Arms and armor". Annoyingly however, the footnotes are all in the back, which makes it inconvenient to look up what are in many cases highly relevant comments.
Anglo's concern throughout the work is not that of a traditional fencer trying to trace the origin of a sport, for he considers today's fencing to have little relation to the violent killing arts of his subject matter. Nor is his approach that of an arms collector or museum curator concerned with objects rather than application and effects. Instead, his view is that of the historian and specifically a historian of ideas. Thus his interest lies in what the masters thought they were trying to accomplish and how they tried to accomplish it.
Of the ten chapters, that on methods of notation and use of geometry within fighting texts contains some of the book's major elements. It covers considerable ground not previously addressed in this subject. The comprehensive chapter on period wrestling and grappling (or unarmed fighting) is unquestionably the most detailed and authoritative treatment of the subject yet attempted. The chapters on mounted combat (with lance and sword) bring an authority and credibility to an area traditionally overlooked or given to incredulous speculation. There are also detailed sections on dagger use. The most fascinating chapter however is that on vocabulary and lexicon of swordsmanship in which Dr. Anglo traces the major works and their significance as well as how the authors viewed their subject. This is accomplished with the goal of placing them (finally) within their rightful place of European military, artistic, social, and cultural history. It presents European martial culture in regard to a classic Western tradition -that of emphasizing technical learning and printed knowledge in every art and science.
Anglo makes a point several times to emphasize the tremendous errors of 19th century fencing historians improperly denigrating Medieval & Renaissance fencing skills as primitive and untutored and how this ignorance persist still today. Anglo does not hide the disregard he holds for the irrelevance of either modern sport fencing or its historians to the book's subject matter. He also debunks the mistaken belief of fencing having ever gone from "cutting" to "thrusting" and the view of thrusting as somehow being a recent evolution to a superior form of fencing. He instead describes how warriors have always relied on both from cutting and thrusting and how there have always been many forms of swords and many established styles for using them. The related section on the historical facts behind "thrusting vs. cutting" itself reveals a wealth of previously unknown elements.
Along with the innumerable facts and tidbits he offers on the works of historical fencing masters, what Anglo does best is present the subject within its historical and cultural context. As a historian of ideas, he insists on fixing the content of Medieval and Renaissance fencing manuals clearly within the greater intellectual, philosophical, and scientific elements of European civilizations. It will be no mistake to say this book will surely change the whole perspective by which historical Western martial arts are viewed. It is a joy that the work is so heavily illustrated.
The only real weakness of the book is that the subject could easily fill another volume. There is also unfortunately very little discussion of the contents of the source texts or their combat instructions. There can be no question that Anglo's revelations will come as a welcome wave of knowledge to the masses thirsting for facts about our European martial heritage. It will also come as a cold bucket of water for those thinking previous books on the "history of fencing" had said it all. From now on, no work on fencing or European fighting arts will be produced without citing its enormous material as a major source. It is will surely be long considered the major reference work on the history of Medieval & Renaissance martial arts for our generation. In doing so Anglo cements the unquestionable title as the foremost authority on historical fencing manuals.
As a practitioner of medieval combat I was pleased to see many of the theories and postulations many of us have espoused borne out and explained in a scholarly text. The case Anglo makes for a systematic basis for training well before the Renaissance is well stated and helps to legitimize the work reenactors are performing today. As others have stated, this is not a "how to" manual, but is rather an indispensable tool to assist in researching masters and understanding the environment in which these skills were used. I have informed all my students and friends in the field that this book needs to be in their collection. I am certain I will reference it many times in the future.
Martial Arts of Renaissance Europe is fascinating from the first page; Anglo pens right toward the meat of the topic. Rather than reiterating what other authors have said and said again, Anglo only briefly mentions those sources widely available or quoted, instead preferring to bring light to those relatively unknown sources with which few are familiar, but which deserve much more acclaim. This book is not a light read by any standards; it should keep the most erudite of scholars busy for days. The further one reads into this book, the more one realizes he didn't know.
Anglo makes every effort to cram information into every page, but does so with the witty flair of a seasoned writer who knows how to keep his audience interested. He provides ample photographs, scans, copies, and illustrations to underscore his study of Renaissance fighting, but does not drown the reader in unnecessary artwork. He covers more facets of Renaissance martial arts than most other authors even mention, from the methods of instruction to the evolution of combat. Affording a separate chapter to each style of personal defense - swordsmanship, barefisted brawling, polearm use, and the like - Anglo opens up a door to history that has never been opened before, and many anxious scholars are graciously pouring through.
As he points out himself, the history of Renaissance martial arts is one that is very much neglected, both by historians and by martial artists. Historians generally shy away from warfare and fighting, and, apart from mentioning the outcome of a few major battles, barely acknowledge the existence of violence. Many martial artists tend to focus on technique, without much regard for history. Anglo has broken the barrier, and gave those scholars - both martial and historical - who crave to know a means through which to do it.
Overall, this book is excellent. It is a unique and thorough view of the Renaissance that has yet to be matched. Martial Arts of Renaissance Europebelongs in the library of martial artists of Western and Eastern heritages alike: required reading for any fan of martial history.
Some of the subjects covered within:
-Foot combat with swords: myth and reality
-Sword fighting: vocabulary and taxonomy
-Arms and armor