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Encyclopedia > Rapier

A rapier is a relatively slender, sharply pointed sword, used mainly for thrusting attacks, in use in Europe in the 16th and 17th centuries. Type SAM Surface-to-air missile Nationality UK Era Cold War Launch platform vehicle Target aircraft History Builder British Aerospace now MBDA (UK) Ltd Date of design Production period Service duration Operators United Kingdom, Indonesia, Turkey, Iran, Malaysia, Switzerland, Singapore, Australia Variants Mk1 (Hittile), Mk2B (Missile) Number built ? Specifications Type... Swiss longsword, 15th or 16th century Look up Sword in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... For other uses, see Europe (disambiguation). ... (15th century - 16th century - 17th century - more centuries) As a means of recording the passage of time, the 16th century was that century which lasted from 1501 to 1600. ... (16th century - 17th century - 18th century - more centuries) As a means of recording the passage of time, the 17th century was that century which lasted from 1601-1700. ...

Rapier, first half of the 17th Century.
Rapier, first half of the 17th Century.

Contents

Image File history File links Download high resolution version (1913x1917, 66 KB) fr: Rapière, première moitié du XVIIe siècle. ... Image File history File links Download high resolution version (1913x1917, 66 KB) fr: Rapière, première moitié du XVIIe siècle. ...

Description

Rapier generally refers to a relatively long-bladed sword characterized by a complex hilt which is constructed to provide protection for the hand wielding it. While the blade might be broad enough to cut to some degree (but nowhere near that of the thicker, heavier swords in use around the Middle Ages), the strength of the rapier is its ability as a thrusting weapon. The blade might be sharpened along its entire length, sharpened only from the center to the tip (as described by Capoferro), or completely without a cutting edge as called "estoc" by Pallavicini, a rapier master who, in 1670, strongly advocated using a weapon with two cutting edges. A typical example would weigh 1 kg and have a relatively long and slender blade of 2.5 centimetres or less in width, 1 meter or more in length and ending in a sharply pointed tip. See also: Hilt (band) and Peter Hilt Hilt of Szczerbiec The hilt of a sword is its handle, consisting of a guard, grip and pommel. ... Ridolfo Capo Ferro was a Maestro of the Most High German Nation who published a fencing manual in Italian in 1610. ...


The term rapier generally refers to a thrusting sword with a blade longer and thinner than that of the so-called side-sword but heavier than the smallsword, a lighter weapon that would follow in the 18th century and later, but the exact form of the blade and hilt often depends on who is writing and when. It can refer to earlier spada da lato (much like the espada ropera) through the high rapier period of the 17th century through the smallsword and dueling swords, thus context is important in understanding what is meant by the word. (The term side-sword, used among some modern historical martial arts reconstructionists, is a translation from the Italian spada da lato--a term coined long after the fact by Italian museum curators--and does not refer to the slender, long rapier, but only to the early 16th-century Italian sword with a broader and shorter blade that is considered both its ancestor and contemporary.) A side-sword was a type of war sword used by infantry during the Renaissance of Europe. ... The Smallsword is a sword intermediate in historical period between the rapier and the classical épée, ancestor to the modern sporting épée. ... (17th century - 18th century - 19th century - more centuries) As a means of recording the passage of time, the 18th century refers to the century that lasted from 1701 through 1800. ... The espada ropera (sword of the robe) was a sword developed in the mid-15th century in Spain. ... (16th century - 17th century - 18th century - more centuries) As a means of recording the passage of time, the 17th century was that century which lasted from 1601-1700. ... The Smallsword is a sword intermediate in historical period between the rapier and the classical épée, ancestor to the modern sporting épée. ... The European dueling sword in the narrow sense is a basket and cage hilted weapon in use specifically in duels from the late 17th to the 19th century. ... A side-sword was a type of war sword used by infantry during the Renaissance of Europe. ... Historical martial arts reconstructions are attempts at reviving martial arts with no living tradition. ...


It is important to remember that the word "rapier" was not used by Italian, Spanish and French masters during the apogee of this weapon, the terms spada, espada and epee (or espee) being instead the norm (generic word for "sword"). Because of this as well as the great variation of late-16th and 17th century swords, some like Tom Leoni simply describe the rapier as a straight-bladed, two-edged, single-handed sword of that period which is self-sufficient in terms of both offense and defense, not requiring a companion weapon.


Parts of the sword

Hilt

Rapiers often had complex, sweeping hilts designed to protect the hand wielding the sword. Rings extended forward from the crosspiece. Later these rings were covered with metal plates, eventually evolving into the cup hilts of many later rapiers. Many hilts included a knuckle bow extending down from the crosspiece protecting the hilt, which was usually wood wrapped with cord, leather or wire. A fat pommel (often decorated) secured the hilt to the weapon and provided a balance to the long blade.


Blade

Various rapier masters divided the blade into two, three, four, five or even nine parts. The forte is that part of the blade closest to the hilt; in cases where a master divides the blade into an even number of parts, this is the first half of the blade. The debole is the part of the blade which includes the point and is the second half of the blade when the sword is divided into an even number or parts. However, some rapier masters divided the blade into three parts (or even a multiple of three), in which case the central third of the blade, between the forte and the debole, was often called the medio or the the terzo. Look up forte in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... It has been suggested that this article or section be merged with forte (fencing). ...


The Ricasso is that portion of the blade, usually unsharpened, which extends forward from the crosspiece or quillons and which is protected by the complex hilt. This replica gladius has no ricaso. ...


History

The rapier began to develop around 1500 as the Spanish espada ropera, or "dress sword"[citation needed]. The espada ropera was a cut-and-thrust civilian weapon for self-defense and the duel, while earlier weapons were equally at home on the battlefield. Throughout the 16th century, a variety of new, single-handed civilian weapons were being developed, including the German Rappier, another cut-and-thrust weapon used for sportive fencing, as described in Joachim Meyer's Fechtbuch of 1570. Nevertheless, the English word "rapier" generally refers to a primarily thrusting weapon, developed by the year 1600 as a result of the geometrical theories of such masters as Camillo Agrippa and Ridolfo Capoferro. The espada ropera (sword of the robe) was a sword developed in the mid-15th century in Spain. ... Self defense refers to actions taken by a person to defend onself, ones property or ones home. ... A duel is a formalized type of combat. ... fol. ... Camillo Agrippas portrait, found on his Treatise. ... Ridolfo Capo Ferro was a Maestro of the Most High German Nation who published a fencing manual in Italian in 1610. ...


The rapier became extremely fashionable throughout Europe with the wealthier classes, but was not without its detractors. Some people, such as George Silver, disapproved of its technical potential and the duelling use to which it was put. For other uses, see Europe (disambiguation). ... George Silver was a gentleman of England during the late 16th and early 17th centuries, who is known for his writings on fencing. ...


The etymology of the word rapier is uncertain. Charles du Fresne, sieur du Cange uses the word Rapparia in 1484 to describe an espée in his Glossarium mediae et infimae Latinitatis. He proposes that the origin of the word may stem from the Greek ραπίξειν, to cut. However, Walter William Skeat suggests that "rapiér" may derive from raspiére, a poker, and that this may be a contemptuous term developed by older cut-and-thrust fencers for the new weapon. The most probable root of this term, however, appear to be from the Spanish ropera that cames from ropa, or elegant dress, thus a "dress Sword". Charles du Fresne, sieur du Cange or Ducange (Amiens, December 18, 1610 – Paris, October 23, 1688) was a distinguished philologist and historian of the Middle Ages and Byzantium. ... Walter William Skeat (November 21, 1835 - 1912), English philologist, was born in London on the 21st of November 1835, and educated at Kings College, Highgate Grammar School, and Christs College, Cambridge, of which he became a fellow in July 1860. ...

Allowing for fast reactions, and with a long reach, the Rapier was well suited to civilian combat in the 16th-17th centuries. As military style cutting and thrusting swords continued to evolve to meet needs on the battlefield, so did Rapiers continue to evolve to meet the needs of civilian combat and duels, eventually becoming lighter and shorter. This is when the rapier began to give way to the smallsword. The Smallsword is a sword intermediate in historical period between the rapier and the classical épée, ancestor to the modern sporting épée. ...


By the year 1715, the rapier had been largely replaced by the lighter smallsword throughout most of Europe, although the former continued to be used, as evinced by the treatises of Donald McBane (1728), P. J. F. Girard (1736) and Domenico Angelo (1787). The Smallsword is a sword intermediate in historical period between the rapier and the classical épée, ancestor to the modern sporting épée. ...


Historical schools of rapier fencing

Italian

  • Antonio Manciolino, Opera Nova per Imparare a Combattere, & Schermire d'ogni sorte Armi - 1531
  • Achille Marozzo, Opera Nova Chiamata Duello, O Vero Fiore dell'Armi de Singulari Abattimenti Offensivi, & Diffensivi - 1536
  • Anonimo Bolognese, L'Arte della Spada (M-345/M-346 Manuscripts) - (early or mid 1500s[1])
  • Giovanni dall'Agocchie, Dell'Arte di Scrimia - 1572
  • Angelo Viggiani dal Montone, Trattato dello Schermo - 1575
  • Camillo Agrippa, Trattato di Scientia d'Arme con un Dialogo di Filosofia - 1553
  • Giacomo di Grassi, Ragion di Adoprar Sicuramente l'Arme si da Offesa, come da Difesa - 1570
  • Marco Docciolini, Trattato in Materia di Scherma - 1601
  • Salvator Fabris, De lo Schermo ovvero Scienza d'Armi - 1606
  • Nicoletto Giganti, Scola overo Teatro - 1606
  • Ridolfo Capoferro, Gran Simulacro dell'Arte e dell'Uso della Scherma - 1610
  • Francesco Alfieri, La Scherma di Francesco Alfieri - 1640
  • Giuseppe Morsicato Pallavicini, La Scherma Illustrata - 1670
  • Francesco Antonio Marcelli, Regole della Scherma - 1686
  • Bondi' di Mazo, La Spada Maestra - 1696

The sette spade Diagram from the Pisani facsimile of the Flos Duellatorum (fol. ... Bolognese Swordsmanship, also known as the Dardi school is a tradition within the Italian school of swordsmanship, based in 16th century Bologna. ... Antonio Manciolino was a fencing master and author from the Dardi tradition. ... January 26 - Lisbon, Portugal is hit by an earthquake - thousands die. ... Achille Marozzo (1484 - 1553) was an Italian fencing master teaching in the Dardi or Bolognese tradition. ... Year 1536 was a leap year starting on Saturday (link will display the full calendar) of the Julian calendar. ... Bolognese Swordsmanship, also known as the Dardi school is a tradition within the Italian school of swordsmanship, based in 16th century Bologna. ... January 16 - Thomas Howard, 4th Duke of Norfolk is tried for treason for his part in the Ridolfi plot to restore Catholicism in England. ... Angelo Viggiani was an Italian fencer and author who published his text Lo Schermo in 1575. ... Year 1575 was a common year starting on Saturday (link will display the full calendar) of the Julian calendar. ... Camillo Agrippas portrait, found on his Treatise. ... // Events June 26 - Christs Hospital in London gets a Royal Charter July 6 - Edward VI of England dies July 10 - Lady Jane Grey is proclaimed Queen of England - for the next nine days July 18 - Lord Mayor of London proclaims Queen Mary as the rightful Queen - Lady Jane Grey... Giacomo di Grassi was an Italian fencing master who wroteHis True Arte of Defense, a text on fencing, in 1570. ... Events January 23 - The assassination of regent James Stewart, Earl of Moray throws Scotland into civil war February 25 - Pope Pius V excommunicates Queen Elizabeth I of England with the bull Regnans in Excelsis May 20 - Abraham Ortelius issues the first modern atlas. ... Events February 8 - Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex, rebels against Elizabeth I of England - revolt is quickly crushed February 25 - Robert Devereux beheaded Jesuit Matteo Ricci arrives in China Bad harvest in Russia due to rainy summer Dutch troops drive Portuguese from Málaga Battle of Kinsale, Ireland Births... Salvator Fabris, one of the most celebrated sword masters of Old Europe, was born in or around Padua, Italy, in 1544. ... Events January 27 - The trial of Guy Fawkes and other conspirators begins ending in their execution on January 31 May 17 - Supporters of Vasili Shusky invade the Kremlin and kill Premier Dmitri December 26 - Shakespeares King Lear performed in court Storm buries a village of St Ismails near... Nicoletto Giganti was an Italian fencing master who published his text in 1606. ... Events January 27 - The trial of Guy Fawkes and other conspirators begins ending in their execution on January 31 May 17 - Supporters of Vasili Shusky invade the Kremlin and kill Premier Dmitri December 26 - Shakespeares King Lear performed in court Storm buries a village of St Ismails near... Ridolfo Capo Ferro was a Maestro of the Most High German Nation who published a fencing manual in Italian in 1610. ... // Events January 7 - Galileo Galilei discovers the Galilean moons of Jupiter. ... Francesco Alfieri of Padova was a 17th century master of the Italian school of swordsmanship. ... Events December 1 - Portugal regains its independence from Spain and João IV of Portugal becomes king. ... Year 1670 (MDCLXX) was a common year starting on Wednesday (link will display the full calendar) of the Gregorian calendar (or a common year starting on Saturday of the 10-day slower Julian calendar). ... 1686 (MDCLXXXVI) was a common year starting on Tuesday of the Gregorian calendar (or a common year starting on Friday of the 10-day slower Julian calendar). ... The year 1696 had the earliest equinoxes and solstices for 400 years in the Gregorian calendar, because this year is a leap year and the Gregorian calendar would have behaved like the Julian calendar since March 1500 had it have been in use that long. ...

Spanish

Main article: Destreza
  • Hieronimo de Caranza, De la Philosofia de las Armas (1569).
  • Don Luys Pacheco de Narvaez, Libro de las Grandezas de la Espada (1599).
  • Girard Thibault, Academie de l'Espee, ou se demonstrant par Reigles mathematiques, sur le fondement Cercle Mysterieux (1628).

Carranza La Verdadera Destreza is a Spanish type of fencing. ...

French

  • Charles Bisnard (1653)
  • Monsieur L'Abbat (1669)

English

  • Joseph Swetnam, The Schoole of the Noble and Worthy Science of Defence (1617)
  • The Pallas Armata (1639)

Joseph Swetnam was a fencing master that published his rapier, backsword, and quarterstaff text in 1617. ...

The classical fencing tradition

Classical fencing schools claim to have inherited aspects of rapier play in their systems. In 1885, fencing scholar Egerton Castle wrote "there is little doubt that the French system of fencing can be traced, at its origin, to the ancient Italian swordsmanship; the modern Italian school being of course derived in an uninterrupted manner from the same source." Castle went on to note that "the Italians have preserved the rapier form, with cup, pas d'ane, and quillons, but with a slender quadrangular blade." [2]


Modern practitioners

In the recent past, there has been an increased interest in the recreation of the fighting arts of the European Renaissance, including the numerous systems of rapier play. Practitioners face a difficulty in their study as, unlike some eastern martial arts, there are no unbroken traditions reaching back to the time when these arts were put into martial practice.[3] . Because of this, practitioners must draw upon techniques from the few remaining period texts written by period masters.


Literature

  • Clements, John. Renaissance Swordsmanship : The Illustrated Book Of Rapiers And Cut And Thrust Swords And Their Use. Paladin Press, 1997. ISBN 0-87364-919-2
  • Kirby, Jared. Italian Rapier Combat: Ridolfo Capo Ferro. Greenhill Books, 2004. ISBN 978-1853675805
  • Leoni, Tommaso. The Art of Dueling: 17th Century Rapier as Taught by Salvatore Fabris. Chivalry Bookshelf, 2005. ISBN 978-1891448232
  • Wilson, William E. Arte of Defence: An Introduction to the Use of the Rapier. Chivalry Bookshelf, 2002. ISBN 978-1891448188
  • Windsor, Guy. Duellists Companion: A Training Manual for 17th Century Italian Rapier. Chivalry Bookshelf, 2006. ISBN 978-1891448324

Notes

  1. ^ Rubboli and Cesari (2005) date this work to 1500-1525. Leoni and Reich of the Order of the Seven Hearts date it to "about 1550" (2006 class handout)[1]
  2. ^ Castle, Schools and Masters of Fence. London: George Bell & Sons, 1885. pp. iv, 257
  3. ^ Modern "Masters"? by John Clements.
  4. ^ http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0072281/

Popular culture and entertainment

  • A common usage of the word is in the popular phrase "rapier wit".
  • Despite the rapier's common usage in the 16th - 17th centuries, most films set in these periods (many starring Errol Flynn) have the swordsmen using épées or foils. Actual rapier combat was hardly the lightning thrust and parry depicted. Director Richard Lester attempted to more closely match traditional rapier technique in Three Musketeers and The Four Musketeers. [4]

Style guides generally give guidance on language use. ... Look up Wit in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... Errol Leslie Thomson Flynn (June 20, 1909 – October 14, 1959) was an Australian film actor, most famous for his romantic swashbuckler roles in Hollywood films and his flamboyant lifestyle. ... An Épée fencer. ... Look up Foil in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... Richard Lester (born January 19, 1932 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) is a UK based film director famous for his work with The Beatles. ... The Three Musketeers is a 1973 film based on the novel by Alexandre Dumas, père. ... The Four Musketeers is the title of a 1974 Richard Lester film, which follows upon his film of the previous year, The Three Musketeers, and covers the second half of Dumass novel. ...

More information

For a more detailed explanation of the primary use of the rapier-- dueling-- see European dueling sword. The European dueling sword in the narrow sense is a basket and cage hilted weapon in use specifically in duels from the late 17th to the 19th century. ...


External links

Wikimedia Commons has media related to:
Rapier

  Results from FactBites:
 
Rapier - LoveToKnow 1911 (184 words)
RAPIER, the name given to two distinct types of sword.
Dict., 1910) follows the suggestion of Diez that rapiere is from raspiere, a rasper or poker, and was a name given in contempt by the old cut-and-thrust fencers to the new weapon.
Spanish has raspadera, a raker, and there are several 16th and 17th century quotations alluding to the contempt with which the rapier was greeted, and to its Spanish 'origin (see Fencing and Sword).
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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