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Journal Articles Acta Periodica Duellatorum Year : 2023

Scholastic Clues in Two Latin Fencing Manuals

Hélène Leblanc


Intellectual historians have rarely attended to the genre of fighting manuals, but these provide a new window on long-debated questions such as the relationship between Scholasticism and Humanism. This article offers a close comparison of the first known fencing manual, the 14-th century Liber de Arte Dimicatoria (Leeds, Royal Armouries FECHT 1, previously and better known as MS I.33), and the corpus of fighting manuals which underwent a remarkable expansion during the 15th and 16th centuries. While the former clearly shows its origins in a scholastic background, the latter is mainly viewed as reflecting its humanist context. To this historiographical division corresponds a linguistic one: MS I.33 is a Latin text, while the rest of the corpus is mainly written in German and Italian. However, exceptions arise, amongst which, Heinrich von Gunterrodt’s Sciomachia et Hoplomachia: sive de Veris Principiis Artis Dimicatoriae (1579), the first text which explicitly refers to I.33. This article will compare these two texts, in order to interrogate their common relation to Scholasticism, namely the traditional frame of the knowledge within the medieval and early modern universities. The intent is to show that (at least some) Renaissance fight books include references to Scholasticism and to provide a better qualification of the nature of such references. The general hypothesis is that a large part of the texts―and products of culture―of the Renaissance that have been read, until recently, exclusively in relation to a humanist intellectual background can valuably be interpreted in the context of a Scholasticism that is still vivid during the period in question.

Dates and versions

hal-04103790 , version 1 (23-05-2023)



Hélène Leblanc, Franck Cinato. Scholastic Clues in Two Latin Fencing Manuals. Acta Periodica Duellatorum, 2023, 11 (1), pp.39-63. ⟨10.36950/apd-2023-004⟩. ⟨hal-04103790⟩
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