Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Swordsmanship refers to the skills of a swordsman, a person versed in fencing with a sword. The term is modern, and as such was mainly used to refer to smallsword fencing, but by extension it can also be applied to European Medieval warfare. Swordsman translates gladiator, the term for the professional fencers of Ancient Rome.
Little is known about early medieval fencing technique but what may be concluded from archaeological evidence and artistic depiction (see Viking Age arms and armour). The earliest known treatises are from 14th century Germany (see I.33, Johannes Liechtenauer, 3227a). The German school of swordsmanship is well attested from the 15th century in fechtbuchs ("fighting manuals"). German masters of the 15th century include Sigmund Ringeck, Hans Talhoffer, Peter von Danzig and Paulus Kal.
The German school declines during the 16th century. The compendia compiled by Paulus Hector Mair in the 1540s look back to the preceding century and are an attempt to reconstruct and preserve a failing art.
Also from the 15th century, a separate Italian style of swordsmanship begins to develop, originally probably dependent on the German school (see Fiore dei Liberi. The Italian, French and Spanish schools developed into systems of rapier fencing.
19th century: Foil (sword)
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