Vincentio Saviolo, "his Practise. In two Bookes...", 1595

About Vincentio Saviolo (d:1598/9)

Vincentio Saviolo was born at Padua, Italy, where a family bearing that name had long been settled. He travelled abroad, earning a reputation as a fencer. Coming to England, he found employment in the service of Lord Robert Earl of Essex and Ewe, to whom this book, which is the earliest treatise in English upon the use of the rapier, is dedicated. It is certain that Shakespeare was familiar with this work. In the second book is an account of a wrestling-match, which was the foundation story of Orlando's contest with Charles, the Duke Frederick's wrestler, in "As You Like It.".[1]

An image extracted from the book depicting rapier and dagger fencing
The entire title of the manuscript in its original spelling is (line breaks represented by "/" in the title) "Vincentio Saviolo / his Practise. / In two Bookes. / The first intreating of the use of the Rapier / and Dagger. / The second, of Honor and honorable / Quarrels.". The book is structured like a conversation between Saviolo and an imaginary student. The book also conveys to both the fencer and non-fencer of the day, the courtesy or protocol surrounding a duel.

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Table of Contents of the First Book

Dedication To the Right Honorable Robert, Earle of Essex...

To The Reader...

The First Part

(1) The First Day's Discourse, concerning the Rapier and Dagger

(2) The Second Day's Discourse, of Rapier and Dagger

(3) The Thyrde Day's Discourse, of Rapier and Dagger.

(4) The Fourth Day's Discourse, of single Rapier

Table of Contents of the Second Book

Of Honor and Honorable Quarrels

The Preface

(1) A Discourse of Single Combats

(2) A Rule and Order concerning the Challenger and Defender


  1. Details on Saviolo's life from "Ellis, 29, New Bond Street, W.1"

Other References:

  1. Credits: This is an electronic version copied from a facsimilie of the original text. The first book was completed 7 July 1996 (AS 31), by Tom Hudson (Giovan Donato Falconieri). Images were scanned during October 1997 (AS 32) by Jennie Radovsky (Kerdych Goch).
  2. Vincentio Saviolo, his Practise. In two Bookes.... University of Massachusetts Center for Renaissance Studies, Raymond J. Lord Collection. Last accessed November 3, 2009.
  3. Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Vincentio Saviolo. Last accessed November 3, 2009.

Copyright © 1998 Academy of European Medieval Martial Arts  (AEMMA)
Released: November 9, 1998 / Last updated: November 3, 2009