George Silver. Paradoxes of Defence. London. 1599

(11) Footnotes

  1. English masters of defence, are profitable members in the commonwealth, if they teach with ancient English weapons of true defence, weight and convenient length, within the compass of their statures and strength of men to command, because it makes them safe, bold, valiant, hardy, strong, and healthful, and victorious in wars, service of their Prince, defence of their friends and country. But the rapier in reason not to be taught, because it makes men fearful and unsafe in single combat, and weak & unserviceable in wars.
  2. To this it will be objected, that in the wars we use few rapiers, or none at all, but short swords. To that I answer: Those are insufficient also, for that they have no hilts, whereby they are insufficient in their defence, and especially for the hand, which being struck although with a very small blow, most commonly is the loss of a man, because the force of his hand being taken from him, he is neither able to defend his life, nor greatly to offend his enemy. And again, since the rapier-fight has been taught, for lack of practice they have lost the use of the blow.
  3. Why should we leave the hand naked, since thereby our limbs & lives are defended, our enemies discomforted, wounded, and executed? I see no reason but that the hand should be as well armed and provided for, as any other part of the body.
  4. A great favor to give them choice of their weapons, because professors of arms ought to be skillful with all manner of weapons.
  5. Yet they persuade us that the cross of the rapier without hilt or gauntlet is sufficient.
  6. No fight perfect that is not done in force & true time.
  7. These counterfeit shows are enough to carry the wisest that know not the true fight from the false, out of the right way.
  8. And if their weapons were short, as in times past they were, yet they could not thrust safe at body or face, because in guardant fight they fall over, or under the perfect cross of the sword & to strike beneath the waist, or at the legs, is a great disadvantage, because the course of the blow to the legs is too far, & thereby the head, face & body is discovered. And that was the cause in old time, that they did not thrust or strike at the legs, & not for lack of skill, as is these days we imagine. Again, if man in these days should have fought with a long sword, they would presently have put him into Gobb's Traverse.
  9. A confutation of their errors.
  10. This in truth cannot be denied.
  11. The blow more dangerous than the thrust.
  12. A blow cuts off the hand, the arm, the leg, and sometimes the head.
  13. He that gives the first wound with a strong blow, commands the life of the other.
  14. In the wars there is no observation of Stocatas, Imbrocatas, times, nor answers.
  15. Long weapons imperfect.
  16. If the sword is longer, you can hardly uncross without going back with your feet. If shorter, then you can hardly make a true cross without putting in of your feet, the which times are too long to answer the time of the hand. The like reason for the short staff, half pike, forest bill, partisan, or glaive, or such like weapons of perfect length.
  17. The eye is deceived by the swift motion of the hand.
  18. The dagger is an imperfect ward.
  19. The short staff or half pike has the advantage against two sword and dagger men, or two rapiers, poniards, and gauntlets.
  20. A question.
  21. Answer.
  22. Note this.
  23. Tall men have the vantage against men of mean stature.
  24. Four invincible advantages consist in a tall man against a man of mean stature. Long reach. Short course. Length of weapon. Large pace.
  25. If they stand upon breaking with their daggers, he that first wins the place, and thrusts home, hurts the other for lack of the circumference. If both thrust together, they are both sped, because their spaces of defence are too wide to answer the time of the hand, and by the swift motion thereof, the eye in that distance is by the same deceived. The feet in their course, but not in the first motion, always note for the avoiding of great errors.
  26. There are fewer frays, but more valiant gentlemen slain now than were then.
  27. These reasons are used by the Italians.
  28. A confutation of the Italians' reasons.
  29. Cob's Traverse.
  30. I write not this to disgrace the dead, but to show their impudent boldness and insufficiency in performance of their profession when they were living, that from henceforth this brief note may be a remembrance and warning to beware of (bad advise?).
  31. Proofs against the rapier fight.

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