Legends of Fencing – George Silver

Posted by on Tuesday, January 29, 2013 Under: Art


George Silver was a late 16th, early 17th century English teacher of defence who wrote two major works, "Paradoxes of Defence" and "Brief Instructions on my Paradoxes of Defence", in which he promoted the use of small-swords and staves in favour of the rapier, a weapon which he strongly criticised. He believed that the rapier was dangerous, and was concerned with the number of duels that were happening in his time and worried that too many arguments were being settle that way. According to Silver, weapons like the small-sword offered far greater defence than the rapier and were far more versatile in attack. He stated;

“English masters....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”. (George Silver, Paradoxes of Defence)

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