The oldest surviving manual on western swordsmanship dates to around 1300, although historical references date fencing schools back to the 12th century. Modern fencing originated in the 18th century in the Italian school of fencing of the Renaissance, and, under their influence, was improved by the French school. 16th century, when it denoted systems designed for the Renaissance rapier. The verb to fence derived from the noun fence, originally meaning « the act of defending », etymologically derived from Old French defens « l’invention de l’escrime PDF », ultimately from the Latin.
L’escrime remonte à la nuit des temps. Dès l’origine, elle est à la fois un art du combat armé, un sport et un spectacle. Avec l’apparition de la poudre, elle perd peu à peu sa vocation militaire, mais les duels restent longtemps et jusqu’à il y a peu, un moyen privilégié de défendre son honneur. C’est au cours du XIXe siècle et notamment à l’occasion des jeux Olympiques de 1896, qu’elle prend la dimension sportive que nous lui connaissons aujourd’hui. Depuis lors, elle ne cesse d’évoluer au fil des inventions qui, de l’apparition du fleuret à celle de l’électricité, modifient sans cesse les règles du combat. Mais les valeurs de l’escrime – la dextérité, le courage et le respect de l’adversaire – restent immuables. Portées par des héros légendaires et des champions attachants, elles continuent de nourrir notre imaginaire et d’irriguer notre langue.
The origins of armed combat are prehistoric, beginning with club, spear and axe. The first historical evidence from archaeology of a fencing contest was found on the wall of a temple within Egypt built at a time dated to approximately 1190 B. Homer’s Iliad includes some of the earliest descriptions of combat with shield, sword and spear, usually between two heroes who pick one another for a duel. Romans who frequented the gymnasia and baths often fenced with a stick whose point was covered with a ball. Vegetius, the Late Roman military writer, described practicing against a post and fencing with other soldiers. Sword fighting schools can be found in European historical records dating back to the 12th century. In later times sword fighting teachers were paid by rich patrons to produce books about their fighting systems, called treatises.
The earliest surviving treatise on sword fighting, stored at the Royal Armouries Museum in Leeds, England, dates from around 1300 AD and is from Germany. From 1400 onward, an increasing number of sword fighting treatises survived from across Europe, with the majority from the 15th century coming from Germany and Italy. The very first manual of fencing was published during 1471, by Diego de Valera. Fencing practice went through a revival, with the Marxbruder group, sometime about 1487 A.
By the 16th century, with the widespread adoption of the printing press, the increase in the urban population and other social changes, the number of treatises increased dramatically. After around 1500 carrying swords became more acceptable in most parts of Europe. The growing middle classes meant that more men could afford to carry swords, learn fighting and be seen as gentlemen. 14th-century teachings of the Liechtenauer tradition. The rapier’s popularity peaked in the 16th and 17th centuries. The Ecole Française d’Escrime founded in 1567 under Charles IX produced masters such as Henry de Sainct-Didier who introduced the French fencing terminology that remains in use today.
Rapier gave rise to the first recognisable ancestor of modern foil: a training weapon with a narrow triangular blade and a flat « nail head » point. Fencing was a popular form of staged entertainment in 16th- and 17th-century England. In 1540 Henry VIII granted a monopoly on the running of fencing schools in London to The Company of Masters. Pariser » small sword, derived from the French foil. Around the same time, a number of significant fencing manuals were written in or translated into English. Prizefights were bloody but rarely lethal.
An almost exclusively thrusting style first became popular in France during the 17th century. The French were enthusiastic adopters of the smallsword, which was light and short, and, therefore, well suited to fast, intricate handwork. Light, smaller training weapons were developed on the basis of an existing template: narrow rectangular blade with a « nail head » at the end. Academic fencing emerged as a stylised way for German students to defend their honour. Brawling and fighting were regular occupations of students in the German-speaking areas during the early modern period.
In line with developments in the aristocracy and the military, regulated duels were introduced to the academic environment, as well. Students wore special clothes, developed special kinds of festivities, sang student songs, and fought duels. The foil was invented in France as a training weapon in the middle of the 18th century to practice fast and elegant thrust fencing. In addition to practising, some fencers took away the protection and used the sharp foil for duels. However, the counter movement had already started in Göttingen in the 1760s. Here the Göttinger Hieber was invented, the predecessor of the modern Korbschläger, a new weapon for cut fencing.
Germany during the first decades of the 19th century—with local preferences. Until the first half of the 19th century all types of academic fencing can be seen as duels, since fencing with sharp weapons was about honour. No combat with sharp blades took place without a formal insult. It was then a heavy weapon with a curved blade and a hilt similar to the Korbschläger. Dueling went into sharp decline after World War I. 1763 fencing print from Domenico Angelo’s instruction book. Angelo was instrumental in turning fencing into an athletic sport.
The need to train swordsmen for combat in a nonlethal manner led fencing and swordsmanship to include a sport aspect from its beginnings, from before the medieval tournament right up to the modern age. The shift towards fencing as a sport rather than as military training happened from the mid-18th century, and was led by Domenico Angelo, who established a fencing academy, Angelo’s School of Arms, in Carlisle House, Soho, London in 1763. He established the essential rules of posture and footwork that still govern modern sport fencing, although his attacking and parrying methods were still much different from current practice. As fencing progressed, the combat aspect slowly faded until only the rules of the sport remained. The first regularized fencing competition was held at the inaugural Grand Military Tournament and Assault at Arms in 1880, held at the Royal Agricultural Hall, in Islington in June.