Forensic Fashion
(c) 2006-present R. Macaraeg


>Costume Studies
>>1593 English swashbuckler
Subject: 'swashbuckler' swordsman
Culture: late Tudor English
Setting: duelling, social violence, Elizabethan England mid 16th-early 17thc

Event Photos

* Cohen 2002 p35
​"The urban calendar was littered with holidays, which became an excuse for punch-ups and attacks on brothels and bathhouses (frequently sited close to fencing establishments) or houses belonging to foreigners.  Gangs roamed the streets, bearing down on anyone who stood in their way.  Their swaggering manner led to their being called 'swashbucklers,' from the clattering sound they made bashing their dueling shields.  Fencing thugs, or 'sword men,' became the bullies of city life ...."

Primary Sources

* Cohen 2002 p32-33
​"The argument between edge and point, between aggressive Italian thrust and the more defensive English style, raged for nearly fifty years.  The only surviving English fencing manual from the sixteenth century was written by the ultraconservative, formidably combative, and unashamedly xenophobic George Silver.  He viewed swordplay as a practical military art and extolled English methods in his Paradoxes of Defence.  Italian methods he dismissed as 'school tricks and juggling gambols,' the rapier itself as 'a childish toy wherewith a man can do nothing but thrust ... and in every moving when blows are a dealing, for lack of a hilt is in danger to have his hand or arm cut off, or his head cloven.'  Rapier play was not only dangerous but unmanly; a thrust could be parried 'with the force of a child.'  True Englishmen should 'cast off these Italianated, weak, fantastical, and most devilish and imperfect fights, and by exercising their own ancient weapons, be restored ... their natural, and most manly and victorious fight again.'  For all its invective and hyperbole, Paradoxes of Defence did emphasize the importance of real combat conditions and pointed out some of the limitations of the rapier."

​Secondary Sources


Field Notes