An anonymous illustrated Dutch treatise for fencing with rapier, sword and polearms from 1595
Translated by Reinier Van Noort
This short text with beautiful watercolour illustrations dates from 1595, and details fencing with the single sword, rapier and dagger, rapier and buckler, halberd, and full pike. Schermkunst is one of the oldest known martial arts treatises from the Low Countries and provides a glimpse into the ‘Art of Defence’ as it was practiced during a particularly volatile time in Netherlands history.
Rebellion against Philip II of Spain led to independence of the Calvinist Northern provinces from Catholic Spain. In the same year, the spice trade expedition set into motion events culminating in the formation of the Dutch East India Company, and a golden age of Dutch history that spanned the 17th century.
The original anonymous manuscript is held in the special collections of the Newberry Library of Chicago
Transcription, Translation and Illustrations
Single Sword Fencing
Rapier and Dagger Fencing
Fencing with Dussack and Shield
Rapier and Buckler Fencing
Fencing with Pikes
Reinier van Noort is a respected Dutch swordsman, instructor and researcher. Founder of the first HEMA school in the Netherlands, he is now based in Norway with the Fekteklubben Frie Duellister, where he teaches rapier and the Italian sidesword. His academic research focusses on the HEMA source material, focusing on martial arts in the Netherlands and Germany in the later 17th century.