Domingo Luis Godinho's Art of Fencing (1599)
By Domingo Luis Godhinho Translated by Tim Rivera
In 1599, during the period when the Portuguese crown was united to the crowns of Castile and Aragon, the Portuguese master-at-arms Domingo Luis Godinho wrote a manuscript in Spanish entitled Arte de Esgrima (The Art of Fencing).
Although his life is largely a mystery and Godinho’s text was never published in his lifetime, today his manuscript is of utmost relevance in the study of Renaissance Iberian fencing. It is the only complete treatise discovered so far describing the 'Common' or 'Vulgar' style of Iberian fencing, first documented in the fifteenth century, but by Godinho's day, displaced by the new system of La Verdadera Destreza (the true skill).
The work includes instructions for the single sword, a long-bladed, cut & thrust weapon taught alone and with the use of the shield, buckler, dagger, and cape, as well as paired with a second sword. Godinho's instructions also included the longest known text on the use of the montante, or two-handed sword, a devastating weapon that was used by soldiers and body-guards, in duels and battlefields, in crowded streets and aboard galleys. Translator Tim Rivera provides a detailed introduction that explains Godinho's relationship to earlier masters of the 'Common School' of swordsmanship, and a short primer on the various weapons, guards, parries, footwork and terminology of the tradition.
Godinho's Art of Fencing
Part One: Sword Alone
Part Two: Sword and Shield
Part Three: Sword and Buckler
Part Four: Two Swords
Part Five: Sword and Dagger
Part Six: The Two-Handed Sword
Part Seven: Sword and Cloak
Part Eight: Self-Defense and Tricks
Part Nine: General Advice
Part Ten: Sword Alone, Continued
Appendix A: Pacheco's Thirty Vulgar Tretas
Appendix B: Glossary
Tim Rivera has been researching, studying, and translating texts on Spanish swordplay since 2008, concentrating on the older and common styles from the 15th - 17th century. He is also the founder of the Spanish Swordsmanship Society. In addition, he has practiced and researched various styles of Filipino martial arts since 1995.