Saturday, August 28, 2021

Italian Rapier Combat: Capo Ferro's 'grand Simulacro'

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Italian Rapier Combat: Capo Ferro's 'grand Simulacro' is a reprint and translation of the original work from 1610 by Ridolfo Capo Ferro. This English translation edited by Jared Kirby was originally released in 2004. This reformat and re-release due out 30th Nov 2021 from Pen & Sword books on their Greenhill imprint is 148 pages and will be available in hardcover format.

Written more than 400 years ago, this is still a famous and classic work dedicated to the Italian rapier. The language has been updated to more modern vernacular and includes an updated glossary. The book includes a table of contents, but no index. The first part of the work covers general concepts, glossary, positions, and theory. The second part, containing the plates (see cover), show two dueling gentlemen in various stages of nudity, presumably to better show anatomy. Many of the plates are quite gruesome with rapiers & daggers sticking out of various body parts. 

I feel quite certain that the book's value lies more in the historical importance, and unlike many modern treatises, will have limited practical use for actually *learning* rapier fencing to any meaningful degree. I was most fascinated by the facsimile plates showing the illustrations and bookplates from the original 1610 edition. 

This would be a good selection for library acquisition, historical re-enactors (SCA and similar), and readers interested in historical armed combat. Many such extant Renaissance manuscripts have value also for costumers and historians, but the illustrations in this volume show nude or semi-nude combatants, so that isn't really applicable here. It might be of some interest for calligraphers and artists, but I would recommend looking at the content first, since the text makes up the largest portion.

Five stars for the historical value. Quite gruesome content, so sensitive readers should be aware of that and proceed accordingly. 

Disclosure: I received an ARC at no cost from the author/publisher for review purposes.


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