Im Memorium

Paul Champagne
Swordsmith and Weaponsmith Extraordinaire

The historical fencing community and the world suffered a tragic and untimely loss this week in the death of Paul Champagne. Despite his fitness and general good health he passed away of a heart attack at the age of just 45. A life much too short.

Weaponsmith and swordmaker extraordinaire, Paul was a friend, advisor, and invaluable source of wisdom for both the ARMA and especially for myself. A lifelong student of the world’s entire ethnographic diversity of sword forms and sword-making technologies, Paul became an extraordinary craftsman. He was a masterful artisan in a field with far too few experts (and more than enough amateurs and charlatans). Paul was soft spoken and humble, yet a dynamic personality unquestionably knowledgeable and profoundly generous in sharing his wisdom. Always cordial, he was ever ready to offer his opinions and advice without apology or excuse. 

When I first met him it was hard not to be impressed at the breadth of his knowledge, his ease at expressing complex matters in eloquent ways, and at  the depth of his presentation: he lectured by showing first a container of simple iron ore that he had smelted himself, next a bar of simple steel he had hand forged from it, and finally presenting a fine finished blade that he had carefully shaped and polished into a gleaming wondrous instrument --- the prized tool of my trade and very object of my own lifelong pursuit of excellence. He was a kindred spirit and for me, as a swordsman, a natural counterpart. Ours was a natural symbiosis. I was proud to have been able to enrich his art by sharing my own knowledge with him in turn.  Yet I perhaps learned more about metal and the making of blades from him than from all other sources combined. 

Paul Champagne was to me an ever-impressive example of how a lost art could indeed be reclaimed by those with dedication and talent --- if it was pursued for the right reasons with sincerity, integrity, and passion. I deeply regret the unfulfilled projects and unfinished plans he and I will now never complete.  Though he leaves a legacy in his work, sadly, he was only able to share a tiny fraction of his accumulated wisdom. His impact is not nearly what it might have become, even if he never sought such renown. 

Paul was a private man with no real interest in selling swords or arms as a commercial venture or even in promoting his expertise, but rather only in rediscovering and reviving the forgotten art and technology that went into historic weapons. Sadly, the forgotten craft in which he spent a lifetime working to recover now suffers another blow in the knowledge he takes with him that once more will be lost. 

On behalf of all of ARMA and myself, we offer our sincerest condolences to his widow and family. It is with great sadness I mourn his passing.

John Clements
ARMA Director
April 16, 2009

In tribute, the ARMA presents two podcast interviews with Paul from 2006 that have  not been available previously to the general public.  We also ask that readers view here the only online interview that he granted.

Podcast interview part 1

Podcast interview part 2

2006 ARMA Interview

Paul's final appearance discussing the craft he was so dedicated to can be found in the documentary film,
Reclaiming the Blade.

Back to Main