Top Recommendations / Medieval / Renaissance / 18th & 19th Century / Non-English / Videos

General Reference on Renaissance Fence or Swords & Arms:
With select 18th & 19th century texts
"A-Z of Fencing"
E. D. Morton. 1992, Queen Anne's Press. A useful listing of fencing terms dealing mostly with the modern sport form and that of the 18th and 19th centuries. Often cited as a source by other books.
"Actors on Guard: A Practical Guide for the Use of the Rapier and Dagger for Stage and Screen"
Dale Anthony Girard. This book desperately wanted to be a martial work but can't escape the limitations of stage combat illusion. I would highly recommend it for theatrical performers, yes. But for martial replication and Very lengthy, but most of that is spent on theatrical considerations (not my kind of thing). He had the hard task of treating stage-combat as an art while recognizing the historical foundation. Includes a wealth of material overall and a great amount of detail on the historical foundations. Nicely illustrated too. Great scholarship and research. But he did rely too much though on Egerton Castle's 19th century book rather than works of the original Masters. Also, mistakenly combines cut & thrust swords and rapiers as usual, thereby complicating matters. A few other faults here and there, but overall good.
"Arms & Armor - A Pictorial Archive from 19th Century Sources"
Dover Books. This offers interesting copyright free clip art of medieval and renaissance arms & armor mostly from Victorian sources. However, do not take all the illustrations literal as the Victorian were greatly misinformed in many instances. 
"Arms and Armor in Colonial America, 1526-1783"
Harold L. Peterson, N.Y.: Bramhall. A rare work presenting a surprising range of Medieval & Renaissance swords and arms that were brought for defense by settlers.
"Arms & Armour in Tudor & Stuart London"
Martin R. Holmes. London, 1957. Useful booklet with interesting information on English sword & armor makers.
"Arms & Armor of the Pilgrims"
Harold L. Peterson, Plymouth, p.p., 1957. 29p., 30 photos & diagrams. NOT REVIEWED.
"Arms and Armour of the English Civil War"
David Blackmore. Royal Armouries, 1990. Soft cover. An excellent reference work covering cavalry, infantry, and artillery. Many b&w photos and drawings.
"Art, Arms and Armour, An International Anthology, Volume I: 1979-80"
Robert Chiasso, editor:, Switzlerland, Acquafresca Editrice, 1979.
"The Art Of Attack - being a study in the development of the age of Gunpowder"
H.S.Cowper, EP Publishing 1977, 312 pages including many line drawings, a study in the development of weapons and appliances of offense, from the earliest times to the age of gunpowder.
"The Arte of Defence"
William Wilson. This short SCA pamphlet is a collection of essays and thoughts on rapier fence from a standard SCA point of view. Limited and incomplete, but a nice attempt.
"Artists and Warfare in the Renaissance"
J.R. hale, Yale University Press, 1990. Excellent iconographic resource for all manner of renaissance swords and blades from historical artwork.
"A Bibliography of the Art and Sport of Fencing"
Henk Pardoel. This edition is a black and white, perfect bound soft cover publication. It contains over 1,900 entries with some illustrations, 1995. $25.50 (Canadian). ISBN 0 88911 722 5. 1996 Commemorative Edition, ISBN 0-88911-724-1. Lists over 4,000 entries on 506 pages.
"Boarders Away - With Steel- Edged Weapons & Polearms"
William Gilkerson, Quarto, 160 pages, photo ills some in color, and line drawings. Describes naval weapons from the age of sail (cutlasses, etc.). NOT REVIEWED.
"The Book of Duels"
Philip Rush, London: George G. Harrap & Co., Ltd, c. 1964. illustrations and drawings.
"Brassey’s History of Uniforms"
The English Civil War. Philipp J.C. Elliot-Wright. Brassey’s, UK 1997. ISBN 857532112. A superb work covering extensive equipment and garb. Relies on many color photos of living-history and reenactment groups as well as historical artwork and drawings of arms & armor. A must.
"British Cut And Thrust Weapons"
John Wilkinson-Latham, 1971, 112 pp. NOT REVIEWED.
"The 16th Century Italian Duel - A Study in Renaissance Social History"
Frederick R. Brysan Ph.D., University of Chicago Press, 1938. A useful reference but somewhat outdated.
"Chivalry in the Renaissance"
Edited by Sydney Anglo. Woodbridge [England]; Rochester, NY, USA, Boydell Press, 1990.
"The Collector's Encyclopedia of Antiques Arms and Armor"
Bonanza Books, 1973.  NOT REVIEWED.
"A Complete Bibliography of Fencing and Dueling - As Practiced by All European Nations from the Middle Ages to the Present Day"
Carl Thimm.(1896). Reprint. Firebird Press (January 1999), ISBN: 1565544455, 537 pages (& B. Blom 1968). A prime reference listing for serious researchers and scholars, somewhat useful for enthusiasts and practitioners. Very often cited as a major source by other works.
"The Complete Light Weapons Fighter"
Wulfe Von Der Rus (a.k.a Bob Rush.) Southern Illinois University Press. This self published book by a knowledgeable fencer describes standard SCA epee fencing and attempts to put it into a more organized form based on certain historical principles. It offers basic sport fencing concepts from an SCA perspective along with other observations. It essentially recreates modern sport fencing with costumes and historical movements.
"Cut and Thrust Weapons"
Edward Wagner, Spring Books, 1967. An interesting and very extensive general reference. It covers some aspects not found elsewhere and in an unique manner. Covers Medieval weapons as well.
"A Dictionary of Universally Used Fencing Terminology"
William Gaugler, Laureate Press. This short little booklet is a very handy source for terms from the renaissance up to modern times. Well written but lacking many historical Renaissance terms either no longer used in modern sport fencing or originating in the classical Italian and French schools. Plus it also completely entirely ignores and leaves out anything from the Medieval period.
"The Duel - A History of Dueling"
Robert Baldick. Spring Books, 1965. This is the best (but still limited) works giving an overview of historical duels.
"The Duel in European History: Honor and the Reign of Aristocracy"
V. G. Kiernan, London: Oxford University Press, 1989. This translated French book is an academic, ponderous and exhausting read that gives few real insights for historical sword enthusiasts today.
"The Duel: Its Rise in Early Modern France"
F. Bellacois. Yale, 1990. Social history of the dueling phenomena in France during the 16th and 17th centuries. NOT REVIEWED.
"Dueling - The Cult Of Honor In Fin-De-Siecle Germany"
Kevin Mcaleer, Princeton, New Jersey, Princeton University Press, 1994. 268 pp.
"Dueling scenes and terms in Shakespeare's plays"
Horace S. Craig. Berkeley, Los Angeles, University of California Press, 1940.
"Dueling Stories From the Sixteenth Century"
George H. Powell. A. H. Bullen, London, 1904. Translation of "Discours sur les duels" 1614, by Brantome. Excellent primary source for accounts of many major duels.
"Edged Weapons of the Habsburg Monarchy"
Sach, Moudry. Collection of more than 200 pieces, including all basic models of sabres, palashes, swords, daggers, bayonets, and staff weapons.
"Elizabethan Military Science: The Books and the Practice"
Henry J. Webb. Madison, The Univ. of Wisconsin Press, 1965. 256 pp.
"The Encyclopedia of the Sword"
Nick Evangelista, NY: Greenwood Press, 1995. This impressive compilation is greatly flawed and highly suspect. Relying on only a handful of secondary references for nearly all its information (it even excludes Oakeshott's major works for instance!) its entries offer little insight and no new scholarship. The author, a sport and theatrical fencing teacher offers a mountain of detailed information, unfortunately much of it highly irrelevant to the subject. The book obsesses with Hollywood swordplay and filters everything through the prism of modern sport fencing practice while omitting significant historical masters and texts. It offers a tremendous amount of information on sport fencing but suffers terribly from either misinformation or lack of facts on real sword forms and real historical swordsmanship. The result is a very mixed bag that continues to perpetuate the old standard myths and misconceptions about Medieval and Renaissance swords as well as Asian methods. It is of use only to those who have no access to better references or primary sources.
"The English Civil War 1642-1651 - An Illustrated Military History"
Philip J. Haythornthwaite. A short but very well done and valuable work filled with detailed information. Very well illustrated.
"English Martial Arts"
Terry Brown. Anglo-Saxon Books, UK. Contains over 200 photographs and covers history, weapons, and techniques of English martial-arts mostly from the 1500's to the 1700's. Covers basket-hilted broadsword, sword & buckler, quarterstaff, bill, wrestling, and some sword & dagger using historical sources. It had much more it could have said, but is very well done, with very valuable material! It is a welcomed study, smoothly written.
"European Swords"
Anthony North. Victoria & Albert Museum, 1982. This is a tiny book by a museum curator covering only small swords and similar pieces.
"European & American Arms"
London, 1962. - NOT REVIEWED
"European Weapons and Warfare 1618-1648"
Eduard Wagner. Svoboda, Czech. 1967. Octopus Books, English edition 1979. Eduard Wagner, Czechoslovakian arms curator, military historian, and fencer authored several great books on swords and weapons. He also produced a stupendous 290 page work on the 30-Years War. While not without flaws in its discussion of swords and armor, this rare book is a dream for reenactors. In splendid water color drawings it covers every conceivable aspect of military equipment and military activity among the armies in the conflict, including: cavalry, infantry, close order combat, discipline, punishments, fencing, artillery, supply trains, fortifications, field forts, river crossings and engineering equipment, horses and tack, wagons, clothing such as coats, hats, shoes, and trousers, weapons, firearms, and troop provisions. A splendid reference work if you can find it.
"Fencing and Duelling in Shakespeare's England"
Sidney Lee, Edt. Vol. 2. 1917, Oxford. NOT REVIEWED.
"Fight Directing for the Theater"
J. Allen Suddeth, Master Fight Director. 1996, Heinemann Press, NH. Illustrated Society of American Fight Director's guide for faking it. Basic stage combat guide book. Contains very little of interest to fighters.
"The First Kingdom of Atenveldt Academy of Fence"
Another short SCA booklet and collection of essays on their stylistic version of rapier combat and role playing. This group effort offers a number of general observations as well as inaccuracies and numerous miss-impressions.
"Five Centuries of Gunsmiths, Swordsmiths and Armourers 1400-1900"
Col. Robert Edward Gardner. Columbus, Ohio: Walter F. Heer, Publisher, 1948.
Charles Selberg. University of Ca., Santa Cruz: Addison Wesley, 1976. Of all the books on modern sport fencing and its theories, this is among the top two worth reading for historical sword enthusiasts and practitioners.
"The Forms and History of the Sword"
Sir Frederick Pollock, London, Oxford Lectures, 1890. --- NOT REVIEWED
"From Medieval Sword to Renaissance Rapier – The Evolution of Straight Bladed Thrusting Weapons"
Ada Bruhn Hoffmeyer. Art, Arms, and Armor. An International Anthology.. Robert Held, Ed. Chiasso, 1979. P. 52-79.
"Gaya's Trait des Armes"
Gaya, Louis de, 1678. Charles ffoulkes, editor, London, 1911. On siege engines for warfare.
"Gentlemen, Swords And Pistols : the story of dueling in the 1800's when Southern gentlemen fought and died upon the field of honor."
Harnett T. Kane. 1951. Bonanza: New York, n.d.(1961). Reprint.
"Handbook of Techniques"
Dan Speaker, Academy of Theatrical Combat, LA, CA. 1995 Desktop published stage combat guide. NOT REVIEWED.
Heroic Armor of the Italian Renaissance – Filippo Negroli and His Contemporaries
Stuart W, Phryy and Jose-A. Godoy Abrams, 1999. Catalogs the Met exhibit of beautiful Italian parade armor of exquisite designs and detailed craftsmanship.
"A History of Fencing: Foundations of Modern European Swordplay" – William F. Gaugler, Laureate Press, 1998. Very useful but limited info from historical renaissance masters, leading to a detailed history of sport fencing.  Genuinely useful data combined with the usual sporting prejudices and preconceptions.
"How to Kill a Man at Your Ease: Fencing Books and The Dueling Ethic"
Sydney Anglo. Antiquaries Journal, LXVII, 1988. p. 1-4.
"Infantry Combat"
Stuart Peachey, Stuart Press. A very short study from period sources on English Civil War foot soldiers. Of value more to military historians and wargamers.
"Men of Honour: A Social and Cultural History of the Duel"
Ute Frevert. Cambridge, Polity Press in assoc. Blackwell, 1995 1st Eng. edn. with revisions to German text. "A wide-ranging account of the duel and its significance, from the early modern period to the twentieth century."
"The Military Revolution - Military Innovation and the Rise of the West 1500-1800"
Geofrey Parker, Cambridge Univ. press, 1988. An excellent textbook describing the "revolution" in Western military technology that began in the Renaissance. Great reading.
"Milligen’s History of Dueling - Including narratives of the most remarkable personal encounters that have taken place from the earliest period to the present time"
Dr. R. Milligen. Vol. I, London, 1841.  Interesting accounts.
"The Noble Science: A study and Transcription of Sloane Ms. 2530, papers of the Masters of Defence of London, Temp. Henry VIII to 1590"
Herbert Berry. Cranbury, NJ: Associated University Presses. 1991. This short work is essentially a theater historian's notes on the records of the English Masters. Very interesting, but sadly limited reading for students of the London Company of Masters and Prize Playing.
"On Fencing"
Aldo Nadi. This is probably the number one book on modern sport fencing and one of the very few of value to historical sword enthusiasts and practitioners.
"Pallas Armata - Military Essayes of the Ancient Grecian, Roman, and Modern Art of War - Written in the Years 1670 and 1671"
Sir James Turner, London, Richard Chiswell, 1683. New York, Greenwood Press, 1968.
Paradoxes of Defence – 1599
G. Silver. With an Introduction by J. Dover Wilson. Shakespeare Association Facsimile No. 6. Oxford Press, 1933. One of the earliest (and now rare) commercial reprints of Silver’s original manual, complete with both illustrations.
"Poland: Edged Weapons 16th Century-20th Century"
Kozlowski & Skoviera. 1994 An illustrated reference guide. Features daggers, sabres and swords, many makers names, navy, hallmarks and more. - NOT REVIEWED
"Rapiers, An Illustrated Reference Guide"
Eric Valentine. Stackpole Books, 1968. One of the best reference books on these weapons, this small book details many informative facts.
"The Rapier and Small Sword 1460-1820"
A. V. B. Norman. NY: Arno Press Inc., 1980. Likely the best treating of rapiers ever produced. It covers in exhaustive detail the many actual blades and hilts known. However, its focus is exclusively that of a museum curator and not a military historian or practitioner.
"Renaissance War Studies"
J. R. Hale. 1983.
"The Schooles of Defence in Elizabethan London"
Jay P. Anglin.  in Renaissance Quarterly Vol. XXXVII No. 3. Autum 1983. pp. 393-410. NOT REVIEWED.
"The Secret History of The Sword"
J. Christoph Amberger, Hammerterz Verlog Special Publication 0101, 1996. Baltimore Md. A stimulating and entertaining set of essays originally published in the Hammerterz Forum fencing newsletter. Explores many obscure angles of our Western martial heritage. The new Volume 3 updating the previous edition with many new articles is now available.
"Sir John Norreys and the Elizabethan Military World"
John Nolan. 1998. ISBN: 0859895483. The first biography of Elizabeth I's most trusted soldier. It chronicles Norreys's life between 1570 and 1600, examining how Norreys built on his family's personal friendship with Elizabeth to navigate the treacherous waters of the court and rise to prominence as a warrior and diplomat. The book incorporates English, Irish, Belgian, Dutch, Spanish and French archival material, including a number of previously unexploited English sources such as Norreys' personal papers in the Bodleian Library. The life of Sir John Norreys is a tale of ambition, rivalry, corruption, violence and achievement typical of the nobility of the Elizabethan age, and provides a marvellous "grand tour" of western Europe in a time of budding imperialism, religious hatred, international intrigue and military innovation.
"The Small-Sword in England - Its History, its Forms, its Makers, and its Masters"
J.D. Aylward, Hutchinson's Scientific & Technical Pub., London 1945, 132pp, 55 illus. NOT REVIEWED
Sotheby’s Catalog of Fine American and European Firearms and Edged Weapons
Los Angeles, 1974.
"South American Fights & Fighters and Other Tales of Adventure"
Cyrus Townsend Brady, ; NY: Doubleday, 1910 1st ed.. Chapters on Panama, Peru, Cortez, the second half of the book is on famous American duels and a large section on John Paul Jones.
"Spanish Arms and Armour - Being a Historical and Descriptive Account of the Royal Armoury of Madrid"
Albert F. Calvert, John Lane, The Bodley Head. London & New York. 1907 1st edition.   - NOT REVIEWED
"Stage Combat"
William Hobbs. The book's title says it all. Despite being produced by the world's foremost fight director and being the best book on the subject, this textbook offers little of interest to martialists or historical swordsmen.
"Stage Fights A Simple Handbook of Techniques"
Gilbert Gordon. Theater Arts Books, 1973. A small, short book of simple theatrical cliches.
"Swashbuckling: A Step-by-Step Guide to the Art of Stage Combat and Theatrical Swordplay"
Richard Lane (Barry Day, John Gielgud). Limelite, 1998. NOT REVIEWED
"The Sword and the Centuries"
Alfred Hutton. London (1901). Barnes & Noble reprint 1996. This older text provides interesting accounts and details of duels and fighting which have served as references for many later texts.  Great reading by a classic author of the subject.
"Swords and Daggers"
John Hayward, 1963. - NOT REVIEWED
"The Sword and Womankind Being a study of the influence of "The Queen of Weapons" upon the moral and social status of women, etc."
Edouard de Beaumont. London Imperial Press, 1905. Adapted from 'L'Epee et les Femmes'. London The Society of British Bibliophiles, 1921. Limited edition.
"Sword Fights: A Manual for Actors and Directors"
Keith Ducklin and John Waller. Robert Hale, UK, 2000. 240 pages. With 5 fully-illustrated training sequences for two-hander; hand-and-a-half (in armour); sword and buckler; rapier and dagger; and smallsword.
"Swords of Shakespeare"
J. T. Martinez. This illustrated work offers some worthwhile observations on sword history and practice. Though, as it is directed exclusively to theatrical choreographers and Shakespearean actors, it would be better entitled
The Big Book of How Not to Fight since it covers only the illusion of simple stage combat.
"Techniques and Training for Staged Fighting. (Studies in Theatre Arts, Vol. 6)"
James D. Strider. Edwin Mellen Pr., 1999. Text Book. NOT REVIEWED
"Three Elizabethan Fencing Manuals"
James L. Jackson. Delmar, 1972. This is one of the first modern books to offer versions of historical manuals. An excellent resource.
"Tudor and Jacobean Tournaments"
Alan R. Young, Sheridan House, 1987. ISBN 0911378758 - NOT REVIEWED
"Two Rapier Points: Analyzing Elizabethan Fighting Methods"
A. L. Soens, Notes and Queries, 1968. NOT REVIEWED.
"Weapons & Armor A pictorial Archive of Woodcuts and Engravings"
Dover Books. This also offers copyright free clip art of medieval and renaissance arms & armor. Again, do not take all the illustrations at face value as the Victorians were greatly misinformed in many instances.
The Diagram Group. Diagram Visual, 1980. A simple but informative work with strong graphics.
"The Works of George Silver"
Cyril G. R. Matthey, George Bell and Sons, London, 1898. The first actual publication of the original transcriptions of Silver’s sword texts from the 1590’s. An excellent vital reference from which all other Silver versions are taken.

Note: The word "ARMA" and its associated arms emblem is a federally registered trademark under U.S. Reg. No. 3831037. In addition, the content on this website is federally registered with the United States Copyright Office, © 2001-2022. All rights are reserved. No use of the ARMA name and emblem, or website content, is permitted without authorization. Reproduction of material from this site without written permission of The Association for Renaissance Martial Arts and its respective authors is strictly prohibited. Additional material may also appear from "HACA" The Historical Armed Combat Association copyright © 1999-2001 by John Clements. All rights are reserved to that material as well.