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Manciolino's text is straightforward and makes me want to pick up my sword and buckler to work through the plays, and Leoni's translation is fantastic, but my favorite part here are the wealth of contextual essays, including the importance of swordsmanship for a renaissance courtier, and the division of fencing at school spada da gioco and for real spada da Filo.
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The Complete Renaissance Swordsman: Antonio Manciolino’s Opera Nova (1531)
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Opera Nova (Antonio Manciolino)
Bolognese Swordsmanship , also sometimes known as the Dardi school , is a tradition within the Italian school of swordsmanship which is based on the surviving fencing treatises published by several 16th century fencing masters of Bologna ,  As early as the 14th century several fencing masters were living and teaching in the city: a maestro Rosolino in , a maestro Nerio in , and a maestro Francesco in The Dardi school is named after Lippo Bartolomeo Dardi, a professor of mathematics and astronomy at the University of Bologna , who was licensed as a fencing master and founded a fencing school in Bologna in , just a few years after Fiore dei Liberi had completed his Fior di Battaglia. The Dardi School constituted both the last great medieval Western martial arts tradition as well as the first great Renaissance tradition, embracing both armed and unarmed combat. No manuscript ascribed to Dardi himself survives, although his tradition became the foundation for the work of Antonio Manciolino and Achille Marozzo , both possibly students of famed Bolognese master Guido Antonio de Luca. The Bolognese masters whose treatises have survived shared a greater consistency of style, terminology and pedagogy with each other than with fencing masters of the period from other parts of Italy, thus justifying their treatment as a single school.
Antonio Manciolino published his treatise Opera Nova in , and this edition is the one available to us today. The title page informs us that this edition is newly corrected and printed, which indicates there may have been an earlier now lost version. Thus we can date the original manual to sometime between September and September The system as described in his text is a remarkably concise and complete description of how to use the weapons combinations that he elaborates for his fencing system. Sword and buckler is the core foundation weapons system for the early Dardi School.
An Overview Of Manciolino’s Opera Nova
When in doubt, always check with the museum or library that owns a manuscript before publishing or otherwise reusing its scans. This treatise is important as it is the earliest work currently known from the Dardi Bolognese style of Italian swordsmanship. Based on historical details in the text, it seems to have been written in , and thus an earlier edition may have been printed around that time; no copies of the original manuscript or any print editions prior to are known to exist. The first modern Italian translation was released in ; this was followed by a new edition of the original text published in by Steven Reich.