The English Master of Arms From the Twelfth to the Twentieth Century
First published in 1956, The English Master of Arms presents a fascinating chapter of social history, not merely of fencing. It was the common custom of gentlemen to bear arms, and the background to this custom is an important aspect of history of manners and conduct. Changes in social condition made the weapon an accessory to dress rather than a protective equipment; but the enthusiasm for the cult of arms increased. Amply encouraged, the Master of Arms brought his art ever nearer to perfection; at the same time, he became a recognised arbiter of conduct, for he insisted upon the exact observance of a strict code of honour, of courtesy, and of self-restraint.
Essentially unassuming, he relied for his social influence upon his own example, and he seemed to his contemporaries such an unchanging unit in the established order of life that it did not occur to them to hand down their impressions to succeeding generations. This book is an effort to remedy their omission by recording from widely scattered sources the simple annals of the English Master of Arms, of how he emerged, established his schools, and taught his art.
Prologue 1. The Mediaeval Master 2. The Tudor Master 3. Playing a Prize 4. Rocco Bonetti 5. Jeronimo and Saviolo 6. George Silver 7. The Jacobean Master 8. Monsieur Faubert’s Academy 9. The Carey Manuscript 10. The Gladiators, I 11. The Gladiators, II 12. Sir William Hope 13. Donald McBane 14. The Eighteenth Century Masters 15. The Later Georgian Masters 16. The Angelo School 17. The Nineteenth Century 18. Renaissance Epilogue Appendices Bibliography Index