Pole-weapons in the Sagas of Icelanders: a comparison of literary and archaeological sources (Jan H. Orkisz) - APD4/1(2016)

Citation Information: Acta Periodica Duellatorum. Volume 4, Issue 1, Pages 177–212, ISSN (Online) 2064-0404, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/apd-2016-0006, May 2016


The Icelandic sagas are a major source of information on the Vikings and their fighting prowess. In these stories, several mysterious pole-weapons appear, which are often called “halberds”, for lack of a better word. In order to better identify what these weapons could have been, and to provide a better understanding of how the sagas relate to the Viking-age events they describe, we confront textual and archaeological evidence for several of these weapons (the höggspjót, the atgeirr, the kesja, the krókspjót, the bryntroll and the fleinn), keeping in mind the contextualisation of their appearances in sagas. The description of the use of each weapon allows to pick several candidates likely to correspond to the studied word. Without a perfect knowledge of what context the authors of the sagas wanted to describe, it appears to be impossible to give a final answer. However, we show that some specific types of spears are good candidates for some of the studied weapons.

Income and working time of a Fencing Master in Bologna in the 15th and early 16th century (Alessandro Battistini / Niki Corradetti) - APD4/1(2016)

Citation Information: Acta Periodica Duellatorum. Volume 4, Issue 1, Pages 153–176, ISSN (Online) 2064-0404, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/apd-2016-0005, May 2016


Since ancient times, the master-at-arms profession has always been considered essential for the education of the nobility and the common citizenship, especially in the Middle Ages. Yet, we know nothing about the real standard of living of these characters. The recent discovery of documents, which report the sums earned by fencing masters to teach combat disciplines, has brought us the possibility to estimate how highly this profession was regarded, and what its actual economic value was in the Italian late Middle Ages. They also give us also a material view into the modes of operation of a sala d’arme in those times.

Using different comparative methods based on the quoted currencies, primary goods and the cost of living, it was possible to analyze prices and duration of various military teachings offered by the fencing Masters in the late Middle Ages and equivalent viable activities of the time. We use three ways to calculate equivalent income levels in euros: from the silver content of the coins (bolognini, equivalent to the soldo); from purchasing power in relation to bread prices; and from equivalent wages. As a result we were able to define more accurately both the accessibility of these services for citizens and the relative value to other professions.

This cursory research study also aims to estimate approximately the current equivalent wages of a fencing master operating in the Italian peninsula in the 15th and early 16th century, confirming that this job was comparable to a modern, highly specialized, profession.

The use of the saber in the army of Napoleon (Bert Gevaert) - APD4/1(2016)

Citation Information: Acta Periodica Duellatorum. Volume 4, Issue 1, Pages 103–151, ISSN (Online) 2064-0404, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/apd-2016-0004, May 2016


Though Napoleonic warfare is usually associated with guns and cannons, edged weapons still played an important role on the battlefield. Swords and sabers could dominate battles and this was certainly the case in the hands of experienced cavalrymen. In contrast to gunshot wounds, wounds caused by the saber could be treated quite easily and caused fewer casualties. In 18th and 19th century France, not only manuals about the use of foil and epee were published, but also some important works on the military saber: de Saint Martin, Alexandre Muller… The saber was not only used in individual fights against the enemy, but also as a duelling weapon in the French army.

The French staff material from Johann Georg Pasch (Olivier Dupuis) - APD4/1(2016)

Citation Information: Acta Periodica Duellatorum. Volume 4, Issue 1, Pages 53–101, ISSN (Online) 2064-0404, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/apd-2016-0003, May 2016


Johann Georg Pasch was a very prolific author who published a large number of books during the third quarter of the seventeenth century. Some of these included physical exercises with a long staff and presented by Pasch himself as coming from France. Among all the known editions, four different versions can be isolated; this offers the possibility to study the filiation of the edition process. This study is combined with a textual criticism of the material, beginning with a comprehensive biography from the author and finishing with the questioning of the French origin.

A Well Regulated Militia Political and Military Organisation in Pre-Napoleonic Switzerland (1550-1799) (Jürg Gassmann) - APD4/1(2016)

Citation Information: Acta Periodica Duellatorum. Volume 4, Issue 1, Pages 23–52, ISSN (Online) 2064-0404, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/apd-2016-0002, May 2016


The period sees the transition of the ordinary fighter from feudal levy, yeoman or city burgher militia, to subject in an absolute polity, to today’s concept of the free citizen in a democratic state. In the period, the Swiss Confederacy was the only major polity that was not monarchical, but republican, and at the same time eschewed a standing army in favour of continued reliance on militia throughout.

A commonwealth’s military organisation is clearly one of fundamental importance to its own understanding of the nature of rule - its “constitution”. The article traces the transition and relates it to the concept of government under the different theories of the period.

Investigation on the collation of the first Fight book (Leeds, Royal Armouries, Ms I.33) (Fanny Binard/Daniel Jaquet) - APD4/1(2016)

Citation Information: Acta Periodica Duellatorum. Volume 4, Issue 1, Pages 3–22, ISSN (Online) 2064-0404, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/apd-2016-0001, May 2016


This paper investigates the collation of the first Fight Book, the Leeds, Royal Armouries, Ms I.33. It critically reviews previous hypotheses about the composition of the quires and the identification of the material lacuna, and proposes a new hypothesis. This investigation is based on observation of the original after restoration (2012) and the simulation of the previous hypotheses with a working document composed of laminated sheets into which reproductions were inserted. Bifolia were physically attached, forming quires by successive folds. This simulation phase allowed us to analyse textual and pictorial content according to the various postulates and to propose identification of the material lacuna. The pivot point allowing a new argumentation are the two counterfoils of the two flying leaves (fol. 19 and 26), which were not taken into account by previous researchers. Several synoptical diagrams of the representation of the quire are enclosed for the reader to follow the developments.