What appears below is a transcription of Giacomo di Grassi's Rapier and Cloak from the 1595 edition of "His True Art of Defence". I have not included the image from the source, but have placed a marker in its place, but the spelling and punctuation is as close to the original as could possibly be transcribed. The "long s" has been replaced by "f" as was dog for the most part in the original document. Enjoy.
P.S. a .docx or .pdf version of this document is available on request.
The Rapier and Cloake
That I maie continue in the weapons which are moft vfuall and moft commonly worne: After the Dagger, I come to the Cloake: The vfe whereof was firft founde out by chaunce and after reduced into Arte. Neither was this for any other caufe then for that nature doth not onely delight to inuent things, but alfo to preferue them being inuented. And that fhee may the better doe it, fhee taketh for her helpe all thofe things that are commodious for her. Wherefore, as men in diuers accidẽts haue cafually proued, that the Cloak helpeth greatly (for as much as they are to weare it daily) they haue deuifed how they may behaue themfelues in all that, in which the Cloak may ferue their turne. Which accidents, becaufe they are infinite, & do not generally ferue for our purpofe, I wil reftraine my felfe and fpeake of thofe onely which appertaine to this Arte, the which are fuch and fo effectuall, that they may greatly helpe to the obteining of fafe victorie, if they happen to be placed in fuch a man as knoweth howe to vfe and handle them. And for that in true Arte it doth little preuaile, the vfe thereof being in a manner altogether deceitfull, I was refolued to put ouer all this to the treatife of Deceit, as vnto his proper place. Notwithftanding, to the ende it may not feeme ftrange to any man, to read nothing of the Cloak in al the handling of true Arte, I am minded to laye downe a certaine fewe blowes in the accuftomed wardes, referring the more abundant handling thereof vnto the treatife of Deceit.
The manner how to handle the Cloake
As the Cloake in this Arte, hath in it three things to be confidered, to witt: length, largeneffe, and flexibilitie: fo it is to be wayed how far each of thefe will ftretch, to ferue the turne. Of which three, one doth properly belong vnto it, and that is flexibilitie, which maie neither be encreafed nor diminifhed: The other two, may receiue alteration. But yet it is at any hande to be prouided, that thefe two alfo be not diminifhed. For the Cloake is no ftrong thing, which of it felfe may withftand the blowes of the weapon, being directly oppofed againft them.
And therefore he fhall proue himfelfe but a foole who trufting to the Cloth wrapped about his arme, doth encounter any right edgeblowe therewith. For feeing the Cloake is not flexible in that parte (which flexibilitie is his onely ftrength) litle preuaileth either length or largenes, wrapped about a folide fubftãce. But being oppofite in that parte thereof, where it hath length, largenes and flexibilitie (which is from the arme downwardes) it is auailable: for all three being ioyned togither will warde any edgeblow: which manner of warding fhould not be fo fure, if the cloake had onely length and flexibilitie: for hauing behind it litle ayre, which is the thing that doeth ftrengthen it, it may eafily be beaten too, and cut, by any great blowe. Therefore, if a man haue fo much liefure, he ought to wrapp his Cloake once or twice about his arme, taking it by the Cape or coller, and folding his arme therein vp to the elbowe, and therewithall to warde all edgeblowes from the flanke thereof downwardes, afwell on the right fide, as on the left fide, alwaies remembring to carrie his foote differing from his arme, for the auoyding of danger that may rife by bearing his legg on the felfefame fide, neere his cloak knowing the Cloak wardeth not when there is any harde fubftance behind it.
Thruftes alfo themfelues, may be giuen without if with the Cloake, or with the hand in the Cloake, the enimies fworde be beaten off, one handfull within the poynt thereof. For the edge hauing but fmall power in that cafe, is not hable in fo litle time, to cut the hand. The blowes alfo, afwell of the poynt, as of the edge, from the flanke vpwardes, ought to be warded with the fworde; For to lift the arme fo high being burdened with the waight of the Cloak, which naturally draweth downwards, as it is violent thing it is alfo perilous, leaft the arme be placed in fteede of the Cloake, and fo reft wounded, or left the arme or Cloake be placed before the eyes, which by that meanes remaine blinded.
An Aduertifement concerning the warding and wrapping of the Cloake.
There are two waies (in thefe daies) to wrappe the Cloake, the one is, when one hauing leafure taketh the Cloake by the cape or coller, and fo fouldeth it once or twice about his arme: The other is, as often times it falleth out, when letting the Cloke fall downe from the fhoulder, it is happelie taken by one fide, & fo is turned once or twice about the arme.
Nowe as concerning ftriking, a man ought in the handling of thefe weapons as he would ftrike, firft to increafe and carrie the one foote neere to the other, and then farther to increafe a halfe, not a whole pace, as in other weapons: For at thefe weapons, it is daungerous leaft (making a whole pace) he entangle his foote or feete in the Cloake and fall downe therewith. And this muft be taken heede of, in the firft and fecond foulding, but principallie in the fecond, becaufe in it the Cloake is longer, and therefore doth more eafilie touch the earth & intangle his feet: In the firft fold, although the cloak touch not the earth, becaufe the arme doth orderlie beare it, yet by reafon of werines, the arme falleth & caufeth the foresaid effect.
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The hurt of the high ward at Rapier and Clok.
In thefe maner of weapons, asin others, I will frame three wardes: The firft by the forefaid reafons, fhall be the high warde, which in thefe kind of wepons more then in anie other deferue the name of a ward. For the Rapier (fomething bending) wardeth as farre as the clok hand, and the clokhand down to the middle legg: foe that in this ward a man is warded from the top of the head down to the foot.
Therefore ftanding at this warde, whether it be with the right foote before or behinde, he may deliuer a thruft with the encreafe of a halfe pace forwards, ftaying himfelfe in the lowe warde.
The right edgeblowe ought to be deliuered from the wrift without any motion of the feete, refting in the lowe warde: but in deliuering of the reuerfe, it is neceffarie to fetch a whole pace, and in a manner ftraight. If the enemie warde it with his fworde, then the encounter of the enemies fworde, muft be ftayed fuddenly with the Cloake-hand in the firft part thereof, and a thruft be deliuered vnderneath, with the encreafe of a ftraight pace.
The defence of the thruft, right and reuerfed blowes of the high warde at Rapier and Cloake.
For the better auoyding of the hurts which proceede from the high warde: it is neceffarie to ftande at the lowe warde, in the which the thruft is to be warded iiij. manner of waies, to wit: either with the fingle fworde within and without, either with the fingle Cloake within and without. If with the fingle fword within, it is requifite to fetch a compas with the foot backwards on the right fide. In like cafe to turne the bodie the fame waie, to the intent, to carrie it out of the ftraight lyne (in which the blowe commeth) and to driue a reuerfed thruft at the face, the which thruft in fuch order deliuereth is the longeft that is, and fuch a one, as thereby the hurt is not onely voyded, but alfo at the felfefame time, the enimie is ftroken in the face. If it chaunce, that the fworde be encountered without then it is not onely profitable but alfo neceffarie, to ftep forwardes and with the Cloake to encounter the enimies fworde in the firft parte thereof. And recouering his owne fworde, to difcharge a thruft vnderneath with the encreafe of the right foote. And although it be laide down for a rule, not to vfe a whole pace in handling of the Cloake, this ought to be vnderftoode in ftriking, in the which (whileft one endeuoureth to ftrike with his fworde) it may be forgetting the Cloake, his arme may fall, by meanes whereof he may ftumble againft it: but in warding, it doth not fo happen. For nature being carefull to defende her felfe (at euery litle danger) lifteth vp both her armes, yea, although they be oppreffed with waight and burden.
Wherefore it is not be feared, that in warding this thruft, his hand will be drawen downe by the waight of the Cloake.
The fame wardes and defences may be vfed with the fingle Cloake, in which, one muft likewife ftrike, with the encreafe of the right foote. This maner of warding is not verie fure, and therefore it requireth great actiuitie and deepe iudgement, confidering he ought to beare his Cloake and arme ftretched out before him, & to marke when the enimies fwords poynt fhall paffe within the Cloakhand one handful or litle more: and not to fuffer it to paffe farther, but to beat it off, and encreafing to difcharge a thruft vnderneath; with the encreafe of a pace with the right foote. But as I haue faide, this manner of warding hath litle certaintie and great perill in it, and yet it ftriketh well, if it be done in fhort time.
The right edgeblowe may in like manner be warded with the fingle fworde or cloake: but when it cõmeth aloft, it fhall not be commodious to encounter it with the fingle cloake, for by that meanes the eyes blinde themfelues. How much this importeth, let others iudge. But, when the faide right blo we commeth in manner lowe, fo that it may well be warded, keeping the enimie in fight, then the cloake is to be oppofed, with the encreafe of the left pace, &; prefently thereupon, a thruft to be difcharged, with the encreafe of a right pace.
When one oppofeth the fingle fworde againft teh right blowe, he muft driue a thruft at the face, & fetch a compas with his hinder foote, cutting the face with the faide thruft and ftaie himfelfe in the broad ward. The felfe fame muft be done, when he defendeth him felfe with both together, to wit, with the fword and cloake.
Againft the reuerfed blowe, the felfe fame manner is vfed in warding to wit, either with the one, or with the other, either with both ioyned together.
With the cloake, by the encreafe of a pace, and by encountring the enimies fworde, as farre forwards as is poffible, that thereby it may be done the more commodioufly, deliuering a thruft therewithall vnderneath, with the encreafe of a pace of the right foot.
With the fingle Rapier, the fame defence may fuffice, which is layde downe in the treatife of the fingle Rapier, and that is, to difcharge a thruft at the enimies thigh, the which withftandeth the full of the reuerfed blowe.
Nowe, if one would defend himfelfe with both thefe weapons ioyned togither, he muft encreafe a pace with the right foot, &; ftaying the enimies fword with his cloake, recouer his owne fworde nimbly, and then deliuer a thruft with the encreafe of a pace of the right foote.
The hurt of the broad warde, at Rapier and Cloake.
In this warde, as well as in others, a man may both thruft and ftrike, yet diuerfly: For he may not difcharge a right edgeblowe beneath. And the reuerse is manifeftly dangerous: So that, when he is to deliuer it, he ought to perfourme in this order.
Firft, he fhall driue a thruft, fetching a compas with his hinder foote, that by that meanes it may reach the farther, then fuddenly (without mouing of himfelfe) he fhall difcharge a right edgeblowe, from the wrift, after the which prefently, the reuerfe muft followe, with the encreafe of a pace of the right foote: and further, muft follow on with the thruft alreadie prepared, and increafe the like pace.
The defence of the broad warde, at Rapier and Cloake.
To him that will fafely warde himfelfe from the hurt of the broad warde, it is requifite, that he ftand at the lowe warde. And when the thruft vnderneath hand commeth, he fhall thruft at the face, fetching a compas with his hinder foote towardes the right fide, with which kinde of thruft, it doth lightly happen that the enimie is hit in the face: but if it faile, yet for all that, the enimie obtaineth not his purpofe, in the difcharge of the thruft of the broad warde: For by deliuering the thruft vnderneath, and compaffing of the hinder foote, the bodie is carried out of the ftraight lyne: So that, as foone as the thruft is deliuered at the face, and the foote to be plucked backe, fetling in the broad warde. To warde the right and reuerfed blows, there is a thruft to be giuen at the thighes or fome other place that may moft hinder them, in the verie fame time that fuch blowes are in their circle or compas. Although I do not beleue that there is any man fo foolifh, that (in his warde) will deliuer a reuerfe onely.
Of the hurt of the lowe warde, at Rapier and Cloake.
This warde is fo ftraight and perilons, that no man ought to affure himfelf to deliuer an edgeblow in any manner of waie. For vnder any of them he may be eafily ftrooken, and each of them may eafily be warded with the Cloake. Therefore, he muft diligently take heed, that he thruft onely, the which muft neuer be difcharged before the enimies fworde be found, and then as farre forwardes as is poffible. So then finding it, he may thruft both within and without. Neither is there in this thruft any other aduantage to be gotten, then to fteale a halfe pace vnwares of the enimie, which may be done verie commodioufly, confidering the cloak occupieth the enimies fight, And hauing drawen this halfe pace, and found the enimies fword, he muft encreafe an other halfe pace forwardes, and ftrike him, cofting and forcing the enimies fworde, on that fide where it may do no hurt. And this maie be vfed both within and without: But he whome it pleafeth, and who doubteth not to be entangled in the Cloake, maie (finding himfelfe within) carrie his left foot making a pace therewith, and betweene his cloake &; his fworde, clofe the enimies fworde, and deliuer a thruft with the encreafe of a pace of the right foote: And finding the enimies fword without, he may vfe the felfe fame encreafe and thruft. But if he finde not the enimies fword, he may deliuer a litle edgeblow from the wrift of the hand, in fuch forte, that the enimy haue no leafure to enter in: And hauing found the Sword, to difcharge a right or ftreight thruft, or elfe not voyding the enimies fword by the encreafe of a left pace, to driue a thruft from aloft downwards, lifting vp the fift fomewhat high, and deliuering it with the increafe of a pace of the right foote.
Of the defence of the lowe Warde at Rapier and Cloak.
To the ende a man may warde himfelfe from all the thruftes reckned in the hurtes of this warde, he neither ought, neither happely may doe any other thing then voide his bodie from the ftraight line, wherein the enimie purpofeth to ftrike, making a left pace forwards, fomewhat thwarting or crofsing and ftriking the enimie fafely. The which doth not fo chaunce, when one defendeth himfelfe either with the fingle Cloake or fingle Rapier: For whileft he affaileth to defend himfelf, he cannot ftrike. And if the enimie do firft moue, and ftrike ftraight, in the which, his fworde is not carried much outwardes (and it hardly done,) I faie, the enimie may be ftealing of half paces, difcharge a thruft perforce. And therefore he muft take heede, that (as the enimie moueth) he encreafe a flope pace (by the meanes voyding the hurt) then a thwart or croffing pace next, with the encreafe of a ftraight pace of the right foote, to ftrike the enimie with a thruft vnderneath.
This may fuffice, for the handling of thefe weapons as much as appertaineth to fure plaie. All that which remaines is referued to the treatife of deceit, in which place fhall be feene manie handlings of the cloake no leffe profitable then pleafant.