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André des Bordes

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André des Bordes
Born 1582
Nancy, Lorraine
Died 28 January 1625
Nancy, Lorraine (?)
Spouse(s) Marie Olivier
Occupation Fencing master
Patron Henri II, Duke of Lorraine
Genres Fencing manual
Language Middle French
Notable work(s) Discours de la théorie de la pratique et de l’excellence des armes (1610)
Manuscript(s) MS E.1939.65.435

André des Bordes (Abraham Racinot; 1582-1625) was a 17th century French fencing master. Nothing is known of this master's youth other than the fact that he studied swordsmanship in Italy for many years and achieved some degree of mastery. After returning to his native France, he soon befriended the future duke Henri, and was appointed fencing master to Duke Charles III of Lorraine in 1606. When Henri became duke in 1609, Bordes was named a gentleman, and in August of 1609 he was raised to nobility (with the usual fees waived). Earlier that year in June, he had married Marie Olivier, a woman from a distinguished family in Pont-à-Mousson.

In 1610, Bordes completed a treatise on fencing entitled Discours de la théorie de la pratique et de l’excellence des armes ("Discourse on Theory, Practice, and Excellence at Arms"); it was published in Nancy and dedicated to the Duke. Bordes' treatise seems to largely be an abbreviated French translation of Camillo Palladini's Italian treatise Discorso di Camillo Palladini Bolognese sopra l'arte della scherma come l'arte della scherma è necessaria à chi si diletta d'arme (De Walden Library 14/10).

After this, Bordes' wealth and prestige increased; in 1612 he was appointed captain, warden and tax collector of Boulay, and in 1615, captain and provost of Sierck. In 1617, he joined the duchy's Council of State and gained the title Squire. At some point, Bordes also seems to have served as a foreign ambassador for Lorraine. Events turned against Bordes after the death of Henri II in 1624. His political enemies contrived to have him imprisoned on charges of witchcraft in November of that year, and on 28 January 1625 Bordes confessed to the crime and was executed by strangulation and burned.


Additional Resources

The following is a list of publications containing scans, transcriptions, and translations relevant to this article, as well as published peer-reviewed research.


  1. In other words, offer his knowledge and skills.
  2. As in the pictures
  3. Agrippa, Camillo, Treatise on the Science of Arms (Rome, 1553)
  4. In other words, on the inside of that knee which is to the outside. I am indebted to Olivier Dupuis for correcting my original translation, which was ‘near the outside of the knee’, similar to a ‘Bolognese’ guard of coda lunga e stretta.
  5. Manciolino of Bologna
  6. A vertical, downwards cut, equivalent to the Italian fendente
  7. A rising cut with the false edge, possibly similar to the false edge cut described by Dall’Aggochie
  8. A circular cut to the opponent’s right side, equivalent to the Italian moulineto
  9. A ‘garter’ or cut to the leg. Note the term’s spelling varies in this work.
  10. A thrust
  11. Probably a criticism of Agrippa’s recommendation to turn the head away when lunging.
  12. As in strike
  13. Olivier Dupuis suggests that Des-Bordes is in fact suggesting the fencer lowers the whole sword as the enemy attempts to thrust underneath, thereby striking with the quillions. This author considers that the lowering of the point may indicate a parry with the false edge, but that would not lend itself to a following thrust under the enemy’s sword.
  14. Cut to the leg