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George Silver

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George Silver
Born ca. 1560s
Died after 1622
Spouse(s) Mary Haydon
Nationality British
Genres Fencing manual
Language English
Notable work(s) Paradoxes of Defence
First printed
english edition
Matthey, 1898
Concordance by Michael Chidester
Translations Český Překlad

George Silver (ca.1560s - 1620s) was a 16th - 17th century British nobleman and fencing enthusiast. He was likely born in the 1560s, the eldest of four brothers; apparently at least one of them, Toby, was also an accomplished swordsman. Silver is described as a gentleman in his treatise, and was eleventh in descent from Sir Bartholomew Silver, who was knighted by Edward II. In 1580, he was married to Mary Haydon in London, England.[citation needed]

Silver's martial lineage is unknown, but he was not affiliated with the London Company of Masters and does not seem to have been a fencing master himself. In spite of this, he was possessed of strong opinions about the proper method of fencing and was strongly opposed to the contemporary Continental fencing traditions. He was particularly critical of the Italian masters who had set up schools in London, including Rocco Bonetti and Vincentio Saviolo. He and Toby went so far as to challenge Saviolo to a public fencing match to demonstrate the superiority of his British arts, but even though they placarded London, Southwark, and Westminster with the challenge, no formal match seems to have ever occurred.[citation needed] It seems he did, however, have opportunity to fence with students of some of the Italian masters on a few occasions.

In 1599, Silver published a treatise entitled Paradoxes of Defence and dedicated it to Robert Devereux, the Earl of Essex and Saviolo's patron. Silver uses "paradox" in the sense of heresy and in this work he speaks against the wildly popular rapier, detailing what he sees as its inherent flaws as well as those of the foreign fencing styles that emphasize it. A second volume, entitled Brief Instructions upon My Paradoxes of Defence and explaining his own British fencing style, was written in ca. 1605 but remained unpublished for unknown reasons.

Silver's activities after the publication of his book are unclear, but he was still alive as late as 1622.[citation needed]


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