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Antonio Manciolino

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Antonio Manciolino

Illustration from the title page of Manciolino's treatise
Born late 1400s?
Died after 1531
Occupation Fencing master
Citizenship Bolognese
Patron Don Luisi de Cordoba
Genres Fencing manual
Language Italian
Notable work(s) Opera Nova (1531)
First printed
english edition
Leoni 2010
Concordance by Michael Chidester

Antonio Manciolino was a 16th century Italian fencing master. Little is known about this master's life; he seems to have been Bolognese by birth and he may have been a student of Guido Antonio di Luca,[citation needed] the Bolognese master who taught Achille Marozzo in the same period. His fencing manual is dedicated to Don Luisi de Cordoba, Duke of Sessa, Orator of the Most Serene Emperor to Adrian VI; this dedication may indicate that Manciolino was attached as fencing master to the ducal court.

In 1531, Manciolino published a treatise on swordsmanship called Opera Nova ("A New Work"),[1] which is the oldest extant treatise in the Dardi or "Bolognese" school of swordsmanship.[2]

The 1531 edition describes itself as "corrected and revised" and was probably based on an earlier version printed in ca. 1523 (based on the fact that Don Luisi de Cordoba was only orator to Adrian VI between September of 1522 and September of 1523).[3] Manciolino had signed a contract with a French printer in Rome in 1519 to publish his treatise, but it's unclear if this was the same edition or an even earlier one.[4]

Despite the breadth and detail of his work, Manciolino's efforts were overshadowed by the release of Marozzo's even more extensive work on Bolognese fencing thirteen years later.


As Craig Pitt-Pladdy has refused our request to host his translations on Wiktenauer, we instead have links to their locations on other sites in the appropriate sections until such time as another translation appears.

Note: This article includes a very early (2003) draft of Jherek Swanger's translation. An extensively-revised version of the translation was released in print in 2021 as How to Fight and Defend with Arms of Every Kind, by Antonio Manciolino. It can be purchased at the following links in hardcover and softcover.

It also includes an Italian transcription by Steven Reich which was also released in print as Antonio Manciolino; it can be purchased in softcover.

Additional Resources


  1. The full title was Di Antonio Manciolino Bolognese opera noua, doue li sono tutti li documenti & uantaggi che si ponno ha uere nel mestier de l’armi d’ogni sorte nouamente corretta & stampata, which translates to "New Work by Antonio Manciolino, Bolognese, wherein are all the instructions and advantages that are to be had in the practice of arms of every sort; newly corrected and printed".
  2. Both Dardi and Luca are thought to have published treatises in the 15th century that have since been lost.
  3. Leoni, Tom. The Complete Renaissance Swordsman: Antonio Manciolino’s Opera Nova (1531). Wheaton, IL: Freelance Academy Press, 2010. pp 11-12.
  4. Tassinari, 2021.
  5. I.e., as it was in front of the right knee in porta di ferro stretta.
  6. I.e. his mandritto.
  7. Note that these “two tramazzoni” were, in both cases, singular in Ch. 9
  8. I.e. yours.
  9. This counter has no antecedent in Ch. 15.
  10. I.e. a mandritto that goes over your own left arm.
  11. Unicorn.
  12. Not specified.
  13. N.B. original says “…piede manco appresso il sinestro”, i.e. “left foot near your left”—this should be “left foot near your right”.
  14. Note that this guard is not described in the text—see Marozzo, Cap. 143, for description and illustration.
  15. This action may describe a gathering step forward with the left, as the left foot is presumably already to the rear.
  16. N.B. I have glossed over sections of the short introduction of this particular book, skipping straight to the swordplay
  17. Destro.
  18. I.e. the sword.
  19. His hand.
  20. Your hand.
  21. his left side
  22. probably a feint
  23. coda lunga alta
  24. feint
  25. coda lunga alta
  26. cross step
  27. left
  28. right
  29. coda lunga alta
  30. finta
  31. coda lunga alta
  32. coda lunga alta
  33. coda lunga alta
  34. coda lunga alta
  35. cross step
  36. coda lunga alta
  37. coda lunga stretta
  38. left foot
  39. coda lunga stretta
  40. coda lunga stretta
  41. coda lunga stretta
  42. coda lunga stretta
  43. coda lunga stretta
  44. belly
  45. coda lunga stretta
  46. coda lunga alta, with dagger in porta di ferro stretta
  47. like a short lunge
  48. coda lunga alta, with dagger in porta di ferro stretta
  49. feint
  50. coda lunga alta, with dagger in porta di ferro stretta
  51. feint
  52. ascending cut with the false edge
  53. Of the enemy, I think.
  54. Clash.
  55. Nodi.
  56. Traverses.
  57. Parry.
  58. Slice.
  59. Or bow.
  60. Punta at the face.
  61. Turned above.
  62. To the ground.
  63. Body.
  64. Turned towards your left part.
  65. The Guardia.
  66. Spontone, according to Florio, was called a Forest Bill; as far as I can tell is a Spontoon. A Quadrello has a four-edged blade with a rondel its base, much like a rondel dagger on a staff.
  67. Rip/laceration.
  68. Upward.
  69. Rest position.
  70. Offend.
  71. Or do the same.
  72. Or still.
  73. Better pass forward.
  74. Sideways.
  75. Traversing.
  76. Facing.