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Marco Docciolini

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Marco Docciolini
Born 16th century
Died 23 Sep 1610
Occupation Fencing master
Citizenship Florentine
Movement Florentine school
Influences Francesco di Sandro Altoni
Genres Fencing manual
Language Italian
Notable work(s) Trattato in Materia di Scherma (1601)

Marco Docciolini was an Italian fencing master at the turn of the 17th century. He seems to have been an initiate of the Florentine fencing tradition of Francesco di Sandro Altoni. Docciolini wrote and published a fencing manual in 1601 entitled Trattato in Materia di Scherma ("Treatise on Matters of Defense"), which he dedicated to the great Florentine general Don Giovanni de' Medici (1563-1621).

His dedication describes fifty-two years of professional experience by 1601, suggesting a probable date of birth in the early 1530s. His family appears to have moved to Florence in 1586 (possibly from Pistoia), when his elder brother Giovanfrancesco is first recorded as a Florentine citizen. A Marco di Bernardo Docciolini is listed as having died on the 23rd September 1610; buried in the Church of San Niccolò Oltrarno in Florence, together with his brother Giovanfrancesco di Bernardo di Marco Docciolini (who died in 1587) and other family members.[1]

Evidence suggests that until the nineteenth century, this church contained a plaque of the Docciolini family arms: a red lion rampant on a gold field, holding an olive branch. The precise origin and status of these arms and the Docciolini family is unclear. Neither the arms themselves nor the Docciolini name appear in any recognized heraldic register.[2]

There is evidence that Docciolini enjoyed some wealth and status in his day. A now lost portrait of “Docciolini the fencer” (Docciolini Schermitore), by eminent Florentine painter Santi di Tito, is recorded in an inventory of the Doni household as of 1677.[3]

There are no records of Marco Docciolini marrying or having legitimate children, though he was survived by two nephews, Bernardo and Costanzo, the sons of Giovanfrancesco. A letter from 1627 between Bernardo and the noted Florentine musicologist Giovanni Battista Doni, suggests a professional relationship between the two. This provides a plausible explanation as to how Docciolini's portrait might have been passed to the Doni family.[4]

Despite claiming fifty two years professional experience, and alluding to influential patrons, Docciolini does not appear to be enrolled in the Speziali, The Guild of Doctors and Apothecaries (Arte dei Medici e Speziali), as would have been required for a Master of Arms in Florence, which may suggest he had a small circle of private clients.

Silvio Longhi speculates that his late arrival in Florence, unmarried status, and lack of formal guild affiliation together suggest a long military career, possibly under the command of Don Giovanni de' Medici, to whom his treatise is dedicated.[5]


Additional Resources


  1. Docciolini, Marco. Trattato di scherma Edited by Silvio Longhi. AIMS, 2003. p.76.
  2. Docciolini, Marco. Trattato di scherma Edited by Silvio Longhi. AIMS, 2003. p.79.
  3. Cinelli, Giovanni. Bellezze della città di Firenze. Dove a pieno di pittura di scultura di sacri templi, di palazzi, i più notabili artifizi, è più preziosi si contengono. Florence, 1677. p.565.
  4. Docciolini, Marco. Trattato di scherma Edited by Silvio Longhi. AIMS, 2003. p.77.
  5. Docciolini, Marco. Trattato di scherma Edited by Silvio Longhi. AIMS, 2003. p.78.