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Scienza d’Arme (Salvator Fabris)

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Scienza d’Arme
The Science of Arms
Scienza d’Arme (Fabris) Title 2.jpg
Author(s) Salvator Fabris
Illustrated by
Place of origin Copenhagen, Denmark
Language Italian
Genre(s) Fencing manual
Sources GI.kgl.Saml.1868 4040 (1601)
Publisher Henrico Waltkirch
Publication date 1606, 1619, 1622, 1624, 1650, 1672,
1676, 1713
First english
Leoni, 2005
Pages 256 pages
Treatise scans

Sienza e Pratica d’Arme ("Science and Practice of Arms") or De lo Schermo, overo Scienza d’Arme ("On Defense, or the Science of Arms") is an Italian fencing manual written by Salvator Fabris in the 1590s and printed in 1606. It treats the use of the rapier, both solo and in conjunction with the cloak, dagger, and rotella shield; it also discusses unarmed defenses against the dagger. Fabris's treatise is one of the most influential rapier manuals in history, reprinted many times and copied or expanded by numerous other authors.

Publication History

Scienza d’Arme was first printed in Copenhagen, Denmark, in 1606 by Henrico Waltkirch. It was based on Fabris' earlier manuscript treatise Scientia e Prattica dell'Arme (GI.kgl.Saml.1868.4040); the text was rewritten in a more flowery style, and the artwork of the manuscript (which was drawn from life) was redrawn in an exaggerated, classical style. It included a title page and portraits engraved by Nicolaus Andrea of Flensburg, heraldry and most illustrations by Christian IV's court artist Jan van Halbeeck, and additional illustrations by Francesco Valesio. In 1624, Pietro-Paolo Tozzi reprinted the treatise in Fabris' native Padua under the title Della vera pratica et scienza d’armi.

The first translation of Fabris was in 1619, a German edition published in Leiden by Isack Elzevier under the title Des Kunstreichen Italiänische Fechtkunst ("The Illustrated Italian Art of Fencing"); this version also replaced the elaborate copperplate engravings of the original with rudimentary woodblock figures. This edition was reissued in Nuremberg in ca. 1650. Another German translation was produced in ca. 1635, but was never published and only survived in the MS Dresd.C.94a.

Also in 1619, book II of Fabris' treatise received another German translation and its first French translation, which were published in Frankfurt by Jacob de Zeter. This was the first parallel text edition of Fabris' work. Zeter published separate French and German editions titled Escrime Novvelle ov Theatre ("New Fencing or Theater") and Newe Fechtkunst Oder Schawplatz ("New Fencing Art or Show Place") respectively, both of which contained both translations of the text.[1] Zeter also included translations of Nicoletto Giganti's 1606 treatise Scola, overo teatro, which has oddly lead various fencing historians to accuse Giganti himself of plagiarism.[2] This parallel edition was reprinted in 1622 and 1644.

In 1676, Johann Joachim Hynitzsch published an Italian-German parallel text in Leipzig, Germany, entitled Sienza e pratica d’arme. This edition included yet another German translation by Hynitzsch as well as a preface in which he denigrated all prior German publications on Fabris (specifically mentioning Elzevier's translation, Zeter's translation, and the derivative works of Hans Wilhelm Schöffer and Sebastian Heußler). Hynitzsch's edition was reprinted in Leipzig in 1713.

Fabris' treatise was translated into English by Tom Leoni and published through Chivalry Bookshelf in 2005 under the title Art of Dueling: Salvator Fabris' Rapier Fencing Treatise of 1606; this was reissued through Lulu.com in 2016. In 2010, it was translated into Spanish by Eugenio Garcia-Salmones and published under the title La esgrima o la ciencia de las armas ("Fencing, or the Science of Arms").


1 - 76 Book 1 part 1 - Rapier by Salvator Fabris
76 - 133 Book 1 part 2 - Rapier and dagger by Salvator Fabris
134 - 149 Book 1 part 3 - Rapier and cloak by Salvator Fabris
151 - 218 Book 2 part 1 - Rapier by Salvator Fabris
218 - 242 Book 2 part 2 - Rapier and dagger by Salvator Fabris
243 - 256 Book 2 part 3 - Grappling, dagger, and cloak


Title pages

First title (1606)
Scienza d’Arme (Fabris) Title 1.jpg
Second title (1606)
Scienza d’Arme (Fabris) Title 2.jpg
1619 German
Fabris 1619 Title.png
1619 French/German
1522 French/German
Fabris 1622 Title.jpg
1624 Italian
Fabris 1624 I Title.jpg
1644 French/German
Fabris 1644 Title.png
1650 German
1672 Latin
1677 Italian/German
Fabris 1677 Title.png
1713 Italian/German
Fabris 1713 Title.jpg


Scienza d’Arme (Fabris) Heraldry.jpg
Christian IV
Scienza d’Arme (Fabris) Portrait 1.jpg
Salvator Fabris
Scienza d’Arme (Fabris) Portrait 2.jpg
Cutting diagram
Scienza d’Arme (Fabris) Segno.jpg
Figure 1
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Figure 2
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Additional Resources


  1. I'm not aware of any extant copies of the 1619 German edition, but since both editions exist in the 1622 and 1644 reprints, it seems reasonable to assume they were created at the same time.
  2. This accusation was first made by Johann Joachim Hynitzsch, who attributed the edition to Giganti rather than Zeter and was incensed that he gave no credit to Fabris.

Copyright and License Summary

For further information, including transcription and translation notes, see the discussion page.

Work Author(s) Source License
Images Nicolaus Andrea of Flensburg, Jan van Halbeeck, Francesco Valesio Fægtekunstens Venner
Public Domain.png
Transcription Index:Scienza d’Arme (Salvator Fabris)