George Silver "Brief Instructions upon my Paradoxes of Defence


Note: While George Silver's Paradoxes of Defence was published in 1599, the Brief Instructions, which is the book which actually explains how to use various weapons instead of merely lecturing about why rapiers are so bad, was apparently not published until a copy of the manuscript was discovered in the British Museum, and was subsequently printed in 1898 by Captain Cyril G. R. Matthey. The manuscript was not dated, but it mentions Saviolo's book, which was published in 1595. A useful introduction to this book may be found in Three Elizabethan Fencing Manuals, by James L. Jackson.

For the true handling of all manner of weapons together with the four grounds and the four governors which governors are left out in my paradoxes without the knowledge of which no man may fight safe.

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Click on Silver's coat of arms image on the right to pull up a pdf version of Paradoxes of Defense and Brief Instructions, for ease of printing. The file is approximately 12.2MB in size. Courtesy of the Linacre School of Defence.


To The Reader...

Admonitions to the Gentlemen and Brave Gallants of Great Britain against Quarrels and Brawls

(1) The true handling of all Manner of Weapons (Cap. 1)

(2) General Rules to be Observed for Weapons Usage (Cap. 2)

(3) Declaration of 4 General Fights (Cap. 3)

(4) Of the short single sword fight against the like weapon (Cap. 4)

(5) Of Diverse Advantages that you may take by Striking from your Ward (Cap. 5)

(6) The manner of certain grips & closes (Cap. 6)

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(7) Of the short sword & dagger fight against the like weapon  (Cap. 7)

(8) Of the short sword & dagger fight against the long sword & dagger  (Cap. 8)

(9) Of the sword & buckler fight (Cap. 9)

(10) Of the two hand sword fight against the like weapon (Cap. 10)

(11) Of the Short Staff Fight (Cap. 11)

(12) Of the Short Staff Fight against the Long Staff (Cap. 12)

(13) Of the Fight of the Forest Bill against the like Weapon (Cap. 13)

(14) Of the Fight of the Morris Pike against the like Weapon (Cap. 14)

(15) Of the Single Dagger Fight against the like Weapon (Cap. 15)

Credits: This is version 1.0 of the on-line version of this book. It was initially typed in from a facsimile of the Matthey edition by Steve Hick. has lightly proofread it, correcting any obvious errors. However, many subtle errors and missing paragraphs probably remain. The online book has been "re-worked and re-webbed" by on behalf of the Academy of European Medieval Martial Arts, November 1998.

Copyright © 2008 Academy of European Medieval Martial Arts (AEMMA)
Released: November 15, 1998 / Last updated: December 22, 2008